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  1. Default First Road Trip!!

    Ok, so this is my very first road trip ever! I am excited and very nervous! We plan to spend five days during Thanksgiving vacation and would like to start in San Jose/San Francisco area, drive to San Diego ( we plan to stay with family here for one night), drive to the Grand Canyon (we have no clue where in the GC to visit as this would be our first time), drive to Las Vegas (we would stay with family here), and then back to San Jose/ San Francisco. Is this reasonable to do in 5 days? It would be myself, husband, and our 11 year old son. What attractions can we stop at along the way that my 11 year old would enjoy? Is Hearst Castle along the way on this route? Thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Unless all you want to do is spend 5 straight days in the car, then no, your current plan really is not at all reasonable. Just visiting all the places you've listed would require about 4 full days of driving, which just doesn't leave your family time to do much anything else.

    It is a long day to drive from SF to SD on the freeway, but if you want to follow the coast and stop at places like Hearst Castle, you would need at least 2 days.

    It is another long day from SD to the Grand Canyon, followed by a half day back to Las Vegas, and then another long hard day from Vegas back to SF - and that's if you don't see any other sites like Death Valley, Yosemite, etc.

    If you only have 5 days for a round trip, then I think you have to make a choice - either just do San Diego, or just do the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas. Even there, you will still be spending nearly as much time driving as you will having fun and exploring places, but at least that is a workable starting point.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    OK, another Californian chiming in here.

    Going from SF to SD took us about 10 hours last month. That was via I-5 to CA-58 to US-395 to I-15. We've gone from SF to SD all the way on I-5 and it took us 11-12 hours because of the traffic issues, so we have learned to avoid that.

    SD to the Grand Canyon is a full day, whether you go I-15 to I-40 and over, or you avoid Riverside and San Bernardino County areas by going through Yuma, Gila Bend, Phoenix, and Flagstaff. Either way it's about 10 hours on the road.

    This is what I'd do:
    Day 1 - Drive San Jose to Cambria - either see San Simeon that day, or backtrack the next day to see San Simeon - get a reservation.

    Day 2 - Drive Cambria to San Diego via CA-46 or CA-58, to CA-99, to US-395 to I-15.

    Day 3, 4 - Spend a couple of days with your family. We have a lot to see in San Diego! Some things are free, other things are a little more costly! Here's a thread about San Diego area.

    Day 5 - Drive back to SJ via I-5. If you want to go around LA, use I-15/US-395/CA-58. Either take CA-58 to I-5 (we did), or go a little north on CA-99 and catch CA-46 over to I-5. If anyone is a train buff, stop at Tehachapi Loop -- 13 tunnels and those trains keep going around and around. (It's on our "to do" list, since we totally forgot about it last month!)


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