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California Road Trip

London, United...
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California Road Trip

Hi all,

I know that there are hundreds of these types of posts, so forgive me for posting another!

My Brother and I are flying into Phoenix at the end of May 2013 and had planned to do a road trip up to San Fransisco. I'm after some opinions on a preliminary itinerary we have drafted up, and wether it is too ambitious or not?

Arrive Phoenix - 1 Night

Phoenix to Grand Canyon - Stay G.C 2 Nights

Grand Canyon to Las Vegas - Stay L.V 1 Night

Las Vegas to L.A - Stay L.A 2 Nights

L.A to Santa Barbara - Stay S.B 1 Night

S.B to Big Sur Region - Stay 1 Night somewhere in B.S

B.S to Santa Cruz - Stay 1 Night

S.C to San Fransisco - Stay 3 Nights S.F

S.F to Yosemite - Stay 2 Nights in Yosemite

Yosemite to S.F - Fly to N.Y.C 3 Night Stay.

Our flights to Phoenix are booked, however we have not yet booked our return flights, but will probably be looking to fly home from N.Y.C, something to do with the amount of airmiles for a club world flight back to the U.K?

At the present moment we are looking at 17 nights total, 14 for the California portion of the trip. We could maybe stretch to 18-19 nights.

We have a few must do's: San Fransisco, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Vegas at Night and the Pacific Coast Highway. We're not too fussed about seeing L.A, but feel we should as we are there. More interested in great scenery than cities!

Looking forward to hearing peoples opinions and recomendations.

Thanks

Roseville...
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1. Re: California Road Trip

Nice planning. Looks fine. I'd suggest a couple of chances on coast drive:

1) Stay in Cambria on drive to Big Sur.

2) Either change Santa Cruz to Monterey or add a night in Monterey.

This trip would be to many days driving for me but if your okay with it (lots are on here), it will work. You mention adding days. Add all you can; your coming a long way. Look at it this way: every day you add reduces the cost per day of your plane fare.

Washington State
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for Yosemite National Park
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2. Re: California Road Trip

Hi Adam M, and welcome to TripAdvisor forums!

After your night in Monterey / Carmel / Santa Cruz, drive 4 hours to Yosemite NP. Stay 2 nights. From there, drive 4 hours to San Francisco. Drop the car. Stay 3 nights. Take a taxi or shuttle to SFO & fly out. This modification is actually cheaper & easier as you'd drive fewer miles, you'd drop the car early so you don't pay for the rental car OR the parking, and you'd be very close to SFO on your departure day.

Since most of this trip is in California, you'll find more threads describing other member's trips and more threads with ideas on the CA state forum page. tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g28926-i29-Califor…

You'll also find some great articles & threads on the Top Questions about California (upper right) with info about the Hwy 1 drive between L.A. & SF including the Pacific Coast Highway section and the Cabrillo Highway section (all called Highway 1.) The towns along the way are described as are scenic stops, mileages, driving time, and more. The 'usual' drive is 3 days / 2 nights and includes one night in Pismo Beach or Cambria and one night in Monterey or Carmel. But after reading the article about the towns along the way, you may decide that Big Sur Village is better for your travel style or Santa Cruz or some place else. If you want feedback on your plans for this section of the trip, I strongly recommend you post on the CA state forum; the folks who know & love the Hwy 1 drive spend most of their TripAdvisor time on that forum.

Specific advice for the cities/destinations on your itinerary is on those forum pages. I'm a big fan of the "Top Questions" section, so that's where I suggest you start your research of each area. For example, the San Francisco page has info about neighborhoods to choose for lodging, the Yosemite page has Trip Reports & lodging info, and the L.A. page has almost everything.

Plan carefully where you'll be if your 'end of May' visit includes the very busy Memorial Day holiday weekend.

The place that will be most challenging to find lodging will probably be Yosemite NP. Read those Top Q, then post a question there if you need help.

Uden, The...
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3. Re: California Road Trip

For the first leg I suggest to drive via Sedona to Flagstaff and enter GCNP by its east entrance via hws 89 and 64. On your way to Vegas leave GC by its south entrance. A reservation for GC also is recommended www.grandcanyonlodges.com

With some extra nights you can decide to drive to Death Valley NP first from Vegas and stay overnight before the drive to LA.

Tet

Lewes, United...
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4. Re: California Road Trip

You say you're more interested in the scenery than big cities, and are only adding LA because you feel you should. Please may I suggest you don't bother, but use the time to see other places of more interest or to linger longer in the places that do interest that you have already mentioned.

There are lots of differing opinions on LA, but if there's nothing there that appeals, if you aren't a movie buff or have an interest in the theme parks, then it's just a congested area with lots of traffic and smog and buildings for miles and miles. I personally am not a fan as you'll have gathered, and having been once, have ticked that box. I was there because of a flight stop over, I certainly wouldn't have gone there otherwise.

Just my 10 cents.

SWT

Houston, TX
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5. Re: California Road Trip

I agree-if you are only including LA because you will be in the neighborhood, so to speak, I'd spend that time elsewhere. Death Valley is a good suggestion for something different from the rest of your itinerary.

Oregon Coast
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6. Re: California Road Trip

Hi Adam M and welcome to TripAdvisor. You state:

>>We're not too fussed about seeing L.A, but feel we should as we are there. <<

Well, for goodness' sakes if you don't care about seeing LA, then don't bother!

Head straight across to Santa Barbara. There are a couple of routes you could take.

Add a night to Las Vegas - even if you aren't into gambling and partying there is a lot to do and see. Don't miss the Fremont Street Experience and the Bellagio water fountains at night. If you really want to see the lights, take a nightime helicopter ride :-)

Uden, The...
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7. Re: California Road Trip

Hope the OP is still reading this thread.

Sydney, Australia
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8. Re: California Road Trip

Hi guys, we have just returned from a very similar trip but went the other way San Fran to Phoenix, need to plan in some time for the following , Bearizona , Route 66, willam & Jerome. I would plan a stay in Sedona , one of the prettiest towns. I would suggest you do the rides on top of the stratosphere in Vegas at night or late afternoon, just outside Vegas there is small town called chloride , real old us town, worth a trip. When you are in la. , go to a place called knots berry farm, love the rides in this park, fun fun, if you go to the Grand Canyon the best way to see it is by small plane, they take of right from the Grand Canyon airport, great 45 min flight go first in the morning or last one before dark, best colours in the rocks, just outside of Phoenix is a town called Scottsdale , go to old Scottsdale, worth visiting the Navajo Indian shops , very cool.

Uden, The...
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9. Re: California Road Trip

Maybe to Aussie standards it's just outside Las Vegas, but it's still a 1.5 hours drive between Las vegas and Chloride.

Lewes, United...
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10. Re: California Road Trip

And where does Phoenix end and Scottsdale start? The only difference is that the tax is higher in one of them!

SWT