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Is this trip too much for seniors

north yorkshire
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Is this trip too much for seniors

Planning a trip to USA next September. Plan is:

Fly to San Francisco and stay 5/6 nights (no car). Then take an organised two day trip to Yosemite and back to SF. Then hire a car and drive (3 or 4 days) down the coast towards Los Angeles (not particularly planning to stay there, or should we?). Take a bus or something to Las Vegas and stay there 3 nights (no car). Then hire a car and do Hoover, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion (probably about 6 or 7 days) and back to LV for one night before flying to New York for 3 nights. We have up to 30 days so can vary times. We particularly didn't want to spend all our time driving, hence the splits between no car and with a car. Are the distances just too big for us (aged 63 and 70, although used to driving abroad). Are there huge various in weather between the places. We thought September, though we could go end August or even into October.

Many thanks TA's. We rely on you all for great advice. Once I get the rough outline of the trip sorted then I can go into more questions about hotels etc.

1. Re: Is this trip too much for seniors

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San Diego...
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2. Re: Is this trip too much for seniors

If you're not interested in visiting Los Angeles then there is no need to drive all the way there. When you're done touring the coast you could just drive directly from there to Las Vegas. Cambria, California to Las Vegas is about 420 miles and could be driven in one long 8-hour day, or you could split the drive into 2 days, staying overnight in Tehachapi or even Barstow if you wanted to shop at the outlet mall there. If you do drive to Los Angeles, that's going to take 4 hours from Cambria and then you would have to get from LA to Las Vegas somehow. So doing that will really only save you about 4 hours of driving time compared to just driving yourself from Cambria to Los Angeles.

Either September or October is fine and are usually clear, warm, dry, sunny months in California. At the higher elevations of Yosemite Valley and the rims of Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon, it will be cooler, but still should be sunny and very pleasant. The disadvantage of going to Yosemite in September or October is that the waterfalls will have much lower flow than in the springtime and Yosemite Falls could even be just a dry wall. Other falls such as Bridalveil, Vernal and Nevada will have some flow. If seeing the waterfalls at their best are important, you should do the trip in June if you can.

If you don't want to drive up into Yosemite you can either take the organized group bus tour to Yosemite and back from San Francisco, or you can drive only as far as Merced or Mariposa, California, and take a YARTS bus from there up into Yosemite and back. See http://yarts.com for details.

north yorkshire
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3. Re: Is this trip too much for seniors

Thanks. I did know about the lack of water at that time of year in Yosemite but June is out for us I am afraid. Good idea to drive straight from the Ocean to Las Vegas I think but as suggested would probably break the journey. I don't know about LA. Friends seem to think it would not be interest to us - any views? We like sightseeing, not particularly shopping, countryside, good food and wine, sunshine (but not too hot) and generally wandering. We have never been to US before so are trying to combine as much as possible in the time available. The musts are San Francisco, Las Vegas and canyons and New York.

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4. Re: Is this trip too much for seniors

Los Angeles is a big city and you have 3 other big cities on your itinerary, and that plus your interest in countryside, good food and wine, I would suggest you spend time in the countryside instead of Los Angeles. Los Angeles doesn't have any views to compete with places like Glacier Point and Tunnel View in Yosemite or various viewpoints along the Big Sur coast or the rim of the Grand Canyon or Zion and Bryce Canyons.

We can't decide for you what you want to see, only you can. If you like fine wines and expensive gourmet meals then you could spend some time in the Napa Valley of California, a major wine region. Or the Paso Robles area which is near he south end of the Big Sur region. There is a lot of possible sightseeing in San Francisco, Monterey and Carmel, Big Sur, both sides of the Sierra Nevada mountains, the deserts including Death Valley, and the Colorado Plateau including Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zion National parks among other places.

I would highly recommend that you stop at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve just south of Carmel, California, and spend a couple hours there at least. The trails are very easy, pretty much flat for the most part and the scenery is gorgeous. Scenery like this: photoshelter.com/img-get/…939063da.jpg Another member of this forum made a trip to the Monterey, Carmel and Big Sur area earlier this year and posted an album of over 200 photos with descriptive captions: https://picasaweb.google.com/Mjneenan/Califo…

If you were driving yourself the entire way, a possible route would be San Francisco -> Monterey/Carmel -> Big Sur -> Cambria -> Oakhurst -> Yosemite -> Lee Vining -> June Lake -> Lone Pine -> Death Valley -> Las Vegas -> Grand Canyon -> Bryce Canyon -> Zion -> Las Vegas. This would be a drive of 1,600 miles (2,560 km), about 31 hours of driving time, but spread out over 14 days would be manageable.

