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  1. Default LA-SF-Yosemite-LV-Death Valley-LA (again, yes, but with questions)

    Greetings from Singapore, a 24 hour flight away!

    First of all, a big thank you to everyone who has contributed to this forum. Over the past few weeks, I have been reading many incredibly helpful posts, which has really helped me to get a good idea of what I can see in the United States of America.

    I plan to attend a 3-day conference in Vegas in late October. Knowing that my girlfriend has never been to the States, and would love to go - I decided to plan a longer 'dream trip'.

    Basically, the trip is LA-SF-Yosemite-LV-Death Valley-LA. I know this is a very common trip on the forum, but hopefully the information in this thread will especially help those who like me, are very much Asian city dwellers. Also, while I find a lot of threads on Yosemite and Death Valley, I am a bit surpised that I can't find many on Highway 1 and the 49-mile drive in San Francisco. I've listed specific questions below in the itinerary.

    Because I love to plan, I've come up with a very long and detailed itinerary. Thus, I won't be offended if you stop reading after Day 1. :-) In fact, feel free to skip to the day you're most interested in. In part, I put this itinerary out there, so I can get more links to do more reading, so if you could help me with that, that would be wonderful.

    Nothing on the itinerary is confirmed except for the conference. I have listed some questions after each day for some information that I can't find so far. There's so much information going around in my head and I need to sort it out. I'm looking to have many wonderful experiences in California, but I also want to work within my budget. The time budget is almost inflexible, while the monetary budget can be adjusted a bit.

    I have already been to SF, Vegas and Disneyland myself, so for this trip I would like to see less of the cities. But for the sake of romance, I will be repeating Disneyland. I can appreciate museums but a few hours are best and half a day is max. The concept of enjoyable driving is also new to me and I want to try this out. I might do a trial 1-day drive in Malaysia to really understand what we like and don't like.

    Here's our tentative itinerary, day by day.

    Sat 23 Oct
    - Arrive LAX after a 24 hour flight. Pick up standard car from Enterprise. Check in to hotel to freshen up.
    - As the flight might arrive early or late (I'll choose the cheapest one), I have two plans

    Flight Arrives Late Plan
    - Go to Venice. Tour the town, including Muscle Beach & the canals.
    - Chill out at a cafe along Ocean Front Walk, then head out to Venice Pier.

    Flight Arrives Early Plan
    - Tour LA by car, stopping a while whenever it gets interesting or for photos.
    - Drive through Santa Monica. Beverly Hills, Hollywood Boulevard, Griffith Park, Forest Lawn, Pasadena, Downtown.
    - Spend 2-3 hrs at the wonderful free museum at Getty Center, 1 hr window shopping in Beverly Hills.
    - Depending on how early the flight arrives, I may or may not complete the whole tour.

    - Standard is the best value car I can rent, any concerns for taking it on the trip? Or should I downgrade the car to a compact? It's only slightly cheaper for rental. Not sure about gas.
    - What will the beaches be like in this cold weather? Will it still be worthwhile seeing?

    Sun 24 Oct
    - Leave LA, drive along Highway 1 up the coast.
    - Possible stops - Santa Barbara, Morro Bay, Cambria, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Pebble Beach, and of course any time we have the inspiration to take photos.
    - Take Tour 1 at Hearst Castle and watch the intro video.

    - What speed should I estimate along Highway 1? What's the max speed I can go with traffic?
    - If we can't go fast enough, I'm ok with stopping earlier, but I hope to reach the Big Sur at least. I've research sunrise and sunset as approximately 7am - 6pm.
    - Is it possible to have too much coast and get tired of it? If so, I might head inland to Santa Ynez
    - Is the Valley Flower Drive still worth seeing in October?
    - I don't seem to grasp the excitement over the Missions. Has anyone got pictures so that I can see it in more detail?

    Mon 25 Oct
    - 2 shore dives at Monterey, off Cannery Row
    - Spend some time at Monterey / Pacific Grove / Carmel-by-the-Sea
    - Drive up to San Jose, meet relatives for dinner

    - Will it be worth it to get a dive guide for both dives, or only one? I have basic diving experience.

    Tue 26 Oct
    - Drive to San Francisco and do the 49-mile drive.
    - Drive out of San Francisco towards Yosemite.

    - Any links to the 49-mile-drive on this forum? Or blogs of people who have done the drive will be appreciated, especially with pictures.
    - What would be a good hotel to stay at between San Francisco and Yosemite?

