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Best route to see SF, the west coast, Yosemite, Vegas and GC

Travel Forums North America Best route to see SF, the west coast, Yosemite, Vegas and GC

1. Posted by JENB87 (Budding Member 2 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

We cross our fingers and really hope that you can help us with this one!

Me and a couple of friends are visiting USA this summer (late June). We are staying for 16 days.

We arrive in NY where we will spend four days before travelling to the west coast (we have apr. 11 days to spend here).

Now, here is our "problem": We can't decide on our travelling route whilst on the west coast. The only thing decided is our departure from LAX.

Can you guys help us by suggesting some alternatives and/or share your experiences? To where should we arrive from NY, and which route should we choose to experience the most?

We have a few holding points, i.e., things that we would very much like to experience:

- San Fransisco area (apr. 2-3 days) (must)

- The drive along the west coast (we've heard that it is beautiful) (must?)

- Vegas (1-2 days)

- Yosemite and Grand Canyon

- L.A. (common attractions - 2 days?)

- Six Flag park

Transportation? We are looking to rent cars during our stay on the west coast and will use them to travel between the different attractions.

We have come up with a few alternatives of ourselves (a bit too optimistic with regard to the distance we aim to cover?):

Looking forward to discuss this with you.

Best regards,

JE & NB :)

2. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5088 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

Huh; annoying that this was flagged as potential spam; guess our bot was thrown off by your two google maps links. Our apologies! Should be fixed as soon as one of the moderators for this subforum looks in.

Meanwhile: Is your flight from the east coast to the west coast already booked? (Looks like not, based on your two different starting points for the trip.)
From your destinations, I'd strongly recommend skipping those days in LA altogether. It's grey, dirty, and just utterly unappealing. Really. Hollywood is a dump, and LA's beaches are kinda nice - but it just all pales in comparison to the rest California has to offer. Much, much better to linger an extra day in San Francisco, or indeed amble up or down the coast along the Pacific Coast Highway, stopping at every beach and cove, or to do a couple of extra hikes in Yosemite (so gorgeous!), etc.

I've never done the Grand Canyon myself, but I wonder if it's really worth the sidetrip, given that it'll likely be really hot that time of the year, and is quite a ways out of the way. (Actually, same goes for Las Vegas.)

But let's take those two as a given. Here's how I'd probably do my route given the above, and assuming that Vegas actually makes sense as a starting point with flights from the east coast:
I've put in an extra stop at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Much less visited than Yosemite, they're still nearly as impressive - amazing sequoia groves, and a good way to break up the drive when coming from the south. On the way back down, note how this route is really hugging the coastline, following Highway 1 all the way. I've pencilled in Santa Cruz and Big Sur as two definite stopping points, but it's highly recommended to take two (or even more) full days for that drive, stopping everywhere which catches your fancy. (The bit from Santa Cruz to San Luis Obispo is the very best.)

Hope that helps a bit! :)

Also, all that will be very tight even when not spending any days in LA. With LA also thrown in the mix, I'd say it's definitely too much to do in 11 days. Travelling, especially with long driving days, is tiring. You need time to just sit back every so often and reflect and recover.

[ Edit: Edited on 21-Jan-2014, at 12:56 by Sander ]

3. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 1999 posts) 3y Star this if you like it!

Just have to throw in my two cents and say that for me the Grand Canyon would also be a "must"--as long as you go all the way to the true south rim (all the way to the national park, not just to the walkway built out over the so-called "canyon" that is far to the west of the true canyon or if you go to the north rim (which is only accessible within the national park boundary).

And I agree with Sander that the area between Santa Cruz (I live in the redwoods near Santa Cruz) and the city of San Luis Obispo is the best area to visit. Living here I visit it at least three times a year myself. Both the coast route (for visiting Hearst Castle, and for its beauty, including the 17 mile drive, the beaches near Carmel and Cambria, the Bixby Bridge, the Big Sur area, and the vistas from the cliffs ) or the inland route (for its ability to visit the wineries) both are great routes. (There are wineries worth visiting north of Santa Cruz, just east of Carmel (Carmel Valley), just west of Soledad, and in the Paso Robles area alone there are now over 170 wineries!!! Visiting the old mission in Santa Barbara, and also its State Street and beach area is worth the trip.