The advantage of that route is that it would be much more scenic than simply driving straight from Cambria to Las Vegas, which would be a fairly dull drive through the central valley and the Mojave desert.

The drive from Lee Vining to Lone Pine would be along a flat highway running alongside the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, and in October the aspen trees in that region would be bright yellow. So if your trip is in October you could drive through scenes like this without any hiking: …sacbee.com/smedia/2010/11/05/12/2010-11-05.… A brochure about the fall colors is at www.monocounty.org/docs/FallColorGuide.pdf

But you could stick with your original plan and just drive parts of the trip, though it will cost more money and take more time than just driving yourself around. The unofficial summer tourist season in the U.S. is Memorial Day through Labor Day, and after Labor Day the crowds are smaller but there are still some tourists all year. Labor Day in 2012 is Monday, September 3, so I would start your trip after September 3.

north yorkshire
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5. Re: Is this trip too much for seniors

Thanks BW. I need to look at your suggestions as my geographic knowledge of USA is rather scant. Good to know about Labour Day - we can certainly start after that date. We don't mind fairly level walks but anything strenuous is not for us (it used to be but we are getting older!!!) Thanks again. It is early days but I am a great believer in forward planning!!!


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6. Re: Is this trip too much for seniors

I too agree that if you really aren't interested in LA, then stay away! It has a certain number of attractions, of course, but in many ways is just a gigantic traffic-laden city.

I think that if you are used to driving on the right in other countries that you'll be fine over here. Our roads are big, wide and exceptionally well marked for speeds, even approaching curves. You have enough time (and are planning well ahead!) that you shouldn't have to do any long tiring driving days. There will most likely be a one-way drop charge fee on your car rental, though.

Weather - how hot is too hot? Las Vegas right now is still well into the 90's (mid 35's C) ,and probably won't cool off until October. New York in October may have quite chilly weather, as may the southwest. Bryce will be freezing at night by early October.

I'm wondering if perhaps you should reverse your trip and see NY first?

Lewes, United...
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7. Re: Is this trip too much for seniors

I don't have time now to go into details, and you've already had plenty of helpful comments on your trip, but would have much more to say as from a Brit's perspective. However, my quick comment would be - while not asking you to divulge your exact ages, you do say you are seniors. Car rental abroad and travel insurance CAN but need not be much more expensive if you're over 70, so I'd suggest you shop around carefully. Driving away from the cities isn't difficult in the USA but I'd not go anywhere near LA if there's nothing there to attract you, and you may find the heat a bit hard to adjust to in some places, even into September. May/June would be cooler.

Happy planning and travels, SWT

Uden, The...
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8. Re: Is this trip too much for seniors

Like SWT we are in the USA now ourselves and also don't have much time for longer replies but as H-B suggested I'd go NY first. Better to cope with your jetlag also. See you are planning 5-6 days in SF and only 3 in NY (actually only 2 because the day for the flight is a lost day). 2 days for NY really is far too short and imo 5-6 days for SF too long.


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9. Re: Is this trip too much for seniors

If you like museums, Los Angeles has several that are world class, such as the Getty, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the Getty Villa (Roman art).




Los Angeles also has a very walkable downtown with some outstanding architecture. Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall is one of the world's great 21st century architectural icons and alone merits a visit IMO.




Personally, if you like walking explorations, downtown LA is wonderful IMO. It should be comfortable in September. It has some moderate hills, but nothing like San Francisco.


Venice Beach is another popular tourist destination.


And, of course, there are the Hollywood attractions and the theme parks, which probably are what your friends thought you wouldn't enjoy much. Most people do enjoy the hand and footprints at Grauman's Chinese Theater and a Beverly/Hollywood Hills tour.


There is a subway line connecting downtown and Hollywood. You could spend a couple days in Los Angeles without a car, contrary to the popular wisdom, but you would need to research the mass transportation options carefully, and you might have to eliminate some attractions. If you want a car just for a day or two in Los Angeles, check with Enterprise, which generally delivers cars to hotels or shuttles customers back and forth between its rental offices.

