Disneyland to San Francisco itinerary help!

Colleen27

DIS Veteran
Joined
Mar 31, 2007
We're heading back to California in mid-January, flying into the Los Angeles/Anaheim area (hopefully SNA but it'll depend on airfares) and renting a car for the Pacific Coast Highway drive up as far as San Francisco. We're going to have 10 days for the trip, flying in on a Friday evening and going home Sunday of the following weekend. And there is a LOT I want to fit into that time, but I'm having a hard time figuring it all out with the shorter days that time of year and could use some more experienced eyes on my rough draft to help me figure it all out.

The must-dos are Disneyland (of course), though I'm not 100% sure we need 3 days there, the Monterey Aquarium, wildlife watching at Elkhorn Slough, and seeing the redwoods somewhere. I'd also like to do some whale and elephant seal watching, since that's so seasonally-dependent and I'm not sure if we'll be back again in the winter. And the last two days will be exploring San Francisco, with no real plans so DD18 can take the lead and show us around the city and campus before we leave and classes resume. With the short days in January, I'm planning on taking full advantage of the fact that we're coming from the Eastern time zone - getting up at 6am California time to start our days with the sunrise shouldn't be a problem, and with no nightlife on the agenda, it shouldn't be too hard to wrap up our days early and stay more or less on "our time".

Day 1: fly in, landing around 8pm local time, and check in to our hotel near DLR.

Day 2, 3, 4: Disneyland and California Adventure. On our last visit, we felt like two days was enough to see and do pretty much everything (though we did skip the fireworks and Fantasmic). But I know the park hours are likely to be shorter in January than in August, and since this is my husband's first trip, we were thinking we'd like to have three days in the parks.

Day 5: Pick up the rental car and head north. There's really nothing in L.A. we want to do - we visited the Hollywood sign and the Walk of Fame in August and honestly weren't wowed. Lots of traffic and parking misery for ho-hum attractions. So we're not planning on going anywhere in the city except maybe for lunch (recommendations welcome! we are pretty adventurous eaters and particularly love SoCal for its authentic Mexican, something that isn't easy to find in rural Michigan). DD18 would like to do the Murphy Ranch hike in Pacific Palisades, which will be a 2-3 hour stop, and I'm thinking we should be able to make it as far as Morro Bay before stopping for the night.

Day 6: Morro Rock was one of DD11's favorites on the last trip, so it would be nice to start the day with a short visit there. She's hoping to see some baby sea otters on this trip! Then it is up the coast to Monterey. I'd like to make good enough time to see the aquarium in the afternoon, which would give us about five hours for the three hour drive - just about enough time for the one very short hike the girls want to take DH on and a couple of photo/scenery stops along the way (assuming the weather cooperates). Dinner will be with my husband's aunt in Carmel Valley if she's in town; otherwise we'll find somewhere that looks interesting in Monterey.

Day 7: Kayaking at Moss Landing, weather permitting, as part of DD11's ongoing quest to see baby sea otters. Our guide on this paddle in August said there are a lot of them in the relatively sheltered waters of the slough early in the year, so this is the most likely opportunity. Plan B is a pontoon boat tour in the same area, if the weather isn't looking suitable for kayaking. Either way, we'll be done in the area around lunchtime, giving us the whole afternoon for the PCH drive the rest of the way up to San Francisco.

Day 8: I'm not sure what the plan is here. I'm torn - either we can keep the car an extra day and go across the bridge to Muir Woods and Point Reyes, or we can drop it off and spend the day in the city. But if we do that, I have to find time to fit in a stop at Big Basin or at least the redwoods drive from Half Moon Bay on the way up the coast, because seeing the redwoods is one of DH's musts for the trip.

Day 9: San Francisco proper. DD18 will be our tour guide, and I know Golden Gate Park, her dorm/campus, and a meal in Japantown will be on the agenda. I'd like to make it to the Walt Disney Family Museum, but if we don't get there, it is no big deal - DH isn't all that interested, and I'm sure I'll be back again at some point in the course of moving DD in/out of dorms over the next few years.

