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15 day holiday on West Coast of US arriving in Los Angeles

Sydney, Australia
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15 day holiday on West Coast of US arriving in Los Angeles

Travelling to west coast arriving in Los Angeles for approximately 14 days end of May, to see some highlights of west coast including San Francisco, Las Vegas, Disneyland, Universal Studios, Grand Canyon etc. We are both in our early 50s never been to US and wondered if we could do it by car. Concerned about distances as we prefer to not rush and see above highlights and maybe others

Anaheim, California
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1. Re: 15 day holiday on West Coast of US arriving in Los Angeles

You can do it by car, but it would be somewhat rushed.

You can use internal domestic airlines (most of which have to be booked at their own website to save money), and that would save some time.

Or you can opt for cutting out some of the sites, let's say the Nevada/Arizona portion, and then drive along the Pacific Coastline, say, starting at the San Francisco Bay area, and then head to the greater Los Angeles area and San Diego, and then fly out of Los Angeles, or take an domestic flight from Southern California back to San Francisco for your flight home.

For example, how many days do you want to spend at the Disneyland Resort, which consists of two different Theme Parks and related things in or near the Resort?

Things to think about...

Melbourne, Australia
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2. Re: 15 day holiday on West Coast of US arriving in Los Angeles

We pretty much did what you want to in 12 days (plus flights). Sure, would have been better with more, but what can you do ? We never felt we were rushing, except maybe at Yosemite, and GC overnight would have been nice, but we are used to a hectic pace. I can't just sit around and relax on hols; I do too much of that at home. And we don't expect to be back that way anytime soon.

Consider renting a car in LA, doing all your LA stuff, then driving to SF via Yosemite. Once done with SF, fly to Vegas, and do the (proper) GC from there. Personally, I wouldn't use your time to see the California coastline. As good as it is, it's not like you are short of a bit of speccy coastline closer to home (eg south of Sydney; GOR; um, the rest of the continent).

Days 1-4: LA (1 day Disney; 1 Day universal; 2 days other - Hollywood, Santa Monica/Venice beach, Queen Mary, all the usual haunts).

Day 5: leave early on the 5th day for Yosemite and arrive at Mariposa grove in the late afternoon so you can check in, then get a park at the carpark around 4.00 pm when everyone else is leaving, and see the big trees that afternoon (you don't have to walk the whole way to the top. If you do, take the short, central route. There's also a shuttle). We stayed Narrow Gauge Inn and liked it a lot.

Day 6: start early and do Yosemite mostly by car: Glacier point, the main Valley section; all the way to Tenaya lake if you want. If you don't want to do Mariposa but still see giant trees, there are big trees at Tuolumne and Merced Groves near Crane Flat, which you could do on the way to/from Lake Tenaya. There's enough just in the main area to make the drive from LA worthwhile. We saw all the big ticket items, even tenaya lake, and even fit in a little hike, and still headed off to SF that afternoon at about 3.00 pm, hitting SF at about 7.00 pm. We went May and wasn't a lot of traffic as we were there midweek, luckily just before the biggest holiday weekend of the year. You could stay overnight and do a little more at Yosemite. We liked Yosemite more than the Grand Canyon. Bonus of arriving in SF after 7.00 pm was cheap overnight parking. Keep the car for your first SF day to tour around, then return it.

Day 7-10 - if not there already, drive to, then stay in SF. Maybe go via Sausalito for Lunch so you can cross the GG bridge. Despite not being flashy or amazing, Alcatraz is a must because it's just done so well. Book many weeks in advance. FWh - make sure you have clam chowder ! Late flight out on the 10th day to Vegas. Take Southwest Airlines as no luggage fee (conditions apply) and as cheap as $39 one way if you look out for specials.

Day 11- Vegas !

Day 12 - Grand canyon by plane or bus. If you get there by helicopter, it means you ain't really going to the grand canyon. You can take a heli ride there, but it's exxy. may as well take he longer ride of the two if you are going to. You are back in Vegas that afternoon if by plane; that evening if by bus. Super early start but an easy day if by plane (and heli). A big, big day if by bus. You could always drive out and overnight it, but we wanted Vegas time.

