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  1. Default California road trip (SF, LA, Vegas)

    Hi! We are a family from Sweden who is planning on going to California this December/January. We want to see San Fransisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas(and a few places on the way of course). The plan is to travel from December 19th-January 5th.
    We were first thinking on flying to SF, drive down the coast on highway 1 to LA and then go to Las Vegas and take the flight home from there. The problem with that route is that we will be in Vegas on an weekend. That isn't to recommend, right? Where do you think we should start, and which trip do you recommend?
    One last question, we were considering to go to an national park. Do you think we have enough time for that, and in that case, which one do you think is the best for our route?

    I have tried to find this info in other forums but I couldn't. It would be great if someone could help me out.
    Thank you!

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

    Default National parks.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    Vegas is a busy place all the time and although there might be higher numbers at the weekend, [this is also affected by what and who is showing there at the time] I wouldn't work around it if that fits best, although you do have options. Heading south along the coast does give you the advantage of having the ocean on your side of the road, although you could simply reverse your trip. Another option would be to drive a complete loop and drive from Vegas back to SF, or start and finish in which ever destination point offers the best value for flights and car hire costs. You could start in Vegas and end in LA and drive across Death Valley NP and south around the Sierras and up the west side of this mountain range where you will find Sequoia and Yosemite NP. The problem with these two magnificent parks is the weather is totally unpredictable at this time of year and it's quite possible you will see snow and ice and you would need to carry chains in your car and be prepared to use them.

    If you want to continue with your original plan and visit a National Park then you could go from SF to Yosemite valley and back to Monterey and then down the coast to LA and LV. You could go to the South rim of the Grand canyon NP from LA and then to Vegas via the Hoover Dam but there is still a chance of snow and ice with either option, there is just no way of knowing what the weather will do until a few days in advance. You have plenty of time for either option without being rushed and could possibly include both of them. If you headed straight down the coast and then to the GC, a trip into Southern Utah wouldn't be out of the question and visit Zion NP before coming down I15 into Vegas.

    Death valley and Zion NP's would be quite easy to visit from Vegas either as day trips, or with an overnight stay and you also have Valley of Fire State park not far north of Vegas.

    Simply put there is no 'best' route, just lots of options. Do a little research and when you have decided what appeals to you and how much driving you want to do compared to how much time you want to spend in any one place then we can help piece it together.

  3. Default

    Thank you for the quick answer, your post were very helpful!
    I have spent many hours searching on the internet about California and what there is to see. I think the best thing to decide first is for how long time we should stay in SF, LA and Vegas. And after that we will know how long time we have left to spend on other places along the way, and if we want/have the time go to a National park or not. What do you think? We have travelled quite a lot over the years and will therefore not want to see all the tourist attractions. We prefere places less exploited(perhaps not in Vegas and LA of course).

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Way to go.

    I think you have the right idea on how to go about your planning your trip as the available time left for other attractions will help you decide what those should be. Some people are happy to spend a day or two in a city and others prefer longer stays. You could easily spend 2 or 3 days along the coast highway [CA1] between SF and LA, which is a great drive with seaside towns and attractions along the way.

  5. Default

    Okey, good!
    We have booked the flights now. We're flying to Sf and home from Vegas. The plan is to book the hotels in LA, Vegas and the NP(the hotel in Sf is already booked). I have read that there are lots of hotels and motels along the way from SF to LA. Is that correct? Do you think we should book the hotels there too? I think it would be great to be spontaneaus and stay where we feel like staying. But if there is any risk that we don't find anything available then we just book everything from home. So, what do you think?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    You should not have any problem being spontaneous between SF and LA. The only stretch that may be difficult is between Monterey and San Simeon through Big Sur, but that's only 100 miles.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Christmas ?

    I honestly have no idea with how busy or quiet lodgings at this time of year might be, but personally I would be a little concerned that travelling over the Christmas period might create a problem, whether it be from more travellers on the road visiting family, or because of some private lodgings closing down, [especially Christmas day but you might already be booked then] or a combination of both. The same could be said of restaurants and finding somewhere to eat. Like I said, I don't really know but it's something I would be concerned about and, with a relatively short distance between SF and LA, booking and staying a little spontaneous shouldn't be to difficult. I must admit I'm a 'bit of a booker' and people 'wing it' all the time with no problems.

    Maybe someone else can throw some light on this ?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Chain hotels will all be open, they never close. The Monterey area has a wide selection of hotels. San Simeon has a few, including a Motel 6. Cambria and Cayucos are all independents and B&B's. Morro Bay and SLO have a wide selection, Pismo Beach is mostly independents. Santa Maria, Lompoc, and Santa Barbara are no problem.

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