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Sonoma, Redwood National Park, Pt Reyes, San Francisco

Sonoma, Redwood National Park, Pt Reyes, San Francisco

Old Jan 29th, 2017, 02:42 PM
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Sonoma, Redwood National Park, Pt Reyes, San Francisco

I'm trying to piece together an itinerary for Northern California this June. We will be spending 3 nights in Sonoma with family and then want to venture out for the next 4 nights. We've already gone South along Hwy 1 and were considering going North this time and spending 2 nights in Ferndale, taking in the sites and hiking around Redwood National Park. We will then return to San Francisco for 2 nights before flying home, which I realize only gives us one full day there.
Would it be crazy to try and fit in Pt Reyes on the way back to San Francisco? We are really in need of enjoying some nature.
Thanks for any advice you can share,
Laurie
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Old Jan 29th, 2017, 03:37 PM
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If you are going to Redwood NP solely to see the large Coast Redwoods, there are a lot much closer to San Francisco.
Why not go to Yosemite or maybe Lassen?
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Old Jan 29th, 2017, 03:56 PM
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Personally, only 1 day in San Francisco isn't worth much. I would make this a "north of San Francisco" trip. We did a similar thing in April last year.

- 1 night at the Benbow Inn near the redwoods. Next day we explored the redwoods, then headed to Ferndale

- 2 nights in Ferndale at the Gingerbread Mansion. Explored Eureka a bit. Pick up a walking guide in a store that describes the various Victorian houses to see in Ferndale. There is also a web site for Victorian houses in Eureka.

- 1 night at the Little River Inn, re-exploring the Redwoods on the way there. We wandered through the village of Mendocino.

- Next day - home (near SFO). We did not stop at Pt Reyes because we spent 2 nights up there in January that same year. We visited Ft Ross, and many drives through Pt Reyes. Fabulous trip. Get a map at the tourist office.

Watch out for fog along the coast in June.

I would not advise trying to visit both the area north of SF and also San Francisco in your very limited time.

Stu Dudley
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Old Jan 30th, 2017, 08:02 AM
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Makes sense. Thanks for the advice. Back to the drawing board!
Laurie
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Old Jan 30th, 2017, 03:03 PM
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When you say, you'll be staying in Sonoma, do you mean Sonoma town proper?
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Old Jan 30th, 2017, 03:50 PM
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I've stayed in all three properties stu mentions -- The Gingerbread once, the Benbow twice, and the Little River Inn multiple times.

I'd highly recommend all three places -- but I'd probably do 1 night in Ferndale and 2 nights at Little River just because there is so much to see/do in the Mendocino area.
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Old Feb 1st, 2017, 06:39 AM
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Okay, I've revamped our itinerary. We will be staying the first three nights in the town of Sonoma. We will then drive north to Ferndale for 2 nights and take in the redwoods and Victorians. I had us booked into the Victorian Inn, but I will check out Gingerbread Mansion. We will then drive down to the Mendocino area and stay in an Airbnb cabin for 2 nights, either in Little River or Albion. I love the idea of sort of getting the feel of camping in the woods, but with all the comforts of home. We will probably spend the last night near either SFO or Oakland airport, depending on the time of our flight, but hopefully we'll make good use of that day too and just get to the hotel late. Turns out we've already been to Pt. Reyes many years ago. I totally forgot.
Now I need to research routes, hikes, food, and attractions and may be back for more of your expert advice. I'm really looking forward to this trip! Thanks so much!
Laurie
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Old Feb 1st, 2017, 06:51 AM
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There is an excellent seafood restaurant directly across the street from the Little River Inn. It's very popular - so reserve ahead.

Stu Dudley
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Old Feb 1st, 2017, 07:23 AM
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Thanks! Will do.
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Old Feb 1st, 2017, 03:19 PM
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Cafe Beaujolais in Mendocino village is also good, reservations essential. If you like fish, I recommend the sturgeon, if available.

Mendocino Headlands are tremendously scenic, and there are interesting hiking trails in Van Damme State Park, including a fern trail and a pygmy forest.
https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=433
Brochure for Van Damme here:
https://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/433/f...Layout2015.pdf

Harvest Market at Mendosa's in Mendocino village is a good place to shop for groceries.

If passing through Fort Bragg, then you might want to stop at Glass Beach. It can be busy, and the glass pebbles have diminished, but it's scenic.

The drive from Leggett (highway 101) to the coast at Rockport (Highway 1) is narrow and curvy. But the coastal drive from Rockport to Fort Bragg is ruggedly beautiful, especially if clear.

