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View Full Version : CA coast from San Diego to San Francisco ?'s


Off2Nvrlnd
02-28-2007, 03:38 PM
We are taking a vacation for the first time alone (leaving DS5 with grandma) in June and will be driving from San Diego to San Francisco with stops along the way. We want to go to Monterey, Carmel, San Francisco, and Napa Valley. We are planning on taking a 7 day trip, leaving on Saturday and returning on Saturday. How many days would you recommend we spend at each city and what route should we take when driving? We are also considering flying one way and renting a car for the other way if this is recommended. My DH is okay with me planning the itinerary as long as we stop at the Raider's spring training in Napa. Any other suggestions would also be greatly appreciated. TIA

FLSharon
03-01-2007, 05:52 PM
If you haven't driven any of PCH and seen any of that fabulous scenery, I'd suggest driving the 17 Mile drive which goes through Pebble Beach. If you're into golf, you can also go into the clubhouse. 17 mile drive will give you a little sample of it. I'm new here so I can not post the link to 17 mile drive but if you goggle it you will get the link.

We drove the PCH northbound from LA to San Fran last fall. A few years ago we did the reverse and drove Southbound from San fran to LA. However, the PCH was really our destination. I just love the entire drive.

We only had a couple days in San Fran, we spent one on the trolley system just riding around getting on and off. You can purchase a one day pass for it. We were at Coit Tower, the Fairmont Hotel which has a stunning lobby which has been used in movies and tv, chinatown, the wharf at K dock to see the Sea lions. Ofcourse we drove the crooked street, Lombard St. I didn't think I wanted to see Alatraz, but the next time we will. We drove across the Golden Gate bridge and since it was such a beautiful day we walked half way across and then back. It's very pedestrian friendly. What a stunning view. Oh, once across the bridge we drove to Sausilito to see all the expensive houseboats. There's sooo much to see in San Fran.

We were in Carmel this last trip... There's a mission there but since we saw the one in San lius Obispo and Santa Barbara, we didn't see this one. Carmel is a very quaint town, but with our limited time, it didn't warrant a larger stay.

Monterrey.... we only had lunch there.I know there's a well known aquarium which many people see.

And I'm also, no help with Napa for it's on my list for the next time ...so i'll be anxious to read what you have to say.

If you intend to drive all of PCH one direction, I have more info for you but it sounds like you'll be busy with these areas. Hope I was a little bit of help to you!

Albort
03-01-2007, 05:53 PM
PCH = like driving moutain road. if you get car sick quickly, its not a good idea.

dizchick
03-02-2007, 06:18 PM
We did the exact same trip almost two years ago and it was wonderful! We flew in on a Saturday to SFO and immediately drove down to Monterey. We did the aquarium and ate lunch, but other than that, Monterey was a little too touristy for our taste. After lunch we did the 17 mile drive through Pebble Beach which was awesome! I have a ton of pictures of us out on the rocks and of the Lone Cyprus Tree. Then we had hotel reservations in Carmel Valley. We did Hotwire and got the Quail Lodge which was a beautiful resort for a fantastic rate. Carmel is not to be missed-I loved it and wished we got to spend more time there! But, I really wanted to drive down the PCH to San Simeon and see the Hearst Castle (you may have already done that since you're from CA, but I really enjoyed it). I enjoyed driving through Big Sur and seeing the coastline on the road, but I don't usually get motion sickness and I felt very queasy after that ride. So, the total days in Carmel/Monterey area was 2. We could have done longer, but only had 8 days total.

The next morning we drove up to Napa Valley. We stayed at the Napa River Inn. I believe we spent 3 days total in Napa. That was my favorite part of the trip. We toured a ton a wineries, had picnics and drank and ate ourselves silly! I loved Sterling Vineyards w/ the skylift tram ride to the top of the mountain. The views from the top were incredible.

Then, Thursday morning we got up and headed down to San Fran and stayed in Nob Hill at the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins? (Can't remember the name). I was across the street from the Fairmont. We toured around San Fran from Thursday until our red-eye flight back on Saturday night. We hit most of the main visitor points like Alcatraz, Ghiradeli (sp?), etc. We also went over to an Oakland A's game...the Giants weren't at home.

Timing wise, I wouldn't change a thing. In the short amount of time that we had, I felt like we had just the right amount of time to enjoy each part. The only exception is that I would have maybe liked another day or even half a day to explore Carmel more. I didn't realize I'd like it so much. Hope this helps! Sorry it's soooo long!

honeymom
03-03-2007, 08:44 AM
We used to live in LA and do that drive many times. I think you are trying to do too much for 7 days. I could spend a week in San Diego, or San Francisco alone.

In San Diego, I like to go to Sea World and the Zoo which each take most of a day. Plus, I like some beach time, take a harbor tour, lollygag. I think that you need at least 2 days to sightsee in SF and you will only see the tip of the iceberg. I would definitely skip Napa and spend time going up the coast. Plus, you are not leaving anytime to sightsee in Los Angeles.

Here are the places that we would stop if we had time to lollygag up the coast. We would stay overnight in Santa Monica, Santa Barbara, Cambria (near Hearst Castle and do that). In Carmel/Monterey area, if it was just us as a couple - no kids - I would definitely book a bed & breakfast in Pacific Grove. It is a lovely romantic area that is right beyond Monterey. We have stayed in the Seven Gables Inn. After we stayed there, it was featured on a Visa ad. In Monterey, you can do the Aquarium, Fisherman's Wharf and the cannery in one day. I would use another day to tour the 17 mile drive and Carmel plus the state park (I cannot remember the name) just south of Carmel (it is known for wind twisted trees). On the way to the Monterey area, don't hesitate to stop at Nepenthe in Big Sur for lunch. The views are spectacular.

