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Trip help needed: Highway 1, Mendocino, Redwoods in October.

Trip help needed: Highway 1, Mendocino, Redwoods in October.

Old Jul 20th, 2016, 03:02 PM
  #1  
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Trip help needed: Highway 1, Mendocino, Redwoods in October.

My wife and I are taking a 5 day trip, 1st week in October, heading north from San Francisco and back (flying in and out of SFO). I've gotten great advice thus far just lurking in these forums, but wanted to get some specific tips if possible.

Our flight arrives around lunchtime on Monday, Oct. 3 so I'm trying not to drive a long way the first day. We then have 5 full days before we fly out on the 9th.

If I were on this trip alone, I'd be concentrating on hiking and natural scenery only. If my wife was alone, it would be primarily shopping, trying restaurants and sightseeing. So we meet somewhere in the middle.

The top places on my list include seeing redwoods (likely Avenue of the Giants area if I can make it), a drive up or down Hwy 1, the Fort Bragg/Mendocino Area, possibly Point Reyes. If time allows, a stopover at a winery or two in the Sonoma region would be nice just for the experience.

The redwoods trip would primarily be a drive, though I'd like to get out and explore a bit on foot. Not a long hike.

My initial thought for the whole trip was to drive the 101 through Healdsburg to Avenue of the Giants area, then back down to Highway 1 south to San Francisco. I can do the reverse as well.

I'd rather not stay in a different hotel each night. And we can't afford the luxury hotels - I don't want an old roadside motel, but low to mid $100s or less a night would be great, with as much local charm as I can get!

So these are some questions I have thus far:

1. Does such a general itinerary sound possible without having to fly down the highway?

2. If we decide to spend night #1 in the Sonoma area for the wine experience, any particular wineries or row of wineries you would recommend? Smaller family operations vs. massive/touristy wineries is fine and preferred. What towns in this area have reasonably-priced hotels?

3. As another option, would you recommend basing somewhere like Fort Bragg and making a day trip of Avenue of the Giants/Humboldt Redwoods instead of going up near the park for one night and coming back? Looks like I can cut over on 128 or 20 from 101 to the coast if I do that, instead of the full "loop." I'll then already be in the area I eventually want to spend some time in.

4. We prefer hotels or individual cabins to B&B's. Anything at our price point that we should look at in Mendocino (gulp), Fort Bragg or another town I should be considering?

Hope that's not too much. Look forward to any and all advice!
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Old Jul 20th, 2016, 03:29 PM
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The general itinerary is fine -- the budget not so much.

By "low to mid $100s" do you mean $100-$150-ish? If so you are really looking for $85/$90 to maybe $135 because of taxes.

For an itinerary what I would do is something like night of May 3 near Bodega Bay or Pt Reyes, May 4 & 5 in Mendocino/Ft Bragg, May 6 & 7 in Trinidad or Ferndale (having driven the Avenue of the Giants en route), May 8 in Healdsburg, fly out of SFO on the 9th.

But a problem is finding accommodations in Bodega Bay, Mendocino and Healdsburg w/i your budget. For Mendocino, there are several decent though fairly charmless motels in Ft Bragg which will save a tone over Mendocino. There are economy properties in the Trinidad area.
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Old Jul 20th, 2016, 03:42 PM
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Where I stay:

Sonoma, the best deal in town, short drive to the town center, several blocks off the main drag. http://sonomacreekinn.com/

Mendocino - B&B but casual, no forced intimacy, perfect location. http://www.seagullbb.com/
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Old Jul 20th, 2016, 03:47 PM
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Geeze -- all those dates in my post should say OCTOBER. Was looking at something else when I was typing . . .
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Old Jul 20th, 2016, 03:52 PM
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ooh -- just looked on booking.com and there are several very nice properties IN Mendocino well within your budget!

The lucky thing is your dates are mid week -- weekends in Oct are generally much more expensive.

booking.com
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Old Jul 20th, 2016, 05:30 PM
  #6  
 
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Leaving SFO you should be able to cross the GG bridge, and get to Healdsburg in less than 2 hrs. Check out Vacation Rentals, VRBO.com you can find a place in your budget. Consider driving West to Guerneville and taking a lovely walk in Armstrong Woods State park. Beautiful Redwoods... quiet location. Like Muir woods without the tourists. Then head to the coast and take #1 north. Visit Ft. Ross and end up in Mendicino. Drive up to Ft. Bragg and see towns on the coast, then return via #101. On the way home stop again in Healdsburg. Visit Preston Winery. A small boutique winery in the Dry Creek Valley. I"d personally skip Sonoma. Out of the way.
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Old Jul 20th, 2016, 05:44 PM
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"I"d personally skip Sonoma. Out of the way."

