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California on the road: a 9 days itinerary. From the San Francisco Bay Area as far as the Northern Coast

A 9 days itinerary through the Northern California on the road.

Why go there? What to do and what to see? What stages do we have to consider? Where to sleep? And above all what do we have to expect?

These are the most frequent questions I was asked after my latest journey to the Golden State: a different path – unusual and very beautiful – among the Northern Coast, the Route 1 and the San Francisco Bay Area.

California on the road

So, using at best the experience ran up during my previous travels to this state and the deep knowledge of all the places visited, I studied a complete itinerary to allow everyone who wants it to enjoy the best of the Northern California on the road.

All this without renouncing to anything, leaving from and arriving to the San Francisco Int. Airport or – in case of more advantageous flights – even from the San Jose Int. Airport.

A 9 days itinerary and about 1700km – with deepen links to click on to find out more about the single tours – to combine at your arrival or your leaving with at least 3 nights in (or near) San Francisco to be able to visit it extremely calmly, how it deserves.

Northern California on the road: a 9 days itinerary

California on the road – Day one

Arrival at the San Francisco Int. Airport – usually late in the afternoon. Rental car collecting and stay overnight

[You can decide whether starting the on the road from the day after your arrival and delay the two days in San Francisco at the end of the tour or vice versa]

California on the road – Day two

From San Francisco as far as Bodega Bay through the Sonoma County – 200km

Stages:

  • Stop in Glen Ellenper, breakfast at the Glen Ellen Village Market and tour of the Jack London State Historic Park, the park hosting the house-museum and the estate of one among the most famous American writers, Jack London.
  • Stop in Healdsburg, one among the most beautiful towns in the Sonoma County, in its neighborhoods, farms and vineyards where to stop and taste local wines and products – cheeses, vegetables, meats
  • Armstrong Redwoods State Park, an idyllic giant redwoods park near the Russian River
  • Bodega Bay, tour of “The Birds” movie locations by Alfred Hitchcockclick here to find out more – and stay overnight

California on the road: the Sonoma County

Visit the Jack London State Historic Park, Sonoma County, California

What to see in Northern California: Bodega Bay

California on the road – Day three

From Bodega Bay as far as Mendocino, Mendocino County – 170km

Stages:

  • Point Arena, trekking (2 hours about) at the Stornetta Public Lands to discover the naturalistic islands created by the San Andrea’s Fault
  • Mendocino, tour of the town and some movies and TV series locations (among them the “Murder, she wrote” one, Jessica Fletcher). Here there’s the detailed itinerary.
  • Point Cabrillo Lighthouse
  • Fort Bragg and Glass Beach
  • Stay overnight in Mendocino County, possibly in a B&B straight on the Ocean

California on the road: Point Arena

Visit Mendocino, California: Point Cabrillo Lighthouse

California on the road – Day four

From Mendocino as far as Arcata – 260km

Stages along the Hwy 101:

  • Avenue of the Giants, with stop at the Shrine Drive Thru Tree
  • Tour of Eureka
  • Detour northwards to the Tall Trees Grove, a path of the Redwoods National and State Park (you can require the pass at the Visitor Center, the trekking is about two abundant hours) where you can admire the highest Redwoods in the world
  • Going back to Arcata, tour of the small town and stay overnight

California on the road: Tall Trees Grove

California on the road: Redwoods National and State Park

California on the road – Day five

From Arcata as far as the Lassen Volcanic National Park – 300km

Leaving early in the morning through the Hwy 36 towards Reddings and then along the Hwy 44 to reach the Visitor Center of the Lassen Volcanic National Park to visit and explore the biggest dome-shaped volcano in the world.

Stay overnight in Shingletown.

California on the road: Lassen Volcanic National Park

California on the road – Day six

From Shingletown as far as Oakland – 380km

Stages:

  • Sacramento, tour of the Old Town
  • Berkeley, tour of the university campus
  • Arrival and stay overnight in Oakland

California on the road: Old Sacramento

What to see in Oakland: sunset from the Jack London Square

California on the road – Day seven

A full day dedicated to the tour of Oakland. Here you find the complete itinerary.

Stay overnight in Oakland.

California on the road – Day eight

From Oakland as far as San Jose – 90km

Stages:

  • San Francisco Premium Outlet, a stop for shopping in the cheapest mall in the whole Bay Area
  • Arrival in San Jose, tour of the Mission San Jose, the San Pedro historic district, the elegant Santana Row and the Winchester Mystery House, the most “haunted” house in the USA
  • Stay overnight in San Jose

California on the road: San Jose

California on the road – Day nine

From San Jose as far as San Francisco Int. Airport – 60 km

Stages through the futuristic and technologic Silicon Valley:

  • Google Visitor Center
  • Palo Alto, Stanford University, tour of the campus
  • Facebook Headquarter
  • San Francisco Int. Airport, giving back the car, leaving

California on the road: Silicon Valley

Northern California on the road: useful cues and tips to build one’s own path

Planning and having this type of itinerary is extremely easy and above all it can be done by everyone, above all since the km – about 1700 for 9 days – are not so many for a road trip in the USA and the stages studied for every single day allow to cut the longest travel’s routes.

My tip: include the tour of San Francisco staying overnight in Oakland (with a remarkable saving about hotel and parking) or at the end of the on the road in order to be able to rest after quite a lot of road and so go around easily on foot and/or by the efficient transits, BART trains first of all.

Northern California on the road, the 9 days itinerary

The roads are all in very good conditions. The only more complicated stretch – because of the passage through the hills and the winding roads of the Shasta Trinity National Forest – is the Hwy 36 one, from Arcata as far as the Lasssen Volcanic National Park.

A (very) useful suggestion.

Always get informed before leaving about the conditions of the Route 1: during the rainy season the road is subjected to landslides. In case this occurs, long detours on the US5 are required (in this case it’s better to plan them in advance).

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Ricevi i miei consigli di viaggio per organizzare al meglio la tua vacanza negli USA (e nel mondo) e scoprire posti unici e suggestivi, quelli, per intenderci, che non sempre trovi in una semplice guida di viaggio.

Ricevi i miei consigli di viaggio per organizzare al meglio la tua vacanza negli USA (e nel mondo) e scoprire posti unici e suggestivi, quelli, per intenderci, che non sempre trovi in una semplice guida di viaggio.

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