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thelmaandlouise Oct 17th, 2004 12:52 PM

Spend days east or west of Sacramento in December?
I am joining my husband on a trip to Sacramento (for a conference he's attending Dec 9-11.)

We're going to add a few days to the beginning of the trip and can't figure out whether to spend them to the east - Sierra Nevedas or west - San Francisco. Or should we think elsewhere?

What kind of weather can we realistically expect in the hills that time of year? What, besides enjoy scenic beauty, might we do? Will it be cold enough there for snow? (If so I am going straight to SF - we live in VT, we'll have our share of snow for the next 5 or 6 months)

I know the two destinations are probably apples and oranges. We've been to SF once, in May several years ago and loved it. Thought it might be fun to see another part of the state but would very happily head back to North Beach.

Am having such difficulty deciding that it may come down to the ever-popular coin flip.

Also any guidance for "must do" in Sacramento will be appreciated to! We enjoy art, theater, and places unique to the areas we're visiting. While there he will be busy with the conference - I will be on total R&R.

Thanks for any help.

MaureenB Oct 17th, 2004 01:24 PM

Since you don't want snow and cold weather, and you have only been to S.F. once, I'd head there. Always lots to do in the Bay Area, and probably more contrast to your Vermont home.

LoveItaly Oct 17th, 2004 02:30 PM

I agree with Maureen. Yes there will no doubt be snow in the Sierra's. And from reading your post SF will have all kinds of activities that suit your interest.
There may be some rain but there shouldn't be terrible storms.
Regarding Sacramento, you might want to go to for ideas of what to do while there. Welcome to California.

thelmaandlouise Oct 17th, 2004 04:35 PM

Yes, after poking around more I think you're both right and I'm focussing on Sacramento and SF. I can wander around cold, snowy mountains here at home. I want a good fix of urban adventure.

And the sight is great! An extensive calendar that with a ton of events - I will keep checking it until we leave.

I'm very excited. We'll be in town for the Second Saturday Gallery walk in Sacramento. Excellent.

Now the mission is to find some fun in SF - not a difficult task!

LoveItaly Oct 17th, 2004 04:58 PM

Hello again! Glad the Sacbee website worked for you.
Now about SF, as I am sure you know since you have been there before, in MHO it will not be a problem finding fun things to do, it will be finding enough time to do as much as you want.
But that is good, because it means another trip in the future, right?
Try for your SF trip.
Think you will find this a wealth of info also. Will look forward to hearing how your trip goes.

curmudgeon Oct 17th, 2004 10:14 PM

I generally agree with the Sac/SF direction for you. I will say that if the roads are clear, and the weather nice (it often is), making a day trip to Lake Tahoe from Sacramento (up I80, south on CA89, back on US50) could be quite scenic and enjoyable. The mountains are on a whole different scale than Vermont.

The weather is hard to predict; some years we might get a series of storms in early Dec and have mostly rainy and cool weather (snow in mts), while other years might be dry and fairly warm. Southern CA would typically be drier and warmer that time of year, but it is further away if you are flying into Sac.

thelmaandlouise Oct 18th, 2004 03:07 AM

We thought the same thing - that at least we should detour a little to take in some of the mountain scenery. I expect they'll shame our little Green Moutains ;)

The route you suggest looks perfect. I'm going to check Mapquest for approximate drive time each way but do you happen to know?

Suzie Oct 18th, 2004 08:47 AM

Going east you could check out he Cornish Christmas events in Grass Valley if the weather is too bad to go all the way to Tahoe.

dovima Oct 18th, 2004 12:04 PM

Dear thelma et al,
How about exploring some of the Gold Country towns along Highway 49? They are quite close to Sacramento. I've been up there close to Christmas, and found it chilly as in frosty mornings, but many of the places are a bit below the snow line. Sutter Creek and Sonora would be very pretty.

On the other hand, if the weather calls for rain storms (which are snow storms in the Sierra), I'd head for San Francisco. Lots to do here no matter what the weather. There are many neighborhoods you would enjoy walking through even though there is rain - and of course many cafes where you can sip a cappucino while waiting for the cloudburst to abate. A ferry ride right after a stormy day would be spectacular - so would a trip up to Twin Peaks.

janis Oct 18th, 2004 12:30 PM

A day trip from Sacramento up to the Gold rush foothills is easy from Sacramento. North (Nevada City) or south (Sutter Creek, Amador City, etc.) along hwy 49 will give you lots to see/do.

Going to Tahoe is more problematic -- since you won't know the weather until right before you get here (if then). Remember - if there is snow you have to use chains and many rental car agencies do not allow you to put on chains. Just today there was an early season snow storm and chains are required on the Sierra hwys plus hwy 50 is closed due to mud slides.

You will find plenty to do in Sacramento and the foothills, then head down to San Francisco. You can have a great time there even if the weather is nasty

traveler24 Oct 18th, 2004 12:38 PM

If you plan to go to SF -Highway 80 is clogged with commuters 6 AM to 9 AM and the return is almost as bad...
There are "commuter' trains that leaves from downtown Sacto to SF. Just be at theSacto station about 30 min before departure time buy ticket-(need picture ID)-takes you too Emeryville (Oakland) transfere to Amtrak bus (all same ticket) which drops you at Ferry Building.Or Embarkadero . (Fisherman's Wharf) Ferry building has just been "redone" to its former status,in fact I think even better than years ago..Has great restaurants, coffee shop etc.
From there you can just walk up Market Street (or take trolly) and spend the day.
Check for schedules..
Have fun..

thelmaandlouise Oct 18th, 2004 05:54 PM

Wow. This is all great information! I can tell it's going to be difficult to decide how to spend the days - there are only six of them! But seems no matter what we choose we'll have a ball (and hopefully eat really well!)

