We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Advice Needed for Itinerary--San Francisco, Napa, Coastline?

Jacksonville...
Level Contributor
196 posts
9 reviews
Save Topic
Advice Needed for Itinerary--San Francisco, Napa, Coastline?

My husband has a conference in Lake Tahoe in mid-May. It starts on a Wednesday evening. Our thought was to fly into California the Friday before to see some of the other sites in the area. Initially we were thinking a couple days in San Francisco with maybe one night in Napa Valley (plus something else). My husband has always wanted to do the drive along Highway 1 along the coast from L.A. to San Francisco. We've also tossed around an interest in Yosemite. Obviously, we can't do it all. With that amount of time (mid/late Friday to late Wednesday needing to be in Lake Tahoe) do you have any recommendations on where to fly in and what to do? (Who knows when we'll be back.) Is it worth doing a one day-drive from San Francisco out to Monterey and Big Sur and then back to San Francisco? Or is it better to fly into L.A. and take a couple days driving all the way up to San Francisco and leave off Yosemite? Or it Yosemite more wothwhile than the drive? Just curious what other people's thoughts are--I can't decide!! Wish we had more time to do it all. Thanks in advance!

Fremont, California
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
27,669 posts
5,812 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Advice Needed for Itinerary--San Francisco, Napa, Coastline?

Sounds like fun - but you will want to take a slightly "smaller" first tour of California. Here is a very rough itinerary....and of course, since its your trip, feel free to change to your hearts delight. I have done what is reasonable in a "road trip" to see things in 5 days (which is not a lot of time in California.). Since you are spending time at Tahoe for the conference, I am not going to include Yosemite this trip as you are already spending some time in the mountains. Yes, Yosemite, is grand, and definitely a must see once in a lifetime...but so are the other areas.

Friday: Arrive in San Francisco Friday. Rent a car and drive to Monterey. Check into Hotel Pacific or Best Western Beach Resort for 2 nights (Friday and Saturday).

http://www.hotelpacific.com/

http://www.montereybeachresort.com/

Wander around Fisherman Wharf area...drive past the ocean at Pacific Grove...and have dinner. Early night after a long day of flying.

Saturday

Get up early (it will be easy as you are still on Florida time) and be at Pt. Lobos at 8 a.m.

See Pt. Lobos and then continue down highway 1 through Big Sur Area. To see a nice portion of this area, drive from Monterey to Pfeiffer State Park and back; it is very scenic and a pleasant drive. This is enough to see (the road can be slowly and very curvy; so just do part.).

For lunch, make reservations at Nepenthe.

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

http://www.nepenthebigsur.com/

Return to Monterey. You can be back by 2:00 or so. Visit the Monterey Aquarium in the late afternoon.

http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/

For dinner, go to nearby Carmel and have dinner.

There are lots of charming restaurants here.

http://www.restauranteur.com/ca/carmel/

Sunday:

Depart Monterey early and drive to Santa Cruz. For brunch, go to Shadowbrook in Capitola

http://www.shadowbrook-capitola.com/

Then continue to Santa Cruz and stop to see the elephant seals at the end of Santa Cruz wharf and also perhaps ride a ride at the Boardwalk (admission is free; you only pay for the rides you do...perhaps a ride on the ferris wheel or if more adventure ride the roller coaster.

http://www.beachboardwalk.com/

Then drive over to Big Basin and see some redwoods.

http://www.bigbasin.org/

Then continue up highway 1; take a brief detour from HIghway 1 and do some free goat cheese tasting and see the goats at Harley Farms.

http://www.harleyfarms.com/

Continue up higway 1 and take a picture of the lighthouse. Point Montara

www.parks.ca.gov/default.asp?page_id=534

Then continue and stop by and see Half Moon Bay.

http://www.halfmoonbaychamber.org/

Plan on arriving in San Francisco by 3:00 and check into The Chancellor Hotel for 2 nights (Sunday and Monday.)

http://www.chancellorhotel.com/

Plan on seeing Beach Blanket Babylon at 5:00 showing.

http://www.beachblanketbabylon.com/

(Note: You can sometimes get half priced tickets on goldstar

http://www.goldstar.com/home)

For dinner, have a nice dinner out. Perhaps Boulevard.

http://www.boulevardrestaurant.com/

Have late night drinks at The Top of the Mark.

http://www.topofthemark.com/

Monday:

In the morning, take the Wok Wiz Walking Tour and Dim Sum Lunch Tour of Chinatown.

http://www.wokwiz.com/

After lunch, head over to Fisherman Wharf. Take the Red and White Cruise under the Golden Gate.

http://www.redandwhite.com/

Wander a bit around Fisherman Wharf (see the bakers making sourdough at Boudin Bakery) and Pier 39.

Then take the evening tour to Alcatraz.

http://www.nps.gov/alcatraz/

Have dinner

Tuesday:

In the morning perhaps some shopping at Union Square. Drive through Golden Gate Park on the way out of San Francisco and across the Golden Gate. Stop at the Parking lot just after you get off the bridge and take a picture of San Francisco.

