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Old 08-19-2017, 12:52 PM
 
Location: Annapolis, MD
2 posts, read 2,077 times
Reputation: 15

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Hi everyone,

I’ll be in San Francisco soon for a conference – my first time in California! After the conference wraps, my boyfriend and I are renting a car, and then … ?

I’m overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. We will have 3 nights to explore before we catch a flight down to San Diego. Since we’ll have had 5 nights in San Francisco, we want to drive and see some of the less urban options. By the time we’re there (late October), I expect at least some of the Route 1 closures may be open. We’ll check before flying out.

We’re interested in staying near the coast – I’m sure everywhere along the coast is scenic, but we’re interested in staying close to those classic beautiful California views. We want access to great hiking, but nothing too strenuous. Easy to moderate hikes with big payoff. (I know, doesn’t everyone.) We’d love to see and hike through some of those big trees you guys have out there. We’re willing to drive 4-ish hours north or south of San Fran, but at the same time don’t feel the need to spend all our time in the car since I’m sure anywhere we go will be amazing. We’re willing to keep moving and spend our nights in different places, or settle into a single spot for all 3 nights.

Any and all recommendations are welcome as I’m starting with a blank slate. I used to use this forum regularly some time ago, and though I’ve since forgotten my original login, I remember the members being extremely helpful. Thanks in advance!

Last edited by melissalee412; 08-19-2017 at 02:05 PM..
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Old 08-19-2017, 01:14 PM
 
Location: State of Transition
90,477 posts, read 86,589,911 times
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3 nights. Well, there are many options. Undoubtedly, someone will suggest Big Sur. You could book a little cabin there in advance, and spend your time exploring the area, and enjoying the scenery; no need to spend all your time driving. That's if Hwy 1 is open down there. You could spend a night at the lodge in Pfeiffer Big Sur state park, near Big Sur, and get some quality time with the redwoods, there. http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=570

Another option would be closer to SF, in Santa Cruz; get a hotel room, maybe one on the beach (there are a number of funky hotels by the beach, it's not a high-end thing, tho I don't know what they charge), and explore Santa Cruz county. LOTS of redwood parks--Big Basin is the largest one, and has hiking trails of a variety of durations (starting at an easy 1-hr. one, to view the oldest two trees in the park) and difficulty levels. There are a couple of 3-hr. hikes past waterfalls.http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=540

Also, in the village of Felton, nestled in the redwoods above Santa Cruz, there's an old narrow-gauge train tour that goes through the redwoods and provides historical information about redwood logging in the area. Cost is $40/person, make reservations in advance. You'd pass through Felton on your way to and from Big Basin. https://www.roaringcamp.com/trainschedule

There are jazz clubs in Santa Cruz and one in Felton, if you're into that. You can drive north just 1/2 hr. or so, to have breakfast or lunch in the tiny town of Davenport, at a couple of local eateries right off the road, with a fabulous view of the beach just across Hwy 1. A bit south of Santa Cruz, you could spend part of a day walking around Monterey, going to the aquarium there.

And the drive down from SF, if you take Hwy 1, is breathtaking, and takes you right past these funky little towns. You could get out in Half Moon Bay on your way down the coast, and walk around, or get out at one of the farms selling cheap baskets of berries--free if you pick 'em--or pies, pumpkins, or artichokes. It's a beautiful drive with a lot of options to stop, explore, and putter around.

Alternatively, you could drive north from SF. Plenty to see and do up there, too. More tiny, picturesque towns, like Point Reyes Station, which has a couple of good restaurants, for a lunch stop. Driving to the beach north of there, you may pass herds of elk. You could cut over to the Russian River, and explore the towns and redwood forests of Sonoma County. Several historic sites to see in Sonoma, notably General Mariano Vallejo's home; the last Mexican general of northern CA, and later--one of CA's first state senators. http://missiontour.org/wp/sonoma/lachryma-montis.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mariano_Guadalupe_Vallejo
Sonoma is also home to a Russian fort from the days of Russian Alaska. The Russians built this fort to enable them to trade for supplies with the Spanish north of SF. http://www.fortross.org/





It all depends on what you're interested in. You two may have to come back sometime, for a longer visit! For this trip, I'd pick a home base (Big Sur, or Santa Cruz, or Sonoma), and spend the 3 days exploring local sites nearby, rather than trying to chase all over the place. Each region has a lot to offer, and is a great place to unwind, and enjoy a slower pace.

