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November: Napa or Lake Tahoe?

November: Napa or Lake Tahoe?

Old May 13, 16, 9:08 pm
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November: Napa or Lake Tahoe?

I'll be heading north from Yosemite in mid-november. Initial plan was to hit up the Hyatt at Incline Village and stay there for two days. Unfortunately we are too early in the season for snow sports (though I'm sure there are other things to do) so now I'm considering driving to Napa valley instead.
Considering the driving distance from Yosemite to these two regions, the season, and your personal preferences, which do you recommend?

Would be thankful for any recommendations too!
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Old May 14, 16, 9:50 am
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November's a tough time to do things in the Sierra. It's too early in the season to rely on snow activities being available, and the weather's too crummy (cold, dark, rainy) to really enjoy any other outdoors activities. I'd do Napa/Sonoma instead. It is a longer drive, of course. What are your time restrictions?
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Old May 14, 16, 10:11 am
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Originally Posted by darthbimmer View Post
November's a tough time to do things in the Sierra. It's too early in the season to rely on snow activities being available, and the weather's too crummy (cold, dark, rainy) to really enjoy any other outdoors activities. I'd do Napa/Sonoma instead. It is a longer drive, of course. What are your time restrictions?
I planned for two days in yosemite and we will have another two days after Yosemite before heading back to SF.

Fwiw, here's the rough itinerary so far.
Day 1 : overnight SF
Day 2: overnight Monterey, aquarium etc
Day 3: drive via big sur to Los alamos
Day 4 - 6: continue to LA. 3 nights. Activities are universal studios, shopping...
Day 7: Sequoia & Kings park? Or Joshua tree park. Overnight nearby
Day 8 -9: yosemite
Day 10-11: Tahoe (Hyatt regency?)
Day 12-13- overnight sf
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Old May 14, 16, 10:41 am
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FWIW, Days 3 & 7 look like VERY busy days.

Are you planning on just driving Big Sur, and then straight to Los Alamos, or will you make stops along the way? Between the Elephant Seal Rookery (~ 5mls N of Hearst), Hearst, Moonstone Beach, Morro Bay, etc, that could be a VERY long day ... and those are all AFTER you've spend a good part driving/stopping through Big Sur.

Regardless, I'd highly recommend a stop at Jocko's in Nipomo for dinner (make a reservation in advance).

As for Day 7, will you be driving direct from LA to Sequoia, doing the 198 loop, and then staying somewhere that night? Depending on how early you leave LA, day of the week, etc, traffic could add a fair amount of time, and not leave you a ton to spend in Sequoia.

Your call, obviously, but just didn't want you to get surprised by how much time you may be spending in the car.
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Old May 14, 16, 11:05 am
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Agree with the above comments. Your day 3 and day 7 are way over booked. You have a couple of days to play with. I'd suggest splitting the trip from Monterey to SoCal with a night somewhere on the coast - Cambria, Cayucos, Morro Bay, even San Simeon - so you can enjoy the central coast.
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Old May 14, 16, 9:04 pm
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Having visited the entire length and breadth of California, and having actually lived in L.A. for a few years, I say skip L.A. I mean, what, shopping? You don't have stores or Internet connectivity where you live? Reallocate those days to spend more time in the central coast, the mountains, and wine country... and you'll have a trip you'll remember forever.
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Old May 14, 16, 9:12 pm
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Originally Posted by abmj-jr View Post
Agree with the above comments. Your day 3 and day 7 are way over booked. You have a couple of days to play with. I'd suggest splitting the trip from Monterey to SoCal with a night somewhere on the coast - Cambria, Cayucos, Morro Bay, even San Simeon - so you can enjoy the central coast.
Santa Barbara is nice. There are wineries nearby too.
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Old May 15, 16, 3:30 am
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Thank you all for your comments! I also recently received advice from a friend to not spend so much time in LA. Our main purpose is to go to universal studios and I threw in "shopping" as I didn't know what else to add under LA.

Seems it would be preferable to include one more overnight between Monterey and Los Alamos? And should I skip Sequoia entirely and spend time over at Joshua tree instead? I could also stop one night in Fresno instead.
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Old May 15, 16, 6:10 am
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Originally Posted by fledglingraptormoon View Post
... I could also stop one night in Fresno instead.
Fresno is almost exactly half-way between Sequoia/Kings Canyon NP and Yosemite NP. It makes a good stop-over point if you are visiting both parks as it is on the major highways between them and "down" in the Valley, away from high resort-area gas, food and lodging prices.

If you visit Sequoia NP from the southwest via SR 198, spending a night before in Visalia or somewhere near the Park, you can use an entire day to see Sequoia, drive between Sequoia and Kings Canyon NP (single entrance fee, they are connected) on the "Generals Highway" and then drive down to Fresno in the evening via SR 180 - less than 2 hours from the Park to the city. The next day, it is less than 2 hours drive from Fresno to Yosemite via SR 41.

Alternatively, if you skip Sequoia/Kings Canyon NP in favor of one of the desert Parks, Fresno might make a good overnight stop before driving up to Yosemite the next morning. It WOULD be a pretty long drive from Joshua Tree to Fresno.
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Old May 15, 16, 10:35 am
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Thank you all again! Now I'm not sure whether I can visit Sequoia / Joshua tree park.
Here's the revised itinerary. Some of the hotels are already booked on a nonrefundable rate so I noted them as "fixed".

