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Yosemite and Santa Cruz with extended family - Oct 2008.
4 Oct 2008“Missouri farm family that loves to see new things together”
based on 2 votes
Missour farm family. Elderly parents, 3 adult sisters and 1 adult (?) brother. 2nd trip we've ever taken together. Trips have to be cheap and interesting and no big crowds. Here's our 5 day itinerary:
9/29 - MCI to OAK. Rent Suburban. Drive to SanFran to see Golden Gate Bridge. Drive to Fisherman's Wharf (our least favorite part of trip - too many people and too much walking for parents). Drive to Mariposa.
9/30 - Drive 1 hour to Mariposa Grove of Giant Trees. Took 1 hour tram tour. Amazing.
10/1 - Drive 1 hour to Yosemite west entrance. 2 hour valley tour, hike, eat, see bear!
10/2 - Drive through central valley to Santa Cruz. Loved seeing all of the crops, equipment and workers. Stop in San Juan Bautista to see mission. Check into Santa Cruz Hotel and drive up West Cliff drive and Highway one. Amazing.
10/3 - Hike Henry Cowell redwood forest and drive to airport. OAK to MCI and home.
Only about 45 minutes from OAK. Beautiful bridge. Stop at visitor's center for great pictures. Drive across it and stop again on other side. Also loved Bay Bridge (double decker). No toll northbound. $6 southbound.
Wow. Don't go to Yosemite without seeing these trees. 40' diameter, 300' tall, 200 years old. Tram tour is great way to get your bearings and hear the history. Get off at Grizzled Giant and walk back. Pictures can't capture size of trees. Makes you feel very insignificant.
Wow again. 2 hour valley tour is great way to get bearings and history. Ranger Karen was great (my brother thought she might need to be his girlfriend..). Museum and Visitor Center is great. Could have spent a week here hiking and biking. Did lower Yosemite Falls hike and saw bear on trail. Ranger told everyone to be still so that he wouldn't get nervous and attack. Eat cheap by going to Yosemite store, buying bread, cheese, meat, chips, and a roll of paper towels. Eat at picnic tables provided. Good and cheap. Throw or give away what you don't eat - you don't want it in your car.
Mariposa is 1 hour from Yosemite west entrance or Mariposa Grove. This was a great place for us to stay. Around $100 / night with good breakfast included. Don't regret not staying in park. Beautiful drive into park and stopped to see bear fishing in Merced river.
The drive from Mariposa to Santa Cruz is about 3 hours and not a single moment is boring. You leave the mountains and enter the Central Valley. There are crops and workers for miles. It is very interesting to see miles of Almond groves, artichokes, brussel sprouts, etc.. When you leave the valley closer to the coast, you are immediately into the Redwoods and then, viola, the ocean and beach.
We loved this place. It's a quaint little inn (very much like B&B) 3 blocks from Twin Lakes beach in Santa Cruz. It was clean, inviting and fun. The excellent Harbor Cafe is about 100 yards down the streat - where locals tie their dogs outside and have breakfast.
West Cliff drive is an amazing place to watch surfers, the ocean and the beautiful seaside homes. We went to a couple of beaches to walk around. Santa Cruz seemed very safe. Everyone bikes and the weather is beautiful. Crisp, cool, breezy.
Drove up to Pidgeon Point from Santa Cruz in the evening. Only reason we turned around is that it got dark and foggy. This is an amazing drive. You wind around artichoke fields to redwoods to sea side cliffs. We stopped in several places to get out and walk to the beach. Saw very few people. Makes me want to drive the entire highway from San Diego some day.
Wow - this was a last minute thing I'm glad we didn't miss. My Frommers only has 1 sentence about this park and it was incredible. About 30 minutes north east of Santa Cruz along a beautiful winding (very) mountain road. The park has walking trails and you are in the middle of an amazing growth of giant redwoods. We were amazed that these weren't the largest trees. Only saw 2 people on the trail the entire time we were there. I would go back here in an instant!