Round 'Road Trip' from San Francisco!
Replies: 21 - Last Post: Mar 6, 2012 6:30 PM Last Post By: ianw6705
Mar 3, 2012 1:38 AM
Round 'Road Trip' from San Francisco!Hello! My boyfriend I are planning a trip for this coming July/August (2012) and as it my first time to visit USA (boyfiend has visited LA briefly) I am just looking for a little friendly advice :)
Our trip will be 16 nights in total...we have booked return flights from Hong Kong to San Francisco...this is the general itinery so far:
Day 1 - arrive in SF late evening - stay near airport
Day 2 - 4 - Pick up car. Stay in SF (hotel booked near Union Square) - visit Alacatraz, Golden Gate Bridge, Relax etc etc
Day 5 - drive from SF to Yosemite (Stay at Curry Village in park)
Day 6 - drive to Death Valley (stay at Furnace Creek)
Day 7 - drive to Grand Canyon OR Sedona?!?!?!
Day 8 - drive to Vegas (2 nights in Luxor, 2 nights in Bellagio)
Day 12 - drive to LA (Hotel booked for 4 nights in Santa Monica) Explore beaches, visit Hollywood, maybe a theme park, sample nightlife, relax!
Day 16 - drive to SF, stay near to airport (not yet booked)
Day 17 - return car and fly back to Hong Kong!
How does this look?
I know many people recommend less time in Vegas (or none at all!) but it is definitely somewhere we want to visit - we enjoy good and busy nightlife, have fun gambling and seeing the bright lights and general wandering around and people watching!
Main bit I am unsure of is Grand Canyon visit - we definitely want to go and was going to drive from Death Valley to GC to stay night...but have now been advised that we should visit Sedona...so are considering staying there instead and then just visiting GC the next day - please advise? We are not into hiking etc and so are just wanting to go to appreciate the views/take pics etc. My boyfriend will be doing all of the driving and is more than happy to do so...we have checked out driving times between each of the places and the schedule of our itinery seems ok. Like I said, we just want to appreciate each place and relax a little!
Any advice would be greatly appreciated :) Thanks!
Mar 3, 2012 2:29 AM
1Yeah, I'm one of those people who would spend less or no time in Vegas. Sadly, people watching in Las Vegas isn't that interesting - everyone looks like a conventioneer from Kansas, dressed in Dockers and golf shirts. Of course, the shows are great, but the gambling isn't more interesting than Macau.
Between SF and Yosemite is some really nice country and some nice towns. I'd spend a whole day doing this drive and plan 2 nights in the park, so you have a full day to enjoy it. Or one night in Yosemite and one in quieter Kings Canyon (on your way to Death Valley). The weather should be pretty nice for your visit.
Death Valley will be incredibly hot while you're there, but the landscape is really special and it's on the way. Don't plan to do any hiking there.
From LA to San Francisco there are many beautiful places on the coast. The quickest way is up the valley, but I'd take the coast if you can find the time.
Your trip sounds like lots of fun!
Mar 3, 2012 3:06 AM
2I definitely think you should consider the following amendments:
1. Don't get the car in SF until you're about to leave - the public transport is fantastic.
2. Spend two nights in Yosemite NP (but nothing along the way, despite advice from #1).
3. One night Furnace Creek is not necessary - just drive-through to Las Vegas
4. Drive Las Vegas through Hoover Dam (great) to the Grand Canyon NP Village for 2 nights.
5. And only 3 nights back in Las Vegas (ie two full days) - even 2 nights can be enough.
6. Only have three nights in LA.
7. Have one night along the Pacific Coast Hwy (San Luis Obispo, Cambria, or Monterey)
8. It is too far to drive LA to SF in one day - and to actually enjoy it.
Mar 3, 2012 6:17 AM
3Agree with most of what ian/#2 says, except I would stay overnight at Furnace Creek, not go on to Las Vegas. It's a moderately long drive (7 hours) from Yosemite to Furnace Creek, and having that as a planned stop means you can see a few more Death Valley landscapes from roadside pullouts and very short walks to viewpoints in a couple of daylight settings. The one-day drive from there to Hoover Dam as mid-way point then on to Grand Canyon would be about 7 hours.
Mar 3, 2012 7:07 AM
One scenic route would be to go east to Sacramento, then south to Yosemite on highway 49. Map
Have you already booked that Curry Village stay? If not, you need to book NOW. It may already be too late to get what you want.
