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Best Beach for Seeing Sea Lions?

Dundee, Michigan
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Best Beach for Seeing Sea Lions?

We are thinking of visiting California for the first time next March and would like to stay on/near a beach. Which beach(es) are best for seeing sea lions? Are the beaches near San Diego less crowded than those near LA? Is it cold in late March up around San Francisco and the Monterey Peninsula?

Thanks!

Lewiston, California
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1. Re: Best Beach for Seeing Sea Lions?

Best Seal beach is no beach at all but right at Fisherman's Wharf (actually just down from there in San Fransisco. However south of San Fransisco is Nuveo where the huge Elephant Seals gather each year. A most impressive sight!

Dundee, Michigan
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2. Re: Best Beach for Seeing Sea Lions?

One of the places that I checked out was San Francisco, and specifically Fisherman's Wharf. Would you suggest staying at Fisherman's Wharf for a family with two teens on our first trip to CA? I was pleasantly surprised at the price of hotels at FW, since I know that SF is generally very expensive. However, most of the hotels in that area charge over $30/day to park. This may be a dumb question, but is there a hotel around FW where you don't have to pay to park and is very nice?

Thanks!

San Francisco
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for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
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3. Re: Best Beach for Seeing Sea Lions?

If you plan to stay right in S.F., a car can be a real burden. Just about all the Wharf and downtown hotels charge for parking, and the cost can equal the price of a Motel 6 room in some places.

If you really need or want a car, try the motels along Lombard or toward the fringe of the Wharf. Columbus Motor Inn has gotten good reviews here, and it's just a block from the Wharf. Lombard is a major street and is part of Hwy 101 within the City that goes to the Golden Gate Bridge. It's convenient if you want to drive to Marin, Napa, Golden Gate Park or S.F. Ocean Beach.

Since I live here, I don't know much about the local motels, but I've seen good reports for the Cow Hollow Inn, La Luna, and Coventry Motor Inn, among others.

There is a colony of sea lions that spends much of the year on the dock at Pier 39. But this is a manmade habitat. Another colony lives at the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf, also a manmade habitat. Año Nuevo State Reserve is really the best nearby place to see marine wildlife in their natural habitat. It's one of the world's main elephant seal habitats. The setting is beautiful, and nearby you can also see Pigeon Point Lighthouse, one of the tallest on the West Coast.

Spring is an exciting time at Año Nuevo; it's breeding season and the bulls compete for the ladies' attention. During this season, visitors can walk out to the beach only on ranger tours, for public safety (the male seals can be 3,000 lbs or more) and you need reservations. This park is well worth seeing if you enjoy nature. You would need a car to get there; it is on the coast 60-65 miles south of S.F. Here is the park website:

http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=523

As for the weather, March can be pretty balmy in the Bay Area and there's not much fog. But the ocean never gets very warm this far north. There really isn't a season when the ocean is consistently comfortable in Northern California.

Depending on how long your vacation is, you might like to make Año Nuevo part of an overnight trip to Santa Cruz or Monterey.

Dundee, Michigan
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4. Re: Best Beach for Seeing Sea Lions?

Thanks for all the great info! I have read that the ocean is cold there, but we really just enjoy walking on the beach and maybe wading a little bit, as opposed to actually swimming in the ocean. I really appreciate the sea lion/ elephant seal info.

5. Re: Best Beach for Seeing Sea Lions?

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