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What to see/do between Napa and LA

Old Mar 8th, 2008, 10:30 AM
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What to see/do between Napa and LA

We are planning a 5nt trip from Napa to LA. We want to stay for 2 nts in Napa so that we can spend one day in wine country and do a day trip to San Francisco, then are thinkg of visiting Varmel/Monterey, Big Sir, Santa Barbara, Santa Monica and Santa Catalina. Does this sound realistic? Should we delete or add places? Any recommendations on accomodations? We do like B&Bs....Also, how do you get to Santa Catalina from the mainland, can we stay the night there, and is it worth it? What about San Juan Capistrano, should we see it or skip it. Thanks for all your input.
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Old Mar 8th, 2008, 11:08 AM
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Well, Catalina is southwest (very west!) of L.A., so you actually have to go through LA to San Pedro or Long Beach (or Marina del Rey) to get to Catalina and back. And, of course, San Juan Capitrano is about 1/2 way between LA and San Diego and anywhere from 1 hr. 15 min. to over 2 hours from LAX. Sooo, it depends on what you're looking for in terms of vacation. All those places in 5 nights, with 2 in Napa, means 3 nights/days for the rest. In other words, you will spend most of your time in your rental car going from place A to place B. If you don't want to spend ANY time in L.A. and you're looking for ambience over exploration, Go from Napa to Carmel to Santa Barbara to Santa Monica. Stay at the Channel Inn in Santa Monica Canyon.
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Old Mar 8th, 2008, 11:45 AM
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I don't think San Juan Capistrano isn't worth the extra time. I like the Napa to Carmel to Santa Barbara that Surfergirl advised, but I'd go out to Catalina and spend the night rather than Santa Monica. Or, better yet, spend an extra day in Carmel or Santa Barbara areas & just wave as you drive through LA to the airport.
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Old Mar 8th, 2008, 12:16 PM
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Your plans aren't really doable. I've never encountered anyone doing San Francisco as a day-trip from Napa - it's always the other way around. If you try this on a work day, you will either spend a lot of time in commute traffic, or have to leave Napa around 9 - which would not give you much time in SF.

SO - how does your idea look:

Day 1. Land at SFO around 10am (just guessing), pick up a car, and head to Napa. Get to Napa around 1:00. Visit two wineries. Have dinner.

Day 2. Have breakfast. No use leaving for SF before 9:00. Get to SF around 11. Find a place to park. Visit something in SF (very limited time). Either leave SF before 3:30 to avoid commute traffic, or after 7 to avoid commute traffic. Get to Napa 2 hrs later.

Day 3 - leave Napa around 9. Get to Carmel around 2PM. Visit Carmel for 1/2 day

Day 4 Drive down to Santa Barbara, visit, continue on to Santa Monica & stay overnight (what's in Santa Monica??) Most of this day will be spent in a car.

Day 5 - don't know how you get to Catalina from Santa Monica. If you drive south (encountering horrendous commute traffic?) you'll probably miss the last boat to Catalina that gives you any time in Catalina.

I think there are two much more realistic options

Option 1.
1 - 2-3 days in San Francisco
2 - drive north up the beautiful Marin/Sonoma coast, and then over to Healdsburg in Sonoma wine country (most locals - including me - prefer the Healdsburg area over Napa). A day trip to Napa from healdsburg is very doable - but you may not want to leave the healdsburg area once you get there. stay 2-3 nights.

This itinerary could be done in reverse - depending on arrival/departure times & where the weekend hits.

Option 2
1 - 2-3 nights in San Francisco
2 - drive down to Carmel/Monterey/Big Sur. Spend 2-3 nights
3 - depart from San Jose airport.

Didn't we already do this itinerary for someone else earlier this week - or last week???

