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Trip in May

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Trip in May

I'm trying to plan a trip to the bay area in May for my best friend and I (he's never been to CA!). His only requirements are that we go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and flight + hotels totals less than $1000. I'm looking at flying into Oakland ($100 cheaper than SFO from Honolulu!) and definitely having a rental car. I'm currently looking at May 12-21 (we'd arrive in Oakland ~11pm on the 12th and fly out ~9am on the 21st). I was wondering if my current itinerary sounds doable. Any suggestions are more than welcome!

5/12 - arrive in Oakland, pick up rental car and drive to Stockton

5/13 (Stockton) - visit campus (I went to the University of the Pacific and if I was anywhere near Northern Cali and didn't visit campus, the ladies I worked with there would never let me forget it) and the Bass Pro Shop in Manteca (the best friend loves to fish and needs to replenish his supplies..haha)

5/14 (SF) - leave Stockton and drive to SF

Fisherman's Wharf, the Ferry Building, and Japantown

5/15 (SF) - Golden Gate Park (Academy of Sciences, Japanese Tea Garden)

5/16 (SF) - Union Square and possibly a tour (?)

5/17 (Monterey) - leave the city in the morning and head to Monterey

Monterey Bay Aquarium and possibly 17-Mile Drive

5/18 (Santa Cruz) - boardwalk, Seymour Marine Discovery Center (?)

5/19 (Gilroy) - shopping...if my best friend doesn't want to shop, he can carry my bags ;)

5/20 (Oakland) - return the rental car and possibly catch the A's game

5/21 - fly home!

Nothing is set in stone right now. My friend is a marine biology major so if there are other fish/ocean related things we should check out, please let me know! He's excited for the Monterey Bay Aquarium and I'm just excited because I miss the mainland!

Hong Kong, China
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1. Re: Trip in May

>>>>5/16 (SF) - Union Square and possibly a tour (?)<<<<<

Would offer up the suggestion of visiting nearby Chinatown, its worth a bit of time. See link (w/pictures) if helpful.


Have a great time in San Francisco.

San Francisco
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2. Re: Trip in May

The Marine Mammal Center in the Marin Headlands might be of interest to you and your friend. They do some really good work and it's also in a beautiful location: http://www.marinemammalcenter.org/

Rather than the Japanese Tea Garden, which I think is overpriced, underwelming and usually over crowded, take a walk around Stow Lake. There is a lovely path around the lake and you can cross over to the island in the center. It's located just west of the Tea Garden although you have to walk a bit down JFK Drive or MLK Drive to get up to it. But well worth it.

While in the Park you should also go up to the 9th floor observation deck at the de Young museum. Great views and a beautiful space. And it's free! So is the sculpture garden outside the cafe. In fact, coffee at the cafe is a good deal: $2 and free refills. If the weather is nice there are seats outside overlooking the garden.

Rather than 17 mile drive, I would suggest Point Lobos State Park. Nice trails and marine animals are always on view. It's located just south of Carmel: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=571

Monterey Bay...
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3. Re: Trip in May

I would add at least one more day to Monterey and skip the night in Gilroy. You can still hit the outlets on your way back to Oakland without spending the night there.

Consider adding a kayak trip in either Monterey Bay or Elkhorn Slough for the Marine Biologist. If you are skipping Big Sur, I'd hike through Point Lobos as well. You could even drive part way on 1 to Nepenthe, so you see some of the magnificent coast in that area.

You are back tracking by doing Monterey, Gilroy and the Santa Cruz. I'd suggest driving down 1 to Santa Cruz, then Monterey and then cut over to Gilroy.

Lastly, I assume that is 1k per person. If you were lucky and got a flight around $500 that leaves about $50/night per person on a room. In May, it's possible, but will be difficult. Wish I was in Hawaii now!!

San Francisco...
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4. Re: Trip in May

f possible you should arrange your sched so you don't need a car while in SF. I would suggest renting a car before of after the SF part so that you save or car plus you have more flexibility in hotels as parking is expensive.

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5. Re: Trip in May

The Monterey Plaza has aquarium packages, this is a great place to stay in this area. Have fun! :)

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6. Re: Trip in May

I think the budget that the OP has would put the Monterey plaza hotel above their price range. It is a great hotel but do you think the specials are under a hundred bucks ?

I think the 1000 bucks with air and hotel may not be realistic for 8 days. But you could try www.sfhostels.com for rates.

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7. Re: Trip in May

The main problem I can see might be the budget. $1,000/each for more or less 10 days isn't much. Especially with a flight included in that cost.

Perhaps you can get by in sharing an inexpensive hotel room for around $100 a night ($50 each) and by only eating on the cheap (maybe $20 a day). I think that plus your flight is already over $1,000 each with no budget for transportation or attractions.

Maybe if you were willing to stay in hostels you could cut lodging costs down to approximately $30 a day each. Or maybe you're willing to subsidize your friend's cost a bit on lodging and transportation to help him meet his budget.

Other than these options, I don't think that budget is quite realistic.

I hope you work out the budget and have a great time in northern California.

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8. Re: Trip in May

Many of the Monterey hotels offer Aquarium tickets at 2-days-for-the-price-of-1. Also, there is a behind-the-scenes tour that your friend might like... you get to visit some non-public areas, like the kitchen where they prep all the fish food. Check what other special events might be offered before settling on dates.

I agree about dropping the car for SF... it will add nothing but cost to your trip.

Edited: 14 November 2012, 17:41
9. Re: Trip in May

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10. Re: Trip in May

Your never going to get this trip in for a grand each for 9 days. Just ain't gonna happen. At least $2500/each.