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  1. Default California road trip in sept/oct - comments please

    Hi everyone! new to this forum but love it! There is soooo much information! Just wondered if you would mind taking a look our plans for our trip later this year. I've pretty much set out where we want to stay, and have booked a couple of places. I am aware the first part of our trip is a bit zig - zaggy - but don't think there is much we can do about it - we had our flights booked before our (distant) relatives in Fresno said that we must try and visit them. Had we known in advance, we probably would have done a loop round and flown in and out of san fran but , never mind, flights booked so nothing we can do about it now!

    So, if anyone can suggest anything to make the part around Yosemite/fresno/carmel a bit more sensible, I'd appreciate it, and also ideas of places along our journey that we must stop and see!
    So here goes:-

    Fri 25th Sept - arrive in San Fran for 3 nights. Plan to do alcatraz tour, all the usual touristy places etc. Hotel not booked (planning to use priceline)

    Monday 28th - drive to Yosemite NP(approx 4 hours). booked in Yosemite lodge at the falls for 3 nights. need to do more research on our plans whilst in Yosemite.

    Thurs 1st Oct - drive to Fresno to visit relatives (2hrs). Stay till mid afternoon then drive to Carmel (3hrs) stay overnight. (What must we see here?)
    (had we not needed to go to fresno I would have like to have picked the coast road back up a bit further north but I don't think time permits)

    Fri 2nd Oct - drive along Big Sur coast (do 17 mile drive?) -to san luis obispo (5 hrs inc a few short stops?? ) Stay overnight in SLO (probably at Madonna Inn but not yet booked)

    Sat 3rd Oct- Drive to LA (4 hrs) stay in Hilton next to Universal (not yet booked) for 2 nights. main reason for visiting here is to do the halloween horror nights at Universal , but we will also see some sights - walk of fame/ hollywood sign/ venice beach etc)

    Mon 5th oct - drive to San Diego (3hrs)- stay for 3 nights , probably stay in gaslamp area(probably book on priceline). Want to do a hop on/off tour bus, zoo , and sea world.

    Thurs 8 Oct - drive to palm springs(2hrs) - stay for 3 nights - booked in Rendezvous Inn. Main aim is to relax but will go up on the tram, maybe visit joshua tree NP. also thinking of doing a balloon ride from here.

    Sun 11 Oct - drive to Grand canyon (7-8hrs) - stay for 1night - book Yavapai lodge.

    Mon 12 Oct - drive to las vegas (6 hours) - stay for 3 nights - nothing booked yet - hoping to stay at Venetian, MGM or Paris. see all the usual touristy things is there any day trips (no more than 2 hrs e/w worth doing from here - am thinking to scenic places etc), we're planning on handing car in after a day or 2 here.

    Thurs 15 Oct - flight to New York - 2 days here - nothing booked yet

    Sat 17th oct - Fly home to UK.
    Last edited by Ems!; 05-22-2009 at 09:30 AM. Reason: change of plan re Grand canyon!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Grand canyon !

    Hello and welcome to RTA !

    I think the way your itinerary is laid out is very relaxed and looks good for the circumstances.
    Yosemite is amazing and you have a nice amount of time there. You have the valley floor, the Tioga pass, Wawona and Glacier point. as main focus points and then explore from them.
    Here is a list of possible day trips from Vegas. You will notice there is no Grand canyon as it is to far to do in a day and I would urge you to consider taking time from elsewhere and spend a night at least here between visiting Palm springs and Vegas. Although it is a large detour it is well worth it. There is not a helicopter that will take you into Grand canyon NP, they stop on Indian lands at the West rim and although spectacular I am sure it won't remind you of those many pics you may have seen of the main canyon.

    You will find much more info through out the forums [use the search function] and road trip planning pages as the Southwest is a much discussed topic.

    Any other questions just ask!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    I would consider making one adjustment along the coast - instead of spending a night in SLO, maybe stay in Cambria instead. This will give you more time along CA-1 and possibly allow you to do the Hearst Castle tour. Cambria to LA is still a fairly easy drive in one day, and Cambria is a charming little town.

    I can also suggest scenic routings if you are interested from San Diego to Palm Springs, and Palm Springs to LV, that will take you off the beaten path (Interstate highways).

    If you like good hamburgers, you might want to have dinner at the Hog's Breath Inn in Carmel - this is owned by Clint Eastwood.

    Another day trip attraction near San Diego that you may enjoy is the Wild Animal Park. It's about 45 minutes north of town near Escondido.

  4. Default Very useful thanks!

    Thanks Dave and GLC - really helpful comments!

    Dave - great idea re Grand canyon - something that I hadn't really considered that we could actually drive there ourselves!!

    So a couple of questions if you don't mind - I've just done a bit of googling and seems it'd take about 8 hrs to drive there from PS then 6 hours back to LV? Does that sound about right? I'm guessing from what I have seen that south rim is the place to go - and we should book accom in advance? - I'll research that and come back if I need help but do you have any particular recommendations for accom? I'm guessing it'll be a much better experience and work out a fair bit cheaper than the helicopter too.

    second question - this is probably stupid but I know! - Is it an issue that the day we would be in grand canyon then driving to LV is columbus day (12 oct) - ie. will there still be places open to get food/ gas etc? Sorry for stupid qun, but there are a couple of bank hols in england where EVERYTHING closes , though most are just like any other day.

    ooh - 1 more thing - would red rock canyon be on our way back from GC to vegas? as thinking we could do that on the same day, but may be a bit much!

    GLC - thanks very much for your ideas - will do some research into cambria.
    Yeah - I would be grateful if you could suggest a good route from Sd - PS please? I'll leave PS - vegas for now as I'm rather keen on dave's idea of detouring via GC!!

