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  1. Default California, Deep South, and NYC in 3 weeks

    Hi All,

    My wife and I are currently planning a last-minute trip to the USA in April. We have return flights into LAX and we would like to see some of California (LA, San Francisco, Vegas, and some parks), we would love to see New Orleans and some of the Deep South, and we are keen to get over to New York also. I was thinking that we could fit in two road trips (LA to SF via Vegas / Yosemite) and Nashville to New Orleans via Memphis.

    Neither of us have been to USA before so we are looking for any help that people could give us. I am mindful that we are trying to squeeze in a LOT in a short space of time, but we would love to get to these 3 locations, even if we need to curb some of the travel. We dont mind a bit of travelling, and we have backpacked around Europe and India before. We would consider buses, trains and domestic flights if people think it more sensible.

    If people could check out the following rough itinerary and let us know what they think that would be AWESOME!

    1-Apr: Arrive Los Angeles, hire car in Airport to drop off in San Francisco 10-Apr
    2-Apr: Day looking around Los Angeles.
    3-Apr: 9AM Drive to Las Vegas via Mojave (5 hrs with no stops), go to hotel in Las Vegas
    4-Apr: Day in Las Vegas, tour of sights, night in LV
    5-Apr: Day in Las Vegas, chopper tour of Grand Canyon
    6-Apr: 9AM Drive Las Vegas to Bishop, via Death Valley National Park (5hrs no stops), hotel in Bishop or Mammoth Lakes
    7-Apr: Tour around Yosemite National Park, stay a second night in same hotel or find hotel in nearby town
    NOTE - I have since realised that we cannot go through Yosemite at this time of year (approaching from the East), as such we were thinking of maybe spending the night in or near Death Valley, then going the long-way-round to the south and staying in or near Yosemite NP the following evening.
    8-Apr: 9AM, depart for San Francisco (6hrs , no stops), find hotel in SF, spend late afternoon/evening checking out SF.
    9-Apr: Spend day in San Francisco
    10-Apr: Fly San Francisco to New York
    11,12,13,14-Apr: Time in NYC
    15-Apr: Flight NYC to Nashville, pickup rental car at the airport to drop off in New Orleans
    16-Apr: Day in Nashville
    17-Apr: Drive to Memphis (3hrs, no stops)
    18-Apr: Day in Memphis
    19-Apr: Drive to New Orleans (6hrs, no stops), find Hotel in New Orleans (or stop somewhere nearby, plantations etc)
    20-Apr: Day in New Orleans, stay in same hotel
    21-Apr: Day in New Orleans, stay in same hotel (Day trip to plantations?)
    22-Apr: Day in New Orleans, stay in same hotel
    23-Apr: Flight to Los Angeles

    Thanks all for any hints, tips, suggestions. Note that we are not precious about where we stay, where we go, or what we do, just trying to extract as much out of the time as we can!! THANKS ALL!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,545

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    3-Apr: 9AM Drive to Las Vegas via Mojave (5 hrs with no stops), go to hotel in Las Vegas
    4-Apr: Day in Las Vegas, tour of sights, night in LV
    5-Apr: Day in Las Vegas, chopper tour of Grand Canyon
    If you are lucky, you might make Las Vegas in 5 hours. Fridays and Sundays are the two heaviest traffic days on I-15 between San Bernardino and Las Vegas. Count on it being closer to 6 hours, 7 if you hit a particularly bad day. Southern California school spring breaks are varied this year (as they are, many years) and could affect your travel.

    Also, you should realize that chopper tours out of Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon are not going to take you over the Grand Canyon NAT'L PARK. The tours go over the western rim, which is owned by the Native Americans and is not nearly as gorgeous as the Grand Canyon itself.



    Donna

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,269

    Default

    2 one way car rentals may get pricey. You may want to close the first loop and return to LA from SF via the coast highway. Go from LA direct to the Grand Canyon South Rim via I-15/I-40, spend at least 1 night there, then go to Las Vegas, Death Valley, Yosemite, and San Francisco.

