San Francisco to L.A. via the Grand Canyon and Vegas

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1. Posted by Gabbo (Budding Member 18 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Hey, im going to USA in November - not staying long so thats why i need your help. My mates and i have decided to get a car in San Fran and drive to L.A. where we fly out. We have approx 10 days and would ideally like to see Vegas and the Grand Canyon. Is this do able??? Having not been over the pond befpre im not really sure what to expect, so if anyone has done this drive or similar it would be great to hear from you


2. Posted by KiDJENiOUS (Budding Member 8 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

I live in Berkeley, right next to S.F...

the drive from S.F. to L.A. takes an average of 6-7 hours or basically a full day (~400 miles, take Highway 5 all the way, I drive real fast and can do this trip in under 5 hours depending on traffic). The drive from L.A. to Las Vegas takes about 8 hours a full day and it's about 500 miles. The drive from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon is about 300 miles and takes around 5 hours to drive, half a day. The return drive from the Grand Canyon to L.A. is a around 500 miles and it will take you around 8 hours to drive this.

My suggestion would be to spend
2 days in S.F (here's a S.F. itinerary that I made and I let my friends use when they visit me: -snip-1 day TRAVEL to L.A.
2 days in Los Angeles (L.A. kinda sucks for tourists)
1 day TRAVEL to Vegas
1 day in Vegas (here's a Las Vegas itinerary that my girlfriend made: -snip-)
.5 day TRAVEL to Grand Canyon
1.5 days at the Grand Canyon
1 day TRAVEL back to L.A.

In my opinion, ten days is not enough, or BARELY enough... either way this is what I would suggest.

[ Edit: sorry, no promos in the forum please. ]

3. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5294 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

I'd take that same itinerary, but instead spend only a single day in LA (it really sucks for tourists), and take two days for the drive from San Francisco to LA, taking Highway 1, the pacific coast highway. Rather than the straight line through the most boring landscape imaginable that highway 5 is, highway 1 winds its way through absolutely gorgeous coastal scenery, with especially the cliffs and wild shapes around Big Sur being worth stopping for. You can also easily spend a couple of hours in Santa Cruz, and so two days is just a perfect amount of time for that drive. (Just make certain to know in advance where you'll spend the night, since you get pretty far from civilization for a big part of that drive.)

4. Posted by KiDJENiOUS (Budding Member 8 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

I definitely like the suggestions from Sander. Highway 1 is a much more scenic route, and you get to see a lot more of California and the California coast line. It also takes a few hours longer to drive, but it's a lot funner with many more sites to see. If you are going to sacrifice a full day for traveling to L.A. and have never been to California before, then Highway 1 is a better choice then Highway 5. If you are in a rush, highway 5 is the better choice.

Yeah, the best things in L.A. are probably amusement parks and Beverly Hills, so I like Sanders suggestion to cut a day short in L.A. and spend an extra day in Vegas or something. Vegas is a lot of fun...

[ Edit: Edited at Oct 6, 2006 9:31 AM by KiDJENiOUS ]

5. Posted by Gabbo (Budding Member 18 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Thank you so much for both your opinions that will help me out loads. Thanks again

Post 6 was removed by a moderator
7. Posted by danmar (Budding Member 3 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Definately travel down highway 1 from Monterey to San Luis Obispo;Big Sur area is one of the most beautiful coastal areas in the US. Try to squeeze in a visit to the Hearst Castle at San Simeom. Skip LA it is just a spralling city. ( I apologize to those of you from LA.) Go streight to Las Vages. danmar;);)

8. Posted by Viking42 (First Time Poster 1 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Vegas, Grand Canyon, Highway 1: All great recommendations for obvious reasons. Hearst Castle is great in a surreal way, but will probably take almost a full day. I'd save that for another trip. With such limited time in the US, you are unfortunately going to spend a lot of it in tranit, but that's an experience, too: Big, American distances... Highway 1 reminds me a lot of the Amalfi coast in Italy, so if you've been there, you might want to consider taking I-5 to LA to save half a day.
The one point of contention I have is the subtle LA-hating taking place here haha. 2 days in SF/NorCal and NO time in LA?! Come on! I grew up in Denmark, and LA (where I moved to from SF 2 years ago) is a must! It's such a cultural icon! You can't go to California for the first time ever and then come back and tell your friends and family that you spent NO TIME in LA?! That's like going to Cairo and skipping a tour of the pyramids. Seriously guys ; )
You'll have a car, so it's not like you will have to take the bus around. My recommendation: Skip all the Disney/theme park stuff, buy a good map at any gas station and spend a day checking out Beverly hills, Hollywood, Melrose, the Getty off 405, and then come over to Venice/Santa Monica and hit the bars! LAX is about 15 minutes away from Venice, and I'm guessing you're flying out of there so it would be a perfect final stop.

Hope you have a great trip whatever you decide to do!

9. Posted by Gabbo (Budding Member 18 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Wow - its great that so many people are lending an opion, thanks. I think the general emphasis of what our group (of 4) are probably missing out highway 1 to save time and will go to L.A. just to say we have. Im sure it must have some good points guys. I am liking the sound of highway one so i might try my best to change there minds or just take a few wrong turns when its my time to drive. Haha. Thanks

10. Posted by Lissyrl (Budding Member 29 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

I live in LA, and I have driven to all the places you want to see and have had time to do it all in less than 10 days. First of all, you can definitely make it to Las Vegas from LA in 4-5 hours. Its not that far, and the Grand Canyon is only about 2 hours from Vegas, and 8 hours from LA. I personally would spend 2 days in San Fran and spend a whole day driving down the 101 to LA. Carmel, Big Sur,Hearst Castle, and Santa Barbara are all great stops and its so beautiful this time of year. While in LA you should definitely stay 2-3 days max- Hollywood/Griffith Park/Bev Hills in one day, and the beach towns (venice, Santa monica- I recommend staying here its affordable and a cool vibe, bars and restaurants are fun) and the 3rd day leaves you an option of doing Disneyland or Universal Studios or a studio tour. The Warner Brothers studio tour is the best, don't waste your time with the others. Leave LA for Vegas- the WORST time to leave is on Friday. So any other day and you will for sure make it in less than 5 hours. Spend 2 days there and then head south for the Grand Canyon- the Hoover Dam is on the way and its about 40 minutes from Vegas. AFter the Grand Canyon, I would head south and stop in Sedona, and Phoenix for a day. The drive is still only about 8 hours from LA from Phoenix, and Sedona is AWESOME!
Good luck with whatever you decide.