Where to go in Monterey, Yosemite, and San Francisco?

Dec 15, 2009
My wife and I just booked our annual 4th of July trip. Each year we meet up with my side of the family in a different city - we spend a few days with my family, but my wife and I usually extend the trip to 9-10 days so we can spend some time on our own taking photos and seeing the sites.

Anyway, this year we will be flying out to California. We'll be in Monterey for two days, Yosemite for about three days, and San Francisco for a few days before the rest of my family arrives.

I've just started doing some research online - are there special spots in any of these locations that you all suggest for great photos? For San Francisco, I know about the location on that island by the Bay Bridge to get the view of the city, and Golden Gate Park, but that's all I know about the city. I know even less about Yosemite, and nothing at all about Monterey except for the fact that they have a good aquarium that we'll visit.

We'll be there from June 25 through July 5, if that matters...

I would love to get some advice, and maybe see some of your wonderful photos!
Mar 30, 2006
Real Name
Monterey/Carmel/Big Sur is beautiful part of California.

* Monterey Bay Aquarium
* Lone Cypress on 17 mile drive in Monterey
* Point Lobos State Park
* Garrapata State Beach
* Point Sur Lighthouse
* Bixby Bridge
* Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park (McWay Falls)
* Nepenthe Restaurant
* Elkhorn Slough for wildlife viewing, sea otter hangout in the slough
to get out of the surf. There are boat operators to take you
out on the water.

There are lots of threads about where to shoot in SF. I've posted this
map in other threads.

Thomas Hawk, well know photo blogger in the Bay Area has posted
this blog about places to shoot in SF.
The one place I would love to shoot is from the 48th floor of the
Mandarin Oriental Hotel at dusk. They have an awesome view of

The Bay Area has a lot of micro-climates so SF proper can be pretty
cool while San Jose can be hot. The Central Valley on your way to
Yosemite will be hot.

May 19, 2010
Marin Headlands on the north side of Golden Gate Bridge allows for some great views of SF and the bridge. Make sure you go beyond the normal view points just off the north end of the bridge. Go into the hills beyond to Wallace Battery and the Nike Missile site. Make sure to bring along some cold weather gear in SF, as the fog in the summer can make it cold, although provides for some interesting photos.
Mar 20, 2011
Central Coast of California USA
Road washout

Hwy 1 near "Bixby bridge" had a slide that took half the roadway out due to excessive rain recently...and the road is closed at that point (as of 3-25-11 anyway)...You might want to check with the California Highway Patrol or "Caltrans" website to find out how close to the bridge you can actually get...They say it could be a few months before it might re-open... Just a thought..
Apr 21, 2009
Boston, MA
* Point Lobos State Park

* Elkhorn Slough for wildlife viewing, sea otter hangout in the slough
to get out of the surf. There are boat operators to take you
out on the water.

I second the Nepenthe restaurant - good food and a nice view. We weren't very impressed by Big Sur though in general.

Point Lobos is incredible, if you like wildlife definitely do that. You can watch from the cliffs to see seals down below swimming under water, which you don't see often. Watched herons hunting also.

And we walked into Elkhorn Slough, saw absolutely nothing but a lot of ugly turkey vultures, however at 7 am, we went to Moss Landing at the entrance, and all the sea otters were hanging out sleeping. You gotta check that out. Drive around Jetty Road to the parking lot at the end - we were like 30 feet from the sleeping otters.


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May 13, 2009
San francisco
I believe you were referring to Angel Island as the island.

Fort Battery in Marin gets you one of the best views of the GG Bridge.
Fort Mason right under the GG Bridge.
Bowling Ball Beach in Mendocino (never been there, but apparently the beach is lined with spherical rocks)
Muir Woods
Point Reyes
Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland
Carmel, CA, just south of Monterey
Hearst Castle
Big Sur

The last two are a bit south of Monterey.

Of course, I'm assuming you will want to visit the regular tourist spots too?
Pier 39
Coit Tower
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