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Ideas for San Jose and environs

charlotte
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Ideas for San Jose and environs

I will be in San Jose next week for two days on my own while DH is in meetings. I will have a rental car, and friends who have visited the area suggest driving to the coast, visiting the Monterrey aquarium, and strolling the boardwalk at Santa Cruz. I really wanted to tour the iconic Silicon Valley companies, but I see that tours are not offered. I also thought about exploring the town of San Jos, but there isn't much info in the CA guidebooks I have, so I need suggestions -- I like historical sites and quaint, locally- owned shops. I also love bookstores, the older and more eccentri, the better (Shakespeare & Co. In Paris is my favorite in the world, to give a comparison). I am slightly concerned about the potential traffic issues in the area, so I welcome any advice in that area, too.

Thanks,

Pam

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1. Re: Ideas for San Jose and environs

Hi Pam. I live in the Monterey area, so I do recommend it. However, I wonder if you've ever been to San Francisco. It's a shorter drive than to Monterey, and there is so much to see and do. If you're comfortable driving in the city, I'd say go for it. I drive there frequently and find it pretty easy to get around. There is a bookstore that I love in the Outer Richmond district, Green Apple Books: http://www.greenapplebooks.com/ The first floor is mainly new books, and the entire upstairs (and it's big) is used books. You can spend hours browsing. Not far away from Green Apple is Five Happiness Chinese restaurant, another favorite place in the neighborhood. Their hot and sour chicken is so good!

Anyway, if you decide on Monterey and want to stop in Santa Cruz, you'll take Highway 17 south from San Jose. It's a four-lane road with a fair number of twists and turns, but very pretty. If it's raining, I'd avoid it though. We've had a lot of rain this past week, and the soil is quite saturated, making slides more possible.

If you want to avoid 17 for that reason, then the other way is 101 S to 156 WEST (not East!) to 1 South. It's not pretty, but it's direct. It'll take about an hour and a quarter.

The Carmel Mission is an interesting site. You can take a self-guided tour. Downtown Monterey has a number of historic adobes. seemonterey.com/tourist-activities/historic-…

Pacific Grove (P.G.) is a quaint little town sandwiched between Monterey and Pebble Beach. I highly recommend lunch at Red House Cafe (www.redhousecafe.com)in P.G. (closed on Monday). Although there are fewer shops in PG than in Carmel, they are all small, locally-owned shops. Some examples: Tessuti Zoo (http://www.tessutizoo.com/); Marita's Boutique (http://www.maritasboutique.com/); The Works (http://www.theworkspg.com/);

Miss Trawick's Garden Shop (beneath Red House Cafe: http://www.misstrawicks.com/); and others that you'll see as you stroll along the main street, Lighthouse Ave.

Whatever you choose, I hope you have a good time. If you have any more questions about the Monterey/PG/Carmel area, please let me know.

Edited: 10:48 pm, March 22, 2011
charlotte
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2. Re: Ideas for San Jose and environs

Thanks so much for your suggestions! We have been to San Francisco several times, so we are going to bypass it for the most part this trip; instead, we are going to spend three days in Napa and Sonoma, then drive back to SF for one night before flying home.

The other place I might like to visit is the Steinbeck museum In Salinas. Do you recommend this? Could I combine this with a trip to Monterey and Santa Cruz, or would that be too much for one day?

Thanks again for your help!

Pam

Edited: 11:07 pm, March 22, 2011
Pacific Grove...
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3. Re: Ideas for San Jose and environs

You're welcome! Everyone travels differently, of course, but to me it sounds like too much. You have to keep in mind that it's a good half-hour drive (and add on parking time) from Monterey to the Steinbeck Museum, and the Museum closes at 5 pm. So I think you have to choose between Santa Cruz and the Steinbeck Museum. Otherwise, your time in the Monterey area will be cut too short to really enjoy it.

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4. Re: Ideas for San Jose and environs

Doing Salinas, Monterey and Santa Cruz would be a little much for one day, I think, if you plan to go to the Aquarium in Monterey as well as checking out Santa Cruz.

You might think of making the Steinbeck trip on one of your two days by itself. It won't take long, actually, and is interesting, but not compelling, IMO.

www.steinbeck.org/pages/plan-your-visit

You could come to Santa Cruz., then to Monterey and go back to San Jose the reverse direction outlined by PGdenizen when she gave you the route to take if you want to avoid Hwy 17. (No real reason to avoid it, we drive it regularly, of course, but do watch the weather reports.) On rare winters slides close the road temporarily.

In Santa Cruz...poke around our main street, Pacific Avenue, go to the Municipal Wharf and say hello to the Sea Lions. We have some good locally owned bookstores (Borders came in a few years ago and tried to freeze them out, but was boycotted and is now closing.)

If you like something different in book stores, you should visit The Literary Guillotine, which caters to the University of California at Santa Cruz professors and students with books you will never find anywhere else. I will bet you cannot resist this...

www.literaryguillotine.com/npp/npphome.html

Don't worry too much about the traffic. Sometimes Hwy 101 in the San Jose Area can be slow, but nothing like the Los Angeles area, and if you are "coming over the hill" to Santa Cruz on a weekday, (less than an hour) no problem at all. Ditto going from there to Monterey (only 45 minutes south).

Read this for more info on Santa Cruz.....

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g33048-c133677/Santa-…

Enjoy your stay. I hope the weather cooperates for you.

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5. Re: Ideas for San Jose and environs

I almost forgot about this.

Don't spend your second day at the Steinbeck Center, stay in San Jose. While you cannot tour the Silicon Valley companies, you must go to the Tech Museum. I spent an entire day there. Fascinating. And in downtown San Jose, so you don't have to be on the road.

http://www.thetech.org/exhibits/

charlotte
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6. Re: Ideas for San Jose and environs

Thanks for all the info. The Literary Guillotine does sound interesting, although I think I'll pass on that book about piercings and tattoos that's showcased on their website...

I am torn between Steinbeck and Tech -- I do love his books, and the museum looks interesting. But I also like the idea of staying around San Jose. I'll probably do that, and the other day drive to Monterey and then back up to Santa Cruz.

And yes, I am hoping for better weather there. It's sunny and 75 where I live right now!

Pam

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7. Re: Ideas for San Jose and environs

If you take 101 to Monterey take the San Juan Bautista exit and spend an hour in that little town. There is a Mission, and lots of little shops. You will see roosters walking around etc.. I love it there.

charlotte
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8. Re: Ideas for San Jose and environs

I want to thank you all for your very helpful suggestions. We are in San Jose now, and today, I successfully navigated my way to Santa Cruz via Hwy. 17, then drove to Monterey, then Pebble Beach and did the spectacular 17- mile drive (which was worth the entire trip), then visited Carmel and the lovely Mission. Drove back to San Jose via 156 and 101 -- no problems. Very tired, though. I really enjoyed watching the surfers north of Santa Cruz, surfing along the cliffs. Took lots of photos there and along the 17- mile drive.

Really wanted to stop by San Juan Bautista, but I was just too tired.

Great day, and I appreciate your help with my planning.

Pam

Edited: 8:03 pm, March 29, 2011
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9. Re: Ideas for San Jose and environs

That's great. I think you got a lot out of the day. I am glad you got to see the surfers. I am also glad that we had good weather for you.

Pacific Grove...
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10. Re: Ideas for San Jose and environs

Sounds like a great day. So glad you enjoyed it.