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  1. Default Roundtrip Vancouver,BC to San Francisco

    We bought our first travel trailer this year and we're loving it! So far we've done smaller trips close to home but we'd like to do a 2 week trip down the west coast in the summer next year. My husband and I will be traveling with our 3 kids, 11, 6 and 5. Our oldest really wants to visit San Francisco so we'll want to spend a few days there. We've been to Seattle many times so we'll just be driving through. We would like to keep the trip around 14 days or less and keep to the coast as much as possible at least one way. We love scenery but aren't into hiking and we're suckers for tourist traps:) As you can imagine we want to do and see everything but we know we need to pick and choose. I'm completely lost on a timeline or even how far south we want or have time to go. I would love any and all input.

    Places on our must do list so far:
    Cannon Beach
    Jelly Belly Tour in Fairfield
    San Francisco
    San Simeon?
    Redwoods/Big Sur
    Santa Cruz?

    -Any suggestions for a different route home?
    -Is it possible to include Yosemite this trip?
    -Favorite stops for kids?
    -Where should be stay while visiting San Francisco

    Thank you in advance for any help!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default up and down

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    The nice thing about this basic trip is that it works very well as a round trip because there is so much to see both along the coast and then again inland.

    For example, if you went south along the coast through Big Sur, you could then head back inland and loop up through places like Sequoia, Yosemite, Lassen Volcanic NP, Crater Lake, and Mt. St. Helens to name a few ideas.

    All of that would make for a very full 2 weeks, and realistically you'd likely have to do at least a little picking and choosing especially depending upon how much time you want to spend in SF, and just how fast of a pace you like to travel at in general.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    San Francisco is really NOT very RV friendly. That said, you may end up staying just outside of the city and using your car to get into town, park it and then use public transportation. (BTW, it's good that you are doing short RV trips near home - my husband and I call those "shake-down cruises". They show you what you need in terms of supplies and what you need to learn how to do better!)

    Seeing the places on your list, it seems to me that you could go south via US 101 and the PCH, and then north via I-5, both with jaunts.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Sammamish WA, 18 miles east of Seattle


    You're getting some great advice here so I'll chime in with but a few remarks and ideas. I'm not a camper nor have I travelled with kids aboard so keep that in mind.

    I don't know if your list is in some sort of time order, but if so, you're going to be going back and forth between I-5 and the coast. Tillamook is just south of Cannon Beach a few miles, though other than the Air Museum and the dairy factory - really great ice cream - but..

    Cannon Beach is lovely, but a bit pricey if you want to stay in a hotel or motel. It's very popular as well so make reservations well in advance. In fact - and, again I'm not a camper - I believe the Oregon State campgrounds along the coast take reservations so be sure to check into that. Lincoln City and Newport will be the next towns of any size after you leave Tillamook. Consider the 3 capes scenic drive on the way south. BTW, be aware that the area around Florence, OR is full of marvelous sand dunes and signs advertising all sorts of dune buggy rides etc. Not sure if your kids are adventure seekers or not, but when I was young, there is no way you'd get me through that area with at least a mild attempt at letting me rent a dune buggy or at least a ticket for a tour.

    As far as the Jelly Belly Tour in Fairfield and Redding (which is north of Fairfield) are concerned, if you cut over from the coast to make those destinations, you're just going to end up driving back to the coast from Fairfield in order to reach SF. I suggest you continue south on Hwy 101 from Oregon all the way to Leggett (in the Redwoods - barely) and cut over to Hwy 1 - the Pacific Coast Highway and Fort Bragg. Then follow Hwy 1 all the way to San Francisco.

    As has been mentioned, SF is not camper friendly and the hotels are pricey. My advice is to stay outside - perhaps to the south of - the City along the BART line. The last time there we stayed at the Embassy Suites in Sunnyvale, used the hotel shuttle to get us to the airport where we could take the BART right into the City. Not a bad way to go. There are stops along the route to just about anything you'd want to see - and a few things you may not want the kids to see. BTW, Sunnyvale is home to the PEZ Museum so that might help overcome the disappointment if you don't get to Fairfield.

