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Road trip - June 2013

Chester, United...
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Road trip - June 2013

I know this is probably similar to previous post but there are that many that I've found it difficult to find posts relevant to what we want to do.

My girlfriend and I have booked return flights to SFO and after staying there for a couple of days we are then going to drive to LA.

We're not sure whether to do 2 stopovers or 3 en route and we were considering not booking accomodation and just winging it to add to the fun/adventure a little but obviously we don't want to end up with only the car to sleep in!

Our itinery is as follow's;

Fly to SFO

Stay for 3 nights

Drive to LA with 2 or 3 overnight stops.

3 or 4 days in LA

Coach ride to Vegas

4 nights in Vegas

Fly to SFO

Fly home..............

Recommendations for places to stay in SF, LA and inbetween would be great please.

We're not overly fussed on luxury whilst on the drive as we'll only be there for the night and we would even consider the adventure tents & tent cabins that I have seen at some places - around about the $150 mark would be good!

There seems to be quite a few places to choose from on highway 1 and just when we think we know where we want to stay we become interested in another place so we're struggling to make a decision!

We don't want to spend too much on accommodation as long as it is clean etc then we'll be okay. The only preference we have is to have an outdoor pool whilst in LA.

We have the hire car whilst we are in LA so we'd like to get out and about to places like Malibu, Long Beach, Venice Beach and pretty much anywhere really - any suggestions welcome for places to go and things to see in any of the locations please!!

Thanks in advance for your help and sorry if I've posted in the wrong forum or anything - it's my first post and I don't really know how to use TA properly! :(

London, United...
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1. Re: Road trip - June 2013

Welcome to TripAdvisor!

You have not posted in the wrong forum, don't worry. But you have posted far, far too much in the one thread. And in doing so you make it very hard to know where to begin.

But I will start by asking what research have you done for yourself? Because it seems very little. Why?

So my first advise is read. Read everything. Websites. Guide books. Destination guides. The Top Questions on here. Reviews on here. The Restaurants, Things To Do and Hotels lists here. Everything.

But here goes trying to answer your questions. I'm not going into detail. That's up to you to find for yourself.

Don't wing it on accommodation. You'll waste valuable holiday time finding places, some will be full, and end up spending more than if you book.

San Francisco hotel: The Astoria Hotel. $65/night. Amazing location. Breakfast included.

Two places to stop between SF and LA: Monterey Peninsula and either Cambria or Santa Barbara.

Three places: Those three or replacing Cambria or Santa Barbara with one of Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Ynez Valley or Pismo Beach.

Monterey Peninsula hotel: Lighthouse Lodge and Suites. Pool. Breakfast and BBQ included.

Cambria hotel: Motel 6 San Simeon

Santa Barbara hotel: Avania Inn

San Luis Obispo hotel: Peach Tree Inn or Madonna Inn

Santa Ynez hotel: Days Inn Buellton. Hotel used in 'Sideways'

L.A. hotel: Days Inn Hollywood near Universal Studios (to give it its full name) In a vibrant stretch of Sunset Blvd, a block from the Chinese Theater, In-N-Out Burger next door, good pool and breakfast included.

Why aren't you driving to Las Vegas?

Las Vegas hotel: Budget: Excalibur or Luxor; Mid range: MGM Grand or Planet Hollywood; Higher end: Bellagio or Mandalay Bay; Highest end: Wynn

Suggestions of places to go and things to see in 'Malibu, Long Beach, Venice Beach and pretty much anywhere really': You should research those for yourself. We don't know what you like and want to do.

We'll be here to help with ALL OF THIS once you've shown a bit of willing to research yourself and come back to us with tailored questions that show you've put some work in before posting.

Happy planning!

Washington State
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for Yosemite National Park
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2. Re: Road trip - June 2013

Hi scott r

For a first post, you did a pretty good job! One of the toughest things for folks to remember is to include details, and you have tons of them!

