Hi, I would appreciate your local opinions ! Is the following itinerary reasonable ? I am travelling alone, enjoy driving scenic routes and I like a bit of variety rather than retracing steps. I have put thogether the following itinerary for a 2 week trip in May, could it be improved ? (nb I am only going to Vegas as I am virtually going past it to the GC and I have been to LA previously.)
San Fran - 4 nights
San Luis Obispo - 1 night
Las Vegas - 2 nights
Grand Canyon - 3 nights
Casa Grande AZ - 1 night (other suggestions ?)
San Diego - 2 nights
Los Angeles - final day drive to meet 10pm flight out.
Yes, I think it can be improved, especially since you want variety and spend quite a few days in cities. Also, unless you go down into the Grand Canyon, 3 nights is not necessary. I did not even spend one night there. Spend the night before in Tuba City near the park, did a drive through the park and onwards to Seligman, Arizona. If you are not going down, it is all about views....nice, but after a day it is enough. Bryce Canyon is nicer in my opinion, and did that before that, so maybe I got spoiled...
Anyway, 3 nights in SF is ok, but enough. Instead, spend 2 nights along the coast and afterwards travel inland. You can visit Kings Canyon and/or Sequoia NP for a day or so. From there, be sure to travel through Death Valley. If it's too hot or expensive, just make it a day trip and don't spend the night there.
Basically, one night in Vegas is enough as I read your reason correctly. Onwards to the Grand Canyon, you can spend your night in Williams, Arizona for example. Bit of Route 66 kicks... Be sure to drive the Kingman to Seligman on the Route 66, not the I-40.
From there, a nice route would go back through Joshua Tree NP onwards to San Diego, couple of nights and voila.
SF 3 nights
coast: 2 nights
route to Vegas: 2 nights (Sequoia and Death Valley)
Vegas: 1 night
Route 66/Grand Canyon: 1 night
SD: 2 nights.
This still leaves 2 nights, but always better to have some spare time to spend..
without knowing what your interests are its difficult to suggest a trip tailored for you. Do you want more city time, or do you want more nature? etc.
One thing that pops out is going all the way down to San Luis Obispo. I'm guessing that is in part to take in PCH1 and part to get you across to Vegas. My suggestion would be to take a day or two off SF and come down PCH1 through Santa Cruz, monetary and Carmel, then go back up to towards SF and over to Medesto then pick up the 108 then south on the 395 south, this will take you past Mono lake and down through Yosemite. Then you can pick up the 190 through Death Valley to Vegas. Hoover dam is worth a visit too.
I agree with both above, more so with the PCH1 drive... and maybe stopping in Big Sur (Northern California) along the coast, its gorgeous! Your gunna have so much fun! The weather is going to be perfect in May
San Francisco is a beautiful city. I stayed for 3 nights and that was enough for me to take a few tram rides, take the evening tour of Alcatraz, take touristy photos at the zig zag street, eat clam chowder (highly over rated), take a bike ride to Sausalito, visit Japan town and Chinatown and do some window shopping at the big department stores. Alcatraz evening tour and tram rides were the highlight for sure.
Taking your time to drive down the Big Sur will be well worth it. I strongly recommend that you take at least 2 days to enjoy it at a leisurely pace especially since you enjoy scenic routes and driving down south is most ideal since you will be on the cliff side of the road. If you can afford it, hire a convertible and drive the Big Sur top down! Thats what we did, was awesome!
What you want to do in Vegas will dictate how long to stay. If you're not big on gambling or the evening shows then 1 night is enough. It will allow you time to walk the strip at night and oooo and aaaa the pretty lights and marvel at how big everything is and how over the top it all is. During the day, a trip to one of the factory outlets is well worth the visit and also check out how over the top the buffet is. I ate the Rio casino one because I heard that it was the biggest in Vegas. Quality wasn't the best but it was fun just checking it out.
1 night in Grand Canyon is sufficient. Make sure you get up early enough to check out the sunrise and to avoid the crowds. I watched it from Yaki Point and I was the only one there. The experience was sublime to say the least. Make sure you watch it away from the "proper" viewing stations i.e. venture out a bit further to the edge and you get front row seats to the sunrise. I would not blame you if you want to stay 2 nights.
I'm not sure why you would want to spend 2 nights in San Diego?
I don't know how you can fit it in, but a drive to Yosemite national park is also highly recommended, you will appreciate the scenery that you get whilst driving in the park and the magnificant sequoia trees.
Whatever you do, you will have a blast! America is such a beautiful country and joy to drive in.
Be aware that Highway 1 (PCH) between Monterey, CA and San Simeon (Cambria), CA is going to be closed for at least the next month or so (from April 15th until at least May 15th or so) due to a landslide just south of Big Sur--and it is advised that everyone should take the alternate route (Hwy 68 east to Hwy 101, then south on Hwy 101 all the way to Hwy 46 west (near Paso Robles), then take this to Hwy 1 and continue south on 1 on to San Luis Obispo.
For latest road information either use this internet connection (and input a "1" where it asks which highway)
or call 1-800-427-7623 once you arrive in the United States.
Here's a link explaining the problems following our worst rains ever (this past winter season):
The good news is that the alternate route is a shorter (quicker) drive than taking Hwy 1. The bad news is that you will miss the scenery of what many consider one of the most beautiful drives in the USA
To get a good approximation of the type of scenery you would see on this drive, take the "17 mile drive" through the Carmel / Pebble Beach area near Monterey, which in my opinion is worth the extra $10 or so it costs and is, in my view, the most beautiful short drive in the USA.
[ Edit: Edited on 17-Apr-2011, at 20:15 by Calcruzer ]