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  1. Default San Francisco to Los Angeles - First RV Road Trip - Help and advice appreciated

    Hi All, I am from London in the UK and am travelling with my family to the US for 14 days in April. We are flying into San Francisco staying there for 2 nights, and then hiring an RV for the remainder of our stay. I am flying out from LA and am looking for a route and advice on where to go enroute to LA with our RV for the remainder of our 12 days. A few people have mentioned, Santa Barabara, Monterey, Yosemite, Vegas, San Diego etc, but obviosuly we are limited to 14 days. We are a family of 5, and our 3 children are aged 10, 9 and 6. Any advice would be greatly appreciated, such as recomendations on where to visit, must see's and any specific RV sites that would be good to stay in etc. My children are keen to see Disneyland and my wife would like to see Hollywood. Are these easily accessible with an RV? I am a total novice, this will be my first experience of a road trip in the US, but I am keen to make it a memorable trip for all of us. Any tips for routes and a plan would be great. Also any ideas for our 2 days in San Francisco before picking the RV would be appreciated.

    Many Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Popular choice.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    You will find a lot of info on this very popular topic by searching around the forums but to help get you started take a look at some our favorite threads here.

    How far you travel and what you see will depend on the pace you want to travel at and how you want to prioritise your time. A couple of things you should know when planning is that firstly, the Tioga pass [CA120] that crosses the Sierra Nevada and is a popular route from Yosemite to Vegas will still be closed at the time you travel due to winter snow accumulation. Secondly, it might be better to return the RV when you get to LA, as it's not something you want to be travelling around while there. It's also worth considering doing a complete loop trip, if you want to visit Yosemite, Vegas, LA and visit the coast around Big Sur, that is if you are not locked into ending in LA yet.

    A couple of day's in SF you should be able visit Pier 39 and take a boat trip to Alcatraz which are fun for all the family. Union square and China town are vibrant shopping area's with Lot's to take in and no trip is complete without riding the Cable cars. Coit tower is also worth a visit and being quite a compact City it is easy to get around without your own transport.

    From SF you could head to Yosemite and then back to Monterey and down the coast around Big Sur to the Cambria area. From there head inland to Las Vegas and you could include the Grand canyon South rim and back to LA.

    When driving the RV on slow 2 lane roads, it is customary [and law in some cases] to use the pull outs to let cars that are stuck behind pass you. This will result is a toot of the horn and a friendly wave, rather than the International 2 finger salute and a snarl !

    Have a look around and when new questions come up just ask, enjoy the planning !

  3. Default First Road Trip The west USA- Be extremely grateful for help on some questions

    Hi All, My family of 5 (2 adults and 3 children) are planning our first road trip to the West of USA and have found some useful suggestions on here, but wanted to ask if a few questions if you can help.

    1. We are staying in San Francisco for 2 nights before picking up our RV. Our plan is to then Travel to Yosemite, then to Montery, travel down the coast a bit further, before then heading back in land to Vegas and then final stop LA where we fly back home from. Can you please advise us of what the best route is, as I hear some roads are closed and also advise of the names of the roads we should take, also is there any other place we should consider to stop at, and also I keep hearing the Big Sur mentioned, if someone could explain exactly what the Big Sur is? Our trip is for 14 days (including 2 nights in San Francisco)

    2. Can we wild camp in our RV or do you have to check in to an RV sight? Also can you recomend some sites for Yosemite, Monterey, the coast, Vegas and LA. In LA we plan to go to Disneyland for a couple of days, and also want to see Hollywood, the street with all the star names, the famous sign and Hollywood studios, are all of these accesible with an RV? Plus a trip to one of the famous beaches, if you could recomend what one is best and again where to stay.

    3. Should we book the RV sites prior to arrival or should we be ok to just turn up. We are travelling between 6 April to 20 April.

    4. Do we have enough time to cover all these places in 2 weeks and also how m any days should we consider at each place. My initial thoughts are 2 nights San Fran, 1 night Yosemite, 2 in Vegas and 4 in LA (assuming 2 days for Disneyland), leaving the balance for the coast part of the trip. Would be grateful if anyone has any better ideas?

    5. Should I book tickets to attractions before I arrive? Such as Alcatraz, Disneyland, Universal Studios etc?

    Would be extremely grateful for anyones help on our questions. Thanks in advacne.

    Moderator Note: Please don't create multiple threads about the same trip
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 02-06-2011 at 05:07 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Some answers.

    1] No roads will be closed as you travel from SF to Yosemite to Monterey. There will be roads in Yosemite that you will not be able travel up on the high ground that won't affect the rest of your visit. It is still possible to see snow in the Month of April and snow chains maybe required. Big Sur is a stretch of the Coastal route on CA1 between Monterey and Cambria. Very scenic but slow going, especially in an RV.

    2] You can't 'Wild camp' and just pull up anywhere. You will need to be in a designated camping area. Truck stops are possible, as are some parking Lot's at Super Stores like Walmart with the managers consent. Neither of which are a very good holiday choice with children, as you wouldn't be able to set up camp, it would be just to get some sleep. As I said in my previous reply, I would consider returning the RV in LA and get a car, getting around LA in an RV will be a challenge !

    3] Early season you should be OK to just turn up, but if you work out where you will stay and when, it might be worth booking in advance rather than driving around looking.

    4]Yes you have the time. I would definitely recommend 2 nights in Yosemite, keep in mind the travel time getting there and back to Monterey, 1 night would leave you only a few hours at this wonderful place. I would pre book one of the 'Pines campgrounds in Yosemite valley, check the Yosemite NP Web site for info. Yosemite info here.

