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Best Route from Calistoga to Carmel?

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Minneapolis, MN
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Best Route from Calistoga to Carmel?

We are planning to leave Calistoga and Napa Valley between 9 and 10am and start our drive to Carmel. This will be on a weekday. Google maps is of course suggesting 680 to 101, but I'm thinking I'd like to enjoy a more scenic drive down the coast, and we are not actually in a huge hurry. Would it make sense to drive through San Francisco instead via the Bay Bridge and then pick up Highway 1 in Pacifica?

Any problems with traffic flow or construction that make this a stupid idea? Or if someone has a better route I'd love to hear it! Thanks!

santa rosa, ca
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1. Re: Best Route from Calistoga to Carmel?

Take Hwy 12 heading west and connect to Hwy 121 to Hwy 37 heading west. Hwy. 37 connects to Hwy 101 south, which takes you over the Golden Gate Bridge. Take the 19th Ave. exit (first exit to your right after paying bridge toll).

When you get to Geary Blvd. take a right and drive all the way to the ocean following Ocean Blvd. till it turns to Skyline/Hwy 35 which will take you to Hwy.1 or the faster route of Hwy 280.

Hwy 12, 121, and 37 will take you thru rolling scenic farmland and vineyards...Hwy.37 will be along the bay till you reach Hwy 101. Hwy. 101 will take you thur Marin County and over the Golden Gate Bridge. After driving down Geary, when you reach the ocean, pullover at the Cliff House for some lovely views of the area, Ocean beach, Seal Rock and ruins of the old bath house.....Continue down Ocean Blvd where it runs along the ocean till it turns to Skyline/Hwy 35 and eventually you can decide if you want to go the quicker Hwy 280 or stay on Hwy. 1 on into Carmel. The drive from Napa to Cliff House in SF without stops will take about an hour and a half, maybe less. The rest of the trip to Carmel should be about 3 hours. Weekday traffic on these routes is pretty light. Enjoy your trip on this lovely ride!!

Santa Cruz...
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2. Re: Best Route from Calistoga to Carmel?

Some corrections.....my experience.

Calistoga is not on Hwy 12 and to get there you need to cross some mountains on a slow curvy road.

I would just go south on Hwy 29, 2 miles south of the town of Napa, the Carneros HIghway comes in. This is 121. Follow it to Hwy 37, a right turn at Infion (sp?) raceway. There is a traffic light at this intersection and your choices are only right or left.

It is only 7 miles from here to Hwy 101.

For simplicity sake I prefer the following, rather than going out to the ocean on Geary and then dealing with Skyline, etc...but if you are interested in Ocean Beach and the Cliff House then follow gingerale's directions.

After you cross the Golden Gate Bridge, take the exit to 19th Avenue and stay on this through Golden Gate Park and out the Avenues. This becomes Hwy 280. If you want to go all the way down the coast take the Pacifica exit and then continue on to Carmel.

santa rosa, ca
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3. Re: Best Route from Calistoga to Carmel?

Puter, you are right...I was giving directions from Napa, not Calistoga....Hwy 121 and Hwy. 12 are the same when turning off Hwy. 29 (which is also part of 121....sounds confusing but it really is not, lol). Hwy. 12 branches off towards Sonoma and Santa Rosa whereas Hwy 121 will continue down to Infineon Raceway and Hwy 37....

19th Ave. straight thru SF is simpler but she was asking for a more scenic coastal route.....for some reason, whenever we have taken the Ocean Beach route, the traffic has been light and the views were just so much prettier than the more heavily traveled 19th Ave way.

Napa, CA
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4. Re: Best Route from Calistoga to Carmel?

CeeCee

If you have already seen the Golden Gate Bridge and want to save some time getting to Carmel, I'd follow the route you posted in your original message. I drive this route a lot and don't mind missing the city traffic within San Francisco.

I would also make one change. Instead of going to Pacifica, continue going south on I-280 to Hwy 92 and take that west to Half Moon Bay. This is also a pretty route and you miss the mess around Devil's Slide.

Again, if you haven't seen the Golden Gate, then by all means, take that route. It will take longer but it is not to be missed.

Minneapolis, MN
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5. Re: Best Route from Calistoga to Carmel?

Thanks guys and gals! I definitly have some food for thought now. I'll have to confer with my travel companion, but I love that we've now got a couple of routes to choose from that have been Tripadvisor approved!

Grover Beach...
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6. Re: Best Route from Calistoga to Carmel?

I would never miss an opportunity to drive over the Golden Gate if I was close enough. 19th Ave, while busy, isn't a bad drive.

California
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7. Re: Best Route from Calistoga to Carmel?

Driving over the Golden Gate Bridge is alway a thrill. Sometimes the fog is creeping over the hills and sometimes the bridge totally disappears in it. Or, on a sunny day it seems to glow in the shimmering bay. I also never miss a chance to drive, walk across or just look at it.

Pacifica, California
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8. Re: Best Route from Calistoga to Carmel?

I'm afraid I have to disagree with Supercilious. Going down 280 to 92, and then taking 92 to 1, takes about 10 minutes longer than simply going directly down 1. And personally, I find Highway 1 through Pacifica, Montara, Moss Beach, etc., to be much more visually interesting than 280.

I drove down to Point Lobos, just south of Carmel, last month. The only traffic problem was some kind of construction at an intersection near Pescadero, which seemed like it was short-term. And I find going over Devil's Slide to be one of the best parts of the drive, which I'll miss once they reroute Highway 1 through tunnels.

9. Re: Best Route from Calistoga to Carmel?

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