Opinions on California

I've taken a only a few trips to California, so I'm no big expert, but I've kept track of where I've stayed & eaten, as well as some of the sights I've seen.

There's a service offering information on, and reservations at, San Francisco hotels that looks good, but I've not used it that much.


I won't stay in a room without a private bath, so assume all rooms in a place have one if I don't mention it specifically.

The Ahwanhee. Yosemite National Park, CA, 209-252-4848, $200, 9/95. The rooms look to be on a par with those at the Yosemite View Lodge, but the building and grounds are wonderful, and, since it's a hotel, rather than a motel, no-one walks past your window to get to their room. Even if you can't stay here, come and eat here.

Called in early August for weekday reservations in late September and got only 1 night, Tuesday, and only at Yosemite Lodge. A friend called in February for reservations in August, which got him a week at Yosemite Lodge, but nothing at Tuolumne Meadows lodge. For summer, start calling at 8AM, 366 days before intended day of arrival and, given distances and traffic into the park, accept ANYTHING, including a tent cabin in Curry Village.

Candle Light Inn. San Carlos between 4th & 5th, Carmel, CA, 800-433-4732, 408-624-6451, $142, 9/95. Room 9 is upstairs in front building w/king-sized bed. Shower head is rather low and construction is a little light, but it's adequately quiet with nice sized rooms and decent furnishings. Breakfast basket left outside door at 8AM is modest but nice. Room 17 might, possibly, be a quieter room.

DoubleTree. Santa Clara, CA, 3/90. Fairly solid highrise, doors tend to slam, but otherwise good. Room 450 next to stairwell & non-connecting, so quiet, but need to get higher to get away from next-door convention center. Soda machines not kept stocked except on top floor. Watch out for billing errors.

Holiday Inn Walnut Creek. 2730 N Main St, Walnut Creek, 800-HOLIDAY, 510-932-3332, $76, 9/95. Room 231 was just fine, and part of a mini-suite, so no hall noise.

Hyatt Hotel. San Jose, CA, 3/90. Really a motor inn. Nice grounds, but flimsy construction lets lots of noise through walls.

Le Baron. San Jose, CA, 3/90. Decent except for an elevator problem at the time.

Los Gatos Lodge. Los Gatos, CA, 3/90. Light construction allows voices to be heard clearly.

Marina Beach Marriott. Marina Del Rey, CA, 3/97. Construction not heavy enough to keep adjacent room's noises out entirely, but room 902, for example, was at end of hall, so only one neighbor to worry about.

Pine Inn. Ocean & Monte Verde, Carmel, CA, $127, 9/95. Room 45 faced Ocean, so it's noisy all day & all night. There's also noise from neighboring rooms. Don't stay there.

Sheraton Harbour Island Hotel. Harbour Island, San Diego, CA, 619-291-2900, $180, 7/95. Room on 2nd floor near tennis courts didn't suit, but room on 7th floor facing the airport was fine.

Stanyan Park Hotel. San Francisco, CA, 3/90. Room 212 faces Waller St & the park, so possibly noisy, but seems like one of their nicest rooms. Rooms 203 & 206 are inside, therefore quieter, if a bit drab.

Wawona Lodge. Yosemite National Park, CA. From the net, I hear that this is a good place to stay, though it's a little run down, and not convenient for the valley or north. Dining room gets booked up, so reservations there, even by guests of the lodge itself, are necessary. Not all rooms have private bath. See Ahwanhee for more on staying in Yosemite.

Yosemite Lodge. Yosemite National Park, CA, $50-70, 9/95. This place would be OK, in a dingy sort of way, if it weren't for the swarms of people and herds of tour buses. Not all rooms have private bath. See Ahwanhee for more on staying in Yosemite.

Yosemite View Lodge. Rt 140, El Portal, CA, 800-321-5261, 209-379-2681, $104, 9/95. Room 2010 faces road, but ventillator covers noise easily. Exterior corridors, so people pass window to get to their rooms. Inefficient desk staff. Nice room and very close to park (15 minutes from Yosemite Valley if traffic is light). Nearby Houdtz restaurant (walking distance) is perfectly adequate. Calling in August for weekday reservations in late September was no problem.


Most of the ratings (like *) are mine. Ones that aren't give the initials of the reviewer.

The Ahwahnee. Yosemite National Park, CA, 209-372-1489 rn, ** 9/95, BL&D, neat, jacket & tie at dinner, cards, $17-24. Lentil soup, turkey sandwich, Monte Christo sandwich (best I've ever had; ask for maple syrup), chocolate indulgence. OK: caramelized peach cake.

