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Wild Fires & First time visit to CA- Napa/Sonoma/San Fran/ Monerey/ Big Surf

Wild Fires & First time visit to CA- Napa/Sonoma/San Fran/ Monerey/ Big Surf

Old May 11th, 2021, 08:52 AM
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Wild Fires & First time visit to CA- Napa/Sonoma/San Fran/ Monerey/ Big Surf

Hi,
My husband and I have 8 full day. We are flying into San Francisco and heading up to Napa (not a full day). We were thinking of doing 2 days in Napa and 2 in Sonoma. Any suggestions on where to stay- wineries- eat would be fabulous. Then head down to do 3 days in Monerey, Carmel, Big Surf and finally one day in San Francisco. Do you suggest a home base for Monerey, Carmel and Big Surf? any suggestions- places to stay/ restaurants etc. would be appreciated. Planning has been a daunting task. I also heard that the wineries may have been affected by the wildfires. Is it worth going to Napa/Sonoma?
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Old May 11th, 2021, 09:00 AM
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Moved to US board and tagged for California
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Old May 11th, 2021, 09:14 AM
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Can't help with Napa/Sonoma, but will say that three nights in the Monterey area is sufficient. Just base yourself in one spot (Carmel/Monterey/Pacific Grove) to see the Big SUR area and the Monterey Peninsula. If I were you, I would spend less time in wine country and allocate at least another day for San Francisco.

For Big Sur, you need to plan on going down as far south as McWay Falls in the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park before turning around. Have a meal at Nepenthe and stop to see the usual Big Sur sights along the way. This would take up one of your planned Monterey Peninsula days. The other days you can explore Point Lobos, see the quaint village of Carmel and the beach, go whale watching, kayaking or tour the Aquarium. Lots of things to see and do.

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Old May 11th, 2021, 12:28 PM
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There are generally two types of accommodations in Big Sur. Too expensive, and too shabby. There is one in the middle, however, and that's the Big Sur Lodge - where we always stay. It is in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, and if you stay there you get free entry to all the state parks & scenic spots in the area - except Pfeiffer Beach (which is my favorite). That is US owned, and they charge for parking.

On the route from Sonoma to Carmel DO NOT take the route through the East Bay. It is ugly, ugly, ugly and on a normal work day, is the record holder for > 6 years in a row as the most congested freeway in the Bay Area. Instead, take the route over the Golden Gate Bridge through SF on Hwy 1 (19th ave exit off the GG Bridge), and then connect to Hwy 280 - which is very scenic once you get past the airport. If you have an entire day for this drive, head west on the exit (a couple exits past the airport exit) marked "Black Mountain Road" turn right and then almost immediately left (south) along the road (past the Crystal Springs reservoir) to the first stop light, they right (Hwy 92) to Half Moon Bay. This is an extremely scenic route. At the next stop light (in HMB), turn left and drive down Main St in HMB, and then connect to Hwy 1 (Cabrillo Hwy) south to Santa Cruz.

We often stay at the Coachman's Inn in Carmel (we stayed there on our Honeymoon - 50 years ago).

Agree with Austin - more time in SF & Monterey/Carmel, and less time in the Napa/Sonoma area). Four nights in the wine country may be 1 or 2 nights too many. There are wineries in Carmel Valley.

Here is something I posted to Fodors more than a decade ago

San Francisco - Stu Dudley's Recommendations

Stu Dudley
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Old May 11th, 2021, 12:43 PM
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You don't say what time of year. Avoid Auto Week on the Monterey Peninsula in August.

I wouldn't spend 4 days in Napa/Sonoma, but that's me. I'm not a wine nut, so I can only do so much wine tasting and touring before I go batty. I'd probably stay 3 nights (2 full days) in one place.

You talk in terms of days here and days there, so it's not clear if you're accounting for travel between points. The drive from Napa/Sonoma to Carmel would take at least 3.5 hours, possibly longer depending on when this trip is, what day of the week, etc. I would find 3 nights (2 full days) in the Monterey/Carmel/Big Sur area too rushed, but if you in fact would have 3 full days you could probably see most of what you presumably want to see. I'd want more time, but that's me. This is an area where I prefer not to rush around too much.