Day 10: Breakfast and mass with DD18 on/near campus, then to the airport to fly home.

Thoughts? Recommendations for highlights I haven't stumbled upon yet? Dining suggestions? It almost feels harder to plan this trip, with a little bit of experience with the area, than it was to work with the blank slate that was our last trip where we knew nothing and just sort of stumbled along.
 

usnuzuloose

Loosing Boo Boo
Joined
Sep 20, 2009
Depending your time in Monterey you could do 17 mile drive and visit the points. There is a cost to get in the gate not sure how much. You could visit the 18th hole on Pebble beach golf course.
 

Colleen27

DIS Veteran
Joined
Mar 31, 2007
How long would you recommend allowing for the drive, with stops?

I do think we're going to have a bit of time to fill in Monterey one morning, before we head up to Moss Landing to go kayaking/on the boat tour. If we're kayaking in January, I'd rather set out late enough that the sun has had time to start warming the day. If we're doing the pontoon boat tour, it doesn't leave until late morning. So either way, we'll have 2+ hours of daylight in the Monterey/Pacific Grove area before we have to get on the road to Elkhorn Slough.
 
  • Skjhjb

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 8, 2012
    We just did this trip in Sept/Oct.

    We did Disneyland for 3 days, plus a day doing Hollywood and Warner Bros tour. We left Anaheim on the Sunday morning with a quick stop at Santa Monica Pier and then hit the #101.

    We spent 2 nights in Pismo Beach. We did a kayak tour there - SO much fun. We did see a couple otters, but not many. Our tour was first thing in the morning, and we had planned to do some wineries that afternoon, but we were just zonked from our kayak trip. (we're both 50+ lol) So we had lunch at a brewery in San Luis Ospo and then went back to our hotel and chilled for the afternoon. Shore Cliff Hotel was fantastic - we had an ocean view room and it was well worth it.

    We left Pismo on the Tuesday morning and drove through Big Sur. We stopped at the Elephant Seal viewing spot, hit Peiffer park for McWay falls, had lunch at Nepenthe (pricy but the views were worth it) and then we also did the Pebble Beach 17 Mile drive. It was $10 to do that. Amazing views. Stayed at Hotel Abrego here.

    We stayed in Monterey one night, and did the aquarium Wednedsay morning before leaving for San Francisco. We opted to keep our car when we got there (we were supposed to return it but decided to extend it). We did Lombard Street twice, drove across the Golden Gate Bridge, went to the Disney Family Museum - that was Thursday. Then on the Friday we did Alcatraz and the pier, and rode the cable car from the wharf end to the other end and back again. Our hotel was ok - dated but clean - Coventry Inn, and fairly central to a lot of things as it was on Lombard. We saw the Full House house and the house from Mrs Doubtfire as well. A lot of this we couldn't have done if we'd depended on local transport only, so super glad we kept the car!

    Enjoy your trip!!
     

    Colleen27

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 31, 2007
    We just did this trip in Sept/Oct.

    We did Disneyland for 3 days, plus a day doing Hollywood and Warner Bros tour. We left Anaheim on the Sunday morning with a quick stop at Santa Monica Pier and then hit the #101.

    We spent 2 nights in Pismo Beach. We did a kayak tour there - SO much fun. We did see a couple otters, but not many. Our tour was first thing in the morning, and we had planned to do some wineries that afternoon, but we were just zonked from our kayak trip. (we're both 50+ lol) So we had lunch at a brewery in San Luis Ospo and then went back to our hotel and chilled for the afternoon. Shore Cliff Hotel was fantastic - we had an ocean view room and it was well worth it.

    We left Pismo on the Tuesday morning and drove through Big Sur. We stopped at the Elephant Seal viewing spot, hit Peiffer park for McWay falls, had lunch at Nepenthe (pricy but the views were worth it) and then we also did the Pebble Beach 17 Mile drive. It was $10 to do that. Amazing views. Stayed at Hotel Abrego here.

