anaheim/yosemite/san fran?

Discussion in 'California & the West' started by maci, Apr 12, 2007.

  1. maci

    maci <font color=CC0066>Can I go on vacation yet?<font

    Jul 14, 2001
    Hi all!

    We are thinking of doing a Calif trip this summer.

    I was thinking of flying into san fran for 2 nights , then 3 nights in yosemite, and 3-4 nights at Disneyland.

    After reading some of these threads, it seems I need to be looking at San Jose?

    I know the kids will not be thrilled with San Fran...but I have never seen it.

    Also, I read some about Santa Cruz? Would we do better to say there and just do San Fran for a few hours?
    I would love to do some driving on Hwy 1, where exactly is the "17 mile" area I am reading about?

    Thanks for any tips! The kids will be 8,6,and 1.5!
  2. deletedpenguin

    deletedpenguin Arrrrrgg...

    Apr 11, 2007
    I'm currently living in SF so here's my $0.02

    1.There's really no way to do SF in a few hours. Between Coit Tower, Lombard St., Fishermans Wharf, etc, you're looking at least a day. To make the drive down to Santa Cruz, you could stay in SF and go for the day. It's about a 1 1/2-2 hour drive ea. way. The Santa Cruz boardwalk is pretty fun. It's not a hard drive to make. Fishermans Wharf should be fun for everyone, including the kids, though I'm not sure how easily entertained yours are.

    2. Highway 1 to Santa Cruz is a nice drive, but it'll occupy the majority of your day, and you probably don't want to do it both ways. Going down Hwy 1 is probably your best bet, then coming back up to SF via Hwy 17 and I-280 will get the cranky kids back quicker. If you're looking for 17 mile drive, it's off the south side of Monterey, through Carmel.

    3. You can't go wrong with Yosemite either. It's about a 4-5 hour drive from the Bay.

    Hope this helps!
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  4. Steelblue

    Steelblue Earning My Ears

    Feb 3, 2007
    Hi there,

    I'll try to answer your questions.

    If your kids are not into sightseeing, they might get bored driving from one spot to another. Pier 39 at Fishermen's wharf has a merry-go-around and an arcade that could occupied them for awhile. There's much to see in SF, can't see them all in two days.

    Santa Cruz is about 1 1/2 hours drive south of SF. There's the broadwalk (arcade, stuff animal prize games and rides) and the beach. At most you could spend a day there. The broadwalk is not open year round so check ahead of time.

    The 17 mile drive is in the Monterey/Carmel area which is about a 3 hours drive south from SF. It's very scenic but it is a do it once kind of thing and I forget how much they charge now to drive thru it. There's also the Monterey aquarium if your kids likes fish. If you go to Monterey, order clam chower.

    I live in the SF area, pm me if you any more questions.
  5. maci

    maci <font color=CC0066>Can I go on vacation yet?<font

    Jul 14, 2001
    Ok so now we are thinking of skipping San Fran this trip...till the kids are older.

    Thinking now of Disney 3-4 days, yosemite 3 days, and a night or two by the beach.

    So which beach? Should we stick with the santa cruz area? Or monterrey?
    Any hotels suggestions? Would love one ON the beach!

    I really do want to drive on hwy 1 up/down the coast and just stop when the whim hits us as well.

    Thanks again!
  6. deletedpenguin

    deletedpenguin Arrrrrgg...

    Apr 11, 2007
    Both Monterey and Santa Cruz have great beaches, and are warmer than the SF area. The Santa Cruz beaches have the boardwalk, which gives you the same feeling as the Boardwalk in California Adventure. :)
  7. birkner

    birkner DIS Veteran

    Jan 22, 2006
    The drive from Disneyland to Yosemite is about 343 miles or 6 hours or a day trip each way. Driving from Disneyland to Santa Cruz/Monterey area is about 387 miles or so will take at least 7 hours.

    Tent cabins in Yosemite are great fun for kids.

    If you want to go to the beach in Southern California, a great place to go is to Santa Monica which is not far from Malibu. Santa Monica is on the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) which is part of Highway 1.

    Santa Monica has a great pier with rides and fun stuff for kids, a shopping street and is not far from the Malibu beaches.

    A reasonably priced hotel to stay in Santa Monica is the Best Western Ocean View Hotel on Ocean Avenue:

    Also, a great resource for things for kids to do in Southern California is the following website:

    My suggestion is if you only have a week to spend in California focus on the Southern California area this trip.

  8. maci

    maci <font color=CC0066>Can I go on vacation yet?<font

    Jul 14, 2001
    Thanks for the links Birkner! I am not sure I am up to camping or tenting it with a 1 year old yet! Lol! Maybe in a few years!

