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8 day trip starting from San Francisco need help

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Level Contributor
40 posts
1 review
8 day trip starting from San Francisco need help

My husband and I Need some help planning our 8 day trip to California this July( we are athletic and in our 50’s.) We are flying into San Fran airport. Do not want to stay in San Fran as we don’t care for big cities. Interested in smaller beautiful towns. We love hiking, biking, shopping and nice scenery and good food. So far plan on Carmel for 1 or 2 nights and or Monterey? Will go to Point Lobos to hike and Coastal trail to bike that should take up 2 or 3 days?

Any suggestions from that point? Go further North or South go inland?

Is Napa worth while if we don’t want to spend our day on wine tours?

Yosemite too far and too hot?

Thanks again for your help

San Jose
Destination Expert
for California
Level Contributor
13,312 posts
95 reviews
1. Re: 8 day trip starting from San Francisco need help

Carmel, Pacific Grove, and Monterey are all within minutes of each other, so you can stay in one and visit the others very easily. Carmel is upscale, quaint, and romantic. Pacific Grove is a small town with a gorgeous coastline. Monterey is larger with more going on, also with some very nice coastline and a couple beaches. Choose whichever town fits.

2-3 days in the area is very good. There is plenty to do in the area to keep you busy.

There are wineries in Carmel Valley too if you wanted to check out some wineries there. You don't have to go up to Napa for that. There are also lots of wineries in the Santa Cruz mountains and in the Gilroy/Morgan Hill area.

Other places to add to your trip - there are lots and lots of choices. Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz mountains are great. You could drive down the coast through Big Sur, maybe go as far south as Cambria, Pismo Beach, or even Santa Barbara.

Yosemite would be a good choice, except that finding lodging at this late date would be pretty difficult - but if you want to go, you may be able to luck into a cancellation.

Level Contributor
40 posts
1 review
2. Re: 8 day trip starting from San Francisco need help


Thanks for taking the time answer my questions...very helpful.

Wondering if you think 2 days and one night in Yosemite would be OK?

Fremont, California
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
19,402 posts
4,194 reviews
3. Re: 8 day trip starting from San Francisco need help

While we have enjoyed staying in Yosemite multiple times -sometimes as long as a week; 2 days and one night in Yosemite will work. It is a huge national park so trying to do it in a day trip does not work well; but doing it for 2 days does. Lodging and dining options are limited in the park (so if you are interested in having dinner at the Ahwahnee Hotel for example the night you are there, be sure to make reservations far in advance - often a month or longer is necessary). Or if you plan on picnics, there is a very busy but adequate grocery store in the park.

Napa is nice. However given your interests I would probably choose Healdsburg so you can do some hiking in Armstrong Redwoods State Park; and perhaps rent bikes to bike ride from winery to winery on Westside Road




Downtown Healdsburg has many tasting rooms, good restaurants, and boutique shopping so matches well your other interests as well.


The town is pretty.....

So if you want to do Monterey for 2 days; Yosemite for 2 days; perhaps wine country for 2 days.....works well.

Monterey Peninsula...
Level Contributor
2,229 posts
4. Re: 8 day trip starting from San Francisco need help

It sounds like you might enjoy renting kayaks on the bay or renting bikes on the shoreline recreation trail in Monterey and Pacific Grove. We also have a lot of beautiful parks with hiking trails. These two pages on my website have more details:



-Mr. Toy


Level Contributor
32,314 posts
848 reviews
5. Re: 8 day trip starting from San Francisco need help

Healdsburg and Carmel are both small, beautiful towns. We were recently in Carmel Valley and did lunch and wine tasting at Georis. Bernardus Lodge is a lovely place to stay if want lodging in Carmel Valley.

In Healdsburg, check out The Hotel Healdsburg or Inn @ The Plaza. You can walk to great restaurants (I highly recommend Cyrus) and tasting rooms from both of these properties. Have a great trip! :)

New Jersey
Level Contributor
2,879 posts
84 reviews
6. Re: 8 day trip starting from San Francisco need help

I agree with the above suggestion on Healdsburg and Carmel. There are lots of nature things to see and do from both locations. I'd skip Yosemite for now. Yosemite Valley almost becomes a big city in the summer months, and it can get pretty hot down there.

Dallas, Texas
Level Contributor
55 posts
4 reviews
7. Re: 8 day trip starting from San Francisco need help

If you are going to San Francisco, nearby Sausolito is very charming!

Level Contributor
40 posts
1 review
8. Re: 8 day trip starting from San Francisco need help

Thank you all for your great advise

Level Contributor
115 posts
46 reviews
9. Re: 8 day trip starting from San Francisco need help

I just completed a vacation similar to yours. This is how we split it up. One night at a SFO airport due to a 1 am arrival. We got up the next day, got our rental car from the airport, went to San Fran hotel at Union Square hotel. We did pay $50 for parking.Stayed 1 night. We went to Tahoe 7 days. Many, many hies here to experience with no real heat to fight. To Yosemite 2 nights at Curry. Valley floor 85 degreesplus but got up at sunset to start a hike.Very hot noon to 4 pm so went to higher elevations to visit like tioga pass area. Then to Carmel 2 nightsl.Carmel was gorgeous and would go there again. Walking around town at night was very enjoyable. Did Big Sur, This area was very foggy till noon, so we went as far south as we wanted, then headed back to Carmel as it cleared off. Fog did make a good back drop for pictures. We wish we had more time for Point Lobos, only had 2 hrs, it closes at 7,Many trail to walk and marine wildlfe to watch. Next morning checkout, 17 mile drive, then back to San Fran for midnight flight back to Florida

10. Re: 8 day trip starting from San Francisco need help

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