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San Francisco...Yosemite...then what?

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Jan 15th, 2011, 03:28 PM
  #1
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San Francisco...Yosemite...then what?

Hi all~

So I'm planning a 40th b'day trip - for myself - with my DH and DDs, ages 8 and 10. We'll be going over spring break this April 14 - 22ish. I've planned for 3 nights in SF and then 3 nights in Yosemite (actually, at Yosemite View Lodge in El Portal). We could potentially do 2 additional nights in CA but everywhere sounds so inviting that I'm not sure I'll have the time to research it all. We'd love to see some California coastline and take a walk on the beach...we enjoy nature, wildlife, museums, and the DH digs anything historical. We'll need to stay someplace moderately priced and would prefer to stay in the same place for 2 nights before heading back to SFO for the flight home. Any help narrowing down my options would be greatly appreciated!

Christina
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Jan 15th, 2011, 03:45 PM
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Coastline. Historical. Wildlife. Museums.

May I suggest centering halfway between Napa and Point Reyes, where you can quickly get to all three? Normally I'd just recommend heading to the wine country, but you said beaches and wildlife. By making it half-way, you can choose one or the other for trips just a couple hours away.

Just be aware that Northern California in April is NOT a place you can comfortably "walk on the beach." Plain and simple, the water and the air are just too cold.
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Jan 15th, 2011, 03:52 PM
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bjl
 
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How about the Monterey/Pacific/Carmel area? Monterey has a wonderful aquarium, there's the Steinbeck connection, Asilomar State Beach is gorgeous with a nice walking trail, the little lighthouse in Pacifica.
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Jan 15th, 2011, 03:59 PM
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As I said in another topic, there is a HI Hostel in the Muir Woods National Monument and there are several in SF if you like the urban setting. From Muir Woods you have easy access to the Point Reyes National Seashore for your walk or maybe a quick swim in the Pacific. There is also a lighthouse to see at Point Reyes. For your historic place try Fort Point N.H.S. next to the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge.
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Jan 15th, 2011, 04:02 PM
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W/ kids those ages -- I'd definitely include 2 nights in/near Monterey.

You'd get 3 amazing destinations for families- SF, YNP and the Monterey Peninsula. Monterey has the aquarium, a fishermans Wharf, historic adobes. Then there is Carmel and the Mission, Point Lobos, Big Sur. And it is only a little over 2 hours from SFO
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Jan 15th, 2011, 04:04 PM
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"maybe a quick swim in the Pacific."

You have a mean streak for sure
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Jan 15th, 2011, 05:09 PM
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What do you plan on doing in Yosemite in April? You will be early to do some of the summer things and late for some of the winter activities. For instance, I think you would have to hike along the road to be able to get to the Mariposa Grove. I wouldn't think you would be able to ski at that time. Glacier Point was still closed when we were there the last part of May this year. Half Dome was closed. You would get to see the valley and that would be great, but just wanted to make sure you know what was typically "can do's" in April @ Yosemite. It is a fantastic place.
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Jan 15th, 2011, 05:10 PM
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Another vote for Monterey. World class scenery on 17 mile drive. Easy family biking from Monterey to Pacific Grove. The excellent aquarium previously mentioned. Great dining for Mom and Dad.
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Jan 15th, 2011, 05:34 PM
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I think Monterey Peninsula is going to be the way to go...scenic with enough activities for the girls, not too far from SFO.

tomfuller...I'd like to see if I can get to Muir Woods/Reyes Point easily during our stay in SF using public transportation (we don't intend to rent a car until we leave SF for Yosemite). Thanks for the tip on Ft. Point NHS...I'd read about that somewhere else and bookmarked it in my head for the DH - and then forgot it!

spirobulldog...I haven't made flight arrangements for exactly the reasons you mention...I'm afraid it's not the right time of year to go and we won't enjoy YNP as much as during warmer weather. HOWEVER, after reading dozens of Fodorite entries and perusing an equal number of websites, I think there will be enough for us to do...exploring the valley both on foot and bike, a ranger program or two, a picnic at the base of Yosemite Falls, maybe a horseback ride...enough for 2 young Jersey girls to enjoy and appreciate Yosemite's natural beauty. Of course, I'll have to look into Mariposa Grove, as hugging a sequoia is a must on this trip!
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Jan 15th, 2011, 05:35 PM
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I went last March for 3 days -- didn't go to Mariposa Grove or to Badger Pass -- and could have stayed longer, just in the Valley . . .
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Jan 15th, 2011, 07:35 PM
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In Yosemite, one April a few years ago, DH and I trudged from the bottom parking lot up the hills through the snow to the Mariposa Grove - we are from Down Under, and found the snow enchanting. But it is about two miles, and by the time we got to the actual Grove, DH was too exhausted to go much further. It was actually worse coming down, trying not to fall and break an aged leg!

