I'll post a question which will make most of you Californians laugh hysterically because any answer involves writing a book! My wife and I (in NJ) are planning a 10-day California trip from the Wednesday after Labor Day to the Saturday a week later. While we have spent lots of time visiting, hiking, and camping in Washington State and Oregon, we've never been to California (!). Given the size of the state, we have narrowed our interest to San Francisco (direct flights from NJ) and south to Monterey and maybe as far south as San Luis Obispo. (Given a love of otters, both sea and river, the Monterey Aquarium is a must-visit.) Other points of interest which jump out are Point Lobos to pay homage to the Westons, some of the Spanish Missions simply because I like missions and hopefully they will allow tripods and view cameras, a visit to a Redwood Forest. I have a pile of travel books on the table, they get overwhelming really quickly.

We are fit a 67 and 72, love to walk and hike, but also love art, museums, historic sites, food, etc. I plan on bringing my stripped-down travel kit of Canham DLC^2 (4x5), one lens (150mm), travel tripod and essentials. The biggest question is how to allot time (since we fly to SF, have to spend some time there but I get mixed signals from my books on how much), plan to rent a car when we leave SF (I gather a car in SF proper is something to avoid) and travel south as mentioned. So here's the hysterical part (in the sense that I would have trouble telling a first-timer what to see/do in NY/NJ, there is simply too much): what suggestions do you have for our vacation?