    We stayed in Monterey one night, and did the aquarium Wednedsay morning before leaving for San Francisco. We opted to keep our car when we got there (we were supposed to return it but decided to extend it). We did Lombard Street twice, drove across the Golden Gate Bridge, went to the Disney Family Museum - that was Thursday. Then on the Friday we did Alcatraz and the pier, and rode the cable car from the wharf end to the other end and back again. Our hotel was ok - dated but clean - Coventry Inn, and fairly central to a lot of things as it was on Lombard. We saw the Full House house and the house from Mrs Doubtfire as well. A lot of this we couldn't have done if we'd depended on local transport only, so super glad we kept the car!

    Enjoy your trip!!
    I thought about staying in SLO on our way up the coast and doing some wine tasting, but I figure DH & I will zonk out before we get to doing any wineries too. He's 50... my only excuse is too much trying to keep up with the kids. ;) And I know DD11 would rather stay overlooking Morro Bay and her beloved otters.

    Is the McWay Falls trail still partially closed? That was one of things that DD18 wanted to do on our summer trip but by the time we got to California (by way of 14 states and 15 national parks, plus 2 open-to-close days at Disneyland) we were content just to enjoy the drive.

    I'm torn on having a car in San Francisco. When we moved DD into her dorm we drove out, so we had our own car, and there were times I was glad for it even though parking most places was a huge headache. But DD insists that it is really easy to get around the city without one - she lives near Golden Gate Park and works at Fisherman's Wharf, so she's getting to know the bus and cable car systems well. We were looking at staying in Japantown/Civic Center area where we'd be paying for parking, just because it is the closest option to her campus, so I was planning to return the rental at the start of our time in the city. But Coventry and a few other motels in that neighborhood popped up when I was searching for lodging and I noticed most have parking, so maybe staying around Lomband and keeping the rental would work out better.
     

    Lumpy1106

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 2, 2010
    Day 6: Morro Rock was one of DD11's favorites on the last trip, so it would be nice to start the day with a short visit there. She's hoping to see some baby sea otters on this trip! Then it is up the coast to Monterey. I'd like to make good enough time to see the aquarium in the afternoon, which would give us about five hours for the three hour drive - just about enough time for the one very short hike the girls want to take DH on and a couple of photo/scenery stops along the way (assuming the weather cooperates). Dinner will be with my husband's aunt in Carmel Valley if she's in town; otherwise we'll find somewhere that looks interesting in Monterey.
    YOU ARE IN LUCK!
    There is a small museum on the bay in Morro Bay. From Morro Bay, just drive like you are headed to the golf course or the camp grounds - it will be on your right as you enter the park. There is a small entrance fee but worth it just to talk to the docents. They can guide you to where other volunteers are stationed with binoculars and telescopes to see the otters. When we were there they were in the bay in a kelp bed close to the rock. There had to be about 50 of them and they were in very close - you really didn't need the binoculars but they are good to have, plus the volunteers can tell you everything you want to know about the otters.

    If you want to take PCH to Monterey (HIGHLY recommended!) give yourself a FULL DAY. You can drive it at night but you won't see anything and it's a whole lot quicker to take the 101 if that's your intent. There's not really much of anywhere to stop for food along the way so pack yourself a lunch in Morro Bay. Once you pass Cambria you are committed - there's nowhere to cut back over to the 101 from there. I recommend stopping at Sand Dollar Beach. It's a beautiful crescent-shaped beach that is a good distance along the coast. You won't find many great places to stop north of that (lots of places to pull over and take in the view - but not many places to stop for an extended length).
     

    Lumpy1106

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 2, 2010
    I thought about staying in SLO on our way up the coast and doing some wine tasting, but I figure DH & I will zonk out before we get to doing any wineries too. He's 50... my only excuse is too much trying to keep up with the kids. ;) And I know DD11 would rather stay overlooking Morro Bay and her beloved otters.