This California forum is the best place for your itinerary planning. In the upper right is a section called 'More about _________' with a valuable link, 'Top Questions about ______' Open that and read the many threads & articles about the drive between SF & L.A. I'd strongly recommend you reserve your lodging. This way you can enjoy the drive and know that there will be availability at your preferred location, rather than racing to the location and beginning the search for lodging by 2 pm. Most folks stop one night in Monterey (family friendly, lots of prices of lodging) or Carmel (romantic, a bit more expensive) and then again in Cambria (couple-friendly, variety of priced lodgings) or Pismo Beach (appeals more to families.)

For lodging ideas in San Francisco and in Los Angeles, read their Top Questions. Both forums have 'regulars' and Destination Experts who have filled their Top Q with valuable info for visitors. After you've read their info, make a new thread with your info about travel group, travel style, budget, and time of visit.

I assume that you're picking up the rental car AFTER you've visited the city of San Francisco. Every rental agency has downtown locations and is used to this request. Most foreign visitors don't pay the one way drop fee, when they make pre-arrangements. Check with CarHire3000, the UK versions of regular car rental agencies, and other options you can find. You don't need 'prepay for the tank of gas', but you might be required to purchase this. You do need to purchase necessary insurance (I don't know what you need, but hopefully you do!)

--------

Next time you visit California, add Yosemite to your itinerary!

London, United...
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3. Re: Road trip - June 2013

What's this Yosemite place, PNWF?

Let me take up PNWF's notes about car hire.

Carhire3000 is one of the top UK-based third-party car rental booking companies. If you book through them you can rest assured that the price you pay includes everything you need. Including insurance and one way fees, which you don't actually pay as a Brit.

This means when you get to the other end if you refuse all their up sell extras like GPS and super duper insurance you are good to go. Nothing more to pay.

The tank of fuel thing is a tricky one. You shouldn't have to take it. You should be able to tell them, 'No, thanks. I'll return it with the same amount of fuel as I take it.' but you often come up against a belligerent desk employee and what are you going to do? Take it, get on with your holiday and don't worry too much as you're not paying too much over the odds for it.

Netfights is another UK third party. US Car Hire as well, although I've not used them.

San Francisco...
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4. Re: Road trip - June 2013

I would also like to welcome you to the Trip Advisor Forums. PNWF has given you some great advise and I agree with her. You may want to think of either driving to Las Vegas or just getting cheap tickets from an LA airport to LAS. If you don't need a car in Las Vegas, then a flight would be fast. Many do an overnight trip to the grand canyon by car so that could be an option for you.

One of the great suggestions from PNWF is to look at each city forum and read the top questions and then more importantly, read the left link that says hotels and you can read reviews from many travelers. Everyone has a different lifestyle and priorities and budget and you can chose the hotel type you like based on the reviews you read and I would urge you to read that before you book.

Also As PNWF said, I would check the UK versions of Hertz, Avis, Budget, Enterprise and Alamo to see their deals and look for coupons to bring rates down. They also offer insurance inclusive rates without drop off fees and you may want to compare them with the rates on carhire3000 to get the best deal. We have not seen many favorable reviews of Dollar and Thrifty car rentals so I would not go for them even if they show the lowest price. You should search reviews for both those on TA and on www.yelp.com as it is good to get advise from more than one person

Edited: 13 November 2012, 15:39
Uden, The...
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5. Re: Road trip - June 2013

There's a lot to see around Las Vegas like Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, Valley of Fire, Red Rock Canyon etc. If you plan on visiting those places keep the car. If you want to stay close to the Strip only you can do without. The drive from LA to LV is through the desert. Not many deserts in Europe. Avoid driving between LA and LV on a friday afternoon.

Santa Monica...
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6. Re: Road trip - June 2013

Drive or fly to Vegas, don't take a coach.

Prebook all hotels.

Chester, United...
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7. Re: Road trip - June 2013

Hello and thank you for your response.

I can understand why it may seem as though I've not done any research but I can assure you I have. I think I've done so much that I have become confused. I have always had big sur in my mind and also Monterey but was trying to gage the distances and see what makes sense - Santa Barbara again is somewhere I've considered but I just thought I'd get other people's opinions and listen to suggestions I might not have thought if rather than have them tell me why I should or shouldn't go to places I have in mind.

