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West USA Itinery.

london
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West USA Itinery.

We are planning our first trip to America next July.

We have planned as follows: San Fran 2 nights-Yesomite 2 nights-Monterey 1 night-cambria 1 night-santa barbara 1 night- driving through LA then spending 3 nights in San Diego.

This is where I get stuck: we will be heading for a ranch in Tuscon for 3 nights, do we take a long drive to pheonix, stay a night then drive down to Tuscon? Is it an interesting journey on route 8 or should we fly direct to Tuscon?

If we did we would have a spare night to fit in somewhere? Any suggestions? I haven't heard great things about LA but is it worth staying a night to do Universal or adding extra time in Yosemite or elsewhere along route?

From Tuscon we are flying to Las Vegas for 3 nights with poss visit to Grand Canyon when we get there via helicopter.

Any suggestions gratefully recieved.

Scotland
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1. Re: West USA Itinery.

Hi

I've not been to all the places you mention, but I have driven from La to Pheonix and its a long drive which I didn't find that interesting. If I had to do it again I'd fly.

I happen to like visiting LA. I've spent 2 separate weeks there and found plenty of interest.

Without knowing what you are into it's hard to suggest anything but the theme parks (especially 6 Flags Magic Mountain) are very good. Then you have the Getty museum, the La Brea tar pits, etc, etc. Don't write it off. Having stayed in San Diego, I would sacrifice one night there for time in LA.

Hopefully a local or two will be along to offer their views.

london
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2. Re: West USA Itinery.

Thanks for the info, I think we'll get an internal flight to Tuscon and add an extra day in LA.

Newbury Park...
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3. Re: West USA Itinery.

Definitely fly to Tuscon - it is a very long and boring drive through the desert.

Depending on the age of your children - you may want to skip Universal - It is really best for children 8/9 or above.

When do you get into San Francisco? How many full days do you have in the city. You will want at least two full days to get a feel for the city.

Yosemite - you'll need at least one full day to see some of the park, two days is preferable. Make reservation now - most of the in park reservations are book a year in advance.

Monterey is a nice area, especailly if you plan on visiting the aquarium.

I assume you are stopping in Cambria to visit Hearst Castle. Again, reserve you tour in advance.

Los Angeles is a great city - but extremely spread out - so depending on what you want to do or see - would depend on how much time I would recommend staying here.

San Diego is wonderful - you'll have a nice time there.

Check Southwest Airlines for domestic flights. They have good fares and fly between they cities you are visiting.

San Antonio, Texas
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4. Re: West USA Itinery.

Agreed, fly...it's a long drive and you'll be tired and need time to recuperate. For your extra night, I'd add an extra night in Vegas so that you have time for an overnight stay in the Grand Canyon.

Also, when up near Monterery, Cambria....side trip to Hearst Castle.

http://www.hearstcastle.org/

london
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5. Re: West USA Itinery.

seems unanimous re flying, thanks for all the tips.

We have a teenager who I think will enjoy Universal but we are also travelling with my father in law so have a variety of tastes.Considering a night in Napa Valley with perhaps a balloon flight.

We arrive in San Francisco on 3rd July and leave on the 5th. Just wondering if any attractions eg Alcatraz will be closed on 4th July for celebrations?

Apple Valley, CA
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6. Re: West USA Itinery.

This is a very ambitious itinerary. Most foreign travelers don't realize how large the driving distances are here in just our state alone. I don't want to be dicouraging, but CA is best seen in one long trip (14 days or so) or broken up into 2 separate visits. With the itinerary you have mentioned above, you will spend a lot of time in the car and I fear you will be frustrated because you won't have time to visit half the sites in locations you will be visiting. Each major city you have mentioned has so much to offer, and for each age in your group!

If you would be more specific about some of your concerns/interests, we could be of more help. Flying from San Diego to Tuscon is a good call.

I think Las Vegas and Grand Canyon (and Sedona which you didn't mention) warrant their own trip. Grand Canyon at some point is truly not to be missed.

-Janna

london
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7. Re: West USA Itinery.

Thanks for your reply Janna

I appreciate your concerns but it's difficult to plan when you don't know what there is to see.

It's taken me 25 years to get my husband to agree to a holiday in America so wan't to fit in as much as I can in 3 weeks as can't guarantee a return trip.

