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  1. Default 3 week road trip! Attractions and route advice welcome!

    My partner are travelling from New Zealand to LA in mid December, and will be travelling around in a SUV until mid January. We have all our a com and flights booked so were now just finalising how we go about getting from A to B, and we have some flexibility. Below are the dates and we'd love to hear what you think, so we don't miss anything along the way :)

    28 Dec: driving from L.A to Vegas. We would have spent the day at Universal Studios so will be mid afternoon when we set off. We'll be here for six days (plus the days we arrive and leave) and still have room to see attractions at this point.

    4 Jan: Driving from Vegas to Reno. Staying the night in the Reno area though I haven't booked this yet, and we're open to ideas. Will it be snowing or icy? We're both confident drivers and drive similar vehicles at home (and in the snow) but want to be prepared.

    5 Jan: Driving from Reno to San Francisco, and will call in to Lake Tahoe. We have a bit of time still free if there's good suggestions here.

    8 Jan: Leaving San Francisco and driving to L.A. Our accommodation is south of the city, I think it's called Capistrano Beach? We're here for six days (plus the days we arrive and leave) and we still have time for attractions. We're keen to drive down the coast to San Diego etc.

    15 Jan: we head up to Santa Monica for three nights before heading home. Most of this time will probably be spent shopping and relaxing but were open to ideas.

    As you can probably tell, we are beach bums, like the outdoors, and want to enjoy whatever is on offer. We have a few thrill adventures in and amongst our trip but were aware that we don't know what we don't know - so throw it all at us!

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

    Default the outdoors?

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I have to say, for finishing your post by saying you like the outdoors, I find it a little surprising that you've posted an itinerary that is exclusively made up of cities!

    For example, you've given yourself 6 days for Las Vegas, yet, there is no mention of the numerous outdoor attractions in this part of the country. Certainly, there are several great natural wonders that are just a short drive away from Vegas, but there are even more that are in the region, but too far from Vegas to do as a daytrip. The Grand Canyon is certainly the most famous, but there are lots of other great parks and places in Northern Arizona and Southern Utah that I would think you'd might enjoy, but you really wouldn't be able to get to if you are anchored to Vegas.

    Similarly, Reno seems like a bit of an odd choice, considering all the other possibilities between Vegas and San Francisco. You mentioned swinging past Lake Tahoe on your way to SF, but there is also Death Valley, Sequoia, or Yosemite National Parks that are are usually near the top of the list for fans of nature.

    SF to LA can be done in one day, but that pretty much limits you to taking the freeway, especially since you're staying way on the south end of Orange County (and it will take a couple hours just to get through the Sprawl of LA). If you wanted to enjoy the scenic coastal drive, you need a bare minimum of 2 full days.

    I'd actually probably expect to spend a bit more time at Universal Studios that you have planned. The week between Christmas and New Years is about the busiest week of the year for theme parks, so it will be tough to get to everything in just a half day. Don't underestimate traffic in LA when trying to drive in mid-afternoon either.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Michael has many, many good points that I thought of as I read the original trip plan. My first worry was "We would have spent the day at Universal Studios so will be mid afternoon when we set off." Universal is huge anyway, and you won't have gotten your money's worth by 3 pm on a weekday during everyone's time off from school and work. Then there's the drive to LV itself. Though it may be touted as a 4 hr 20 minute drive, that's not likely. The traffic between Universal Studios and getting over the Cajon Pass will be bad enough (you'll be leaving at rush hour), but then the drive from the Pass up to LV can be very, very congested. Allow 6 hours for that trip. At least.

    Just realize that traffic can slow things down a lot, particularly in LA, SF, and LV. Plan to take some time to see the natural beauty surrounding some of those places. For instance, near Las Vegas (enough for day trips) is Red Rock Canyon and Valley of Fire State Park, plus Lake Mead and Hoover Dam (not really natural, but it's a day trip worth doing).


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default You're coming so far it would be a shame to miss the great wonders of nature.

    Let me endorse the comments above. You will have come so far, and not to go and see the spectacular beauty of southern Utah seems a real waste. You'll never see anything like it in NZ (or Oz for that matter). Get hold of a good map of the US or individual maps of those States, and see what you would be missing out on by staying solely in the cities.

    One warning though,. When you are in LV you will see advertised many tours by road and air to the Grand Canyon. These tours invariably go to the west rim, which is on Indian land, and no where near as beautiful as the national park. The NP is a large place and definitely worth more than a few fleeting hours. At the time you are travelling it may still be possible to get accommodation in the NP, and experience a sunset/sunrise over the canyon. Unforgettable experiences.

    Same goes for Monument Valley, Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce and Zion national parks - to name just a few. Michael mentioned some of the other great natural wonders of the world. Especially death valley. I would not miss out on Death Valley in winter, when it is comfortable to be able to enjoy that. Summer is really not the season to get the most out of it.

    The Pacific Coast Highway, which, as mentioned, takes two full days from SF to LA, is another place not to be missed (IMHO). The comments about the LA traffic are spot on. My first experience of driving in the US was from LA, I left mid afternoon, and after hours was convinced I had missed my turn off to LV. I pulled off the interstate, and checked my maps, only to find I was still well and truly in the suburbs.


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