I appreciate the traffic/public transportation tips too. I'd hate to waste a lot of time needlessly sitting in traffic and hassling with parking when there are easy alternatives.

I am very psyched about this unexpected getaway!

ElendilPickle Oct 18th, 2004 06:41 PM

I haven't been to Sacramento since I was a kid, but I remember being impressed with the Crocker Museum's beautiful parquet floors and huge Bierstadt paintings.

Lee Ann

LoveItaly Oct 18th, 2004 07:35 PM

thelma, traveler 24 gave you really good advice. You would arrive in SF rested. And the parking cost in SF is horrendous (sp?) anyway, you know what I mean, really expensive.
And yes 1-80 at commute time is not fun. And bridge tolls, plus gas cost adds up.
I am not a big fan of AMTRAK but this will be a short and easy journey, and oh the SF Ferry Building is so nice now.
And if you want, right across the Embaradero is the BART station if you want to go to Union Square. Just get off at the Powell St. BART station (2nd stop) and walk up Powell to Union Sq. Or just walk up Market from the Ferry Bldg. A nice walk.
And the F line trolley goes from Market St., around Embarcedero to Fishermans Wharf. And if you want North Beach just walk north on Embarcedero (past Pier 1, 3, and so forth), until you see Broadway on your left. Walk up Broadway until you get to Columbus.
Turn right on Columbus, you are in North Beach. Enjoy!

curmudgeon Oct 18th, 2004 10:25 PM

A bit more on making a day trip to Lake Tahoe. You definitely want to watch the weather - Caltrans tends to set chain requirements if there is snow on the road (partly just to slow down to clueless drivers here). The highways do clear up pretty fast, though, usually within a day after a storm. On average, I figure we have dry roads about 8 of 10 ski trips we make to the mountains.

If you want to check highway conditions when you are here, you can call 1-800-427-7623. Hwy 89 can be a bit confusing in the info line, because there are sections that close for the winter (not the ones you would use). The section down the west shore of the lake is very scenic, but may close for a few days after a winter storm because it is dangerous to plow (the East shore road is kept open).

If you do the daytrip this way, take a few minutes to drive up the entrance road to Squaw Valley (between Truckee and Tahoe), just to see the place (you could also take the tram up to the upper level for a great view).

Kal Oct 19th, 2004 07:35 AM

Aloohaaaa T&L,
If you're in Sacto on Dec 11th and near the Hyatt or Sheraton Grand (depends on Priceline's 4* hotel that weekend)I'll let you buy me a b'day drink!
((^)) ((B))

While we hit a few galleries in Sacto from time to time we've never been able to do the 2nd Saturday tour since Mrs Kal works on Saturdays. Heard a lot of good stuff about the walk. Some good people in those galleries.
A tour of the Capitol is still a nice thing to do.
If you like blues/rock and roll, the Torch Club has a rather eclectic gathering of suits, bikers, etc..our version of SF North Beach's "The Saloon"

You can go to Old Town Sac's Delta King and listen to Gayiel Von sing in the Delta Lounge. Great pipes, nice person.
She has a good piano player too. Sit on the riverside of the lounge so you can watch the river go by.

As for a quick tour, I'd go up I-80 to Colfax and take the back way to Nevada City/Grass Valley and then work your way down Hwy 49 to say Jacskon. You can take the Hwy that takes you to Hwy 99 and skee daddle back up to Sacto or just back track 49 to Hwy 50.

Nice ride even if weather is a bit on the bad side.

thelmaandlouise Oct 19th, 2004 03:39 PM

This is all great advice and perfect suggestions.

Kal, we will at least remember to have a piece of cake in your honor after the Gallery Walk!

I'm trying to figure out now whether we can skip the car rental except for maybe one day for exploring some of the outlying areas you mention. Since here at home we essentially have no public transportation to speak of, I'm one of the oddballs who actually likes taking the bus/subway/train.

How is Sacramento's public transit system - will it get me to all the places I would want to see in the city - hassle free?

In SF we last stayed at the San Remo and loved the price and location - the room was tiny - I mean REALLY small. Somewhere I have a photo of the husband stretched out on the bed, simultaneously touching one wall with his hand and the opposite one with his foot. But when we travel we rarely do more than sleep at the hotel so it's fine. And I like the neighborhood, atmosphere and service a lot.

On that trip we drove to SfMOMA and I remember there was a lot of traffic - but not like driving in Manhattan or Mexico!

Kal Oct 19th, 2004 05:45 PM

Cake is goooooooood. =P~

Transit sytem is baaaaad.

Actually we never take it so we really can't comment.
Taxis in the downtown area were pretty cheap.

janis Oct 20th, 2004 12:10 PM

Actually the transit system in Sacramento is a lot better than most Calif cities (except for the Bayarea)

There is a wide ranging bus system and the light rail easily gets you all around the central city area for old Sacramento, the Capitol, Shopping, Crocker museum, mid town, etc.

When you get to Sacramento invest in a "bus book" -- it costs $1.50 and you'll find it in any grocery store, book shop, convenience market. it shows all the routes and is very easy to follow.

You will need a rental car for you going up to the foothills or to Tahoe.

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