If you have any suggestions or 'must sees' for the following members of our family I'd be really grateful.

I have a 16 year old who hates museums, would like to have a go at surfing and white water rafting- do you know anywhere he can do this?

I think he will enjoy the horse riding at the ranch.

My father in law enjoys walking, golf and sightseeing. He also likes musical shows.

My husband likes walking, live music ( paticularly guitar or jazz), sitting in cafes and watching the world go by, but as we do this every year in Spain is happy to go with the flow. He dislikes anything too comercial or false.

I like arts and crafts, beautiful scenery, quaint villages or towns with character and history. Interesting buildings.

I've always wanted to go up in a hot air balloon (hence the detour to Napa before we travel to yosemite)

Whilst I dislike anything too commercial I am very interested in theatre and themed set design so vegas should be interesting even though we don't intend to gamble, the helicopter trip to the Grand Canyon should break this up.

Before we start to tour we will be spending 3 days just outside San Francisco in Pescadero visiting our daughter who will be working on a summer camp.

As we don't have young children I'm hoping the travelling will be bearable. I think the longest drive will be to Yosemite hence 2 nights in the park but even then don't really know how much there is to do there.

Likewise, people say san diego is beautiful, but counting out the major theme parks/zoo what would best to see/do?

Thank you in advance for any suggestions.

apolagies for the long email.

Newbury Park...
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8. Re: West USA Itinery.

San Francisco will have plenty for everyone in your group to enjoy. There are parts that are touristy - but tons of wonderful areas to enjoy. Plan on taking the night tour of Alcatraz. Even your 16 year old should enjoy it. There is plenty of outdoor activities in Yosemite - beautiful scenery - but in July the Valley floor will be very crowded - try to hit many of the main sights early in the morning - or if you don't mind a bit of driving - go up to Touloumne Meadows for a day - beautiful hikes, cooler weather and much less crowds.

Just outside of Yosemite is California Gold Country. A lot of quaint towns along highway 49. There is also good white water rafting in this area on the American River. The area has a lot of California Gold Rush history.

With your limited time and the interest of those in your party - Monterey may be best as a stop on the drive instead of an overnight place.

Cambria is a good stop if you are planning on visiting Hearst Castle, otherwise you may have some better options.

Plan on surfing during your San Diego portion of the trip.

Apple Valley, CA
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9. Re: West USA Itinery.

Whew! That was a lot!

Juxie's suggestions are all great, particularly the Yosimite ideas since I'm not as familiar with that area. I have white water rafted on the American river and it's great. Can be quite warm but the water

sure cools you off.

I understand your urgency to see a lot since you aren't sure if you will be returning in the future. I also want you to have a good time and not have your tongues hanging out.

Many of the interests in your group can be found in and around the San Diego area. SoCal can be quite hot in July, but San Diego is always mild, so it's very comfortable. Balboa park is a major cultural attraction in SD and has great buildings/architecture, museums, theater (Old Globe theater), and the San Diego Zoo, which is fabulous. I don't care how old you are, everyone loves a great zoo and this is one of our nation's best. SD also has lots of great cafes and plenty of smaller, interesting communities you could venture out and see. There's plenty of golf in the area and even a good size wine tasting region where you could likely do some hot air balooning if Napa doesn't work out.

The beaches here are some of the best in the state and your son can learn to surf at Pacific and Mission Beaches. These are great beaches for swimming, surfing and walking. The Beach Cottages is a fabulous hotel located RIGHT on the beach. Rustic, but totally great.

Since you want to visit so many very different places in a short amount of time, I think you should plan your trip very carefully and know exactly what you want to see since you won't have much time for free discovery, you want to make each day really count.

My suggestion would be to go to the forums of all the major destinations you mentioned and pick the brains of the local experts who frequent those forums. They can make some great, specific suggestions. Also, read past posts for your different places. That will save you from asking questions that have been answered numerous times before. There are many specific recommendations I could make, so I will get back to you later.

-Janna

london
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10. Re: West USA Itinery.

thanks guys

your advice is spot on. I will check out gold rush towns and specific forums for further tips.

I was concerned that balloon flights are quite often cancelled because of the weather so a 2nd chance in San Diego would be ideal.

Thanks a million