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SF/Monteray with teens - need help with itinerary

SF/Monteray with teens - need help with itinerary

Mar 31st, 2007, 04:52 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 3
SF/Monteray with teens - need help with itinerary

Hello and help! We are planning a trip this August to San Franciso with our 19 and 16 year old children. We'd like to spend a few days in SF and then do something different. I'm thinking of Santa Cruz/Monteray, Big Sur, etc. Is Hearst Castle too far? Are these day trips or should we leave the city and drive somewhere else to stay?
Also, does it make sense to fly in and out of SF or should we fly into SF and out of somewhere else. We will only have 8 days.

thank you!!!!
meymil is offline  
Mar 31st, 2007, 05:52 AM
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 1,477
It will be grueling to try to do too much, with the distances and traffic. The only realistic day trip from SF is wine country in Napa Valley. 4-5 days in SF will get you a good look at that, and 3 days on the Monterey Peninsula would be fun. Monterey/Pacific Grove has the aquarium, some history, spectacular seascapes like 17 mile drive. Carmel is an outrageously charming town with galleries, shops, restaurants, and a beautiful town beach (one of the most beautiful anywhere, although cold rough water)down the hill. From Carmel, you could see the nature preserve at Pt.Lobos just to the south, and drive at least partway to Big Sur to get a feel for the spectacular scenery on the cliffside drive. Hearst Castle is not a day trip because PCH is narrow, twisty, very slow going all the way. Once there, you are nowhere and have to retrace. IMO Hearst Castle is overrated-a monument to ostentatiousness, as opposed to the elegance of the Newport, RI mansions. BTW, if you web search, spell it "Monterey."
xkenx is offline  
Mar 31st, 2007, 11:06 AM
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Is there an airport near Monterary, or would you suggest flying out of SF?
meymil is offline  
Mar 31st, 2007, 12:01 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 17,802
Oh it's a long way
to Monterary
it's a long way
to goooo

Sorry, couldn't resist. To answer your question, yes, there is an airport in Monterey, and it's a one-hour flight from SFO. However, it's only a 2-hour drive, and if you take Route 1, a spectacular one, so I'd suggest driving from SF to Monterey. As for flying back, it's 6 of one, half dozen of another, since you have to fly to SFO from Monterey no matter what. To save the rental car drop-off fee, I'd just drive back to SFO if it were me.
NewbE is offline  
May 8th, 2007, 05:45 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 60
Hi Meymil
We did a similiar trip two summers ago. I have two teens and one preteen. My kids LOVED San Fran. we spent 3 days here and did the Pier, the Night tour of Alcatraz (do not miss this!), toured a sub that is docked behind the pier, ChinaTown and rode the cable cars.

We then drove down to Monterey and did the Aquarium. It was wonderful! We were there right when it opened and saw everything before lunch. We then walked thru town and found a place that rented kayaks. We kayaked for a few hours in the bay. Saw so many seals and sea lions it was amazing! My dd and I saw a otter right next to our kayak...they are endangered and we did not approach him...he sort of swam over to us while rolling around eating his lunch.

we left Monterey and drove to San Simeon and spent the night. On the way to the hotel we stopped at a beach that had the elephant seals. Unbelieveable and not to be missed. They were sparring and sort of roaring at each other. Once was bleeding. It ws mating season. My 14 year old thought it was like a National Geographic epidsode.

We easily did all this in one day. However, we left San Fran very early and were at the Monterey Bay Aq when they opened. BUT we never felt rushed during the day and we were at our hotel a little after dark. Plenty of time for us to check in and the kids swim in the pool. In the morning we got up went down to the beach for a while and then went to Hearst Castle for the 9am tour. Everyone enjoyed the tour too.

Hope this helps. The rest of our vacation was in LA (2 days) and San Diego for 4 days. Just got back from a week in San Diego, we love it so much we'd go there every year if we could afford it.
buzymom3 is offline  
May 8th, 2007, 08:15 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,108
I would definitely spend a few nights outside SF. You can do day trips to SC, Monterey, etc. but they make for long days and with regular and summer traffic to deal with, I think you will have a better time if you base yourselves in 2 or 3 places rather than 1.

Monterey makes a good choice for a base. Santa Cruz is good too. Hearst Castle is a doable day trip from Monterey, but because the road through Big Sur is so tight and curvy, it makes for a long drive. If Hearst Castle is something you really want to see, you could consider spending a night down in the Cambria/Morro Bay/San Luis Obispo area. Your kids would probably enjoy Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo, or Morro Bay.

I think Hearst Castle is a really interesting place. Of course it is a monument to ostentatiousness. It is completely, 100% over the top. It also occupies a prominent place in California history. I think going to see the swimming pools alone is worth the trip

I think a stop in Santa Cruz should definitely be on your list of things to do, even if you don't decide to stay there. The Boardwalk is great and if the surf is good, head out to the lighthouse on West Cliff drive and you will probably see some world class surfers out there. Downtown is fun too - eclectic shops, hippies and strange characters, etc.

Capitola Village is kind of cool too. It is a few square blocks of little restaurants and shops on a nice beach with a creek that empties into the ocean there.

I don't know how much time I would spend in Carmel - it is cute, but not a whole lot to interest teenagers there. Definitely geared more toward adults.

Point Lobos is great - good, easy hiking, lots of wildlife and terrific scenery.

I don't know if your 16 year old is in the middle of choosing colleges, but if California is of interest you will be in the vicinity of a lot of good ones. You could check them out along the way.

Oh, and let us not forget the redwoods The Santa Cruz mountains are covered in them. Big Basin and Henry Cowell state parks are good places to go. They both have short interperative trails that are good. In addition, Big Basin has some longer hikes. Near Henry Cowell is Roaring Camp, which has a narrow gage steam train you can ride through the woods. Depending on your kids, they might think this is fun or really lame When I was that age, I thought it was really lame, but then I grew up in Santa Cruz, so I took it for granted. Some of my cousins who came to visit thought it was fun.
J_Correa is offline  

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