Continue north on Highway 1 to Sonoma turn off.

Drive to the town square of Sonoma. For a sandwich lunch, stop by Sonoma Cheese Factory.

http://www.sonomacheesefactory.com/

(ALl kinds of foodd...and a nice park across the street to enjoy your picnic at.).

After lunch, take the winery tour at Benzinger.

http://www.benziger.com/

Then visit a couple of other wineries - perhaps Imagery, BR Cohn, etc.

Then drive to Napa and check into either the Best Western Elm House Inn or Candlelight Inn or another Bed and Breakfast (such as Napa Old World Inn).

…bestwestern.com/bestwestern/productInfo.do…

http://www.candlelightinn.com/

http://www.oldworldinn.com/

For dinner, enjoy dinner out at one of the many fine restaurants in the area. Perhaps Ad Hoc or Celadon:

http://adhocrestaurant.com/

http://www.celadonnapa.com/

Wednesday:

Drive up through Napa Valley to Castello di Amarosa. Take the 10:00 a.m. tour; reserve in advance:

http://www.castellodiamorosa.com/

Then drive south on Highway 29 and stop at V. Sattui for a picnic lunch (you can buy goods at Oakville Market, Dean and Delucca, or at the winery.)

http://www.vsattui.com/

Afterwards, depart Napa and start the drive to Lake Tahoe. It will take you 3 to 4 hours. You may want to stop off for 30 minutes or so and see Old Town Sacramento.

http://www.oldsacramento.com/

Then drive up and see Marshall Gold Mining area.

www.parks.ca.gov/Default.asp?page_id=484

and then continue up Highway 50 to Lake Tahoe arriving early evening.

Yep - this is one of a million ways you could do this trip, but did want to give you an idea of what you could do...at a fairly leisurely pace; with minimal driving each day. enjoy.

Jacksonville...
Level Contributor
196 posts
9 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Advice Needed for Itinerary--San Francisco, Napa, Coastline?

WOW--what an amazing response! Thank you so much--you have been extremely helpful! I can't wait to go and check out all the links now--sounds like a great itinerary. Many thanks again!

Grover Beach...
Destination Expert
for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
Level Contributor
20,582 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Advice Needed for Itinerary--San Francisco, Napa, Coastline?

Good job, mini!!

Your plan makes me want to jump in my car and follow your route!!

Santa Cruz...
Destination Expert
for Santa Cruz
Level Contributor
32,357 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Advice Needed for Itinerary--San Francisco, Napa, Coastline?

mini's itinerary is very busy but good.

However, on Sunday if you brunch at Shadowbrook and then do the Boardwalk and the sea lions at the pier, you will not have time for Big Basin and still get in the rest of the day.

Big Basin is an 18,000 acre park almost 20 miles north of Santa Cruz on Highway 9 from Highway 1 and on very winding roads. In order to continue with the rest of the trip, as outlined, you would need to return the way you came, back to Highwsy 1.

But do not despair. Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is only 7 miles up the same Highway 9 and, while smaller, has some lovely trails, one of them a 1.1 mile loop trail which goes to the prettiest and tallest trees.

After your visit, return to Highway 1 and continue. north.

Santa Cruz...
Destination Expert
for Santa Cruz
Level Contributor
32,357 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Advice Needed for Itinerary--San Francisco, Napa, Coastline?

Also, if you have brunch in Capitola, do the Boardwalk, the pier, Henry Cowell, and all of the other stops before San Francisco, you may not be there by 3:00 pm.

Jacksonville...
Level Contributor
196 posts
9 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Advice Needed for Itinerary--San Francisco, Napa, Coastline?

Thanks for all the feedback! Quick question--would you recommend staying in Monterey or Carmel? Which is nicer? Thanks.

Grover Beach...
Destination Expert
for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
Level Contributor
20,582 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Advice Needed for Itinerary--San Francisco, Napa, Coastline?

Carmel is nicer than Monterey, but Pacific Grove is also a nice area to stay in and is sandwiched between the two other towns.

Pacific Grove has several lovely B&B's, if that kind of accommodation interests you

Santa Cruz...
Destination Expert
for Santa Cruz
Level Contributor
32,357 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Advice Needed for Itinerary--San Francisco, Napa, Coastline?

Actually, all three are nice but have different ambiances.

Napa, California
Level Contributor
183 posts
19 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Advice Needed for Itinerary--San Francisco, Napa, Coastline?

If you love wine you'll need more time in Napa. While the Castle & V. Suttui are fun to visit, they are owned by the same guy - the wines are not so good. Also, it's not kosher to bring food from other deli's to V. Suttui since they have their own deli. It's like drinking a Sutter Home wine on Franciscan's picnic tables.

I love staying on Wave Street in Monterey. It's very close to the Aquarium, Fisherman's Wharf and Pacific Grove. Or 7 Gables Inn is nice in Pacific Grove.

10. Re: Advice Needed for Itinerary--San Francisco, Napa, Coastline?

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 11 August 2009, 09:17