Off to California in Oct – what would you see?

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  • Off to California in Oct – what would you see?
  • Premier Icon DaveRambo

    We are heading to San Fran this Saturday. Staying for a week then 2 days on the road before going to Yosemite.

    We’ve only booked Alcatraz and are winging the rest so if there is anything that we find is a must do I shall update.

    I’m taking a day out to ride the trails in Marin County – not sure you can get away with that on a honeymoon


    Get a permit and climb half dome in Yosemite. Its 18.5 mile round trip but so very worth it. Go to Mammoth Lakes outside Yosemite and ride the bike park. Visit the redwoods north of San Fran and Point Reyes National Park.

    Have fun.

    Premier Icon leelovesbikestoo

    Ah nice one, be interested in what you thought of SF! Where are you staying?

    Be grateful if you could post back when you find a good place to hire a bike, the missus is very understanding and wouldn’t resent me buggering off for a few hours.

    Plenty of advice on here re SFO.

    However, go to the Aquatic Park on a cable car. Go to the Buena Vista for Irish coffee. Walk back towards the centre, drink in Vesuvios.

    Go over the bridge to Tiburon for breakfast/lunch whatever on the waterfront.


    Northern Californian coastline is awesome.

    typsy gypsy

    +1 for Vesuvios.


    GG Bridge
    Muir wood was ok (Big trees)
    17 mile drive watch out for sea otters at the viewpoint with the wind blown trees.
    Whale watching from Monterrey
    Carmel (no street lights and ok beach)


    I will be there 31st August to the 12 September

    Premier Icon leelovesbikestoo

    Mrs Leelovesbikestoo and I are off on honeymoon to Cali (and Nevada) in October for 2.5 weeks, flying into San Fran, and out of Las Vegas.

    We’ll be spending a few days in San Fran, then picking up an SUV and hit the road down to Big Sur, up to Yosemite, down to Sequoia, up to Zion, and finishing up in Las Vegas.

    On the list so far is:
    San Fran: Alcatraz, Golden Gate bridge, trams, Chinatown, North Bridge, some city tour electric car things, a jazz and a pumpkin festival; Some wine tasting in the Napa valley, Monterey & Carmel and whale/dolphin/otter watching, maybe get a yurt for a night or two; Mountains/lakes in the national parks, plus some horse riding and Blazing Saddles style BBQs, hopefully hire some bikes for a day or two if we’re there before the snow, and a bit of hiking; Star gazing at an observatory and in Death Valley; A quick squizz at Area 51 and some UFOs; A helicopter tour over the Grand Canyon; Blow the rest of our budget (if there’s anything left) in a casino in Las Vegas 😀

    Is there anything we’ve missed?

    Premier Icon alexpalacefan

    Hearst castle.

    Madonna Inn.


    Premier Icon theotherjonv

    great plan – sounds practically the same as our honeymoon (we were married 21-10, so in SFO from 23rd on): SF, Sonoma Valley vineyards to Sacramento (not worth visiting but was an ideal motel stop off on the way to Tahoe); Tahoe,

    And then it went wrong……

    Woke up in the morning in Sth Lake Tahoe, looked out the window and said to the wife ‘It’s snowed in the night’. Nice, says she; Erm…. proper snow said I. Like 2 foot. Completely scuppered our plans to go into Yosemite and over Tioga and through Death Valley, but did lead to an interesting conversation with the State Trooper checking if we had snow chains – we told him our plans and asked when the snow would thaw enough to make Tioga passable again. After he stopped laughing, he estimated April. And then redirected us around the bottom of the Sierra Nevada mtns, through a number of silver rush genuine ghost towns, which weren’t on the original plan but were amazing, before finally picking up the main LA-LV road at Barstow. Point of this story – have a plan B.

    For LV itself – we got a helicopter ride with Papillon helicopters; they have a deal with an Indian tribe that allows them to not only fly over their lands but actually land in the Grand Canyon, 4000ft below the rim, and have a champagne picnic on the banks of the Colorado river. The concierge at your hotel can book it, ours also advised us to take a late flight (our plan originally was for earlyish to free up the rest of the day) but it meant that we got to see the GC in sunset colours, and then LV strip at night, with Elvis on the in flight stereo! Pure cheese, pure brilliance.

    Carmel is charming if a bit twee, but Clint is/was Mayor so don’t say it out loud or he’ll bust you up. Monterey is a bit disappointing TBH but some great fish restaurants on Cannery Row, get the little sand dabs if you can. Pacific Coast highway is a great drive, past Big Sur, maybe see whales (we didn’t). And maybe visit Hearst Castle (you need to book in advance, which is just awesome in an American OTT type way) – like the best bits of all European stately homes / architecture thrown together into one house.

    Premier Icon DaveRambo

    We are staying at the JW Marriott Union Sq. We are there for 6 or 7 nights –

    Bike-wise my plan is to take my pedals and shoes with me and sort out a hire bike either in SF and get transport over the bridge, maybe a hire car for the day or hire one at a place nearer the trails. I’ll work it out in the days before once we’re there.

