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Best 3-day schedule in this area?

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Providence, RI
posts: 8
Best 3-day schedule in this area?

My family and I are traveling to CA for about a week and plan to visit San Francisco, Napa, and the Carmel area. We've got our plans set for Napa and San Fran, but are hazy on the Carmel area...where to stay and what to do. Any ideas? My son is 14. We don't need fancy places or restaurants, but we like good food, a room with some character, and love to just wander around... Any thoughts? Thank you!

Sacramento, CA
posts: 20
1. Re: Best 3-day schedule in this area?

My wife and I spend at least one weekend per year in the Carmel area. Rather than staying in Carmel or Monterey, we always stay in Pacific Grove, a small town sandwiched in between Carmel and Monterey. A great place to stay and not your run of the mill hotel is the Pacific Grove Inn. They have a website so check it out. Their rooms are inexpensive and clean and include a nice breakfast each morning. If you do go to Monterey, you must see the Monterey Bay Aquarium BUT get tickets ahead of time as this place is very popular. If it is too late to get tickets online, ask the inn about getting tickets in advance. You must take the 17 mile drive while you are there, a beautiful drive along the coast. February is usually a very good time to see the coast. Lots of good restaurants in varying price groups. Ask your inn host for recommendations. Many good ones are right there in Pacific Grove. Have fun.

San Diego, Ca
posts: 179
reviews: 1
2. Re: Best 3-day schedule in this area?

Take the short drive down to Point Lobos Preserve. It has spectacular coastal scenery, some short-to-medium hikes, and sea otters are almost always visible in the kelp beds offshore. The parking lot fills up some days, so go early.

Minneapolis, MN
posts: 1
reviews: 24
3. Re: Best 3-day schedule in this area?

1) Go "tidepooling" at one of the many spots along the harbor in Pacific Grove or Monterey. When the tide goes out, our boys love climbing around the rocks and finding all sorts of sea life - - starfish, small crabs, anemonies.

2) If you have a nice day, take a drive towards Big Sur and lunch at either Nepenthe (touristy, casual, overpriced food, but with an incredible view and fun gift shop) or better yet Ventana (across the road from Nepenthe -- much nicer, not that much more expensive, and terrific food and almost-as-nice a view).

3) Staying in Carmel town proper (near Ocean Ave.) is the best, although the accomodations are mostly nothing special and overpriced. We liked the Lamplighter (typical motel, but clean). The nice thing about staying in town is being able to walk the town and walk to Carmel beach at one's leisure. Be sure and walk Scenic street (just above the beach), as the homes and tree-lined street are spectacular. If you don't stay in town, but drive to town, watch out for the parking restrictions- they have reliable metermaids!

4) We love Casanova's (nicer-Italian spot) in town at 5th between San Carlos and Mission -- incredible cannelloni.

Also, lunch on the patio outside the Spanish Bay golf shop overlooking the first tee is hard to beat and the food and price are right.

5) If you have a nice day, Point Lobos state park is incredibly beautiful and great to walk around. It's about one mile outside of town. Bring your camera!

6) Definitely get Aquarium tickets in advance.

7) When driving down from the Bay or San Jose, take the I-280 freeway instead of 101. 280 is a much nicer/prettier drive and MUCH less stressful road, versus the headache-inducing 101.

Have a great time!

posts: 1,034
4. Re: Best 3-day schedule in this area?

One of the best adventures of my life has been kayaking in the Monterey Bay. We even did it with our 4 aand 7 year olds. Skimming along the kelp forests among the seals and the sea otters... it is amazingly easy to do, just walk up the street from the Aquarium and there is a rental shop along Cannery row. They'll even suit you up with wet suits and everything that you'll need.

Providence, RI
posts: 8
5. Re: Best 3-day schedule in this area?

Thank you for all the great ideas...we are still looking for the elusive hotel, but will have full day thanks to the tips.

San Francisco...
posts: 357
reviews: 32
6. Re: Best 3-day schedule in this area?

There are many places to stay in Carmel by the Sea. Lots of shops, art galleries, and restaurants. If you want something a little different,go the 5 or 6 miles inland. Check out the Carmel Valley Ranch Resort (a Wyndham property). It is a gated enclave, with the hotel rooms set up on the hills. All the rooms are suites, separate living room with sofa bed. Vaulted ceilings, real wood fireplaces, bathrooms with two sinks and a separate toilet room, soaking tub, and shower. They have unbelievably reasonable golf packages (you basically get the golf for free and at a place where it is normally $160 bucks a round that's a real bargain). The newer rooms look out over the golf course. All over the property, flocks of wild turkeys and families of deer roam freely. The Barnyard shopping complex is nearby with great restaurants. We love Lugano's Swiss Bistro (fondue or excellent Swiss food, little live ensembles) and liked Bahama Billy's. (potent drinks) There is also a Safeway there where you can stock up on basics. The rooms at the Ranch all have little refrigerators and a bar sink. If you do go to the Ranch, sign up for the free Wyndham by Request program first. Then book over the phone. The reservationists are all very friendly, and the By Request Manager is outstanding. The drive to Carmel by the Sea from the Ranch is maybe 10 minutes, traveling through neighborhoods not freeways. You actually drive by the Carmel Mission going there, and it is well worth a stop.

You will love Carmel. It is also right next door to Monterey, another 20 minute drive. I think you will like Carmel/Monterey more than Napa. But then I live surrounded by vineyards, so I am probably just jaded.:) Enjoy.