Stu Dudley
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Old Mar 8th, 2008, 02:24 PM
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Catalina's a favorite of mine and any other time I'd say, yes, do it! Here, however, the OP is traveling by car from Santa Barbara (well, according to my itinerary). Let's say she leaves SB at 10 (don't want to leave earlier or you'll just be sitting in traffic). She'll arrive in the LA area 2 hours later, at noon. Another 45 min. to get to San Pedro or Long Beach to catch the next boat to Catalina. And keep in mind that the boat round trip now runs about $60 and the winter schedule (it may be different in April) runs about once every 4 hrs. throughout the day. In April, it's usually very pretty in Avalon, but the weather is still cool and you may get the fog. Plus, all of the really fun stuff, like snorkeling, boating, jet skiing, parasailing and most other water activities are really not doable at this time of year, unless you go the wetsuit route. But, it's really good hiking weather. Hotel rooms will be cheaper and plentiful at least.

In short, it seems like a big expense and a lot of aggravation with the driving, the waiting, the sitting on a boat, the dragging the luggage to the hotel to go there for about three day hours and one night.
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Old Mar 8th, 2008, 02:46 PM
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Stu--you do this every other day at this time of year!! I know it's considered ungracious to even suggest that a newcomer do a search but . . .
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Old Mar 8th, 2008, 04:47 PM
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"What about San Juan Capistrano, should we see it or skip it."

If you are interested in the California Missions, there are a number you can visit on your way from SF to LA. Here's a link:

http://missions.bgmm.com/

If you only have five days, I'd skip Catalina and spend more time on the Central Coast. There's so much to see there. Catalina is fun and scenic but not worth the hassle for your situation.

"I've never encountered anyone doing San Francisco as a day-trip from Napa"

This one has me scratching my head, Stu. You must mean tourists who are on their own. We often take day trips to San Francisco from Napa and do it all the time when we have visitors. We find the best way is to take the Vallejo or Larkspur Ferry on weekdays but driving is usually OK on weekends. On a weekend, it's a one hour drive from downtown Napa to the SF side of the GG Bridge and maybe an hour and a quarter to the SF side of the Bay Bridge.

I would agree that if I were a tourist, I'd probably want to stay in SF especially if I was leaving for Carmel the next morning. Why double back to Napa?
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Old Mar 8th, 2008, 06:11 PM
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You have received tons of good advice. To cut to the chase - your chances of completing this itinerary are slim and none.

You need to re-think everything and decide which places are most important.
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Old Mar 8th, 2008, 06:14 PM
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oops, didn't mean to click post . . .

Realistically, the only way to actually "do" Wine Country, San Francisco and Catalina in 5 days is to spend 3 days up north in Napa/SF, fly to Long Beach, and then travel over to Catalina.
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Old Mar 8th, 2008, 08:31 PM
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>>This one has me scratching my head, Stu. You must mean tourists who are on their own. We often take day trips to San Francisco from Napa and do it all the time<<

Good point Otis.

I was referring to visitors to the Bay Area who post trip reports, or want others to critique their proposed itinerary.

I suppose you wine country people do take a trip to San Francisco every now & then

Stu Dudley.
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Old Mar 8th, 2008, 10:04 PM
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I'll take a crack at this.

If you think of it as a sightseeing road trip, rather than a vacation, it makes more sense.

Night 1-San Francisco
Night 2-Monterey/Carmel
Night 3-Big Sur
Night 4-Santa Barbara-wine country
Night 5-Catalina or Santa Monica or LAX depending on the time of your flight.

Instead of going to Napa, you can visit wineries along the way or in Santa Barbara, like in the movie Sideways.

Then, instead of going to San Juan Capistrano, you can go to missions in Santa Barbara, Carmel, or even San Francisco.

You can take a ferry to Catalina from Marina del Rey, and according to this website, it is only a 4 mile cab ride to LAX.

http://www.catalinaferries.com/

That's if you have your heart set on Catalina. It is fun, but it is similar in architecture and natural beauty to Santa Barbara and Carmel.


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Old Mar 17th, 2008, 12:15 PM
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Just make sure if you take the 1 down through Pismo you stop at Two Blocks off the Beach killer Bruschetta and Tanner Jack's BBQ to die for!
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Old Mar 17th, 2008, 09:10 PM
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TannerJacks is being shut down by the health department!

(John - advertising is not allowed on Fodors)
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