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April Itinerary-questions! MacJack, Juday, Hotel Charlotte...

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Richmond, VA
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April Itinerary-questions! MacJack, Juday, Hotel Charlotte...

Our family of 4, including boys 10 and 12, will be flying to San Franciso for spring break. This will be my 7th trip to the SF area, hubby's 2nd, and my boys first. We will be home basing it in Mountain View with my Aunt Jane. I have now become a Tripadvisor junkie researching this trip! Please check over my itinerary and I have several questions at the end:

4/8- Arrive SFO 7:00 pm, get rental car,and spend night in Mountain View with Aunt Jane

4/9- Day game Giants vs. Braves and Mel's Drive Inn

4/10- Cross Golden Gate Bridge and tour Muir Woods. Travel east to Modesto, Blue Diamond Almond Factory (can you tour?), (or, is there another type of agricultural tour along the way?) and then on to Yosemite Bug "Rustic Resort" for two nights (private room with bath $75/night)near Midpines.

4/11- Yosemite all day. Would like to take the guided 2-hour bus tour and maybe breakfast or lunch at the Ahwahnee. Hubby says he is not hiking...maybe he will change his mind.

4/12 - Travel up 49 and tour Columbia/Jamestown/Gold country. Travel back to Mountain View.

4/13 - San Francisco! Sea Lions, Alcatraz, China Town, Cable Car Museum, Lombard St. Sour Dough Bread, Wave Organ

4/14 Exploratorium? NASA Ames Space and Mars Center/Wind Tunnel in Mt. View?

4/15 Noon flight back to east coast.

The goal: see Yosemite and the gold country since NONE have done that! And, visit Aunt Jane!

Questions: Are there any agricultural tours along the way to Yosemite, or is it not worth it? The YARTS transportation bus stops right at the Yosemite Bug and it is an hour trip to Yosemite with stops. We would take the first bus out and the last back. Would it be better to drive in instead? (Cost of bus trip is the same as park entry, and no driving!) Would snow/chains then be an issue? Would it be better to see the Mariposa Grove of trees since none of us have been to Yosemite, and then omit Muir Woods? Would those roads be open? If we omit Muir Woods, should we try to get into the park the first day (4/10)? And then do what? Would a good alternative be to stay 4/10 in/closer to the park and 4/11 in/near Jamestown? I can change reservations at the Bug but the price is right and food available.

Breakfast or lunch at he Ahwahnee? I have one very picky eater so this trip is not a culinary experience.

What should we "must do" midweek in April in Columbia or Jamestown? I have checked sites for local activies. None mid week.

Our last day is a "down day" but we are willing to go back into the city.

Other ideas?

Thanks so much!

Oakland, California
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1. Re: April Itinerary-questions! MacJack, Juday, Hotel Charlotte...

Wow- great itinerary, great questions! I can tell you've been reading us all carefully.

As much as love Muir Woods, I would take as much time as possible in Yosemite. The Giant Sequoias have even more of a "wow" factor than the Coastal Redwoods do, and besides, on 4/10 you should really head out as quickly as possible to Yosemite.

Instead, on the morning of your Giants game, do a little preliminary touring of the city in the morning: drive across the GG Bridge (or park and walk across), then check out the wave organ along the waterfront, and head out along the Embarcadero to SBC Park. Feel free to park in one of the less expensive lots along the Embarcadero- you can catch the F trolley and then transfer to the "N" at the Ferry Building, or just walk the rest of the way (it's very scenic and flat)

I would def. recommend either breakfast or lunch at the Ahwahnee as a special treat- the food is pretty standard fare so I'm sure your kids would find something they like. My girls were always happy as long as I ordered them the hot chocolate! Get reservations, though.

You'll have to play it by ear as far as YARTS vs. driving goes. The Mariposa Grove, for instance, is another 45 minutes from the valley, which is already about an hour from your motel. If I were you, I'd keep checking into the valley reservations or lodgings in El Portal, in case there are any cancellations, just so that you will spoend less time travelling to and from the park. Also, remember that your park entrance fee is good for the whole week. However, parking in the valley can be a bit of a pain.

Usually by April, the threat of chains and snow is over, especially along 140. You could see some snow along 41 on the way to the Mariposa Grove, but the road is generally kept very clear.

You'll have a great time in Columbia and Jamestown. There's a railroad museum in Jamestown, and you can ride an old steam train that was used in a lot of movies. In Columbia, if you can stand a little bit of hokey entertainment, I'd recommend the old stagecoach ride. Lots of fun, and the stagecoach is the real deal!

Saint Germain...
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2. Re: April Itinerary-questions! MacJack, Juday, Hotel Charlotte...

My first read of your itinerary it struck me that your day 12th would be exhaustive with driving. From the Bug to Jamestown-Columbia and then to the bay area.

If you want to see big trees, perhaps you might skip the Muir woods, giving you back a half a day, spend that one night closer to Jamestown-Columbia and then catch the big trees at Calaveras Big Trees State Park which are exciting any day of the week. Mid-weeks before "the season" starts can be sleepy here in the foothills. Murphys is a very active town, year round it seems, as is Sonora, it being the county seat.

Oakdale has some agri-tourism stops, one is the cheese factory. The Visitors Bureau has a page dedicated to these tours: www.visitmodesto.com/tours

Have a wonderful trip!

Richmond, VA
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3. Re: April Itinerary-questions! MacJack, Juday, Hotel Charlotte...

Thanks, guys (ladies!), for the great suggestions! Already bought my Giants/Braves tickets (I won't tell you who I am rooting for), and the the suggestion of doing the GG Bridge before the day game is just the ticket since our bodies will still be on east coast time! I got a reservation for inside Yosemite at the Yosemite Lodge for one night(that was all they had), but I won't cancel my other reservations quite yet. MacJack and Hotel Charlotte....I have read from two sources about travelers getting car sick on 120. If I left Yosemite on 120 heading toward Columbia SP, is this an issue? We all can't sit in the front seat, so I just need to know whether to pack Dramamine and barf bags. I don't want that to hamper our trip! Also, is there anything to see on rount 49 from Mariposa to Columbia if we should enter and exit the park on different routs? Juday...I have been keeping up with your other posts. MacJack...you did a great Yosemite itenerary for another person that I will try to follow.

Saint Germain...
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4. Re: April Itinerary-questions! MacJack, Juday, Hotel Charlotte...

Well, there are oodles of people who live between the top of priest grade and yosemite and we all do the hill on a regular basis, usually without getting sick. ;)

While this road has its curves, climbs and drops, it also is well balanced with pulloffs and plenty of side space. Those who enjoy the thrill of a mediocre rollercoaster will like highway 120.

For upbound traffic the car is in the outside lane, closest to the edge. If you are giddy, get in the back seat and sit behind the driver. You will feel more centered.