trip outside of San Francisco with kids

Old Mar 24th, 2015, 11:33 AM
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trip outside of San Francisco with kids

Hello,

The kids (ages 4 and 7) are finally old enough to sit still for a while so we're taking them to see the west coast this summer, probably in early July. The plan is to spend about a week in San Francisco, visiting friends, the Exploratorium, etc., and I think we've got SF proper covered. The question is: Where can we take them to see some of the beauty outside of SF? An overnight (or even 2- or 3-night) stay is great. I just don't want a lot of driving. Maybe 2 or 3 hours max.

I'd love to find some sort of old timey cabin/lodge/ranch so they can see some nature. In fact, I don't think they've ever seen a forest. What do you think about Muir Woods? And what are your favorite places to stay? A river, hiking, and/or horseback riding would be a huge hit. It can be fancy or budget. Personality is key.

Thanks very much!
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Old Mar 24th, 2015, 11:45 AM
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Muir Woods would be great for a couple of kids that age to experience nature and burn off some energy hiking.
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Old Mar 24th, 2015, 11:51 AM
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How about a train through the redwoods? If you head north from San Fransico, the Skunk Train has 2 starting points, Willits on highway 101 (wine & redwoods nearby), and Fort Bragg on the coast. A former logging train, there are 2, Willits & back, and Fort Bragg and back. They can be done round trip in a day, to the ridge and returning to the starting point, or the whole distance by changing in the middle and coming back the next day. Fort Bragg is 10 miles north of Mendocino, a great spot to stay, with or without kids.

http://www.skunktrain.com

For more about the area, my blog from a recent trip will be up starting tomorrow morning on travelgumbo.com. Tomorrow's includes the City of 10,000 Buddhas, just south of Willits, in Ukiah.
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Old Mar 24th, 2015, 01:31 PM
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The Skunk/Willits is just w/i your 3 hour driving limit.

Maybe consider the Roaring Camp train instead. Felton is only about 90 mins from SF. Then you could continue over the hill into Santa Cruz.

http://www.roaringcamp.com
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Old Mar 24th, 2015, 06:15 PM
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Bodega Bay, Jenner, Guerneville (Armstrong redwoods) will have everything you want--walks, beautiful coast, Russian River, Redwood forest--just a couple hours north of San Francisco.
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Old Mar 24th, 2015, 06:33 PM
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Most or all of the places aprillilacs suggests, above, could easily be combined with a ride on the Skunk Train. My son, 8 at the time, loved it.
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Old Mar 24th, 2015, 06:42 PM
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How about going south a couple of hours and combining Santa Cruz as mentioned above (with redwoods, train, and boardwalk) with Monterey Peninsula (aquarium, beautiful coast and beaches) and/or Big Sur (wilderness, horseback riding, hiking.)

http://www.fernwoodbigsur.com/forest-cabins.html
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Old Mar 24th, 2015, 07:30 PM
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While I prefer the offerings north to what's south in general, the Monterey Bay Aquarium (south) is the crown jewel. Either way is great, though, just pick a direction. It would be completely subjective saying which way is absolutely the best.
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Old Mar 24th, 2015, 07:52 PM
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MmePerdu's Monterey Bay Aquarium suggestion is brilliant.
Picturesque as it gets, perfect venue for young and old.
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Old Mar 25th, 2015, 08:28 AM
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Santa Cruz Boardwalk or Monterey Aquarium.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca...n/photostream/
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Old Mar 25th, 2015, 06:13 PM
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Thank you, everyone! Any lodging recommendations? I would like a lodge/cabin kind of place - something with old charm instead of a chain hotel, however nice it may be. Maybe the perfect hotel will help me choose which direction to go in...
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Old Mar 25th, 2015, 06:26 PM
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This is my favorite place to stay in Mendocino - simple, reasonably priced, pretty and right in town, with several configurations to accommodate families:

http://seagullbb.com
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Old Mar 25th, 2015, 06:32 PM
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The Fern River resort might be the sort of place you are looking for

http://www.fernriver.com
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Old Mar 25th, 2015, 07:18 PM
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Would Muir Woods work? I was sure impressed with the trees there, I would thinks kids would be amazed at their [the trees] size - especially compared to the small kids stature...
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Old Mar 26th, 2015, 04:09 AM
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while santa cruz and monterey are fabulous....it made me sad when you said you don't think they have seen a forest. get into the woods.
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Old Mar 26th, 2015, 06:21 AM
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Agreed, ltt. All of these other suggestions are very tempting, but I think I want to stick with the forest plan. I really like the aprillilacs suggestion. So, where can we stay that is woodsy/cabiny and charming, preferably to the north near Guerneville? I see a lot of choice but it's kind of overwhelming. Any favorites? Any favorite towns? We can spend a couple of days. The only limitation is the driving (car or train). We are big walkers/explorers and the idea of sitting on a train for hours does not really appeal.

Thanks again!
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Old Mar 26th, 2015, 10:38 AM
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No train will take you to Bodega Bay, Russian River, etc. The trains that people are referencing are scenic ride trains, i.e. out and back rides in a limited location. You will need to drive and driving is the best way to see scenic areas.
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Old Mar 27th, 2015, 06:08 AM
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Thanks, I realize that. What I'm getting at is that I don't want to spend a lot of time sitting around in or on any sort of wheeled conveyance. We would like to drive somewhere and be able to explore on foot.
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Old Mar 27th, 2015, 09:10 AM
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This might be a perfect time for an Airbnb rental. Here's a link to entire units up to $200 a night:

https://www.airbnb.com/s/Guerneville...ss_id=b3fq4syb

You can adjust the filters just above the first listing.
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Old Mar 27th, 2015, 10:20 AM
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I agree with heading north from San Francisco. The Monterey aquarium and the Santa Cruz boardwalk seem like more of the same you'll be doing in SF.

My sister has a place in Inverness, which is really cute and woodsy. It's near Point Reyes National Seashore
There are rental places on VRBO.
http://www.pointreyes.org/inverness-marin-county.html

For hiking and beautiful views and things for kids to do, you don't have to go much further than the Golden Gate Bridge:
http://www.nps.gov/goga/index.htm
http://www.baykidsmuseum.org/plan-yo...it/directions/
https://plus.google.com/109993880183...28/about?hl=en

And, definitely Muir Woods
http://www.nps.gov/muwo/planyourvisit/directions.htm
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