    We dont mind the driving, we rather like it really. In 2003 we drove to CA. with the kids and did Grand canyon, meteor crater on the way etc, and we did Laguna beach etc that trip. And of course Disney Land. I have been to So. Cal. many times, and wanted to see something new.

    Below is what I was working on for now, My concern is not having enough time in yosemite the way I have it now.
    May think of adding one more night?

    Ya'll tell me what you think! :)

    Here is what I was kinda thinking:
    Day 1
    Fly into San Jose- check in-santa cruz or monterrey area somewhere! Drive up/down coast a bit, play at the beach etc.

    Day 2- Go to Henry Cowell redwoods park and do the train ride...possibly do the train ride there and back...but according to the schedule if I do this, we wont have any time AT the actual park to walk around etc.

    Day 3- Get up early drive to yosemite- get a few hours in at the park before dark

    Day 4- yosemite

    Day 5- Get up early,- head to Disneyland

    Day 6- Disney
    Day 7 Disney
    Day 8 Disney
    Day 9 Fly home out of LAX or john Wayne
  9. jlima

    jlima Beep Beep!

    Nov 1, 2000
    There are only three hotels inside of Yosemite. They fill up quickly. We went last summer, and we stayed at the Ahawanee, and I made our ressies one year before we traveled (the night before our West Coast Magic Cruise!). We stayed for 4 nights and had an incredible time.
  10. NCRedding

    NCRedding <font color=navy>I've strayed<br><font color=green

    Feb 4, 2000
    To get the most out of your Yosemite stay, I definitely recommend staying on the Yosemite Valley floor, which books up early and can be pricey. We stayed at Tenya Lodge which is less than two miles from the south gate. It took us 1 1/4 hour to get to the valley floor. Now you do drive through some gorgeous scenery on the trip, with some sheer drop-offs, etc, but it is a long trip.

    We also did Monterey and Carmel, but spent less than a full day there--I wish we had spent more time there.
  11. WebmasterMaryJo

    WebmasterMaryJo Techarita Administrator

    Dec 15, 1998
    I also agree that to get the most of Yosemite, you should try to stay in the Valley. Curry Village has a lot of tent cabins. These are cabins with wooden floors, canvas ceiling & walls, and doors that lock. They usually have two double beds or a double bed & two twin beds. There is electricity, clean sheets & army blankets. I've stayed in there a couple of times, and they really aren't bad, and would probably be an adventure for the kids. It's the closest you'll get to roughing it without roughing it. They have communal hot showers & give you clean towels to use. There is absolutely no food allowed in these cabins, however, Curry Village has a dining area where you can either get a simple continental breakfast, or fully cooked breakfast. In addition, you can leave your car & take the free shuttle around the valley. Curry Village also has hard-walled cabins, but there are a fewer number of these and they sell out quicker. There is also Yosemite Lodge. The Awahnee Hotel is a 5-star hotel & you pay for that (someday I'll stay there).

    Places I recommend to visit: Glacier Point is a must, 5-minute walk to the bottom of Yosemite Falls, Yosemite Village & the Visitors Center. Also, on your way to Disneyland, via the 41 south, stop at the Mariposa Grove to see the Giant Sequoias. They are located 2 miles from the south entrance. If you have time, I recommend the tram tour, but if you don't have time, at least you can see some sequoias up close & take pics if you'd like.

    Another accommodation option is renting a fully equipped cabin from - located just 15 minutes inside the park from the south entrance. There is a pioneer center here and stables. I've stayed in these cabins twice. I've also stayed in Housekeeping a few times, Yosemite Lodge Cabins (before they washed away), and camped for a couple of weeks in the valley. :)

    Last year, we were in Yosemite, and drove up to Glacier Point to see the stars. I cannot even describe the beauty of seeing the multitude of stars and the Milky Way.
  12. maci

    maci <font color=CC0066>Can I go on vacation yet?<font

    Jul 14, 2001
    Thanks for the tips Mary Jo!
  13. mmmears

    mmmears DIS Veteran

    Nov 30, 2005
    We live in N. CA, and go to the beach often. I would recommend the Monterey/Carmel area over Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz has a boardwalk, but you're going on to DL so you'll get to ride those rides. The towns and beaches in Monterey and Carmel are quieter and more beautiful, IMO. Also, there is a great aquarium in Monterey, great walking and shopping there and in Carmel -- lots of people go there for the weekend.

    As for Yosemite, I have to echo the other posters and say that if you're there for 2 nights, stay in the valley. We stayed at the Ahwanee, and were lucky enough to get reservations only a month in advance. People cancel rooms all the time, and if you are lucky you'll get a room in the valley. The lodge is also nice, and the tent cabins in Curry Village are still in the valley. IMO Yosemite is amazing and really shouldn't be missed.

