We are an active couple(mid 40's) and will be travelling in early May 2011 to LA - flying in from Australia.
Mid May in Las Vegas for 4 days this is set then open to suggestions.
San Diego, Santa Monica are must, I hear.
Other destinations options are Grand Canyon and maybe Mexico(Tijuana).
We plan to mostly drive - except maybe bus/fly LA and back from Las Vegas. What is the bus ride like from LA to Las Vegas - how long?
Is there any "must" see places, in these areas, that can be recommended this time of year?
Any other suggestions or advise?
DO NOT BOTHER WITH MEXICO! Especially, now that they are kidnapping US citizens from border cities ... might be hoove of you to bypass that. Tijuana is notorious for kidnapping/drug trafficking.
If you drive from LA to Vegas it's around 4 hours. A bus may be a bit longer, but also cheaper than a flight.
A bit north of San Diego is La Jolla .. which is much nicer than S.D. in my opinion. There are protected wildlife areas, and sea kayaking is a great outing, also the beaches are slightly less crowded than S.D. I prefer anything south of L.A. OVER L.A. Much nicer area.
If you do go to San Diego--which I suggest, you can either stay at Del Mar (near the horse racetrack), in La Jolla (close to the main university), down along Mission Bay, downtown in the "Gaslight District", or over in Coronado. All are great areas.
I guess La Jolla is the "high end", but I actually prefer to stay on Mission Bay and go rent the waverunners. Also, this is closer most of San Diego's major tourist sites--although this is not the LA area--so everything is fairly close to each other (unlike LA where you have major tourist sites 3 hours from some major hotel areas).
I do highly suggest the Grand Canyon--and Mexico is a possibility if you bypass Tijuana and go straight to either Rosarito Beach or 90 miles south of the border to Ensenada--but, as noted, it is a bit more dangerous than in years past. Also, California has lots of different winery regions from Napa Valley in the north to Santa Cruz and Monterey counties to Paso Robles, to San Luis Obispo, to Santa Barbara, and even Temecula Valley, which is on the road from San Diego out to Las Vegas.
The bus ride to San Diego is 2 hours with no stops, longer if it makes stops (never taken it, so don't know the details). In San Diego, the beaches in town, Sea World, the old missions and old town area, the San Diego Zoo, and Coronado Beach south of town are the major tourist attractions. Shelter Island is a great place to go eat (as well as in old town or in the "gaslight district" or near one of the beaches or in La Jolla.
I guess you can tell I like San Diego. Used to spend a lot of time there when I lived in LA.