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San Jose to Crescent City Coastal Drive & Redwoods

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4 posts
5 reviews
San Jose to Crescent City Coastal Drive & Redwoods

We are planning an 8-day trip to the Redwoods in mid-April. We fly into San Jose and will arrive about 4 p.m. on a Friday, where we will rent a car.

What's the best driving route to get to Crescent City? We get in lateafternoon and I believe it's a fairly lengthy drive. Any suggestions about where to stop for the night? Will traffic be too heavy to get into SF?

I chose Crescent City because it's near Jed Smith. But we are open to other suggestions as well. I'm looking for clean, mid-range recommendations that run $150-$160/night.

This is my husband's first trip to Northern CA and I haven't been since I was a kid. It's our 25th Anniversary and I'd like to make it special.

Thanks!

10 replies to this topic
San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
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59,400 posts
149 reviews
1. Re: San Jose to Crescent City Coastal Drive & Redwoods

by the time you leave around 5 it is peak traffic time so is the plan to spend all 8 days in the Redwood State and National Parks area or see other places

You could drive down 280 to Pacifica and stay there for the night and then head to Crescent City the next day via 101 or via the more scenic hwy 1 which is winding and curvy and away from the ocean until Bodega bay or you can cut across later and do Mendocino and Fort Bragg before getting back to 101 at Leggett.

no wrong answer -- depends on what you want to do and see

San Jose, California
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for California
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18,198 posts
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2. Re: San Jose to Crescent City Coastal Drive & Redwoods

Arriving at 4pm on a Friday will put you in the thick of the commute/weekend getaway traffic, so be prepared for that. Depending on where you are coming from (ie how long your airplane travel will take and what timezone your body clock will be), you might want to just stay in San Jose and get a fresh start in the morning. Have a nice dinner, get a good sleep, and avoid cruddy commute traffic.

You mentioned the possibility of driving up to SF for the night - that is an option too - there will be traffic, but it is absolutely doable. And you'd be an hour or so closer to Crescent City for your drive the next day. I probably wouldn't go any farther north than SF though - there will be plenty of traffic heading north from SF as well. Once in SF, you'll probably only have time for dinner before going to bed that night, but could potentially do some sightseeing in the morning before heading out.

For the drive to Crescent City itself - are you planning to do the drive in 1 day or stay overnight(s) along the way. If one day, then from SF, go over the Golden Gate Bridge and go straight up Hwy 101. You can make a couple small detours: Avenue of the Giants and Newton P Drury Parkway for some additional redwood scenery.

So Cal
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12,110 posts
75 reviews
3. Re: San Jose to Crescent City Coastal Drive & Redwoods

If you're planning to drive from the bay area to CC in one day, I'd stick to the 101. Leaving from Martinez in the morning, we had plenty of time for a lengthy stop at Humboldt Redwoods, a few coffee/gas/restroom stops, and still arrived in CC before dark.

But with 8 days, I'd take the 101 up and a combo of 101/1 down, or vice-versa. Which way depends on whether you want to get the longest drive done with at the beginning or the end.

Level Contributor
4 posts
5 reviews
4. Re: San Jose to Crescent City Coastal Drive & Redwoods

We're flying in from the Midwest, so Friday will be a long day for us. I was thinking about spending the night in San Jose because I know neither one of us will be eager to face SF Friday traffic. Any suggestions for lodgings/dinner?

I was thinking about stopping in Humboldt for the second night and then finishing the drive the third morning. What do you think of that? We want to keep it leisurely as much as possible.

San Jose, California
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for California
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18,198 posts
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5. Re: San Jose to Crescent City Coastal Drive & Redwoods

In San Jose, you can stay close to the airport and drive to get something to eat, or you can stay downtown and walk. Just depends on what you want to do. Close to the airport there are several good places - Courtyard Marriott, Residence Inn, Springhill Suites, etc - all good choices. Downtown you have the Hotel St Claire and the De Anza, which are historic hotels. For newer hotels you have a Marriott, a Hyatt Place, the brand new AC Marriott hotel, and the Fairmont if you really want so slash out.

