SF/Yosemite/Coast Family Trip

Old Feb 21st, 2020, 07:04 AM
  #1  
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SF/Yosemite/Coast Family Trip

Hi,
Looking for any input!! We are planning a trip in early April landing in SF and would love to be able to do Yosemite and the Coast as well. We are a family of 6, including kids ages 10, 8, 6 and 3. I realize this may be a bit ambitious but given the opportunity to on the West Coast is something that doesnít always come along for an East Coast family.
Our initial thoughts are:
Day 1: land in SF and stay over and spend much of day in SF doing Alcatraz and then head inland to Yosemite in the afternoon. Overnight in Yosemite but nothing sure where yet - want to book this ASAP!
Day 2: Yosemite with some shorter hikes - would love to see YosemiteFalls and would take any other recommendations.
Here is where we arenít sure... the original plan was to drive down to Sequoia but we are told it may not be worth the time.

Ultimately, we want to head to the coast toward Cambria and work our way through Bug Sur and Hearst Castle...Monterey (aquarium)....

Finishing up on Day 6, we would love to spend more time in Sf, as we will be flying out the next morning.

Help??

Of course, another thought we had was to do Yosemite and head toward Lake Tahoe. Thatís just me including the thought but thinking Coast would be better.

Anything will help this RIer
Thank you!!

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Old Feb 21st, 2020, 08:45 AM
  #2  
 
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Very quick -- I'm leaving for a few hours so will post more later. Sequoia is definitely 'worth' visiting but you really don't have the time. I'd stick to SF/Yosemite/Monterey area. As for accommodations in Yosemite. Immediately book a (cancelable) room at Yosemite View Lodge in El Portal. Then keep trying for a cancellation in the Valley itself. If you can't get into the Valley, Yosemite View is the closest and nicest property in the region. Don't be swayed by other hotels saying 'near Yosemite' since the park is ENORMOUS and even someplace just outside one of the other entrances could be an hour or 90 minute drive from the Valley which is the only part you really have time for
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Old Feb 21st, 2020, 09:03 AM
  #3  
J62
 
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Way to ambitious a plan for 6d. SF, to Yosemite, - its a half day drive there, worse if you are stuck in evening rush hour out of the city per your plan. Agree with janisj - stick to SF/Yos/Monterey area. If you don't believe us, map out your itinerary on google maps and see just how long you'd spend in the car (under fictional ideal, no-traffic, conditions)

Hearst/Cambria - forget it for this trip. Hearst is not a place to take your kids at that age, and Cambria is way to far there and back. If you went to Monterey for a few nights you could do a day trip a short way (or longer way) down the coast towards Big Sur, and actually have time to stop along the way and enjoy just being there.

There are plenty of other giant sequoia trees, either at the Caleveras state park, or in Yosemite. Spend a few hrs at Wawona grove in Yosemite and you'll see these giants.

I don't quite understand what you wrote for Day 1. Land, stay over (that spills into day 2), see alcatraz, drive to Yosemite. you can't fit all that into day 1 and actually enjoy anything. In my opinion it's worth spending minimum 2 nights in Yosemite, unless your objective is to just check it off and say you've been there, and you hop back in the car and rush to the next 4-5 hr drive.




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Old Feb 21st, 2020, 09:20 AM
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Have you scoped out how much time it takes to get to Yosemite from San Francisco? Allow most of the day with checking out, traffic and checking in. And if you are not staying inside the Valley, allow time for getting there, finding parking and waiting for the shuttles.


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Old Feb 21st, 2020, 09:29 AM
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Not sure my last post went through but looking at Yosemite Valley Lodge or Tenaya Lodge and Cottages.
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Old Feb 21st, 2020, 09:34 AM
  #6  
J62
 
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Yosemite Valley Lodge is the best choice hands down. Tenaya, not so much as it's an hour drive from the valley. For visiting the main part of Yosemite, which is the valley, Yosemite View Lodge in El Portal is a better bet than Tenaya.
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Old Feb 21st, 2020, 09:41 AM
  #7  
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Piecing this together...
Day 1: land and stay overnight in SF
Day 2: Skip anything in SF for now? and Head to Yosemite in am, stay over in Yosemite - any must see in Yosemite?
Day 3: spend day in Yosemite, stay over another night
Day 4: Up and head toward coast - goal being Monterey, spend night in Monterey
Day 5: not sure what makes sense here, Big Sur and back or north toward Half Moon Bay or?
Day 6: SF
Day 7: Depart

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Old Feb 21st, 2020, 09:54 AM
  #8  
J62
 
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That's starting to shape up ok. If you can fly non-stop into SFO then starting and ending in SF is ok. If you need to connect somewhere then look at flying into Fresno (much closer to Yosemite). You may have a one rental car fee but the time saved going back and forth to SF would help you out. There are flights to Fresno from Las Vegas, Portland, Phoenix, Denver, and maybe a few others.

