USA West Coast Itinerary Check
Replies: 28 - Last Post: Nov 28, 2012 1:59 PM Last Post By: HooRah
Nov 19, 2012 9:05 AM
USA West Coast Itinerary CheckHi folks,
Im planning a trip to the West Coast of the USA for at least 14 nights and I was wondering have I covered the main things to see with this itinerary below? Obviously I wont see nowhere near all if but it would be good to know if I have missed out anything glaringly obvious or if I should be staying somewhere longer than I have allocated!
DAY 1: Arrival at Las Vegas Airport. Stay in Las Vegas.
DAY 2: Visit Las Vegas: Casinos, strip etc.
DAY 3: Day trip to Death Valley.
DAY 4: Visit Hoover Dam. Drive to Grand Canyon South Rim. Stay in Grand Canyon Village (El Tovar or Bright Angel Lodge).
DAY 5: Hiking in Grand Canyon. Stay in Grand Canyon Village.
DAY 6: Drive back to Las Vegas. Fly to LAX.
DAY 7: Visit Los Angeles: Hollywood Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard. Stay in Los Angeles.
DAY 8: Hwy 1: Drive to Santa Barbara. Visit Santa Barbara Mission. Drive to San Luis Obispo. Visit Thursday's Farmer's Market. Stay in San Luis Obispo (Go to Rodeo if on).
DAY 9: Hwy 1: Drive to and visit Hearst Castle. Drive to and visit Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Colony. Drive to and visit Carmel. Stay in Carmel near Monterey and whale watching.
DAY 10: Drive to and visit Yosemite National Park
DAY 11: Stay and visit Yosemite National Park
DAY 12: Drive to San Francisco. Visit San Francisco: Alcatraz night tour. Stay in San Francisco.
DAY 13: Visit San Francisco: Walking tour. Stay in San Francisco.
DAY 14: Visit San Francisco. Stay in San Francisco. Fly home
Nov 19, 2012 9:33 AM
1What time of year? That could make a difference.
Edited ot add: there are also missions in LA and Ventura. map of missions. Between MOnterey and Yosemite, you coudl detour to San Juan Bautista, which is one of the best. The whole plaza in front of it is a historic state park.
Is there a particular reason you want to stay in Carmel as opposed to Monterey or Pacific Grove?
Edited to add: do you have any interest in wineries? You will be passing through several wine regions, including the one between Santa Barbara & San Luis Obispo.
Edited by: nutraxfornerves
Nov 19, 2012 11:37 AM
2If you like beautiful hikes, try going through Los Osos and Montana De Oro State Park. It's about 12 miles from SLO. Beautiful cliff bluff hiking trail. You can see the waves crash on some rugged looking rocks.
Nov 19, 2012 12:32 PM
With that said, however, I also believe you could keep the car and drive to xLA via Death Valley and gain more from the trip.
And with that said, doing this in summer is madness.
Nov 19, 2012 1:44 PM
4Thanks for the replies everyone,
Just to answer your questions:
We are planning to go at the beginning of July.
I am not fixed on going to the Santa Barbara mission so thanks for recommending the San Juan Bautista one, I will check it out for sure.
There was no reason for staying in Carmel as opposed to Monterey or Pacific Grove I just heard it recommended, are those places marginally better in your opinion?
I would also be interested in going to wineries and was unaware that I was passing through a region between Santa Barbara & San Luis Obispo which is good news, for some reason I thought they were mostly north of San Fran, thanks for letting me know :-)
Thanks for the tips on Los Osos and Montana De Oro State Park too.
My interests would be more outdoors with hiking, camping etc being my preference. Shopping is definitely not a priority and maybe not even art or museums as we have a lot of that in Europe.
I also hadn't heard of the Las Vegas to Death Valley to Yosemite route but will have a google of this too, thanks
Thanks everyone for the info and I will make sure I will book Alcatraz well in advance as well as schedule my arrival in Monterey for earlier in the day or stay an extra bit longer to avail of the whale watching.
Nov 19, 2012 2:04 PM
5This would be a classic route. It does have you doing things in a different order than you planned. I took it only as far south as San Luis Obispo. You'd continue on to LA from there.
San Juan Bautista Mission and San Juan Bautista State Historic Park
I'm partial to Pacific Grove myself, but rather than go into details, let me ask--what are you after in lodging? Cheap motel? (that's not Carmel). Romantic B&B? Place that's good for kids? Walk to the beach? How much are you willing to spend per night in dollars, not adjectives? My "moderate" might be your "too expensive." That applies to everywhere, not just Monterey.
Wine Tasting routes between San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara. I'd recommend the first one, called "Santa Maria Valley and Los Alamos Wine Trail." Fess Parker Winery is the "Frass Canyon" of the movie Sideways.
Be sure to book lodging in Yosemite as soon as possible, unless you want to camp. it can really book up in summer. You can book a year in advance. Campsites can be even harder to get. Reservations are taken about 5 months in advance and can fill up within minutes of being available. Staying Overnight in Yosemite
Nov 19, 2012 2:56 PM
6This is priceless info nutraxfornerves and I'm loving the map you provided and will definitely consider this route. The type of accommodation we would be looking for would be something with a triple room as we will be travelling with our 16yr old daughter. The money side of things would be more towards the higher end of the market so nice 4-5 star hotels where possible or good cabins in the parks rather than motels.
I will certainly looks into booking yosemite soon for sure, thank you for that tip
Nov 19, 2012 3:09 PM
Look for "Suite" or "Extended stay" hotels. These will usually (but not always) have a room with a king, a queen, or two queen size beds (or rarely, two doubles), plus a second room with a foldout sofabed. The tradeoff is that these are usually on the outskirts of cities.