    Is the McWay Falls trail still partially closed? That was one of things that DD18 wanted to do on our summer trip but by the time we got to California (by way of 14 states and 15 national parks, plus 2 open-to-close days at Disneyland) we were content just to enjoy the drive.

    I'm torn on having a car in San Francisco. When we moved DD into her dorm we drove out, so we had our own car, and there were times I was glad for it even though parking most places was a huge headache. But DD insists that it is really easy to get around the city without one - she lives near Golden Gate Park and works at Fisherman's Wharf, so she's getting to know the bus and cable car systems well. We were looking at staying in Japantown/Civic Center area where we'd be paying for parking, just because it is the closest option to her campus, so I was planning to return the rental at the start of our time in the city. But Coventry and a few other motels in that neighborhood popped up when I was searching for lodging and I noticed most have parking, so maybe staying around Lomband and keeping the rental would work out better.
    Unless you just want to stop at a wine bar on Higuera, the wine tasting is on the other side of the Cuesta Grade in Paso Robles and Templeton. You can cut back over to the coast from there but it's out of your way if you intend to drive PCH up.

    I would not have a car in San Francisco. It's a pain to park, and DD is right - easy to get around without it. IF all else fails, Uber and Lyft drivers are EVERYWHERE in SF. Honestly, half the traffic is gig drivers.
     
  • PlutoTheDog89

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 19, 2011
    Doing the reverse trip during Christmas week. Right now, we have the following planned:

    December 23rd: Land in SFO mid-afternoon. See Fisherman's Wharf/get dinner in Mission
    December 24th: Golden Gate Bridge, Painted Ladies, Lombard Street, Chinatown, piers, dinner in North Beach
    December 25th: Leave SFO; stop in Monterey for lunch; drive through Big Sur; stop in Cambria overnight
    December 26th: Hearst Castle, head south to Santa Barbara for the night
    December 27th: Head to LA: Griffith Observatory, In-N-Out, whatever else may fit
    December 28th: Santa Monica, Venice, Beverly Hills area - stop at Walk of Fame
    December 29th: Warner Bros. Studio Tour, then head to Anaheim
    December 30th: Disneyland/DCA
    December 31st: Disneyland/DCA
    January 1st: San Diego
    January 2nd: San Diego
    January 3rd: San Diego/Red Eye home
     

    Colleen27

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 31, 2007
    YOU ARE IN LUCK!
    There is a small museum on the bay in Morro Bay. From Morro Bay, just drive like you are headed to the golf course or the camp grounds - it will be on your right as you enter the park. There is a small entrance fee but worth it just to talk to the docents. They can guide you to where other volunteers are stationed with binoculars and telescopes to see the otters. When we were there they were in the bay in a kelp bed close to the rock. There had to be about 50 of them and they were in very close - you really didn't need the binoculars but they are good to have, plus the volunteers can tell you everything you want to know about the otters.

    If you want to take PCH to Monterey (HIGHLY recommended!) give yourself a FULL DAY. You can drive it at night but you won't see anything and it's a whole lot quicker to take the 101 if that's your intent. There's not really much of anywhere to stop for food along the way so pack yourself a lunch in Morro Bay. Once you pass Cambria you are committed - there's nowhere to cut back over to the 101 from there. I recommend stopping at Sand Dollar Beach. It's a beautiful crescent-shaped beach that is a good distance along the coast. You won't find many great places to stop north of that (lots of places to pull over and take in the view - but not many places to stop for an extended length).
    That's actually where the whole sea otter obsession started... we had set out looking for river otters, because we've never spotted them when traveling in our own state and DD11 loves them at the zoo. We struck out at the places the rangers at Glacier and Grand Teton said we might be able to spot some, much to her disappointment. But sea otters are a lot more viewer-friendly, and after seeing a video about baby otters at Morro Bay, she decided seeing them would be even better. So on the recommendation of the docent, we spent some time at Morro Rock, watching the otters and the peregrine falcons through binoculars we borrowed from my fisherman father-in-law before the trip.

