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Travelling to San Fran May 2023 for 12 days - itinerary suggestions

Travelling to San Fran May 2023 for 12 days - itinerary suggestions

Old Nov 26th, 2022, 03:41 PM
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Travelling to San Fran May 2023 for 12 days - itinerary suggestions

Hi, Travelling to San Fran with my husband for 12 days in May 2023. We are wanting to explore outer San Fran, perhaps staying at destinations for 4 days or more. We will be renting a car. My husband is an Australian veteran, we are in our 60's and 70's with reasonable fitness. Suggested itineraries are welcomed. Thanking you in advance.
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Old Nov 26th, 2022, 04:03 PM
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Welcome to Fodors. Northern California is very large (not OZ large ) but quite large and quite diverse. Before anyone can help with an itinerary we need more info from you. Presumably you chose San Francisco for a reason . . . so tell us what sorts of things you have already researched/decided to visit. Do you want the Redwoods along the north coast? Or maybe Carmel/Monterey/Big Sur? Or Yosemite? Or Lake Tahoe? Or one or more wine districts? Or Gold Rush country? Or do you mainly want to stay very close to San Francisco?

Do you have 12 full days on the ground -- or does that include travel from/to Australia? You really do not want a car on the days you are staying IN the city. So you'd just rent one for the time you are outside SF.

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Old Nov 26th, 2022, 04:05 PM
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Some clarification that would help:

How many nights will you have on the ground in California?

By “outer San Fran” do you mean locations not in San Fransisco, like Wine Country, or Monterey or where?

Do you want to stay in SF at all?

What are your interests?

Do you mention your husband is a veteran because he’d like to visit some military locations?
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Old Nov 26th, 2022, 04:32 PM
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Hi, Many thanks for your prompt replies. We will be travelling from NZ, arriving on the 10th May at 8.00am, departing on the 22nd May at 11.10pm. We thought the first day or two we need to stay somewhere before we pick up a rental car, just to get over jet lag etc. We have already stayed in downtown San Fran before so maybe Sausalito for a couple of days. I'm thinking perhaps head north of San Fran. We would prefer to stay in one place for approx 5 days and do day trips. So 5 days on/near the coast and then head to the mountains, Yosemite for 5 days. My husband was in aviation, he has travelled many times to California but it has been awhile. So to visit military locations maybe of interest to him. We love food and wine and enjoy the not so busy places. Cheers
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Old Nov 26th, 2022, 08:12 PM
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The flight from Auckland is a really long one and unless you are flying first or business you may want to spend the first day and night in Francisco. I can see multiple options for other destinations for your trip. In no particular order Napa/Sonoma, Yosemite, and Monterey/Carmel.
hotels tend to be more expensive during the week in the city and more expensive during weekend.
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Old Nov 26th, 2022, 09:49 PM
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Just quick -- The North Coast/Redwoods (like Mendocino and north from there) are absolutely glorious - but a looooong way from Yosemite.

A great combo would be the Monterey Peninsula and Yosemite. By Monterey I mean Carmel, Pacific Grove, Big Sur, Point Lobos, maybe as far south as San Simeon/Hearst Castle. Great scenery and diversity - from the terrific Monterey Bay Aquarium, kayaking in the Bay or Elkhorn slough, Santa Cruz, the Mission, multiple world famous golf courses (Pebble Beach etc), redwoods both in the Santa Cruz mountains and in Big Sur, fine dining, vineyards and wineries - definitely enough to fill 4 or 5 days.

Then cross the Central Valley and into Yosemite National Park. Stay in Yosemite Valley if you can get a room (need to book very soon). If nothing is available in the Valley stay at Yosemite View Lodge in El Portal . . . ignore everyplace else that claims to be 'near Yosemite', 'Gateway to Yosemite', or even IN the park - because they will be 90 minutes to 2 hours from Yosemite Valley over very twisty/turny/mountainous roads. I'd stay a minimum of 3 nights in YNP. Or longer depending on how much hiking you want to do.

