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  1. Default San Fran - Yosemite - Carmel - Santa Barbara - LA - Vegas? (16 Days from UK)

    Hi

    Great site, plenty of info and forums have been a massive help so far in planning my 16 day West Coast road trip with my girlfriend June 2012

    I havn't booked anything yet so just wanted to run this by everyone and see what people thought about my plans? Im open for ideas/suggestions and any tips would be appreciated. It's a little daunting travelling from the UK and sorting a holiday like this. Im used to package deals but desperate to see America

    Im flying from either Newcastle or Manchester and I plan to start my trip with 3 or 4 nights in San Francisco and picking up hire car on the morning I leave from carhire3000.com. Then off to yosemite for 2 nights. Next stop would be Carmel for 1 night and following day drive along the Big Sur and go down to Santa Barbara area for 1 night.

    This is were im a bit unsure and have a few options ......Should I bother with LA? or make the trip down to San Deigo if its possible? My idea is to have 1 night in LA as ive heard mixed reivews and possibly do Universal Studios or have a beach day.? Then up to death valley for 1 night and finish my trip with 3 or 4 nights in Las Vegas.

    Is this realistic? I do want to see as much as possible but still enjoy places like San Fran, Vegas & Yosemite

    thanks for taking time out to read this
    Alex

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,747

    Default A good start.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    Yes it can seem quite daunting the first time, but with Lot's of time to dream and plan while armed with all that the RTA site has to offer, it'll work out just fine !!

    Whether you should bother with LA or not, comes down to a matter of personal taste and priority. You seem to have a good basis on which to build your trip upon and to help with your planning you might want to check out these threads.

    A couple of things worth consideration would firstly be to create a loop, and finish back in SF. This would mean rather than heading out to Yosemite and back to the coast, you could head straight down the coast from SF and go from Vegas to Death valley and over the Tioga pass into Yosemite and back to SF. You would need to check the status of the Tioga pass, as it is usually around June that this amazing mountain pass opens up again for the season, having been closed due to winter snow accumulation for several months. Another option would be to include the Grand canyon in your plans, it is one of natures marvels ! It is also something that holds more appeal for me than the urban sprawl of LA, but it's what you want that counts.

    Look around the site for ideas, use a good map and when new questions crop up, just ask .

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,545

    Default LA and San Diego

    As Dave said, whether you bother with LA or San Diego depends a lot on your interests. For a look at what's available to see/do in San Diego, check out
    this thread.

    As for the LA area: Disneyland and California Adventure parks, Knotts Berry Farm, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Hollywood (Walk of Fame, studio tours), Universal Studios, Lava Beds National Monument, beaches, Venice, Santa Monica Pier are among tourist favorites.

    Other than that, cities are similar the world over, I think....or at least, they are in my opinion!



    Donna
    Last edited by DonnaR57; 11-29-2011 at 09:43 PM. Reason: link problem

  4. Default

    You've got a good start with a very reasonable plan. I agree that driving from San Francisco to Yosemite and back to Carmel isn't the best route. If you like cities and urban areas then visit LA and spend 3-4 nights in Las Vegas. If you like mountains and rural areas, then add more time on the central CA coast and/or the CA Sierras. Once you have determined your interests and priorities, then you can fine tune your driving route to minimize your car time. At that point I'm sure you can get another round of advice from this forum.

  5. Default

    Thanks for quick reply everyone and I will check out the links shortly…..

    Don’t worry I was definitely planning some time at the Grand Canyon! I was thinking of doing the helicopter tour from Vegas as one of the big luxuries on the holiday as realise its expensive. Im not overly keen on doing a full loop as wont this be a lot more driving? I realise going to Yosemite from SF is out of the way but couldn’t really think of a way round it? And im 100% going as place looks amazing!

    I do like cities but also love nature and amazing scenery and views so that’s why I’m trying to have quite a varied trip. Im trying to split my time between the cities and the sites (Yosemite, death valley, grand canyon) . I want to see a lot but I want to enjoy my time aswell and not be too rushed as ive seen other people schedules and they wont get to really experience the places enough for me.

    I think I will go to LA to keep the girlfriend happy and do Universal studios / santa monica peir.

    Which car would you recommend for a June trip? Ideally I would a convertible but would a 4x4 be more practical when at places like Yosemite?

    Thanks 

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,747

    Default

    not overly keen on doing a full loop as wont this be a lot more driving?
    Not really, doing a complete loop would be under 150 miles of extra driving. If the Tioga pass is open and you were to drive up to the high ground anyway, [a big part of visiting Yosemite NP] it would be much less than that [probably 50 miles]. Well worth the extra amazing scenery you will come across IMO.

