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California vacation -- can't decide where to go

Dancing Fire

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Messages
31,055
if you like nature...
this year Yosemite falls will be beautiful with a lot of water coming down cuz of the big snow falls during the past winter. we drove up there Thursday morning then came home in the evening.

224050.jpg
 

movie zombie

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jan 20, 2005
Messages
11,879
the free friday night music concerts start the end of June and continue through to labor day weekend.

Capitola is indeed nicer and a bit pricier. shop around though. also, groupon.com sometimes has good buys.

Monterey/Carmel are wonderful for adults. not so much for kids.

another idea: follows the california mission route.

san diego has lots to do for everyone. don't forget the gem exhibit at the science museum in the park.

yosemite in the summer: yuck. hot and TOOOOO MANY TOURISTS. crowded is an understatement but if you want to see it and its the only time you've got, well, you gotta do what you gotta do.

Lake Tahoe would be fun......

there is so much to do you can't go wrong....

MoZo
 

innerkitten

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Aug 1, 2003
Messages
5,623
I live in San Francisco. There are some fun neighborhoods to explore and some good restaurants. You could go and see the telegraph hill parrots. They live on a really pretty hill in North Beach with wild parrots and it's right next to Coit Tower and North Beach. Coit Tower has some nice old murals and North Beach is full of restaurants. The Castro is interesting ( I grew up near there). Lots of gay men have made thee home in that area in the 70s. There is a great old movie theater there called The Castro Theater. And a nice walk up from the Castro to a small mountain called Corona Heights that has an amazing view of the city and a small free museum which houses local animals that were injured and unable to return to the wild.

Do you like Hiking? There are some nice trails in the Bay Area. A while ago I did two from this site. Bahiker.com
 

TravelingGal

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Dec 29, 2004
Messages
17,193
movie zombie|1303665476|2904069 said:
Carmel/Monterey are NOT swim hang out at the beach places due to cold weather and fog, especially in the summer. MoZo
Ditto. Little know fact: Coastal California can be COLD in the summer. Mostly it's June, but can easily go way longer. Carmel is known to be fogged in for July often as well. SFO also has a lot of airport air traffic issues in the summer. Bring a light jacket. Last year coastal so cal summer was HORRIFIC. Gray from May - September, with only a 2-3 weeks of sun probably TOTAL. It was unreal.
 

nkarma

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jul 13, 2009
Messages
636
I am CA native and have lived in SD, LA, and currently SF. I agree about splitting up norcal and socal if there for 8 days and don't want to travel too much. Also, yes beaches in Norcal are rarely swimmable temps. Norcal is more about the culture, food, city, scenery, and outdoors. Socal is about being trendy and beaches (amazing ones!). So if you are thinking of warm CA beach like the movies definitely spend all of your time in San Diego and Orange County....Newport and Laguna Beaches are wonderful. San Diego has some amazing beaches and great tourist destinations like the zoo, Balboa Park, Mission Beach, Gaslamp quater, etc...Also, just my opinion, but I would skip LA completely as the beaches of SD and OC are so much better and all the tourist things in LA are pretty lame plus the traffic and smog.

I like Lulu's recommendations but I would spend a couple of nights in the San Francisco if I were you. Do you like major cities? Do you want to eat out and go out to some amazing restaurants and night life? There are also some great things to do during the day like explore all of the parks, neighborhoods, walk along the Embarcadero, bike across the Golden Gate and then see Sausalito. If I was doing 9 days in Norcal I would do 3 nights Carmel, 3 nights San Francisco, 3 nights Sonoma (much more affordable than Napa but 15 minutes away with same scenery and quality of wineries).

And to quote Mark Twain "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco"....So yes beaches aren't swimmable and definitely bring a jacket. If you want hot, go to socal.
 

zoebartlett

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Dec 29, 2006
Messages
12,450
Thanks so much for the suggestions, Innerkitten! I'll have to check out the things you mentioned. We do a little hiking but not too much. I'll check out that site though.

Good to know about the weather and the temps. TGal. Thanks for the heads up!

Thanks Nkarma! We're definitely going to focus on northern CA this time around and do southern CA next time. Since we're from the northeast, we're used to cold ocean temps. I figure if the water is really too cold, we can always swim at the hotels we stay at. Warmer water/air temp. would be great but I think ultimately it's the food, culture, and scenery that we're looking for.
 

Gypsy

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Aug 8, 2005
Messages
40,198
I'd go to the San Diego area. I live in Nor Cal, and there is a lot to see and do. So that's always an option. If it were me, I wouldn't stay in SF either. Way cold, way expensive. I'd VISIT SF... but not stay there. I'd want to come here in early summer (May) or late September. Summer is COLD and FOGGY in SF.

I'd probaby get a place to stay near Auburn and do day trips to Tahoe, Napa/Sonoma and SF and Marin. Or I'd do three nights in Tahoe, three nights in Sonoma, and maybe three nights in SF.

OR, I'd do Santa Cruz, Monteray , Carmel and Big Sur. I hated Hearst Castle. And I love castles and all that jazz. Crappy town. Crumbling monument to greed and money with no class. Icky food.

Yeah, and ditto on the no friggin WAY would I swim in the ocean up here. Way, way too cold.

