California in early October
Replies: 14 - Last Post: Oct 12, 2012 10:49 AM Last Post By: marlajfish
Oct 2, 2012 10:47 PM
California in early OctoberI'm planning a 16 day trip to California and have the following wishlist of places to visit
San Francisco - 3 nights
Napa Valley - 2 nights
Carmel - 2 nights
Big Sur - 1 night
Yosemite (Mammoth Lakes??) 3 nights
What would be the best route to carry this out? San Fran to Napa to to Carmel?
Which is the best town to base yourself in around Big Sur? We would like a bit of luxury, but would also like to go to the beach weather permitting.
Are there any other recommendations for a few extra nights on this trip? We could fly into San Fran and out of another major city that serves NYC direct.
Are there any other places that you'd really recommend in this region of California? We like walking but nothing too extreme. We also like to visit diverse, beautiful areas and want to make this a really special and romantic trip, so if there are any tips they would be most welcome
Oct 3, 2012 2:11 AM
1The two major options for alternative departure cities to NYC are Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
If I had a few extra nights, I would definitely drive from Yosemite NP east through Tioga Pass, Hwy 395, Death Valley NP, Las Vegas, to the Grand Canyon NP (back to Las Vegas) - it is all wonderfully scenic, and Tioga Pass doesn't usually close until late October or November. You would need four extra nights to do it at a reasonable speed - three at a real push, but I would go for four.
Perhaps you could plan your trip: San Francisco (3N), Napa Valley (1-2N), back through SF to Monterey via Santa Cruz, 2-3 nights Monterey - to visit Carmel and Big Sur, and then east across to Yosemite NP, and then on to Las Vegas. Alternatively, from Monterey/Big Sur to San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and in to Los Angeles. Both good - but I would go the Grand Canyon option myself.
Oct 3, 2012 2:51 AM
2Thanks Ian for your useful advice
I'm not fussed about Vegas or LA so I was thinking some more about a good route.
San Fran, Napa, Yosemite, Carmel and base myself there or Monterey for the big sur am back to San Fran
Like you mentioned to Vegas but we won't have time for Grand Canyon so do have an opinion on which would be better in terms of driving time vs reward?
From Yosemite to Vegas we'd probably only have a night stopover en route.
Oct 3, 2012 3:30 AM
Oct 3, 2012 3:33 AM
4Well ... one night en route from Yosemite NP to Las Vegas is plenty (Bishop, Lone Pine, etc) - it is very scenic. I added a couple of nights (one for the Grand Canyon, and one more back in Las Vegas before you fly - or you could easily fly on the day you drove back from the GCNP - so long as you took an afternoon-evening flight).
And Carmel doesn't appeal as a base to me ... it's an enclave you drive around in an hour or so - look at the cypress tree - and move on to something more real and interesting.
Oct 3, 2012 4:22 AM
5Thanks for the info. If we wanted somewhere to chill by a pool on this route at a posh hotel for a couple of days, could Vegas be a good option for this due to the climate. Any other possibilities in early October weather wise that would be a safe bet to be sunny and warm?
Would Vegas be the best option for affordable 5 star luxury?
Oct 3, 2012 4:37 AM
6Yes ... Las Vegas can certainly offer you five-star luxury for not very much - the place is fiercely competitive - although you should ensure your nights are Sunday to Thursday only. Check on expedia.com for say Mandalay Bay, Bellagio, Paris, or MGM Grand - to just pick a few of the well-known resort casinos. I have been in Las Vegas in mid-September and it was very warm indeed, so I expect early October would be very pleasant (although I am no expert).
Your other option for some pampering is to find somewhere along the coast - Santa Barbara perhaps - but if it were me (and you haven't seen the Southwest desert country before), I would probably opt for LV for a couple of nights.
Oct 3, 2012 4:54 AM
With that said, head north via the xGolden Gate Bridge, head south via the east bay.
(But if that's too expensive, consider the other options before staying outside the park).
Oct 3, 2012 7:23 AM
Oct 3, 2012 9:03 AM
9Ok so I think I'm on to something
San Francisco to Napa to Carmel(or Monterey) to big sur (down as far as cambria) to Yosemite and on to Vegas.
We don't want to keep changing hotel too much so we were thinking we could drive the big sur an come back to Carmel, or can you go to Yosemite via big sur in one day and see everything ? Sorry for so many questions!!
