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Yosemite, Monterey area and Big Sur in 7 or 8 days...PLEASE HELP

Yosemite, Monterey area and Big Sur in 7 or 8 days...PLEASE HELP

Jan 20th, 2010, 04:20 PM
  #1  
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Yosemite, Monterey area and Big Sur in 7 or 8 days...PLEASE HELP

I went to SF twice when I was a kid but have to admit, I am clueless when it comes to the rest of California. My husband and I LOVE hiking and want to go to Yosemite the 1st or 2nd week of June/2010. We thought we wanted to start in SF and go to Yosemite but now I really want to just do Yosemite, Monterey and Big Sur. I know NOTHING about these areas.
Where would we want to fly into? We would be coming in from St. Louis, MO.
I know I want to be in Yosemite for 3 days at least and thought that would give enough time left for driving and for Monterey and Big Sur. I would hope to do hiking in Big Sur for SURE HA!!! Sorry, that was bad
Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. We are early 30's and in good health, love to hike and love wine. I noticed the Monterey Bay Aquarium and thought that looked great. I really want to enjoy Yosemite but feel like I would miss a lot without trying to fit these other locations in while we are in California. The kind people of the forums of Fodor helped me create the vacation of a lifetime in Bryce and Zion and I know you can all help me again!!! Thanks so much.
noellev13 is offline  
Jan 20th, 2010, 04:40 PM
  #2  
 
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Combining Yosemite, Monterey and Big Sur is a heavenly vacation. 3 nights in Yosemite is good. We love staying right in the middle of the awesome beauty at Yosemite Lodge in the valley. Make reservations ASAP; they fill up well in advance. The Monterey Aquarium is a must see. Don't forget Carmel by the Sea, Point Lobos, and Pacific Grove when you are in the Monterey area. It is very expensive to stay anywhere nice in Big Sur. So to save bucks, a good idea is to stay in Monterey, Pacific Grove, Cannery Row, or Carmel. Then drive the spectacular drive to Big Sur for the day--only about a 40 min drive.
Have a great time!
montereybob is offline  
Jan 20th, 2010, 04:51 PM
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Sorry, forgot to add that Southwest Airlines has great deals into CA airports (also no baggage fees and no change fees). They will fly you into Oakland or San Jose. Also, Midwest Airlines sometimes has reasonable fares into San Francisco airport, but it is not as convenient for driving to Yosemite. Another option, for a shorter drive to Yosemite, is to fly into Fresno, drive to Yosemite, drive to Monterey and fly home from either Monterey Airport or San Jose.
montereybob is offline  
Jan 20th, 2010, 05:00 PM
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Fresno is the closest airport - but fares are likely to be very high.

Southwest flies from St Louis into Sacramento, Oakland, San Jose and SF. The best bet would be fly into Sacramento > drive to Yosemite > drive to the coast > fly home from San Jose.
janisj is offline  
Jan 20th, 2010, 06:19 PM
  #5  
 
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I ran a quick check on the Yosemite reservations website and as I suspected, June is already pretty well booked up. Keep trying with different perameters until you find two or three days together. The website is at:

https://smsworldbeg.dncinc.com/yosem...ingEngine.aspx

Once you have those dates in stone, you can then book your other reservations. Alternatively, as the dates get closer, there's always this short window of opportunity to pick up last minute cancellations (which ALWAYS pop up), but you have to live on the edge. Kind of. If worse comes to worse, you can stay just outside the Valley, say at the Tenaya Lodge in Fish Camp.

From Monterey, you can definitely do a day trip (or two) to Big Sur. You can also go hiking around Point Lobos State Park just south of Carmel.

Now, we've done your trip, or certainly shades of it, more times than we should but too bad, we like it! Monterey Bay Aquarium is great -- definitely ask for tickets at the hotel you stay at, because they usually offer (for the same price as one day) a 2 day pass and you do NOT have to wait in the long line at the aquarium to purchase your ticket -- you get to go right in. While in Monterey, definitely try kayaking if you dig that -- the bay is one of the best places to kayak, and you can get up close and personal with the harbor seals, otters, and what not. Renting a bike and riding along the bay is also great fun -- they'll give you a lock (I usually bring my own) if you want to park and picnic or stop for lunch at one of the restaurants you'll pass.

Oh, I envy you -- I'm reliving about a zillion memories thinking about this!
Surfergirl is offline  
Jan 20th, 2010, 07:31 PM
  #6  
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thank you so much everyone..keep the suggestions coming!!!
Also, my husband and I chose to stay outside of both Zion and Bryce when we went last year and had no problems with the 5 min drive to the park at Zion and the 12 min drive from the park in Bryce (stayed in Tropic.) If we were to decide to stay out of the park in Yosemite to save some money, would we be making a huge mistake? Thanks again!
noellev13 is offline  
Jan 20th, 2010, 08:09 PM
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Some people will disagree with me, but unless you must, yes, it would be a huge mistake. The reason is there is nothing, nothing like watching the sun set over Half Dome. There is nothing, nothing like waking up at dawn as the sun first peaks out over the mountains and that first ray hits the valley floor and sprinkles its light across the meadow. There is nothing, nothing as goofy as sitting in the dark at Curry Village listening to some Park Ranger entertain the audience with some Yosemite legend. Or eating Pizza and drinking beer and wine on the Camp Curry patio, or smelling the last marshmallow in the campfire at the end of the evening.
Surfergirl is offline  
Jan 20th, 2010, 09:10 PM
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"had no problems with the 5 min drive to the park at Zion and the 12 min drive from the park in Bryce"

Big difference - there are no 'outside' accommodations w/i 5 or 12 mins of Yosemite Valley. Don't confuse the "Park" w/ the "Valley" Yosemite Valley is one tiny part of a VAST park -- but it where 80% of the Wow factor is. Most outside-the-park motels are a 45 mins or more drive. And on a summer weekend that drive can be bumper to bumper and 90 mins.