  4. Default

    Hi Guys,

    Thanks for the responses! I wasn't aware that traffic on the big highways could make such a big difference, I will definitely take this into consideration. I have done a bit of research into the Grand Canyon since my post and I see what you mean re the west rim. I am now tossing up between a chopper tour of the west rim, a tour including a small plane flight to the South Rim, or driving to the South Rim and staying nearby for a night. I know this isn't really a thread for this particular question, but which of those 3 would people generally recommend?

    Great idea re going direct from LA to Grand Canyon, we may look at this as another option!

    I have seen quite a few people mention that one-way car rentals can be pricey, however when I jump on the car rental websites (Thrifty, Hertz, etc) and run through an online quote I don't see too much difference either way? If I go to Thrifty, and enter detail to hire a mid-size Sedan from April 1 to April 10 pickup and drop off at LAX it gives me $377USD, do the same thing from LAX to SFO it comes out as $546USD, a difference of $169USD. Is this the type of difference we are talking? That doesn't seem too bad in my opinion, to save an extra minimum 6-7 hour drive (could deduct another $30 for fuel too)? I know $170 isn't insignificant, I was just expecting more when I saw how many people mentioned it.

    Can anyone comment on how much cheaper are hire cars are when you pre-book as opposed to getting one on the spot?

    Thanks again!

    Jeremy.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,269

    Default

    driving to the South Rim and staying nearby for a night
    That is much preferred.

    Can anyone comment on how much cheaper are hire cars are when you pre-book as opposed to getting one on the spot?
    It's probably considerably cheaper prebooking through a consolidator such as rentalcars.com.

    Is this the type of difference we are talking? That doesn't seem too bad in my opinion, to save an extra minimum 6-7 hour drive (could deduct another $30 for fuel too)?
    You would be missing the opportunity to drive the Pacific Coast Highway between SF and LA - although this is best done with an overnight in the middle somewhere.

  6. #6
    doly Guest

    Default

    Wish you good and happy journey in April. Chopper tour of Grand Canyon is really fantastical. You will memorable experience there. Also take Google map and Google Street View services help to navigate the destinations during your journey. Take proper rest during nights and stay at best hotels.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,747

    Default Stay in the park !

    I am now tossing up between a chopper tour of the west rim, a tour including a small plane flight to the South Rim, or driving to the South Rim and staying nearby for a night. I know this isn't really a thread for this particular question, but which of those 3 would people generally recommend?
    I would 100% recommend spending a night at the South rim and experiencing it's many viewpoints and a sunset/sunrise from the rim. A helicopter ride from Grand canyon airport in Tusayan that fly's over the National park is quite an experience if you want the 'best of both worlds'. As mentioned above, head to GC from LA to save back tracking.

    Between LV and Yosemite you should be able to enjoy time in Death valley and spend the night around Lake Isabella as to cut down your miles the following day.

    I believe one way drop fees are often less between SF and LA as it is a popular choice and you might even find it free. I would recommend comparing prices with rentalcars.com

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default One way drop fee.

    Three times I have rented a vehicle to drive between the two cities on the west coast. I have never been charged a one way fee for those trips. Those rentals were all with Budget.

    Lifey

  9. Default

    Some great info again, thanks guys!

    Google estimates a 9 hour drive from Los Angeles to Grand Canyon, do people think this is accurate? Given that I was advised to add on a few hours going to Las Vegas I would be concerned this would blow out to something unmanageable in a single day?

    Where would people recommend to stay near GCNP? From what I can see there are a few limited options still available in Tusayan, then once full the next best option would be Flagstaff? Or is that just what internet searches are leading me to believe? I dont mind cheap and cheerful if its going to get me close by!

    Thanks!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,269

    Default

    9 hours may be optimistic, but it's still doable in a single day if you get out of LA bright and early in the morning. I'd suggest you be on the road no later than 6am due to rush hour traffic. It would help if you spent the night east of LA close to I-15, out in the Ontario area.

    If you can't stay in Tusayan, the next closest lodging is the Cameron Trading Post on US-89 just north of the AZ-64 junction. There are also a couple of hotels in Tuba City on US-160 east of US-89. Next closest to that is Williams, which is an hour south of the park on I-40 at AZ-64. Flagstaff has the cheapest and widest selection, but that's an hour and a half from the park. If your budget can stand it, I'd recommend Tusayan.

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