If you have a couple of extra days -- either Lake Tahoe or in the Gold Rush towns in the Sierra foothills north of YNP -- Columbia State Historic Park, gold mines, wonderful vineyards/wineries, really quaint mis 19th century towns/villages. Then its a reasonable drive back to SFO.

While in San Francisco, try to visit Angel Island - fascinating history with everything from the Civil War Camp Reynolds, to Cold War era Nike missile sites, the 'Elis Island' of the west coast Immigration Station/Museum, WWI and WWII facilities, and gobsmacking views of San Francisco. Ferry from the Ferry Building or from Tiburon or other places
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Old Nov 26th, 2022, 10:00 PM
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Thanks for the reply. Will need to do some homework and most probably have some questions for you. Is that ok??
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Old Nov 26th, 2022, 10:00 PM
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Thanks for your reply.
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Old Nov 27th, 2022, 07:46 AM
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Here is something I wrote 18 years ago. It is so old that sections have been altered or truncated by Fodors technology changes.

San Francisco - Stu Dudley's Recommendations

Stu Dudley
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Old Nov 27th, 2022, 07:58 AM
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Janisj has the best idea to date: A great combo would be the Monterey Peninsula and Yosemite.

Big Sur and Highway 1 down to San Simeon has some of the most scenic views in the US. The waterfalls will be running in May in Yosemite and this premier national park has groves of the giant Sequoia trees. .

Last edited by PrairieHikerI; Nov 27th, 2022 at 08:01 AM.
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Old Nov 27th, 2022, 08:26 AM
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Note that in May there might still be snow in Yosemite NP. Iíve been there only two times, both times in May. (I live on the East Coast). Both times Tioga Pass had not been reopened for the season. For one visit, the roads we used were fine but we found patches and some deep areas of snow near the trails. The other visit, we encountered snow in some shaded spots on the road.

For current conditionsó

https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/conditions.htm
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Old Nov 27th, 2022, 08:47 AM
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Oh -- Tioga Pass will almost certainly be closed -- unless we have a REALLY dry winter. Yosemite Valley is what we are talking about in Spring . . .
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Old Nov 27th, 2022, 09:17 AM
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I remember snow in May in a shaded area on Route 140Ėsome slush and Iím certain it would have been icier earlier in the day with colder temperatures. Yes. Yosemite Valley was fine. At a higher elevation, May Lake was completely covered; to get to the trail from our parking spot I stepped into snow up to my knees. Just a note to folks who might not expect to encounter snow during the month of May.
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Old Nov 28th, 2022, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
Just quick -- The North Coast/Redwoods (like Mendocino and north from there) are absolutely glorious - but a looooong way from Yosemite.

A great combo would be the Monterey Peninsula and Yosemite. By Monterey I mean Carmel, Pacific Grove, Big Sur, Point Lobos, maybe as far south as San Simeon/Hearst Castle. Great scenery and diversity - from the terrific Monterey Bay Aquarium, kayaking in the Bay or Elkhorn slough, Santa Cruz, the Mission, multiple world famous golf courses (Pebble Beach etc), redwoods both in the Santa Cruz mountains and in Big Sur, fine dining, vineyards and wineries - definitely enough to fill 4 or 5 days.

Then cross the Central Valley and into Yosemite National Park. Stay in Yosemite Valley if you can get a room (need to book very soon). If nothing is available in the Valley stay at Yosemite View Lodge in El Portal . . . ignore everyplace else that claims to be 'near Yosemite', 'Gateway to Yosemite', or even IN the park - because they will be 90 minutes to 2 hours from Yosemite Valley over very twisty/turny/mountainous roads. I'd stay a minimum of 3 nights in YNP. Or longer depending on how much hiking you want to do.