    Don’t worry I was definitely planning some time at the Grand Canyon! I was thinking of doing the helicopter tour from Vegas as one of the big luxuries on the holiday as realise its expensive.
    Many [most] Helicopter tours from Vegas go to the west rim which is located on Indian lands and is not part of the National park. The NP area is amazing and offers the best views of this natural wonder, the views made famous throughout the world by photography are found here. I would recommend a night here to witness a sunset.

    Which car would you recommend for a June trip? Ideally I would a convertible but would a 4x4 be more practical when at places like Yosemite?
    A 4x4 is not needed. A convertible is not as practical or as cheap as a Saloon, [OK Sedan !] but if it's what you want and their is just the 2 of you, why not !

    Oh yeah, Yosemite is 'out of this world' !!!

  7. Default

    Now you have really got me thinking about my route? If its only an extra 150 miles max i will give this serious consideration! The flights would also work out cheaper if i flew home from the same airport i arrived at. I just worry we will be trying to do too much and not enjoy it as much as plenty of others have mentioned?

    thanks for the info on the Grand Canyon, i will try and incorporate a night there rather than a 2/3 hour tour :)

    I think it works out an extra £100 or $150 for a convertible over a standard saloon. Im just thinking when doing the big sur how amazing would it be to do it with no roof? or even driving up the Vegas strip for the first time! (been a bit obsessed with that place for years!)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
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    10,747

    Default Relaxed compared to most.

    I just worry we will be trying to do too much and not enjoy it as much as plenty of others have mentioned?
    I think you have enough time to have a most enjoyable trip and I would not put it anywhere near the 'Too rushed' category. Actually, it's positively relaxed compared to the majority of itinerary's we see here. This will ultimately come down to how much time you want to spend in the City, each park and on the road. For example a total of 8 nights in SF and Vegas would mean having to get a bit of a wriggle on in other places. On the other hand 2 or 3 day's in each would be a nice amount of time to check out the City life. Either way, an extra 3 or 4 hours of driving over a period of 16 days is going to be of little consequence to your trip and saving money on flights is a bonus ! Enough for a convertable perhaps ?

    If you were to drive to the South rim of the Grand canyon you could get there the same day from LA with an early start, or if you decided against LA you could cut inland from the Morro Bay area and stay overnight in Laughlin or Kingman. For routing purposes that would mean going from the coast [wherever] to GC south rim, to Vegas, to Death valley to Yosemite to SF.

    Check out your options and keep asking questions as your trip takes shape and we will be able to fill in the blanks and help to 'fine tune' your trip.

  9. Default Decisions decisions.....

    Had a really good think and chat with my girlfriend over last few days and you have convinced me……definitely going to do a loop!! Its whether to make it a bigger loop and include San Diego into this?

    So from San Fran to the big sur,all the way down to LA area. Then I have a few options :-

    1)Head a further 2 hours down from LA to San Deigo for a night or 2, followed by long drive to south rim of the Grand Canyon and spend the night there. Then to Vegas – Death valley – Yosemite – Back to San Fran

    2) From LA – Straight to South rim of the canyon-then Vegas(2/3 nights)-Death Valley-Yosemite(2 nights)-Finish at San Fran

    3)From LA-Straight to Vegas and do a trip to grand canyon from there-then death valley-yosemite-san Francisco

    Hope this all make sense and thanks for the advice, im sure my holiday is going to be better for it 

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,747

    Default Indeed.

    All your options are viable and it's your decision to make depending on the pace you want to travel at. Option 3 wouldn't be an option for me personally. By road, the NP park is more than a day trip. A heli tour will take you Oh so close to the Grand canyon NP, but it won't be the same as being at this wonder of the world. If you found a tour to the NP, it would be expensive and leave you a limited amount of time at the canyon. Either one, you would miss out IMHO and be making do with second best.

    San Diego ? It could be done, you will have to juggle with your days and see what works. Example; If you had 3/4 nights in SF split between the start and finish of your trip, 2 nights travelling down the coast, [3 day's] 2 nights LA, [To have at least one full day] 2 nights GC, [Again, for at least one full day with travel considered] 3 nights Vegas, 1 night Death valley and 2 nights in Yosemite that is time pretty much used up. [Not sure if your 16 days includes travel time from UK or not?]

    Like I say it is just an example, but will hopefully be useful in helping you work things out. IMO that should give you the time not to feel rushed and get a good overview of what you want to visit. SD will fit in there quite comfortably as well, it's just a matter of you making it 'fit' based on your interests.

    If you want to stay in the National parks lodgings [recommended if your budget can manage it] you will need to book those well in advance as they sell out quickly after the booking window opens. You can find park info at nps.gov.

    Keep researching, it's an enjoyable part of the trip as a whole and keeps things exciting ! If you have other questions, keep asking. If not have a great trip and please drop by and let us know your thoughts.

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