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Old 06-06-2012   #1 (permalink)
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Northern California - Here I Come (with your help)

So, two years back, my family of four went on an incredible trip from sunny Buffalo to more sunny Arizona, Utah and Nevada, covering several national Parks and great adventure. To give you an idea of the last trip we kayaked, rapelled slot canyons, hiked etc. My trip report is on here, but I dont know how to link it to this post.

Many of you gave some recommendations that helped with that trip.

We are now planning on a trip to the West Coast next summer, probably in August. I know that is not the ideal time for San Francisco, but it fits our schedule.

My boys will be 15 and 12.

Wishlist:

We would like to explore San Francisco/Sausalito and maybe Point Reyes National Seashore. Plan to fly in and out of San Fran.

We would like to get to Yosemite and some other "hidden gem" National Parks/Forrests if possible, preferably off the beaten path or less crowded.
I would like to drive to Big Sur/Monterey.

Maybe that is the "loop" over like 8 or nine days? Doable?

Any recommendations for things that cannot be missed either in or around San Fran or parks/nature/adventure stuff outside the city?

Restaurant recommendations always work too.

Gracias!!!!

Last edited by flyingpig11; 04-06-2013 at 09:54 AM..
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Old 06-06-2012   #2 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by flyingpig11 View Post
So, two years back, my family of four went on an incredible trip from sunny Buffalo to more sunny Arizona, Utah and Nevada, covering several national Parks and great adventure. To give you an idea of the last trip we kayaked, rapelled slot canyons, hiked etc. My trip report is on here, but I dont know how to link it to this post. Many of you gave some recommendations that helped with that trip.

We are now planning on a trip to the West Coast next summer, probably in August. I know that is not the ideal time for San Francisco, but it fits our schedule.

My boys will be 15 and 12.

Wishlist:

We would like to explore San Francisco/Sausalito and maybe Point Reyes National Seashore. Plan to fly in and out of San Fran.

We would like to get to Yosemite and some other "hidden gem" National Parks/Forrests if possible, preferably off the beaten path or less crowded.
I would like to drive to Big Sur/Monterey.

Maybe that is the "loop" over like 8 or nine days? Doable?

Any recommendations for things that cannot be missed either in or around San Fran or parks/nature/adventure stuff outside the city?

Restaurant recommendations always work too.

Gracias!!!!
Yes! Palace of Fine Arts, Chinatown, Crooked street/Lombard, Twin Peaks, Fisherman's Wharf, Alcatraz, Japanese Tea Gardens, Muir Woods. I have more if you are interested.
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Old 06-06-2012   #3 (permalink)
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Mill Valley is nice too. And Tiburon.

We will be in SF at end of month. Will give you up to date restaurant findings when we return.

Last edited by Luv2Dance; 06-06-2012 at 01:06 PM..
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Old 06-06-2012   #4 (permalink)
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Napa valley, Avenue of the giants (redwoods) Santa Cruz, SF Giants, Lake Tahoe.

Could fly into Sacramento and do a Big loop
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Old 06-06-2012   #5 (permalink)
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Napa valley, Avenue of the giants (redwoods) Santa Cruz, SF Giants, Lake Tahoe.

Could fly into Sacramento and do a Big loop

Would we have time to get that big loop in with SF, Yosemite and Big Sur? Never been to Napa, but wonder if there is stuff there for teen boys who dont yet have a taste for California Reds?
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Old 06-06-2012   #6 (permalink)
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Mill Valley is nice too. And Tiburon.

We will be in SF at end of month. Will give you up to date restaurant findings when we return.

Definitely including Tiburon and Mill Valley.

Any restaurants would be great.

Kids are not afraid to try anything and have a more sophisitcated palate than my wallet likes. I personally enjoy a good hole in the wall where the locals go.
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Old 06-06-2012   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by flyingpig11 View Post
Would we have time to get that big loop in with SF, Yosemite and Big Sur? Never been to Napa, but wonder if there is stuff there for teen boys who dont yet have a taste for California Reds?
It would be a haul, but doable. I always fly into Sac when visiting the east bay area, its a lot farther in miles but super easy in and out. Head north up 5 over to the redwoods, down to the Napa valley, over to the coast, SF to Big Sur, Santa Cruz in between, east to Yosemite over the Sierra's up 395 to Tahoe and back to Sac
Napa Valley is beautiful and has some of the best restaurants in the world ( I am partial to the CIA)
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Old 06-06-2012   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by flyingpig11 View Post
Definitely including Tiburon and Mill Valley.

Any restaurants would be great.

Kids are not afraid to try anything and have a more sophisitcated palate than my wallet likes. I personally enjoy a good hole in the wall where the locals go.
We wiill be doing plenty of hole in the wall restaurants. can't wait to eat our way through!!
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Old 06-06-2012   #9 (permalink)
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across the bay to sausalito/tiburon, north to Fort Ross (old Russian fort, also good for whale watching), south to Santa Cruz and the boardwalk, your kids would like Great America in the south bay (amusement park) south to half moon bay and Pacifica, If you could swing Monterey and Carmel I highly recommend those places also,Yosemite (difficult in the summer as it is VERY crowded), and definitely Lake Tahoe ( I live near there).
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Old 06-06-2012   #10 (permalink)
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I'd skip Avenue of the Giants since that would take you unnecessarily way up North to Humboldt County. The redwoods at Big Basin State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains Between SF and Santa Cruz are similarly impressive and less crowded.

