Road Trip - LA - GC - LV - PCH - SF Help & Advice Pls :o)
Replies: 12 - Last Post: Oct 8, 2012 7:14 AM Last Post By: nutraxfornerves
Oct 7, 2012 3:05 AM
Road Trip - LA - GC - LV - PCH - SF Help & Advice Pls :o)Hi All
Sorry to post a request for help on another California Rad Trip, but cant seem to get the answers from the millions of other posts.
My wife and I are ticking one off the bucket list. We are both in our early 40's from the UK. Not especially interested in museums, art galeries or disney.
We are trying to establish an outline of an itinerary, but not getting very far. Think I am getting way too excited ;o)
We fly into LAX from the UK on 15th Nov. We have already reserved a small SUV for collection at the airport.
The second week Saturday 24th, we have booked a nice B&B in SF to use as a base. Though we appreciate that the road trip part may mean a late arrival Sunday/Monday in SF
The vacation finishes flying out of SFO on 1st December, dropping the rental car off at the airport.
Thoughts so far....
Two days in LA (Friday & Saturday). Sunday see the beaches & peir then set off towards the Grand Canyon.
I would like to detour to London Bridge on the way.
Drive as far as feasible, sharing the driving. Stopping at a Motel on the way.
Spend a day driving between the south and west rims.
See the Hoover Dam on the way to Vegas.
Night in Vegas. (or two?)
Set off following day back towards LA and the PCH
A more leisurely drive up to SF.
Using the second week to see the sights of SF and surrounding areas including Yosemite.
We would welcome all your suggestions for everything!!!
Where to stay, what roads to take (don't really want to duplicate any roads if possible), how long each leg of the trip will reasonably take. Budget $$$. Booking in advance? If you think any parts are a waste of our precious time or if we are not giving a location sufficient time. etc etc.
Over to all you knowledgeable well traveled forumites and thank you in anticipation :o)
Oct 7, 2012 4:21 AM
1My recommendation - cancel the B&B from 24 November if you can (in fact, cancel at least three nights altogether). There are too many good things on your list to cram them in before 24 Nov, so in my view, don't try to.
Here is one suggested itinerary, bearing in mind these places are where you spend each night:
15 Nov -- Los Angeles
16 Nov -- Los Angeles
17 Nov -- Los Angeles
18 Nov -- Lake Havasu (London Bridge)
19 Nov -- GCNP South Rim
20 Nov -- Williams
21 Nov -- Las Vegas (after Hoover Dam)
22 Nov -- Lone Pine (after Death Valley NP)
23 Nov -- San Luis Obispo
24 Nov -- Monterey (called Hwy 1 rather than PCH)
25 Nov -- Yosemite NP
26 Nov -- Yosemite NP
27 Nov -- San Francisco
28 Nov -- San Francisco
29 Nov -- San Francisco
30 Nov -- San Francisco
01 Dec -- Fly Out
Also note that it might be a bit chilly at the Grand Canyon, so bring your woolly socks. But overall - a great trip. You could have one less night in SF, and one more in Las Vegas - I probably would. Make sure that where you stay in SF has free off-street parking as well.
Oct 7, 2012 5:58 AM
2Drop the SUV and rent a sedan off airport & dump the heap as soon as you get to San Francisco... A small sedan will do just fine. I will suggest both The "West Rim" & The lake Havasu areas are not worth your consideration... With a early start, Drive LA- Kingman AZ.-Old Rt 66- Seligman-South Rim in a day. After a day or two at the Canyon, drive a loop to the West and North Visiting Zion NP.Then on to Las Vegas. Visit Boulder dam as a day trip, from there. Leaving Vegas I suggest you drive the I-15 to Barstow and the 58 into SLO. Try to plan a Thursday evening there for the weekly Street & food Fair. Drive the highway 1 as far as Monterey...Go inland on the 152 to Yosemite THEN onto San Fracisco... happy trails ... carracar
Oct 7, 2012 8:34 AM
3Book your Yosemite lodging NOW if you haven't already. You can't really do this as a day trip from San Francisco.
I agree that it's not worth it to drive to the west rim of the Grand Canyon. This is not part of the National Park, which is where the most spectacular part of the canyon is. The west rim is part of the Hualapai Indian Reservation. The last part of the drive is a dirt road, which may be prohibited by your rental contract. You must purchase a "Legacy package" from the tribe. The cheapest is $44 per person. The Skywalk is an additional $30. You must park in a designated area (for a fee) and take the shuttle which is included in the package.
Oct 7, 2012 12:12 PM
4See this from the FAQ
Grand Tour: California, Vegas, Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce
Oct 7, 2012 2:34 PM
5Yes ... I left out three points that are worth repeating: (1) you do not need an SUV, just a mid-size sedan at most, (2) there is no need to include West Rim, unless you are really keen on the Skywalk, and (3) drop the rental car as soon as you arrive into San Francisco, since it is a walking / public transport city indeed.
