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  1. Default LA to San Francisco

    Hi guys

    I'm hoping you can help me. My boyfriend and I are flying in to LAX on 27th August and are wanting to drive up to San Francisco. We've been told to stop at numerous places, like Monteray, Carmel, Half Moon Bay, Big Sur etc, but are completely confused as to where all these places are on the way!!

    Can anyone advise the best 2 or 3 day route up to SF, where we should visit, and where we should spend the 2 nights?

    Many thanks,


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default PCH [route 1]

    Hello and welcome to the R.T.A. forums!

    With 2 or 3 days you have time to take the very scenic Pacfic coast highway [route 1] that will take you through the places mentioned and is highly recommended.
    If you type Big Sur and/or LA to San francisco etc into the search button you will find loads of information that will help you decide what places appeal to you.

    Hearst castle is a famous and popular place to stop at and it's worth booking a tour.

    Have a look around and as you get ideas and questions just ask.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default need to grab a map!

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    You're going to have to start by grabbing a map and start getting a feel for the area that you're going to be traveling. Afterall, even if we tell you places you could stop, that's still not going to help you if you don't learn where these places are.

    All of the places you've listed could make good stops on this very scenic route. If you are going to spend 2 nights along the way, you'd probably want to spend the first night somewhere around Santa Maria/San Luis Obispo and then the second night in Monterey.

  4. Default i think we're getting somewhere!

    hi guys

    thanks for the help. so, can we comfortably go to a couple of places or more in a day? someone mentioned a spa in calistoga, you guys mentioned hearst castle. are these all things that can be done in a couple of hours?

    i think our route will be:

    27th Aug - LAX to either Santa Maria or Pismo Beach for the night
    28th Aug - Santa Maria or Pismo Beach to Carmel, then over to Monteray to stay the night
    29th Aug - Monteray up to Half Moon Bay then on to San Fran to stay for 2 nights
    31st Aug - fly down to Vegas for 3 nights
    3rd Sept - pick up another hire car and drive over to Murrieta to stay with friends

    where is hearst castle in relation to this route? do you think we need to allow more time in each place seeing as we will be spending a lot of time driving?



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default A little more research.

    Hi Lou,
    Your outline is certainly doable but it's for you to decide where and how best you spend your time. The tours at Hearst castle are listed in the link I gave you and "tour 1" which is recommended for first time visitors takes 1 hour 45 mins. With the detour and waiting for the tour, looking around and getting back on track you will probably be looking at 3-4 hours. [That's a "guess-timate" as I havn't done it].

    I would also think about the flight from SF to Vegas. By the time you have dropped your rental off and gone through check in and checked out the other end collected your baggage and another rental it's not going to save a lot of time. Add to that the fact you will have extra one way rental charges on your cars and the expense of the flights and it's a good enough reason to enjoy the road and see a liitle more of America on the ground.

  6. Default the plot thickens

    Hi Southwest Dave

    You are really so so helpful, I cannot thank you enough!

    So, do you think there is a lot to see on the drive down to Vegas? My boyfriend mentioned wanting to see the Grand Canyon. Is that something that is better done by helicopter?


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Hearst Castle is a few miles north of San Simeon - which is between Pismo Beach and Carmel.

    Between SF and LV, the main attractions are Yosemite and Death Valley. If you can spare 2 days, you can see both of them if you don't mind 2 full days of driving and don't spend a lot of time in either. The first day, you can go through Yosemite and over Tioga Pass to highway 395, and spend the night in Lee Vining or Bishop. The second day you can go through DV on to LV. You can drive from SF to LV in one day, but it would have to be via the fast route (I-5, 58, and I-15) which will not be anywhere near as scenic.

    If you only have one day, a helicopter is really the only way to see the GC. Otherwise, it could be done in 2 days from LV, spending a night in or near the South Rim.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default ..and thickens !

    So, do you think there is a lot to see on the drive down to Vegas?
    Well if you want to do it in a day it will be mainly Interstate driving but personally I would sooner be doing that then I would sitting in an airport terminal. Now if you added a night you could drive through Yosemite NP and across Death valley into Vegas, which in my book is a spectacular drive !

    My boyfriend mentioned wanting to see the Grand Canyon. Is that something that is better done by helicopter?
    Not in my opinion. A helicopter ride across the GC is something quite amazing as part of the whole deal, but there is nothing quite like standing on the rim and "feeling" it, especially a sunset/rise. That would be more than a day trip from Vegas though, you would have to spend a night in or around the canyon area to make it worth while.
    No helicopter lands in the GC National park, the helicopter tours from Vegas land on Indian res lands, and although spectacular it doesn't offer the famous views you may have seen in many photo's.

    If you look at google maps or the like and get a feel of the area and distances and what you want to achieve we can certainly help you put it altogether, but the beauty of the road trip is that it allows you to go where you want to and not have someone telling you where to go. We can help you get the best from your plan and advise where necessary but at the end of the day you must decide how you want to go about things.

  9. Default and on and on

    Just to complicate matters further, our friend who lives in Fairfield (near Napa) has invited us to stay up there for a couple of days between San Fran and Vegas.

    How long would it take us to drive from SF to Napa? Are the vineyards worth travelling all that way to visit? If we go to Napa, we will have to fly from SF to Vegas as we won't have time to drive. What do you think is the best option?

    The Grand Canyon sounds amazing, but we only have a short amount of time. Is there no way to do it in a day?


  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default time to grab that map again

    I really think you need to grab a map so you can see for yourself where it is that you'll be traveling. Certainly, the various online mapping programs can also help with providing information about the distances you're looking at.

    The Grand Canyon is a solid 5 hour drive, each way, and can be more with potential delays at the Hoover Dam and at the enterence to the park. To try and do that in one day would mean driving 10-12 hours, and only getting an hour or 2 to spend at the park. On that level, yes, I suppose it can be done, but you are really cheating yourself.

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