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Planning first ever trip to Sacramento CA area-looking for sightseeing ideas
Old 08-09-2016, 11:32 AM   #1
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Planning first ever trip to Sacramento CA area-looking for sightseeing ideas

DW and I are in the planning stages for a trip to California next June. We are debating driving from the Midwest, about 1800 miles one way, or using frequent flyer miles into Sacramento, then renting a car. We would be staying in motels and moving around. I am thinking of the following sites:
Lake Tahoe
Yosemite
Sequoia Nat'l Forrest
San Simeon castle
We like nature and historical sites

I would also like to see something of interest in the old gold mine region which I think is between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe area.

Not much interest in SF unless DW wants to see the GG bridge, etc. She has a cousin with a vineyard in the NAPA region but not sure we would get there. I am not much for driving in heavy city traffic although I have done it many times before.

Any suggestions for other must see sites? We are thinking between 1 and 2 weeks in the area not counting time to get there and back from home. Is this enough time to see the sites already listed?

Do you think it would be easy to get hotels as we travel or would it be better to make reservations ahead of time? Booking ahead sort of restricts you but would not like to sleep in car. We normally find hotels 25 to 50 miles from attractions in hopes that rooms are readily available.

Thanks for your suggestions.
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Old 08-09-2016, 02:24 PM   #2
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Sacramento has an old town section. There is a really nice railroad museum there. You can also take a train ride or a river cruise.

I think everything on your list is fun. There's also a lot to do in San Francisco. You can park at a BART station out in the suburbs and take the train in for the day if you don't want to drive in traffic. There is enough public transportation you don't need a car and it is hard to find parking even if you have one. Our first time there I think our highlight was a Bay cruise. The rocket boats are also a lot of fun. Tripadvisor has a pretty good list of the major attractions in the city.

A day in wine country is also nice. There is an app for winery discount tastings. The traffic in Napa is not too bad in the off hours. Sonoma has a lot of wineries, too.
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Old 08-09-2016, 02:31 PM   #3
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If you're interested in San Simeon, be aware that there are a number of Hearst Castle tours, and each one takes a while. You definitely should check them out and reserve the ones you want in advance. IMHO, most of them are interesting, so put a bit of planning into it to avoid disappointment.
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Old 08-09-2016, 08:27 PM   #4
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We've been on your intended itinerary 10-12 times over the years--last of whiich was on our way back from Hawaii 2/2015.

Last time I drove out there, it was 2 very long days and it was 850 miles before anything of interest was seen. There's a lot of nothing when driving west. FLY IT!

We have flown into Oakland a couple of times and picked up a rental car there. Then we will visit San Francisco for a day before heading south to Monterrey/Carmel area. We'll spend a day there before heading south on U.S. 1 down to Big Sir and to the Hearst Castle.
After the castle tour, we'll go south to around Morro Bay and spend the night. Then we'd suggest driving cross country over to Fresno and come into Yosemite from the south. We last came out the north end of the park and spent the night Stockton on the way back to the Oakland Airport. You could also go north and over to the Lake Tahoe area--one our absolute favorite places.

I used to travel every week for business and seldom made reservations. I'd go to rest areas and pickup coupon books for specific states--and saved a bunch of money. You can also get the same coupons online.

I also carry a Chromebook that I can search for accommodations on Booking.com and other web search sites. I often will use the WIFI at hotel lobbies, McDonalds, Starbucks and Taco Bell when on the road.

Good luck in your travels.
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Old 08-10-2016, 02:49 AM   #5
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The railroad museum in Sacramento is gorgeous. Be aware that Sacramento in the summer is very hot.

Another suggestion:

Consider going north from Sacramento to Lassen Volcanic national park. Drive up highway 99 through Yuba City and Chico. Chico is a college town and an agricultural business hub.

We went camping in Lassen when I was 11 and my whole family loved it. There's swimming lakes, meadows, hiking trails, and volcano related terrain, such as geothermal areas.a nice road that goes all the way around the park, and the walk to the top of the 11,000 foot mountain is only 2.5 miles. Going up is a bear but going down is cake. I still remember that hike with my sister. The views were amazing. However, in June some years there can still be a lot of snow. You can Mt Shasta from Lassen.




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Old 08-10-2016, 06:05 AM   #6
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DW and I visited Lake Tahoe several years ago. It is gorgeous there and I highly recommend it. I have a trip planned to Yosemite and other areas in central CA for next year. I will post details later.
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Old 08-10-2016, 09:30 AM   #7
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That is a lot to cover in two weeks, but it can be done. I prefer to spend longer at places and enjoy more of them.

We spent a full week in Yosemite and did a number of different hikes. We have spent 4-days in Tahoe. Hearst Castle is amazing, but the doors aren't cheap. I am not a Big City fan so even though we actually live quite close to San Fran, I hardly go there.

There are a number of small towns on the way to Tahoe. We love Placerville and H50 and Auburn on I80.

cd :O)
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Old 08-10-2016, 09:45 AM   #8
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If you take Tioga pass out of yosemite to US-395 there are a huge number of attractions going north/south:

Bodie - gold mining ghost town
Mono Lake - tufa towers
A crap ton of hikes into the eastern sierras often around lakes/rivers - super scenic, spectacular in the fall. I particularly enjoyed were lundy canyon and mcgee creek canyon. There's probably a few dozen well known spots (see http://www.monocounty.org)
Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest - my favorite spot in eastern sierras (see the oldest living trees/organisms), also good for nightsky watching/ astrolandscapes
Manzanar Internment Camp
Lone Pine (a lot of movies shot there https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...t_in_Lone_Pine)
Alabama Hills

US-395 also connects to Tahoe (going north)

From SF Bay Area to San Simeon:

Big basin state park - lots of redwoods
Natural bridges state park
Carmel Mission - most beautiful of the CA missions I've seen
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Point Lobos - great cypress grove, where Edward Weston did many of his photographs
Pinnacles National Park
Big Sur
McWay Cove & Falls - only waterfall ending at the pacific ocean in CA


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom52 View Post
Any suggestions for other must see sites? We are thinking between 1 and 2 weeks in the area not counting time to get there and back from home. Is this enough time to see the sites already listed?
Well I could spend 2 weeks in yosemite alone.

Quote:
Do you think it would be easy to get hotels as we travel or would it be better to make reservations ahead of time? Booking ahead sort of restricts you but would not like to sleep in car. We normally find hotels 25 to 50 miles from attractions in hopes that rooms are readily available.
Personally I would book ahead for yosemite to find accommodations within the valley itself. The other places I'd be more willing to wing it.
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Old 08-10-2016, 12:45 PM   #9
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Agree with all of the recommendations. Yosemite very nice, but very, very,
limited parking if you arrive late. Valley can be very crowded. Too crowded.

Sacramento, railroad museum, must see.
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Old 08-10-2016, 01:16 PM   #10
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This is what we are going to do next year on our central CA trip:

Yosemite Valley and Tioga Pass road
Mono Lake - South Tufa
Lundy Lake and Parker Lake
Devil's Postpile Nat Monument
Bristlecone Forest
Red Rock Canyon State Park
Sequoia Nat Park
Kings Canyon Nat Park
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