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FIQbluemoon Apr 3rd, 2011 01:05 PM

SanFran to Moon Bay to Butano to Monterey - Ideas?
Hello, Husband and I are planning a June vacation for our family of five (three teens). We will be staying 5 nights in SanFran. Those hotel arrangements are set.

Here's where I need help planning: We will leave SF on a Thurs morning in rental car. Plan to spend four days/ nights exploring Hwy 1 with ultimate destination Monterey/Carmel/Big Sur. We want to get to San Jose no later than Monday noon. So we have four nights in hotels: Thurs, Fri, Sat and Sun (Mon a.m. we drive back to San Jose).

So far I've come up with this rough itinerary:

1, Half Moon Bay
2. Pigeon Point Lighthouse
3. Butano State Park for afternoon for Redwoods
4. Spend night ... where? Should we drive that night to Santa Cruz? Or can anyone recommend somewhere along the way? We're on a budget so any cost cutting suggestions welcome. Looks to be 1-1/2 drive from Butano to Santa Cruz according to Google maps.

1. Santa Cruz - spend the day taking in sights, perhaps Henry Cowell Redwoods for the train ride
2. Spend night, perhaps this will be our second night in hotel in Santa Cruz
3. Husband would love to stay in old fashioned tourist court motel. It's hard telling from reviews which ones are clean/decent versus run down. So any suggestions welcome.

1. Leave Santa Cruz Saturday morning for Monterey/Carmel
2. Sunday morning - Big Sur, spend night back in Monterey/Carmel.

Monday morning
1. drive to San Jose
2. visit Googleplex in Mountain View
3. spend night close to airport

Tuesday a.m. fly out of San Jose

I would love to hear suggestions for how to best spend our time those four nights between Butano State Park and Big Sur. Santa Cruz is on the itinerary because it's on the way but I hear it's a fun city to explore.

I read that Hwy1 between Carmel and Big Sur is closed after a mud slide but hopefully will be open by June. I will be keeping an eye on that.

Thanks so much. I appreciate any and all ideas.

tomfuller Apr 3rd, 2011 01:19 PM

Stay at the HI Hostel at Pigeon Point Lighthouse. My DW and I love the place. Take some food with you to prepare in their kitchen. Great Base to see Butano and Ano Nuevo parks.
We also stayed at the HI hostel in Monterey which is within walking distance of the aquarium.
There is also a HI lighthouse hostel I have not stayed at farther north closer to Half Moon Bay.

tomfuller Apr 3rd, 2011 01:25 PM

They just added TempurPedic mattresses WOW!
The full list of 8 HI northern CA hostels:

FIQbluemoon Apr 3rd, 2011 01:34 PM

Thanks for the link, Tom. I will check it out. The tempurpedic mattresses sound great. I didn't know Hostels could accomodate a family? Which makes me wonder, do young travelers really want a middle aged Mom and Dad crashing in on their fun? The only hostel I've been in is the one in Austin TX on the lake. I was impressed with the whole set up.

ElendilPickle Apr 3rd, 2011 02:46 PM

Most hostels welcome anyone, and are great for families. We stayed in hostels in New Zealand and the UK while in our 40s and felt very comfortable. I haven't stayed at Pigeon Point, but you can't beat the location.

Lee Ann

november_moon Apr 3rd, 2011 03:10 PM

When you are in Santa Cruz, I recommend going to the beach and the Boardwalk. Henry Cowell is great, and generally tops on my list, but with 3 teens I would definitely opt for the beach instead - you will have had woods and outdoorsy stuff the day before anyway. Santa Cruz also has a funky downtown that is fun. Capitola Village is good too.

Hwy 1 through Big Sur should be open by June, but even if it isn't, you can go to Point Lobos, which is beautiful and will give you a feeling for the Big Sur coastline.

montereybob Apr 4th, 2011 08:25 AM

I second the recommendations for Point Lobos State Reserve and Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk amusement park (great for teens). Also if you drive up to the cliffs just north of the Boardwalk on West Cliff Drive, it is a great vantage point to watch the surfers. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is of course a must see. It is one of the best aquariums in the world. If your teens like biking, it is fun and scenic to rent bikes on the Monterey Bay Recreation Trail that runs right along the ocean cliffs in Pacific Grove.
Overall, the your itinerary sounds excellent. Have fun.

november_moon Apr 4th, 2011 10:19 AM

Thinking about your itinerary a bit more - specifically Butano vs. Henry Cowell - I think that if the intent is to see the really big redwood trees, Henry Cowell is a better choice than Butano. Butano is one of my favorite parks, but they don't have the old-growth trees that Henry Cowell has. So, if you are planning to spend Thursday night in Santa Cruz, you might consider skipping Butano and visiting Henry Cowell Thursday afternoon before you head to your lodging. I believe that Henry Cowell is open to day visitors until around sunset, so you'll have time. Then you can have all day Friday for Santa Cruz itself.

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