Greetings from Singapore, a 24 hour flight away!
First of all, a big thank you to everyone who has contributed to this forum. Over the past few weeks, I have been reading many incredibly helpful posts, which has really helped me to get a good idea of what I can see in the United States of America.
I plan to attend a 3-day conference in Vegas in late October. Knowing that my girlfriend has never been to the States, and would love to go - I decided to plan a longer 'dream trip'.
Basically, the trip is LA-SF-Yosemite-LV-Death Valley-LA. I know this is a very common trip on the forum, but hopefully the information in this thread will especially help those who like me, are very much Asian city dwellers. Also, while I find a lot of threads on Yosemite and Death Valley, I am a bit surpised that I can't find many on Highway 1 and the 49-mile drive in San Francisco. I've listed specific questions below in the itinerary.
Because I love to plan, I've come up with a very long and detailed itinerary. Thus, I won't be offended if you stop reading after Day 1. :-) In fact, feel free to skip to the day you're most interested in. In part, I put this itinerary out there, so I can get more links to do more reading, so if you could help me with that, that would be wonderful.
Nothing on the itinerary is confirmed except for the conference. I have listed some questions after each day for some information that I can't find so far. There's so much information going around in my head and I need to sort it out. I'm looking to have many wonderful experiences in California, but I also want to work within my budget. The time budget is almost inflexible, while the monetary budget can be adjusted a bit.
I have already been to SF, Vegas and Disneyland myself, so for this trip I would like to see less of the cities. But for the sake of romance, I will be repeating Disneyland. I can appreciate museums but a few hours are best and half a day is max. The concept of enjoyable driving is also new to me and I want to try this out. I might do a trial 1-day drive in Malaysia to really understand what we like and don't like.
Here's our tentative itinerary, day by day.
Sat 23 Oct
- Arrive LAX after a 24 hour flight. Pick up standard car from Enterprise. Check in to hotel to freshen up.
- As the flight might arrive early or late (I'll choose the cheapest one), I have two plans
Flight Arrives Late Plan
- Go to Venice. Tour the town, including Muscle Beach & the canals.
- Chill out at a cafe along Ocean Front Walk, then head out to Venice Pier.
Flight Arrives Early Plan
- Tour LA by car, stopping a while whenever it gets interesting or for photos.
- Drive through Santa Monica. Beverly Hills, Hollywood Boulevard, Griffith Park, Forest Lawn, Pasadena, Downtown.
- Spend 2-3 hrs at the wonderful free museum at Getty Center, 1 hr window shopping in Beverly Hills.
- Depending on how early the flight arrives, I may or may not complete the whole tour.
- Standard is the best value car I can rent, any concerns for taking it on the trip? Or should I downgrade the car to a compact? It's only slightly cheaper for rental. Not sure about gas.
- What will the beaches be like in this cold weather? Will it still be worthwhile seeing?
Sun 24 Oct
- Leave LA, drive along Highway 1 up the coast.
- Possible stops - Santa Barbara, Morro Bay, Cambria, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Pebble Beach, and of course any time we have the inspiration to take photos.
- Take Tour 1 at Hearst Castle and watch the intro video.
- What speed should I estimate along Highway 1? What's the max speed I can go with traffic?
- If we can't go fast enough, I'm ok with stopping earlier, but I hope to reach the Big Sur at least. I've research sunrise and sunset as approximately 7am - 6pm.
- Is it possible to have too much coast and get tired of it? If so, I might head inland to Santa Ynez
- Is the Valley Flower Drive still worth seeing in October?
- I don't seem to grasp the excitement over the Missions. Has anyone got pictures so that I can see it in more detail?
Mon 25 Oct
- 2 shore dives at Monterey, off Cannery Row
- Spend some time at Monterey / Pacific Grove / Carmel-by-the-Sea
- Drive up to San Jose, meet relatives for dinner
- Will it be worth it to get a dive guide for both dives, or only one? I have basic diving experience.
Tue 26 Oct
- Drive to San Francisco and do the 49-mile drive.
- Drive out of San Francisco towards Yosemite.
- Any links to the 49-mile-drive on this forum? Or blogs of people who have done the drive will be appreciated, especially with pictures.
- What would be a good hotel to stay at between San Francisco and Yosemite?
Wed 27 Oct
- Drive along the farms in the Central Valley, stop at a farmer's market to get fresh fruits.
- Drive to Jamestown to see the gold towns.
- Enter Yosemite, see the Valley, Glacier Point, Tuolomne Grove
- Sleep in a log cabin in Yosemite.
- Will the Central Valley be scenic during this time?
- Where's the best place to stop at a farmer's market?
- Will there be time to see Jamestown?
Thu 28 Oct
- If Tioga Pass is open, go to Tuolomne Meadows.
- Drive down, see Bristlecone Forest, Eastern California Museum, Whitney Portal, Lone Pine.
- Drive to Vegas, hopefully reaching at 6pm.
- Is this too muc for one day?
- Will I see giant redwoods here? If so, I can cut out Tuolomne Grove from the previous day.
Fri 29 Oct - Sun 31 Oct
- I'm at the conference at Flamingo Hotel. I'll be staying there most probably.
- My sweetheart intends to do some serious shopping at Caesar's Palace, and maybe taking the bus out to Las Vegas Fashion Outlets. She'll also walk along the strip.
- At night, we'll chill out at nice places, party on Halloween.
- Is it safe for a girl to walk alone along the Las Vegas strip in the day?
Mon 1 Nov
- Wake up late after Halloween party and have brunch in Vegas
- Drive to Death Valley, trek around StovePipe Wells
Tue 2 Nov
- Go to Badwater, Artist's Drive, Dante's View.
- View museum at Furnace Creek.
- Continue to Joshua Tree National Park
- Where can I stay along the way?
Wed 3 Nov
- Drive to Joshua Tree National Park
- Drive to LA, finish up remaining tour from 1st day, or more shopping
- Where can I find more information on Joshua Tree, or other things to do on the way to LA?
Thu 4 Nov
Fri 5 Nov
- Last meal in USA
- Last-minute shopping
- Depart LAX
If you've read every line until here, I must commend you for your patience!!!