    Good luck planning your trip. It sounds like alot of fun!
  14. eeyoresnr

    eeyoresnr DIS Veteran

    Apr 27, 2007
    i'm not sure that you need 3 days for yosemite, and driving time to yosemite is a bit more than 6 hours as it's mountain driving the closer you get ...there is a great little town outside yosemite called Mariposa, we always stay there after a day at Yosemite at the Mariposa Lodge. if you go to San Jose be sure to di the Winchester Mystery house!
    fly out of John Wayne if you can
  15. nbodyhome

    nbodyhome DIS Veteran

    Nov 15, 2005
    We were out in SF/San Jose in January to visit family. We only spent a little more than 24 hours in SF, but we LOVED it! The Alcatraz night tour was amazing, the view was breathtaking from the island.

    My niece and nephew love living there (only for 2 years, their dad is transferred temporarily) - it's not a bad place at all for kids.

    I like San Jose, I have a ton of family there - but I'd go to SF first, all things being equal. I have done a driving Anaheim/Yosemite/San Jose trip before.
  16. celebratelife

    celebratelife Earning My Ears

    Jun 2, 2007

    Haven't posted on this site for years, but thought I'd throw my two cents in worth.

    Have traveled that route with kids that age (and other ages) many times. Hope to do it again this year. (we live in Oregon, so go down quite a bit).
    Great age for kids at any of these places. (It really is a two to three week trip though to get it all in, but you can do quite a bit in a week or so).

    Some thoughts. Our kids loved San Fransisco, (and so do we), but that can really be a week long trip in itself. Have some great trip memories (and pictures) of kids at pier 39 (Fisherman's wharf area), watching painted "still life" people, and sidewalk spray painting artists. (Carosel and sea lions). We also love the cable cars, and just hanging out at the various "park" areas along the pier near the Marine museum. The trip to Alcatraz is also really neat....(although older kids would probably enjoy it more). There is a neat fun park, It used to be called Marine World (north of San Fransisco), and also a fun factory tour through the Jelly Belly Factory (northeast of San Fran too).
    The Golden Gate bridge and a walk through Muir woods, and fun at their museum of science and industry. (not to mention lots of fun water parks around the area).

    Now for your trip thoughts. We like both Santa Cruz area and Monterey area, but they really are different paced. Santa Cruz boardwalk is fun for kids, and they have free concerts on Friday nights in the summer. There is a really fun (and realtively short - which your kids will appreciate) ride through the redwoods in an open air steam train, just north of Santa Cruz, I think it's in a town caled Felton. They have a cute little station, with a fun "Country" store and bar-b-que that the kids enjoyed. (They liked all the old time candy choices in jars). I believe they even had music on summer weekends. I'd probably opt for this with kids your ages, but then there is also Monterey, and the Aquarium which is really neat. (as well as Cannery Row). We were there when they were having an art show in the park which I really liked. The drive through 17 mile (through Pebble beach territory), near Carmel is also VERY beautiful. (And we have great pictures of that too - places to stop with picnic tables and have a lunch...if you don't mind the seagulls). There is also an old mission in Carmel, which is worth the visit.

    Either one of these would take you all day, if you were stationed in San Jose.
    There is also a fun park in San Jose, called Happy Hallow Park and Zoo. Easy to navigate, and your kids are the right age to enjoy it.

    I agree with everyone else about staying in Yosemite (valley floor). It takes awhile to get to the bottom, but pretty easy drive from San Fransisco. The walls of granite are amazing and so are the falls. There are buses that take you around the park once you park your car. (Word of caution, use hand dissinfectant, there are alot of foreign tourists, and we got really sick with something like the Norwalk Virus?, we think from touching the hand rails on the was bad.) The drive back into L.A. will take you longer than you expect, so try to leave realatively early. (we went the opposite way (LA TO Yos), and got into our park hotel VERY late at night - not fun hunting in the dark).

    Have a great trip, hope this helps. And I know you'll Enjoy Disneyland too!!!!!

    Celebrate Life
  17. princesskim

    princesskim Mouseketeer

    May 23, 2007
    Just thought I would comment on your hwy 1 drive. I did the drive from San Luis Obispo to Monterey, and let me tell you I will never drive it again. Im not sure how far you are planning on driving it, or to and from where, but the section I drove was extremely curvey and is vertical rock on one side, and vertical drop to the ocean on the other with a very skinny road inbetween. It probably didnt help that I drove it at night, and yes it was pretty, but i still dont recommend the drive. As for just getting off the 1 whenever, might not be so easy, there are no exits the section I drove. Just my 2 cents :confused3

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