An American Honeymoon - East and West Coast
Replies: 40 - Last Post: Sep 20, 2012 4:05 PM Last Post By: kenko
Sep 19, 2012 12:33 AM
An American Honeymoon - East and West CoastHey everybody. FIrst time to post on this site and I am hoping I can utilise the great expertise I have seen on here to help me plan my honeyoon next year. My wife and I are fascinated with the US and have decided that rather than lying on a beach for 2 weeks starng at the same view, we want to combine our passion for America with our passion for good food and good hotels.
With this in mind we are looking at flying to New York (from the UK) next July. The idea would be to enjoy the city for about 4-5 days, before flying to San Francisco and driving around parts of the west coast for around 10 days. Below I've listed a couple of things we'd like to do but around that I have made no concrete plans. We are big food lovers, obsessed with cinema, and love the ocean. Some of the places we definitely want to visit are:
Budget-wise, we're looking at spending no more than $300 a night on accommodation (although i would make an exception for the Post Ranch Inn!). We intend to hire a car, and dont mind drives less than 3 hours at a time.
I would love some recommendations from people who have been or curently live on the West Coast. What are some of the best things/places/restaurants/hotels to experience?
Thanks so much!
Sep 19, 2012 2:09 AM
1Congratulations on your wedding - and the honeymoon.
If it were me, I would have four nights in NYC (three full days allows you to get the very best out of the place), and then the balance on the West Coast.
I would probably forgo Napa Valley, and instead have three nights in San Francisco, and then pick up your car and drive towards LA, via the coast (Hwy 1) and possibly even Yosemite NP (plus Mariposa Redwood Grove), then Monterey, Big Sur, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Malibu, and then into LA (eg Santa Monica) - for say the final three nights. All magic.
And with a $300 per night budget (and I don't think you need all that on many nights), plus a foodie bent, I am sure some of the locals on here can recommend excellent places.
Plus you do not need to visit Napa Valley, since there are some great wine regions on the coast, north of Santa Barbara for many miles. We really liked this one.
Downside - high season at places like Yosemite NP and along the coast, but still worth it, although book early.
Sep 19, 2012 5:59 AM
Sep 19, 2012 7:17 AM
3Don't forget to hit Las Vegas on your trip around the west coast. You never know, you could win some of the money you'll spend in New York back ;) Also, I guess LA would be a good spot to hit for you guys if you are big cinema buffs. Have a great trip!
Sep 19, 2012 7:27 AM
4Congratulations on your marriage and upcoming hoenymoon.
You'll love New York. Given your intersts you probably want to see a Braodway show (get tickets at outlet in Times Square). Too many great restaurants to list - you'll find them.
Also, given your interests, your west coast plans are also perfect. You won't need (or want) a car while in San Francisco. When ready to tour around outside of the city, then rent one. Your plans to explore south to Big Sur are perfect (incredibly beautiful place). Given you interest in cinema the idea to drive to Los Angeles is appropriate.
You will be able to stay within your budget of $300/night for accomodations although you will push that limit in New York.
Sep 19, 2012 7:46 AM
5A lot of people are unaware that California has many wine regions in addition to the well-known Napa Valley. First class wine is produced in all of them. In terms of wine, Napa wineries can be crowded and tastings expensive. On the other hand, there are excellent restaurants and lots of romantic places ot stay. (Getting reservations at the French Laundry is so hard that there are web sites devoted to how to do it.)
Since you are obsessed with cinema, you might want to check out the wineries where the movie Sideways was filmed. You can easily do this if you do the drive down the coast as far as San Luis Obispo, which you can use as a base for day trips to wineries.
Take a look at these Wine Tasting routes between San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara. I'd recommend the first one, called "Santa Maria Valley and Los Alamos Wine Trail." Fess Parker Winery is the "Frass Canyon" of Sideways.
Cambria, just south of Hearst Castle is full of romantic B&Bs. (B&Bs in the US tend to be luxury lodging, often restored old homes, full of antiques and catering ot couples.)
For Yosemite, splurge and book the Ahwahnee Hotel. Somewhat over your budget, but it's a grand place to stay. You can book a year in advance and you should book as early as you can--months in advance.
Top 100 San Francisco Restaurants. Watch for the new list next April.
As for beaches--be aware that San Francisco and the Central Coast can be surprisingly cool & foggy in summer. Water is not usually swimmable--surfers wear wetsuits. But it is possible to run into a gloriously warm summer day.
Sep 19, 2012 7:51 AM
Sep 19, 2012 8:08 AM
This sounds like a wonderful trip and my two favorite cities in the US, I live in Chicago. As for NYC, I agree that you really will enjoy at least 4 nights there, its a very fun city to explore on foot and has so much to offer on the arts/culture fronts, and in some history and you will see time fly by. The city has a toxic energy that can sweep you up and spit you out at 3AM and you thought it was 11pm...
