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Visiting California & Fremont: Suggestions?

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by redevries, Jul 6, 2015.

  1. redevries

    redevries René de Vries

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    I'm a Tesla Owner from the Netherlands, and my wife and I will be visiting California in september. I just received a confirmation that we get a factory tour on either September 21st or 22nd.

    My question is around other things to do or see in the area. Our current plans are that we'll be driving up from the Pacific Highway 1 and currently we're thinking about Monterey or Carmel as a place to spend the night.
    The next day the drive to Fremont isn't too long (or so it seems).

    Some of the question that come up:-
    • Monterey/Carmel a good idea for a stop over? Other suggestions
    • There are a number of different ways to get from Monterey/Carmel to Fremont.
    • From a tourist/site-seeing perspective, should be take the 101 (straight) or is the route 1 and 17 worth the detour?
    • The tour lasts an hour. Our next stop it to spend 4/5 days in San Fransisco before flying back to the Netherlands. We could drive there straight away, or should be make one or more stops on the way?
    • To get to San Fransisco; what do you recommend: Take the 101, or drive past Oakland? Any suggestions for interesting stops on the way?

    I've gone through a million Tripadvisor posts, but am still unsure what the best approach is and would appreciate some local insights ;)

    And advice and or suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,

    René
     
  2. Owner

    Owner Active Member

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    Tell us more what you like / don't like: museums, nature, shopping, eating.... etc...

    Monterey and Carmel are a good day trip. Great dramatic ocean scenery.
    Take highway 1 / 17 as it is much prettier.
     
  3. cpa

    cpa Member

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    From Fremont you could just take the Bay Bridge to San Francisco. About an hour, depending on traffic.

    Am I correct that you are flying into Los Angeles, renting a car and then driving up the coast to the Bay Area? If so, your choice of Highway 1 is very good. You might consider taking the tour of Hearst Castle (at San Simeon, about an hour from San Luis Obispo) on your journey. If you choose, you might have to purchase your tickets in advance--sometimes they sell out quickly!

    September is the start of the crush in Napa, (especially this year with no winter to speak of) so you might consider taking a day trip to the Wine Country and just take in all the sights and smells. There are literally hundreds of wineries for tours and tastings--doubtless a local could steer you to some of the more interesting ones. There is also a "wine train" from Napa that (if memory serves) serves dinner or lunch to its passengers while making its way up the Napa Valley.

    Golden Gate Park has the Japanese Tea Garden, Conservatory of Flowers, Academy of Sciences and the DeYoung Museum.

    Alcatraz Prison Tour might have some interest. Similarly, you could likely take a half-day trip out into the Pacific--maybe do a little fishing if on a fishing boat! Ride a cable car (overpriced, but hey, it IS San Francisco!)

    The Giants are on the road, but have home games against the Dodgers the 28th through 30th. The season is winding down, and those games might be deciding the NL West champion (or not--still a lot of baseball left.)

    Drive up the coast across the Golden Gate Bridge and take in coastal Marin and Sonoma Counties--rural California at its finest yet only a few miles from the hustle and bustle of San Francisco.

    Have a fabulous time, and enjoy not only the tour but whatever else you decide to experience! You won't regret it!
     
  4. aesculus

    aesculus Still Trying to Figure this All Out

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    If you cannot get too far up Sonoma County at least do Muir Woods and Sausalito. That's and easy afternoon from the city.
     
  5. FlatSix911

    FlatSix911 918 Hybrid

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    Welcome to the Bay Area in California! Please see my travel suggestions below:

     
  6. redevries

    redevries René de Vries

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    #6 redevries, Jul 6, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2015
    Thanks for all the excellent suggestions!

    We like museums, nature and the occasional bit of shopping. For my wife it is the first time visiting the west coast, so pretty much the touristy things are on the list.

    Our current (2 week) itinerary looks like this:

    • Arrive in LA
    • Grand Canyon
    • Bryce / Zion
    • Las Vegas
    • The we want to cut across Death Valley, and pick up Highway 1 at San Luis Obispo
    • Monterey
    • Fremont
    • San Fransisco
     
  7. mwulff

    mwulff Member

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    I would recommend that you bring enough time to go on a whale-spotting boat trip in Monterey. The bay is a treasure trove of marine life. We saw blue-whales, killer whales, seals, sea lions, an albatros and Rissos dolphins while we were there.

