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advice needed re spending our two extra days in carmel or...

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advice needed re spending our two extra days in carmel or...

My husband, our 13-year-old son and I will be spending 3 days in S.F. in early July, then driving down to Monterey for a day or two, then we have essentially two days left before we leave CA. We were planning to drive from Monterey to Sonoma and spend a night in Sonoma before heading back to the Half Moon Bay area. But we'd also like to see Big Sur and Carmel. Does anyone have any advice on whether it'd be worth it for us to drive up to Sonoma if we have such a short time to spend there (probably getting there in the afternoon of one day and then leaving the next morning) as opposed to possibly driving over to Carmel and spending the night there? We thought we might do a wine tasting in Sonoma but obviously that has no appeal to our teenager so we wouldn't be doing too much of that!

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1. Re: advice needed re spending our two extra days in carmel or...

I'd suggest the following:

The day you drive to Monterey, do so so you arrive in the evening.

That way you can take a slightly longer drive (but still fun) and do Sonoma in the morning/early afternoon. The drive from San Francisco to Sonoma is just over an hour. I'd go to Sonoma Square (it actually was where California Republic was born...General Vallejo and various forts are here....that will be interesting for your 13 year old. son.) Have lunch at the Sonoma Cheese Factory....comfortable outdoor tables.....fun place to visit.

http://www.sacredsonoma.com/plaza.html

http://www.parks.sonoma.net/sonoma.html

Walk around the square and do olive oil and wine tasting.....there are interesting shops for your son to look at too...including a park in the central area. So you can combine a bit of both.....

Then go over to Benzinger (check in advance that your son can come along) and take the tour. Its a really fun way to enjoy seeing a vinewyard, how they make wine, a wine cave, and also how they make wine barrels.

After you've done that, then drive down to Monterey. I'd suggest taking Highway 101 down to Monterey.

I'd spend the extra time in Monterey. Carmel and Monterey is so close that I'd suggest just the same place for all nights once you get there. On one of your days I'd drive and see Pt. Lobos (you'll all like that) http://pt-lobos.parks.state.ca.us/ and then driving down to at least Pfeiffer State park to see part of the Big Sur area.

http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=570

On the day you're heading to Half Moon Bay, stop by Santa Cruz Boardwalk (its about an hour from Monterey; and an hour more to Half Moon Bay) to see the Boardwalk.

http://www.beachboardwalk.com/

Enjoy planning your trip....above is just one variation, and there are many more.

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2. Re: advice needed re spending our two extra days in carmel or...

Thanks, mini! What you're suggesting certainly makes the most sense in terms of where to fit Sonoma in, tho' I'm not sure we can do it that way because we'll be leaving S.F. headed to Monterey on July 4th and I don't know how that will affect what 's open in Sonoma and I know we want to get to Monterey in plenty of time to settle in and get ready for the fireworks. And you're absolutely right that it doesn't make sense to go stay in Carmel if we're already in Monterey; frankly, we were just thinking of moving just because the place we're staying in Monterey is so expensive! But it sounds like you feel there is plenty to do in Monterey to spend 2-3 days there? Are there also wine tasting opportunities in Monterey and vicinity?

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3. Re: advice needed re spending our two extra days in carmel or...

Yes! Many great places in Carmel Valley. Two of my favorites are Chateau Julien and Bernardus. In Monterey, check out Ventana Vineyards. It is located right next door to Tarpey's Roadhouse. We did the wine tasting first, then had an excellent dinner at Tarpey's afterwards. Have fun! :)

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Ventana Vineyards
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4. Re: advice needed re spending our two extra days in carmel or...

It is definitely worth taking at least a half day or more to drive down to Big Sur. A good "destination" is Julia Pfeiffer Burns state park, a very small state park with perhaps the prettiest point on the entire west coast -- a waterfall into a jewel of a cove. Driving this far will also give you a sample of the most magnificently wild coastal mountains that Big Sur has to offer. One -way driving only time from Carmel is a little over one hour with no traffic, but the road will be crowded in July and you'll want to stop often, so allow at least two hours minimum one way.

Then....you could head back and have lunch at Nepenthe (great ocean views) or one of the many other Big Sur eateries you will see along the way.

Ain't nothin like it no where...

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Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
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5. Re: advice needed re spending our two extra days in carmel or...

As an alternative to wine tasting in Sonoma - you could taste at some of the wineries in the Carmel valley. Then you could spend more time doing Big Sur and other things around Carmel/Monterrey.

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6. Re: advice needed re spending our two extra days in carmel or...

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