That said, there is also a wonderful selection of intimate boutique hotels you may be able to get in your budget. As for location, mid town Manhattan is ground zero for most tourist, but most the nightlife and off the beaten path is located south of 14th street, with the areas of ever changing clubs, bars and designer boutiques around Meat Packing, Soho and the more non commercial areas of Lower East Side, as well as Williamsburg Brooklyn. Cool hotels to consider are just a touch over $350, The Ganesvoort, The Thompson LES, The Rivington, The Standard (on the High Line), The Gramercy, The Bowery, The W Union Sq, and a host of others. Check out Quickbook.com for boutique and better hotel properties in NYC, many you dont need to pay in advance for a reservation, just log in/sign up and make a reservation, cross shop with Expedia and Hotels.com. Also, weekends the luxury hotels in Tribeca and Wall Street areas can be discounted heavily, peaceful down there at night compared to most of Manhattan. Gild Hall Thompson is usually under $275.
I like to use TimeOut magazine for all the new scenes, art openings, cafes/food openings and anything else concerning the cultural aspects of the city. I am also a foodie and enjoy going to NYC for a month at a time for work, and have linked a previous thread with some great places that are not that expensive and good scenes.
As for the SF Bay area, it will be great contrast to the east coast and NY attitude, almost the exact opposite on some levels, the city is also very nice to walk about and enjoy the sites, organic/california food scene, and also the weather. Napa could be a good 2 day trip if need be, there are lots of fun places to eat, sleep and drink. Calistoga is a hip little destination IMO, small boutique spas and hotels up and around there too. I will also link my trip report from there last Feb to give you some ideas and pointers. We stayed 2 nights in city, then rented a car headed to wine country. I have been to Monterey years ago and cant comment, other than next trip, I am going there to show my wife from Beijing, I love the drive, luxurate once in a while.
Solage Calistoga looks very nice. A classic california hotel/resort my mom & dad would go to play golf was the Silverado, still a gem.
Here is a good link for more intimate/lux lodging.
http://www.gayot.com/hotels/bestof/10best_boutiquehotels_napasonoma2.html Its pronounced Guy-Oh...
Sep 19, 2012 8:32 AM
8I disagree with some of the above - if FOOD (not wine) is your goal, then I think Napa belongs on your itinerary. You can get the wine anywhere, but the restaurants are in fixed locations. The French Laundry is of course the most famous, but if you can't get a reservation (which is extremely difficult - you need to have a concierge service, be famous, or be extremely lucky when you call two months to the day ahead of time), there are countless other great places... Redd, Ad Hoc, Bouchon, Meadowwood... the list goes on.
For the west coast portion, I'd therefore do something like this - assuming 10 nights.
3 nights San Francisco
2 nights Napa (Yountville in particular if food is the goal)
1 night Monterey
2 nights Big Sur
2 nights Los Angeles
Sep 19, 2012 8:36 AM
9I forgot to mention, for NYC, if you check out the area known as Lower East Side, where even Starbucks has yet to open, there is an area that is still gentrifying and is pretty much a very trendy/hip place to hang. This museum is ground zero. A easy walk to Nolita, and also Chinatown.
Sep 19, 2012 2:05 PM
10Yeah but ... you can get decent food just about anywhere as well (I concede that I'm rather sceptical about super-popular eateries, celebrity chefs, etc ... a lot of it can be faddishness and slick marketing) ... and visiting a beautiful wine region can be a destination in itself ... it's not just all about drinking the plonk. And you can't see Yosemite or Big Sur everywhere either.
Sep 19, 2012 2:50 PM
11Oh you dont know what your are missing when it comes to the new chef/dining scene...never been let down. But this place in NYC was over the top, and I dont care for pigeon breast.
Sep 19, 2012 3:04 PM
12Plus we were taken to lunch at Fess Parker and Firestone wineries - both excellent.
Plus for a slice of Americana, we ate BBQ at The Hitching Post - also part of the film Sideways - although this is all premised on the honeymooners heading further south than Big Sur of course. Just making the point that there are interesting things to see and do along the coast, as an alternative to Napa Valley.
Sep 19, 2012 3:18 PM
13Fess Parker's winery is certainly beautiful... and the wine ain't bad either. When I visited, I left with a case of excellent viognier.
One reason I recommended Napa over Yosemite is the season... honestly I think I'd rather be anywhere BUT Yosemite Valley between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Though I agree, there is great food all over California. However I don't think a self-proclaimed foodie should miss at least a couple meals in Yountville. And it's not all about $150+ per person tasting menus - Ad Hoc and Redd (especially for lunch), for example, are downright "bargains" given the quality of the food.
Sep 19, 2012 3:20 PM
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