SF to Carmel

Old Feb 9th, 2004, 03:12 AM
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SF to Carmel

Me, my husband and parents in law are going to California this April (we are from Denmark). We will stay 3 nights in San Francisco, then we will drive to Carmel to stay one night, and then we will go to Yosemite for 3 nights. I?m looking for advise on what to do from San Francisco to Carmel and in the surroundings of Carmel. I have plenty of good options: Ana Nuevo, Big Basin, Santa Cruz, Monterey, the aquarium, Point Lobos and Big Sur. Unfortunately we don?t have time to do everything, so I would appreciate any advice on what to choose.
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Old Feb 9th, 2004, 08:20 AM
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Hi AnneAnne,

I'm from Carmel, and now live in Marin County (10 minutes north of SF). Your itinerary sounds great. I would suggest that since you are only spending one night in Carmel that you drive straight there and enjoy your time on the Monterey Peninsula. The scenery in your first two destinations is going to be spectacular enough that I wouldn't sacrifice the opportunity to explore Carmel/Monterey. If you want to see redwoods, spend part of one of your SF days in Muir Woods -- it is a wonderful place. So are Point Reyes national Seashore and the Marin Headlands, just across the GG Bridge.

When you are in Carmel, Point Lobos is probably as far south as I would recommend going, since you are only overnighting in the area. Big Sur is quite a bit further, and the road can be pretty slow, especially on weekends. The Carmel River Beach is great, as is Ocean Beach at the end of Ocean Ave. If you and your family are interested in aquariums, you won't find many better than the one in Monterey.

Also, after driving this route frequently for many years, I have found 280s/85s/101s/156/1 to be by far the fastest from SF (about 2.25 hours to 2.5 hours). If you wanted to go through Santa Cruz, you would take 17, but that will add a bit of travel time. Likewise, Hwy 1, which follows the coast. It's beautiful, but very time-consuming.

I hope you and your family have a wonderful trip.

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Old Feb 9th, 2004, 08:33 AM
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I agree with tpl - since you only have 1 night in Carmel, take the quickest route there to maximize your time on the Monterey Peninsula. Definitely see Point Lobos while in Carmel.
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Old Feb 9th, 2004, 10:07 AM
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Don't take the quickest road to Carmel. The extra half hour that it will take to drive highway 1 will be well worth it (it might take longer if you decide to stop along the way). Leave SF via 280 and take the exit to Pacifica which puts you on highway 1. Año nuevo is interesting only for the elephant seals, but it will take about an hour to walk to the beaches where the elephant seals are located.
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Old Feb 9th, 2004, 10:45 AM
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I have to disagree with Michael about taking the coastal road all the way down. I just did a similar trip last month with very limited time in the peninsula area... We had a day and a half. Tpl's advice on the inland route is much better. It may not be as scenic, but isn't horrendous. The views on the way to Big Sur are enough that you don't need to add on that extra time to come the whole way from SF, esp. on your time contraints. I'd advise if you are going on a weekday, leave after 9:30ish when rush hour is over. We sailed down and were in Monterey in 2 hours flat.

Big Sur was beautiful - probably added another 30-45 minutes on the drive, but we did stop a lot for photo ops. If you end up going there, definitely don't take Hwy 1 the whole way. IMO the scenery, one of the few state parks (we hit Julia Pfeiffer Burns SP), and Pfieffer Beach would be the only reasons to continue on to Big Sur. It can be done on your time frame - we did it - but you just have to prioritize which sights are most important. For us, the scenery, etc. was one of the reasons we chose to go there, so we couldn't pass it up. Definitely visit Point Lobos, though. Carmel Beach, Carmel Mission, Monterey aquarium, and walking around Carmel on Ocean Ave. checking out all the cute shops would all be some ideas for you.

As far as San Fran, Muir Woods is a good half day trip. Marin Headlands offers excellent views of the city and GG bridge from the other side. Alcatraz, Coit Tower, Chinatown, the obligatory but touristy Fisherman's Wharf/Pier 39... I hope to post my trip report in a few days if you want to get some ideas from there.

Hope that offers some help for you!
~Ski Queen
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Old Feb 9th, 2004, 04:12 PM
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I agree with ski_queen about not taking Highway 1 (the coastal road all the way from SF to Carmel. Highway 1 from SF to Monterey area is not as nice as when you get south of Monterey. The scenic route would be 280 south to 17 into the Santa Cruz Mountain and then connect with Highway 1 south in Santa Cruz down to Monterey/Carmel and Big Sur. On the way to Carmel some stops I'd suggest along the way include the Filoli Estate in Woodside off of 280, San Jose (tech Museum and/or Winchester Mystery House), as well as the Big Basin redwoods off of Highway 17. The Big Basin redwoods are much nicer than the ones in Muir Woods.
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Old Feb 11th, 2004, 02:27 AM
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To all of you - thank you for your answers. You given some great input to our trip.
AnneAnne is offline  
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