    Thanks for the tip on packing a lunch. I wouldn't have thought of that, though I do remember long stretches with no shops or restaurants on the stretch of PCH we drove last trip. I do plan on taking a full day for the drive - I'd like to be up with the sun in Morro Bay to have breakfast and hit the road, so that we can make the most of the daylight.
     

    cruisehopeful

    Wishing I was taking a nap on a ship.
    Joined
    Oct 25, 2015
    If you can block out 2-3 hours for the 17 mile drive, I do recommend that. We got out of the car several times and it was there that we saw a mom Sea Otter teaching her baby how to break open something to eat. It was the highlight of my visit to the area. We did see way more sea otters in Moss Landing, but couldn't see any babies. Although we were on the shore with binoculars and not in a kayak, so you'll likely have a better view than we did. Even with a kayak, I recommend binoculars because they can all be bunched up together in the sea weed beds.

    I haven't been to Big Basin (tried a few years ago, but too many road closures at the time), but Henry Cowell Redwoods is very easy to get to and really a great place. There's also a train that you can catch from Santa Cruz pier that takes you to Henry Cowell. We didn't want to eat up that much time and took our own car. It's a place that we will go back to for sure.

    I love Muir Woods. The problem there is the small parking lot. No cell service, so no ability to call for a ride. Last time we went there we took a tour bus and we hardly had any time there. If you go there, get there very early to insure you have a parking spot.
     
  • Skjhjb

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 8, 2012
    Is the McWay Falls trail still partially closed? That was one of things that DD18 wanted to do on our summer trip but by the time we got to California (by way of 14 states and 15 national parks, plus 2 open-to-close days at Disneyland) we were content just to enjoy the drive.

    I'm torn on having a car in San Francisco. When we moved DD into her dorm we drove out, so we had our own car, and there were times I was glad for it even though parking most places was a huge headache. But DD insists that it is really easy to get around the city without one - she lives near Golden Gate Park and works at Fisherman's Wharf, so she's getting to know the bus and cable car systems well. We were looking at staying in Japantown/Civic Center area where we'd be paying for parking, just because it is the closest option to her campus, so I was planning to return the rental at the start of our time in the city. But Coventry and a few other motels in that neighborhood popped up when I was searching for lodging and I noticed most have parking, so maybe staying around Lomband and keeping the rental would work out better.
    The trail was partially closed - you got to a spot where you could take great photos but you can't get down to the falls themselves.

    We had thought we could do with transit when in SF, but after we checked in to our hotel, we asked about the hop on hop off bus - it would have been the same cost for two days of that as it was to extend the car. The hotel had parking, we walked to dinner two nights, and paid $20 to park in a well lit garage when we went to Alcatraz. We also loved being on our own schedule and able to go where we wanted. But we were just two adults doing our thing, no kids along!
     

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    Lumpy1106

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 2, 2010
    That's actually where the whole sea otter obsession started... we had set out looking for river otters, because we've never spotted them when traveling in our own state and DD11 loves them at the zoo. We struck out at the places the rangers at Glacier and Grand Teton said we might be able to spot some, much to her disappointment. But sea otters are a lot more viewer-friendly, and after seeing a video about baby otters at Morro Bay, she decided seeing them would be even better. So on the recommendation of the docent, we spent some time at Morro Rock, watching the otters and the peregrine falcons through binoculars we borrowed from my fisherman father-in-law before the trip.