Nov 19, 2012 3:18 PM
8Be aware that your daughter will not be allowed in gambling areas of Las Vegas casinos, except to walk through on the way to a restaurant or something. Not even if she is with you. She may not be allowed in some shows. On the other hand, a 16 year old girl will find plenty of sights to interest her around the hotel pool.
Las Vegas in July will be 40 or higher during the day. Death Valley, even higher. Look at this thread from last July.
Your daughter may or may not be allowed to accompany you into winery tasting rooms. It will depend on how the winery is set up & what kind of liquor license they have.
There will be a county fair, including a rodeo, July 10-14 in Santa Maria, a half hour's drive south of San Luis Obispo. There will be another county fair July 17-28, in Paso Robles, north of San Luis. no rodeo, but a horse show. County fairs are something very American. Livestock shows. Canning and baking contests. Tacky souvenir stands. The best or worst junk food you ever saw. Carnival rides. Wine competitions. Tractor pulls (which souped up tractor can pull the most weight). Entertainment, sometimes including rather notable acts. Or local acts of varying quality. And more.
Will you be int eh US over July 4, American Independence Day?
Nov 19, 2012 4:09 PM
9Death Valley in July will feel pretty much like its name suggests. I suggest skipping it. While the landscape is beautiful, after about 30 seconds outside the car, you will want to leave. Summer is better spent enjoying the beach (though the water in California is cold).
I've been to a few wineries with infants (not mine). The staff didn't complain. Though there really won't be anything for a 16 year old to do at a winery except the tour and hanging out outside.
Your time in Yosemite is pretty rushed. It might be better to just sightsee along the coast. Or devote more time to SF or LA. BTW, book Yosemite lodgings asap is you decide to go.
I like the Santa Barbara mission but the one in Carmel is nice as well. The LA area has two missions, though they aren't not centrally located and there is a mission in SF.
Also, the LA area has lots of good farmer's markets (Santa Monica, Hollywood, etc).
Nov 19, 2012 4:25 PM
10My standard Monterey area suggestion:
In the Monterey area, you might want to look into staying at Asilomar. It is a part of a protected reserve that is part of the state parks system. It is primarily a conference center, so rooms for travelers are not always available. If you want peace & quiet, this is it. It's a collection of small buildings, set among trees. There are paths to wander and Asilomar State Beach is just over the sand dunes. Deer and other wildlife will wander past your room; birds chirp in the trees. Some of the buildings were designed by the same architect who did Hearst Castle. Some rooms have fireplaces or balconies. Many of the cottages have a common room with a fireplace. Rooms have private baths. There is a heated swimming pool and you can rent bicycles.
It isn't for everyone. Rooms do not have phones or TVs. There is Wi-Fi internet access in the rooms & some common buildings, and a T-1 line in the main lobby. The dining hall is sort of a cross between a restaurant and a college dining hall, but meal packages are optional. Most rooms include breakfast.
You would want a good half day for a whale watching trip. Trips run 3-5 hours. July is a good time for seeing blue whales in Monterey Bay.
Nov 19, 2012 5:17 PM
Nov 19, 2012 5:23 PM
12(Note: Los Osos is just the little town that you have to drive through to get to Montana de Oro SP. The town, itself, is nothing remarkable.)
If you're driving through Santa Ynez wine area, I recommend that you check out Firestone Winery. Further up in Paso Robles, there is also the Fireatone Brewery (opened by one of the sons of the winey family). In Paso, there is also the Robert Hall Winery.
While you are traveling, you might find Yelp.com to be useful in finding out what restaurants and other businesses are in the area. You can also find out what some of their past customer think about the food and service.
If you enjoy hiking and camping, I suggest that you consider skipping Death Valley if you're traveling in the summer. No one I know here who hikes goes there in the July or August. The sun is blazing hot.
How about the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest?
Instead, consider visiting Bishop and Lone Pine along Hwy 395. There are lots of campgrounds around there ideally located for easy access to the hiking trailheads of the Eastern side of the Sierras. Check out the national forest campgrounds near Lake Sabrina, South Lake, and Rock Creek Lake. High elevation!
There's a gorgeous and relatively easy hike Near Rock Creek Lake and Mosquito Flat TH to the Little Lakes Valley. If you're feeling more energetic and want to tackle a more difficult hike, the same trailhead, but a different branching of the trail, will take you to Mono Pass. It's a very do-able day hike with ample photographic opportunities. (It'll also be less crowded than Yosemite in July.)
Mammoth Lakes is a year-round resort town, with lots of outdoorsy activities. Nearby Minerets Lake is beautiful and worth a visit.
So is Devils Postpile National Monument.
Going a bit further north along Hwy 395, you can also visit Bodie State Park at ~elevation 8000. A genuine ghost town with many preserved buildings that are i treating to prowl around and photograph.
I'm sort of biased, though. Being a hiker and a camper myself, I'd much rather spend most of the time visiting the hiking area near Hwy 395 than visit Los Angeles.
The drive up the coast is nice. Big Sur has some good trails, too, but you won't see the dramatic glacier-carved terrain that can be found on the eastern side of the Sierras.
Edited by: Pistachio
Nov 19, 2012 5:27 PM
13The reason I suggest the suites/extended stays is for the added privacy (the amount of which depends on the particular location; it may be anywhere from small partition to a fully separated room with door).
Btw, #11, for quotes, use the ">" at the beginning of a line, or a ">>" for a double quote.
Nov 19, 2012 5:59 PM
14Here's a canopy tour in the vicinity of Santa Cruz that might be a novelty that your 16 year old would enjoy.
If you stop overnight in Big Sur, check out Treebones Yurt Stays.
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