Hi, Myself and a friend are planning a roadtrip in california in late april 2004. We will fly into LAX from the UK and hire a car for our 2 week trip. We want to see LA, San Simeon, San Fran, Las Vegas, San Diego and back to LA. I realise this will be a rush trip but we want to see as much as possible. Has anyone got any advice, tips, things we shouldnt miss etc. And the best nightlife places? Any info would be greatly appreciated. Cheers guys, Ash.
Your big problem with your planned route in April is that inbetween San Francisco and Las Vegas is a mountain range that will be snowbound. You will probably have to skirt the southern end of the Sierra Nevadas to get to Vegas. Checkout the map of California on
http://www.uk-2-usa.com/California.html to see what I mean.
I guess the journey is still do-able but it will be quite a drive.
I-80 on your timetable -- Or maybe the Gold Country is Cooler
To get over the Sierra Nevadas, you should plan on using I-80 and US-95 for the leg between San Francisco and Las Vegas. Even during the heaviest snow storms, they (mostly) keep I-80 open.
A really scenic route could entail exiting I-80 at Placerville and following the Gold Rush Trail <a href = "http://www.roadtripamerica.com/drives/ca49.htm">(CA-49)</a> through the foothills. There are some really fun bars and historical places along the route. When you reach Sonora -- head west and pick-up I-5 and jet down to Buttonwillow -- pick-up CA-58 to Bakersfield and on through Tehachapi and over to I-15 up to Las Vegas.
The road south from Las Vegas (I-15) crosses Route 66 several times -- on your way to San Diego.
It's possible, but I think you're looking at 20+ hours of driving time minimum. If you plan on doing somesightseeing, I would guess it's about 4 driving days It's a nice trip, the only thing that I would mention is that Las Vegas is kinda a long detour from the rest of your itinerary. If you leave from LA, figure on 5 hours to get to San Simeon, another few hours to get to SF, but from SF to Vegas is about 9 hours on the most direct route. I don't think you'll have to worry about snow, there are a couple different routes you can take cutting through Bakersfield, I've never encountered snow on them. Search the forum for stockdale highway and you'll find them.
If it were me, I might rearrange the trip so that you leave from LA, head over to Vegas (4 hours) spend a night or two there. then come back down to San Diego (5 hours) for a night or two. From there you can start heading up the coast to LA, on your way to San Simeon (6-7 hours) Then from San Simeon is another 4 hours to san francisco to spend however much time you want, then back down to LA (6-10 hours, depending on the route) This breaks up your trip into shorter segements, plus the road to vegas is relatively easy, gives you a chance to get used to driving here. These are all based on California driving times, which in some cases can average 80+ mph on some stretches of highway.
Construction on I-15
Four hours LA to Las Vegas? If one fails to slow down in the construction areas (marked at 50 mph for long stretches) and traffic is light one can reach the East San Gabriel valley in four hours (Pasadena) but I would love to speak to anyone who can drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas during daylight hours in less than five hours. Because of the posted construction speeds, I know that top speed one can average is 50 mph between LA and Las Vegas even if one's car slips into 70+ once in a while. I personally make this drive at least once per month and I know I am exceeding the posted limits when I reach LA in five hours...
You're right. I forgot they're coming from LAX, all the way across LA, so that adds at least another hour or more. But I can usually make the drive in less than 4 hours from the pasadena area if there's very little traffic. I should mention I usually drive at night, when there's almost no traffic and everyone is averaging 80+ mph for most of the way past baker. I'm not a very fast driver either, I usually hang out in the slow lane. Try riding in some of my friend's cars, we've made it from LAX to Berkeley in 4.5 hours. I think we might have exceeded the speed limit once or twice.
Some scenic sights?
If you want to see some of the spectacular scenery that California has to offer, then you should think about Death Valley and Yosemite National Parks. They'll both add a detour to your route, but I don't know anyone who has been to these places and not been seriously impressed. Definitely nothing like you'll see in the UK. As for nightlife, San Francisco is a fascinating city with nightlife to suit every taste. Good luck, Ted.
Some scenic sights?
If you want to see some of the spectacular scenery that California has to offer, then you should think about Death Valley and Yosemite National Parks. They'll both require a bit of a detour to your route, but I don't know anyone who has been to these places and not been seriously impressed. Definitely nothing like you'll see in the UK. If you have the time and can drive north along the spectacular Hwy 1 coast route, then you might be able to do a bit of whale watching. As for nightlife, San Francisco is a fascinating city with nightlife to suit every taste. Good luck, Ted.
questions about different CA trip
My husband and I will be in San Francisco for a few weeks for work and want to take 2 weekend excursions. One weekend we plan to go South along Route 1 and the other weekend we want to go inland. I'd like to go to Lake Tahoe and my husband would like to go to Yosemite. I'm wondering if we can do both in one weekend -- in particular, I'm not sure what the roads are like between the two, in terms of snow, or how long it would take. We don't want to spend the whole time in the car -- we'd like to at least do some short hikes here and there. So I'm wondering if we really should choose one or the other and not try to do both. Any ideas?
I'd choose one -- if you try to do both all on one weekend, you WILL be on the road too much and you won't have any time to spend eitehr place. If you haven't seen either, I'd choose Yosemite first as it is considered by many the "jewel in the crown" of the US National Park system. Not that the Tahoe area and Gold Rush country aren't great too. But Yosemite is the BEST. Just my opinion. Bob