My husband, teenage children and I will be flying into San Francisco on December 22, then driving to Groveland. We are spending 3 days at Yosemite then planned to head back to SF. We've never been to California and I'd like to make the most out of our time there. What are the can't miss things to do in SF? Would it be possible to drive Hwy 1 in a weeklong to San Francisco?

Answer

7 days isn't much time for everything on your list. If you leave from the airport in SF, the drive will take about 2.5 hours to Groveland, then about 45 minutes to Yosemite. That's all without stops for food, gas or photos along the way. Let's assume you make a dash to get there after your flight, you'll have 3 days there? Or will you leave on the 3rd day? The best things in SF vary, depending on what your family likes to do. With teens in tow, I'd recommend a bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge. You can rent bikes near the Ferry Building, where you could start with a light breakfast at Peet's Coffee in the Ferry Building. Riding bikes along the water, past Fisherman's Wharf and several other popular spots gets you more bang for your buck and on your bikes, you don't have to deal with transportation to and from. It's safe, mostly level with only two hills, but not bad. I'm 74 and can do them easily. There are little maps on the bikes. After going across the bridge and down the big hill into Sausalito, you can grab lunch and head back by ferry, directly to the Ferry Building. This gives you a little time on the bay which is fun, regardless of the weather. The whole trip can be 3 hours or a bit more. You could also grab a crab at Fisherman's Wharf and have a little picnic on the lawn at Aquatic Park, overlooking the bay and the GG Bridge in the distance. Other things that are fun - the Chinese Cookie Factory in Chinatown (it's tiny, but fun to watch 2 or 3 ladies making them. A cable car ride is probably a must. One of my personal favorites is the Cable Car Museum. Free and fun to see how it all works. It's where the cables come and go. The videos that explain how it works are also great. Driving down Highway 1 to Santa Cruz (there's a boardwalk there with rides) or Monterey (their Fisherman's Wharf is way better than ours in SF), Carmel is an amazing collection of cute little shops and on down the beautiful coast to Big Sur is also worthwhile, but I'm not sure you'll have time. SF to Monterey is about 2 hours w/o stops. Monterey to Big Sur is about 30-45 minutes, so it could be done in one day, but I think you'd want to stop and enjoy things along the way. I'm not sure you want to make yourself crazy rushing. Personally, I'd skip Yosemite. I love it, but it's crowded and will eat up most of your trip. SF is a little city (7 miles x 7 miles), so it's easy to get around, but the trade off would be the coast from here to Big Sur. If it's hiking that's attracting you to Yosemite, there are plenty of BEAUTIFUL spots along the way to Big Sur ... think of big rocks, with blue ocean water crashing on them and many places with big beautiful trees. If you like tide-pooling, Pacific Grove (next to Monterey and Carmel) is easy and a lot of fun ... starfish, little hermit crabs, and things are easy to see. International travelers say this part of the world is one of the most beautiful spots globally. I think it's true.

Updated on November 8, 2019

Original Article:

Best Highway 1 Road Trip: San Francisco to Big Sur With Photos and Map
By R Randall Schroeder
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