Suggestions for relaxing road trip Northern California
Replies: 8 - Last Post: Jul 28, 2013 3:30 AM Last Post By: claudee86
Jul 14, 2013 2:07 AM
Suggestions for relaxing road trip Northern CaliforniaHi there!
My husband and I are planning a weeklong road trip in October, starting in San Francisco. We have already travelled to the south in the past, to Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur etc. so we thought we'd head north this time. We are really pretty flexible as to the route, but we definitely want to see the Redwood National Forest, and as many coastal towns, as well as inland towns/places worth visiting. We are trying to decide whether to make the trip a loop, returning to San Francisco, or continue north and fly home from Portland, or perhaps Seattle. The main thing is that we want to enjoy this trip at a relaxed pace, seeing as much as we can, but not feeling rushed or stressed, trying to do too much, (which we are often guilty of!!) Any suggestions from those of you familiar with the area would be greatly appreciated - Thanks!!
Jul 14, 2013 3:14 AM
1I would keep your trip entirely within California north of San Francisco. To travel right through Oregon to Portland (let alone Seattle) - is a whole different head-space, and I would save it for another time. Plus there is only so much coast you can appreciate in one trip (a beach is a beach is a beach ...).
I would head up the coast road from San Francisco (via John Muir Woods, Point Reyes, Mendocino, etc) as far as Crescent City - the best redwoods we saw were in the Stout Grove at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, right near Crescent City. You could then return via the inland route, including Mt Shasta and the Lassen Volcanic NP perhaps, and even the Napa Valley wineries. Sounds a good week to me.
BTW we were not overly impressed by the Redwoods National Park itself ... we thought several of the redwoods state parks were considerably better indeed.
Jul 14, 2013 9:49 AM
2Ian proposes an ambitious itinerary for just a week, for me at least. Maybe you could get as far as crescent city but definitely no time for inland stuff. For me an ideal timeframe is three days in point Reyes, a couple days in Sonoma, a couple days around Mendocino, and at least five days in the redwood area. So you will have to make some tough decisions.
Jul 14, 2013 11:43 AM
3I rather agree that going no further north than Crescent City might be best.
You could use Healdsburg as a base for exploring wineries for a day or two, for example. Good restaurants there.
I like the town of Jenner on the Sonoma Coast for beach walking and hiking in Armstrong Redwoods park, a lesser-known state park.
Perhaps a night in the Benbow Inn in Garberville.
Then there's Mendocino and at least two nights in Eureka, Arcata, or Crescent City, or one of the really small towns in the area. There is a nice B&B in Klamath, for instance.
The plural of anecdote is not data.
Jul 14, 2013 4:37 PM
4We are really pretty flexible as to the route, but we definitely want to see the Redwood National Forest, and as many coastal towns, as well as inland towns/places worth visiting.
I was trying to respond to the OP's stated requirements ... and in my view, most of these occur north of Leggett (where the cheesy Big Tree you can drive through is situated, by the way). Returning via Redding would be reasonably achievable - and we made it comfortably to Crescent City by our second night (with the first night in Fort Bragg).
But yes - it is a balance between being a relaxing drive, and seeing the things that are a fair way away.
Jul 15, 2013 9:59 AM
5Thanks so much to all of you for responding so quickly -- you have given my husband and I a lot of good food for thought!
--Leaving California is definitely not in our plans now! We are going to look into all of the towns you've suggested, and try to figure out our priorities -- we just want to see some beautiful Redwood forests -- we definitely do not care about the cheesey big tree -- We do love red wine, so the idea of a couple of nights in wine country sounds great --
The more we think about it, we're considering narrowing our trip to three main stops, with a couple of nights in each place, so we can really enjoy the area -- now we just have to figure out which ones! :)
Jul 15, 2013 11:24 AM
6A couple thoughts:
- You can get spectacular redwoods about 2 hrs closer to SF than Crescent City by visiting Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Your accommodation options nearby will be motels and old-timey resorts, in small towns like Weott, Garberville and Scotia.
- There are so many other wine destinations along your route that there's no point in braving the crowds in Napa Valley. South to North, you'll be near the Valley of the Moon, Dry Creek Valley, Alexander Valley, Redwood Valley and Anderson Valley, all of which offer more relaxed wine tastings than Napa.
- Drive Hwy. 128 through the Anderson Valley. In addition to wine (Roederer's sparkling wines are spectacular), you can find great beer (stop at the Anderson Valley Brewing Co. in Boonville) and apples (Gowan's Oak Tree is everything a roadside farm stand should be).
Jul 15, 2013 11:27 AM
7Soem areas good for reds:
^Those three are near Healdsburg
Anderson Valley Pinot Noir and there area couple of sparkling wine producers. Boonville is an interesting place to explore. Although nearly extinct, it once had its own languageinvented there. Even a coupe of places producing hard cider.
The plural of anecdote is not data.
Jul 28, 2013 3:30 AM
8I wanted to thank you all again for your excellent advice -- I just now am making the time to sit down and sort through all your suggestions and start working on a travel plan for my husband and I! We are really looking forward to coming to California again; we absolutely love it there -- will let you know what we end up doing and how it goes! :)
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