    I’ve tried to get in touch with people there for advice and am going to try and hook up with repackrider.

    Where are you staying?

    I’ll post details of interesting stuff when we’re there.


    I’d go north from San Francisco up Highway 1. Check out Bolinas, Point Reyes Station, Tomales, Bodega Bay, Point Arena and Mendocino. They are largely what small town California was like in the 60s. Go a little further on to see the Redwoods in the Avenue of the Giants.


    Go for a mud bath in Calistoga, better still try and find some hot springs. Tahoe is best if you are out on the hiking or biking trails, the cities are much of a resort muchness.


    All sounds like good advice, some slightly offbeat suggestions:

    Capitola (near Santa Cruz) on the coast is really nice, pretty low key and very chilled.

    Obviously you have to do Yosemite, but on a weekend the valley floor can be like a traffic jam. Hetch Hetchy is really nice to get away from it all and do some walking. I’ve stayed at the Evergreen Lodge a few times and really, really love it.

    Good point about the Tioga, this link gives you an idea of previous opening / closing times.

    I honestly think it would be pretty hard to have a bad time out there…the weathers great, there is loads to do, the people are great and appear to love the Brit’s, the foods great.


    Keep an eye out for an old mate of mine, goes by the name of Animal.

    Animal Chin.


    All good ^^^ you could add in Joshua Tree NP, Monteray Aquarium, San Andreas Fault, we stayed at Housekeeping Camp in Yosemite and sitting round a fire pit with friendly strangers was brilliant.

    Premier Icon boxelder

    Hearst Castle and Joshua Tree. Cable car from Palm Springs to Idlewild.
    Hoover Dam.
    Crater lake.
    Tuolomne Meadows.


    Monterey aquarium. Stay overnight then go back for a whale watching trip. October is peak season for Grey whales to return.

    Then drive to Yosemite. Stay in an Evergreen log cabin near Hetch Hetchy. If you can get in. Avoid Halloween, it will be fully booked.

    Joshua Tree park is very good – watched the eclipse there last year. But it’s a little out of the way. Yosemite is always breathtaking.

    Premier Icon bruk

    Did SF for a week then onto Hawaii for our honeymoon. Rented bikes and cycled across the bridge then had lunch in Sausolito before heading on to Tiburon to catch the ferry home. Had our 1st argument as a married couple when we got a bit lost too 🙂

    Alcatraz is worth a visit as well

    Premier Icon lunge

    OI’m currently finishing a very similar tri (I write this sat in Vegas airport).
    SF – just walk around, it is a great city for wondering. The Coit tower is worth a visit and Alcatraz is awesome
    Vegas – helicopter trip to the canyon is a must, lots if companies can land inside the canyon, we used Maverick who were great, we tacked on a rafting trip down from the Hoover damn which was brilliant as well.
    Monterey – the aquarium is brilliant, in fact the town as a whole is nice just to wander around.
    Further south – the pacific coast highway is stunning from Santa Barbara up, drive as much as you can. I live San Diego as well, it’s a great city.


    This reply comes to you from a lodge in Big Sur. We are travelling down this bit of the coast as this summers road trip and its as good as the last time we did it (30 years ago !). All the above are good, but I’d add Bryce to the list, and walk the Grand Canyon – down and back from south rim in a day is doable. We plan our trips on as many national and state parks as we can fit it, based on visiting son and family now in San Diego.

    Premier Icon lunge

    Can I just apologise for the spelling mistakes in the above post. Shocking stuff, I blame the iPhone keyboard…


    Just got 2 nights left of my little Cali tour. (in a hotel in San Diego writing this)

    San Fran is seriously fab. The cable cars are a hoot. 3 day muni pass recommended. Valencia street for burritos and beer. Cali beer is really good btw. China town wasnt much cop tho. Walk/bike over the bridge to Sausalito and get ferry back.

    Palm Springs was nice for a couple of nights. The biking was great (but hot).

    oh and i could happily live in the hopping pig, San Diego.


    Don’t want to contradict Mcmoonter but Prairie Creek IMO was way better than the Avenue of Giants, not as busy and bigger trees.

    In Out Burger when you see one.

    SF – Buena Vista +1 for “the worlds greatest Irish coffe” [it’s not, that accolade belongs to my local Indian 🙂 ]

    Walk down Lombard St.

    The Stinking Rose restaurant [garlicky]

    Go up the Hyatt at Union Square at night for a drink – Best views of SF available.

    Mt Tamalpais – MTB birthplace and mecca for us lot

    Stinson Beach for oyster lunches.

    Yosemite – Truly inspirational.

    Tahoe ?

    Too much !

    Premier Icon leelovesbikestoo

    Wow Cheers guys some great stuff there! Some of it we’ve already come across but some interesting other bits too.

    Is there anywhere you all stayed in particular you’d recommend (hotels, motels, camps etc) ? Or places we should avoid?

    Daverambo – sounds good, think I’ll do the same. We’re looking at hotels at the moment but seem quite pricey (£150+ per night) so we’re looking at cheaper self catering studio apartments near to the city centre.

