Skip Navigation

First time to America

Travel Forums North America First time to America

Last Post This thread is marked as being about USA
1. Posted by Mejules (Budding Member 3 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!


I wrote a while back saying that we were looking to go to America and got some good advice from people. Because of that we've decided to change our itinery so i'd like some new advice.

The plan is to go in September next year (what will the weather be like?) for just over two weeks and just do the west side of America this time:
Las Vegas - I've always wanted to go so where's best to stay - mid week is what most people say is best time to go
San Fran
LA - Yes, I'm a tourist and want to see to hollywood as well...
Grand Canyon

Where's the best place to start from (flying from Manchester, UK if that helps?!) We're happy to just hire a car and drive whenever we can and stay where -ever - cheap for most of it but splash out maybe in Vegas and wherever else is recommended??!! Also, how long do you need to stay in places to be able to see all of it??

Look forward to hearing your advice!

2. Posted by Jeanbelle (Budding Member 5 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

Grand Canyon is a one day drive from Las Vegas, and you can stand in one spot and see a lot of the canyon, or drive to various look out points for different views. If you plan to go to the bottom either hiking or on mules, plan on a full day to do that. The new glass bottom overlook on one of the indian reservations is spectacular, but Very Expensive, a long drive on a dirt road...pass it up. If you want to stay at Grand Canyon, make reservatons now if it is not too books up early...cabins are relatively cheap - rustic but a bed and bath. Lodges are expensive. You can also stay in Williams or Flagstaff as well as a village just outside the main entrance. You could drive tothe canyon from Las Vegas see the canyon briefly, and drive back to Vegas in one long day.

The drive to LA is one day, and from LA to San Francisco one day. "trip advisor" is a good web site to get others reactions to various motels...pretty accurate descriptions I have found. Try to get motels with microwaves and refrigerators so you can eat in the room to save money on meals (food from grocery stores is a lot cheaper than restaurants)...also ones with free breakfast help.

Once you know when you plan to travel, start checking every air line to every city every day...amazing how the rates change....grab when the right price...makes no difference where you fly to as you will be making a circle to all the cities and back. If you book through one of the booking services, you may be left in a lurch if there is a problem...the airlines book at the same or cheaper rate, and you only have to deal with the airline....same is basically true with motel/ cancellation fee when dealing directly with facility.

Las Vegas runs specials all the time...same thing, check often and change dates to see when cheaper...the north end of the strip is cheaper than the newer south end. Circus Circus and Stratosphere are not the cream of the crop, but clean and cheap.

You can manage 2-3 days in each town...I would take a day and drive to Sequoia or Yosemite...rivals Grand Canyon in splendor...just different - they will be east of the drive from LA to San Fran. Spend less time in Las Vegas unless you plan to do a lot of gambling, and take time to take in Death Valley on the way to or from San Francisco.

Have a great time.

3. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3580 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

Edna gave you excellent advice in the above post. I took some TP members from Cornwall to the Grand Canyon(GC) in May of this year. They contacted me via a PM and I helped them with the Vegas segment and then I drove them to the GC. We hit Route 66 first, then overnight in Williams. Spent the next day at the GC. I have photos of this trip in my gallery.

Send me a PM if you need additional info.

4. Posted by pinkgirlie (Full Member 121 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

Hi there, I did the west coast of USA in June/July this year and it was really hot, in September I would think it would still be pretty hot, I think it's getting into November before it starts cooling down.

I went to Las Vegas twice on my trip as we did a loop. My biggest piece of advice is stay Central Strip. We stayed the first time North Strip and even at night it is too hot to walk very far, and the strip is really long, plus once you get to the end there's really nothing there. The 2nd time we stayed central strip and it was brilliant, we got to go and visit all the hotels (we didn't realise the first time that you can just go into any of the hotels, they're well worth seeing) and we saw all the entertainment (Treasure Island has a pirate show and the Bellagio has Waltzing Waters). We booked from the hotwire website, this gives you the options of different money off rates and will tell you the star rating and address of the hotel but not the name until you've paid. It was great, we were mostly camping but in Vegas we stayed in 3 star hotels for really cheap, and three star was really good!

In San Fran I would recommend staying in the Fishermans Wharf area, there is a HI there which is supposed to be brilliant. We didn't book quickly enough and the only thing left was in Mission which has the oldest church which is realy sweet but is also a really dodgy area with loads of homeless (and insane) people. And ALcatraz is definately worth a trip, but again you'll need to book in advance because they sell out.

In LA we stayed in the Orbit hostel. It had car parking which was great, and the room was clean and nice. We could actually see the Hollywood sign from our window if we focused on it! The staff were great and the location was good for getting to Hollywood Boulevard and Beverly Hills. They also do tours to DisneyLand and Universal Studios, or you can just go on your own. I thought Hollywood Boulevard was wonderful - quite cheesy but just as I'd imagined!

We camped at the Grand Canyon, it was really cost effective. There are motels and things in the village area just before the canyon park entrance (I don't think you can stay inside the park). If you drive in and park there is a free bus service that takes you to all the sites. If you're well organised you can see it in a day. We did. Also, the plane ride is great if you want to splash out but take travel sickness tablets first if you go!!

If your time scale is 2 weeks you'll have to be on the move a lot but I think it's possible. 2 days is the very most you need to see Vegas, it's better at night really cos the lights make it. San Fran can be done in a couple of days if you're organised. Canyon is only a 1 day drive from there, and monument valley is really nearby too and well worth a detour. You'll be shattered at the end but I recon you can do it! And you could drive to Vegas thru Death Valley!

We flew into LA - San Fran (up Big Sur coast line) - Yosemite - Death Valley - Vegas - Canyons (Bryce, Zion & Grand) - Monument Valley - Flagstaff - Vegas. It took about 3 weeks, but is much further than you're doing.

I hope this helps, sorry its so long but I get so excited talking about it!!

Have a great time,

5. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 2003 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

Make sure you allow two days to go from LA to SF if you are going the coast (Big Sur route). You might want to stop and see the Hearst Castle on the way. If so, get your ticket early through the ticketmaster/ticketron website since they sell out in the summertime.

I wouldn't suggest driving through Death Valley in September unless you like unbelievably hot weather and have the extra time. It's only a 5 hour drive from Las Vegas to LA, but going through Death Valley lengthens this to at least 8 hours and probably at least 9 hours. Temperatures in Death Valley in the later summer (September) are likely to be as high as 53 degrees Celsius! (127 degrees Farenheit). Make sure you have a car in good shape with a good air conditioner and take water with you to drink even while you are out of the car for only a short period of 30 minutes or so.

I also recommend the detour to Monument Valley--it is definitely worth it--and something you will remember the rest of your life (like the Grand Canyon).