Re: **Redwoods. **
If you’re going to Yosemite then they have a bunch of Redwoods. I also went to a Redwood forest somewhere between SF and Yosemite, but I don’t remember the name.
I also took an overnight bus from SF to Crescent City, stayed a day, hiked up to the redwoods, then caught another overnight bus to Seattle. That’s probably out of your way, so no particular reason to recommend it. (Crescent city is just an empty place. The redwoods were great, but then it rained and I ended up hitching a lift back to town with a bunch of local kids who then had to stop the car to have a slanging match with the teenage mother of the driver’s kid who was walking down the road. Slightly Wrong Turn moment.
Go for it. I’m shy and quiet and I managed to travel on my own to dozens of countries, have lots of great experiences and meet lots of cool people. If you can speak some English then you’re basically fine everywhere. (except China 15 years ago… but I imagine even china is probably a lot more accessible these days).
There are hostels and hostels. Some are a bit scummy, but some are really nice. Lots have rec rooms or free breakfasts, plus they’ll organise local activities for you. So you end up meeting the people in your dorm, or in the rec room, or at breakfast, or on an activity. I’m still in contact with a few people that I met in hostels in various countries decades ago.
Plus you’ll probably end up doing some cool things that you might never have done on your own.
Definitely recommend checking reviews on hostels though… but if the worst comes to the worst you can just wing it and it’ll be fine.
Only ended up sleeping on benches once, and that was mainly from being wasted at Pamplona, and sleeping in a hire car once cos a US hostel was full. It’s all part of the cool memories.
I went to Barcelona once on a long-weekend break on my own, so I reserved a hotel for 4 nights. After one night sitting alone in my empty hotel room I checked out, went to tourist information and found the nearest hostel and checked in there. (even though I couldn’t get a refund on my hotel room).
The next evening 20 of us went out for tapas and then to a sea-front nightclub to celebrate some girl’s birthday.