If you have a couple of extra days -- either Lake Tahoe or in the Gold Rush towns in the Sierra foothills north of YNP -- Columbia State Historic Park, gold mines, wonderful vineyards/wineries, really quaint mis 19th century towns/villages. Then its a reasonable drive back to SFO.

While in San Francisco, try to visit Angel Island - fascinating history with everything from the Civil War Camp Reynolds, to Cold War era Nike missile sites, the 'Elis Island' of the west coast Immigration Station/Museum, WWI and WWII facilities, and gobsmacking views of San Francisco. Ferry from the Ferry Building or from Tiburon or other places
Hi janisj, Many thanks for the Monterey Peninsula and Yosemite combo. Would you have a suggested combo for the North Coast?? We would rather stay at a town/city for 4 nights and do day trips or just chill out. Is this possible??
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Old Nov 28th, 2022, 08:00 PM
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Many thanks StuDudley. Very informative. We are thinking the North Coast. Is it possible to stay at a destination for approx 5 days and do day trips.
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Old Nov 28th, 2022, 08:54 PM
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Just very quick -- I'm late packing for a flight tomorrow morning . . .

The North Coast is not a terrific area for one base for day trips. It is pretty 'linear' country with just one main road (hwy 101) and long drives between the different regions.

But two different bases for 2 or 3 nights each works great. Like say Mendocino or Little River for Ft Bragg/Mendocino, and then Ferndale for The Avenue of the Giants, the Lost Coast and several Redwood parks. Or Mendocino followed by Trinidad or Klamath (Klamath CA - NOT Klamath Falls OR) for some of parks farther north.
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Old Nov 30th, 2022, 11:04 AM
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Be careful where you park. In September, parked my rental car in front of Buena Vista Club (well known for its Irish coffee, and it is also a diner) in the Ghiradelli Square area, around 9.00 pm, came back at 10 pm to find rear passenger window smashed, and we had nothing for them to take. Employees said this a common occurrence around the city, and police consider it as a no/ low priority. Used to be our favorite city to spend time in, would go 2-3 times a year, given up on it. All in all you will love the city and environs (or hate it)
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Old Nov 30th, 2022, 12:29 PM
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Would this work for an itinerary.
Wed 10th May - Arrive and stay in San Francisco for 3 nights.
Sat 13th May - Pick up rental car and stay at either San Rafael, Sebastopol or Sausalito for 3 nights. I'm wanting to explore Sonoma wine area and part of the North Coast.
Tues 16th May - Drive to Yosemite and stay for 3 nights. The Ahwahnee is showing not available, any suggestions on where to stay??
Friday 19th May - Drive to Carmel Valley and stay for 3 nights.
Mon 22nd May - Late flight to NZ. 11pm.
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Old Nov 30th, 2022, 01:09 PM
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For Sonoma why not stay in Sonoma?
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Old Nov 30th, 2022, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by KiwiAH View Post
Would this work for an itinerary.
Wed 10th May - Arrive and stay in San Francisco for 3 nights.
Sat 13th May - Pick up rental car and stay at either San Rafael, Sebastopol or Sausalito for 3 nights. I'm wanting to explore Sonoma wine area and part of the North Coast.
Tues 16th May - Drive to Yosemite and stay for 3 nights. The Ahwahnee is showing not available, any suggestions on where to stay??
Friday 19th May - Drive to Carmel Valley and stay for 3 nights.
Mon 22nd May - Late flight to NZ. 11pm.
just very quick . . . Iím in the middle of an espresso martini in my posh London hotelís bar agree with mmeP. I wouldnít stay in Sausalito or nearby for wine country - plus Tiburon/Sausalito are practically IN SF. I wouldnít move hotels a distance one could easily bike. If you want Sonoma- stay in Sonoma valley. Re Yosemite - I explained where to stay way up thread. I think post #6 But on my phone I canít scroll up when posting. If there is no availability at either the Ahwahnee, or Yosemite valley lodge at the falls, stay at Yosemite View Lodge in El Portal.
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