If you have time to drive north of Eureka, the coastal village of Trinidad is pretty:
http://www.redwoods.info/showrecord.asp?id=1742

Even though you'll be seeing many redwoods through Avenue of the Giants, Redwood National Forest is about a half hour or less north of Trinidad. Prairie Creek State Park is fantastic and its Roosevelt Elk are so easy to see! Here's a link to a brochure (map on Page 7):
https://www.nps.gov/redw/planyourvis..._VG14-6-19.pdf

I lived close to Pt. Reyes National Seashore for about 25 years, and it's not that far from Sonoma town, for a day trip. But it sounds like it was not that memorable for you the first time round! As Stu warns, the coast can be foggy in June, so if you revisit Pt. Reyes, call the park headquarters or lighthouse first to ask if it's foggy. Even so, the fog can roll in or out any time.

Bodega Bay is also a popular spot.

But there is so much to do around Sonoma town, you'd be spoiled for choice.

From Mendocino/Albion/Little River, will you drive straight down Highway 1 to SF? It's a fabulous drive, with some curves, many places to stop, such as Point Arena Lighthouse and the aforementioned Bodega Bay (great place for lunch).
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Old Feb 1st, 2017, 04:23 PM
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In Ft Bragg DEFINITELY visit the botanic gardens -- just magnificent. http://www.gardenbythesea.org

In June it would be gorgeous.
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Old Feb 1st, 2017, 06:44 PM
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Mendocino Coast Botanic Gardens has a splendid collection of rhododendrons, which bloom until June.

I wanted to add to my above post, if you drive along the coast from Mendocino/Albion/Little River to San Francisco, this will be a long, all-day drive. Not so bad if you break it up by having a long lunch in Bodega Bay, and take short breaks along the way. Ideally, to view coastal attractions between Mendocino and SF, it's best to overnight somewhere in-between on the Sonoma Coast. But you haven't a night to spare.

Alternatives to driving along coast, include Highway 128, which leaves the coast and intersects with SH1 south of Albion at the Navarro River. 128 winds through beautiful Anderson Valley, a small but wonderful wine region known for its pinot noirs, gewurtraminers, rieslings and sparkling wine (Roederer and Sharffenberger). If you're beer drinkers, the valley is also home to Anderson Valley Brewing Co.
More info about Mendocino Co. here:
https://www.visitmendocino.com
Highway 128 meets up with Highway 101 at Cloverdale.
Brief article from Via magazine (AAA magazine)
https://www.viamagazine.com/road-tri...as-highway-128

Another alternative, if you'd like to continue farther down SH1 along the Sonoma Coast, is to go as far as Jenner, then turn inland on Highway 116, which goes through the Russian River valley. You could take a detour at Monte Rio to the Bohemian Highway, which goes through the village of Occidental, a good place to stop for a simple but hearty and filling Italian meal.
Brief article from Via magazine:
https://www.viamagazine.com/road-tri...;s-highway-116

This must sound confusing if you can't look at a map. If you don't have a map of Sonoma Co., here are links to a couple (I hope you have good eyes):
http://www.sonomacounty.com/sites/de...ty_tourism.pdf
https://s3.amazonaws.com/winecountry...Winery-Map.pdf

You can also turn inland farther south on the Sonoma Coast at Bodega Bay, or close to the Marin Coast, at Pt. Reyes Station or Olema.

I just found this road trips website that might interest you, "Mile by Mile."
http://www.milebymile.com/main/california.html

The Marin Coast is spectacular on a clear, sunny day. My favorite parts are the drive along Bolinas Lagoon, then on Shoreline Highway to the Muir Beach Overlook. This drive is somewhat demanding.

I'm feeling homesick, just thinking about it.
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Old Feb 2nd, 2017, 06:46 AM
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Wow.....thank you! So much fantastic information! I'm going to have to take some time with google maps, mapquest, and a real map and chart it all out. I think we will probably do a combination of Hwy 1 and 101 on our return. Maybe Hwy 1 to Jenner? We may fly out of Oakland Airport at this point as we plan on putting in a full day of driving and taking in the scenery as long as there's daylight and just get to our hotel late and done.

