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Trip Report: 10 Days in SF, Napa, Carmel, Monterey, Big Sur & Half Moon Bay

Trip Report: 10 Days in SF, Napa, Carmel, Monterey, Big Sur & Half Moon Bay

Jun 8th, 2009, 06:06 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 31
Trip Report: 10 Days in SF, Napa, Carmel, Monterey, Big Sur & Half Moon Bay

At the end of April, I took a 10-day trip to California that included Half Moon Bay, Carmel/Monterey, Big Sur, San Francisco and Napa. It was my first time to any of these places and I was struck by the natural beauty of this part of the country. The whole reason for the trip was to attend a friend's wedding in Half Moon Bay, and then we decided to make a vacation out of it. We spent 3 nights in Half Moon Bay, 3 nights in Carmel and 4 nights in San Francisco. I also blogged extensively (with lots of photos) about my trip so I'll give links where applicable in case you want to know more.

We landed in SFO late on a Thursday night (April 23) and went right to Half Moon Bay, CA. We checked into our B&B, the Pacific Victorian. It was a great location (walking distance to the beach), impeccably clean, good food and a nice owner.

Day 1:

On Friday, we explored Half Moon Bay. We had a lovely walk around Pillar Point Marsh. Then we went to the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve at Moss Beach to see the tidepools, which was a bit disappointing because there wasn't much going on in the tidepools:

That night, we had the wedding rehearsal dinner at Ketch Joanne's -- a real local's hang out in HMB. Great food.

Day 2:

On Saturday, we had a few hours to kill before the wedding so we decided to go to Stanford University -- it might sound strange but I love seeing famous schools. The campus is gorgeous and there's an amazing collection of Rodin sculptures:

Day 3:

On Sunday, we drove from HMB to Carmel on Highway One -- a spectacular drive:

We had a delicious lunch at Duarte's Tavern in Pescadero. Don't miss it!

On the way, we also stopped in Santa Cruz to check it out. We had a blast observing the seals and the surfers:


Then we checked into the Best Western Carmel Bay View Inn. But their wifi wasn't working (and my husband needed it for work) so we checked out. We were somewhat exhausted and stumbled into the 1st place that looked nice, The Horizon Inn. It was nice and the wifi worked. We went to dinner at Cantinetta Luca -- delicious!

Day 4:

Monday, our first full day in the Carmel/Monterey area was cool & gray for the most part. Luckily we had the famous Monterey Aquarium to keep us busy:

Then, it got a little nicer out so we could do the famous 17 Mile Drive, which includes Pebble Beach:

Day 5:

On Tuesday, we spent the day in Big Sur (which begins just a few miles from Carmel) , which lived up to its reputation of being one of the most beautiful places in the world.

And we had a late lunch at the famous restaurant Nepenthe. The food was better than we thought it would be and of course the views are breathtaking!

Day 6:

On Wednesday, we drove from Carmel to SF, which took up most of the day, even though it's only about 2 and a half hours away. We checked in the Hotel Del Sol, which we really liked. Not only was the rate great, but we loved being in the Marina District as it's a cool residential area. Plus it has free parking, which is important because downtown those prices really add up.

On Wednesday, we drove from Carmel to SF, which took up most of the day, even though it's only about 2 and a half hours away. But between checking in and out of hotels, lunch, etc., it was not a very eventful day.

Day 7:
On Thursday, we took a daytrip to Napa. We had a leisurely lunch at Bouchon, which was very pretty. Then we visited Sterling Winery and was disappointed by the wine, although riding in the chairlift was fun:


Then we went to Domaine Chandon, which was really fun. If you like sparkling wine, don't miss it! Very festive atmosphere.


Later that night, we ate at Pizza Delfina -- fabulous. We had a late dinner -- if we had tried to go during peak hours the wait probably would have been ridiculous.

Day 8:

On Friday, we did as much sightseeing as we could in SF despite the rain. We made it to the De Young, which was very nice. We also saw Alamo Square & Haight Ashbury. We had an amazing dim sum lunch at Yank Sing.

Day 9:

On Saturday, we drove across the Golden Gate Bridge to see the house boats in Sausalito:


We had a great lunch in the Ferry Building -- it's a foodie heaven in there!

Day 10:

On Sunday morning, we went to Pier 39 before heading to the airport so I could see the seals -- I love seals Best seals of the trip, so if you like seals, don't miss this!

If you have any questions about my trip, I'd be happy to answer them!

lbw14 is offline  
Jun 8th, 2009, 08:17 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
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Thanks for posting, Liz. It sounds like you had a great time.
Grassshopper is offline  
Jun 9th, 2009, 06:05 AM
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Posts: 4,178
Nice report. Did you have lunch in Half Moon Bay? If so, any recommendation?
Centralparkgirl is offline  
Jun 11th, 2009, 07:56 PM
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 904
I'm glad you made it to the Papua New Guinea Sculpture Garden at Stanford. My favorite place!

Also, for Centralparkgirl, if you want a very delicious sandwich, with thick, fresh homemade bread, I would suggest the San Benito Deli in Half Moon Bay. You can eat outside, or take your sandwich to the beach.

Great trip report!
Kailani is offline  
Jul 18th, 2009, 02:27 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 14

I am considering a get away to Big Sur in September (or could wait until December). Love to hike, and plan to hike into Pfeiffer Park and Ventana Wilderness. However, it appears that the fire damage was pretty extensive and many trails are still closed. Did you hike any of these areas? Should I rearrange my trip? My main intention is to see the redwoods and enjoy the hiking in the area.
dkstrausbaugh is offline  
Jul 21st, 2009, 07:08 PM
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 46
Thanks for sharing - took notes - getting ready for our trip to the Senior games at Stanford, then down to Big Sur and staying in Carmel-by-the-Sea (B&B)
judymo is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2009, 10:48 AM
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Kailani - just saw this - thanks for the recommendation.
Centralparkgirl is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2009, 06:07 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 259
thanks for your report! can't wait to go out there in November!
LizaMarie is offline  
Aug 5th, 2009, 06:19 PM
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Posts: 95
basch0902 is offline  

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