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.

San Francisco - Big Sur - Monterey

Which San Francisco hotels are on sale?
dd/mm/yyyy dd/mm/yyyy
See hotels
Detroit, Michigan
Level Contributor
1 post
24 reviews
Save Topic
San Francisco - Big Sur - Monterey

I am planning our family trip from Detroit to San Francisco in April. We are all so excited but overwhelmed by all of the choices. I am looking for a few suggestions or some coaching by those who may be familiar with the area.

First, we are planning to spend 2 days in SF. Fisherman's Wharf, China Town, Lombard Street, etc. I figure we'll find our way around with busses/BART/maps. QUESTION: where should we stay?? I seem to find either cheaper hotels that get nasty reviews, or hotels that seem extremely expensive and maybe not-so-family-oriented. I would love a suggestion from someone who has stayed in a nice moderately priced hotel.

Then, I would like to take my kids to Monterey to see the aquarium. I have heard it is first-rate, we have been to the Chicago aquarium. QUESTION: should we be prepared for huge lines like in Chicago? We will be there on a weekday but it may be spring break for some. Any advice appreciated.

Next, we will be driving up Big Sur. QUESTION: any recommendations on a destination for a one-night stay on the route?

Thank you so much, sorry for so many questions but there is just SO MUCH to see and do.

San Francisco
Level Contributor
36,629 posts
27 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: San Francisco - Big Sur - Monterey

How many kids? Ages? Genders?

How long is this holiday? Arriving and departing dates OR number of full days (not counting arriving/departing)?

You might consider (depending upon ages of kids), kayaking at Elkhorn Slough -- lots of otters and other marine life. BUT, I'd suggest you post those sections of your trip on the Montery and Big Sur forums.

Most of us here think SF deserves 3 full days at a minimum. But that also depends on the ages of your kids.

TA has a search facility for hotels. You can pick neighborhood(s) and price range. Then check out the review of the resulting options.

San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
48,104 posts
149 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: San Francisco - Big Sur - Monterey

Welcome to TA. May I recommend you look through the Top questions on where to stay and what to do and go through a few forum posts or even search them for hotels. Chances are most of your questions have already been answered. Once you decide on a location you can also short list a few hotels or if you want suggestions in an area, please give us a price range. I know the old Ritz in front of Ford in Dearborn was much cheaper than the Ritz here in SF so a price range would be helpful as moderate in SF may not be the same as moderate in Detroit

The Shedd Aquarium is different from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. and you can check out its site. I have seen long lines at both places and at times it is less crowded in the afternoon. Spring break times will vary for different schools so not everyone will go there at the same time.

Well if you are driving to Big Sur village and want to see Monterey, perhaps you can go in the morning to Monterey spend the day there and overnight and then drive to Big Sur the next morning and either stay another night in Monterey or drive back to SF.

Look through those forums for ideas on where to stay in Monterey which I would recommend over Big Sur (for accommodation purposes). Lots more to do in Monterey and in Santa Cruz, north of Monterey

EDIT: I am the tardy King :-)

Edited: 02 February 2012, 22:03
Level Contributor
1,484 posts
91 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: San Francisco - Big Sur - Monterey

We were at the aquarium in Sept 2011.

No lines but place was crowded.

It is big so you won't fall on each other.

San Francisco good hotels are not cheap.

We like the Donatello.

Big Sur unbelievable beauty.

Take a look at Ripplewood resort.

Grover Beach...
Destination Expert
for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
Level Contributor
19,422 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: San Francisco - Big Sur - Monterey

Big Sur is less than an hour's drive from Monterey and can be seen as a day trip while staying in Monterey. Lodging in Big Sur is pretty rustic and can be expensive, especially during busy times of the year (Spring Break, summer, etc).

You need go no further south than Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park to see McWay Falls (8 miles south from the southern end of Big Sur's village area).

While in Monterey, be sure to visit beautiful Point Lobos State Reserve, Carmel Beach and Asilomar Beach in neighboring Pacific Grove.

You don't say how many children you have, but you might enjoy staying at the Best Western Beach Resort Monterey, which is the only hotel right on the beach in Monterey. They have a pool and a restaurant on-site, as well. Additional options: Monterey Bay Lodge, Casa Munras, Embassy Suites (Has an indoor pool) or Andril Fireplace Cottages in Pacific Grove, which is located in a woodsy area near Asilomar Beach. Andril has kitchenettes, so you can plan meals "at home" instead of eating out during your stay.

Another option: After your stay in Monterey, drive down through Big Sur to San Simeon or Cambria for a night and then loop back to SF via Highway 46 east toward Paso Robles and connect with Highway 101 north back up to the city.

Edited: 02 February 2012, 22:52
Grover Beach...
Destination Expert
for Pismo Beach, Cambria, Big Sur
Level Contributor
19,422 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: San Francisco - Big Sur - Monterey

BTW- You can order your aquarium tickets on line and pick them up at the member's entrance and avoid the lines getting in.

Also, some hotels have aquarium tickets available to purchase, which would also save you wait time in line.

San Francisco...
Level Contributor
1,634 posts
1 review
Save Reply
6. Re: San Francisco - Big Sur - Monterey

No lines when we go to Monterey Aquarium, and we are members. We stay Monterey Plaza Hotel, Worldmark Marina Dunes, & Big Sur - a cabin of course....


If in area, don't miss Roaring Camp Railroad in Felton....


Edited: 03 February 2012, 03:53
7. Re: San Francisco - Big Sur - Monterey

-:- 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: 03 February 2013, 10:22