Thanks for your suggestions, considering you've not gone into detail there is a lot there so I will continue with my research tonight. I've looked into San Luis Obispo before and was quite keen to go there but I'm not sure whether this was just because I am very intrigued by the crazy rooms at the Madonna!!

I do also have a couple of books, one on California and one on Vegas. They have lots of good hints and tips but nothing wrong with getting a few more opinions!

I'm not sure why we're not driving to Vegas, maybe I should have considered this but it seems as though the coaches are pretty cheap.

We've already booked a suite at the MGM Grand and the hire car so that's sorted too.

We're going to visit Alcatraz whilst in SF, we're considering the Grand Canyon whilst in Vegas. We're interested in all sorts, touristy stuff, good food, gigs, shows, drinking and general sight seeing....things that are a bit different would be good hence the request for suggestions.

Many thanks again for your input and if any other questions crop up its good to know you can help.

San Francisco...
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8. Re: Road trip - June 2013

I agree. how else would you have come up with an itinerary if you had not done research. You will get plenty of opinions on this forums. For distances and general bearings, it may help to map your route on maps.google.com and you can see where things are.

To see the central coast here are a couple of links that may help

thecentralcoasttraveler.com/faqs/ from Scott H has distances and info on the CA coast

Here is a photo blog of the coast from Mike Neenan

…google.com/Mjneenan/CaliforniaCentralCoastM…

You may want to look at flying between LA and LV. check out www.southwest.com for fares and deals

for info on SF's attractions please go over to the SF forum and the top questions there can give you info on Alcatraz. There is a first post on the SF forum with trip reports.

The LV forum can give you plenty of ideas on what to do there and on seeing the area around LV and going to the Grand Canyon

Edited: 13 November 2012, 16:18
London, United...
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9. Re: Road trip - June 2013

Scott, I'm not trying to be rude (others might think I am, but I'm not) but if you've done as much research as you say then your original post should not have been as vague as it was.

You talk about stopovers between San Francisco and Los Angeles but don't list the ones you've researched. The ones you like. And why. The ones you don't. And why.

Tell us all about what you've read about. Where you're thinking about going. Where you want to avoid. The sort of things you want to see. The sort of things you couldn't care less about.

The more information you give us the more we can tailor our answers to exactly what you want. Because 'any suggestions' for 'pretty much anywhere really' fills book after book after book in Waterstones but 98% of it isn't going to interest you at all.

I'm not being rude. I'm desperate to help. I remember my first road trip and it's the holiday of a lifetime. I want to help make yours and others just as great.

Give us as much as you can and we'll take in on from there.

London, United...
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10. Re: Road trip - June 2013

I'll give you an example, because I feel bad now!

You mention the Madonna Inn. I had the same dilemma as you when planning my most recent trip in June. Should we stay at the Madonna Inn? Is San Luis Obispo worth a visit?

I decided that $250+ a night was too much to pay for a hotel room. So we found - with the help of TA - a great room at the Peach Tree Inn for $90.

We went to the Madonna Inn and looked around all the public areas and they were brilliant. We spent an hour in the shops, restaurants, halls and public toilets, had our picture taken by the sign (Lily Allen style) and left. Job done.

From discussing SLO on here and reading guides and websites I discovered there's a drive-in movie theatre here (and that's something that has got to be done once), a restaurant where I ate one of the two two meals of my life and a alleyway covered, twenty foot high, in bubble gum.

That gave us enough reasons to stay.

Now I've given that to you - because you've mentioned the Madonna Inn rather than just asking where to stop between San Francisco and Los Angeles - and you can take that away and decide whether you want to stay at Madonna Inn, just see it and stay somewhere else in town or see it then drive straight through.

Now I don't know if that explains my point but I hope so. And I don't know if it rescues me if you thought I was rude but I hope so. But don't think I was being rude because I wasn't trying to be. :)

Edited: 13 November 2012, 17:47