    I can't tell if september is too late in the season for whale spotting, but check with the boat-trip agencies. They know and they gave us good advice.

    I would not recommend Highway 1 north of San Francisco, except for a small stretch. It's extremely winding and the going is slow. So my advice would be to drive a little stretch north from San Francisco, see Sausilito and a bit of Highway 1. Then turn into the wine country.
     
  8. Owner

    Owner Active Member

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    Since your now going up 17, don't bother with Muir Woods. You can go to Big Basin if you would like to see some redwoods. You'll see a lot just driving on 17.

    If you like modern art, Stanford has a new modern art museum that's quite good and free. There is a lot of museums scattered about that are good, but I can't really see any that strike me as must sees outside of San Francisco itself.

    If I were you and already in Death Valley, I would head up 395 and cross over Tioga pass in Yosemite and take that in. Even if you are only going to just get out of the car and look around. Then somehow get over to the coast from there. I think that's more of a stunning drive than highway 1, but that's my opinion. You can do both, but highway 1 is often very foggy. Or cut a day off your SFO time, but I'd rather be in nature myself than a city.
     
  9. cpa

    cpa Member

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    Owner makes a good suggestion about taking US395 from Lone Pine (stop at the film museum and check out the Supercharger!) to Lee Vining and then taking SR120 over Tioga Pass into Yosemite. Most of the attractions in Yosemite are in Yosemite Valley, however, which would mean about a 45-minute round trip from Crane Flat to descend into the valley, plus however much time you spend in the valley itself.

    Mid-September temperatures in Death Valley generally run around 40-45 degrees. Overnight lows hover around 25. But it is a dry heat! :biggrin: Be sure to pack plenty of water; there are not a lot of establishments once you leave Pahrump (if that is your planned egress from Nevada) to purchase water.
     
  10. Owner

    Owner Active Member

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    Yes, but Tioga Pass is stunning!!! I'll be there this weekend. :biggrin:

    I've been to Death Valley many times too. They are swamped with Europeans in the summer! Its not that they are ill informed about the heat, but they want to experience it!

     
  11. Eclectic

    Eclectic Member

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    I would recommend that you not avoid Oakland. Oakland has a bad reputation, sometimes deserved, but it's a far more interesting place than San Francisco in many regards, especially for restaurants. Also, if you want to see unspoiled California coastline, I recommend taking Highway 1 north of Marin. Yes, it's a very curvy road, but the scenery is stunning and the road can be fun if you enjoy driving.
     
  12. Lloyd

    Lloyd Active Member

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    That is quite an aggressive itinerary. You will have about 6 days of nothing but driving with that. Check the mileage and driving times. Distances are decieving when comparing with those in Europe.

    Example LA to Grand Canyon is about 8 hours driving.
     
  13. Merrill

    Merrill Active Member

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    If you end up have time and come to Wine Country, swing by Ravenswood Winery in Sonoma and I will give you a tour and tasting of our Single Vineyard Zin's.
     
  14. redevries

    redevries René de Vries

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    Thank you, all for you your wonderfull suggestion. What a great community this is.

    We realize that we'll be doing a lot of driving, we used to doing fairly long roadtrips in Europa as well. We will also allow for som flexibility and not pre-book too many hotels (other then LA and and AirBNB in San Fransisco)
    We do tend to look for roads that allow for some interesting stops on the way. I see two options from LA to Grand Canyon. We probably drive to Kingman or Willams, and enter the GC the next day with an early start.
    1. Take the 10 past Joshua Tree and an occasional piece of Route66 for fun.
    2. Take the 40. That would be for sentimental reasons, since it was the first movie I took my wife to, was Bagdad Cafe. It was filmed in Newberry Springs :)

    From Vegas trough Death Valley, we will probably not go up to Yosemite. It's not that it isn't gorgeous; parts of it remind me of Austria and Switzerland, other parts of Iceland :) Instead we'll head south towards the coast for the Pacific Highway, mainly because we like to visit Hearst Castle and I have a golf course I'd like to play on my bucket list in that area ;) What would be a nice route (and overnight place to stay) from the exit of DV towards the coast? On the map it looks like the 395 towards Bakersfield and then cut across to San Luis Obispo.

