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Old 05-02-2010, 01:09 PM
SA5 SA5 started this thread
 
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We're planning a family trip in late June to the Bay Area and I have a couple of questions... This will be our first time to the area. We're coming from San Antonio, Texas.

We're probably going to fly in to either Oakland or San Jose. Which airport is easier to navigate?

We want to rent a car and set up a base in the area. Would it be better to base from the southern part of the area like San Jose and then drive down to Santa Cruz or would it be better to base in the East Bay area and have easier access to Napa? We're traveling with two boys 17 and 12. Is there good public transportation from either of those areas to SF?

Not knowing the areas at all we want to make the week enjoyable for all of us...any help from the locals would be much appreciated!

What would you consider to be a must see?
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Old 05-02-2010, 05:15 PM
 
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Not a native (soon to be), but there's not much to do in the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, I'd go to SF or others. BART seems to be the most convenient way to get around.
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Old 05-02-2010, 06:02 PM
 
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
1,483 posts, read 3,528,548 times
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Either airport is easy to get through. Oakland has an easy connection to BART which will get you to more interesting places. San Jose has a connection to Caltrain. Like DeusEx said there isn't a huge amount of interesting touristy stuff in San Jose. I'd base myself in San Francisco, that's where most of the stuff you want to see is located.
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Old 05-02-2010, 06:49 PM
hsw
 
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Would stay down in PaloAlto area
Drive up to SF on 280; park at 75 Howard garage which IIRC has a cheap early-bird special; easy walk to Ferry Bldg for breakfast...and walkable on flat streets into FinancialDistrict and UnionSq for tourist stuff

Easy 10min drive into PacificHts/PresidioHts for views of GGB w/plenty of often-free street parking: Broadway@Lyon or Washington@Spruce are great view pts in quiet residential areas; walk those nearby (hilly) blocks for interesting views in a relatively pleasant non-tourist area where actual people live

Rest of SF is largely a vast slum best viewed from a car at speed...
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Old 05-02-2010, 07:23 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
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I haven't used San Jose Int'l, but Oakland is easy to navigate. I'd pick up a rental car from the airport (you can take a courtesy shuttle to the rental place) then drive to the place you'll be staying, unless you're staying in SF downtown, in which case I'd fly into SFO and take BART or a cab to the city.

Santa Cruz is VERY difficult to navigate on weekends, go on a weekday if you can, otherwise you could get stuck in a pile of cars traveling from the freeway to the beach which can be long and frustrating, as well as difficult to park. However, Santa Cruz has more stuff for the young people (boardwalk, rides, beach) and Napa has more stuff for the adult traveler (vineyards). Napa is more uniformly pretty, whereas the town of Santa Cruz itself is not that pretty, though it's surrounded by natural beauty.

If you concentrate on the north, you could make somewhere like Sausalito your base camp (easy freeway access) and travel to Napa & Sonoma after you've seen SF proper. You could make another day trip (or spend the night) to Bodega Bay, a beach experience that's less crowded than Santa Cruz, but typically also cooler temperature. Great drive up highway 1, though. You can also hike Point Reyes to get some ocean views. You could then spend the last couple days in Santa Cruz area, with a hotel in Santa Cruz proper, and also check out the redwood forests or Carmel area.
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Old 05-02-2010, 10:36 PM
SA5 SA5 started this thread
 
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This has been very helpful...thanks to all! I was actually curious about whether or not the Santa Cruz part of the trip was "necessary". We do love the beach scene, but it doesn't have to be a touristy beach. I am figuring it's going to be much cooler than we're used to on the beach anyway (Texas beaches are on the Gulf where the water temps are usually in the 70's and 80's...air temps in the 80's and 90's). Will look into Bodega Bay.

If we base out of Palo Alto, can we get to the redwoods from there easily? I think the wife and kids would like to see them. Also, wife has a friend that lives in Alameda and I have one in Hillsborough. Not sure if we'll get to see them or not, but would we be reasonably close to either in PA?
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Old 05-03-2010, 12:25 AM
 
1,424 posts, read 2,469,384 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SA5 View Post
If we base out of Palo Alto, can we get to the redwoods from there easily? I think the wife and kids would like to see them. Also, wife has a friend that lives in Alameda and I have one in Hillsborough. Not sure if we'll get to see them or not, but would we be reasonably close to either in PA?
Palo Alto is a good choice. The 280 freeway is an easy and very scenic drive. Staying in East Bay or south of San Jose would be lousy choices due to traffic and lack of stuff to do in those areas.

