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  1. Default San Fran & Vegas Roadtrip (7 Days, 6 Nights) & Hawaii

    Hi All,

    I have a trip planned for our honeymoon (surprise one) which I've booked the flights as follows:
    - Flights from London to San Fran on 22-May (arrive at 5pm)
    - Flights from Vegas to Hawaii on 28-May (leave at 9am)
    - Flights from Hawaii to New York on 7-Jun (leave at 3pm)
    - Flights from New York to London on 11-Jun (leave at 8pm)

    I would find it useful to have some local input into my plans as I'm unsure on timescales/making things fit in

    -------------------
    San Fran / Vegas
    -------------------

    I've been reading a few posts on this popular route which has opened my eyes to a few suggestions (ie. drive through Yosemite, Death Valley, Helicopters from Vegas etc)

    We have 6 days and am looking to do it as a drive. In San Fran we'll be staying around Fishermans Wharf or Union Sq. I want to include:
    - Alcatraz
    - Cycle over Golden Gate Bridge
    - Food and Drink

    Regarding Vegas, I've been looking at the Wynn but am considering some others on the strip. I see Vegas a including:
    - Gambling, Eating and Drinking
    - An evening show
    - Hoover Dam (?)
    - Grand Canyon (?) I would think by helicopter given the short timescales

    So my questions:
    - What other recommended things to do are there in San Francisco? The future Mrs likes boats/sea
    - What other recommended things to do are there in Vegas?
    - Is 7 Days (6 nights) enough time to fit something decent in via Yosemite? (I estimate this as 5 hours to Yosemite and 6 hours to Vegas). Maybe 2 nights in each place?
    - Is it recommended to just drive straight to Vegas instead via the I-5/I-15 and if so, are there places along the way to see/do things? (other forum posts suggest not)
    - Is there any time saving tips for this trip?
    - What car hire advice would you give if going via Yosemite?

    -------
    Hawaii
    -------

    The flights are in to Honolulu and I have my eye on a few hotels on the Island (but could be open to splitting the trip). The main purpose of this leg of the trip is to relax on the beach, by the pool and enjoy the culture. What recommendations are there in O'ahu and/or the surrounding Islands? I'm looking at:
    - Pearl Harbour Tour (she loves boats)
    - Sunset Cruise
    - Whale Cruise
    - Volcanoes National Park

    Any input would be greatly appreciated

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

    Default Time crunch.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    That's quite a Honeymoon, congratulations ! Ok, San Francisco. Union square and China town combined make a nice day shopping/sight seeing in the City. Other attractions are Coit tower, Lombard Street, dining on Pier 39 and as you mentioned Alcatraz. There are many more and it's a lovely city to just stroll and enjoy. For Alcatraz I would recommend you book tickets in advance to save waiting in long queues only to find the next boat is full. The place to book is through the nps.gov site as it is the only official booking office where you will not have to pay agents fees or book it alongside another tour you may not want, it's another way they make their money. In Las Vegas there is something to do at every turn, you could spend your time walking through hotel Lobbies like that at the Venetian and wandering the street looking at the Bellagio fountains etc. You could go up to Freemont Street or even 'fly' above it on a zip line.

    To travel from SF to Vegas while exploring each City and hoping to visit Yosemite and Grand canyon doesn't leave you much time at all in anyone place so that's where you will have to choose. If you drove direct from SF to Vegas you would have no time for anything other than the drive which would be 10 hours plus. In reality you only have 5 days if you arrive in SF at 5pm and depart Vegas at 9am and you really need 2 overnight stops if you are to visit Yosemite Valley. [You could drive through with just one overnight but it would be a shame. The Helicopter tours from Vegas to GC do not generally go the National park, they instead got to the west rim on Indian lands which is nowhere near as spectacular as the 'real thing'. The problem is that to see the south rim NP you really need an overnight stop there and I don't see that you have time given the other things you wish to do.