    Mcmoonter – I’d like to go up to Lake Tahoe but we’re getting close to the first snow of the year, if it does come the Tioga Road could be closed and scupper or plans like it did for theotherjonv. I think we’ll take a call on it closer to the time.


    I was going to say that you’ve got a lot to pack in to 2.5 weeks and then the STW recommend travelling most of the California coast on top! lol.

    From your OP, note that to go to Sequoia or King’s Canyon, you have to come back out the west of Yosemite, which would add about 6 hours of driving on rather than crossing through Yosemite and down the I395 to Death Valley. Similarly adding Zion and Bryce Canyon from LV is an extra day’s driving but for the star gazing, horse riding and hiking, they are brilliant and very different from the other landscapes you will pass through. Personally I would try to spend a few nights at Yosemite and a few nights at Bryce Canyon.

    If you like cute furry stuff +1 to sea kayaking in Monterey, the otters are found in the kelp just offshore. Or take binoculars and stop off at Moss Landing on your way to Big Sur, they float in the harbour there.

    Also take a few jumpers for San Fran and Alcatraz, it can get a bit chilly when the fog is in.


    Did ALMOST the same trip a couple of years ago ..

    Did LA – Lake Havasu – Grand canyon – Yosemite – Vegas – death valley – frisco last year . 2000 miles in 2 1/2weeks – dead easy , an absolute BLAST !
    Lots of road trips over the years , never been to the states before but it was superb , no other word for it …
    DIGS … (all were middle priced but excellent!)
    Grand canyon – Red feather lodge – Tusayan.(helicopter trip from here rather than Vegas)
    Yosemite – Pines resort hotel – Bass lake.
    Vegas ?? Take your pick, only had a night there but rooms are tuppence ..
    Death Valley – only one place to stay but good !
    `Frisco – cant remember the hotel name (Marriotts – fishermans wharfe) BUT book asap as the conference thing is huge in SF and daft as it sounds block booking by the companies can lead to 80% of rooms being taken. Only had 2 Days in SF but its one city I would visit again
    – and I hate cities.
    The rest – massive, and I mean MASSIVE spaces – my advice would be to set out early, take in an off-the-beaten-track diner for breakfast and just explore, top road trip !


    To be honest, if you are going to Yosemite, it really isn’t worth going to King’s Canyon and Sequoia. Yosemite has a few groves of giant sequioias along a nice walk (which I trekked in the snow the second time) – including the famous one you drive through (it’s now fallen over). Once you’ve seen a few BIG trees, they all look the same. If Tioga pass is open, the route into Death Valley from Yosemite via Tuolumne meadows is splendid. IF it isn’t, you have a long detour.

    For something a little different, we went north up to Mendocino via the wine region. A route much less travelled but some rugged coast.


    If you are in Monterey go to the wharf for coffee and crepes in my good friends cafe. Lovely spot.


    I. Hate. You. 😉

    Most of the above I vouch for as being mind blowingly amazeballs. Cali is the best place on Earth. You will be epic.


    pre book alcatraz before you go

    Premier Icon DezB

    Anyone mentioned Mammoth yet? Hire a bike in Mammoth.


    Yes, pre-book Alcatraz – in fact book it now, booked sold for 2 months when we went.

    Premier Icon beanum

    We did a similar thing for our honeymoon three years ago.
    I would certainly recommend the Monterey aquarium and Hotel Pacific.
    We stayed in Hotel Vertigo in SF which was pretty good for location/price.
    If you’re in Santa Cruz and aren’t driving, try a few beers from the menu at the bar “100 bottles”
    There’s a good restaurant in Capitola called Shadowbrook. It’s by the river and you can descend to it in a small funicular..:-)


    If you’re in San Fran at the weekend, try and do Alcatraz at night (only runs Fri and Sat I think?). Atmospheric when its dark, and you get a guided tour by previous wardens.


    Are there still a couple of ex inmates selling their books next to the ferry to Alcatraz?

    Premier Icon theotherjonv

    We stayed in motels using a voucher scheme, might have been the the AAA if I remember. Meant we weren’t tied to an itinerary, we could move on sooner if we didn’t like a place, and it was a blessing given the Tahoe snow plan rewrite to not be prebooked anywhere. And of course eating out is a must – tonnes of roadside diners, seek out the independents if you can but the chains are also such great vfm. Big breakfast, snack at lunch, big dinners. Yum!

    We ate at the Stinking Rose on our first night. Christ, the smell in our room would strip paint the next morning.

    Premier Icon lapierrelady

    If you go surfing round Santa Cruz you will be in the wet stuff with the sea otters…amazing! There are plenty of hire places and people giving lessons.


    Well…. I cant add much more than is already on this thread other than,
    You will simply love it in san fran & monterey etc.. The aquarium is simply awesome mate!.. My mum lived in san jose for some years so visited ca a few times!!.. Driving is easy,… I recomend driving down to santa cruz too… Its like baywatch… Have a drink in “zelda’s” beach bar too..
    Have a fantastic time dude

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