    Then, Carmel/ Monterey, Fremont, up to San Fransisco by 17. We're considering spending a number of days there in an AirBNB, and use that also as a basis for trips towards Sausalito and Napa

    Once again, thanks for all the wonderful suggestions - this will be an unforgettable trip for sure.
     
  15. cpa

    cpa Member

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    The shortest route to leave Death Valley would likely be a few miles east of Panamint Springs in the western part of the Park. That road will go south (at some point it becomes SR178; not sure exactly where the signage starts.) You will go through Trona, and then bypass Ridgecrest to Johannesbury/Randsburg and take the "Randsburg Cutoff" mostly west to SR14. Go south on SR14 to the junction with SR58 just north of Mojave, and then head west to Bakersfield.

    At Bakersfield, you will have several options to reach San Luis. Highway 58 continues to Sta. Margarita on US101 just north of San Luis, but is a narrow, twisty road for much of its length--especially west of McKittrick. You could drop down to SR166 (Cuyama Valley) and reach US101 just north of Sta. Maria. You will be about 25-27 miles south of San Luis. Probably the fastest would be to take 58 west out of Bakersfield to its junction with Interstate 5. Head north on I5 for about 25 miles to SR46. Take that west to Paso Robles and US101. However, this is about 30 miles north of San Luis itself, but you do have options to reach SR1 from Paso Robles.

    Lots of good places to eat--we particularly like Giuseppe's in Pismo Beach (also has a place in San Luis), Rosa's in Pismo Beach, and Old Port Inn west of Avila Beach. (Get the fish tacos!)

    A few items to clarify--Interstate 40 wiped out US66, but there is still a segment from Ludlow east to US95 that takes you through Amboy and Essex. Interstate 10 will provide access to Joshua Tree National Park from the south; you can take the road into the park and leave the park at 29 Palms at SR62. You can head east on SR62 to Vidal Junction and then take US95 north to Needles and Interstate 40. (Or if you are adventurous, you can take Amboy Road upon reaching 29 Palms, and that will meet up with Historic Route 66 near Amboy, about halfway between Barstow and Needles.) September-November can be times of isolated heavy rain in California's deserts. Flash floods inevitably occur--even though it is sunny and dry where you happen to be. (You might consider downloading an application for your phone "California Road Conditions" - CARR - it is really current on road conditions and highway issues.)
     
  16. CHG-ON

    CHG-ON Still in love after all these miles

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    I live in Santa Cruz. 45 Mi from both Fremont and Carmel/Big Sur. Here is what I recommend and I can't recommend it highly enough:

    Assuming you are coming up from LA: Take 101 north up to San Luis Obispo (stay away from the 5!!! it's awful). Then go over to the coast to HWY 1. Take that all the way up to Santa Cruz and HWY 17. Enjoy the stops along the way, such as San Simeon Castle soon after getting on 1, Ventana Inn or Post Ranch in Big Sur (if you have LOTS of disposable cash-make reservations) they are stunning, or the Esalen Institute if you are a hippie (also requires a reservation-very private). Stop at Nepethe in Big Sur for lunch. Then up to Carmel. You must visit the darling town of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Absolutely charming with many great (overpriced, but what the heck) shops and restaurants. If you want to stay overnight there, I recommend the "Tickle Pink Inn". It's wonderful and the name can't be beat. Also, the Cypress Inn, owned by Doris Day, is fantastic and takes dogs, which I will assume you will not bring with you. But still a great place with outstanding accommodations and service. Very quaint and cosy, as with TPI.

    From there, I would plan on your next night being somewhat near Fremont. Santa Cruz has some great places. But I personally think they are overpriced and not much of a much. There are a few nice places and I would be happy to hook you up. Depending upon your budget, there are some decent hotels in San Jose. Not many. There really isn't much beside chain hotel "ickiness" near Fremont. But San Jose is only 20 min away. If you are going up to San Francisco, the sky's the limit from affordable great places to some very fabulous and expensive hotels. And it is a city worth spending several days discovering.

    This is one, if not the most, beautiful areas in the continental USA. If you can, take as much time as you can to discover it. You will be stunned beyond your expectations. There is something very special about the California Coast between southern Big Sur all the way up through Marin County. Very special.

    I sound like a tour agent. I'm not. I am just in love with this area.

    Please feel free to PM me if you would like to start a dialog. I would be happy and honored to give input and perhaps meet up with you when you are here.
     

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