Last edited by Ruth4Truth; 08-19-2017 at 02:21 PM..
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Old 08-19-2017, 09:12 PM
 
Location: Silicon Valley
18,817 posts, read 27,990,657 times
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I'd go to Monterey. And if you take Hwy 17 to Santa Cruz, as suggested above, you could go through the redwoods before you hit the coast. Then, just drive down Hwy 1 to Monterey. You'd be seeing the ocean most of the way from Santa Cruz to Monterey. The Monterey Aquarium is amazing. Plus there is a fun touristy area with boardwalks and shopping, lots of white beach to walk on. Not usually super crowded.

https://www.monterey.com/
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Old 08-19-2017, 09:19 PM
 
Location: Northern California
80,403 posts, read 6,697,064 times
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If you decide to do a night in Santa Cruz, take hwy 1 all the way, it is not a long drive & well worth it. Stop in Pescadero for lunch. Or maybe the harbor in Half Moon Bay which is closer to San Francisco. You can go to Monterrey the day after Santa Cruz.
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Old 08-20-2017, 12:27 PM
 
126 posts, read 98,459 times
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dont make the assumption that those classic, beautiful , california waves are swim-able, pretty to look at when it's not foggy , but not swim-able because the water is too damn cold and dangerous. Wait for San Diego for that.
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Old 08-20-2017, 05:36 PM
 
Location: Santa Monica
147 posts, read 185,160 times
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Definitely drive down to Monterey/Santa Cruz. Gorgeous drive and lots of fun places to stop along the way. Enjoy yourself here!
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Old 08-21-2017, 12:13 PM
 
Location: Annapolis, MD
2 posts, read 2,077 times
Reputation: 15
Thanks everyone for the feedback so far!

We've decided to go north and booked a place in Occidental. My boyfriend spent some time here a lifetime ago and really wanted to go back. So, Occidental will be our "homebase" and we'll radiate out for day trips.

We'll plan to hit Point Reyes National Seashore on our drive up and have received recommendations for Bodega Head and Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve for additional hiking near Occidental.

Any additional targeted recs for this area are appreciated! I'm personally interested in microbreweries that might be along the drive from Point Reyes and/or to Bodega Head/Armstrong Woods.

Thanks again!
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Old 08-21-2017, 04:34 PM
 
Location: Planet Earth
1,963 posts, read 2,601,332 times
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Native Californian here (4th generation). Never, EVER turn your back to the ocean when you are on the beach and within 5 feet of the high-tide line - especially north of SF. Sounds drastic, but a number of people (and not just kids) get surprised by an abnormally large wave and get knocked down (and sometimes pulled out) by a rogue wave every year. Of course it depends on the beach, but play it safe and always keep an eye on the ocean.

Don't know if you or boyfriend are into skindiving, but abalone diving is in season (until Oct, I think). If you enjoy the ocean it's fun. You *will* need a fishing license (or face a very, very, VERY expensive fine).

Not really coastal, but hiking up mount tamalpais is always fun, and the view from the top is amazing - the entire north bay, san francisco and (depending on the fog situation) the pacific ocean. You can drive most of the way up if you aren't into hiking. Also not coastal, but Muir woods is a fun day trip (easy walks through the redwoods).
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Old 08-24-2017, 09:09 AM
 
37,359 posts, read 37,669,111 times
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I would add Carmel in addition to Monterey & Santa Cruz.

https://www.carmelcalifornia.com/thi...-in-carmel.htm
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Old 08-24-2017, 04:09 PM
 
Location: Mendocino, CA
858 posts, read 758,399 times
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I recommend the town of Mendocino 3 hours away. Take 101 north, then 128 north, then Hwy 1 north. Along the way you get these opportunities:

1. Wineries to visit
2. Redwood forest state park along 128 from Narraro to Hwy 1; you can just park, walk in, and hug away.
3. Ocean view above the bluff at many scenic spots; some let you walk all the way to the edge of 150' bluff
4. Van Damme state beach -- drive right to the edge of the water; very easy access
5. Van Damme state park -- toward mountain side there are tons of hiking trails
6. Town of Mendocino
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