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  1. Default Summer 2013 Las Vegas and California trip planned


    Just come across this site. We are planning a 21 night road trip in July/ August 2013.

    We are planning to predominantly visit California, but we are planning to hire a car (SUV) and fly to Las Vegas, as it is cheaper than one of the main California airports from the Uk. The plan is:

    Spend 4 nights in Las Vegas, seeing the Grand Canyon while we are there
    From Las Vegas to Yosemite where we will spend 2 nights
    To San Francisco where we will spend 2 nights
    Down the California coast towards LA possibly staying the night somewhere on the way
    Some time in LA area (not necessarily in LA itself) to see amongst other things six flags Magic Mountain, Hollywood, Disneyland
    1 or 2 nights in Palm Springs and do th3 Aerial Tramway
    Some time in San Diego area probably staying on one of the beaches where our sons can surf a bit. This will include possibly a trip across to Tijuana Mexico
    Back to Las Vegas to fly home

    Does this sound like a good itineary? Is there anything we are missing or should visit en route or is there anything we should avoid?

    It is intended to be the family holiday of a lifetime for a family of 5 including 2 Teenagers. We are anticipating that this will be our last big holiday as a family of 5 as our eldest is 17 and will probably go away with his freinds in 2014. We have done Florida so we wanted to try a different part of the USA. It is our 20th wedding anniversary too!

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

    Default This and that.

    Hi Tom, welcome to the RTA forums !

    Your overall plan looks pretty good and you are in for a heck of a time !

    A couple of things that stand out to me are firstly the Grand canyon. You say you are going to see it while in Vegas. It's more than a day trip from Vegas to visit the National park and most tours from Vegas do not go to the National park, [the part you may feel familiar with through Photos and film] most actually go the west rim which is located on Indian lands which is not quite the same. I would alter your trip to include an overnight stay at GC or close by. This could be done by heading to Yosemite from Vegas and visit the GC after San Diego and before heading back to Vegas. Between SD and LV you would need to allow at least 2 nights to enjoy your GC visit, but boy is it worth it ! This would be a good time to include Palm Springs in your trip, in other words go LA>SD>PS>GC>LV at the end.

    To get to Yosemite you could drive across the fascinating landscape of Death valley and enter Yosemite via the Tioga pass [CA120] but you might want to break the journey with an overnight in Bishop or Lee Vining area.

    You should certainly stop between SF and LA so that you have time to drive around Big Sur on the coast, perhaps stop around the Cambria area. You won't have time to do this scenic coastal stretch without a stop, it would be a shame to miss !

    I would strongly recommend you do not go to Tijuana with your family. There are still on going problems with the war on the drug cartels and it's just not worth it imo.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Six Flags Magic Mountain is about an hour north of downtown LA, near Castaic, CA. Most folks stay in Valencia, CA, while doing SFMM.

    Disneyland is about 45-60 minutes south of downtown LA. (LA is huge, and we go by how much time it can take because of the traffic.) Most folks stay in Anaheim or Santa Ana.

    Hollywood is the closest to downtown LA -- 10 or 15 minutes. There isn't a whole lot to see there. You can walk along the Walk of Fame, which is in a rather rundown area, and see the Kodak Theater, Graumann's Chinese Theater, and any number of shops. There are studio tours available. My recommendation is the Warner Bros. "3 hour tour", though NBC has a tour available as well. Universal Studios has some backlot stuff, but mostly it's a theme park these days.

    Southwest Dave suggested not traveling to Tijuana. I am going to second that suggestion. It's really bad down there right now.

    San Diego does have some pretty decent beaches for surfing. The surfers seem to like the ones at La Jolla. I sat and watched the surfers one day from the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art (a good museum, btw) and enjoyed it a lot.

    I also second the notion of making the Grand Canyon separate from your Las Vegas stay. It's a few hours down to the South Rim and you won't want to go back to LV on the same day! If you can stay at the El Tovar, I've heard from friends that it's marvelous. Both Tusayan and Williams (35 miles south of the rim) have good accommodations.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Williams is more like 60 miles south of the park. If you are not on a tight budget, Tusayan is right outside the entrance but hotels are pricey. Williams hotels are considerably cheaper.

  5. Default

    Well the trip is now booked up and it looks like this:

    3 nights Las Vegas
    1 night Bishop
    2 nights Yosemite (Oakhurst)
    3 nights San Francisco
    1 night Monterey
    2 nights Pismo Beach
    2 nights Valencia
    2 nights Anaheim
    4 nights San Diego
    1 night Las Vegas (before return flight)

    Well that's just where we are staying. Obviously we are planning to visit places en route and from where we will be based. As you can see we have cut out Grand Canyon (difficult decision) and Palm Springs although we may visit the latter en route to San Diego.

    We have a SUV we are renting and we are considering:

    Whether it will be too hot to visit Death Valley that time of year.
    What it is worth visiting along highway 395 (staying 1 night Bishop - looks a fascinating route)
    Which route to go from Oakhurst to San Francisco
    Is it practical to do Santa Barbara and Hollywood same day

    Any thoughts welcome

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default 3 out of 4.

    Make no mistake that Death valley will be extremely hot, but it's a natural route towards Bishop and is worth it for the drive through this facinating laandscape alone ! However you will have opportunities to sight see not too far from the comfort of your air conditioned vehicle at stop offs like Zabriske point, Furnace Creek and at the Sand dunes. You might also want to take a small detour to Badwater Basin, the lowest and hottest place in the US ! Carry water in the car and make sure you are well protected from the sun [cream and hats] even for the shortest stints out of the vehicle.

    Along 395 you have towns such as Lone Pine [nearby Mt Whitney is the highest peak in the lower 48] and Mammoth Lakes, the June Lake loop road and Mono Lake near the exit to Tioga Pass [CA120]. Leave yourself time to enjoy Tioga Pass and have a stroll in the Meadows and by Tenaya Lake and to soak up the scenery.

    From Oakhurst take CA41 to CA140 to Merced then CA99 to Manteca then CA120/I5/205/580/80. If you were to spend some of the morning visiting Yosemite you could take CA120 through Groveland to Manteca.

    Yep, shame about the Canyon as you do have the time, but that is a good excuse for another visit !

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