I also agree--don't bother with a car until you are ready to leave SF. You will also get a better rate by renting at somewhere other than the airport. However, that mean that you have to return the car to the same location. You will indeed enjoy the drive from LA to SF much better if you can do it in two days. The fastest route is of interest only if you want to see why California is a major agricultural producer.
Mar 3, 2012 7:18 AM
5You are going to have to make some choices.
I agree mostly with ianw6705, qlso.
1. Spend two nights in Yosemite. Don't dawdle on the way there as #1 suggests. You don't have time for the wineries.
2. You don't have time to see King's Canyon and it forces you to take the much less scenic route to Death Valley.
3. Spend an overnight in Furnace Creek. In August, it will be a long, hot and getting hotter drive from Yosemite to Death Valley and you will really want to stop and get into somewhere with air conditioning by the evening.
4. Skip Sedona. You don't have time for it and you should see Grand Canyon.
5. Cut out a night or two in Las Vegas
6. Three nights in LA area.
7. Make an overnight stop on the coastal drive from LA to SF. It's beautiful and you can't do it in one day.
Mar 3, 2012 7:26 AM
Mar 3, 2012 11:10 AM
7Should you trouble your self to consult a map...Seems a bit redundant to pass through LV ... to return, out of your way, to LA...I suggest stay over enroute...On departure,take the day to tour Boulder Dam, & and the "Old 66 from Kingman. Arriving at the South Rim by sunset One then can drive LA. direct, on the I-40...Get a early start on this drive, as a mid afternoon(EXCEPTING WEEKENDS) will find you in the middle of the daily commute... Yes, take a extra day & overnight for the highway 101/1drive to the San Francisco area...carracar
Mar 3, 2012 1:23 PM
8I agree with many of the comments above. Particularly, no need to pass through Vegad twice, do your time there on the way to grand canyon, and afterward go straight to LA.
I'd also agree with taking less time in Vegas, and possibly LA, and making a day or two to enjoy the drive up the coast. Sedona is definitely a second-tier destination behind Yosemite, grand canyon and the coast. If you had a few more days it would be worth the short detour, but I'd leave it out as you are planned now.
I'd also consider allowing a full day at grand canyon, if for no other reason than so you can enjoy the sunset and sunrise in relative solitude. Even on the rim you can do this just by walking a few hundred yards along the retail that runs along the canyon rim. Contrary to some advice, it will not be particularly hot at GC, unless you hike some distance into the canyon, the rim is warm on the day and cool at night. The gift shops do a brisk business in sweaters for tourists who packed ad though they were going to be in Vegas.
Enjoy your trip.
Mar 3, 2012 1:33 PM
Mar 3, 2012 7:25 PM
10Thanks for all the replies! :)
We will definitely consider spending one less night in LA and staying somewhere en route back to SF to enjoy the scenery a little more! Would Monterey be most recommended place for this?
Any more advice/opinion on whether we should take the time to visit Sedona or skip it out and spend the time at the Grand Canyon?
We will also take a helicopter trip over Hoover Dam and the part of GC that that visits (I know this isnt the National Park) from Vegas at some point.
Yes, have booked Curry Village as heard it gets booked really fast! :)
Mar 3, 2012 7:58 PM
11Drop Sedona. You don't have time for it. It's not a drive-by sort of place.
Mar 4, 2012 7:23 AM
Other places that people enjoy staying are San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay, and Cambria. If your schedule is such tht you are traveling on Thursday, then you should consider staying in San Luis Obispo for the Thursday Night Market. San Luis would also be a good place if you'd like to visit wineries on your first day's drive--there are many between Santa Barbara and San Luis.
Cambria makes sense if you are planning to visit Hearst Castle. You can only see it by tour. You could book the last tour of the day, for example. (You can only see it by tour).
Monterey is a 2-3 hour drive from the SF airport (more if you run into bad traffic). If your flight to Hong Kong is one of those trans-Pacific flights that takes off around midnight, you could even stay in Monterey and drive to the airport the next day, avoiding a night in an airport hotel.
Mar 4, 2012 7:44 AM
13We will also take a helicopter trip over Hoover Dam and the part of GC that that visits (I know this isnt the National Park) from Vegas at some point.
Why travel by copter from Vegas when you'll be heading that way anyway? Take a helicopter flight from the GC area. The trips from LV are a rip-off.
Mar 4, 2012 8:15 AM
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