West Coast USA Honeymoon Road Trip - Advice Wanted!
Replies: 34 - Last Post: Dec 19, 2012 8:25 AM Last Post By: gardyloo2
Dec 16, 2012 4:17 AM
West Coast USA Honeymoon Road Trip - Advice Wanted!Hello All,
My future husband and I are planning a trip to America for our honeymoon, having decided that 2 weeks on a beach would definitely not be for us!
We have worked out places we would like to visit but would love some opinions on where's best to go, if we're missing/adding in anything we should/shouldn't and just some recommendations of how best to make this an even better trip.
So far we have this
London to Los Angeles
Las Vegas (maybe)
We would also love to see the Grand Canyon and fit in Vegas preferably without the 20 hour drive time!
If anyone has done this route, has any ideas, has any recommendations, please let us know - we would really appreciate it!
Thanks in advance :)
ps. This would be over around 16 days ish.
Edited by: Titchybozo
Edited by: Titchybozo
Dec 16, 2012 6:55 AM
Why these places? Do you have friends or relatives there?
San Miguel is a wide spot on the road, north of the much more interesting San Luis Obispo. If you are staying in San Miguel, that means you are missing the spectacular drive through Big Sur.
San Jose is not a common destination for a holiday. If you really want to visit it, it can be done as a day trip from San Francisco.
Me? I'd stop in San Luis Obispo or farther north in CAmbria, and then drive to Monterey and stay there.
To get better, more specific answers, it would help to know what interests you. Hiking? Wildlife? Museums? Historic sites? Shopping? Visiting wineries? Nightlife? Fine dining?
What kind of budget are you looking at--in dollars or pounds, please, not adjectives. My moderate might be your too expensive. How much are you willing to spend per night for lodging, for instane.
Dec 16, 2012 7:38 AM
Dec 16, 2012 8:09 AM
Dec 16, 2012 8:40 AM
4That reminds me--you are driving, aren't you? Things get very different if you are unable to rent a car.
What time of year is also important. For instance, are you planning to go to Tahoe for snow skiing or water skiing?
Unless you just want to prove that you set food in Mexico, Tijuana may not be worth it. It is not the tourist destination it used to be. It will not give you a glimpse of Mexico; it will give you a glimpse of a border town with many problems.
Dec 16, 2012 8:42 AM
5Thanks for all your responses so far! - It'll be for a trip in mid-late May gardyloo2 :)
nutraxfornerves / 55vineyard - San Miguel was just a suggestion by my partner - he saw the name and got over excited that it was the place that brewed the beer - definitely not a spot we have to go through by any means so thank you for that tip. Similarly with San Jose, it's just a reference to the song that meant we wanted to visit - a daytrip from SanFran seems like a much wiser idea!
In terms of what we like to do - we're quite simple really, love travelling about seeing new places, like good food/drink, and certainly love shopping - I love to be by the coast and also spending time in nice warm weather without sweltering - I realise Vegas/Nevada might be the complete opposite of this though :)
Budget wise - looking at around 250 dollars a day but that was to include car hire. flights we're not including in that but would like to if we can - as it's our honeymoon, we're prepared to spend a bit more to have that little bit more comfort/nice places to stay etc
Now looking at Cambria, Monterey and dropping Tijuana (thanks for that tip)
I think we are in two minds at the moment - want to see it all and make the most of the trip and the West Coast certainly has so much on offer, but also dont want to be spending every day in the car, doing 8 hour plus journeys - would prefer to break it up a bit or do slightly less in order to get some R&R as well :)
Thanks again for all your help so far
Dec 16, 2012 9:03 AM
6San Miguel beer is brewed in the Philippines. If your partner likes to check out small, local breweries, there are many on your route.
Have you considered Yosemite? The waterfalls are at their peak in May. However, you need to book lodging as soon as possible. NOW is not too soon.
Be prepared for the coast north of Cambria to be cool and foggy. Beautiful, but cool and foggy, especially in the morning.
Santa Cruz has a beach that is often warm and sunny enough for a bit of basking, but as for swimming, well, surfers wear wet suits.
Cambria is rather artsy, if you like shopping in art galleries or places that sell one-of-a-kind crafts or jewelry.
Monday, May 27 is Memorial Day. The previous weekend and the day or two afterwards are big travel times. I's avoid Yosemite or the Grand Canyon at that time, unless crowds don't bother you.
Dec 16, 2012 9:17 AM
7Since you're making a big loop, an inland excursion might not be a bad idea.
