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Northern CA: Santa Rosa, Mendocino, Avenue of the Giants

Northern CA: Santa Rosa, Mendocino, Avenue of the Giants

Old Jun 22nd, 2022, 10:35 AM
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Northern CA: Santa Rosa, Mendocino, Avenue of the Giants

Hi,
We will need to be in Santa Rosa for 2 weeks this summer. We will do touring around there, such Sonoma, Napa, Russian River and Point Reyes.

We have just 2 days and 1 night where we can travel further and do an overnight.

We are thinking of exploring the Mendocino area coastline and Avenue of the Giants. Does that sound like a realistic itinerary for just one night and 2 days? I'm concerned it will be too much driving, but not sure. Also trying to figure out a scenic travel route to and from Santa Rosa, as well as a nice place to stay (clean, pleasant, possibly nice views or setting) overnight. We are interested primarily in Scenic nature and prefer less touristy atmospheres when possible. Any feedback is welcome!

Also wondering if the Mendocino coastal area should be a separate day trip....

Last edited by JSamps; Jun 22nd, 2022 at 10:55 AM.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2022, 12:04 PM
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I'd do one or the other -- either Mendocino/Ft Bragg . . . or . . . Avenue of the Giants

SR to say Redcrest (towards the top of the Ave) and back to Santa Rosa - just the drive -- is about 7 hours and adding the short side trip to Ferndale it would be about an 8 hour R-T so just about doable as an overnight with multiple stops in along the Avenue and a walk around Ferndale.

SR to Ft Bragg / Mendocino and back is about a 5 hour total drive so a little easier as a single over night -- The biggest problem would be if this is a weekend and finding a place that doesn't have a 2 or 3 night minimum.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2022, 12:05 PM
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Oh - and welcome to Fodors
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Old Jun 22nd, 2022, 12:09 PM
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Me again -- Re trying to do the 'scenic' route (which would be either north or south one way along the coast on Hwy 1) Nope -- whichever you decide just head up 101 to get to either Mendocino or the Avenue of the Giants quicker. You can see plenty of Hwy 1 scenery on your other day trips out of Santa Rosa.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2022, 12:36 PM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
I'd do one or the other -- either Mendocino/Ft Bragg . . . or . . . Avenue of the Giants

SR to say Redcrest (towards the top of the Ave) and back to Santa Rosa - just the drive -- is about 7 hours and adding the short side trip to Ferndale it would be about an 8 hour R-T so just about doable as an overnight with multiple stops in along the Avenue and a walk around Ferndale.

SR to Ft Bragg / Mendocino and back is about a 5 hour total drive so a little easier as a single over night -- The biggest problem would be if this is a weekend and finding a place that doesn't have a 2 or 3 night minimum.
I got confused because MapQuest is making it seem that it takes about 3 hours to get to the Avenue of the Giants. We are going on a week night. So in a nutshell you think these are definitely 2 separate trips? We don't want to do a 7 hour drive, so does that rule out the Giants?
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Old Jun 22nd, 2022, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
Oh - and welcome to Fodors
Thank You!!!
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Old Jun 22nd, 2022, 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by JSamps View Post
I got confused because MapQuest is making it seem that it takes about 3 hours to get to the Avenue of the Giants. We are going on a week night. So in a nutshell you think these are definitely 2 separate trips? We don't want to do a 7 hour drive, so does that rule out the Giants?
Yes - Santa Rosa to the bottom end of the avenue would take about 3 hours. The Ave itself takes a minimum of an hour more.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2022, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
Yes - Santa Rosa to the bottom end of the avenue would take about 3 hours. The Ave itself takes a minimum of an hour more.
What would you recommend, considering we have just 2 days and one evening to be out of the SR area? Also considering we haven't been to CA ever, and don't know if/when we will be back. Thanks!
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Old Jun 22nd, 2022, 01:23 PM
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I personally think The Avenue of the Giants + a wander around Ferndale and back to Santa Rosa would be totally doable in two days. Maybe staye here if they have availability https://gingerbread-mansion.com

What I'd do is drive straight through to Ferndale, stay the night, then take all day meandering back down to Santa Rosa the next day spending as much time/stop as many places as you want along the Avenue.