Day 1 : overnight SF (fixed)
Day 2: overnight Monterey, aquarium etc (fixed)
Day 3: drive via big sur to san simeon (overnight san simeon/cayucos)
Day 4: San simeon to Los alamos
Day 5 - 6: continue to LA. 2 nights. Activities are universal studios...
Day 7: Early start to Sequoia & Kings park with an overnight in Fresno (I know... still trying to figure this out.)
Day 8 -9: yosemite
Day 10-11: Napa valley (fixed)
Day 12-13- overnight sf

I will have 2 drivers, 1 incompetent driver (for use in emergencies only) and 1 non-driver in the group. Hopefully that helps with long drives?
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Old May 15, 16, 12:39 pm
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Originally Posted by fledglingraptormoon View Post
... 1 incompetent driver (for use in emergencies only) ...
!!
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Old May 15, 16, 12:51 pm
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Just to be sure - you do know that Universal is basically an amusement park with very little to do with actual filmmaking?

Fresno hotels are usually not too hard to book on discount sites like Priceline. With a family group, one dinner option is one of the traditional Basque restaurants - not gourmet, but tasty comfort food: One example:

http://shepherdsinnfresno.com
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Old May 15, 16, 6:23 pm
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Originally Posted by Non-NonRev View Post
Just to be sure - you do know that Universal is basically an amusement park with very little to do with actual filmmaking?

Fresno hotels are usually not too hard to book on discount sites like Priceline. With a family group, one dinner option is one of the traditional Basque restaurants - not gourmet, but tasty comfort food: One example:

http://shepherdsinnfresno.com
Yes, I've been to the ones in Osaka and Singapore. I'll check out Fresno!
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Old May 15, 16, 6:25 pm
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Originally Posted by abmj-jr View Post
!!
That's me... Despite having a driver's license I haven't driven in 5 years.
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Old Mar 20, 17, 4:32 am
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Just to update everyone and those who may eventually take a similar trip, this was the itinerary I ended up with, plus my comments on the activities planned:

Day 1 : overnight SF (holiday inn express union square)
This hotel was very conveniently located and clean. Breakfast included and value for money.

Day 2: overnight Monterey, aquarium etc (holiday inn express cannery row)
No complaints on the hotel. Pretty well located within walking distance to all the sights in town. Sheltered parking. Aquarium was overpriced for what it was ($49/adult). The staff at the hotel said we should purchase the student discount tickets but as we were not students we did not avail ourselves of this offer. The tickets purchased from the hotel are good for two days.

Day 3: drive via big sur to cayucos. Overnight cayucos (on the beach b&b)
In the morning we did a whale watching trip that lasted till about 1pm, so after picking up the car and checking out of the hotel, we only had 3 hours of daylight left. Pretty poor planning on my part here. Would advise not to start the day late for this part of the drive as I think it's the prettiest part of the coast. Despite this, we managed a short hike at point lobos with its striking cypresses, Pfeiffer state park (mcway falls). Reached cayucos at the late late hour of 9pm. Our host was about to close the b&b check-in. The b&b is located on the row right in front of the beach and you can hear the waves rush to shore as you sleep. Also, the softest sheets ever and a lovely homemade breakfast.

Day 4: Cayucos to solvang. Overnight Solvang
Next stop was Solvang, a Danish town. Finished strolling around town in about half a day and the group came up with this "brilliant" idea to hike gaviota peak at 2pm. This was supposed to be a 2-3 hour hike. By the time we arrived at the trailhead, there really wasn't much daylight left. Foolishly we went ahead, and spent the last hour of the trek speed walking, spurred on by the thought of mountain lions lurking in the shadows. Yep, not one of our smartest decisions. Although, the sunset at the peak was quite rewarding.

Day 5 - 6: continue to LA. 2 nights.
The next morning we drove to LA, spending almost a whole day at the outlets before checking in to our motel. Day2 of LA was spent at universal studios. I regretted not going to Disneyland instead, as the Harry Potter part of the park was exactly like osaka's, although less crowded.

Day 7: Early start to Sequoia & Kings. Overnight montecito Sequoia Lodge
No regrets choosing to visit Sequoia and Kings canyon. We only visited one of the giant trees, it was so worth it. The whole group was awestruck. The lodge we chose stay at was full board. For a one night stay that meant breakfast and dinner. Dinner was pretty good with prawns, pasta, chicken, salad bar and free flow of drinks. Oh yes, they even had a cheese and wine hour before dinner. And after dinner, you could make smores at the fireplace. It was my first time eating smores.

Day 8 -9: yosemite
Yosemite was equally amazing. We stayed at a lodge outside of the park, about 40 minutes drive away. There weren't much to eat so we self catered. It was quite stressful to ensure all food and scented items were not left in the boot of the car (as bears could break in). We managed a few easy hikes and I would highly recommend going to mirror lake. Would love to visit again in summer when more trails are open.

Day 10-11: Napa valley (old world inn)
Stayed two nights in old world inn. Breakfast was included(not buffet) and they also served chocolates in the evening. 5pm was wine and cheese hour at their sister property nearby. I had expected more rolling hills (like Tuscany) in Napa valley, so was a bit disappointed by the landscape. Due to the season that visited, the grapes have already been harvested. We did manage to do a wine tasting and visited a couple of wineries.

Day 12-13- overnight sf (Hyatt Regency SF)
I like the location of this property. Easy access to the wharf and you could take a nice stroll either way to fisherman's wharf or at&t park. We went to AT&T path to catch cirque du soleil's luzia, which was simply surreal. As it was Thanksgiving, some shops weren't open and we spent the day "hiking" from HR SF to lands end. Intended to cross the golden gate bridge too but it proved too ambitious. This is a highly recommended hike but people should probably start hiking from the trailhead instead of HR SF. Anyway that's how we managed to complete 20KM of walking in SF.

Hope this information will come in useful for someone someday!
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