    Thanks!!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default more tips

    Quote Originally Posted by Ems! View Post
    I've just done a bit of googling and seems it'd take about 8 hrs to drive there from PS then 6 hours back to LV? Does that sound about right?
    Subject to traffic considerations -- that's about right.
    I'm guessing from what I have seen that south rim is the place to go - and we should book accom in advance?
    The South Rim is what most people think of as the "Grand Canyon" but the North Rim is quite beautiful too -- yes, you'd be wise to pre-book accomodations!
    second question - this is probably stupid but I know! - Is it an issue that the day we would be in grand canyon then driving to LV is columbus day (12 oct) - ie. will there still be places open to get food/ gas etc? Sorry for stupid qun, but there are a couple of bank hols in england where EVERYTHING closes , though most are just like any other day.
    Highway services do not close on holidays -- no problems.
    ooh - 1 more thing - would red rock canyon be on our way back from GC to vegas? as thinking we could do that on the same day, but may be a bit much!
    It depends upon which Red Rock Canyon you are referring to. Red Rock Canyon Regional Park is a day trip from Las Vegas (about an hour from the strip). Valley of Fire and the other Red Rock Canyons I can think of are not on your route.
    Yeah - I would be grateful if you could suggest a good route from Sd - PS please? I
    Here's a thread that discusses some options.

    Happy Planning!

    Mark

  6. Default thanks mark!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sedenquist View Post
    -- yes, you'd be wise to pre-book accomodations!

    Eeek! Just checked the date - can't get anything with canyon views - there's just 2 lodges left at south rim with accom on 11 Oct - think am going to book yavapai lodge when OH gets home to check he's ok with the slight re - route (so he thinks he has a choice! haha). at least it won't be as crowded as a hotel with a view...

    my only slight qualm is that its highly unlikely we'll make it to GC for sunset, which is a shame, but will be sure to get the sunrise the next morning. I'm really excited about the slight change of plan now! love it that others suggest something so obvious that I hadn't even thought of! I'm not worried about losing a day in vegas as we were going to take a day out to do the GC helicoter anyway .

    This is coming along nicely now - cheers again for the help!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    If you can spend $125 a night, you should be able to get a room in Tusayan. That's right outside the south entrance. You could also check the Cameron Trading Post outside the east entrance. If you get on the road early enough from PS and don't stop to sightsee, you can get there in time for sunset. You can sightsee on your way back to LV from the GC.

    From SD to PS, this is my recommendation:

    Take I-8 east out of SD to Descanso, and get on CA-79 north to Julian. Stop for their famous apple pie. Stay on 79 through Santa Ysabel to Aguanga, then take CA-371 to CA-74. Take that down into Palm Desert, then CA-111 to Palm Springs. Figure about 3.5 hours plus stops, it's 160 miles and once you get off I-8, it's winding 2 lane roads.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Check direct booking prices.

    Hi Ems,
    Nice to see it all coming together !

    Hotel not booked (planning to use priceline)
    I know nothing at all about priceline but I have found that after searching different on-line company's for lodgings and having selected a suitable one at the best price, it is more often than not cheaper to go direct to the selected hotels website and book with them. A lot of them seem to have a "price guarantee" as well where they will match the best price offered elsewhere if need be. Worth checking before booking, I recently saved $30 per room per night doing just this and have done so before.

  9. Default Cheers!

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    If you can spend $125 a night, you should be able to get a room in Tusayan. That's right outside the south entrance. You could also check the Cameron Trading Post outside the east entrance. If you get on the road early enough from PS and don't stop to sightsee, you can get there in time for sunset. You can sightsee on your way back to LV from the GC.
    thanks, I'm going to check out the Tusayan hotels now before I book, leaning towards booking one in the park though to save the hassle of queing to get in and out etc and I've read traffic can be bad. Will head over to tripadvisor in a few mins I think!!


    Thanks v much for the route!

  10. Default Priceline

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    I know nothing at all about priceline but I have found that after searching different on-line company's for lodgings and having selected a suitable one at the best price, it is more often than not cheaper to go direct to the selected hotels website and book with them. A lot of them seem to have a "price guarantee" as well where they will match the best price offered elsewhere if need be. Worth checking before booking, I recently saved $30 per room per night doing just this and have done so before.
    Thanks, I will certainly use the tip when I'm looking at specific hotels.

    When I refer to priceline, I mean the "name your own price" section. Basically, you can normally bank on getting a room for around 2/3 - half the normal price (Last year I stayed at Hilton garden Inn in Orlando for $44/night, which was around half price). I regularly stay at hotel in manchester for about 2/3rd of the next cheapest rate I can find.

    The reason for this is that you don't know which hotel you will be staying in until AFTER you have paid for it. You bid on a particular star level and "zone" (eg. in San Fran- Fishermans wharf is a zone, as is Union Square East, Union Square west etc.)

    The part that makes it great is that there is this excellent site:-
    which is basically a forum where over time knowledge has been collated and lists of the hotels in each area are there, the moderators are excellent and helpful (just like here!!). So , you can normally narrow it down to , if not one hotel then a few,and as long as you are happy with them , you're a winner!

    It takes time an patience to bid and you MUST know what you are doing before you start so there are no disasters, but once you understand it all, you can get some really good deals.

    (Oh , by the way - it is generally acknowledged by "those in the know" that priceline bidding for Vegas is not usually a great idea, but for everywhere else, tend to get great results!)

    I know I have waffled on about priceline and betterbidding but I think its fab when you don't HAVE to stay in a particular hotel. If you want to know anymore let me know or check out betterbidding!
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 05-22-2009 at 01:45 PM. Reason: removed the extra white space

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