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  1. #1

    Default 18 days.. from Seattle to LA or San Diego or Las Vegas

    Hello my fellow Roadtrippers!

    First of all it's great to be back after a few months away. I couldn't do my US roadtrip for multiple reasons but this year things seem to be going in the right direction. I just need one more confirmation from my wife's job, and if so, we're on the way.
    However, I am posting this thread seeking your help with the route, choosing roads, saving time, sightseeing... I have many ideas, and I would like to share them with all of you and benefit from your knowledge. Plus, I have many doubts.
    But first things first, some info:

    Being portuguese we are flying from Lisbon (or Madrid) to Seattle in the beggining of September (perhaps on the 1st) . We fly back to Portugal on the 20th Sept. If the ticket fare allows to be split in half, we'll make LIS-SEA and then SDIEGOorLAorLV to LIS. If it turns out to be too expensive, we'll just make LIS-SEA-LIS adding a domestic flight to take us to Seattle from one of those 3 cities.

    Being on the road and "respecting" the Roadtrip philosophy, I won't be making many prior hotel reservations. Perhaps, only Seattle. On the road, I have in mind the International Hostels, Motel6 and whatever comes our way.

    NOW, the real thing... the Possible Itinerary
    (still just lots of data, nothing concrete yet)

    Seattle (2 days)
    road from Long Beach to South Bend/Raymond
    Long Beach Peninsula
    Cape Disappointment

    Seaside and Cannon Beach
    Mt Hood and Oregon Cascades
    Depoe Bay
    Devil's Punchbowl
    Florence (Sea Lion Caves and the Dunes)
    Gold Beach

    Crescent City
    Redwood National Park
    NAPA region
    Muir Woods
    San Francisco (3 days)
    Santa Cruz
    Big Sur
    Pfeiffer State Park
    San Luis Obispo
    Santa Barbara
    LA (3 days)
    La Jolla
    San Diego

    This is of course a rough idea. Now.. comes some questions. I can't wait to read your views on this matter. Here it goes, no particular order:

    - 3rd of September, labour day. Can I find a car rental agency open this day? Is anything open?
    - Car insurance? How does it work? Can it be done in the rent-a-car agency?
    - The car itself. I am thinking of an intermediatte. My internet searches tell something like a $1000... :S (Ex: Pontiac G6) We're just to people, but beinga a car enthusiast, I would like a nice car to drive, roomy, reliable.. What do you think?
    - In what items can I have good discounts by paying with American Express? I can't find the american express discount partners anywhere.
    - What to do, what to see in Seattle?
    - Should I go to Portland? If so, what are the highlights of the city?
    - After Eureka, should I keep following 101 to San Francisco or should I catch the 299 to Redding and then the 5 to save time? Or even doing Portland-SF by 5?
    - National Parks... most people say that one must go to Yosemite. Should I? What to expect in terms of doing? And time? 1 day? 2 days?
    - Just out of curiosity, what is the Tioga Pass and why do they close it seasonally?
    - After all this trip from Seattle to LA... without any prejudice to any city.. should I choose between SDiego or LVegas?
    -From SF to Santa Cruz. Should I take Highway 1 or a faster one? How's the scenary?
    -"Tokeland/Grayland/Westport" Are they worth the visit? Or should I just stick to 101?
    - I was told that the trip between LA and SDiego by highway 1 has some beautiful sights but also other ones that really don't matter so much. What's the better way then?
    -Being portuguese, can and/or should I become a member of AAA?

    That's all the questions I can remember by now... :)
    Mind you that I am aware that 18 days are not enough to see all these places, but I am counting you all to help to select some of them and to optimize my itenerary in terms of time.

    Thank you very much for helping! Start your answers! :)

  2. #2

    Default uh.. and what about the best 5 beaches? :)

    One more question. I am a afficionado of beautiful beaches, specially not too crowded or even desertic (but safe). I ask all of you to name the best 5 beaches from Seattle to SDiego. ;) Thanks Again!!