OR -- If that seems too much -- Armstrong Redwoods State Park is only about 45 mins from Santa Rosa for an easy excursion https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=450
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Old Jun 22nd, 2022, 03:48 PM
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Years ago I drove through the Avenue of the Giants, it is something I will never forget, nothing I’d ever seen before. Ferndale looks like an interesting stop that I hope to do one day.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2022, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by curiousgeo View Post
Years ago I drove through the Avenue of the Giants, it is something I will never forget, nothing Iíd ever seen before. Ferndale looks like an interesting stop that I hope to do one day.
Wow! Thanks for sharing that!
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Old Jun 23rd, 2022, 09:03 AM
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Agree with janisg, we did the Avenue this spring. Drive up 101 to Ferndale or another town, and the next day drive south. The road itself is not super long. Be sure to make alot of stops along the way.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2022, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by emmajm View Post
Agree with janisg, we did the Avenue this spring. Drive up 101 to Ferndale or another town, and the next day drive south. The road itself is not super long. Be sure to make alot of stops along the way.
which road should I drive down on, the same one we drive up on?
any suggestions for where to stay - we are a family of 3 ?

Thanks!
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Old Jun 23rd, 2022, 05:44 PM
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Sorry, no idea about side trips, out of Santa Rosa, but make a side trip to The Bottle Barn for a seemingly endless supply of local and not so local wines, for a drink in your hotel room after a day of travel. We were last in the area for a work trip, so couldn't do many side trips to interesting places.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2022, 09:51 PM
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Originally Posted by JSamps View Post
which road should I drive down on, the same one we drive up on?
any suggestions for where to stay - we are a family of 3 ?

Thanks!
With just one night/best part of two days you really only have one practical option -- 101 north and back south. The only other feasible option is Hwy 1 one direction or the other and you simply don't have the time. If you are making good time on your way back to SR, you 'could' cut over to Ft Bragg/Mendocino/Hwy 1 from Leggett and then back on 128 east to 101 from Albion. But that adds more than an hour's drive time on an already rushed itinerary. Plus the road form Leggett to Rockport/Ft Bragg is EXTREMELY twisty turny.
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Old Jun 24th, 2022, 05:42 AM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
With just one night/best part of two days you really only have one practical option -- 101 north and back south. The only other feasible option is Hwy 1 one direction or the other and you simply don't have the time. If you are making good time on your way back to SR, you 'could' cut over to Ft Bragg/Mendocino/Hwy 1 from Leggett and then back on 128 east to 101 from Albion. But that adds more than an hour's drive time on an already rushed itinerary. Plus the road form Leggett to Rockport/Ft Bragg is EXTREMELY twisty turny.
Ok thatís really helpful.

Could Mendocino coast area be a seperate Day Trip during our stay in Santa Rosa, and is that worth doing? Or are the lower parts of the coast (closer to SR) just as scenic?



Last edited by JSamps; Jun 24th, 2022 at 05:46 AM.
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Old Jun 24th, 2022, 07:05 AM
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The entire coast between Marin County and Mendocino is scenic. Mendocino is too far for a day trip -- or it would be for me. It is about a 2.5 hour drive each way by the fastest route. Between Mendocino, the Botanic Garden, Glass Beach, Ft Bragg etc you'd really want an overnight. But there are lots of scenic places farther south on the coast that are more than doable as day trips..

Ft Ross - 90 minutes from SR.
Bodega Bay - 40 minutes
Jenner - just under an hour
Dillon Beach - 40 mins.
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Old Jun 24th, 2022, 07:27 AM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
The entire coast between Marin County and Mendocino is scenic. Mendocino is too far for a day trip -- or it would be for me. It is about a 2.5 hour drive each way by the fastest route. Between Mendocino, the Botanic Garden, Glass Beach, Ft Bragg etc you'd really want an overnight. But there are lots of scenic places farther south on the coast that are more than doable as day trips..

Ft Ross - 90 minutes from SR.
Bodega Bay - 40 minutes
Jenner - just under an hour
Dillon Beach - 40 mins.
Thanks for this info. Is Point Reyes a worthwhile day trip?
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Old Jun 24th, 2022, 07:51 AM
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Originally Posted by JSamps View Post
Thanks for this info. Is Point Reyes a worthwhile day trip?

Oh sure -- I didn't mention it because you had listed it in your OP so figured you were already planning to go there.
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Old Jun 24th, 2022, 08:17 AM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
Oh sure -- I didn't mention it because you had listed it in your OP so figured you were already planning to go there.
Oh thatís makes sense, thanks!!
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