Only out of the way if you aren't going that way. I happen to love Sonoma, make it a point to pass that way from time to time. For me it's a destination, not a place to go just if it's convenient. But we all have our places.

My visit last year: http://www.travelgumbo.com/blog/road...ay-in-sonoma-1

Some other of my stops on the same trip, some you may visit, cdominey: http://www.travelgumbo.com/blog/port...ay-road-trip-1
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Old Jul 21st, 2016, 10:51 AM
  #8  
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Wow thanks so much everyone!

janisj - yes that's the general price range if possible. And we're ok with a less charming place/city as long as the room's large enough, comfortable and quiet. Those are the important things. Would love to stay in Mendocino but would be ok in Ft. Bragg.

I hadn't thought about going all the way up to Trinidad. Would we have time to pay a nice visit to the Avenue of the Giants area and still make it up there? And hotel rates aside, do you prefer visiting Trinidad or Ferndale?

MmePerdu - thanks for the Sonoma recommendations. My thought was to go to the general region or county, not the town itself, just for a brief winery experience. But it's not the main reason we're going.

kleroux - thanks for the winery recommendation. Is Dry Creek a well known area for wineries? You can tell I haven't done my research yet on this area!
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Old Jul 21st, 2016, 12:01 PM
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>>I hadn't thought about going all the way up to Trinidad. Would we have time to pay a nice visit to the Avenue of the Giants area and still make it up there?>And hotel rates aside, do you prefer visiting Trinidad or Ferndale?
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Old Jul 21st, 2016, 12:06 PM
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Oh -- meant to add -- After leaving Ft Bragg about 10 miles headed north up Hwy 1 you will pass the Pacific Star winery perhaps the most beautifully located tasting room anywhere (and the wine is pretty good too)

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com...8ee1859b3fc.jp

http://www.pacificstarwinery.com/images/10216.jpg
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Old Jul 22nd, 2016, 10:27 AM
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Thanks janisj - if the only point of going to Trinidad would be redwoods, and Humboldt/Avenue OTG is a good representation then we'll look into Ferndale. Plus it sounds right up my alley from your description!
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Old Jul 22nd, 2016, 02:20 PM
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I can't recommend Point Reyes National Seashore enough. I loved Jack London State Park in Glen Ellen. I think all of Sonoma County outside the big towns is lovely.

Otherwise I am here poaching ideas for a trip next year. We haven't been north of the Russian River and would like to drive all the way to Portland over a couple of weeks, sticking as close to the water as we can. So every answer you get is helpful.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2016, 03:03 PM
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Oops - I see one of my links didn't work

maybe this one will be better . . .

http://ei.isnooth.com/multimedia/7/b...3295_full.jpeg
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Old Aug 2nd, 2016, 01:32 PM
  #14  
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That's a beautiful winery janisj, thanks!

So I'm trying to find lodging and am running across a slight problem scheduling Point Reyes. I'm looking for a place for night #1 but nights #2-3 are going to be in Mendocino. I want to have a relaxed drive up Hwy 1 since I understand the stretch between Jenner and Mendocino is one of the best.

It will be 2-ish before I get out of SFO with my rental car on day #1.

So my question now is - is Point Reyes spectacular enough that I should schedule time for it? Or is the scenery up Highway 1 north of there comparable?

I know that's a subjective question. I want to give PR justice but it would likely only be a couple of hours at best. And to just go straight to a town in the middle like Jenner or Bodega Bay would be the easiest route on day 1.

Thanks for all your help!
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Old Aug 2nd, 2016, 02:32 PM
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For a walk in the redwoods, at the northern end of the Avenue of Giants there is a road going west (Lower Bull Creek Flats Rd.), under 101, that takes you to the Rockefeller Grove.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2016, 02:50 PM
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>>So my question now is - is Point Reyes spectacular enough that I should schedule time for it?
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Old Aug 2nd, 2016, 03:11 PM
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Skip Point Reyes, it is a relatively long detour even from CA1 (Point Reyes Station)
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Old Aug 2nd, 2016, 11:13 PM
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Sorry for joining this discussion late.