San Miguel has an old Cathy-lick mission and little more. OTOH, the area may have some nice wildflowers on display. Here's a fun, fairly scenic, loop you might consider. http://goo.gl/maps/6vZFM
Of head up the pretty Indian Valley Road toward the Pinnacles.
IMO, Tiijuana is depressing and utterly forgettable.
Dec 16, 2012 9:33 AM
8nutraxfornerves - thank you! That's incredibly helpful - had no idea re memorial day so have taken that into consideration.
Having looked at what you have said, we're debating whether we do a weeks travelling, finding somewhere by the coast to spend memorial day weekend and the Monday, then Vegas, back to San Diego, then home.
It's difficult to know what to keep and what to take out, though Cambria and Manteray look like definites now - beautiful from what i've seen.
geo_nerd - thanks, I think we're going to take that off the list now as well - I had heard about it several years ago and always had it in my mind that we wanted to visit. Now having had a quick google, and what people have said here - not a place to stay - maybe a day trip from San Diego if we make it down that way but definitely not longer than that!
Dec 16, 2012 9:46 AM
9Just north of Cambria Hearst Castle. A rather amazing place built by someone with grandiose ideas and too much money.
Just north of Hearst Castle Piedras Blancas. Pull over into a parking lot and watch the elephant seals. At that time of year, it will mainly be the smaller females, "only" about 3-4 meters long and weighing about 800 kg. Males can get up to 2200 kg. The price is right for this attraction--free.
Cambria and the Monterey area have lots of B&Bs. In the US, this tends to be luxury lodging, often in a restored old home, furnished with antiques and catering to couples looking for a bit of romance.
Dec 16, 2012 11:33 AM
10Having looked at what you have said, we're debating whether we do a weeks travelling, finding somewhere by the coast to spend memorial day weekend and the Monday, then Vegas, back to San Diego, then home.
That was part of my reason for asking about the month.
Much of the California coast (Oregon and Washington too) suffer from what's called "June gloom," although the period extends both into May and, unfortunately, often into July as well. Because of the warm inland areas and the very cold water in the Pacific, you get a great deal of coastal overcast at that time of year - numerous days at the beach when the sun isn't seen at all, or maybe just at sunset, while just a few miles inland the weather is warm and sunny.
So if your aim is to hang out on a sunny beach over Memorial Day weekend, you should just be aware that it might not be as sunny as you'd like, and the combination of cool, cloudy air and quite cold water means the beach itself might not be especially welcoming.
I had a thought that might involve a bit of a re-do of your itinerary, just as a "what if" suggestion.
First, consider flying from the UK straight to Las Vegas and not LA. There are numerous nonstop flights, on BA or Virgin Atlantic. You could get what's called an "open-jaw" air ticket - into city A, return from city B - at very little difference in price.
The reason for suggesting Las Vegas as your landing point is twofold. First, in mid-May it won't be as hot as it might be later, but second, and more importantly, there's no better place to be when your body clock is off by eight hours. Las Vegas is a 24-hour city, so even if your body's telling you it's noon but the clock says 4 AM, you're okay getting up and watching the gamblers, or get breakfast and drive out into the desert to watch the sunrise. And getting into a car and driving someplace in the desert is way easier than doing so on LA freeways when you're fresh (ha ha) off the plane.
Then, after a couple of days/nights in Vegas, drive over to the Grand Canyon, around 4 1/2 hours. Spring is the perfect time to visit the Grand Canyon; the crowds will be relatively smaller since school will still be in session, and because of the high altitude of the canyon area, there will still probably be some wildflowers around. Spend one or two nights at the Grand Canyon, then drive (another 4 hours or so) to Zion National Park in Utah, another unbelievably beautiful "red rock" national park. Spend a day/night around Zion, then just drive back to Las Vegas (2 1/2 hours), drop the car and fly to San Francisco, about 90 min. and $100.
I'd recommend this desert/red rocks loop in lieu of the Sierras - Tahoe or Yosemite. Both those areas are very beautiful, no mistake, but they're a long way from anything else (Yosemite at least 4 hours from San Francisco, Tahoe the same, and much farther from LA) and in mid-May Tahoe could well be still a little slushy and unappealing - spring comes late to the High Sierras.
In SF, do the usual touristy things, then as you leave for the coast, be sure to stop at Big Basin State Park on your way to Santa Cruz or toward Monterey/Carmel/Big Sur. You shouldn't leave northern California without seeing the big trees (in fact, if you had more time, a two-day trip north from San Francisco to the Redwood National Park area would be ideal, but I don't think your time will permit.)
