San Francisco - Yosemite - Lake Tahoe

Aug 13th, 2009, 04:21 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 142
San Francisco - Yosemite - Lake Tahoe

I have friends from Croatia that will be visiting me in early September. When they leave they will be flying from Boston to San Francisco. I am not familiar with that part of the country and they are asking me questions that I need help in answering. They want to spend a couple of days in San Francisco and then rent a car and travel to Yosemite and the Lake Tahoe area, returning to San Francisco for their return flight to Boston. How many days are needed to see Yosemite in a leisurely manner? They would not be able to do any amount of hiking so it would be mostly sight seeing by car. Are there plenty of places to stay in the area of the park without reservations? Would three days be enough for the Lake Tahoe area and maybe a night in Reno? I'm assume there is plenty of lodging in those areas.

What would be a reasonable number of days to cover this area without being rushed?
They have not booked their flight yet and are waiting for answers from me on this portion of their trip. Any advise would be appreciated.
kettamic is offline  
Aug 13th, 2009, 06:05 PM
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If they are not hiking, then three days plus a travel day are plenty in Yosemite. If there are not reservations to be had on the valley floor at the Awhanee or the Yosemite Lodge, then the Wawona is a good place to stay. The cancellation policy for Yosemite lodging is very lenient, I think only 48 hours in advance, so keep trying as there are lots of cancellations last minute.

Three days are good for Lake Tahoe (make sure to go to Truckee and the Donner party site), but skip Reno. Spend an extra day in San Francisco instead. There is so much to see and it is the perfect time of year to be there. Spend the extra day in Marin County at Sausalito or Point Reyes.

As for San Francisco... Alcatraz, Chinatown, Union Square shopping, the ferry building and farmers market, Golden Gate Park and its new Academy of Sciences museum, Chrissy Field and the Golden Gate Bridge, Pier 39, a Giants baseball game, and hundreds of great restaurants... a lot to pack into 3 or 4 days.
ni4film1 is offline  
Aug 13th, 2009, 06:08 PM
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"Are there plenty of places to stay in the area of the park without reservations?"

No -- one should not just show up at Yosemite hope to get a room. If possible they will want to stay in Yosemite Valley, which a a very small part of the larger Yosemite National Park, and there is limited accommodations there.

They (or you could help) should book something ASAP. I'd say a minimum of 2 nights/2+ days for Yosemite. Longer is better.

"Would three days be enough for the Lake Tahoe area and maybe a night in Reno? I'm assume there is plenty of lodging in those areas.What would be a reasonable number of days to cover this area without being rushed?"

Much better chance to get last minute rooms at Tahoe. And Reno would be no problem at all. I'd say 3 days at Tahoe - and none in Reno. If they wanted to see the casinos in Reno, they could always drive over for an afternoon from Tahoe. But spending the entire time at Tahoe would be better IMO.
janisj is online now  
Aug 13th, 2009, 06:30 PM
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I would tell them to skip Reno. If they want casinos, they'll find them on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe. IMO, there is nothing worth seeing in Reno.

Reservations are a MUST in Yosemite. Start calling for those immediately, and call everyday until you get them---because with such short advance notice they are probably booked up and you'll need to get in on a last minute cancellation. I agree with the poster who said minimum of 2 days in Yosemite not counting travel days.

They could get by with 1-2 days in Tahoe, not counting travel days. Map their trip out on to give them their driving times. It will take several hours to get to Yosemite from SF or Tahoe.
montereybob is offline  
Aug 13th, 2009, 06:49 PM
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There's another thread just below you: "Driving from Yosemite to South Tahoe" by nvl325 that you should take a look at. Your guests would get a real treat driving over Tioga Pass and up 395 to Tahoe. Tuolumne Meadows is arguably one of the best parts of Yosemite.

I encourage you to try like heck to get lodging inside the park on the valley floor; Ahwanhe or Yosemite Lodge. Just keep calling and you will generaly be successful. There's nothing like evening and early morning mist in the valley.

The drive from Tahoe to SF is an easy enough on I 80. Maybe 4 hours, but some one may have a more exact time. I have not gone all the way from Tahoe to SF.

At Tahoe, you need to help them decide where they want to stay. South Shore is active, crowded, touristy, many casinos. Lots of places to stay, including the casinos, motels, etc. Beaches.

Incline Village, northeast, Nevada side, is a little more relaxed, with one casino/hotel, many motels. Sand Harbor State Beach.

Tahoe Vista, kinda seedy (IMHO) but lots of beaches and motels.

South of Tahoe City on the northwest corner are a few really neat B&B's, no casinos.

Lots of restaurants everywhere. Eating is not a problem at Tahoe.