Bar Meets Grill. 770 Stanyan St, San Francisco, CA, fair 3/90, L&D, casual. Tortellini w/meat sauce.

Cafe at Chez Panise. 1517 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA, 510-548-5525 (no res. upstairs on weekends), ** 9/95, neat, cards, $17-22. Salads, swordfish w/aioli & potato-onion gratin, grilled chicken w/corn & porcini salsa, chocolate tart w/white chocolate ice cream and chocolate sauce, apple frangipane tart.

Cafe Milano. DoubleTree Hotel, Santa Clara, CA, fair 4/90, daily BL&D, casual, cards, $8-15. Grilled fish sandwich. OK: French toast, swordfish.

Carmel Cafe. Mission between 5th & 6th, Carmel, CA, 408-624-1922, * 9/95, B&L, casual, cards, $15. Lentil soup, turkey club sandwich, meatloaf sandwich, scones, beignets (weekends only), pancakes, waffles, oat cakes, omelets.

Casanova Restaurant. 5th Ave @San Carlos, Carmel, CA 408-625-0501, ** cbg 9/95.

Central Texas B-B-Q. just off Rt 1, Castroville, CA. Brisket, pork ribs, hand-made (on premises) sausage, chicken.

Doug's Bar-B-Q. 3600 San Pablo Ave, Emeryville, CA, 415-655-9048, M-Th 11AM-midnight, F-Sa -2:30AM, Su 12-9:30, $4-8. Takeout only. Pork ribs, beef ribs, beef brisket,

Edie's Diner. Admiralty Way, Marina del Rey, CA, * 3/97, casual, cards, $6-10. Hot open-faced turkey sandwich, blueberry hotcakes, chocolate silk pie.

El Burrito Jr #2. Figueroa, Los Angeles, CA, fair 3/97, ns3 (at most), no cards, $2-5. Taquitos w/beef, chicken burrito.

Fishwife. 1996-1/2 Sunset Dr, Pacific Grove, CA, ** 9/95, W-M 10-10, casual, cards, $15-20. Cheese flautas, golden-fried calamari, crab tostaditas, prawns w/chilies & onions & lime, snapper, Key lime pie, mango cheesecake, chocolate torte.

Flaherty's. Dolores & 6th, Carmel, CA, 408-625-1500 (grill), 624-0311 (oyster bar), * cbg 9/95. Chowder.

Houdtz Family Parkline Restaurant. Rt 140, El Portal, CA, fair 9/95, daily 7AM-9PM, casual, cards, $25. Chicken marsala, burgers, fries (when well done), apple crumb pie. OK: steaks, chocolate mousse cake.

James' Beach Cafe. 600 Venice, Venice, CA, * 3/97, neat, cards, $16-22. Rye stuffed pork chop, chocolate raspberry torte.

Mountain Room Broiler. Yosemite Lodge, Yosemite National Park, CA, fair 9/95, casual, cards, $15-22. Prime rib. OK: beef tenderloin (if they don't overcook it), chocolate cake. Avoid: cauliflower.

Patisserie Boissiere. Mission St south of Ocean, Carmel, CA, 408-624-5008, * 9/95, neat, cards, $15-20. Chocolate eclairs, bittersweet pot au chocolat. OK: chicken Caesar salad.

Picasso. 4th St south of Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA, * 3/97, neat, cards, $16-22. Rustic apple tart. OK: flattened steak w/garlic.

Sans Souci. Lincoln between 5th & 6th, Carmel, CA, 408-624-6220, * 9/95, jacket, cards, $17-22. Prawns, smoked salmon w/creme fraiche & caviar, filet mignon, duck w/maple glaze, creme brulee, fruit tart.

Other reviewers: cbg - Cynthia Bondesen Grier.


Coit Tower, San Francisco. This town has such a personal feeling to it that when I see something there, I just want to start walking until I get to it. Doesn't work; park as close as you can. I think this place closes around 5PM, so try to get up there well before then.

Yosemite National Park. In mid-September of 1995, my wife and I visited the park, where we saw the Mariposa Grove of Giant Trees, the "tunnel view", Bridalveil Falls, Vernal Falls (climbed it, too), Yosemite Falls, Glacier Point, Taft Point, etc. We loved all of it, but the things I dream of going back to see again are the waterfalls in the spring and the Tuolumne Meadows any time. The trail maps, $2.50 each, for Yosemite Valley and for the Tuolumne Meadows are very good to have.

One mistake: we thought we would take a walk in the Tuolumne Meadow, bringing only 1 pint of water apiece with us. It was so beautiful, we just kept going & going, hiking for 6 hours in Lyell Canyon. The air was cool, so we didn't die of thirst, but we drank about a gallon of water that night.