You are younger, and maybe with hired snowshoes or skis or walking poles, it would be an unforgettable experience. Otherwise, there is another grove of sequoias on the other northern side of the valley.
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Jan 15th, 2011, 07:51 PM
  #12
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Hmm...wondering if I should look into Sequoia Nat'l Park as a potential stop...we really want to see those trees!
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Jan 15th, 2011, 08:10 PM
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If seeing ANY sequoia (not necessarily the largest ones) will suffice, then you can go through Henry Cowell Redwood State Park

www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=546

will probably meet your needs.

Seeing Sequoia NP would take up your entire two days. It's a WONDERFUL park, but best visited in the summer (snow packs in the Sierras can be QUITE high into April). I'd save this park for another trip to the Sierras. Since going to Yosemite on this trip will automatically make you want to come back, you can include Sequoia in your plans for this second visit to Yosemite.

And I agree that Monterey, Carmel, and Big Sur would meet your needs far better than my idea above. But the warning about NOT swimming in the Pacific in April still holds!
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Jan 15th, 2011, 09:49 PM
  #14
 
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>>I'd like to see if I can get to Muir Woods/Reyes Point easily during our stay in SF using public transportation (we don't intend to rent a car until we leave SF for Yosemite).<<

The short answer is "not easily". I would rent the car 1 day early, do Muir Woods and Point Reyes that day, park the car at or near your hotel overnight (yes, you'll have to pay, but just the one night), then leave the next day for Yosemite.

Otherwise you take 2 or 3 buses to get to Muir Woods and I don't even know if there's bus service to Point Reyes. Most of your day would be on buses, not sightseeing. There are also half-day tours to Muir Woods, but none I'm aware of to Point Reyes.
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Jan 16th, 2011, 04:23 AM
  #15
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Thanks to all...the itinerary is starting to form (sometimes I think I enjoy the planning stages as much as the actual traveling!)~

PaulRabe...I'm in total agreement about making a second trip at some point in the future...as soon as we take our second trip back to YNP/GTNP LOL. Thinking about it that way makes it easier to accept if we can't visit the sequoias.

waldrons...That's good advice and food for thought as we put together our daily itinerary. I always struggle with wanting to see "everything" and wanting to do justice to exploring a new destination.

Any advice regarding 2 nights vs 3 nights in the Monterey area?
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Jan 16th, 2011, 06:27 AM
  #16
 
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For Trees, Sequoia National Park is my favorite. 2nd would be Redwoods National Park, and then Yosemite. However, if you can see them in Yosemite, certainly do so, they are amazing every time I see them. We were in Sequoia in the winter(January) and hope to go back in the summer sometime. We had a 4 wheel drive and NPS required snow chains on all vehicles.

The Muir Woods are great, but the trees there aren't nearly as big as other places.

I think if you can work Yosemite in to your plans, it would be great. It's a great place to visit.
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Jan 16th, 2011, 08:04 AM
  #17
 
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Don't miss Yosemite! In April the water levels will be high so the waterfalls should be spectacular. April is a little early for wildflowers but if you come into the park on the Hwy 120 route you're bound to see flowers along the route thru the foothills. Hetch Hetchy is a great area of the park to visit in the early Spring.
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Jan 16th, 2011, 08:12 AM
  #18
 
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In the 1930's California adopted "redwood" as the state tree.
The redwoods of Sequoia National Park and Yosemite are Giant Sequoia (sequoiadendron giganteum) and are the most massive living trees on earth.
The redwoods of Redwood National Park and Muir Woods in the Coast Range of California are Coast Redwood (sequoia semipervirens) They are the tallest living trees on earth.
The other redwood is the Dawn Redwood (metasequoia glyptostroboides) which is native to China and is a deciduous conifer. I hope the dendrology lesson will help people decide which redwoods they really want to see.
The Coast Range has much less snow and is drivable pretty much year round. The Sierras have lots of snow and parts of them are snowbound for months at a time.
Monterey is a lovely place to visit if you only want to want walk on the beach but not swim.
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Jan 16th, 2011, 08:13 AM
  #19
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No worries...Yosemite is a definite! I am, however, reconsidering if we should make it 2 nights instead of 3...if roads/areas are usually closed in mid-April it may make more sense for us to tack the add'l night onto Monterey.

Thoughts?
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Jan 16th, 2011, 09:53 AM
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I also add my support for Monterey/Carmel. I recommend staying in Monterey and visiting Carmel as a day trip (the girls will be board in Carmel but the shops are so cute). Many years ago we stayed at the Monterey Bay Plaza Hotel and Spa. The location was great! If the weather is nice you might be able to kayak. Visit the Aquarium, historic Cannery Row, drive 17 mile drive.
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