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  1. Default West Coast Road Trip for 1st Timers!

    Hi there everyone!

    First of all, this site is absolutely wonderful – I have gotten so many ideas from all of your helpful hints, tips and inside knowledge, so thank you! This is our first road trip abroad, and you have made planning so much easier than we were anticipating.

    I am planning a road trip in America next August/September with 3 other people, all girls in our early 20s, and I was wondering if I could ‘pick your brains’ over one section of our route. I have tried to search for it in previous posts but have been unable to find it – I do apologize if this is going over old ground!

    The plan is to go;
    San Francisco – Yosemite Valley – Big Sur – L.A – Las Vegas – Grand Canyon – Albuquerque – Roswell – San Diego, taking 28 days to do so.

    From several posts, I have managed to fine tune most of our route to maximize our length of stay in the places of interest, and find lovely ‘off route’ places to visit - thank you all for that.

    The section of the proposed route I would like your advice about is between Roswell, NM to San Diego, CA. Are there are special sights/areas/towns/routes that you would highly recommend? Our (rough) plan is to go Rowsell to Las Cruces, spend a night, go to Phoenix, and spend a night, then off to San Diego. Although this quite a lot of driving, this is the only section with that much (the rest is relatively leisurely) and we want to maximize our time in San Diego. We are planning to spend 5 nights there and have a ‘beachy’ end to our road trip, with a day trip to Mexico during that time as well. The only real reason we have chosen both Las Cruces and Phoenix are because we think they are suitable places to stop driving distance wise, so we are totally open to suggestions, as we don’t want to fly by something interesting and regret it later!

    Thanks in advance for your help


  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default hard start?

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Looking at your trip outline, I think it would make more sense for you to start and end your trip in San Diego. Doing a round trip will almost certainly save you money both in airfare and car rental, and you could take a route that will actually save you some time. If you did that you could go up the coast to SF, over to Yosemite, then across Tioga, and through Death Valley to Vegas.

    As far as things between Roswell and San Diego, there are a whole ton of things to do in Southern NM and Southern AZ. This is an excellent list of some of the most notable highlights.

  3. Default Thanks!

    Thanks very much for the help - as simple as it sounds I didnt think of a round trip!

    Thanks again

  4. #4


    Sounds like a fun trip. If you head up the coast from San Diego, north of Santa Barbara is the the Santa Ynez wine country, where they filmed Sideways. Los Olivos is a nice little town, very rural and home to a couple of very good wineries, Fess Parker and Firestone. Definetely stop in Carmel. There is a restaraunt/bar called Nepenthe near the Big Sur area with outdoor seating overlooking the coast. Really beautiful.
    You may try and work your way east from Las Vegas to the North rim of the Grand Canyon, through Monument Valley near the four corners of Colorado andf New Mexico, then to Sante Fe or Taos before heading south. What do you like to do or see?
    In Arizona, Scottsdale is nicer than Phoenix. Lots of art and great food. If you head north from Scottsdale, Sedona with the Red Rocks is nice.
    San Diego is worth spending some time in and around. La Jolla north is great. In San Diego Balboa Park near the Zoo is a highlight. Our favorite restaurant there is La Prado for lunch, great fish tacos.
    Have fun.

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

    Default The "loop" works well.

    I have to agree with Michael a round trip makes a lot of sense and you won't be going over the same ground twice to do so.
    Perhaps you would like to post your full itinerary up and we might be able to make some suggestions to "tweak" it a little. It's certainly a great route and with 28 days to cover the ground you are in for a great time. I like to travel Sept/Oct when the temps and the crowds are more bearable so you might want to consider going later into August if that's when you are too travel.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    You may like to consider doing the loop counter clockwise. That way you do the magnificent Pacific Coast Highway from North to South. It means you will have the ocean on your side, and will not have to cross oncoming traffic for the many turnouts and viewpoints along the way.

    And make sure you allow a couple of days for the trip from SF to LA. You won't regret it.

    Lifey who loves that drive
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 09-01-2009 at 06:32 AM. Reason: typo

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