    Wed 27 Oct
    - Drive along the farms in the Central Valley, stop at a farmer's market to get fresh fruits.
    - Drive to Jamestown to see the gold towns.
    - Enter Yosemite, see the Valley, Glacier Point, Tuolomne Grove
    - Sleep in a log cabin in Yosemite.

    - Will the Central Valley be scenic during this time?
    - Where's the best place to stop at a farmer's market?
    - Will there be time to see Jamestown?

    Thu 28 Oct
    - If Tioga Pass is open, go to Tuolomne Meadows.
    - Drive down, see Bristlecone Forest, Eastern California Museum, Whitney Portal, Lone Pine.
    - Drive to Vegas, hopefully reaching at 6pm.

    - Is this too muc for one day?
    - Will I see giant redwoods here? If so, I can cut out Tuolomne Grove from the previous day.

    Fri 29 Oct - Sun 31 Oct
    - I'm at the conference at Flamingo Hotel. I'll be staying there most probably.
    - My sweetheart intends to do some serious shopping at Caesar's Palace, and maybe taking the bus out to Las Vegas Fashion Outlets. She'll also walk along the strip.
    - At night, we'll chill out at nice places, party on Halloween.

    - Is it safe for a girl to walk alone along the Las Vegas strip in the day?

    Mon 1 Nov
    - Wake up late after Halloween party and have brunch in Vegas
    - Drive to Death Valley, trek around StovePipe Wells

    Tue 2 Nov
    - Go to Badwater, Artist's Drive, Dante's View.
    - View museum at Furnace Creek.
    - Continue to Joshua Tree National Park

    - Where can I stay along the way?

    Wed 3 Nov
    - Drive to Joshua Tree National Park
    - Drive to LA, finish up remaining tour from 1st day, or more shopping

    - Where can I find more information on Joshua Tree, or other things to do on the way to LA?

    Thu 4 Nov
    - Disneyland

    Fri 5 Nov
    - Last meal in USA
    - Last-minute shopping
    - Depart LAX

    If you've read every line until here, I must commend you for your patience!!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    1. You are going to have a hard time trying to make it from LA to San Jose in 2 days if you want to take a Hearst Castle tour *and* do some diving in Monterey. When you get north of Hearst Castle, a large portion of Highway 1 between there and Carmel is a 25 mph road.

    2. The central valley is not particularly scenic in my opinion, but the definition of "scenic" is open to individual interpretation.

    3. You have better than a 50-50 chance of the Tioga Pass being open, but sightseeing in Yosemite *and* driving to LV in one day is really pushing it.

    4. The Strip is quite safe day and night.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default A few more.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    The 49 mile drive in SF was set out for tourists in the 1930's I believe, and has changed it's routing a few times. I have heard that it is very difficult to follow through the City and if one delivery truck is blocking one of the route markers it is easy to get lost. To be honest, I think you would have a better time just finding your own way to selected places that interest you with the limited time you have, rather than trying to keep on a "tourist track".

    If Tioga pass is open you will be much better off visiting, and staying the night in Death valley and driving to Vegas after, rather than going to Vegas and back tracking all the way to Stovepipe wells, you will be driving right through there on route.

    A link to Joshua tree NP.

    I think you are under estimating how long it will take for you to get around in certain areas, and won't have the time to go "here" and "there" as much as you might like. As well as glc pointed out above, about the coast road, I would also consider spending a bit of time in SF and then head direct to Yosemite.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 06-06-2010 at 11:34 AM. Reason: Manners !

  4. Default

    Thanks for your fast replies, glc & Dave!

    I think I will do this
    - For Highway 1, take out either Hearst Castle or (preferably) move the scuba diving to LA when returning.
    - Drive direct from SF to Yosemite, hopefully getting some glimpse of the Central Valley.
    - Skip Jamestown and visit Randsburg instead on the way back from Death Valley to LA.
    - Pick out the sights in SF, using the 49-mile drive as a guide.
    - Drop Joshua Tree National Park. After looking closer at the map, I realize it's off the way.

    I have to push for Vegas as I have to be there on 29 Oct (preferably by evening on 28th). If there's time, I'll stop at Stovepipe Wells enroute, but I definitely have to backtrack to Death Valley if I want to give more time to both Yosemite and Death Valley.

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