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Napa Valley - San Francisco - Big Sur Itinerary Suggestions

k v
Toronto, Canada
2 posts
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Napa Valley - San Francisco - Big Sur Itinerary Suggestions

We are planning our ‘first’ couple’s trip without our kid for about a week around San Francisco area in mid-October this year. I have drafted a rough itinerary and need some suggestions from people who have also done a similar trip. The focus of the trip is to do things that we can’t typically do well with a 3 year old kid – like driving around in a convertible, stay out late for dinner, drink wine on a patio etc. We are from Toronto, Canada and want to experience the best of the West Coast. I enjoy big city architecture and views, and my wife enjoys small town experiences. We want to remain (somewhat) on budget with hotels (or B&B, inns in smaller towns) not more than $200/night and dinner not more than $25-$30 pp. Any suggestions on itinerary (are we missing something great), hotels and eating spots that will make our trip more enjoyable and memorable will be very appreciated:

Day 1 – Fly into SF airport, rent a convertible, drive up to Napa Valley. Do a winery tour, enjoy some good local wine, have dinner in quaint restaurant. Do a balloon tour at dawn, brunch etc. What will be a good choice for an inn/ hotel/ resort and dinner for one night ?

Day 2 – Drive to San Francisco via the Golden Gate Bridge, soak in some views of the bay area, check into a hotel with a free or inexpensive parking. What are good choices for hotels considering that we plan to do in-town sight seeing where possible by walking/ public transit?

Day 3 & 4 – See San Franciscoès touristy and not so touristy areas to get a good feel of San Francisco. We are both big foodies and eating at the not-to-miss restaurants, holes-in-the wall is equally important to as the usual tourist attractions. Some suggestions on unique west coast city experiences would be great!

Day 5 – Drive to Monterey, lunch in a local café, see and drive around Monterey / Carmel area, dinner in a local restaurant, stay a night in Carmel. Not sure if we should add Santa Cruz to the route to Monterey, and where to go for local seafood eateries.

Day 6 – Do Big Sur drive down Route 1 to Cambria. Not sure how much time we need to allow for stopping to see some of the beaches, viewpoints etc. I am assuming I will take the whole day and we are probably better off staying a night in Cambria as opposed to driving back to Carmel for night. Suggestions on accommodation and some good local restaurants would be great.

Day 7 – Drive back up to San Francisco and catch a flight to Toronto by evening. Not sure if there can be an interesting small town on the way back where we can do a quick stop over for lunch and some quick site seeing. I was planning to take Route 101 to SF.


Napa, CA
Destination Expert
for Napa
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1. Re: Napa Valley - San Francisco - Big Sur Itinerary Suggestions

For questions about the Napa Valley, it's best to ask in that forum. October is very busy in wine country and your budget may be on the low side. Yountville is the most convenient town if wanting to do a balloon ride but it's also the most expensive.

k v
Toronto, Canada
2 posts
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2. Re: Napa Valley - San Francisco - Big Sur Itinerary Suggestions

Thanks for the heads up Supercilious. If we were to skip Ballooning, what activities, would you recommend considering that we currently have a day & a half planned for the area with a car.

Perhaps, I will split up my itinerary questions and post to various city forums.

San Francisco
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3. Re: Napa Valley - San Francisco - Big Sur Itinerary Suggestions

Finding "free or inexpensive" parking in San Francisco will put you out of the downtown core and into a motor lodge along Lombard Street. It's not a bad area (in fact there are two nice neighborhoods that parallel Lombard) but if this is your first visit to San Francisco, and seeing that you don't have much time allotted to it, I would recommend jiggering your itinerary around to do SF either first or last and not in the middle. That way you can do your SF visit without a car and stay downtown where you'll get a better urban experience.

Additionally, try to schedule wine country during the week rather than over a weekend.

Walking tours in SF: Check City Guides, they have a wide variety of free tours (a couple of bucks in the envelope at the end is plenty). www.sfcityguides.org

The CA forum is a great place for itinerary planning but specific questions about destinations (once the itinerary is firmed up) are better placed in those specific forums.

(And welcome to the Forums!)

Brights Grove...
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4. Re: Napa Valley - San Francisco - Big Sur Itinerary Suggestions

Looking to do a similar trip this summer, how did your trip work out?

San Francisco...
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5. Re: Napa Valley - San Francisco - Big Sur Itinerary Suggestions

One thought... If you skip Napa Valley and concentrate on Big Sur / Cambria, you could do Paso Robles wine tasting. This saves a few hours driving to Napa. But i understand if you are set on Napa.

Some hole in the wall places:

Turtle Bay Taqueria in Monterey

Food trucks at Ferry Building

Liguria Focaccia in Borth Beach

Kevin's Pho house on Irving near 19th

Mission burritos at Papalote's

Tacos El Pastor at Los Robles in Paso Robles

Of course, this is an old thread <edit>

Edited: 01 May 2014, 02:41
Santa Cruz...
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for Santa Cruz
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6. Re: Napa Valley - San Francisco - Big Sur Itinerary Suggestions

This thread is 9 months old. I think OP has gone on to other things.

7. Re: Napa Valley - San Francisco - Big Sur Itinerary Suggestions

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