    I think you need to prioritise what appeals to you, but would I go to Yosemite given the chance, Hell yeah ! As for a car, a mid-size sedan offers the best of value and comfort and you certainly don't need anything else to visit Yosemite or any other place, but you might WANT something else.

  3. Default

    Hi,

    I apologise about the delay in responding. I read the post but forgot to reply. I am grateful for you relaying your experiences Dave. I've also taken advice from friends too who have done a similar route

    Friends noted that while San Francisco is great, they felt they did everything within 1 to 1.5 days. So I decided to book 2 nights in the Argonaut and will be booking in to Alcatraz. The rest will be a leisurely stroll, dining on Pier 39 as you suggest and taking in the City

    I then booked into the Monache at Mammoth Lakes for one night. The intention is to leave San Fran around 12pm arriving subject to traffic at the hotel in the early evening (~5-6 hour drive depending when/where we stop off). In the summer I suspect the 120 will be open. Enjoy a relaxing evening meal, walk around the village and further exploring in the morning before leaving for Vegas. Take the route down the 395 (unsure on next part) before arriving in Vegas at some point the following day. Stay in Vegas for 3 nights (2.25 days). We'll just take Vegas as it comes as may not feel like doing things like the Grand Canyon and if so, could look at a helicopter tour although it may not be as great as you suggest

    The main lesson from your note and speaking with friends is that yes, it will be a push for time, but ultimately, San Francisco is great but Vegas is where the fun is at. But Yosemite and the 395 MUST NOT be missed

    I hope this helps others. I'll set a reminder to relay my experiences, post trip!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default Yosemite ?

    With your current plan you will only have time to drive direct to Mammoth Lakes, albeit with a drive across Tioga Pass in Yosemite NP which is spectacular. As long as you realise that you will then wake on the wrong side of the mountains to be able to visit Yosemite valley and other highlights of the park such as Glacier point. If you don't want to miss Yosemite then you really need to stay in the park [ or nearby to the west ] and either leave SF much earlier in the day or spend another night on the road closer to Vegas, Lone Pine perhaps.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default your plan doesn't match your goals

    Quote Originally Posted by baines1986 View Post
    The main lesson from your note and speaking with friends is that yes, it will be a push for time, but ultimately, San Francisco is great but Vegas is where the fun is at. But Yosemite and the 395 MUST NOT be missed
    I agree that Yosemite is something that must not be missed.

    The problem, your plan right now doesn't give you time right now to visit it.

    I then booked into the Monache at Mammoth Lakes for one night. The intention is to leave San Fran around 12pm arriving subject to traffic at the hotel in the early evening (~5-6 hour drive depending when/where we stop off).
    I think you're strongly underestimating how much time you need. 6 hours is the minimum I'd plan for the drive from SF to Mammoth, and that's assuming you keep your stops to a minimum. While your trip might take you over Tioga Pass, which is a part of Yosemite National Park, the route does not take you to the Yosemite Valley, which is the heart of the park. Going into the Valley will add at least another hour of driving, again, before stops.

    Even if you left SF first thing in the morning, you'd only have time for a brief look around Yosemite, before continuing over the pass, but by leaving at noon, you really won't have any time for it, and make the drive to Mammoth.

    In the summer I suspect the 120 will be open.
    This is one other big potential problem with your plan. Late May is not summer in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Tioga Pass (CA-120) historically opens between Mid May and Late June. While it's impossible to say exactly when the pass will open for the spring, I'd say your odds are 50/50 at best, and factoring that we're in a "el nino" year, which is a weather pattern that brings more moisture than normal to the west coast, I'd say the odds of a June opening in 2016 are a bit higher than average. If Tioga Pass is not yet open, you'd have to find one of the passes farther to the north to be able to get to Mammoth at all.

    So, long story short, I'd strongly recommend you cancel your Mammoth Reservations and find a new place to stay, preferably right within Yosemite National Park, or someplace on the west side of the Sierras if you must stay outside the park.

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