Even some places inside the park - like Wawona,are a long drive from the Valley.

One exception is Yosemite West - and area of privately owned condos/houses. It is actually right on the park boundary and a reasonable drive from the Valley, but still around 20-30 mins on a summer weekend.

But if you can, you really should stay IN Yosemite Valley.
janisj is offline  
Jan 20th, 2010, 09:14 PM
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. . . or walking back to your room after dinner at the Ahwahnee and spotting a bear scurrying across the road . . . or hearing the coyotes howl at night . . . or enjoying an early evening walk up to the Vernal Falls bridge, all your own after the crowds depart. . . or. . . or. . .

Stay in the Valley if you possibly can. The drive in from outside, even from El Portal, is much longer than what ou experienced at Zion (from Springdale, anyway). Finding a parking place in the Valley can be a nuisance.
enzian is offline  
Jan 21st, 2010, 04:52 AM
  #10  
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Thank you so much everyone..well, I was able to book a room at Wawona for June 12th to June 15th. The type says room W/O bath but then the Rate Code says Room with Shared Bath so I'm not sure what we got. Did I make an ok choice :I
noellev13 is offline  
Jan 21st, 2010, 07:03 AM
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"The type says room W/O bath but then the Rate Code says Room with Shared Bath so I'm not sure what we got. Did I make an ok choice :I"

You got a room w/ a shared bathroom. Not a private bath in your room. The occupants of another room(s) will be using the same bathroom.

Wawona is quite a drive from the Valley. It would take 45 minutes+/-

There's a typo on my earlier post - Yosemite west would be a 30-40 minute drive - not 20-30. Wawona is farther still.

I'd still keep trying for a cancellation IN the Valley.
janisj is offline  
Jan 21st, 2010, 08:11 AM
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<<>>

We haven't been to Yosemite in many years - 15 or so - but boy, did this bring back memories!! (FWIW, we stayed at Wawona that time, and it was kind of a pain)
sf7307 is offline  
Jan 21st, 2010, 09:36 AM
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Well, if it were me, I would keep trying to get a room in Yosemite Valley (Wawona is not in the valley). It does make a difference in your overall experience by staying in the valley as opposed to Wawona. If Wawona turns out to be your only choice, you will still have a good Yosemite visit, but you'll spend more time driving to major sights.
The Yosemite Lodge in the Valley gets cancellations, so I would keep trying up until your cancellation deadline at Wawona. Also, did you try getting a room at the Ahwanee Hotel in Yosemite Valley?
montereybob is offline  
Jan 21st, 2010, 09:49 AM
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montereybob: "I would keep trying to get a room in Yosemite Valley"

The OP now has another thread going - they also have a booking in a Curry cabin. I posted to that thread to take the cabin over Wawona.
janisj is offline  
Jan 21st, 2010, 09:49 AM
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For Yosemite, you've got reservations, so that is good - you will have a place to sleep Like others have said, keep trying for something in Yosemite Valley. Because lodging is limited and fills up so quickly, lots of people make their reservations a year in advance on the possibility that they will be able to go - then they end up cancelling. So a good strategy is to make a reservation for whatever is available and then try for something better. Wawona isn't bad at all, just not as good as staying in the valley for a first time visitor.

For your flights - if you can get decent airfare into Sacramento or Fresno, I'd go for that and then fly home from San Jose. Otherwise, fly in and out of San Jose. From SJ to Yosemite Valley is about a 4 hour drive and from Monterey to SJ is about an hour to hour and a half.
november_moon is offline  
Jan 21st, 2010, 06:16 PM
  #16  
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all of you helped me so much! Thank you so much for taking the time to write and give me your input. We are going to gladly keep the Cabin and I could not be more excited. I'm sure you will see my posts more and more during the upcoming months. If any of you are ever out towards St. Louis, please let me know if I can help you as you have helped me.
noellev13 is offline  
Jan 21st, 2010, 07:04 PM
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Have fun, noel. Wherever you end up staying, Yosemite will still be one of the most awesomely beautiful places on Earth.
montereybob is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 09:26 AM
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I hope you guys have a terrific trip. You are going to some of my favorite places on earth Please come back and ask more questions as you go along in your planning.
november_moon is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 10:22 AM
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The problem with an open jaw ticket (flying into one city and out of another) is that you could run into expensive drop-off fees for your rental car.

I'd suggest flying into and out of the same city. if time is short, then I'd suggest flying in and out of Oakland. Fly in and head straight for Yosemite.

If you have more time (you didn't say exactly how many days you are planning for your trip), then I'd suggest flying into and out of San Francisco. This way you could use the rental car for both Yosemite and Monterey, then return the car at SFO. For touring San Francisco itself you really don't need a car, so the last part of your trip, just return the rental car and take BART into San Francisco.
easytraveler is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 04:25 PM
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Often here in northern CA there are drop off charges IF you 'go the wrong way'. Like San Francisco to Sacramento. More cars are needed in SF than in Sac so the agencies tack on drop off fees. But Sac > SF - normally there are no drop off extras. Sort of their way of fleet management.

So most companies would not charge extra for a car collected in Sacramento and dropped in San Jose or SF. But shop around . . . .

(Same sort of thing happens in places like Long Beach to/from LAX -- to Long beach has a drop off, to LAX doesn't.)
janisj is offline  

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