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Mid June San Francisco and? trip suggestions

Okotoks, Canada
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Mid June San Francisco and? trip suggestions

Travelling to San Francisco mid June, staying downtown Tuesday till Sat for convention and will see all downtown has to offer. Then we would like to get out of the city for a few days. We won't need a car downtown but would like to rent one for some countryside touring... is it best to head back to the airport to rent a car so we can return it there on Wed? We would like to see Redwoods, Petrified Forest, Old Faithful...how far away are these sights from downtown or airport? Any suggestions on places/towns to stay? Also are there Caverns nearby? We like outdoor holidays...hiking, enjoying nature, bike tours, and enjoy staying at places with some space around us (Often do VRBO).

I would appreciate any suggestions.

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SF Bay Area
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1. Re: Mid June San Francisco and? trip suggestions

Hmm.. where to start..

Redwoods... One option is to drive up to Muir Woods in Marin County, over the GG Bridge and then come back thru the Marin Headlands part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area or GGNRA for short.

Another option for Redwoods would be to drive down 280 to Saratoga and take Hwy 9 to Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Lots of great trails here. Some food available but also easy to pick up food in town before coming to park.

Third option would be to drive a bit further on 280 and pick up Hwy 17 to Felton and visit Roaring Camp Railroads. www.roaringcamp.com This is a lot of fun especially for kids of all ages!

I have never been to the Old Faithful Geyser or Petrified Forest in Calistoga, so I can't say anything other than that Calistoga has lots of wineries nearby and mudbaths in town!

Think I have seen in other threads that previous visitors have obtained rental cars in downtown SF but it would be best for you to do a search for that!

San Jose, California
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2. Re: Mid June San Francisco and? trip suggestions

There are caverns in the Sierra foothills about 3 hrs drive. Search Google for Moaning Caves and Mercer Caverns.

I thought Old Faithful was in Yellowstone NP, not in California?

Pacifica, California
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3. Re: Mid June San Francisco and? trip suggestions

There's an "Old Faithful" in both Yellowstone AND Calistoga.

Okotoks, Canada
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4. Re: Mid June San Francisco and? trip suggestions

Which place offers the most things to do. Calistoga, Napa, Sonoma? Suggestions on what to see and do...places to stay?

Santa Cruz...
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5. Re: Mid June San Francisco and? trip suggestions

Calistoga and Napa are both in the Napa Valley, which also has the town of Napa, which is about 1/2 hour from the Sonoma Valley, which also has the town of Sonoma.

The towns of Sonoma and Napa are only about an hour from the Golden Gate Bridge.

The Petrified Forest, besides "Old Faithful", is in the Napa Valley.

http://www.petrifiedforest.org/

http://www.oldfaithfulgeyser.com/

Your best bet for redwoods, if you choose to visit the Napa/Sonoma area, is Armstrong Grove Redwoods Natural Preserve. This is in Guerneville, in the Russian River area of Sonoma County, on the way to the coast. You can do a circle day trip from the Napa/Sonoma area to Armstrong grove, then drive down the coast to Bodega Bay and return to Napa/Sonoma via Petaluma.

http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=450

http://www.bodegabay.com/

You should be able to pick up a rental car in the Union Square area, there are several agencies, and then return it to the same company at the airport.

Okotoks, Canada
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6. Re: Mid June San Francisco and? trip suggestions

Thanks for the great replies.

I am now also considering Mendocino...how far is that from San Fran? Compared to Napa, which area is better for a couple days?

Santa Cruz...
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7. Re: Mid June San Francisco and? trip suggestions

Mendocino is 150 miles from San Francisco. For just a couple of days and if you want to see redwoods and are interested in wineries, my choice would be to stay closer in the Napa or Sonoma area.

San Mateo...
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8. Re: Mid June San Francisco and? trip suggestions

We went to the petrified forest spontaneously last weekend... we were wine tasting up in Calistoga and happened to drive by on our way to get get some oysters at Tamale's Bay. The petrified trees themselves were sort of cool (they are rocks that look like trees), but the trail was not scenic by any means... certainly not worth going out of your way for. I haven't been to old faithful either, but based on the number of locals that have never been there/ never even heard of it, I doubt it is worth going out of you way for either.

The SF bay area has lots of amazing hiking with gorgeous scenery (mountains, rocks, oceans, redwoods... etc), so if you are not interested in wineries and fine dining, I would google "bay area hiking" and just find some nice trails to do.

If you are interested in both, you can always do both (a day of wineries and a day of outdoor activities...). All the areas are great country side with a lot space.

Santa Cruz...
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9. Re: Mid June San Francisco and? trip suggestions

Okay..I didn't want to say it, but I also think that the Petrified Forest and the so-called Old Faithful in Calistoga are schucks. And not worth a detour.

I also say the same thing about an attraction in my own territory, The Mystery Spot.

Don't waste your time is what I say.

San Francisco
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10. Re: Mid June San Francisco and? trip suggestions

If you have been to the real Old Faithful in Yellowstone or Petrified Forest in Arizona, the ones in Calistoga will not impress you. OTOH, they would qualify for those "Roadside Attractions" books of funky and quirky things that people just have to see, or that their kids insist they stop and see.

They are both small and privately owned. They are not national, state, or even county parks like the "real" natural wonders. So they have a different ambience than you usually find in national parks.

The Napa Valley has these oddities because of what goes on underground. Mount Saint Helena (not to be mistaken for Saint Helens) is the dominant feature. It has been quiet for a couple million years, but it has erupted. The Petrified Forest is proof; petrified wood is made when trees are engulfed in lava or volcanic ash, and over centuries the minerals replace the organic cells. They are literally trees that have turned to stone.

Calistoga's Old Faithful has a schedule like the one in Yellowstone. I've read that it can go off schedule when an earthquake is about to happen. The proprieters have literature on display about this.

The volcano is also responsible for the hot mineral springs, Calistoga's big claim to fame. One of the major products of volcanoes is sulfur, which gives the mineral waters their aroma. The volcanic ash soil is very fertile. The Napa Valley is the closest thing in the Western Hemisphere to the Italian grape-growing regions around Naples. Not coincidentally, that's where Mt. Vesuvius erupted repeatedly over the ages and poured rich mineral-laden ash onto the countryside. The "mummified" victims of its most famous eruption, which buried Pompeii in 79 A.D., are similar to petrified wood in that the organic matter was replaced by superheated minerals in both solid and gaseous state which then took the shape of the host body.

The Napa Valley is often said to have a "Mediterranean" climate, again no coincidence, because it is at almost the same exact latitude as Naples.