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San Francisco to Where?!?

Wauwatosa, Wisconsin
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San Francisco to Where?!?

Hi All,

My husband and I will be visiting California for the first time this April! We both love the outdoors (camping, biking, hiking, etc) and are very excited to explore California together!

After a lot of research and reading we are still confused as to what would be our best itinerary. We have 8 nights and 9 days to explore. We plan to fly in and out of San Francisco. Our plan is to spend the first 2 days in San Francisco and then rent a small RV to travel elsewhere.

If you could please weigh in on the following options that would be greatly appreciated.

Option 1: San Francisco (2 nights) to Big Sur Area (2 nights) to Redwoods National Park (3 nights) to San Francisco (1 night).

Option 2: San Francisco (2 nights) to Muir Woods (1 night) to Napa Valley (1 night) to Big Sur (2 nights) to Kings Canyon (2 nights) to San Francisco to grab plane.

Option 3: San Francisco (2 nights) to Napa (1 night) to Yosemite (3 nights) to Big Sur (2 nights) to San Francisco to grab plane.

Basically we want to hike, see wildlife, take pictures, and unplug from our normal hustle and bustle for a while. We can't seem to decide between Redwoods National Park, Sequoia National Park, and Yosemite.

Any feedback would be wonderful! Thank you all!

Grover Beach...
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for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
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1. Re: San Francisco to Where?!?

"....Basically we want to hike, see wildlife, take pictures, and unplug from our normal hustle and bustle for a while."...

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

All 3 of your options will have you hustling and bustling from one location to another. Most of the places you want to visit are hours and lots of miles apart from each other.

I suggest a loop:

SF: 3 nights

Monterey: 2 nights (Visit Henry Cowell Redwoods and Elkhorn Slough for wildlife viewing en route)

Yosemite: 2 nights

SF: 1 night (Fly home. If you get a late flight out of SFO, you can add an extra night to Yosemite or add it to SF to include a day trip to Napa)

Edited: 07 January 2014, 01:33
San Francisco...
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for San Francisco
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2. Re: San Francisco to Where?!?

Agree with Kibbles. That is a much more manageable and also more fun vacation I presume you have rented RVs before and know the drill

San Francisco
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for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
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3. Re: San Francisco to Where?!?

JSYK, there is no overnight camping at Muir Woods. It is a day-use area only, and it is very popular so it's best to go early in the day while there is still parking nearby. It is only a half hour from San Francisco, so you can include it on the way to Napa.

Since most of your plans are in central California, Redwood National Park is a long haul. It's way up in the northwest corner of California, about 300 miles from San Francisco. I think most of us would recommend Yosemite because it is not merely beautiful and majestic but totally unique. April will be a busy period there.

Santa Clara...
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4. Re: San Francisco to Where?!?

Agree with trimming to 2 locations besides SF. With April, you have to consider that the high country of Yosemite will not be accessible yet. But plenty to do and see in the Valley. Not sure how accessible things are at SEKI then as I have only been in summer.

If you want redwoods, then just do SF and extreme northern CA for the redwoods. Weather should be ok. Rain is always possible. But I don't think you can do redwood plus something else.

If you do Big Sur, you can all all the way down to Pismo and maybe swing to Yosemite.

Tough choices but good ones!

Oregon Coast
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for Crescent City, Oregon Coast, Oregon, Redwood National Park
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5. Re: San Francisco to Where?!?

If you want to visit an area with dramatic scenery, lots of hiking and *very few* people, head to Redwood National Park! Yosemite might have snow that time of year, as might Sequoia, and that gets very messy with even a smaller RV.

You can get to the southern end of the redwood area via Hwy 101 in about 6 easy hours from San Francisco. You could return going south on Hwy 1, the slower but spectacular coastal highway. I would not try to add in Big Sur though as that would be a lot of unnecessary extra driving.

There are a number of campgrounds in and around Redwood NP, and in April they won't be crowded at all. No need to book months ahead like you'll need to for Yosemite.

There will be rain, although probably not every day. It won't be cold :-)

Santa Clara...
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6. Re: San Francisco to Where?!?

Good to hear that Half-Brit. I wasn't sure about the weather in April there and if it snowed or ice out there. I have a week then too and and am thinking about doing the redwoods north coast. It is mid April around Easter/Spring break. Does it get busy with kids then? OP - are your dates around Easter too?

San Francisco...
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7. Re: San Francisco to Where?!?

Half-Brit is our resident RV expert so great advise from her . I would say non-resident resident as she is not a CA resident hehe

Wauwatosa, Wisconsin
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8. Re: San Francisco to Where?!?

Thank you all for your feedback! I think both my husband and I agree that we need to cut out some destinations to have a more enjoyable trip!

My only confusion and hesitation is Big Sur. This is a destination that my husband really wanted to include in our trip. He wanted to visit Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, McWays Falls, and Bixby Bridge. However, from the feedback I have been getting it appears that this destination makes the most sense to cut out (we have also decided to cut out Napa). If we do cut out Big Sur are we missing out? Is there something else I can offer my husband that will give him the coastal views along Hwy One/short day hikes he is looking for? I have heard and read that the drive through Monterey/Carmel can be very beautiful. One suggestion was to do SF--Monterey--Yosemite--Home. I believe in that option we could go to Point Lobos and do a little day hiking there?

In this option I think we would fly to SF Thursday night so we could have all day/night there Friday and all day/night there Saturday. Sunday we would leave for Monterey after breakfast and explore Monterey the rest of the day (I do not think we would make a trip to the aquarium as we do not have children). Monday we would probably drive Hwy One and possibly stop at Point Lobos? Tuesday morning we would be off for Yosemite. We would stay at Yosemite Tues, Wed, Thurs. Friday morning we would head back to SF and then either leave Satruday or Sunday.

Santa Clara...
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9. Re: San Francisco to Where?!?

>>>One suggestion was to do SF--Monterey--Yosemite--Home. I believe in that option we could go to Point Lobos and do a little day hiking there?<<<<

Yes definitely a plan

Fri - arrive SF

Sat - SF

Sun - Drive to Monterey, (if you leave early - arrive by ?10-11am) Pt Lobos (1-2hr) - maybe further down to Bixby Bridge, to McWay if you were very ambitions. Ok to skip aquarium with this short time frame and if goal is to see coastal scenery

Mon - Drive to Yosemite - 5 hrs?

Tue-Thur - Yosemite

Fri - drive back to SF

Sat/Sun - fly out

Hmm... April in Yosemite and you have 4 nights. I might take one night and add to Monterey so you can go further down the coast. What do you have planned for Yosemite for that many days?

Edited: 07 January 2014, 18:03
10. Re: San Francisco to Where?!?

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