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California / Vegas in 12 days

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1. Posted by wstcoast (Budding Member 2 posts) 6y

wstcoast has indicated that this thread is about USA

Need some help to plan my trip to the west coast for 12 days sometime in March or April

Currently thinking of covering LA, San Diego, SFO, Vegas and possibly Seattle.

Could you help me suggest how to go about it, Rent a car or take flights locally across these cities.

Would appreciate any help on this.

2. Posted by jambo101 (Respected Member 414 posts) 6y

Renting a car would be the way i'd do it as taking a plane you wont see anything between destinations,lots of driving through some spectacular scenery..
Am i missing something in LA? as every one wants to go there but all i see is a huge suburb that goes on forever,the bench mark for traffic chaos,all covered in a hue of smog most days

3. Posted by therook (Budding Member 37 posts) 6y

You might want to consider flying to Seattle from LAX or SFO. It's a long drive and it will eat away at your 12 days. As for renting a car, just go online and check prices for the pickup and drop off you want. Maybe try flying into LAX, see Vegas, San Diego, and anything "close" by, then drive up the coast to San Fran and leave the rental car there?

4. Posted by Kimee129 (Full Member 36 posts) 6y

The other suggestions are great, but I highly recommend taking the Amtrak up to Seattle. My son and I did this in August and had an awesome time. Not to mention our train fare was only 140 dollars for both of us. We bought more than two weeks in advance. We opted not to get the sleeper car and was very comfortable in the reclining chairs. The food onboard was great, but a little pricey. This is what we did.

We were in San Diego for the summer. We left from San Diego and went up through Temecula on highway 15 to Hwy 395 through Death Valley and up through Bishop. We had an awe inspiring time at Yosemite. (August was very dry and the waterfalls are trickles.) March is a little early and some of Yosemite may not be open. April they are probably open and the waterfalls and wildflowers should be in full bloom or just starting by the time you go. I would highly recommend planning your hotel accomodations early because it is very difficult and fills up fast. We camped and froze to death in August. There was still snow on a lot of the mountains...even in August. We drove straight through Yosemite and headed to the coast San Francisco. We stayed there for two days and at midnight boarded the Coast Starlight up to Seattle. This took 32 hours. The train had a sightseeing car that afforded awesome views of the surrounding mountains and the many tunnels. You were able to get out and stretch your legs and smoke on the 15 minute stops. We loved Seattle, but be advised March and April are chilly and rainy. I don't know if you have a passport or are coming from a different area, but we didn't have our passports on us and couldn't go to Victoria, BC (Canada). There is a ferry that is a tad on the expensive side (150+) or a tour that can take you there. We then hopped on an airplane and flew back to San Diego.

I am like the other poster. Once you have seen LA you have seen LA. A lot of people, a lot of smog, that time of year a lot of rain. I would maybe...MAYBE make it a day trip from San Diego. Las Vegas is a 5-8 hour drive from San Diego if you are interested in seeing it. I wouldn't recommend driving to Seattle to be honest. It is pretty easy, but butt numbing. I-5 goes all the way up so it isn't hard, but often time esecially San Diego to San Francisco is boring, dead dessert with little activity. I have made that trip many times. Also if you don't wanna do the Yosemite Park the train ride from San Diego to San Francisco is some of the prettiest stretch of track I have seen in my whole life...and I have travelled extensively through Europe. Also the drive up Coast Hwy 1 is gorgeous!!! Hope this helps and good luck to you on your travels.

5. Posted by alanburke (First Time Poster 1 posts) 6y

There are hundreds of attractions in cities you have listed. On my last trip to NYC and Chicago I was short on time therefore I purchased City Passes by Go Card/Smart Destinations. Which is basically a ticket to top attractions in the city.

I suggest you look into it - It comes for:

Los Angeles

Las Vegas

San Diego


Be sure they send you color guide with each city pass

6. Posted by PsptJunkie (Budding Member 26 posts) 6y

Some good suggestions so far, here are my two cents:

Depending on your style, 12 days might be aggressive to visit all of those places but certainly it can be done. Seattle of course is the outlier and will take the most time to reach.

Amtrak trains run between all of those locations except for Las Vegas, so check into Amtrak to investigate train options (including a 'California' railpass) - but be forewarned service can be subject to long delays - Amtrak does not have a great rep for punctuality but as another said, typically it is a very comfortable, and sometimes scenic, way to travel. Also be aware there are very few direct trains between LA and SF, most of the time Amtrak puts you on a bus for several hours of the journey.

Renting a car would be a fun way to go (esp for the SF - LA coastal drive), but you will pay several hundred dollars' in "drop-off fees" for a one-way car rental. I'd recommend planning to rent a car at the least in Los Angeles (again though depending on what you want to see). For the other cities, there are plenty of public transit options or tours to get you where you want to go.

Flying obviously will be fastest but will be the least flexible - but if you have any idea in advance of when you will be moving between cities, lookup fares on Southwest Airlines - America's low cost carrier - sometimes they have sales where you can get one-way tickets as low as $39 USD. And SWA is more flexible than other US airlines...can exchange tickets (and re-apply money already paid) if your plans change without additional fees.

Taking buses is another option, Greyhound is the big bus line that runs between all of those places. Smaller companies also do San Diego - Las Vegas, LA - LV, and LA-SF routes.

In terms of scheduling which days to be in which cities - this again depends on your style - but you don't need to save Las Vegas for a weekend - it goes off every day of the week. LA & Seattle would be good places to plan to be on a weekend if you're nightlife-centric (my opinion of course).

Good luck.

7. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 1993 posts) 6y

One big problem with Amtrak is time - the train does not exactly run on time. On a trip south from Oregon to S. California, my train was 11 hours late, and this is normal! This is one huge area, and trying to see the entire W. Coast in 12 days would be pushing it to say the least! The only way would be by rental car.

jambo101 - could not agree more about LA. It is one sprawling suburb as anyone who has landed at LAX can vouch for. It was very nice before they ruined it with freeways and shopping centers. My advice is to see the SF Bay Area as soon as possible because they're doing the very same thing up there! San Diego is in traffic gridlock.

8. Posted by wstcoast (Budding Member 2 posts) 6y

Thanks everyone for your replies, I almost know nothing about places to see there so thanks alanburke for those links.

jambo101 & daawgon so your suggestion is should I drive or not so much in the cities.

Do let me know if the below is a good plan, would skip Seattle if I cannot do it.

I was planning to spend around flying from NY to Vegas spend around 3 days there, drive down to San Diego for 1-2 days drive from there to LA and spend another 2 days there go further north through the coastal drive to SFO.

Thanks PsptJunkie & Kimee129 for your detailed posts, tell me what you think on this itinerary. Also any suggestions on places to see in these cities or around would be really useful.

Thanks again everyone :)

9. Posted by jambo101 (Respected Member 414 posts) 6y

I'd forget the cities except maybe San Francisco as they are just like any other cities you see in the East,whats different in the west is the scenery of the mountains and the desert and the drive up the Pacific Coast Highway, signs for interesting places to stop abound.
Going from NYC to visit LA makes no sense to me.

10. Posted by JohnTG (First Time Poster 1 posts) 6y

About Car hire - last time I were in Vegas I used

Don't know is it the best, booking was fast and successful.