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Thanksgiving in California ..ideas for a first time visit!!??

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Thanksgiving in California ..ideas for a first time visit!!??

Old Oct 22nd, 2007, 12:10 PM
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Thanksgiving in California ..ideas for a first time visit!!??

Hi there!!

Hubby and I were planning to spend 9 days (Nov 22 thru Nov 30th) in California next month. We are from NY ..and it's our first visit to California.
We have the airflights to and from San Francisco booked ..but have not decided anything else.

The rough plan so far is ..sight seeing in SF ..and ROAD TRIP. Question is "where" for a road trip!? There seem to be too many choices .
1) Wine Country
2) Route 1 ..and southern California
3) The National Parks??

We would like to splurge for a couple of nights at a really nice / romantic place ..so maybe we could
plan our roadtrip around that.

Essentially, it's a trip to recharge our batteries and take it easy. We don't want to pack in too much at one go either. So the preference would be to focus on one area ..and soak in as much as possible.

Keeping in mind the time of year, any suggestions would be much appreciated!!
Thanks much!

solitaire
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Old Oct 22nd, 2007, 02:56 PM
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Sounds like the beginings of a great trip. I think that picking 1 area in addition to SF is good. It will be more relaxing that way - and given that there could be some stormy weather while you are here, you will be able to adjust your plans based on the weather.

As to what area to choose - I don't think you can go wrong with any of your choices so far. I don't think I would go all the way to southern California though - if I were going to spend time along the coast through Big Sur, I would probably choose Cambria, SLO, or Pismo Beach as my southern-most point.

Also, keep in mind that you can tour wineries without going to the "wine country" - Carmel Valley, Santa Cruz mountains, Sierra foothills, Santa Ynez valley...
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Old Oct 22nd, 2007, 04:18 PM
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From San Francisco, the Monterrey area is about a 2 hr drive South. The wine country of either Napa or Sonoma Counties is about 1.5 hrs north of the Golden Gate bridge. You should probably pick one or the other. You could do two...but it would be a rush. If you decide on the wine country..there is the town of Napa in the county of Napa... and the town of Sonoma in the County of Sonoma. I personally prefer Healdsburg (in Sonoma County), with a nice stay at either the Mars Hotel or Healdsburg Hotel. That would be your romantic, luxury hotel. In November, it could be rainy, but it will still be beautiful with the remaining leaves still on the vines. You can check out other posts on this site to see other impressions people have had of Healdsburg......but in my book, it tops Napa by a long shot.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2007, 04:30 PM
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Solitaire,

I can second the Healdsburg recommendation. The area will be beautiful that time of year (in a late Fall kind of way!).

I was in Healdsburg this summer and found a great place to stay called 410 Matheson. They have a guest house that is to die for! Secluded, behind the main house. Beaufifully decorated with it's own kitchen. They deliver wonderful breakfast each morning to your doorstep. The kitchen is stocked with all kinds of goodies.

The guest house itself is decorated like a Ralph Lauren catalog and is very tastful and restful. Wonderfully cozy and romantic.

Here's the link: http://www.410matheson.com/

You can walk into town (about 10 mins leisurely), or drive.

Healdsburg has really great restaurants, and is a good base for driving through the area for wine tasting, sightseeing, hiking, etc.

Hope you have a good time where ever you choose!

LisaG
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Old Oct 22nd, 2007, 07:30 PM
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If it were me I'd either

1) SF, up the north coast as far as Ft Bragg/Mendocino, Alexander valley, Healdsburg, Sonoma and back to SFO

or

2) SF, Santa Cruz, Monterey/Carmel/Carmel Valley/Pacific Grove, Big Sur and back to SFO

Actually I'd probably really do SF and Yosemite - but at this late date, accomodations in the valley would be difficult/impossible. So Up the coast and back down through Sonoma would be my next choice.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2007, 02:08 PM
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Thanks guys!! Those are some great suggestions.

I am tending towards the SF and Wine Country (Healdsburg) suggestion. Any ideas of activities to do at this time of the year ..I thought biking was a good idea...but would also value opinions on eating places, wineries to visit and general things to do ... which towns should we visit etc. etc.

Thanks again for all the great advice!
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Old Oct 23rd, 2007, 02:48 PM
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Healdsburg would be good. Not so much driving, if you want to rechargs. I would highly recommend it.

If you are at Healdsburg you can easily drive the short distance to the coast. Go to Guerneville and stop at Armstrong Grove Redwoods State Park, then continue on to the coast. If you cross the Russian River just before Jenner, at the tope of the rise, take the road down to Goat Rock State Park. This is where the Russian River enters the Pacific, and depending upon the tides and wind, can be quite spectacular.

Then continue 10 miles south to Bodega Bay, a fishing village where Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" was filmed.

From here you can go back through some lovely farm country to Hwy 101 and make a circle back to Healdsburg.

If you go to tripadvisor.com you can read reviews of Healdsburg accommodations, but also go to the Healdsburg section of the California Forum. There is much discussion there about romantic places to stay.

I am pretty sure there are bicicle trails in Healdsburg and the Anderson Valley....ask this question over there. Lots of locals on the board.

Have a wonderful trip.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2007, 04:08 PM
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Well if you go to SF first you'll be there over the start of the big Christmas shopping season kick-off on the day after Thanksgiving. This can be an exciting time in the city, but there will be crowds everywhere in the most popular hotel area which is Union Square. That said, you'll definitely need dinner reservations for every night while there. Plus, this won't be the relaxing, recharge your batteries part.

However you break up your time, you'll not need a car while in San Francisco. I would spend the first 3 nights in SF, then do a 5 night road trip in wine country and then last night either back in the city or near the airport depending on your departure time.

FYI-once in wine country, in either the Napa or Sonoma side, stop into one of the larger visitor information offices. They are easily visible from either Highway 101, 29 or 37. They have free magazines with maps and tons of ads for different things you can do in the region. They are so helpful and I don't know anywhere else to get them but from one of the stands once you arrive. You could easily map out a different route for any day you want to take a drive. One day on the coast, one day in Napa Valley, one day in Sonoma and one day north in Calistoga is a good mix.

I suggest picking accommodations in either Healdsburg, Yountville, St. Helena or Rutherford and then do a hub-and-spoke road trip from there.
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