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Road Trip Questions: SF-Monterey-Yosemite-SF

washington, d.c.
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Road Trip Questions: SF-Monterey-Yosemite-SF

Dear Trip Advisor experts:

I would love to get some suggestions from you regarding a planned road trip this summer. I have done a lot of reading on the forum (both general California and the specific locations we are visiting), and have also looked at the top questions, and I have not seen these particular questions answered.

I am traveling with my two daughters (ages 15 and 26) August 13-21, arriving at SFO around 2:30 pm and renting a car. Our itinerary is as follows:

Aug. 13: SFO to Santa Cruz

Aug. 14: drive down to Monterey (possibly including Big Sur) with several stops along the way. Stay overnight in Monterey

Aug. 15 and 16: Monterey to Yosemite. We have reservations for 2 nights at the Yosemite View Lodge in El Portal.

Aug. 17: Mariposa Grove and surrounds. Reservations at Wawona Hotel.

Aug. 18: Wawona to SF. Will try to drop off car in Union Square if possible. If not, first drop car at SFO.

Aug. 18, 19: San Francisco. Reservations at Cornell de France Hotel.

Aug. 20: San Francisco. Possible hotel near airport for early morning departure.

Aug. 21: Departure SFO

From everything I've read, this trip seems doable, although I would love to have a little more time around Monterey.

Here are my questions:

1. What might I expect the weather to be like mid-August? Unfortunately, this is the only time we can make the trip. I know the waterfalls will be mostly dried up in Yosemite, and given the lack of snow, it may be very dry. And I've been told that the weather will be cool and foggy in SF. But what about along the coast? Should we expect a lot of fog during that drive or is it not necessarily a given?

2. I have not been able to find any sort of ideas for what to see along the way from Monterey to Yosemite and then from Yosemite to San Francisco. Suggestions? I am thinking of possible interesting towns or sights that would involve perhaps an hour or so diversion. It doesn't have to be spectacular (after all, we will have plenty of spectacular the rest of the trip!) - more interested in quirky, pretty, or educational, and especially anything we would be less likely to see back home (mid-Atlantic to New England).

The recommended route to Yosemite from Monterey: Rte. 101 to 156 to 152 to 140.

From Wawona back to San Francisco: 41 to 49 to 140 to 99 to 120 to 5 to 580, etc.

If you have any other suggestions to this route and/or any ideas for places to stop along the way, I would be most grateful!

Thanks very much!

Hefei98

Chevy Chase, MD

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1. Re: Road Trip Questions: SF-Monterey-Yosemite-SF

From Wawona back to San Francisco: 41 to ** 145 ** to 99 to 120 to 5 to 580, etc.

It easier just to take Hwy 145 to Madera rather than repeating the drive from Mariposa to Merced on Hwy 140.

-----------

Weather & stops ... expect the CA Central Valley (which you cross twice) to be HOT. I don't think you really want to stop along the way for very long. Maybe just find a produce stand and get something fresh. It may be in the 90's in Yosemite as well, but it will cool off at night.

=============

>>quirky, pretty, or educational<< stops.

Hmmm. How about a big Mexican grocery store in Merced? Rancho San Miguel has a pretty good bakery (love those big pink cookies!), a variety of produce, and several kinds of salsa & ceviche at the deli. It's on Hwy 140 / Yosemite Parkway. Google Maps Street View: http://goo.gl/maps/6cZk5

Mineral Museum at the fairgrounds in Mariposa?

Detour north on Hwy 99 to the Great Valley Serpentarium in Lodi?

Continue the detour to the Jelly Belly Factory in Fairfield? (Neither of these latter two are on your route.)

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2. Re: Road Trip Questions: SF-Monterey-Yosemite-SF

Although I love Santa Cruz wouldn't it be easier to stay 2 nights in Monterey and avoid extra unpacking and packing? Also many hotels in the Monterey area require a longer stay than just one night and you should book as early as possible because it will be busy.

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3. Re: Road Trip Questions: SF-Monterey-Yosemite-SF

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washington, d.c.
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4. Re: Road Trip Questions: SF-Monterey-Yosemite-SF

Pacific NW Family:

Thanks so much for all of the good advice. I will take a look at the other route from Yosemite to SF and adjust accordingly.

I appreciate your perspective on the heat in the Central Valley and was concerned about that. We will probably just make some quick stops, as you suggest. With one child who is a late(r) riser, it may be all we can do to get out the door, so I'm probably overly optimistic about having extra time anyway!

As for the heat in Yosemite, I realize that we may be in for some sweltering. Unfortunately, this is the only time we have to make this trip. I always try to approach travel with an attitude of enjoying what we can and not having a huge number of "must do's". So if it is super hot, we will do less but still appreciate the magnificence of Yosemite. This travel philosophy has really helped me when plans have become disrupted by things like hurricanes, etc. I've already gained so much pleasure from reading about and looking at pictures of the area, I know the trip will be wonderful.

Again, thanks for your kind advice!

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washington, d.c.
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5. Re: Road Trip Questions: SF-Monterey-Yosemite-SF

Thanks so much for the advice about Monterey and Santa Cruz. I actually already have hotel reservations in both Santa Cruz and Monterey, but I did find out how difficult they can be to get! We are all set. I decided we would stay in Santa Cruz the first night because by the time we get on the road from the airport it will probably be after 4:00 pm and I wanted to have time to be able to walk along the beach or boardwalk the first night. Of course, it all depends on our flights, etc.

I appreciate the information!

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6. Re: Road Trip Questions: SF-Monterey-Yosemite-SF

Usually I'd share my detailed info about Yosemite on the Yosemite forum so that others can benefit or contribute their ideas, but since we're here, I'll go ahead. If you post on the Yosemite forum, you'll get feedback from others about your visit. (I'll paste this info to your new thread over there as well, so it would actually be beneficial if you'd make a thread on the Yosemite forum specific to your Aug 15 - 18 visit.)

There are two great ways to escape the heat in Yosemite. (1) head to higher ground! Tuolumne Meadows is typically 10 - 20 degrees cooler (2) get in the river. There are some places where the Merced River in Yosemite Valley and the South Fork of the Merced River in Wawona are great for swimming.

Aug 17 is a Saturday, and that's the day you've planned for Mariposa Grove. How about this idea? Head into the Park again from El Portal. If you haven't yet gotten up to Glacier Point, go there. Then continue to Wawona. Check into the hotel. The drive to the swimming hole near the Wawona School & the Wawona Community Center. Photo: flickr.com/photos/… Swim & play. In the very late afternoon (maybe 5?), drive to Mariposa Grove. There should be room in the parking lot by then, but it might still be full. Just wait to be let in. Then drive yourselves to the tiny lot. Walk to the Grizzly Giant & CA Tunnel Tree. If you're hikers, continue on to the Upper Grove. Wander back down to the car & return to the Wawona Hotel for dinner. Note: most Saturdays in the summer there is a Barn Dance at the Pioneer History Center just down the hill from the hotel. Yes, it's kind of silly, but it's usually lots of fun. I don't know if there will be a Barn Dance on your Saturday.

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7. Re: Road Trip Questions: SF-Monterey-Yosemite-SF

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