As to the drive itself - you have definitely picked the right direction to do for someone who isn't used to driving it. Highway 1 is very winding, especially up by Big Sur. However, you will be on the inside, less intimidating side, of the road. As long as you drive near the speed limit, it is very enjoyable.

Off2Nvrlnd
03-03-2007, 09:28 AM
We used to live in LA and do that drive many times. I think you are trying to do too much for 7 days. I could spend a week in San Diego, or San Francisco alone.

In San Diego, I like to go to Sea World and the Zoo which each take most of a day. Plus, I like some beach time, take a harbor tour, lollygag. I think that you need at least 2 days to sightsee in SF and you will only see the tip of the iceberg. I would definitely skip Napa and spend time going up the coast. Plus, you are not leaving anytime to sightsee in Los Angeles.

Here are the places that we would stop if we had time to lollygag up the coast. We would stay overnight in Santa Monica, Santa Barbara, Cambria (near Hearst Castle and do that). In Carmel/Monterey area, if it was just us as a couple - no kids - I would definitely book a bed & breakfast in Pacific Grove. It is a lovely romantic area that is right beyond Monterey. We have stayed in the Seven Gables Inn. After we stayed there, it was featured on a Visa ad. In Monterey, you can do the Aquarium, Fisherman's Wharf and the cannery in one day. I would use another day to tour the 17 mile drive and Carmel plus the state park (I cannot remember the name) just south of Carmel (it is known for wind twisted trees). On the way to the Monterey area, don't hesitate to stop at Nepenthe in Big Sur for lunch. The views are spectacular.

As to the drive itself - you have definitely picked the right direction to do for someone who isn't used to driving it. Highway 1 is very winding, especially up by Big Sur. However, you will be on the inside, less intimidating side, of the road. As long as you drive near the speed limit, it is very enjoyable.

HI Honeymom,
I'm also originally from AZ, but I've been here 6 years. We are not that interested in sightseeing in LA because we've done that many times. We've also been up north before, it's just been a really long time. I used to live there when I was a kid so I've done most of the hotspots before. I am also a huge wine enthusiast so Napa is a must for me. I'm definately interested in the bed & breakfast and have heard great things about Pacific Grove. We enjoy the beach, but don't really plan on spending alot of time there just because we can do that anytime we want. We would probably just stop long enough for pictures and that's about it. I would like to see Half Moon Bay though. It probably would have been helpful if I had included this in my original post? Sorry! Thanks for all the great advice, it's all really helpful!

honeymom
03-03-2007, 11:49 AM
HI Honeymom,
I'm also originally from AZ, but I've been here 6 years. We are not that interested in sightseeing in LA because we've done that many times. We've also been up north before, it's just been a really long time. I used to live there when I was a kid so I've done most of the hotspots before. I am also a huge wine enthusiast so Napa is a must for me. I'm definately interested in the bed & breakfast and have heard great things about Pacific Grove. We enjoy the beach, but don't really plan on spending alot of time there just because we can do that anytime we want. We would probably just stop long enough for pictures and that's about it. I would like to see Half Moon Bay though. It probably would have been helpful if I had included this in my original post? Sorry! Thanks for all the great advice, it's all really helpful!

No problem, I hadn't noticed that you live in San Diego. Half Moon Bay is nice - I spent my wedding night there. Back then, there wasn't much going on, but now they have some really nice places. Given the new information, I'm going to try to recommend some off the beaten path spots.

There is supposed to be a wine train to Napa from SF that I have heard great things about. My husband is (gasp) allergic to most wine because of the sulfites, so we don't get to enjoy.

We really do like Cambria. It is just a neat little town (we've actually never done the Hearst Castle). There is a beach stip with a bunch of motels. Most are fine - not fancy, but definitely nice. But, Pacific Grove has always been our favorite. We got engaged at the Seven Gables Inn. We have also stayed at Centrella. Centrella is bigger, a little more hotel feel, not as well located, but definitely more reasonable. The Martine Inn, Green Gables and a couple of other inns are also very well rated.

Another tucked away romantic spot, is the Lodge at Big Sur. The digs are very basic, but it is quiet and you can roam the redwoods. And, I have always enjoyed Point Lobos (I remembered the name of the park) between Big Sur and Carmel.

North of SF, try the Pelican Inn on Muir Beach. We've eaten there and it was a really romantic spot. I think that they also have rooms although we've never stayed there.

KayR
03-03-2007, 07:52 PM
There are winereries in Carmel Valley, Monterey, Santa Cruz Mountains. If you don't find time this trip to go all the way to Napa, you may want to check some of the ones in the areas above.

If you are in Carmel Valley - Clint Eastwood has a hotel in there (I think it is called the Carmel Valley Lodge, but would need to check up on that).

-Kay

honeymom
03-03-2007, 08:56 PM
There are winereries in Carmel Valley, Monterey, Santa Cruz Mountains. If you don't find time this trip to go all the way to Napa, you may want to check some of the ones in the areas above.

If you are in Carmel Valley - Clint Eastwood has a hotel in there (I think it is called the Carmel Valley Lodge, but would need to check up on that).

-Kay

I don't think he owns the Carmel Valley Lodge. I think he owns the Carmel Mission Ranch Inn.

Doris Day owns the Cypress in in Carmel. It is a nice place although they allow pets and not kids!