I did include the stop at Lake Havasu (City) because of your specific mention of the ex-London Bridge, plus I also think there is good sense in not driving all the way from LA to the GCNP South Rim in one day ... better in my view to take it over two days and have a look at stuff.
Oct 7, 2012 5:05 PM
Oct 7, 2012 8:18 PM
7agree with making reservations now for Yosemite. Mid-week in November you might get lucky and get a room or tent cabin in the valley.
Also no car needed in SF. weather is unpredictable in November so bring a rain jacket and warm sweater.
Oct 8, 2012 12:55 AM
Thank you everyone for taking the time to reply and your fantastic responses.
This has certainly given us some food for thought,
On a quick note, the SUV was on "special offer" and the same price as a Ford Focus/Toyota Corrola, and therefore a no brainer. $290 for the 16 days including the insurance waivers, one way rental and airport charges...
And the B&B in SF is only £149 for the week through a TS club. So we are effectively only paying for a couple of nights. There is also free parking at the B&B so we really don't mind missing a few nights here.
Great idea regarding the overnight at the Lake. We will probably take a bit more time in LA then drive there in the early evening.
West Rim of the GCNP, is off the list now, possibly replaced by the Hoover Dam.
Thank you also for the weather advice, looks like we will be packing everything from shorts & T Shirts, to traditional English summer wear (Warm & Waterproof Clothes lol) ;o)
Thank you again for all your time, please don't stop the posts if you think of anything else or have any recommendations for places to stay eat and play.
Oct 8, 2012 3:02 AM
Oct 8, 2012 3:28 AM
10Don't know about very sorted, very very excited yes!!! :D
The car renal was online via rentalcars.com - being inquisitive I have since noticed that the offer has finished price has nearly doubled. (I didn't believe that it was a limited offer at the time of booking, thought it was just some sales ploy for the end of month)
At the moment we think...
Book the first night in LA. In consideration of the flights and driving in the dark for the first time in a different car, in a different part of the world. Carol's idea was to book in West LA so we can start the following day exploring Beverley Hill and Hollywood.
The following night further south for Long Beach etc.
The remainder of the road trip we will take "on the fly".
I hope to purchase a T-Mobile SIM card for my phone so we will be able to browse the web and ring ahead. Though I have read a few posts suggesting booking accommodation and cancelling if you don't get there. Doesn't seem very fair for the hotel to me.
Thank you again for the helpful posts. We have printed out a few "chapters" from the FAQ page :o)
Oct 8, 2012 4:20 AM
11We've used UK-based carhire 3000.com (part of rentalcars.com) as well ... pre-booking from Australia - you can get good deals indeed, including insurance waivers and one-way fee waivers. In terms of accommodation, we use the Super 8 Motel website (it's part of the Wyndham Group, with a lot of brands across the budget spectrum, so it's a handy resource).
We've booked the Super 8 Motel Culver City - not necessarily the most salubrious part, but close to LAX, Santa Monica, Hollywood (sort of), and Marina del Ray, where we have a colleague. Taking stuff on the fly can work okay at off-peak times (although I really need to know where I'm sleeping that night, when I head off in the morning). However you will need to book the night(s) you're in Yosemite NP - it's a popular place most of the year.
In terms of late cancellations, there is no ethical dilemma - these chains are vast commercial enterprises, and build their competitiveness (in part) by allowing great flexibility. If you cancel at 2:00pm, they will probably have it re-booked by 5:00pm ... the country is huge, and the travel industry is huge to match it.
And we bought a 30-day T-Mobile SIM Card last time ... worked okay in the urban areas, but was not very good at all out in the sticks ... might be worth checking a few more reviews about alternatives.
Oct 8, 2012 7:14 AM
12Thursday, November 22 is American Thanksgiving Day. The day before and the weekend after are major travel days. Probably won't affect you, but you do not want to have to deal with an airport or overbooked flights on those days.
Depending on where you are on that day, lodging may be empty or it may be totally booked. Although Thanksgiving is primarily celebrated at home, there are a lot of people who decide to take the family to a resort area or a park like Yosemite.
Most everything will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, including banks, post offices, museums, theme parks, historical sites, etc. Some restaurants are open for breakfast & lunch; some will offer special Thanksgiving dinners. If you want to do one of the ore upscale dinners, you definitely should reserve in advance. Restaurants at big hotels are usually open to serve guests, so may be your best bet for finding a regular meal. So it might be a good idea to plan on where you will be that day--you don't want to be stuck in a rural area where nothing is open and you are reduced to the emergency stash of granola bars.
Shameless self promotion--an interview I did with LP a few years ago about Thanksgiving. Home for the Holiday.
The day after Thanksgiving is called "Black Friday." It is a huge day for shopping, the traditional start of the Christmas season. Black Friday originally meant that this was the day that stores would finally be in the black (make a profit) for the year. But now, it also refers to the utter craziness of the thing.
Stores offer amazing prices for "early bird" shoppers. "Early bird" used to mean 6 AM or so; last year some stores opened at midnight.
Depending on your interests, you can either join in to get great bargains, or make sure yo are far, far away from any shopping mall to avoid traffic and people jams.
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