Another alternative is staying in Pacifica at Rockaway Beach. Then when you wake up you are at the beach instead of at a hotel parking lot and the kids might enjoy the hiking trails going to Linda Mar Beach. This is also a very quick drive up the 1 and 280 to San Francisco.

Rockaway Beach Info

It is a scenic drive to Santa Cruz along 1 but if you try it a weekday is recommeded to avoid crowds and get back before dark since its a two lane road. Half Moon Bay is also a scenic coastal location to visit.

Driving Directions Pacifica, California to Santa Cruz, California

It is also an easy drive to SF attactions like the new science museum in Golden Gate Park.

Driving Directions Pacifica, California to 55 Music Concourse Dr San Francisco, California

For going into the downtown part of San Francisco I recommend driving to Daly City,parking at the station, and taking the Bart train.

Driving Directions Pacifica, California to BART-Daly City Station

For Redwoods an easy place to see them is Muir Woods,go on a weekday to avoid weekend overcrowding at this attraction. This is a short drive over Golden Gate Bridge.

Muir Woods National Monument (U.S. National Park Service)

The most scenic way to get to Alameda is to take the Bart train to the Ferry Buiding near Embarcadero Station and then take the ferry to Alameda. This location is also an easy drive to Hillsborough.

Driving Directions Pacifica, California to Hillsborough, California

The kids will also probably enjoy the SF tourist attractions like Pier 39,Fisherman's Wharf,the Exploratorium,the view from Twin Peaks and other Golden Gate Park attractions.
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Old 05-03-2010, 01:57 AM
 
Location: The Bay
6,920 posts, read 6,892,444 times
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here's a list of kid-oriented attractions or stuff you could do with your kids in the bay area:


Amusement Parks/Theme Parks:

Great America (Santa Clara)
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk (Santa Cruz)
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (Vallejo)
Raging Waters (San Jose)

Zoos

Oakland Zoo (Oakland)
San Francisco Zoo (SF)

Museums

Tech Museum (San Jose)
Chabot Space & Science Center (Oakland)
Exploratorium (San Francisco)

Professional Sports Teams

Golden State Warriors (Oakland @ Oracle Arena)
SF Giants (SF @ AT&T Park)
Oakland Raiders (Oakland @ Coliseum)
Oakland A's (Oakland @ Coliseum)
SF 49ers (SF @ Candlestick Park)
SJ Sharks (San Jose @ HP Pavilion)

College Sports

Stanford (Palo Alto)
CAL (Berkeley)

San Francisco attractions


Alcatraz
Cable car tour
World's windiest street (Lombard St.)
Golden Gate Bridge
Metreon (imax movie threatre and upstairs arcade; used to be a playstation store when SONY owned it but it changed owners)
Fisherman's Warf (tourist central)


That's what I can think of at the moment... if your kids have certain interests such as music then there's plenty of music stores in the area (Rasputins, Street Light Records, Amoeba Records, etc.). The bay in general has no shortage of specialty stores...


Other than that, there's plenty of bay area-only and CA-only restaurants that you may or may not want to try... I'm not going to spend time listing bay area restaurants as there are THOUSANDS... anything you can think of is probably in the bay area other than good soul food or bbq... lol
One place I will say you should try though is In N Out Burger; easily the best burger chain in CA and could potentially become the best one in the country. Spread the word in TX! lol


Hope you enjoy visiting the bay
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Old 05-03-2010, 10:29 PM
SA5 SA5 started this thread
 
60 posts, read 87,000 times
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You all have been so much more than helpful! Thanks so much. I can see that you are really proud of your area. If anyone ever comes down to San Antonio, let me know and I'll help you the same way.
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Old 05-04-2010, 02:07 AM
 
Location: Oregon
1,229 posts, read 3,438,697 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SA5 View Post
If we base out of Palo Alto, can we get to the redwoods from there easily? I think the wife and kids would like to see them. Also, wife has a friend that lives in Alameda and I have one in Hillsborough. Not sure if we'll get to see them or not, but would we be reasonably close to either in PA?
If you really want to see the redwoods, would you have about 5 hours to drive up near Avenue of the Giants? That's where the really big and tall ones begin. Avenue of the Giants near Redcrest, Prairie Creek redwoods near Orick, and Jedediah Smith redwoods near Crescent City.

If you can't make it up that way, consider Montgomery Woods.

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