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Bay area itinerary questions

Cleveland, Ohio
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Bay area itinerary questions

Hi there,

We have a 4 night trip coming up in early May. We fly into and out of Oakland, landing at noon and leaving at 1pm. We are an almost-5 year old prone to car sickness but okay with dramamine, an introverted nature and solitude lover (husband), and an extroverted pregnant lady who can't walk as far as she wants because of a back issue (me). I have been to SF and Sonoma on a brief trip. Hubs has been to San Jose on business.

We are torn about our itinerary. We know we want to get down to Monterey/Carmel, and we also want to see capital-G-Gigantic trees and not have to elbow a tour bus to do it. Those are our priorities. We aren't too concerned about san fran proper except to view the golden gate and perhaps drive across it.

There is SO MUCH that every time i narrow it down i feel like i'm missing the best part. Here is the itinerary that makes sense, but does not include the Capital-G-Giants of Sequoia and/or groves in Yosemite or the "better" groves in Armstrong.

Day 1: Arrive in Oakland, drive to SF, see GG bridge, take trolley, maybe or maybe not cross the bridge depending on traffic, weather, etc.

drive to half moon bay to stay the night (*or should we just go all the way to Santa Cruz?)

Day 2: Big Basin (though I'm worried about this w/ my carsick son), Henry Cowell and the railroad, Santa Cruz boardwalk strolling, back to half moon bay to stay the night

Day 3: Monterey bay aquarium and bay boating (kayaking or small tour), relaxing, taking in the area

stay in Mont Bay

Day 4: Carmel by the sea, point lobos, 17 mile drive, stay in mont bay

Day 5: back to OAK for departure

Question: would you eliminate some of this to make the long trek to see the bigger trees? if so, where? we are open to switching hotels more often but don't want to overdo it. I know the parks we are visiting are nice, but am i wrong to feel like we're going to rome to see a bunch of awesome churches but skipping the vatican because the lines are too long or something? does that make sense?

ive read a ton of these forums which is how i got my itinerary in the first place but i can't shake the "what am i missing" feeling. thoughts?

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Oakland
Oakland
California
Sonoma
Sonoma
Sonoma County, CA
San Jose
San Jose
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Monterey
Monterey
Monterey County, CA
Carmel
Carmel
Monterey County, CA
Santa Cruz
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California
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1. Re: Bay area itinerary questions

Arrive OAK and drive around SF only to find yourself in Half Moon Bay for the night? No. Forget SF. Way too much driving for a day in Bay Area traffic.

Forget Big Basin with a queasy 5 year old. I can barely drive there myself. Henry Cowell will be fine.

You don't mention Elkhorn Slough which I would definitely recommend.

<<am i wrong to feel like we're going to rome to see a bunch of awesome churches but skipping the vatican because the lines are too long or something?>> I understand what you're saying but you're dealing with limitations. Understand that and enjoy what you can do.

Edited: 22 March 2018, 21:34
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Half Moon Bay
Half Moon Bay
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2. Re: Bay area itinerary questions

Speaking as a very motion sickness prone adult, I would skip Big Basin and just focus on Henry Cowell. We were on a road trip with a car sick prone 5 yrs old and she puked all over the car seat. Not fun during ride nor trying to clean the cover...

As for going to HMB or Santa Cruz the first night, you will probably run out of sunlight before you leave SF. Going to Santa Cruz will mean less moving around but a longer drive. But the next morning you can take Hwy 1 down to SC.

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Santa Cruz
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3. Re: Bay area itinerary questions

You may be ok to drive around SF and across the bridge but probably no time to ride the cable cars (you probably meant these and not the trolleys on the Embarcadero). But the other concern is your luggage in your car. There is a huge break in problem in SF. Again feasible but you have to make compromises (see less) and take precautions (nothing left open in car and take important/expensive stuff with you).

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The Embarcadero
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4. Re: Bay area itinerary questions

You land at noon. By the time you get luggage and your rental car it will be 1:30. Believe it or not, that puts you into the beginning of traffic in the Bay Area.

You could head north to I80E to I580W to 101S and cross the Golden Gate Bridge, then make your way south via Park Presidio and 19th Ave to I280 south to either HMB or Santa Cruz. But that''s 75 miles to HMB and close to 2 hours with no stops. I can't see doing that after a long flight with a 5 year old.

If you cross the GG Bridge be sure to read up on how to pay the cashless toll.

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Cleveland, Ohio
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5. Re: Bay area itinerary questions

Thanks all. Any thoughts on skipping sf proper entirely and spending all the time in the area south of the city with an overnight in Yosemite or sequoia?

Edited: 22 March 2018, 22:53
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6. Re: Bay area itinerary questions

It is your trip so you decide. But with just 4 nights, you really should just stay by the coast. It is 4-6 hours to drive to Yosemite and Sequoia. Come back when you have more time.

Edited: 22 March 2018, 22:55
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7. Re: Bay area itinerary questions

You have 3 full days. With a small child, heck even without one, don't try to bite off more than you can chew. Enjoy the moment. Don't try to be hopping all over the map. The coast from SF to Monterey will make for a lovely break.

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Monterey
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8. Re: Bay area itinerary questions

>>We know we want to get down to Monterey/Carmel, and we also want to see capital-G-Gigantic trees and not have to elbow a tour bus to do it. Those are our priorities.<<

Then stick with those priorities and forget SF! I'd revise the trip slightly as:

Day 1: Arrive in Oakland, drive to Santa Cruz, 2 nights - boardwalk strolling

Day 2: Henry Cowell and the railroad, Santa Cruz

Day 3: drive to Monterey, 2 nights - Elkhorn Slough 'safari' boat or kayak, Monterey bay aquarium, relaxing, taking in the area

Day 4: Point Lobos, Big Sur, Carmel by the sea for sunset

Day 5: back to OAK for departure

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9. Re: Bay area itinerary questions

On Day 2, you mention, after Santa Cruz, "drrving back to Half Moon Bay to spend the night. Why? HMB is 50 miles north of Santa Cruz and you are on your way to Monterey, right? Why drive back to HMB and then repeat the next day? Just stay in Santa Cruz, then you are only 45 minutes from Monterey.

I agree to skip Big Basin, not just for the car sickness issue, but also for time. Henry Cowell also has the oldest and tallest trees, as well, just on less acreage. And you will not find hordes of tour buses there, and it is only 7 miles from Santa Cruz. On your way to Monterey stop at Elkhorn Slough where you will find a boat trip or kayaks and many sea critters to enjoy. The sea otters are especially charming.

Here is more information about Santa Cruz.

https:/…Santa.Cruz.Sights.And.Activities.html

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Monterey County, CA
Southern NJ
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10. Re: Bay area itinerary questions

Do you realize that the area where your train is (Felton) also is an area that has big trees (sequoias)? If memory serves, there’s a train that takes you through massive groves of trees and it may be the same one but under a different name as you have named. It ran a steam train through the woods so a separate trip would not be necessary to see redwoods.

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