If I wanted some fun in the sun and some exploring I'd do San Diego. Warmer water, friendly people, lots of areas to visit... take a day on one of the islands. Good food, great weather, and lots to see.
 

wannaBMrsH

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 27, 2008
Messages
1,049
I second San Francisco and the surrounding area.

We spent a rainy weekend there last month and it was beautiful. I'd been about 8 times, but never as a tourist and it was so much fun.

We stayed at The Argonaut Hotel and visited the SF Museum of Modern Art, Fisherman's Wharf, Alcatraz Island, Lombardy Street, and Ghirardelli Square. Oh and of course the Golden Gate Park and even the Muir Woods just north of SF. Alcatraz Island and the Muir Woods were my favorite.

We ate everywhere from inexpensive (breakfast at Starbucks & Ghirardelli Square) to average (Fish Tacos at Wipeout Bar & Grill, wings at Hooters-they had the NCAA games- and chinese at Fang close to the SFMOMA) and a couple of pricier dinners (Capurros and McCormick & Kuleto's - my fave).

We took the famous San Francisco Trolley to Union Square and spent a few hours shopping there and also went to the Exploratorium (although I recommend that for families, we felt a little silly).

Someone above mentioned the Pismo/SLO area closeby and I wanted to recommend the Best Western Shelter Cove. It is RIGHT on the coast and has access to a GREAT private beach. You can see the sea lion colony from there and kayak if you'd like. The hotel itself is also very nice with excellent views. We also visited Splash Cafe and that downtown area as well as the Pismo Pier. We were in a bigger group and we ordered a pizza and took it out to the pool area one night for a pizza party.

Have a great trip!
 

movie zombie

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jan 20, 2005
Messages
11,879
let us also not forget the undertow at many of the beaches......be safe no matter where you go.

its always a giggle to be in SF during the summer and see the bus loads of tourists freezing in their shorts and lightweight summer wear. also, the afternoon winds that come up and shoot down between the buildings can freeze your tush off.

the secret to california travel is casual and layer layer layer. if you go to the central valley, not an issue. hot will be there waiting for you. perhaps even in napa. however, along the coast you can get cold drippy fog.

yes, california is the golden state.....our winters, falls, and springs are simply gorgeous. when everyone is freezing, our nude beaches are still packing them in. best times to visit northern and/or central california really are april-june and then again september -november. however, i've beein SF in a january when i was wearing nothing more than jeans and a sleeveless top. summer, though, well, it could be foggy in the a.m. in golden gate park, clear out by noon, and then the wind kick up around 3p.

again, layer layer layer and you will have fun fun fun.

MoZo

ps the "new" science museum in golden gate park is well done. there will be a picasso exhibit at the de young this summer. and something similar at the modern art museum if i remember right. there is also a cartoon museum near the modern that is well worth a visit.
 

Tanzigrrl

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 17, 2010
Messages
733
I grew up in So. Cal. Therefore, I would recommend Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, etc. Something around that area.
 

innerkitten

Ideal_Rock
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Aug 1, 2003
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Mara

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Oct 30, 2002
Messages
31,003
ditto layers..!!! we live inland a little and i will never forget the one random day i was distracted and made the mistake of going from a 90 degree summer day where we are to half moon bay where it was 60 and drizzling and all i had on was shorts and a short sleeve shirt... thank god i had a sweater in my car but it was so long it looked like i didn't have pants on. super fun to spend the afternoon in public like that! i couldn't wait to get home. now i always carry 3 diff things with me pretty much at all times esp if going anywhere near SF or the coast.

also def try hotwire for the hotels esp if you go into SF etc... you can just choose 4 star and the 'area' and have them recommend, chances are it will be nice and you can get some great deals. also tablet is a good boutique hotel website that sometimes has deals.
 

Supers

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jun 12, 2010
Messages
302
Apologies for the threadjack but we will be honeymooning in California (from Australia) in about 3 weeks time.

We'll be in San Fran for 4 nights before picking up a car and heading to Calistoga, then Napa, Yosemite, then driving back along the coast to LA staying in Monterey and Pismo Beach. This will take about a week.
Accommodation is sorted, but looking for suggestions for restaurants/things to do. We've got Alcatraz booked and a winery tour with Platypus in Napa. Any other "must dos"?
 

zoebartlett

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Dec 29, 2006
Messages
12,450
Thank you so much everyone!

Gypsy -- I've actually heard mixed reviews about Hearst Castle. I'd like to go but we may skip it. I WISH it made sense for us to see both northern and southern CA in this trip but we can't. I'd love warm fun in the sun but I think it will have to wait until next time.

Thanks WannaBMrsH! Once we firm up plans a bit more, I'll look into the Best Western Shelter Cove if we stay in that area. Thanks for the other recommendations too.

I appreciate the link and suggestion NKarma and Innerkitten! Thanks!

Thanks MZ! In terms of weather, we're probably not traveling at the best time for northern CA but we'll have fun regardless. I'll check out the link.

Thanks for the recommendations Tanzigrrl! I'll keep them in mind for our next trip.

Thanks Mara! I appreciate the suggestions!
 

movie zombie

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jan 20, 2005
Messages
11,879
ok, to rub it in: we were in SF yesterday and the weather was absolutely exquisite! however, we weren't out in much because we were there to attend the San Francisco International Film Festival.

MoZo

ps Supers, if you do a search on this forum i think you'll find a ton of recommendations.

and for both: checkout groupon.com they often have good deals for accommodations as well as good eats.
 
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