November 1, 2007



That's the Atlantic coast, from last weekend's visit to Stuart, Florida. Saturday, I'm going out to the Pacific coast. I need to pick a place to stay... maybe somewhere where I can get a comparable gaze at an ocean. I've got to be in Palo Alto Monday afternoon. But where to stay?


rcocean said...

It depends. Are you going to drive into Stanford every AM for a few days, or do you just want to spend a few days by the beach afterwards.

If the latter, I suggest you stay in Carmel. If the former, you could try Half Moon Bay. You could take Hwy 92 to Palo Alto. I've never liked Santa Cruz, but thats another possibility.

Randal Rogers said...

Half Moon Bay might be good, but you'll need to be lucky and be there on one of the 10 days a year it isn't shrouded in fog. (Or so it sometimes seems.)

Meade said...

Speaking of fog, my big sister lives in a little cottage right on the beach up in Stinson. I'm sure she'd be happy to let you crash there for a night or two. Would you like her phone number? It's Marin County: you might have to lie about who you voted for in '00 and '04.

Randal Rogers said...

Your little sister lives in Stinson Beacj and didn't vote for Gore?

Maxine Weiss said...

Post Ranch Inn---Big Sur.

But, you won't be able to afford it--- not on a teacher's salary.

Tim said...

Stay in the City - reverse commute drive - and plenty of hip boutique hotels ( to stay in.

Palo Alto is a college town without the typical college town charm. It's too serious, and takes itself too seriously. Boring.

John Stodder said...

The best place to stay for beach access is Pebble Beach, home of the Bing Crosby tournament, but also one of the most dramatic strips of coast in the world. It won't matter if it's foggy.

Pricey. But I'm assuming you can expense the hotel? Carmel is right next door, but take some time to walk the Pebble Beach shoreline if you stay there.

You'll need to get up early to beat the traffic into Palo Alto.

former law student said...

Beach to Palo Alto is problematic. The coastside is not really developed -- still largely strawberry and brussel sprout fields.

Pebble/Carmel to Palo Alto is 90 minutes to two hours even w/o traffic. There are not really hotels on Ocean Beach in San Francisco. The least amount of driving would be the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay -- get a bowl of chowder at Ketch Joanne in Princeton.

Santa Cruz has more places to stay. Capitola is smaller and more manageable, but a little further south.

Your best bet for clear skies any time of year is Monterey. Even if the whole coast is socked in, there will be an opening over Monterey.

Palo Alto is more a law firm town these days than a college town. Lots of house-rich old people and nouveau-riche middle-aged people. Very few places to go on a student budget, except for dives like the Dutch Goose or Antonio's Nut House. Plenty of upscale restaurants on University, and to a lesser extent California. Or you could sit in the sun with a burger and a quart of beer at the Alpine Inn/Rosotti's/Zott's on Alpine Road and Arrastradero.

Robert Holmgren said...

Maps are deceiving. Stanford is about an hour's drive to the coast.

Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay
Beach House Hotel

former law student said...

The Pillar Point Harbor the Beach House claims to overlook is in Princeton. You could probably still book a salmon trip, and bring a couple kings or cohoes home with you.

Clang!Honk!Tweet! said...

Tim is exactly right.  Palo Alto is a college town as stimulating and lively as, say, Saskatoon, but without the weather to charm you.

If you stay anywhere but Palo Alto, you will have to heed John Stodder's advice about traffic. "Early" means you should be up and on your way by 3:30 if you are coming from such interesting places as Pebble Beach, Stinson Beach, or Half Mad Bay.  You could lay off until 4:00 or so if you are leaving from San Jose.

I moved East 20-odd years ago, and every time I go back for a visit, I'm a puddle of frustrated rage over the traffic. And I drive in Boston and New York all the time.

It's probably too late, but I like this service if you want to rent an apartment, house, etc. for a short-term visit or a weekend.  Prices are high, but if you wanted to hang out on the beach, you could find a place in
Stinson, Half Moon Bay, etc., not to mention San Francisco, or even dreary Palo Alto.  I've used them a couple of times for snap vacation rentals elsewhere and have been happy with the results.

former law student said...

the noisemaker is unnecessarily pessimistic about coming from San Jose. An hour seems right coming from Half Moon Bay because not that many people live there. But the highway is two lane and winding, so if you get stuck behind a truck you may need to practice your zazen.

If you stay in Carmel or Monterey, you might want to eat at Fifi's in Pacific Grove (on the road to Pebble). Pretty good food, and the lot is full of Pebble Beachsters with their discreet "Del Monte Forest" medallions, which prevent their having to pay tolls on the 17 Mile Drive.

former law student said...

Oh, and there are few true college towns on the West Coast. The closest to a place like Mad City is Eugene, Oregon. In California your best bet is Davis or perhaps Chico.