Can't you do a day trip by plane to the Grand Canyon? Are they worthwhile?
Edited by: tony_ttt
Oct 3, 2012 9:28 AM
I'm from Sonoma actually so can give you a few suggestion around the area if you'd like. I'm not sure your budget but if you'd like to stay in the Sonoma/Glen Ellen area, the Glen Ellen Inn is beautiful with private cottages, and the Sonoma Mission Inn is fairly famous although around a year ago it was under some renovation and I'm unsure if its been finished (haven't been back to the area). If you are on a tighter budget, even places like the Sonoma Creek Inn have really nice rooms, are located close to the Sonoma Mission Inn, and have good access out to the Sonoma and Glen Ellen Wineries. Also, if you stay at the Glen Ellen Inn, you're very close to the JAck London state park which is a great place to visit, and the Glen Ellen market has fresh and great food and produce.
If you want to visit any Wineries there, you can ask around but usually get sent to the large ones. I usually recommend Mayo and Imagery as some of the smaller ones to visit that are less busy and more quiet, but let me know your preference and I'm sure I can think of some other ones.
The Sonoma square is great this time of year and has a lot of places around the area to visit. In the morning and especially lunch the Basque bakery right of the square is fairly famous in town and has great food. If you walk north of the square, there are some baseball diamonds and past that there is access to some great hiking trails and forest. There will usually be a few other hikers and runners but it is quite quiet and serene. Ask anyone for directions and they can point it out on a map very easily.
I highly recommend Sonoma for a romantic place over Napa and it is very close, but its my preference. If you want any restaurant names please let me know, I recommend Della Santinas or Meritage but there are many great places off the square as well.
I'm not sure where you are coming from but heres a quick map of a reference of Sonoma in relation to SF and Napa:
Oct 3, 2012 10:19 AM
Oct 3, 2012 11:04 AM
12Assuming you're not trying to visit Vegas as part of the trip, you can do a loop that does not involve cutting back and forth through San Francisco by reshuffling your destinations like this: SF-Napa-Yosemite-Big Sur-SF. Here it is mapped.
Note that this route takes you along the entire Big Sur coastline. If you just want to see the northern part of it, you could do this instead.
You started out by proposing a casual pace that would allow you time to enjoy your trip and do the longer route, which allows you to take San Luis Obispo and Hearst Castle. Then you started talking crazy, like viewing Big Sur as part of a day drive to Yosemite, flying to the Grand Canyon for the day, etc., etc., etc. Forget all that. You're on vacation. Spend your time relaxing and looking at things, rather than rushing to get to things. Do the longer route I proposed (it's only an hour of extra driving), and save Vegas for another vacation.
Oct 3, 2012 4:12 PM
13SF-Napa-Yosemite-Big Sur-SF. Here it is mapped.
I think with 16 days they can be a bit more ambitious ... and driving across to Las Vegas is not only scenic and not that far, but it cuts out a lot of the fairly unrewarding driving that is involved in the Napa Valley > Yosemite NP > San Luis Obispo sectors on the map. Unless the OP is inordinately fond of broccoli farms, of course.
Oct 12, 2012 10:49 AM
14In Big Sur you want to stay at Deetjen's Big Sur Inn, historic and charming. It's not cheap but not ridiculous. Very romantic. There are very few beaches in Big Sur and you can't swim at any of them due to riptides. However, one of the most amazing beaches I've ever seen is worth visiting Pfeiffer Beach which is run by the U.S. Forest Service. HOWEVER it is very hard to find for visitors because the locals keep ripping down the signs to get there. It is the only paved road near the Big Sur library (look for a bunch of mailboxes at the intersection) it's also near a bridge. Then you have to drive down a curving one lane road to get there. But it's worth it. Very windy there and no services so bring food and drink but it's just an incredible place, stunning beach, window rock, cypress forest. If you come at sunset you can get cool pix of the sun coming through the window rock. There are a couple of other beaches in Big Sur including Andrew Molera where you can ride horses on the beach.
Personally, I am not a fan of Carmel or Monterey very overpriced and touristy. I like Pacific Grove which is close enough to see all the attractions but more unique. Try to stay at Asilomar if they have room and are not booked up with conferences.
Your first itinerary looked good to me. Have fun!
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