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  1. Default Road trip San Francisco - LA - Death Valley - San Francisco. Best routes and must se

    Hi guys

    I am making the round trip from San Francisco (flying in from Ireland) with 2 adults and 4 kids, two teens and two under tens. We want to take in Big Sur, some of the theme parks in LA and Death Valley is a must before heading back to San Francisco to fly home. Can you recommend the best routes for the must-see attractions, bearing in mind we are travelling with 4 children and are on a budget. Also we are travelling last week October and first week in November, so what weather should we expect? Thanks so much! Carrie

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default Variable and unpredictable weather.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    The one thing you don't mention is how much time you have for the trip ? A popular 'loop' trip from SF would include Big Sur as you mention and then you would have the option of visiting the Grand canyon before Death valley [Vegas?] and back to SF via Yosemite NP. The weather is totally unpredictable and you could see anything from mild sunny days, rain, hot and snow and ice is possible in the Sierra Nevada on the high ground. Not only could it be one of these, it could be all of them on a trip that takes you from coast to Desert to mountain. However we love to travel around this time of year in the west and the weather has been favourable for us, but it's wise to pack layered clothing.

    We don't really do 'must see's' in the general sense as everyone's interests vary and so does the pace they want to travel at. A popular route would be as mentioned above: SF >Big Sur > LA > GC >Vegas > Death Valley > Yosemite >SF. You could of course opt to go from LA direct to Death valley. The only thing is, is that the Tioga Pass that traverses across the mountains into Yosemite runs a risk of closing this time of year due to mountain snow, but I would say the odds are in your favour. It's a spectacular drive to a spectacular place ! If it were closed it wouldn't be the end of the world, you would simply have to go north or south from Death valley around the mountains.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default A good time to go.

    Hi Carrie, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    End October early November will be a nice time to visit Death Valley. The worst of the heat will be gone.

    You will need two days to travel the Pacific Coast Highway. Besides Big Sur there is the Monterey Aquarium, and Hearst Castle. A good half way would be around San Simeon. Cambria is a little more upmarket. From LA drive straight to Death Valley and then, if you are lucky, and Tioga Pass has not yet closed, you could drive through Yosemite and spend a day or two in that great Wonder of the Natural World, before returning to SF. If Tioga Pass is closed you could drive up to Lake Tahoe, up 395 through the lovely town of Bishop and past Mono Lake. You could stay in Death Valley, though there is cheaper accommodation in nearby Beatty. That would also take you past the ghost town of Rhionite.

    Two weeks should not be too hurried, but you will not want to linger too long in any one place. How much time is being devoted to the Theme Parks?

    Lifey

  4. Default Thanks for the reply.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lifemagician View Post
    Hi Carrie, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    End October early November will be a nice time to visit Death Valley. The worst of the heat will be gone.

    You will need two days to travel the Pacific Coast Highway. Besides Big Sur there is the Monterey Aquarium, and Hearst Castle. A good half way would be around San Simeon. Cambria is a little more upmarket. From LA drive straight to Death Valley and then, if you are lucky, and Tioga Pass has not yet closed, you could drive through Yosemite and spend a day or two in that great Wonder of the Natural World, before returning to SF. If Tioga Pass is closed you could drive up to Lake Tahoe, up 395 through the lovely town of Bishop and past Mono Lake. You could stay in Death Valley, though there is cheaper accommodation in nearby Beatty. That would also take you past the ghost town of Rhionite.

    Two weeks should not be too hurried, but you will not want to linger too long in any one place. How much time is being devoted to the Theme Parks?

    Lifey

    We have 11 nights altogether so probably not enough time to go to Vegas as well, although we would love to. We thought 2/3 night in LA to do theme parks then the rest for trying to cram in as many sights as we can. Its a long way from Ireland so we want to see as much as we can when we are there!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    There are a bunch of theme parks in the LA area. Disney alone would be a minimum of 2 days if you have never been to either one. Universal Studios is at least one more day, because it's a good hour's drive from Anaheim. Knotts Berry Farm, which is a lot closer to Disney, is another day. Six Flags Magic Mountain is about 1-1/2 to 2 hours from Anaheim and is another one-day park. You may have to pick and choose your theme parks.

    Donna

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default That should work.

    After a long haul flight it is advisable to at least spend 24 hours in San Francisco, to allow your body clocks to catch up with you.

    If this were me, I would cut down on the theme parks (especially if you are on a budget) and allocate more time to the great natural wonders of Yosemite and Death Valley. You could do the loop, but it will keep you on the move. If Tioga Pass has closed, there are other mountain passes which would probably still be open, allowing you to enter Yosemite from the west side.

    Allow two days to drive down the coast; the best part of a day to drive from LA to DV. Next day you could visit DV and stay somewhere along US-395. A day or two in Yosemite with the last day(s) driving to and in SF.

    BTW you may find this site useful.

    Lifey

  7. Default Grateful for the advice!

    Thanks guys, we have done Disneyland Paris, so I think we will do Universal and possibly Six Flags, depending on how we feel. You have been so helpful. Thanks so much!!!!!
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 07-02-2014 at 09:20 AM. Reason: Removed quote for easier reading. Not needed for in line response

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