North California Road Trip: Any Advice?

Hi All … the weather is getting warmer and spring is now in the air. Time to start planning for summer vacation!! The last time I asked for advice from the readers before my trip to Europe, there were so many responses and advice that proved so useful to me. So, this time, am gonna ask you all again for tips.

Our plan is to take a loooong road trip with major stop at the Redwood National Park, San Francisco, Yosemite and Lake Tahoe. We have two weeks … well,maximum of 16 days … to cover this all. So, what do you think?

Here is the basic plan. We had covered both Washington and Oregon before and will not plan to make any stop until we get to the southern border of Oregon. Our first major stop is at the Redwood National Park before heading off too San Francisco. We plan to stay at least 4 full days in San Francisco and do the tourist sights plus a day at Six Flags. We will also spend at least 2 days in Yosemite and 1 day in Lake Tahoe. Where we stop in between these places is still to be determined.

I used MS Streets and Trips to plot this trip. The total distance will be at least 2400 miles and total driving time 44hrs! Seems like a lot of distance to cover. We had never tried these kind of distances before — the longest we had covered were 1900 miles (Banff and Oregon).


So my question is basically:

  • What are the must-see and must-do places in San Francisco, Yosemite, Redwood NP and Lake Tahoe?
  • What are the must-try food local to these areas?
  • Any recommended places to stay in these places?
  • Any other tips or advice?
  • Oh … any food blogger want to meet up? This will be sometime mid July.

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  1. MammaViv

    Since you’ll be in the SF area, you should take a stop at Napa Valley. It’s only about an hour drive from SF and our favorite restaurant is: Bistro Jeanty (fine french cuisine). Of all the restaurants we’ve visited around the world, this is one of our favorites (ranks top 5 on our list).

    RE: hotels. Check out for Napa locations. Nice hotels for about USD80. I don’t know if you can get the same prices for July tho. FYI: check out before bidding on Priceline.

    Btw, we might be in the SF area in July to visit my parents. Maybe we’ll be there when you’re visiting.

  2. tigerfish

    I can’t give much advice since I’m still relatively new to CA. But 2 days in Yosemite is just right. If Tioga Pass is opened, should be great to do in Yosemite. Also, the sights at Glacier point -Yosemite are beautiful, and of course, you will pass by El Capitan. If plain sight-seeing, 1 day Lake Tahoe should be sufficient too! I only remember having buffets in Lake Tahoe.

    The only place I’m still yearning to go is Redwoods, but it’s pretty far to drive as we have time constraints.

    You are lucky to be able to have 2 wks to do NorCal, but it’s a long long drive. Remember to make a lot of rest stops. Remember, from the Yosemite gate entrance, it’s still quite a drive into the park itself.

  3. Rasa Malaysia

    Aiya, you are not coming to SoCal? OK, for food tips, in San Francisco, you must must must go to Koi Palace for the best dim sum in the western hemisphere. For the best Indian, go to Shalimar (a hole in the wall) in downtown. OK, whatelse would you like to eat?

  4. LotusRapper

    My suggestion is if you’re looking for fun, economical and memorable lodging options, we’ve had wonderful experience with Hostelling International:

    And in California:

    We stayed in hostels in Redwood Nat’l Forest, Sausalito, SF downtown, Montara and Pescadero. They each are different and offer a great variety of sceneries & amenities. You can pre-book family room, or stay dorm style, at most places online. With annual membership (purchased at HI’s local branch in downtown or Jericho), each person can stay for approx. US$12-15 per night.

    Have fun !

  5. Passionate Eater

    Wow, you and the family are coming to SF! I have loads of information to share with you about the best restaurants and the must-see places! Please feel free to send me an email, and we can chat further! And I’d love to meet MR. and MRS. Chow Times too!

  6. Erick


    You must visit Koi Palace for Dim Sum in Daly City (south of San Francisco). I consider it to be better than even a lot of the Richmond, BC Dim Sum restaurants. You may agree with me and Rasa–Best Dim Sum in the Western Hemisphere! Weekends are very crowded so get there early. Weekends also have the best selection.

  7. Passionate Eater

    I agree with Erick, that Koi Palace is a nice place for dim sum, but I would advise that you stick to the primary area of San Francisco to get your food and sightseeing done. Koi Palace is actually quite far from the main part of the City. Definitely walk through Chinatown, but go to the outskirts of Chinatown or another neighborhood to get food. Some “must-see” places are the Palace of Fine Arts (free area, and beautiful), Golden Gate Park (the Japanese Tea Garden in the park is nice as is the Botanical Garden), City Hall, Golden Gate Bridge, the Ferry Building (for a foodie), and the new mall (with a renovated dome from the early 1900s). There is so much to see, that I welcome you to email me for more info.

  8. ellecamino

    i like the coastline – point reyes, ocean beach, sausalito, santa cruz, monterey, 17-mile drive, carmel-by-the-sea, big sur.

  9. ellecamino

    good eats in sf – swan oyster depot, pancho villa taqueria (mission), golden gate bakery’s egg tarts (chinatown), beard papa’s cream puffs

  10. Jennifer

    If you wanna meet on your way home I’m off the I-5 in WA (just past the border). email me to let me know! I’d love to meet you! 🙂

    Too bad you can’t get down to Monterey- it’s GORGEOUS there. Of course, I am biased- that’s my hometown! 🙂

  11. Mr Supplements

    Some of the best memories I have are from visiting Eureka and Medford in southern Oregon.

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