Then continue down the coast through Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur (don't miss Nepenthe if you're Hollywood history buffs) and on to Hearst Castle, Pismo Beach, Santa Barbara and other destinations in southern California.
I'd end the trip in the LA area. Stay in Beverly Hills or Santa Monica, so if the weather's okay and the gloom lifts the beach is at hand (Santa Monica, Malibu, or Manhattan/Hermosa Beaches south of the airport). Go shopping, hit the museums, go to the movies, visit the marvelous "old town" area of LA or some of the ethnic neighborhoods, and just become Angelenos for a few days.
Have breakfast at Nate 'n Al's in Beverly Hills and see if you can spot any celebrities (mainly old and Jewish ones, to be sure) or head down to Hermosa Beach and have brunch at Martha's on 22nd, followed by a beachfront walk along the Strand while you decide which bank to rob so you can buy one of the houses there. Go to the Chinese Theater or the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, visit the LA County art museum next to the La Brea tar pits; ride the big wheel at the Santa Monica pier at sunset, maybe even give in (you know you want to) and visit Disneyland.
Then fly home from LAX and start counting the days until you can return.
Just a suggestion.
Dec 16, 2012 12:05 PM
11May is actually a good time to visit the desert. It won't be too hot yet. I would try to do that first. I would also try to avoid the Memorial Day weekend altogether if you can. If you can't, spend it in a large city (LA or SF for example) since locals will be leaving for some of the other places of interest on your list and thus hotel prices will be high and there will be lots of traffic on the roads the first and last day of that long weekend. If you're interested in romantic destinations, many small towns along the coast between LA and SF mentioned above fit the bill. Many have cute B&Bs as well, though not sure how far your budget would go. Is $250 per day per person or total? Many hotels will cost you at least $150 unless you're ok with motels and potentially away from central areas in each city/town.
In 2 weeks, you can do something like this. It's actually not a lot of time considering the distances involved.
- LA 2 days
- Drive along the coast to SF with stops in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Hearst Castle, Big Sur, Carmel, and Monterey - 3 days
- SF 3 days (with a day trip to San Jose, though there isn't much of interest to most tourists there)
- Yosemite 2 days
- Death Valley 1 day
- Las Vegas 2 days
- Back to LA for 1 day and fly home
Dec 16, 2012 12:49 PM
12Gardyloo is a little mistaken about May Grey and June Gloom. This is a southern California phenomenon. May is actually a very sunny time of year along the Big Sur and San Francisco coasts (It's July and August that are foggy there). Skip the San Jose day trip... there is nothing to do or see there. The best day trips out of San Francisco are north across the Golden Gate into Marin County (Muir Woods, Sausalito, Marin headlands etc.). May is a great time to visit Big Sur and northern/central coastal California. Everything will be green and the flowers will be blooming.
Another option is to avoid Vegas (which I think is always a good idea - it's not my cup of tea) and spend time driving down the east side of the Sierra's on Highway 395, with a side trip into Death Valley. You can do this whether you cross over the Sierras at Tahoe or Yosemite. It is gorgeous, spectacular country with lots to see and do if you like the great outdoors.
P.S. In big snow years it is very possible you that wont be able to cross over the Sierra's at Yosemite in May. But you could still do Yosemite Valley from the west side.
Dec 17, 2012 2:16 AM
13Thank you all for your excellent advice, very helpful!
We've now decided to start off with Vegas (flying into LA, driving to Vegas) - then ending up in LA/Malibu areas later on with a weeks travelling inbetween. Now it's just decided where to go in that week - probably Vegas to Monterey and down the coast, or maybe Vegas to Yosemite
So many choices!
Dec 17, 2012 7:29 AM
14How would you get from Vegas to Monterey? That's not a short drive. You can get to Monterey from Yosemite, but a week is not really enough time to do Vegas, Death Valley, Yosemite, and the drive along the coast. It is very rushed. At minimum, you'd need the following and factor in driving distances:
2 days Vegas
1 day Death Valley
2 days Yosemite
3 days coastal drive
There isn't much to see in Malibu. It's just a beach. If you want to be by the beach when in LA, stay around Santa Monica. That will give you access to both inland and beach sites.
Las VegasBook now
(3 star Hotel)
From US$94.00 per night
Las VegasBook now
(3 star Hotel)
From US$95.00 per night
San FranciscoBook now
(3 star Hotel)
From US$219.00 per night