I would stay 2 nights in Monterey, and if you want to drive towards Big Sur do that as a day trip without having to check out and back in somewhere else. I've done a late night arrival into Fresno, stayed at a hotel on the north side of town, then been on the road for the short-ish drive to Yosemite at day break. If you do decide to fly into Fresno, then Tenaya is a good 1st night hotel as it's about half to 2/3 of the way between Fresno and Yosemite Valley. Sacramento is another option for a starting point enroute to Yosemite. You won't want to fight SF area traffic more than once on this trip.

Then you could use the last 2 nights in SF - you could drop off the rental car at an in-city location (eg near Fishermans wharf) and use public transport or taxi to get to the airport to fly out of SFO. Many different options - I'm not suggesting this is the best plan - just throwing out options for you to consider.
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Old Feb 21st, 2020, 10:03 AM
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Day 5 - go south toward Big Sur. See Point Lobos, Garrapata, Pfeiffer Bridge, eat at Nepenthe, see McWay Falls. Turn around and go back to Monterey for the night.

Staying in SF twice for just one day each makes no sense at all. The airport is well south of the city so you'll eat up too much time on the road. Instead see SF on Day 1 and 2. After Monterey, go to the airport and fly home.

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Old Feb 21st, 2020, 10:09 AM
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Our flights are to SF, which is not flexible because we got great airfare from the East Coast. I attempted to make reservations at the Yosemite Valley Lodge and am hoping to hear back within 24 hours and will go from there..

I suppose if I am denied, I could try to flip the trip and do the coast first.
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Old Feb 21st, 2020, 10:11 AM
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I guess the SF for two nights is excessive but it's awkward bc our flight gets in around 5pm and then we depart on the 7th day at 5:30am...
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Old Feb 21st, 2020, 10:18 AM
  #12  
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This is the website for Yosemite Valley Lodge reservations.
https://www.travelyosemite.com/lodgi...e-valley-lodge

They are currently showing no rooms early april until Thu 4/9 & Fri 4/10. You should grab those now if they even remotely work for you as that week is spring break week for many schools across the US.




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Old Feb 21st, 2020, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by lbmcgrail View Post
I guess the SF for two nights is excessive but it's awkward bc our flight gets in around 5pm and then we depart on the 7th day at 5:30am...
​​​​​​Where are you planning on staying in SF and how do you plan on getting there from the airport? With an incoming 5:00 pm flight, you won't have time to see anything in SF so you might as well just stay at the airport and drive to Yosemite the next day, or start your drive to Yosemite that day. I don't think you understand where the airport is located and how much traffic you will face at 5:00. Also, with your early departure, you'd be better staying at the airport the night before.

If I were you, I would skip SF completely and make this trip about Yosemite and Big Sur/Monterey.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2020, 04:15 AM
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Completely agree with AustinTraveler re staying at the airport. The airport is south of the city, and that's the direction of traffic in the mornings (toward Silicon Valley). So I would arrive at 5, pick up your car, and check into an airport hotel (there are many, in all price ranges - go to booking.com and click on "airport" as the area you'd like to stay. Given the choice of airport "areas", I would stay south of the airport rather than in South San Francisco (which is a separate city from San Francisco) - stay in Millbrae, Burlingame, San Bruno or San Mateo. Have dinner - Burlingame has great restaurant choices - Mingalaba (Chinese/Burmese - with your size party, make a reservation, otherwise there will be a long wait), Limon Rotisserie, Delfina, LIttle Star and others. Burlingame Avenue is also a nice urban-like street for wandering before or after dinner - much shopping and eating.