  3. Default

    I'm sure there will be many more helpful people to answer more of your questions, but I've done the trip from LA to San Francisco along the Pacific Coast Highway (Hwy 1) and it was worth every second that it took. I loved it so much that this summer I'm going back and driving the whole thing (Seattle to San Diego - much like you're doing) along the coast.

    We ended up staying two days in Monterey because it was just a great little town with so much to do. I'm planning on skipping LA almost entirely this time around; other than Venice Beach, it really didn't have a whole lot of character to me.

    Good luck with the planning; I'm going to subscribe to this thread to see what other useful information you get!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Go For It - II

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    It is unusual to get two simultaneous posts about essentially the same trip, but that is pretty much the case here. Be sure to check out adolwyn's thread for any advice that she gets as well.

    A couple of specifics for you. Hostels are not as prevalent in the US as they are in Europe, but read this article. Besides Motel 6, low cost motel chains include Super 8, Econo Lodge and Red Roof. Each has a web site that lists their locations, or will send you a brochure, so that you'll know what's available wherever you happen to find yourself in the evening. But this may require you to drive a bit inland each night, since the low cost motels tend to be by the highway rather than in the resorts.

    Your itinerary already seems pretty chock full, so with Judy's recommendations (you are going to read her post in the thread linked to above, aren't you?), I can't really offer much new and different. Rental car companies are open 365 days a week, particularly at airport locations, so don't worry about that, especially if you make a reservation. The rental agency will be more than happy to sell you insurance at the counter, but check with your own insurance and credit card companies first to see what coverage you may already have. I also tend to go with an intermediate sized car. The next step up, to full-sized or standard, usually involves a jump in price and decrease in gas mileage without giving you much more room or luxury. I wouldn't bother joining AAA just for your trip. The rental agency is responsible if your car breaks down on the road, and you can buy a very good road atlas for far less than the cost of AAA membership.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Car Insurance 101

    Quote Originally Posted by Ricardo View Post
    - Car insurance? How does it work? Can it be done in the rent-a-car agency?
    Here is an overview of how car insurance works. Be sure to read the entire thread!


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default You're going to have a wonderful trip!

    I really believe that the Pacific Coast Highway is one of the most beautiful drives you can take.

    Being on the road and "respecting" the Roadtrip philosophy, I won't be making many prior hotel reservations. Perhaps, only Seattle. On the road, I have in mind the International Hostels, Motel6 and whatever comes our way.
    Where do you want to stay in Seattle? If you'll stay close to the airport, there are a ton of places to choose from and it would be hard to make a bad choice. It's a short drive to downtown Seattle and other local places to go so that's not a bad option. The prices tend to be a little lower than the hotels in the downtown area.

    However, staying in downtown has its merits. Particularly if you want to explore the market and the waterfront. It would be nice to just stroll out the front door and walk the city without fighting traffic. Here's an article about the downtown hotels. My personal choices would be the Best Western Pioneer Square Hotel (it's not your typical Best Western), The Inn at the Market, or The Edgewater.

    Seattle (2 days)
    road from Long Beach to South Bend/Raymond
    Long Beach Peninsula
    Cape Disappointment
    I think you're missing the best parts of Washington with this route. However, it's hard to devise a good route that lets you see my top 2 recommendations without doing some backtracking. These are Mt. St. Helens and the Olympic Peninsula. You might consider taking the ferry across Puget Sound to either Bremerton or Winslow and then driving to Port Angeles, then coming down the western side of the peninsula with stops at various scenic places to enjoy Olympic National Park. These stops should include Hurricane Ridge, the Hoh Rainforest and the Trail of Mosses, Ruby Beach and the rest of the Kalaloch area, and Lake Quinault. After you've done the loop of the Peninsula, you can cut over to I-5 and drive south to enjoy Mt. St. Helens taking the exit at Castle Rock, then return to I-5 to Portland. Go east from Portland on Hwy 30 from Portland to Astoria to meet up with 101 and continue south on the coast. If you want to visit Long Beach, you'll have to go north from here and then return to Astoria for your trip south. This route only makes sense if you want to visit Portland.

    Or, skip Portland and go west in Longview/Kelso area on Hwy 4. This is a very pretty drive and will take you back to the coast farther north merging with 101 just a few mile north-west from Long Beach.

