Golden triangle advice, San Fran, LA, Vegas

Travel Forums North America Golden triangle advice, San Fran, LA, Vegas

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

Hey people.

I'm getting out of Ireland in August and looking to do a fly drive holiday. I mean it is supposed to be the coolest thing on the planet and I can't wait, the things dreams are made of and all that.
I have the foundation plan which is flying into San Fran for a few days then hitting the open road in a rented convertable for LA, stopping for a few nights, maybe someone could help me out with choosing them. I was thinking of staying in San Luis, santa Barbara and Malibu and then a few nights in LA, before hitting the road again for Vegas to finish off, how does this sound?, Any suggestions? I'm open to change. Also have to drive back to LA due to not being able to get a flight direct back to Dublin. I'm mad about the driving aspect but my girlfriend would rather fly to Vegas and back instead of driving. I'm under the impression I might as well drive and get a tan than sit at airports.
So anyone against the idea of fitting allthis in within 2 weeks?
Hope there's Harp over there. Think my Girlfriend is dying to visit the Irish pub opened by Nadine Coyle, maybe there'll be some in there, lol.

Any help or advice appreciated.

2. Posted by Ham Radio (Respected Member 285 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

Driving from San Francisco south on US 101, recommend you stop in San Luis Obispo. It's halfway and a lovely town. You are on the Central Coast of California with beautiful weather.

A little further south is Pismo Beach with a pier you can walk out into.

An alternate stay is Buellton, due to its proximity to Solvang, a delightful Danish community worth seeing. The Mission Santa Ines is worth a look around, and right behind the Solvang Bakery. There is free parking lot next to the bakery and a free public restroom (toilet) at the lot.

There are lots of Irish themed pubs in the US, and if you Google your preferred areas like Las Vegas, you'll get lots

Do note that driving from Los Angeles to Las Vegas in August, you will see amazingly hot weather, like Africa hot. Make sure your car rental is in good mechanical condition, with proper tire pressure before heading out. Carry some drinking water which you can purchase along the way at numerous stores or gas (petrol) stations with convenience markets.

If you drive to Las Vegas, you'll be on Interstate 15. A good lunch stop is in Baker, California, at The Mad Greek restaurant. Inexpensive and just great food.

Have fun.

3. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 2004 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

Here's a bit of info on Las Vegas:

Best nightclubs in Vegas right now: Pure (Caesars Palace), Tryst (Wynn), Jet (Mirage), Tao (Venetian)
Best nightclubs off the strip right now: Cherry (Red Rock Casino), Ghostbar (Top of the Palms)
"Hottest" hotel right now: Wynn
Best hotels to see celebrities: Palms and Hard Rock
Hotel with best pool facilities: Mandalay Bay
Best Buffet: People say the Wynn, but I'm still partial to the two buffets (regular and the seafood one) at the Rio
Best (Hottest) Show right now: Cirque du Soleil--but there are lots of great shows

Other trivia: Since Japanese refuse to have anything to do with the number "4", there are no floors from 40 to 49 at the Palms--and they advertise their Ghostbar as being on the 51st floor--however, in reality, it's on the 41st floor--which is the top floor at the Palms.


4. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 2004 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

Ham Radio makes some good suggestions, but here are my choices for places to stay:

(1) San Francisco for one or two nights at least, then
(2) Monterey or Carmel for one night, then get up early and drive the coast route to Hearst Castle area, Cambria, and San Luis Obispo (I prefer this to staying right in San Luis Obispo for a day)
(3) Agree with Ham Radio--consider staying near Solvang. Personally, I'd stay right in town rather than in Buellton (which is 4 miles west)--but his location would be cheaper. If, on the other hand, you want to go more upscale then continue on to Santa Barbara and stay near the beach.
If you stay in Solvang, then next day drive through Santa Barbara, stopping at the mission there, and along the beach
(4-6) Days in LA--stay near the beach (Santa Monica one day, then Huntington Beach or Newport Beach one day). I'd skip staying in Malibu--it's hard to find a hotel and there's really nothing to see there. While staying in Newport Beach area, consider attending the Laguna Beach Art Festival one day (and definitely go to the "Sawdust" Festival at night--best thing of all). Consider visiting Disneyland or the Huntington Library and Gardens way north in Pasadena (maybe spend a night in Pasadena area.
(7) Drive to Las Vegas--see last post for info
(8) If you ever leave the casinos, go see Hoover Dam (Boulder City) and the Grand Canyon if you have the time (all day trip).
(9) Drive back to LA

P.S. If you aren't planning to go to Hoover Dam or the Grand Canyon, then you could ditch the car back in LA and fly to/from Vegas. However, in that case, be sure that you get back to LA from Las Vegas just before your flight leaves to Dublin--because you don't want to be stuck in LA without a car.

Also, if you want to know more about Buellton/Solvang (and Los Olivos which is nearby), go rent the movie "Sideways" which was filmed in and around this area (this is the Santa Barbara wine country--and Sideways is about a couple of guys that take a trip to here from LA).


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

That's crazy about the Palms Calcruzer, thanks for all the info.
I can't wait and there's some great details in there Ham Radio and Calcruzer.
Cheers. All good advice which I'll be taking with me.
That helicopter trip over the Grand canyon looks the part.
Cheers for the heads up Ham with the desert trip. Will bring the bandanas and water.

Any other info or hotels in these areas would be amazing.
Renek out.

6. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 2004 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

Hey, I took the helicopter trip where you go and land on the Indian land just west of the National Park itself--and have a quick picnic (wine and cheese) and then return to Las Vegas. If you plan to take this trip, try to take the last trip of the day, so that when you get back you can return to the "bright lights" of Las Vegas all lit up--and to the sun setting in the west over Lake Mead as your helicopter flies back to town.

For a small tip, I was able to get our helicopter pilot to fly into Las Vegas near the north end of the strip (near downtown) and then fly to the south end of the strip (where the airport is and the helicopters takeoff/land)--flying over all the giant hotels and casinos. It was absolutely spectacular--as is the Grand Canyon from the air as you skate along the edges of the cliff.

I really did this up right--having a limo waiting upon our return, with a change of clothes (including a new cocktail dress for her) in it for both of us to go to a restaurant and then to a show (this was on New Years Day/Evening--so it was a good way to start the year).

That's probably the most I ever spent on a single weekend out with my ex-girlfriend--but she really appreciated it--and we had been going out for about three years--so it was time she got the royal treatment. (Unfortunately--or fortunately since I'm now married to someone else for twenty years--we broke up later that year).

You know, now that it's been twenty years, I think it's time I redo this adventure.

P.S. Most of these helicopters hold five people--the pilot and one person in the front--and three in the back. It may not seem very romantic, but letting your date sit in the front guarantees the best view--and guarantees also that you'll be by one of the windows in the back--which is a good view. You really don't want you or your date to be in the middle in the back seat if you can avoid it (although it does guarantee that one of you will be leaning across the other almost the entire trip (at least 3 hours or so).


[ Edit: Edited on Mar 20, 2008, at 1:21 AM by Calcruzer ]

7. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 2004 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

Oh, one other thing. They usually insist upon sending a bus to pick you up and take you to the helicopter (this is so they know that you will get there on time). Since you want to be one of the last ones picked up (so you don't have to sit in the bus for an hour while they get everyone else and go 2 miles an hour through Las Vegas traffic), make sure that the day you are going for this trip, that they pick you up at a hotel near the airport (even if you aren't staying there). It will make it very much nicer being in the bus for 5 or 10 minutes than for an hour--especially in the heat of Las Vegas.