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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 22nd, 2010, 06:02 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 134
Interesting..thanks Easy and Janisj..I didn't even think of that!
noellev13 is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 10:08 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 17,106
noellev13: you're quite welcome!

Do shop around! The situation with the drop off fees is a very fluid one. It just depends on how many cars are where on any one day.

The easiest airports for you to fly in and out of (no open jaw) are Oakland and San Francisco.

Otherwise, Sacramento is closer to Yosemite and San Jose is closer to Monterey.

Although San Jose is my local airport, I really can't recommend it. I was just there twice this last week and each time the route was different. This airport drives me nuts, it's always under construction and the usage of the different lanes is always changing. On top of which, they've halfway opened up the newest building, but there are no people movers, so one has to hike the length of one building, make a U-turn and hike down the length of the second building. The place wasn't designed by an engineer, it was designed by a maze-builder.
easytraveler is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2010, 09:05 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,870
easytraveler: The mess at the airport is sort of a non-issue isn't it, since they'd be returning a rental car and the shuttle driver would drop them at the terminal? Though it has been along time since I've rented a car at SJC, aren't they just off the airport?
janisj is online now  
Jan 23rd, 2010, 09:17 AM
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 12,566
The SJC airport is a mess, but it wouldn't deter me from flying in or out if it meant spending an hour less on the road on the way to the airport.

The car rentals are near the long term parking, adjacent to the airport. A shuttle goes between the terminals and the car rentals. It isn't any more difficult that renting a car or turning one in at most airports.
november_moon is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2010, 09:43 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 17,106
janisj: They may be dropped off at the terminal or at the bus stop - just depends on the construction.

But flying in, they would have to traverse the entire newly-opened wing of Terminal "B" or "International Terminal" (even the name of that terminal has changed) to get to the exit point, which is still in Terminal A. They go out the exit point, down the escalator to the baggage area, collect their baggage, then hike the entire length of a parking garage and still further to get to the bus stop. They'll probably end up almost directly opposite their disembarkation gate, but would have had to walk a huge U-turn to get from gate to bus stop. It's nuts, especially for the elderly and those with young children - and without people movers.

Friday when dropping someone off, we missed the Alaska Airlines sign twice because scaffolding was blocking the sign. We asked two uniformed airport workers and they were even more confused than we were.

Of the three airports in the Bay Area, San Francisco is my favorite, but Oakland is the easiest to navigate.

Don't know much about Sacramento airport as haven't flown in/out of there for over ten years now. Maybe you could help us with the navigation of that airport. Is it easy or difficult?
easytraveler is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2010, 09:57 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,870
My recommendation is to fly into SMF and out of SJC. There is heavy construction at SMF too. But that wouldn't affect incoming passengers since the rental shuttles pick up right outside the terminal. The cars are on the airport property but well away from the terminals and construction zones and w/ direct access to the freeway.

Then at SJC - drop the car and take the shuttle from the rental location.

This plan would involve the easiest driving options, and eliminate driving too much in the Bay area congestion. SMF > Yosemite > Carmel/Monterey > SJC. Just seems best all around. Even if there are moderate drop of charges That's what I'd do . . .
janisj is online now  
Jan 23rd, 2010, 08:37 PM
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Wow..again..many thanks! Luckily I have until June to figure this out but this gives so much more info about airports I have never been to.
noellev13 is offline  
Feb 12th, 2010, 08:03 PM
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 6
IMO the little difference in driving time would not make me use two different airports. Someone who isn't from the Bay area will have more problems navigating all the different ways to do this. Pick one bay area airport and fly in and out of that one. If you will be visiting San Francisco at the end of your trip it makes the most sense to use SFO plus is probly cheaper to stay with one airport in most cases. And Monterey is not all that far from the bay area for the return.
Driving to Yosemite from anywhere in the Bay area is about 4 hours. And driving from Yosemite back to Monterey is about 3 hours.
I live above Oakhurst and it only takes me an hour to get to Yosemite valley, even in summer. However if you plan to be in Yosemite weekdays instead of weekends you will enjoy your stay much more. And don't miss Glacier Point while you are here. Yosemite valley is awesome but Glacier (and Tuolumne area) are more than awesome. There are some really neat little cabins near Tuolumne Meadows but they would only be good to stay there if you were going to explore the east entrance area. (Takes 3 hours to get to the valley from there.) Good luck and I'm sure no matter where you stay you will enjoy it all.
MtnBreeze is offline  
Feb 12th, 2010, 08:45 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
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"plus is probly cheaper to stay with one airport in most cases"

Not really . . . Southwest, for instance, books each flight as a separate leg -- not as one R-T ticket. So it might even be cheaper to split the airports since a flight into SMF could be cheaper than into SJC. But WN aside, open jaw tickets seldom cost more than R-T in/out of one city.

The reason some suggested into SMF and out of the Bay area was for the easiest drives. SMF > Yosemite at the beginning - and - Monterey > SJC or SFO at the end. Doing this shouldn't cost more.
janisj is online now  
Feb 15th, 2010, 06:46 AM
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thank you both. I have no intention on spending time sight seeing in San Fran..I love the city and have visited twice but I really want to focus on the "nature" part of the trip. I had already booked our lodging for a Sat, Sun and Monday and could always change those once I get closer to the travel date (with cancellations happening all the time) I wonder if there is a way we could work the trip where Yosemite was in the middle so it wouldn't be so crowded. I've noticed some say there is a big difference and others mention they don't notice the increase in people that much from weekend to weekday. Bottom line: Our trip has to be from June 12th to June 19th..we don't have to set anything in stone as far as what to do first but the dates are set. Any advice would be very appreciated.
noellev13 is offline  
Feb 17th, 2010, 02:29 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 108
Thank you, Noel for starting this thread! I've read it all (twice). My hubby and I want to do this same trip in September 2010. We'll be flying from Syracuse, NY. Just checked the air & car rental for flying into SMF and back home via SJC. It's totally doable for us! Thank you so much to all of the fodorites who have helped you...because you have helped us as well.

p.s. Also Noel, when my family did our National Park Loop Tour back in 2002, the fodors folks were critical in our planning as well! When in need of good info, surround yourself w/knowledgable people, huh?
Tricia is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2010, 04:40 AM
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I couldn't agree more Tricia...this site is so very helpful because of all the people who take time out of their day to help strangers make the most out of their vacations..thanks for your kind words..I will have to give you my feedback when I return from the trip in June..I can't wait!!!!!
noellev13 is offline  

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