    Santa Cruz is not a big deal, and really kinda' tacky in my opinion, but the boardwalk should keep the kids entertained and the Big Dipper Roller Coaster is one of the few remaining wooden roller coasters left. Monterey is an easy drive south.

    Monterey and Carmel are beautiful and worth the visit. The Aquarium along Cannery Row (if you remember your Steinbeck) in Monterey is World Class. the drive along 17-mile drive between Pacific Grove and Carmel costs a few bucks, but the kids might catch a glimpse of the house that was used in the "Return to With Mountain" and perhaps even Clint Eastwood's estate. Pacific Grove and Asilomar Beach are lovely and worth the drive.

    Continue south on HWY 1 to Big Sur (although you'll be nowhere near the fabled Redwoods up north around Willits) Consider stopping at Nepenthe just a mile or two south of the Big Sur Village and have lunch on the terrace. Eat on the terrace. you might pay $14 for a burger, but the scenery - especially when the fog lifts, is worth the price. You can continue south on Hwy 1 to reach San Simeon or you can cut over from Monterey to Hwy 101 and save some time at the expense of seeing some beautiful coastline.

    At least that's my experience. Yosemite and some of the other places are way over to the northeast and nowhere near where you'll be in Big Sur. If you do go to Yosemite (I've yet to visit the place) consider making the return routh through Central Oregon and the high desert into the Columbia River Gorge around the Dalles or Hood River.

    Hope that helps... Sounds like a fun trip, if you can keep the kids occupied.

    Good luck and have a safe journey.

  5. Default

    Thank you so much for the replies. Exactly what I was hoping for! We know that San Francisco isn't RV friendly but it's the only place my 11 yr old is looking forward to so we want to make it a high priority. Maybe we can find a campsite within an hours drive and do a few days in there.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Three options I know of.

    You really don't want to be driving into San Fran where it will be 'tricky' to get around and expensive to park. However there are other options. There is an RV park called 'Candlestick' that has a shuttle bus service into the city for a fee of $12. I have not stayed there, but I have heard that it is not much more than a parking lot and when busy, tightly packed, although it does have amenities and the closest to the city afaik. Another one to check out would be San Francisco RV resort in Pacifica to the south. It overlooks the ocean and is close to a BART station that will take you downtown. To the North of the city is Marin RV park in Greenbrae that is also claimed to be near transport links to the city, either by bus or ferry.

    It's a wonderful city that is compact and easy to get around on foot and public transport and the cable cars are a big part of the attraction. I would recommend booking an Alcatraz tour which can be done direct without agent fees or being sold other tours through the NPS.

    Yosemite NP is simply amazing and if you have a couple of nights and a day or 2 to spare it would be on my list of places. If it is an option I would try to book one of the NP 'Pines' campgrounds in the valley.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California

    Default They're still THERE????

    SW Dave mentioned both Candlestick RV and Marin RV. I'm shocked ... years ago, on trips to visit family in the Bay area, we've stayed at each of those. BOTH were like parking lots with hookups. But sometimes, that's all you really need. (That also describes Circusland RV park in Las Vegas.)

    There's a Mobile Home Park/RV park over in Concord that's a little more than that, but you'd have to either drive over to SF and find parking, or take BART over. Warning, though, there are NO pull-through spots in that park, and some of the backing can be done only by skilled drivers because of the placement of trees!


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I don't know if you would want to stay at either Candlestick or Marin. Candlestick is right across the street from the football stadium, and I understand the neighborhood can be a bit dodgy. Unless your purpose is to attend a game or event at the stadium, you probably don't want to be there during the game or event.

    Marin doesn't have these issues, but I just checked and the fee there is $57 a night.

  9. Default

    I looked into Candlestick RV when I did a search on the area and it seemed just okay. I'll also look into the other ones mentioned.

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