In Carmel, my favorite hotel is the Cypress Inn and my favorite BnB is the Sea View Inn, but you almost can't go wrong in the town. Just search in your rate range and read reviews.
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Old May 11th, 2021, 02:03 PM
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Ditto everything Jean says.

Talking in terms of 'days' makes it unclear how much time you actually have. To have 2 full days in Sooma and two full days in Napa would really require 5 nights after factoring in travel from SFO/afternoon check in etc.

I agree there is no need for 4 days/5 nights (or even 3 days/4 nights in Napa-Sonoma. I'd pick one valley -- I personally prefer Sonoma but you can't really make a bad choice. Say 3 nights somewhere near Sonoma or maybe in the northern end of the Napa Valley (Calistoge, St Helena)- you can always venture over to Napa or Sonoma Valley one day.

But when this trip is can make a HUGE difference. Me personally I would not pre-plan a trip to that area this summer into early October. Things might be totally fine (and I pray they will be) but since they have already declared a serious drought situation (months earlier than normal) I really fear this will be a BAD wild fire season.

Fires can also seriously impact the rugged terrain in Big Sur but is less likely to affect seaside areas of Monterey/Carmel/Pacific Grove. I'd want a minimum of 3 nights in Monterey/Carmel

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Old May 11th, 2021, 03:02 PM
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After the huge & very destructive fire along the coast & inland in Santa Cruz & San Mateo Counties last year nothing is certain anymore. My family was evacuated for over a week from areas we always thought immune from fire on the coast. That's just no longer the case so any trip in fire season that isn't in a city should have built-in flexibility.
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Old May 12th, 2021, 06:15 AM
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Originally Posted by MmePerdu View Post
After the huge & very destructive fire along the coast & inland in Santa Cruz & San Mateo Counties last year nothing is certain anymore. My family was evacuated for over a week from areas we always thought immune from fire on the coast. That's just no longer the case so any trip in fire season that isn't in a city should have built-in flexibility.
As an employee of the US Forest Service, I can tell you that some dry parts of California have entered a twelve month per year fire season. I want to remind everyone to be fire safe not only in California but in the entire western US. Fuel moisture in the 5-10% range combined with strong winds is dangerous.
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Old May 12th, 2021, 07:20 AM
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Two days in the Napa or Sonoma wine growing areas will be plenty. I would stay anywhere from St. Helena south to Napa. Handier for getting over to Sonoma, if you so choose. There are plenty wineries and vineyards not affected by the fires last year. You are just guessing if and when a fire may break out. Go with your plans but be flexible.
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Old May 12th, 2021, 08:03 AM
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""I would stay anywhere from St. Helena south to Napa. Handier for getting over to Sonoma,""

That depends on where you are going in Sonoma County. If you stay close to Calistoga, there is a very scenic drive through the mountains, then the lovely Alexander Valley to Healdsburg. However, you ''ll see some fire damage on the way.

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Old May 12th, 2021, 08:05 AM
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We prefer Sonoma, Healdsburg is handy for the Dry Creek vineyards. You'll need to make reservations for nearly all of them.
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Old May 12th, 2021, 09:37 AM
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I agree with mlgb. We were near Healdsburg last month, off West Dry Creek Road. There are so many smaller family-owned wineries there. The Russian River area is pretty to drive, also.
We like Hawley: https://hawleywine.com
Our daughter took us to a lovely private tasting (photo below). I forget its name, but I can get it if you're interested.

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Old May 12th, 2021, 09:41 AM
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This is a small winery our daughter took us to, for a private tasting. It was lovely. I can get the name of the winery, if anyone is interested. It's near Healdsburg and West Dry Creek Road.

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Old May 12th, 2021, 11:07 AM
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Lambert Bridge winery??
Preston??

IMO, Dry Creek Valley & the wineries in Sonoma County are more "welcoming" than those in the Napa Valley.

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Old May 13th, 2021, 04:37 AM
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Sorry for the double post. My first one did not post, and then it did. Iím apparently being monitored.
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