San Francisco Side Trip in November

Traveling with toddler (2). Not looking to focus on wine. What would be a good place to spend 2-3 nights midweek?
We were thinking Santa Cruz since we’ve never been there, but open to other suggestions.
Not looking for any particular attractions, just someplace interesting and relaxing with maybe a couple things to amuse our daughter as well.

Santa Cruz is fun, if your daughter would appreciate aquariums then Monterey is great.

Point Reyes Station/Inverness. It’s mostly farms and ranches around Tomales Bay, and amazing hikes and beaches along the ocean. It’s an hour north of SF and since it’s the breadbasket for a lot of the best SF restaurants, it’s almost impossible to get a bad meal there.

Yosemite, Mendocino, Monterey/Carmel, Lake Tahoe, Sierra Foothills – so many options.

santa cruz is a good choice since there is the Boardwalk for the kid.

It’s not clear if you live in SF and are just looking for things to do, or you’ll be visiting SF and want some other options? Have you been to any of the places suggested so far? The Monterey Aquarium is one place a 2+ year old might be entertained for a while. Otherwise, in my own experience, it doesn’t really matter where you are with a 2 year old :wink: My now grown daughter says she’s not taking her kids anywhere until they’re at least 10, because she doesn’t remember anything from her earlier years [wow.gif]

We’re from NYC, staying with relatives in Sunset, so just looking for a fun thing to do during the week for a few nights.

If you’ve never been to Yosemite, I would highly recommend it, if you like the outdoors at all (and some of the most beautiful scenery in the world). Lake Tahoe is very nice place to relax, beautiful scenery, some beaches and playgrounds you could find for your little one. Can’t go wrong heading down to Monterey/Carmel either (I would choose this over Santa Cruz, but you can do both, they are not that far apart). You could also head north (not necessarily to wine country). The Marin coast is beautiful, Muir Woods is very nice, etc.

To echo Dan’s question in the main forum, are there any interesting harvest-y festivals in either the Santa Cruz or Sonoma/Napa area that second week of NOvember? (7-14).

If you have never been to Northern CA before, I would recommend going to:

  1. Monterey
  • see the aquarium
  1. Carmel
  • go see / drive the 17-mile drive
  1. Big Sur
  • take the scenic route
  • stop at Bixby Bridge
  • spend a night at Deetjens
  • eat dinner at Napenth
  • eat breakfast at the Big Sur Bakery
  • go see the waterfalls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

    I would skip Santa Cruz (although it is on the way).

I visited the Monterey Aquarium about 25years ago and still remember it very fondly.

I agree with this itinerary, although you can’t go wrong with the others suggested either. I’d add: On the way down divert onto Hwy 9 to Hwy 236 and do the very easy Redwood Trail in Big Basin Redwoods state park (blows away Muir Woods, and much less crowded) and you can also visit the Big Basin tasting room on the way there, then continue S on 236 towards Santa Cruz. Also add in some time at Point Lobos, which is the transition from Carmel into Big Sur. Also, very easy to day-trip into Big Sur from a home base in Carmel, if lodging further down the coast is full or too pricey. Also, whale watching in Monterey Bay is supposed to be amazing this season, due to El Nino I guess.

Thanks all. At the moment plan is just a night in Monterey. We have accomodation in SF the whole week so definitely subject to change. If anyone knows of any good festivals or anything (probably too late for harvest festivals?) anywhere either that way or up in napa/sonoma second week in November, pls let me know!

The excellent Sonoma County thread Planning your visit to Sonoma "County"? This might help. - Travel, Wine Tourism, and Restaurants Forum - WineBerserkers doesn’t list anything in November, but I do know there are some holiday things, like lighting of trees festival, in Sonoma Valley around that time. If you find out anything, please post it to that thread so we can update the guide.

This may be of interest, but I’ve never been so can’t vouch for it: