I am in dire need for some advice and help with arranging my thoughts! The research is making my head spin!
My husband and I are planning a 2014 late May/early June first visit to California and we'll have 8 nights (arriving on Thursday, flying home following Friday). I'm planning this far in advance because we mainly use VRBO and other rental sites for traveling and many places already have 2014 bookings.
I've been tossing around several itineraries. Originally was planning to visit Yosemite and Sonoma/Napa wine region, but feel we should save Yosemite for another trip where we can stay at least a week there and visiting wine country is a must for this trip.
At this point, we are looking to mainly spend our time in the Sonoma/Napa area (would stay closer to Sonoma) and Monterey Peninsula (I think). We're mainly interested in visiting wineries/vineyards and outdoor activities (hiking, biking, kayaking). The biggest debate is throwing some time in San Francisco in to the mix.
Initially, I was thinking 2 nights in SF just to see highlights including Alcatraz, 3 nights Sonoma, 3 nights Monterey area (including a drive down to Big Sur). I know many will say 2 nights in SF is not enough, but we want to spend more time in the other areas. If we do visit SF, it will be at the end of our vacation when we can ditch our rental car.
My questions/conflicts are:
Would it be better crowd-wise to visit wine country or Monterey area over a weekend? Since we arrive on a Thursday, we would pick up our rental car and drive to our 1st destination for 3 nights.
Should we take SF out of the mix all together and save it for when we are willing to spend more time there and spend 4 nights each at the other two locations (Sonoma and Monterey Peninsula)?
Consider just visiting SF and Sonoma/Napa as I read some other posts that sections of the Sonoma coast and other areas near SF are as scenic as Monterey/Big Sur?
I would appreciate any advice or input to help me make some decisions so I can start booking accommodations. Thank you!