    Or, after seeing Mt. St. Helens backtrack north just 30 minutes to Chehalis and then take Hwy 6 at exit 77. Go west through beautiful forests and farm land to Raymond where you will hook up with 101 and then continue south to Long Beach, Ilwaco, and Cape Disappointment.

    Either of these last two drives will get you to Long Beach and take you through some beautiful country to get there.

    I think the rest of your plan down the coast looks pretty good. No problems jump out at me anyway.

    - What to do, what to see in Seattle?
    * The famous public market out for the flying fish!
    * Ye Olde Curiousity Shoppe and the rest of the Seattle waterfront. Eat at Ivar's Acres of Clams, a Seattle institution
    * Pioneer Square and Bill Speidel's Underground Tour
    * Catch a Mariner game in beautiful Safeco Field (truly a gem of a big league ballpark that captures the spirit of the older stadiums)
    * Space Needle and controversial Experience Music Project (ride the monorail there from downtown)
    * Boeing's Museum of Flight (including the little red barn that started it all)
    * the Fremont District with the giant troll statue holding a full-size VW Bug in his hands, the statue of Lenin, the other amusing street art, and unique shops
    * Hiram Chittenden Locks to watch the salmon going up the fish ladders
    * Union a kayak and tour the unique neighborhoods made up of houseboats

    That should be more than enough to get your started.

    - Should I go to Portland? If so, what are the highlights of the city?
    Portland is a beautiful city in its own right. Whether or not you should stop there is up to you. I'm not as familiar with Portland and, to be honest, most of the things that I enjoy are actually east of Portland (like Mt. Hood, the Columbia River Gorge, for example). I'm not as familiar with things to see and do right in Portland. However, their riverfront area is gorgeous. Their downtown has been beautified over the last decade or so with a wonderful walk along the river, close to some nice shopping (if you're a shopper). The only things I usually go to Portland itself for are Powell's Books (a 3-story, one city-block extravaganza of books) and the Saturday Market (Portland's version of Seattle public market).

    I wish I could give you a more definitive answer. Personally, if it was me, I'd focus on the coast. I think after seeing Seattle, and with San Francisco and other cities directly on your route, Portland isn't worth the time. However, if you love cities, it might be. Your call.

    - After Eureka, should I keep following 101 to San Francisco or should I catch the 299 to Redding and then the 5 to save time? Or even doing Portland-SF by 5?
    Do NOT do I-5 from Portland to San Francisco. You'll miss the most beautiful part of the trip, imho. I would do 101 and CA-1 when it's available the whole way to San Francisco.

    -"Tokeland/Grayland/Westport" Are they worth the visit? Or should I just stick to 101?
    Yes and no. Westport is a nice, coastal town. But the highlight of this is really the stretch of Hwy 105 that goes from Grayland to Raymond where it meets up with Hwy 101. In Grayland, you can just take a short detour off of 105 and drive through miles of cranberry bogs. In September, this is a gorgeous site with their deep-red berries. And this is getting close to harvest time so you might see a lot of activity on the bogs. And the beach areas here are also quite nice. The real beach beauty begin between Grayland and Tokeland. A stop at Washaway Beach is interesting. The sea if stealing back land here at a quick clip. Almost every year, a few houses are torn down before they fall into the ocean. In fact, if this keeps up, there may be no 105 in a decade or two. Also, you will be driving along one of the most beautiful stretches of beach on the entire Pacific Coast, imho. After Tokeland, it is a gorgeous drive as you turn from the coast and drive along the northern shore of Willapa Bay.

    So, yes, if you're coming near here, it's well worth it to take this route. However, if you decide to do Mt. St. Helen's, you'll have to back-track a long way to see this. In that case, I'm not sure it's worth it. I think, of the two, Mt. St. Helen's is the better choice as you'll be seeing plenty of beautiful coastline on the rest of your trip. But how often do you get to see massive volcanic destruction and a still smoldering volcano? Just my two bits.

  7. Default

    Do most of your shopping, if not all, in Oregon! There's no sales tax!

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