For restaurants - tons of choices. Here are some ideas to get you started - all are within easy walking distance of the downtown hotels:

Farmers Union - New American, very good beer menu

Mezcal - Southern Mexican

Il Fornaio - Italian (it's a chain, but really good)

Pizza Chicago - pizza

Cafe Stritch - casual American - live music

San Pedro Square Market - food hall with indoor/outdoor communal seating, sometimes live music

SoFa Market - also a food hall with an arts vibe

la Victoria - taqueria

Firehouse #1 - Gastropub

Namea - Mediterranean

Level Contributor
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5 reviews
6. Re: San Jose to Crescent City Coastal Drive & Redwoods

Thanks NM! Great suggestions.

gp1
Eureka, California
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6 reviews
7. Re: San Jose to Crescent City Coastal Drive & Redwoods

Hi Lori S

You might want to repost this in the Redwood National Park forum for more advice once you get here. I agree that you should stay in San Jose the first night. With 7 full days I would also look into driving up or down Highway 1. You might want to stay in two or more places when you are on the north coast.

Have Fun

GP

Oregon Coast
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for Crescent City, Oregon Coast, Oregon, Redwood National Park
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44,571 posts
1,111 reviews
8. Re: San Jose to Crescent City Coastal Drive & Redwoods

Hi Lori S, welcome. I agree with poster gp1... as usual, LOL!

Here is the forum for Redwood Nat'l Park. You'll find most of the above posters there too :-) But you might want to take the time to read some of the forum threads, as you will gain valuable information about the area:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g21931…

*

The "Redwood empire" stretches about 100 miles or so in a narrow band north/south, from around the Garberville area to Crescent City. The actual Redwood National Park -- unlike most national parks -- encompasses state parks within it, but don't worry about exactly just where one becomes the other as it won't matter a bit (Jed Smith is a state park, for example.) Scattered all through the NP area are homes, ranches and other private property. There are no gates and no entry fees other than for one area at Gold Bluffs Beach/Fern Canyon.

So, in order to avoid hours of back & forth driving, you very well may prefer to stay in two spots. Each town has it's own "vibe" and they are all different! Some are set right in forested areas, other larger towns are not. Some are more scenic than others, some have more lodging, and so on.

>>I was thinking about stopping in Humboldt for the second night<<

There is no town called Humboldt - I'm guessing you mean Humboldt Redwoods State Park?

To give you an idea of driving time, from the north side of the SF bay area to Eureka is about 5-ish hours without stops via 101. That is a good road, mostly freeway and four lanes up to about Eureka. North of there, it's mostly two lanes.

Highway 101 v. Highway 1 -- Highway 1 is the coast road. It is slow, somewhat winding and one of the most scenic drives in the USA. I would suggest going south on this road, as the passenger has the best views! From Eureka to the Fort Bragg/Mendocino area it's about 3 hours drive time. There are many things to see and do along Highway 1, including lovely parks in the Fort Bragg/Mendocino area, Fort Ross (the Russian settlement), a pioneer cemetery in Manchester, more beautiful parks and viewpoints, and several interesting lighthouses. It is *not* a one day drive on this route from Eureka to SF, though unless you don't want to stop anywhere :-)

1 post
9. Re: San Jose to Crescent City Coastal Drive & Redwoods

The only input I have, not knowing Crescent City, is your plan to arrive on Friday rush hour and drive forever. I would probably arrive Fri AM, if at all possible. Traffic is awful in CA any weekday at that hour, but Friday is particularly hellish. Driving to the City on a Fri night? Asking for misery. Can you land in sfo instead?

Edited: 20 May 2018, 06:56
Oregon Coast
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for Crescent City, Oregon Coast, Oregon, Redwood National Park
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10. Re: San Jose to Crescent City Coastal Drive & Redwoods

Hi ELIZABETH K, welcome to TripAdvisor. This thread is from February and Lori S was planning to travel in mid-April... so presumably she has been and gone and hopefully she enjoyed her visit :-)

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