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Big Sur - wine - San Fran itinery help

Richmond, Virginia
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Big Sur - wine - San Fran itinery help

Hello!

I want to take a 7-10 day road trip in California. I've been wanting for some time to check out Big Sur and perhaps do some light hiking. I've also wanted to check out Napa or Napa-esque wineries (extra points for doing a day biking tour). I'm looking for ideas on places to stop, timing, and places to stay that are nice but won't break the budget. Also, I definitely want to go to San Fran. Is it easier to fly and do a big loop from San Fran, or to start in Los Angeles and rent a one-way car to depart from San Fran at the end? Any cool culture spots, seafood, or other off-the-wall unique attractions suggestions are appreciated! I'll be travelling with 1-3 other people likely in September.

Thanks in advance for any help that you can give!

San Francisco...
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1. Re: Big Sur - wine - San Fran itinery help

Have you looked at guide books as well as the California, SF, Napa Valley forum top questions. We take the time to keep them updated so that visitors can get the basic questions answered

You may also want to look at a map to see where LA is and where Cambria and Napa and SF are and yes Cambria is mid way to LA from SF on the coastal route but one can see a part of it to Big Sur Village

7-10 is a big difference so which is it. Fly to SF, see SF for 3-4 days then drive to Napa for 1-2 days and then to Monterey or Carmel for 1-2 days and then to Cambria if you want for a day and then cut across to 101 and drive back to SF.

it is cheaper to do round trip rentals than one way rentals for US residents Also have a look at the SF conventions calendar in the SF Top Questions as hotel rates shoot up during conventions in SF

Santa Clara...
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2. Re: Big Sur - wine - San Fran itinery help

Another wine area to consider is the Pasa Robles area. You can easily do a loop from SF to Monterey/Carmel to Big Sur along Highway 1. Then swing inland on 101 to Paso.

When in September? Savor the Central Coast is at the end of the month. I have been eyeing to go for a couple of years...

http://www.savorcentralcoast.com

You might be cramming in too much if you want to see LA and SF and coast and wine. Perhaps save LA for another trip and do wine, coast, and SF.

Edited: 06 July 2014, 21:17
Grover Beach...
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3. Re: Big Sur - wine - San Fran itinery help

Yeah, if you only have a week, I would scratch LA off your list and do a loop trip.

SF>Monterey> Big Sur drive>Cambria/Paso Robles (wine tasting)>SF

Edited: 06 July 2014, 21:42
Richmond, Virginia
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4. Re: Big Sur - wine - San Fran itinery help

Thanks, Everyone! I had a group trip get cancelled on me, so I'm trying to recruit some friends into this, hence my lack of exact dates. I've got 12 days scheduled off at the beginning of Sept and was hoping for a Fri or Sat thru following Sun but am not sure if my friends can get quite that much off. (Although I guess I could always go early and enjoy San Fran on my own a day or two.)

I've gone thru a lot of travel blogs and website and am feeling rather overwhelmed by all of the info out there! (Hence my asking for suggestions from those who know!) Two things I know for sure: 1) I am not a fan of LA, so I was thinking of that for logistics only in case it makes more sense to have 2 dif't airport cities rather than back-tracking. I do not plan to see anything in LA. 2) Digging online more this afternoon, I think I'm going to scratch Napa as it looks like I can still get a lot of wine tastings where I'm thinking of going.

Possible itinerary after further research this afternoon (open for commentary!):

Day 1: Arrive in San Fran

Day 2: San Fran

Day 3: San Fran

Day 4: Santa Cruz (beach scene meets wine - highly recommended on another forum)

Day 5: 17-mile Drive (Worth it? I love scenery. Not a fan of golf. Also mentioned a lot.), Carmel (scenic, more wine, close to Monterey if wanting to venture there)

Day 6: Big Sur (Point Lobos, California Market for breakfast, Garrapata, Nepenthe, Julia Pfeiffer/ McWay Falls - This all seems like a lot but was mentioned in a blog w/ a suggested roadtrip itinerary.) - Question: What if it rains?

Day 7: Hearst Castle (Hadn't heard of this before today, but everyone seems to mention it. Worth it?), Paso Robles

Day 8: Solvang (This place just sounds awesome.), return to San Francisco

Day 9: Depart

Does this seem reasonable? I've read Big Sur is dangerous when raining. If it rains on Day 6, should we try to move a day or two around? Thanks again for all of your feedback!

Santa Clara...
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5. Re: Big Sur - wine - San Fran itinery help

Good first draft!

I don't dig 17 miles drive so I personally skip it. Use the time for other things in the area. You can do Pt Lobos and Carmel in one day and save the drive down for another.

Solvang is a big detour and a bit kitschy but I see you're looking for quirky stuff but still not sure it's worth the distance.

Hearst Castle - I think you'll like it. Lots of interesting history. Old Hollywood Glamour, open marriages, etc. Look at more than one tour.

Rain - pretty much close to zero chance in September. We only talk about rain from November to March around these parts.

Edited: 06 July 2014, 23:12
Santa Cruz...
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6. Re: Big Sur - wine - San Fran itinery help

17 mile drive......if you are going to drive Big Sur, don't bother. It is for people who won't see much coastal scenery. It costs money, and two of its "atrractions" are a golf course and some fancy expensive houses. Time spend at Point Lobos would reward you much more.

You mentioned Santa Cruz. Here is a traveler article to read...

http://tinyurl.com/cy7nl3c

Grover Beach...
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7. Re: Big Sur - wine - San Fran itinery help

Days 1-4 look fine, although I'm not sure Santa Cruz wine country is all that close to Santa Cruz (Puter?)

Day 5: Visit Point Lobos State Reserve. MUCH better than the 17 Mile drive. You can also visit beautiful Carmel Beach, Asilomar Beach/Pacific Grove shoreline, Lover's Point, the Monterey Bay aquarium if interested.

Day 6: Big Sur: Bixby Bridge, Pfeiffer Beach, Nepenthe/Phoenix Shop, McWay Falls, Ragged Point, the elephant seal rookery. Overnight in San Simeon or Cambria

Day 7: Hearst Castle/Paso Robles wine country

With the extra day, you could add a night to Monterey or Cambria and have extra time for exploring those areas.

Solvang and awesome are two words that don't go together. In other words, I wouldn't waste that much gas just to go there. It just isn't THAT interesting.

San Francisco
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8. Re: Big Sur - wine - San Fran itinery help

Agree with Kibbles that the 1 + hour drive from Paso to Solvang is NOT worth it.

Two days in SF is not enough IMO. Try to add another full day.

Santa Cruz...
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9. Re: Big Sur - wine - San Fran itinery help

The Santa Cruz Mountains wine area is quite wide and scattered. Bargetto Brothers in Soquel is a well respected winery, and there are tasting rooms in town, which bring a lot of the local wines within tasting range without scaling the mountains.

https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=wine+tasting+rooms+in+santa+cruz+ca

The list of the Santa Cruz Winemakers Association members is here.

http://scmwa.com/wineries/

Agree that you should add another day to San Francisco.

Edited: 07 July 2014, 00:54
Richmond, Virginia
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10. Re: Big Sur - wine - San Fran itinery help

So I'm sensing the consensus on Solvang is skip it and go see the real thing! :)

Since that frees up Day 8, any stops along the way that anyone can recommend to break up the drive from Paso to San Fran? (How far timewise exactly is it? I saw a time advisor on TripAdvisor from landmark to landmark, but there must be a lot of zigging and zagging. My map search just listed it as 3 hours but the time advisor was a lot longer than that when I added it up.)