With a car, they can drive around the lake taking in the sights including Emerald Bay. On the way out, take in Truckee, a really neat little town.

If they are into river rafting, check out the river rafting co's on the Truckee river out of Tahoe City, NE corner of the lake. although in Sept, water flow may be too low.

Hope they have fun. I am visiting their country next month. Well, one afternoon in Dbrovnik off a cruise ship.

Tell them welcome to California.
Bill in Fresno!
BillJ is offline  
Aug 14th, 2009, 06:59 AM
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The river rafting out of Tahoe City is long closed in Sept.

Actually Sept is an ideal time to visit Tahoe as the summer season has passed and things are at a slower pace but it's not a chost town.

In the summer I prefer the west side for accomodations because it's much quieter there but in Sept you can appreciate the convenience of south lake tahoe.

It's close ot many of the spots that visitors want to see.

Tallac site, Emerald Bay, lake cruises.

On the north east shore you should make sure you visit Sand Harbor.

I would drive east on 80 to 50 and into South Lake Tahoe or if you decide on the north shore then take 80 all the way. This will mean as you near Sacramento you will have to exit 80 on the right side in order to take 80 toward Reno. In Truckee you will exit 89 or 267 depending on wher eon the lake you stay.

I'd stay at least 2 nights in Tahoe and at least 2 in Yosemite. If you have more nights to spare all the better.
Suzie is offline  
Aug 14th, 2009, 03:29 PM
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Thanks to all for the very helpful information. We now have a pretty good idea on how to advise our guests in planning their time in California. We WILL BE omitting Reno from the itinerary.

Bill in Fresno, I hope you enjoy your cruise and I know you will wish you had more time in Dubrovnik. We spent two weeks
in Croatia and three days in Dubrovnik and look forward to returning some day.
kettamic is offline  
Aug 16th, 2009, 04:51 AM
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If you drive Hwy 50 to Tahoe you may want to take a small detour and visit a Croatian winery - Dobra Zemlja near Plymouth. Excellent reds!!
JayZee is offline  
Aug 16th, 2009, 06:24 AM
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Indeed - Dobra Zemlja (as well as lots of others in the Shenandoah Valley outside Plymouth) is really excellent. It would be more than a slight detour - but w/ the Croatia connection it might be a fun side trip. In fact, if they are interested in wines, they could take a full day or even stay over night and visit several wonderful wineries

Amador County is what Napa was 30 years ago - good to VERY good wine, family-run wineries, and mostly free tasting where you often are talking to the wine maker in the tasting room.
janisj is online now  
Aug 16th, 2009, 04:29 PM
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Spending a night in the foothills on the way to Tahoe or Yosemite is an excellent idea. I find that people from Europe especially are interested in the gold rush towns because they are so different from what they have seen in Europe and even in other parts of the US.

If they take 50 to Tahoe or are going to Yosemite, a visit to Amador and Calaveras Counties would be interesting. There's wineries there, caves, some old mines and interesting towns like Murphy's, Sutter Creek, Angel's Camp, Jackson, Plymouth, etc.

If going to Tahoe via I-80, a favorite trip of ours is to leave 80 in Auburn and go up to Grass Valley and Nevada City, spend the night, and then drive up to Truckee and Tahoe via Hwy 20. In Grass Valley, there's a wonderful state park, The Empire Mine.

Both Nevada City and Grass Valley have some wonderful inns and B&Bs where they could spend the night.

There's lots of things to do at Tahoe. There's a good article in the latest Sunset Magazine that gives some interesting information. Make sure you read both pages.

The article even gives away the location of a clothing optional beach. I know that when we were in Croatia, this was a popular past-time and your friends might be interested.
Otis_B_Driftwood is offline  
Aug 17th, 2009, 09:43 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Just returned from a long weekend in Tahoe. Stayed at a charming B&B on the northwest side, The Cottage Inn. Breakfasts were just ok, but the accomodations were super. VEry quiet area, many good restaurants.
Lake is down significantly due to extended drought and dryer than normal summer. Lake is .9 feet above natural rim. Rafting stopped on 8/15.
Construction delays on I-80 can be expected. Added about 45 minutes to our trip home today. Construction is between Stateline and Colfax, we experienced delays from Truckee to Top of Donner Summit due to one lane travel west bound. Construction to continue through Oct.
BillJ is offline  
Aug 17th, 2009, 09:48 PM
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Just thought of this. Your friends should try Tacich's Grill, 240 California street one of San Francisco's oldest and most endearing restaurants. Started by Croatians in the 1800's, or so we're told. My wife and I never miss a dinner there every time we are in SF.
BillJ is offline  
Aug 17th, 2009, 09:49 PM
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That should be "Tadich's Grill."
BillJ is offline  

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