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North or South from San Francisco?

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North or South from San Francisco?

North or South ”

Jun 21, 2011, 4:57 AM

My husband and I are visiting California for the first time from Wisconsin. We will be arriving July 3 at 11:50, San Francisco, Airport, leaving Monday July 11. We will be renting a car so we can explore. This is sort of a spur of the moment trip for us, when the opportunity presented, we jumped at the chance of visiting California. Realize the holiday will cause bigger crowds.

Our goal is to experience the beautiful coast, but would like to find quieter spots, if at all possible. I have started my research and have looked at driving Hwy. 1 South, possibly staying at Pacifica, and visiting Montara, traveling to Montery Bay and Pont Lobos. Would Pacifica be a good place to stay? But I’m wondering if it would be less crowded to go North on Hwy. 1.

We want to enjoy California coast, we like moderate hikes, would like to find a home base that is affordable, we are on a budget. We aren’t looking for fancy, just comfortable, clean, and friendly. We would like to take time just to relax and explore. Enjoy local attractions, restaurants, and visiting to learn more about the area. What about driving North to Mendocino or….? We would love to see the big red woods as well, but don’t want to venture too far from the ocean. Wine tours aren’t a number 1 for use, but if we have time and something was close, we would enjoy visiting, and sampling.

We would really appreciate suggestions, recommendations for sights, accommodations, driving tips, etc. Which would be better North or South of San Francisco?


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1. Re: North or South from San Francisco?

It looks to me like you would enjoy staying somewhere between Point Reyes and Bodega Bay. It is very quiet along there. In fact probably Point Reyes Station area would suit you best . It is near Point Reyes National Seashore and Mount Tamalpais for hiking. Stinson Beach is nearby.

You can continue up Highway 1 viewing the amazing cliffs and crashing waves. Not too far up the coast Bodega Bay is a little busier and you may be able to find access to water sports (not sure about this, but it seems to be the most likely place along the coast north of SF).

Note: A big reason why this coast is so quiet and unpopulated is because swimming and most water sports here are not possible or only for extreme enthusiasts. The water is very cold and in most places too dangerous.

Between Point Reyes and Bodega Bay there is easy access to Sonoma Valley wine country . You are also not that far from SF. You can either drive into SF and park, or drive to Sausalito and take the ferry.

As for big trees: Muir Woods and Armstrong Woods are within easy driving distance.

For accommodation take a look at VRBO. As I said try Point Reyes Station, Bodega Bay or any town around there (look at Google Maps if you are not sure). There is a feature where you can plug in your dates (though some owners don't do a good job of updating their calendars). You can probably find a nice studio or 1 bedroom for somewhere between $100 and $200.

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2. Re: North or South from San Francisco?

Pacifica is a tiny town, but it is bustling with people pretty much year around. Monterey is larger & GORGEOUS, but very busy as well. It's easy to take a quiet hike though. These areas are more expensive than traveling north (look at this website).

Mendocino is very picturesque (it was used for the setting of Murder She Wrote-- supposed to be a village in Maine). Lots of pretty shops, restaurants, bakeries, & good coffee. You could stay in Fort Bragg more inexpensively. They have some awesome breakfast places & seafood restaurants.

You'll find trails all along the coast no matter which way you travel.

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3. Re: North or South from San Francisco?

Were you thinking fo renting a car during the SF portion of your trip? It's probably best to use public transit while in the city, as we did during our visit. Its economical and efficient whild parking is expensive. We rented a car and drove south and stayed in Monterey for 3 days. Using Monterey as base, we toured Carmel, Pacific Grove, and Big Sur (down to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park). I can only speak from my own experience but this southern portion of Hwy 1 is extremely scenic and pretty. We headed south on Hwy 1 to Pacifica and stopped at Gorilla BBQ for lunch and their food was fantastic (they were featured on Foodnetwork's Diners Drive-ins & Dives). We then headed inland a bit to Big Basin Redwoods SP to see the giant redwoods. There's a short trail (less than 1 mile) that gives you a great taste of the giant trees. We then headed south to Monterey. We spent a day driving south on Hwy 1 from Monterey through Big Sur and back, going as far as McWay Falls. There are several state parks along the way where you can get in some short / moderate hikes.

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4. Re: North or South from San Francisco?

>> Which would be better North or South of San Francisco? <<

North. Much quieter. Mendocino tends to be pricey but Fort Bragg is more reasonable, although summer prices are of course higher everywhere.

Since you're visiting July 4th weekend and do not yet have lodging reservations, you may find that you have to get farther away from SF. "Everybody" goes somewhere for that weekend!

5. Re: North or South from San Francisco?

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