Ann Althouse said...

Is Palo Alto so awful? I'm staying two nights before the event at Stanford, which begins at 12:25 PM, so you see I don't need to stay in Palo Alto. I have a big choice of where to stay. I'll have a car. Help me make the best choice. I'm interested in photography.

robert.o said...

yes, palo alto IS so awful... berkeley is a bit of a commute, but somehow, i see you staying at the claremont
there are a few little motels out by the beach in san francisco, between judah and lincoln at la playa if you insist on both s.f. and the beach

rcocean said...

Palo Alto isn't that bad, there are some nice old homes, the santa clara foothills are pretty, and the Campus is nice, but its really is just a standard California suburb.

I'd choose SF, you can get a lot of night-life photos and drive down Hwy 1 or Skyline Blvd. for nature shots. Or drive up to Marin to Stimson beach and the Redwoods.

former law student said...

The morning trans-bay commute is horrendous, so don't stay in Berkeley, which is increasingly charmless. Besides, commuting from Berkeley to Palo Alto killed David Halberstam. (A grad student who was driving him to an interview with Y.A. Tittle made an unwise left turn.)

Palo Alto is not so awful. Imagine a hybrid of Evanston and Oak Brook Illinois, but without the beaches.

rcocean said...

I've only been there a few times but Berkley always depresses the Hell out of me. It was always cold/foggy and the place seemed dirty with the usual collection of colorful homeless types scattered about.

I didn't see a lot of smiling faces. But maybe its changed in the last 5 years.

Clang!Honk!Tweet! said...

Hey, both my wife and I are Cal grads, and my wife grew up in Berkeley. No offense to Professor Althouse, but my wife thinks it's less depressing than Madison, mostly because the PC-ness is tempered with a finely-tuned sense of the absurd and a general laissez-faire Bay Area attitude. Not having spent much time in Madison, I can't say for myself, but that's the view of someone who has seen academia in both places.

And, of course, the weather in the Bay Area, especially down in the flatlands of Oakland and parts of Berkeley, can be foggy, dreary-damp horrible. You need to get up into the hills and look down on the foggy below to get a true perspective. Then you start to smile.

Anyway, if you want depressing, it's back to Palo Alto. Actually, the recommendation of the Claremont in Berkeley would be perfect for Althouse, except for the much-noted cross-bay and other traffic. If Althouse is willing to chance getting back and forth to Half Moon Bay, my other recommendation would be to second that of Robert Holmgren, and say the Beach House Hotel.

Maxine Weiss said...

Let's face it, you can't afford the Bay Area. Anything south, into Pebble Beach and Half Moon Bay are way out of your price range, too.

Sausalito and Marin County are nice and close, but you won't get anything with a view for less than $450.00 a night. ---Anything decent, that is.

Maxine Weiss said...

Where's all your friends with houses in Atherton and Hillsborough ?

Ann Althouse said...

Maxine: Are you coming to the meetup? You have to email me for the time and place. It is in SF.

Maxine Weiss said...

Regrettably, I won't be there.

By the way, I don't use email.

I see no reason why all communication can't go through these comments.

Love, Maxine

Ann Althouse said...

"I see no reason why all communication can't go through these comments."

You don't? You think I should put a time and place here in the comments for anyone to see?

Kenneth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maxine Weiss said...

Yes! You act like this is "meetup" is some sort of exclusive venture, at some private hideaway.

Unless this one is different from all the others, they've all been held at a public venue, come-as-you-are, come one-come all !

You announce a meetup on the World Wide Web, encouraging anyone, and everyone to show up.....but the catch is ---you've must email.

As if receiving an email gives you any measure of exclusivity, much less security .


Ken Mitchell said...

Palo Alto isn't bad; it's a standard California suburb. It is quite a way to the beach. Santa Cruz is probably your best "beach" choice. Monterey is nicest, (and not all THAT expensive) but it is 2 hours away from Stanford.

San Francisco is probably your best bet for city life. I think that the best "hidden treasure" in the city is Fort Point, under the base of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Sights: If you like airplanes, the old dirigible hangars at Moffett Field are impressive for 1930's architecture. You'll be able to see them from the US 101 freeway in Mountain View.

In the eastern hills about San Jose, the Lick Observatory is beautiful and historic, if you like observatories.

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, an amusement part on the beach, is also cute.

Napa Valley is only 90 minutes away.

If you happen to get to Sacramento, drop me a line at There aren't really any "sights" in Sacramento, per se, but I like the place. We )do) have the best railroad museum west of the Mississippi. :-)

8:18 PM

Ken Mitchell said...

Curious. I thought I'd mistyped my address; but it just LOOKS wrong. I typed a zero, and it IS a zero, but it sure looks like an "oh".