On your return, reverse and do it again!! Given the time of your morning flight, you might want to drop the car off the previous evening, and take a shuttle or cab/Uber(s) to the terminal. The car rental is a separate facility that you get to via air-train.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2020, 07:41 AM
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Originally Posted by lbmcgrail View Post
I guess the SF for two nights is excessive but it's awkward bc our flight gets in around 5pm and then we depart on the 7th day at 5:30am...
Definately turn the car in the evening before your early flight out and use taxi/Uber or light rail to get to the airport early in the morning.
You can see a grove of big Sequoia trees in the south end of Yosemite (Mariposa Grove) without going to Sequoia / Kings Canyon NP's.
Coming north from Monterey, you can see some big Coast Redwoods at Big Basin north of Santa Cruz.
Cars are cheaper to rent and you don't have to wait in such long lines if you rent away from the SFO airport facility.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2020, 08:15 AM
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"Coming north from Monterey, you can see some big Coast Redwoods at Big Basin north of Santa Cruz."

Probably a better option would be Henry Cowell State Park - easier to get to and less of a detour.
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Old Feb 24th, 2020, 05:33 PM
  #17  
 
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Originally Posted by lbmcgrail View Post
Hi,
Looking for any input!! We are planning a trip in early April landing in SF and would love to be able to do Yosemite and the Coast as well. We are a family of 6, including kids ages 10, 8, 6 and 3. I realize this may be a bit ambitious but given the opportunity to on the West Coast is something that doesnít always come along for an East Coast family.
Our initial thoughts are:
Day 1: land in SF and stay over and spend much of day in SF doing Alcatraz and then head inland to Yosemite in the afternoon. Overnight in Yosemite but nothing sure where yet - want to book this ASAP!
Day 2: Yosemite with some shorter hikes - would love to see YosemiteFalls and would take any other recommendations.
Here is where we arenít sure... the original plan was to drive down to Sequoia but we are told it may not be worth the time.

Ultimately, we want to head to the coast toward Cambria and work our way through Bug Sur and Hearst Castle...Monterey (aquarium)....

Finishing up on Day 6, we would love to spend more time in Sf, as we will be flying out the next morning.

Help??

Of course, another thought we had was to do Yosemite and head toward Lake Tahoe. Thatís just me including the thought but thinking Coast would be better.

Anything will help this RIer
Thank you!!
Hello! I'm no expert but will throw this in there. We did a similar trip a few years ago, and we were completely comfortable staying in Yosemite West. With 4 kids, I'm sure you'll appreciate the space of a home instead of a hotel room. We were halfway between Yosemite valley and Mariposa grove. And right by Washburn point(which will be closed, so is a mute point...)
Anyway just thought I'd share. We did 3 nights San Francisco, 3 nights Yosemite west and 1 night Santa Cruz which is only an hour away from SFO.
However with a 5 am flight, I'd stay 2 nights Yosemite and my last night @ the airport as well.
Good Luck!
**I wouldI totally agree with the suggestion of stopping @ Nepenthe.
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Old Feb 25th, 2020, 01:04 AM
  #18  
 
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Hi,
just FYI, we did Yosemite from SF in the same day but we didn`t enjoy it fully. We drove through all the valley, did a short hike in the valley next to the river, bridges, had a short picnic ... but did not go close to the waterfalls and what is even worst - didn`t have time to go to the Glacier Point. On the return we had little time to stop in Groveland and that`s it. So, overnight stay is suggested. Keep in mind that it takes at least 5h drive one way if there is no big traffic.

Regarding Monterey area I can say that we did it also in one day from SF with stops in Santa Cruz Beach Broadwalk (just cca 30min), Monterey (cca 1h), Carmel By the Sea (cca 2-3h, it is really worth it), than we drove to the first bridge on the way to Big Sure - Rocky Creek Bridge - but there was so much traffic that we just did couple of pics and turn back - drove to Laguna Seca, short visit to the circuit and than drove till Gilroy where we arrived in the late evening.

Hope this helps to get an idea of the timmings.
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Old Feb 25th, 2020, 02:47 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Feb 2020
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Yosemite is huge, it takes several hours to travel within the park alone... If you are going all the way out there, at least spend 2 days. In October, I ended up being stuck in 2 hours worth of traffic inside the park!
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Old Mar 20th, 2020, 09:38 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
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You probably know that all of California is under a shelter-in-place order from the governor because of the coronavirus. Parks are closed, restaurants are closed, and we're all supposed to stay home as much as possible.
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