Post # 1
We are going to San Fran and Sonoma for our honeymoon and have a couple of extra days and are trying to decide what to do. We have a few ideas, but could use your help!
Redwood Forest – Super cool, Fiance really wants to see it, but 6hr trip each way. Is it worth it?
Lake Tahoe – Beautiful location, we both want to see it, but we’re going in October. I know it’s good for skiing in the winter and boating in the summer, but we feel it’s out of season.
Yosemite – Close by(ish) but not sure what to do there.
I guess in general we want to see something pretty and explore, but I’m not a huge hiker so we’re not looking for some great outdoor adventure. Please help us decide!
Post # 3
Honestly, if you only have a day or two, I wouldn’t do either Yosemite (which isn’t all that close—can be 4+ hours depending on traffic) or Redwood. They’re both very long drives, so I’d want to have at least a couple nights there once I got there (assuming you then need to come back to SF to go home). Tahoe is beautiful even in October but also quite a drive—and it’s not unheard of for it to start snowing by October, which can mean an even longer drive. You’re right about it being down season, although the upside is that lodging may be cheaper, too. All three are gorgeous, but you’d have to be as much into the drive as anything else since you wouldn’t have much time to spend there (if you only have a couple of days). If you want to do one of those three, I’d do Redwood Nat’l Park since then you can drive up along the coast, which is a trip in itself (versus the drive to Tahoe, which is just on the interstate till you get pretty close). But I’d try to free up at least three days if you want to include one of these so you’ll really have some time to spend there.
If you don’t want to spend as much time driving, though, you might consider:
– Marin Headlands/Muir Woods/Point Reyes Station—beautiful in October, which is the tail end of SF’s summer, and has some gorgeous “walks in the woods” through the redwoods
– Big Sur, which is still a drive, but not quite as long (and could be combined with Monterey/Santa Cruz/etc. for a nice side trip)
– Russian River area if you’ll already be in Sonoma
(Some of this may also depend on whether you’re planning to camp or not, too.)
Have a fun trip—it’s the perfect time of year to visit!
Post # 4
Wait i’m confused – there is an amazing redwood forest like 30 mins outside of San Fran (i’ve been to it). If you’re already in the San Fran area, definitely hit that up. Unless you have multiple extra days, don’t mess with Yosimite. There’s amazing hiking all around the bay area within an hour’s drive. We have a good book on hiking the bay area – go to Amazon.com, there will be plenty of suggestions there.
Post # 5
I’ve heard about Muir Woods (is that the local one that you were referring to?) but I wasn’t sure if it was really comparable. Will we get the same experience going local?
Post # 6
Yup, Muir Woods is the local one (in Marin County, just north of SF across the Golden Gate), and really is gorgeous. It’s different from Tahoe and Yosemite (which are different from each other, too)—not better or worse, but just a different landscape. And there’s beach nearby, which is fun!
Post # 7
I would also recommend Muir Woods. It isn’t the Avenue of the Giants, but it is pretty darn cool.
I would also look at a day excursion to Mendocino, which is a darling Victorian village on the sea where they taped Murder She Wrote.
The Santa Cruz/Monterey/Carmel area is also awesome.
Tahoe is actually really nice that time of year, especially if you want an excursion where you can see a little nature, a little history, then party at a casino all in a day. Rates at the hotels are much cheaper that time of year, as well.
Post # 8
I’d do Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur. The trip down route 1 is great – unbeatable views. Get a hotel near the ocean. The aquarium is incredible. Heart Castle is very cool. The places that you suggested are amazing if you’re into hiking, but maybe less so if you’re not.
Post # 9
I agree with the Monterey and Carmel suggestions – those are some of my favorite places in Nor. Cal!
Post # 10
Ditto on considering Monterrey/Big Sur – but I’d also like to add that in that region is Pinnacles Natl Park – which is rad.
Redwoods is amazing! We did it for this past Christmas 3 days, 2 nights and it was a killer long drive (or so it seemed!) on the return… I don’t think I would do that again with less than 3 nights.
Yosemite is fantastic – if you’re a hiker or love being outdoors, there is plenty to do in the park (and it’s just plain awe inspiring!). Oct won’t be busy and it would not likely take longer than 4 hrs to get there from SF. I think 3 days, 2 nights there would be great. (I’ve done it longer and in a one day trip for visiting family!)
Muir Woods is spectacular – and if you want a “redwood” experience, without the drive to Humboldt County, I would definitely reccommend it. You can easily do it in 2-3hrs (and it’s only a half hour from SF, on your way to Sonoma – too!) But if you’re again more nature-y and into hiking you can also easily spend a day there hiking. If you wanted to make a few days of it… I’d also reccommend picnicing on Muir Beach – it’s a favorite place for me to take visitors for a lunch!
If you’re at all literary buffs…. Big Sur is the place. Robinson Jeffer’s home is close by in Carmel, Henry Miller’s Library is in Big Sur and is a fantastic place to visit. There are also tons of beaches (duh, i know) and hiking trails that are breath-taking. If you guys are into religious history – you can visit a few different California Missions in this area, as well. Besides the typical touristy stuff of Monterrey Bay Aquarium (amazing, but still touristy) and Santa Cruz Boardwalk you could skip this stuff and spend a day at Pinnacles National Park – no place like it.
Yeah, I’ve rambled… but as my name says, I’m a vagabond. I’ve traveled a ton and have settled into this region in the past couple years and really explored it. Feel free to PM if you have any questions – I’m always happy to help someone plan a trip!
Post # 11
CA is amazing, anywhere you go you will love it!
Post # 12
What about a trip down to Santa Cruz or Monterey? You can see the red wood trees in Santa Cruz along with a stop at the mystery spot (obligatory tourist spot/ trap:) and ride the roller coasters at the boardwalk. If you went to Monterey you could go to the aquarium then go whale watching maybe hangout on Old Fisherman’s Wharf and watch the sea lions.
Post # 13
If you want redwoods without the long drive Muir Woods/the Marin Headlands is the place to go. Or, there’s also Armstrong Redwoods in Sebastopol, which isn’t toooo far from Sonoma. (Plus, the town of Sebastopol is really cute and quirky.)
Depending on if you want something more natural or more urban, you could also consider a drive along the coast (Bodega Bay, Jenner, etc.) or an afternoon in downtown Petaluma, which has all sorts of cute stores, yummy restaurants, and historic buildings. Both are only an hour-ish north of SF.
Post # 14
Thanks for the great suggestions! I’ve pretty much counted out the long trips, and appreciate all the insight on areas local to SF. I’m looking into Monterey now because I love the idea of going somewhere beachy (even if it is October). Please let me know if you have any more ideas!
Post # 15
Tahoe is wonderful in the fall and its super quiet!
Post # 16
Big Sur is beautiful and Muir woods too. Both have lots of redwoods. Muir woods would be closer and it’s nice. If you go to Big Sur, go to Nepenthe. It’s the most amazing restaurant on a cliff.