I'd also chose Monterey over Pt. Reyes..the kids would love the aquarium and that whole area leading into Big Sur is beautiful. If you wanted to go inland a little bit, Pinnacles National Monument is an impressive park (remnants of an ancient volcano) that's a bit South of Hollister - sort of on your way down to Monterey. Gets pretty damn hot in August, though.

In San Francisco, a fun thing to do is ride bikes across the Golden Gate Bridge into Sausalito and take the ferry back into the City. There's a new Disney museum in the Presidio that the kids might enjoy and the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park is really impressive under the latest overhaul. All those places have websites that would help you check them out and decide.

Let me know if you need more ideas. I've lived here in the Bay Area the past 15 years and have done a lot of exploring.
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Old 06-06-2012   #11 (permalink)
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across the bay to sausalito/tiburon, north to Fort Ross (old Russian fort, also good for whale watching), south to Santa Cruz and the boardwalk, your kids would like Great America in the south bay (amusement park) south to half moon bay and Pacifica, If you could swing Monterey and Carmel I highly recommend those places also,Yosemite (difficult in the summer as it is VERY crowded), and definitely Lake Tahoe ( I live near there).
I know Yosemite is very, very crowded, but don't see another opportunity to get there with the kids and school schedules. I have to presume it is worth it regardless of the crowd. Although the Grand Canyon was crowded, it didnt really feel like it. I hope that will be the case with Yosemite. That is really where my wife wants to go more than anyplace else. Who am I to deprive my lovely?
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Old 06-06-2012   #12 (permalink)
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I'd skip Avenue of the Giants since that would take you unnecessarily way up North to Humboldt County. The redwoods at Big Basin State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains Between SF and Santa Cruz are similarly impressive and less crowded.

I'd also chose Monterey over Pt. Reyes..the kids would love the aquarium and that whole area leading into Big Sur is beautiful. If you wanted to go inland a little bit, Pinnacles National Monument is an impressive park (remnants of an ancient volcano) that's a bit South of Hollister - sort of on your way down to Monterey. Gets pretty damn hot in August, though.

In San Francisco, a fun thing to do is ride bikes across the Golden Gate Bridge into Sausalito and take the ferry back into the City. There's a new Disney museum in the Presidio that the kids might enjoy and the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park is really impressive under the latest overhaul. All those places have websites that would help you check them out and decide.

Let me know if you need more ideas. I've lived here in the Bay Area the past 15 years and have done a lot of exploring.

Thanks, that is great advice. It did seem as though Eureka/Avenue of Giants was abit out of the way. I love a less crowded option for the redwoods.

Pinnacle sounds cool.

I really thank everyone for the input. This is awesome.

That bike across the bridge sounds pretty cool too. We have walked the Brooklyn Birdge twice and loved it.
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Old 06-06-2012   #13 (permalink)
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I know Yosemite is very, very crowded, but don't see another opportunity to get there with the kids and school schedules. I have to presume it is worth it regardless of the crowd. Although the Grand Canyon was crowded, it didnt really feel like it. I hope that will be the case with Yosemite. That is really where my wife wants to go more than anyplace else. Who am I to deprive my lovely?
It is a beautiful place and is fantastic to visit throughout the year. Keep in mind summertime won't offer spectacular waterfalls. :/ However, El Capitan, Half Dome, etc. are still breathtaking. It is very very crowded during summer and you'll no doubt experience traffic congestion. You can take advantage of YARTS transit shuttles to get around if you don't want the headache of driving. Be sure to catch a glimpse of the climbers (El Capitan is usually a great climber watch) area. You will notice the crowds in summer. Without a doubt.
waterfall information
http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/waterfalls.htm
YARTS page
http://www.yarts.com/schedules.html

http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/bus.htm
I second Jevan's recommendation for Lake Tahoe.

Last edited by Luv2Dance; 06-06-2012 at 07:03 PM..
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Old 03-26-2013   #14 (permalink)
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Northern California...to Hawaii

Alright time for an apology. It ends up I am only in San Francisco for one night ...... on our way to Kauai and Oahu!!!! Yehaw!!

So, I am staying in Union Square at the Donatello. Great reviews on Trip Advisor.

I presume we will just walk around Union Square and the Pier for our limited stay.

Anyone want to make a good dinner suggestion for a family with teen boys? Down and dirty hole in the wall is preferred, someplace frequented by locals. Ethnic is always good. Seafood works too. My kids wants a good bowl of Cioppino, but not for a second mortgage.
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Old 03-26-2013   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flyingpig11 View Post
So, two years back, my family of four went on an incredible trip from sunny Buffalo to more sunny Arizona, Utah and Nevada, covering several national Parks and great adventure. To give you an idea of the last trip we kayaked, rapelled slot canyons, hiked etc. My trip report is on here, but I dont know how to link it to this post.

Many of you gave some recommendations that helped with that trip.

We are now planning on a trip to the West Coast next summer, probably in August. I know that is not the ideal time for San Francisco, but it fits our schedule.

My boys will be 15 and 12.

Wishlist:

We would like to explore San Francisco/Sausalito and maybe Point Reyes National Seashore. Plan to fly in and out of San Fran.

We would like to get to Yosemite and some other "hidden gem" National Parks/Forrests if possible, preferably off the beaten path or less crowded.
I would like to drive to Big Sur/Monterey.

Maybe that is the "loop" over like 8 or nine days? Doable?

Any recommendations for things that cannot be missed either in or around San Fran or parks/nature/adventure stuff outside the city?

Restaurant recommendations always work too.

Gracias!!!!
Lots to see and do. Based on what you are after, California Guy, and the W's (Mike and Bonny) could give you lots of info. for some secret locales.
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