Los Angeles, as the global center of the entertainment industry, also offers wonderful performance venues, whether music, theater, comedy, etc. A favorite of mine is the Magic Castle.


I've spent many weeks in the Los Angeles area, walked around downtown a couple times, and visited most of the attractions, and I've always enjoyed myself. Most foreigners and many American tourists never get past Hollywood, the theme parks, and perhaps Venice Beach. So Los Angeles generally IMO doesn't get the proper respect as a great American city.

Having promoted Los Angeles, you are going to New York City and San Francisco. Los Angeles is a different place than either, but three great American cities may not justify your limited time budget. Las Vegas is Las Vegas; it's a global attraction in its own right, but not a great American city IMO.

It would be a couple fun threads, given California's great north/south divide, if you posted your question about skipping Los Angeles in both the San Francisco and LA forums!!!

My hunch is that you also would enjoy a visit to Santa Barbara, with some of the best beaches in southern California (the water is cold everywhere in southern California), and perhaps Long Beach, with an excellent aquarium and the Queen Mary.

Here's also a plug for Palm Springs, a famed retreat for seniors in the U.S. I would go there just to take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to Long Valley atop Mount San Jacinto. The tramway features the world's largest rotating tramcars and beautiful scenery.


Long Valley is one of my favorite places in California. The tall pines and boulders and magical light in the afternoon are a sublime experience. Apart from a flight of stairs from mountain station down to the valley, the walk around Long Valley is on asphalt paths and relatively flat.

Near Palm Springs is Joshua Tree National Park.


Also consider spending one night in Death Valley. Its night skies are memorable.

My obvious suggestion is to drive between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. There's much to see between the two destinations. I also wonder if it wouldn't be advantageous to do the classical loop around one of these two cities, perhaps saving on air fare and car rental fees. Here's a superb road trip report of a Vegas-to-Vegas loop.


One of my joys in southern California is finding a good Tri Tip sandwich, easier said then done. On your trip down the Pacific Coast Highway, consider stopping in the very charming San Luis Obispo and heading to the Firestone Grill to experience the real thing. It's busy, so plan on a late lunch or early dinner in order to avoid a long line. Get the sauce on the side, just in case BBQ sauce isn't a culinary delight for you.


BTW, I agree with Tet about spending more time in NYC and less time in San Francisco, or add the days to other destinations in California and the Southwest. You also need only one night at the Grand Canyon; make reservations ASAP and plan to see a sunset and a sunrise.

If you haven't done so yet, read through perhaps six months of this forum.

Good planning!

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10. Re: Is this trip too much for seniors

If you have up to 30 days to spend on this trip, then I suggest you do so! You're considering some diverse areas. If you can stay an extra night or two in several places, you'll really get a good "feel" it. Get a rental car just before you leave SF and use it for the entire trip. Don't worry about parking it for a day or two or three in Las Vegas.

New York City 5-6 nights

SF 4-5 nights

Hwy 1 coast 3-4 nights

Yosemite 2 nights

eastern Sierra 1-2 nights

Death Valley 1-2 nights

Las Vegas ... whatever

Grand Canyon 2 nights

more Southwest tourism (Page? Bryce? Zion? Sedona?) 4-8 nights


SFO - SF - Yosemite - Hwy 1 (Monterey, Big Sur, Cambria, Santa Barbara) - Los Angeles (read their Top Questions in the upper right of the L.A. page to get some ideas) - Grand Canyon - southwest (whatever order & whichever places) - Death Valley (bypass DV on your way from Zion) - Las Vegas - fly out of LAS

You could even do a traditional loop like many visitors do. SF - Hwy 1 - L.A. - southwest - Las Vegas - Death Valley - eastern Sierra - Yosemite - SFO Either direction works.

Thirty days isn't unlimited time, but it's a reasonable length of time. What are your travel priorities? >>We like sightseeing, not particularly shopping, countryside, good food and wine, sunshine (but not too hot) and generally wandering.<< City or rural? Mountains or ocean? Museum or park? Guided tour or on-your-own?

None of my itineraries include time in winery regions. bw gave you some good ideas in Reply 4. California has several places where you could relax and enjoy good food & wine! Another TA traveler went to Napa first and stocked up on excellent wines. For the rest of the vacation, he & his wife had a glass or two of fine wine before dinner, where ever they were. No worries about transporting it home, since they drank everything they bought!