    Thanks for the tip on packing a lunch. I wouldn't have thought of that, though I do remember long stretches with no shops or restaurants on the stretch of PCH we drove last trip. I do plan on taking a full day for the drive - I'd like to be up with the sun in Morro Bay to have breakfast and hit the road, so that we can make the most of the daylight.
    I got my degree at CPSLO and surfed almost every day while I lived there. I had no idea how endangered the sea otters were until my daughter took an interest in them. They are plentiful on the Central Coast - I'd see the otters in the water almost every day. It was far more rare to see the sea lions and dolphins though I had the pleasure of surfing with them too. If you want a nice sit-down place for breakfast in Morro Bay you have to go to Dorns. It overlooks the bay and is not too pricey. Trivia fact; Alfred Hitchcock got the inspiration for the movie "Birds" while having breakfast on the patio at Dorns.

    Temper your expectations of seeing the otters at the Monterrey Bay aquarium. The sea otter exhibit is not very good there. The one at the Long Beach Aquarium is MUCH better. Monterrey has a great, multi-level kelp forest tank and another giant tank where they had a whale at one point - not sure if the whale is still there - those are the highlights. The setting along cannery row is amazing. They try and sell it like it's a multi-day experience but I don't think so. If you are giving it 4-5 hours that's about right.
     

    Colleen27

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 31, 2007
    I would not have a car in San Francisco. It's a pain to park, and DD is right - easy to get around without it. IF all else fails, Uber and Lyft drivers are EVERYWHERE in SF. Honestly, half the traffic is gig drivers.
    That's the way I'm leaning right now. We can keep the car for our first day in the city to go out to Muir Woods and then return it that afternoon and do without for our last two days. Between the two extra days, returning the car to the airport rather than in the city, and paying for parking if we stay near DD's campus, we'd be spending over $200 to have the car for those two days. That would cover a lot of Ubers and BART fares.

    Thanks! It looks like you had a great trip.

    I got my degree at CPSLO and surfed almost every day while I lived there. I had no idea how endangered the sea otters were until my daughter took an interest in them. They are plentiful on the Central Coast - I'd see the otters in the water almost every day. It was far more rare to see the sea lions and dolphins though I had the pleasure of surfing with them too. If you want a nice sit-down place for breakfast in Morro Bay you have to go to Dorns. It overlooks the bay and is not too pricey. Trivia fact; Alfred Hitchcock got the inspiration for the movie "Birds" while having breakfast on the patio at Dorns.

    Temper your expectations of seeing the otters at the Monterrey Bay aquarium. The sea otter exhibit is not very good there. The one at the Long Beach Aquarium is MUCH better. Monterrey has a great, multi-level kelp forest tank and another giant tank where they had a whale at one point - not sure if the whale is still there - those are the highlights. The setting along cannery row is amazing. They try and sell it like it's a multi-day experience but I don't think so. If you are giving it 4-5 hours that's about right.
    Thanks for the recommendation. Their menu looks really good, and we are planning on a sitdown breakfast before getting on the road that morning.

    We went to the Monterey Aquarium when we were there in August, and I was surprised at how small the otter exhibit was. We watched their feeding and the whole viewing area was absolutely, ridiculously packed. They didn't have a whale when we were there, but the kelp forest and the activism/art exhibit about plastic in the oceans were our favorite parts. I think we were there about 4 hours and that was enough, so I'm planning for about the same this time.

    If it were entirely up to me, I'd do Aquarium of the Pacific rather than a second visit to Monterey, but DH really wants to see the Monterey Aquarium because with his aunt living in the area he's heard a lot about it but never been out there himself. The Long Beach Aquarium has a behind-the-scenes otter experience that I tried to convince DH would make the perfect Christmas gift for DD11, but between the scheduling (weekends only) and DH's desire to go to MB Aquarium, I don't think I can manage to shoehorn it in.
     

    Colleen27

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 31, 2007
    If you can block out 2-3 hours for the 17 mile drive, I do recommend that. We got out of the car several times and it was there that we saw a mom Sea Otter teaching her baby how to break open something to eat. It was the highlight of my visit to the area. We did see way more sea otters in Moss Landing, but couldn't see any babies. Although we were on the shore with binoculars and not in a kayak, so you'll likely have a better view than we did. Even with a kayak, I recommend binoculars because they can all be bunched up together in the sea weed beds.