Didn't mean to make Pt Reyes sound like it wasn't memorable. We just had a quick picnic there with my mother and didn't really have time to take it in or hike. Another trip. I feel much better now that I've ironed out an itinerary. Now to figure out our route, which you have just made so much easier! (or harder once I have to make tough decisions because I always want to see everything and pack too much in) We will definitely take in the botanic garden. We are much more about seeing nature than shopping and aren't really drinkers, but love the beauty of the vineyards and countryside.
Thanks again. I'm going to print out everything and will let you know what I come up with.
Take care,
Laurie
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Old Feb 5th, 2017, 08:54 AM
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As you'll see in the photos, we got lucky on a 4th of July at Pt Reyes

http://travelswithmaitaitom.com/point-reyes-lighthouse-point-reyes-station/

Jack London State Historic Park is cool.

http://travelswithmaitaitom.com/22755-2/

Fort Ross?

http://travelswithmaitaitom.com/fort-ross-and-the-sonoma-coast/

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Old Feb 5th, 2017, 02:41 PM
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You can play it by ear on your last day of driving, see how your time goes, how the weather is, etc. My guess is you can pick up brochures for the Russian River Valley and Bodega Bay in Sonoma and brochures for Highway 128 drive in Mendocino.

I agree Fort Ross is interesting, but you might not have much time to visit if driving from Little River to SF/Oakland in a day. I'd have a hard time spending less than an hour and a half at Fort Ross. When we were last there (May 2016), we stayed at Fort Ross Lodge, which made visiting much easier.

Point Reyes is a great place to hike, but the drive to the lighthouse and the short walk to the lighthouse, which, maitaitom mentions, is a good alternative if the weather is clear.

You might see some whales along the coast.
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Old Feb 8th, 2017, 05:43 AM
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Beautiful photos! We've been to Jack London Park. So interesting -- we really enjoyed it. Luckily most of our family lives in California so there's always a reason for a return visit. This will be the first time we've headed North though. Nature is calling me during this gray Chicago winter.
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Old Feb 8th, 2017, 08:23 AM
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It's quite grey at this moment. Lots of rain!!!

Stu Dudley
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Old Apr 4th, 2017, 03:21 PM
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So I know it's probably insane to try and fit in one more thing to a packed schedule of 3 nights, Sonoma; 2 nights, Ferndale; 2 nights, Little River; 1 night Petaluma before leaving for Oakland Airport, but what is your opinion of doing a day trip from Ferndale up to Fern Canyon? We are hoping to have time to do some hiking in Humboldt Redwoods State Park on our way to Ferndale, which will leave our one full day in Ferndale open. Fern Canyon sounds like such a unique experience, I'd love to try and fit it in.
Thanks,
Laurie
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Old Apr 4th, 2017, 05:47 PM
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My husband is familiar with Humboldt (he worked there for a few years). He says it would take around 90 minutes to drive up to the Fern Canyon from Ferndale. Google says it would take 1 hour 45 minutes and that sounds about right. It's not a difficult drive, most of it on freeway, but you'll also have to drive through Eureka (101 goes through city streets), then Highway 101 narrows after Trinidad. My husband says the road to the Fern Canyon parking lot is unsealed but in good condition so doable in a regular passenger vehicle, but he says he wouldn't want to do this drive if it were pouring rain or muddy. You should check on the condition of this acess road at the Prairie Creek State Redwoods SP visitor center. Even if you opted not to continue to the Fern Canyon, it wouldn't be a wasted drive, as the park is beautiful and offers many other hiking trails through redwoods and a chance to see Roosevelt elk:
http://www.redwoods.info/showrecord.asp?id=481

By the way, don't miss seeing Eureka's beautiful Victorians, especially the Carson Mansion. On the return, you might want to visit Trinidad.
http://www.redwoods.info/showrecord.asp?id=1742

I agree, the Fern Canyon sounds intriguing and I was disappointed we couldn't fit it in on our trip to Humboldt last year. But we got off to a late start (we started the day in Brookings, Oregon, stopped to speak to a ranger at Redwood Park headquarters in Crescent City, then checked-in at our Trinidad accommodation). Instead we spent the afternoon walking through other redwood trails in Prairie Creek State Redwoods SP and visited Lady Bird Johnson Grove. But you'll be getting off to an early start.

Have you seen these links?
http://www.redwoods.info/showrecord.asp?id=476
http://www.visitcalifornia.com/attraction/fern-canyon
https://www.nps.gov/redw/planyourvis..._VG14-6-19.pdf
https://www.tripadvisor.co.nz/Attrac...alifornia.html

The drive from Ferndale to the Lost Coast is also interesting.

You'd probably enjoy the Pygmy Forest and Fern Canyon Loop in Mendocino's Van Damme State Park.
https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=433
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Old Apr 4th, 2017, 06:13 PM
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Re fern canyon, it is lovely but not the WOW it looks like in on line photos. It is a doable detour. I would really REALLY consider 1 night in ferndale and 2 nights at Little River. There is sooooooo much to see/do around Mendocino / Ft Bragg/ Little River.
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