Another vote to not skip Pt. Reyes National Seashore. I've lived on New Zealand's South Island for several years now, but lived in northern Marin County for more than 20 years and visited PRNS every two to four weeks (depending on the time of year). I grew up in San Francisco and began visiting the park in my teens, when I'd hitchhike there from the city (this was in the 1970s, wouldn't do it now). I love it and it's probably the place I miss the most. If you haven't yet done so, check out their website (for updates):
https://www.nps.gov/pore/planyourvisit/index.htm

Hard to choose, but my favorite trail is Tomales Point Trail, which offers Tomales Bay as well as Pacific Ocean views (on a clear day). It's also the best place for seeing Tule Elk herds. My favorite drive is out to Pt. Reyes Lighthouse. My favorite beach is a toss-up between Drakes, Limantour or McClures. The beaches can be windy and treacherous with sneaker waves and rip tides, but they're beautiful (best to stay out of the water).
https://www.tripadvisor.co.nz/Attrac...alifornia.html

In October you'll probably see humpback whales along the coast and generally enjoy fine weather. Yes, it's difficult to find cheaper accommodation here, especially on weekends when people drive up from the city. I lived 30 to 40 minutes away so never needed accommodation, but you might look at http://www.motelinverness.com/
Or a private room at Point Reyes Hostel:
http://www.norcalhostels.org/reyes/directions
You won't be spending that much time in your room.

When I was young I camped at PRNS a few times.

Pt. Reyes is not so far from the city. Once, when friends were visiting from New Caledonia, we drove them from San Francisco to Healdsburg town, had a look around the plaza (shopping, good restaurants around here), visited Seghesio's Tasting Room (great zinfandel), which is nearby, then drove north on Highway 101, got off at Lytton Springs exit to visit Ridge Lytton Springs Vineyards (more great zinfandel). If we'd had more time, we would have continued north to beautiful State Highway 128 and the Mendocino Coast, but they only had the day and were attending SF Opera that evening.
http://www.seghesio.com/Visit-Us
https://www.ridgewine.com/visit/lytton-springs/

So we returned south on 101, got off at Healdsburg and then took Westside Road to River Road (Korbel is along here), passing through Guerneville and eventually reaching Jenner on the coast. We drove a bit beyond Jenner on Highway One, then turned around. We stopped for long lunch at Bodega Bay, then drove south on Highway One, making detours to Dillon Beach (personal errand) and Pt. Reyes Lighthouse, then continued south on Highway One through Stinson Beach, before making our final stop at the Muir Beach Overlook.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ATaqpkHA4I
https://www.nps.gov/goga/planyourvisit/muirbeach.htm

We left San Francisco at around 10 .am. and got our friends back to their apartment by around 6:45 p.m. so they could freshen up and have a snack before going to the opera.

If the weather is fine, I would not miss this drive along Highway One. I prefer the north to south direction. If it were my trip, I'd get the Highway 101 north to the wine country and redwoods out of the way first and end on a high of returning along the rural wild coastline.

My husband and I recently returned from another trip to the Oregon and northern California. We stayed in Trinidad to visit Prairie State Creek Redwoods State Park and Lady Bird Johnson Grove. Trinidad is beautiful, but, agree with you, probably too far for your 5 night trip. We spent three nights in Trinidad and Arcata (and spent half a day exploring Ferndale and the road to the Lost Coast). We then drove south through Avenue of the Giants, which was fantastic but busy (lots of cyclists), then cut over to the coast at Leggett, where Highway One starts. The portion of the road from Leggett to the coast is very twisty. The journey from the coast down through Westport and Fort Bragg to Mendocino is beautiful.

Mendocino is one of my favorite places in northern California. Accommodation is cheaper in Fort Bragg and we've stayed there several times. On our last visit we stayed at Seagull Inn (which someone else recommended and is right in Mendocino town) and Heritage House (which is a few miles south in Little River). We got a great deal for Heritage House, but could only get one of the nights we needed. We did some nice walks through Russian Gulch/Van Damme State Park:
http://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/432/fi...Layout2015.pdf

On our way south we stayed a night at Fort Ross Lodge before returning to San Francisco. Historic Fort Ross is fascinating.

I used to find Jenner grade scary, but thought it wasn't so bad last time. I think they've widened the road or something.
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Old Aug 5th, 2016, 03:41 PM
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So based on our arrival early afternoon at SFO I'm now thinking we'll need to find a Priceline special somewhere up 101 (maybe around Petaluma) and cut over to Bodega Bay the next morning. At least on the map it doesn't seem that far. I would return on Hwy 101 from the Humboldt area.

How much traffic should we worry about leaving San Fran via 101 on a weekday? When should we be on our way out of the city?

And then, any traffic southbound on 101 to the airport on a Sunday morning?

Finally, totally different question - I see the Best Western in Garberville recommend often here. I'm looking for a good 2 night base around Humboldt Park and am considering the southern side so we don't have a long drive back (though still considering Ferndale or Fortuna). The reviews at the usual travel sites are generally positive but the naysayers say the hotel (and the town) attract some shady characters and loud parties. I'm from Atlanta so I'm not afraid of "characters" but I'd like a little peace and quiet. Thoughts?

And yes I know about the Benbow Inn but can't afford it!
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Old Aug 5th, 2016, 04:15 PM
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You'll be getting into rush hour traffic heading north.
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