    I haven't been to Big Basin (tried a few years ago, but too many road closures at the time), but Henry Cowell Redwoods is very easy to get to and really a great place. There's also a train that you can catch from Santa Cruz pier that takes you to Henry Cowell. We didn't want to eat up that much time and took our own car. It's a place that we will go back to for sure.

    I love Muir Woods. The problem there is the small parking lot. No cell service, so no ability to call for a ride. Last time we went there we took a tour bus and we hardly had any time there. If you go there, get there very early to insure you have a parking spot.
    Wow, my daughter would love to see the otters interacting like that!

    The kayaking was really amazing at Moss Landing. According to the outfitter we used, the land along the inlet east of the highway is mostly privately owned with no public access, so going by water is the only way to get to the sheltered areas where the otters congregate. We got to see a lot of them, some fairly close up. I didn't take my camera out on the water with us, but this is a cell phone shot (no zoom) of one of the otters swimming in front of us.

    I've heard horrible things about parking at Muir Woods, but also that it is worth it. So we're just going to get up early, start our day there, and hope the parking gods smile down on us.
     

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    cruisehopeful

    Wishing I was taking a nap on a ship.
    Joined
    Oct 25, 2015
    Temper your expectations of seeing the otters at the Monterrey Bay aquarium. The sea otter exhibit is not very good there. The one at the Long Beach Aquarium is MUCH better.
    I want to add that Monterey Aquarium has a "behind the scenes" otter tour. I did it a few months ago and it was not worth it. You don't get to see any otters. They just show you where they keep the otters and you can look on a closed circuit screen to see them. The only good part of it was that they had a telescope set up outside and it was set to a couple wild otters. Anyone could have viewed there, though. You don't need to be on the tour for it.
     

    Colleen27

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 31, 2007
    I want to add that Monterey Aquarium has a "behind the scenes" otter tour. I did it a few months ago and it was not worth it. You don't get to see any otters. They just show you where they keep the otters and you can look on a closed circuit screen to see them. The only good part of it was that they had a telescope set up outside and it was set to a couple wild otters. Anyone could have viewed there, though. You don't need to be on the tour for it.
    Good to know. They're so conservation oriented that it doesn't surprise me that their behind the scenes doesn't offer any animal interaction, but I would have at least expected improved viewing at the exhibit or backstage.
     

    mel2014

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Nov 26, 2014
    I second the recommendation to do Henry Cowell Redwoods instead of Muir Woods or Big Basin. I think the redwoods there are just as impressive and the access is a breeze compared to the Muir Woods parking mess or driving out of the way to Big Basin.
     

    Colleen27

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 31, 2007
    I second the recommendation to do Henry Cowell Redwoods instead of Muir Woods or Big Basin. I think the redwoods there are just as impressive and the access is a breeze compared to the Muir Woods parking mess or driving out of the way to Big Basin.
    Wow, that does look like it'd be easier to get to! Have you done any of the hiking there? The redwood loop trail would be a must, of course, but knowing my girls they'll want to get off onto some of the less-traveled trails as well.
     

    mel2014

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Nov 26, 2014
    Wow, that does look like it'd be easier to get to! Have you done any of the hiking there? The redwood loop trail would be a must, of course, but knowing my girls they'll want to get off onto some of the less-traveled trails as well.
    We stayed at the campground and did a loop hike from the campground down to the redwood loop and back. There's some nice sections of redwoods along the river outside of the regular loop and along the Eagle Creek trail. I'd suggest continuing south past the turning point of the Redwood loop (by the bathrooms) where the Pipeline Road and River trails converge and then, after the bridge where they diverge, do another mini loop out on Pipeline and back on the River Trail before returning back to complete the Redwood loop. The Ridge Fire Road is an entirely different ecosystem and while there are some great views from the observation deck, there's no redwoods there.
     

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