    5] I am not sure about the others but it's worth pre booking tickets for Alcatraz as the tours keep busy all year. You would get a ticket OK I expect but buying on=line will save queueing for tickets etc. This is the only official ticket office where you can book, without being sold other tours by agents.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Educated Guesses

    I am not an RVer myself, but certainly there are a few things that I'm aware of or that seem obvious to me. The first is that all state and national highways are built to standards that will allow RVs to use them, but weather may preclude certain roads at certain times of year (e.g. all the state highways over the Sierra Nevada during winter - they're simply closed due to heavy snowfall). Assuming that you'll be making this trip in the summer, your routes are relatively straightforward: I/580/I-305/CA-120 from San Francisco to Yosemite; CA-140/I-5/CA-59/CA-152/CA-156/CA-1 to Monterey; Continue on CA-1 down the coast to San Luis Obispo and then US-101 into the northern Los Angeles Basin; Cross L.A. on US-101/CA-134/I-210; and then just use I-15 up to Las Vegas and back.

    You should NOT 'wild camp' in your RV. You will almost certainly be trespassing on someone's property and are therefore subject to be awakened in the middle of the night and told to move on or worse, arrested. Given the cost of renting a motor home, trying to save a few dollars by stealing someone else's property strikes me as extremely selfish. Your best bet in most cases is to get a campsite at one of the many state parks throughout California, although near the big cities, you are more likely to have to rely on commercial campgrounds. And again, you should be able to get most places in your rig, but that depends on the size of it and how comfortable you'll be when you block traffic with the anger of other people trying to get around you.

    April is early enough that many places will not be near their summer tourist levels, but then again, many campsites won't be open yet. I'd book ahead if I knew when I'd be in an area, especially near popular sites, which id pretty much everywhere you're going.

    How much time to spend where is entirely up to you. What I would do makes no difference at all.

    As with campsites, if you know what you'll be doing on any given day, book ahead. But taking a chance in April probably won't end in a catastrophe.


  6. Default

    Thanks for the advice so far. Apologies I did not realise I could not create multiple threads. Could you suggest some RV parks in Vegas and LA. unfortunately flights are already booked for departing LA and we are already locked in to having the RV till the last day, so some advice on how to see the sights and stay in LA with the RV would be appreciated.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Vegas.

    While in Las Vegas I would recommend the Oasis RV resort which is pretty cool and the whole family can enjoy the pools etc. It's not to far from the Strip and they do have a free shuttle bus service to the Southern end. 'Circus Circus' Hotel has RV parking and is located on the Strip. I have not stayed there but understand it to be more like a 'Parking Lot' than a resort.

    Can't help with LA, but if you work out where you want to 'base your camp[s]' for the most convenient access to the attractions you want to see and then type in Los Angeles RV parks into your search engine and see what comes up.

  8. Default

    We are starting to get a clearer picture of our trip now. Can you please help with estimated driving times? As this will help decide on how many days we stay at particualr places. So far our tentative plan is to arrive San Francisco, stay 2 nights before picking up the RV. Then head to Yosemite where we will stay for 2 nights as you recomended. We will then head back for the coast, which as of yet we are not sure where to go and what to see, but we will work this out once we have finalised the front and back end of our trip as this is where we are currently clear on what we want to do and see. Upon leaving the coast, we will then to head to Vegas where we are currently thinking of spending 2 nights, before heading to LA where we was thinking of spending 4 nights (to include Disney both parks, Universal and city tour etc), but this now maybe 5 nights depending on how long we drive for to be able to take some relaxation time as well. We have contacted an RV park in Anaheim who offer a LA/Hollywood Experience tour that will take you to the Stars Walk of Fame and the Hollywood sign, as well as several other sites at a cost of $65 each per adult & $54 each for children ages 3-11. Is this worthwhile considering as you suggest its hard to travel around in LA. Also they offer Tour bus to Universal Studios one day, which will cost you $93 each per adult & $83 each for children ages 3-7 (these prices include your tickets to get into Universal Studios) with a local shuttle bus to Disney for about $4 per day. Again are these reasonable?

    As initailly asked in the post, would be grateful for advice on how long it would take to travel from following places:-

    San Francisco to Yosemtie
    Yosemite back to the coast (Monterey if this is the best place to head back and start from)
    Coast (after travelling the big Sur) to Las Vegas
    Las Vegas to LA (Aneheim)

    I also welcome any suggestions to alter my plan in anyway should you think it would be beneficial for us and also with regards to number of nights etc at certain places. Also other recomendations of places to see that we should include. A collegue of mine has said that I should definately visit Hearst Castle when travelling down the coast.

    Thanks once again n advance for all your help and advice so far.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default changes

    You'd actually save a couple hundred miles by finishing your trip in Las Vegas, rather than zig zagging back and forth between Yosemite, the coast, Vegas, and back to LA.

    You'd probably be better off dropping the RV off when you get to LA, and just switch to cars/hotels. In fact, considering the small time you'd be spending on the road compared to the amount of time you'll be spending in cities, you could probably save a considerable amount of time and money by skipping the RV altogether.

    If you do continue with the RV plans, the prices you've been quoted for transportation around LA sound a little high. For example, you'd basically be paying $100 for a shuttle bus for your family to go to Universal ($20 per person, when you subtract admission fees). You could probably rent a car for a day and pay for parking for less, but that would be an additional hassle factor. $4 for a shuttle to disney is fair though.

  10. Default

    We are already locked in to the RV and will return it at LA on the 20th am, as we fly at approx 14.00 that day. We actually done a cost comparison of Hotels / Car intead of RV and seemed to be cheaper with the RV as in most Hotels we needed to book 2 rooms as we are a family of 5. Plus the kids are quite looking forward to staying in the RV too.

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