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Summer 2012 our first trip to California - Help Please!

Summer 2012 our first trip to California - Help Please!

Old Dec 5th, 2011, 05:45 AM
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Summer 2012 our first trip to California - Help Please!

My husband and I have a wedding to attend in Carmel, CA from August 9-12, 2012 (We will be staying in Carmel those days for sure). We would like to arrive in California the weekend prior and a few places we were thinking of adding to our itinerary include: Yosemite, Sonoma, driving down the Pacific Coast Highway, and San Fran. I know this may sound ambitious, but we want to jam pack as many sights as possible into our first trip to California! Any itinerary suggestions are welcome as we are just beginning to plan, Thank you!
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Old Dec 5th, 2011, 07:50 AM
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Land in SF. Visit the city. Rent a car. Go to Sonoma. From there to Yosemite. You could theoretically dip south from Yosemite and come up highway 1 from Morro Bay to Carmel. As an alternative, add a couple of days after the wedding and do the Big Sur area then. However, all these locations are high tourist areas and require reservations well in advance. Return the car in SF and fly home.
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Old Dec 5th, 2011, 08:19 AM
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Do you have time during your 4 days in Carmel to do things other than wedding-related activities? If so, I'd do what Michael says, but I'd plan on driving down the coast from Carmel as a day trip while you are there for the wedding. This wouldn't include Big Sur or hiking, but will give you an idea of what you CAN do (and we started and returned to San Francisco - coming from Carmel, you can do a lot more in one day).

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Old Dec 5th, 2011, 08:41 AM
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For Yosemite you really need 2-4 days there(depending on how much hiking you want to to). Make your reservations ASAP.

You could drive down the coast to Big Sur, McWay Falls, Hearst Castle, even as far south as the Channel Islands.

San Francisco would be nice for 2 or 3 days

Point Reyes and Muir Woods is nice to the north(I like Yosemite far better)

Even a trip to Sequoia National Park would be good.
Maybe a day at Pinnacles National Monument(probably to hot for august though)

I think you might want to stick with just one or two of the places you mention. You will get far more out of them without cramming to much in.
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Old Dec 5th, 2011, 10:07 AM
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Just be aware that Yosemite is not a little daytrip - it's 4-hr drive from the Bay Area, and reservations in the hotels in the Valley sell out a year in advance. You really don't want to do just an overnight either, probably 2 nts. min. Rooms at Wawona Lodge, which is in the park, but 45 min. from the valley, are usually still available, but will sell out soon for August as well.
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Old Dec 5th, 2011, 10:21 AM
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First check yosemitepark.com for in-park lodging. If you can't get anything you want right away keep checking because there are always cancellations due to people changing plans since they make the reservations a year in advance.

Make backup plans in El Portal which is a really easy and direct shot to the valley. You can cancel those if you end up getting loidging in the valley later.

If you think about what you can reasonabley see though I don't know how you'd do all that if get to SF on Friday the 3rd you can visit all day 4th & 5th leave for Sonoma on the 6th and do wine tasting 6th & 7th. Leave early on the 8th for Yosemite but you'd have to leave the next day for Carmel. That doesn't seem like enough time. I'd skip Sonoma if you want to see Yosemite.
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Old Dec 5th, 2011, 10:21 AM
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There is plenty to keep you busy around Carmel. You could easily spend a day each in Big Sur, Monterey and other surrounding areas.

In Monterey you might want to check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium, rent bikes on Cannery Row and ride along the coastal recreation trail or take a whale watch tour.

If you enjoy hiking then head to Big Sur (45 minutes south of Carmel). There are several amazing state parks with scenic trails. Don't miss McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.

While your stay in Carmel check out the great wine tasting rooms and art galleries. The Carmel Mission is also a fun place to tour around. Point Lobos is also a great spot for hiking and amazing ocean views.

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Old Dec 5th, 2011, 12:03 PM
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You could get to SF on the 3rd, and spend the nights of the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th in SF, using one of your days for a day trip to Napa or Sonoma (Healdsburg would be my choice). Then on the 7th, head for Yosemite early, spend the nights of the 7th and 8th in Yosemite, head for Carmel on the 9th. Still only 1-1/2 days in Yosemite, though.
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Old Dec 5th, 2011, 01:39 PM
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There is a "17-Mile Drive" that cuts through the Pebble Beach properties. It's beautiful (in a very manicured, mansiony, sort of way, with great views), but I would say it doesn't exactly give one a taste of Monterey. Alice, to what 20-mile scenic drive do you refer?

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Old Dec 5th, 2011, 08:25 PM
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If you like to hike,there is a beautiful hike near Carmel at Point Lobos. It has it all...beautiful forest, gorgeous views of the surf, usually you can see seals and otters. Around Big Sur, check out Nepenthe restaurant. Not sure about the food, but the atmosphere and views are great.
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Old Dec 5th, 2011, 08:57 PM
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Please save Yosemite for a future trip.
If you are flying SWA, go into OAK, rent a car, and drive to Carmel. Much less hassle than SFO.
After the wedding, drive the Pacific Coast Highway to SF, have lunch at the Cliff House, drive the SF 49-Mile Drive. Next day drive across the GG Bridge to Mount Tam and Muir Woods, a near Yosemite experience.
For a day in the City, drive to the Union Square garage and park your car. Walk down Grant Street through Chinatown, veer L on Columbus Ave toward the waterfront. Side trips include Coit Tower and twisty Lombard Streed down which I long ago drove a station wagon and poptop camper.
Have an Irish Coffee at Buena Vista and then catch the cable car at the turnaround back to Union Square.
Sonoma Valley is great, but there are those who consider the Livermore Valley to be the new Sonoma. For one thing, at many Livermore wineries, you can still taste a glass for free.
On your way back to SF, loop around the Skyline Drive above Berkeley for an incredible panorama of the Bay and the GG Bridge.
Don't worry about missing anything. You'll soon be back.
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