Day 13 - Vegas ! Make sure you do the Fremont St experience when the light shows are on in the evening. get a free cheesy photo with a $1,000,000 at Binions. Have a steak at Oscars (just get the $30 ones; not worth it for the rest).

Day 14 - fly out from Vegas to home, maybe involving another cheap flight from Southwest into LAX.

So it can be done, because we did it ! Obviously a little tweaking will be required to suit your own personal preferences. Maybe drop a day in LA or Vegas; to overnight at GC or Yosemite. But really, unless you plan to do a lot of shopping, there's ample time.

Edited: 09 January 2013, 13:30
San Francisco...
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3. Re: 15 day holiday on West Coast of US arriving in Los Angeles

It depends on your personal tastes. Do you want to do more nature related activities or real parks or artificial parks. Everyone is different. The Poster in 1 did an excellent job in posting his route. As he said, one may need to tweak it depending on interests

Some may prefer to visit the amazing wonder of the world the Grand Canyon and skip Disneyland. Others may want to do both. One route that many do in CA is the coastal drive from SF to LA or vice versa and is the most lovely drive in CA

Decisions decisions. Add a week more and do all of the above

Melbourne, Australia
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4. Re: 15 day holiday on West Coast of US arriving in Los Angeles

Can you add an extra week? 3 weeks would give you a comfortable round trip including all the places you have listed.

With 2 weeks, a rough plan could look like:

Day 1 & 2, San Francisco

Day 3 & 4, Yosemite

Day 5, drive to LA (long day)

Day 6 & 7, LA sightseeing & Universal

Day 8, Disneyland

Day 9, drive to Grand Canyon (long day)

Day 10, drive to Las Vegas mid afternoon

Day 11, Las Vegas

You can add in the extra days where it interests you, for example, take 2 or 3 days to drive down the coast from Yosemite to LA, or an extra night at the Grand Canyon. One problem might be finding accommodations at Yosemite & the Grand Canyon as they book out early, but you will get more info on the location forums.

If you book your car rental from Australia, there isn't a drop off fee between California & Las Vegas.

Edited: 10 January 2013, 05:30
Melbourne, Australia
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5. Re: 15 day holiday on West Coast of US arriving in Los Angeles

Just read your OP again & realised you are arriving into LA. Have you booked your tickets?

If so, try this:

Day 1-4, LA plus Universal & Disneyland

Day 5, drive to Yosemite

Day 6, Yosemite

Day 7 & 8, San Francisco

Day 9, fly to Las Vegas

Day 10, LV

Day 11, drive to Grand Canyon

Day 12, either return to Las Vegas & fly to LA OR drive to LA (long drive).

Day 6 & 7, LA sightseeing & Universal

Day 8, Disneyland

Day 9, drive to Grand Canyon (long day)

Day 10, drive to Las Vegas mid afternoon

Day 11, Las Vegas

Uden, The...
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6. Re: 15 day holiday on West Coast of US arriving in Los Angeles

Definitely stay overnight at GCNP On a daytrip from Vegas you''ll miss sunset and sunrise, highlights at the rim You''ll need a reservation for GCNP www.grandcanyonlodges.com You also need a reservation for Yosemite.

Washington State
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7. Re: 15 day holiday on West Coast of US arriving in Los Angeles

Does 'end of May' include the busy Memorial Day holiday weekend? If so, there are some places to avoid on the holiday.

Sydney, Australia
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8. Re: 15 day holiday on West Coast of US arriving in Los Angeles

Thanks all for your help.

Uden, The...
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9. Re: 15 day holiday on West Coast of US arriving in Los Angeles

Have you already made some decisions for your trip?

Brisbane Australia
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10. Re: 15 day holiday on West Coast of US arriving in Los Angeles

I am planning to go to LA in November 2014. 15 days in mid november

Will Yosemite park be open, Do I need a 4WD to drive around the park?

What will the weather be like, too cold for this time of year?

Flying around in a helicopter over Grand Canyon - anyone done this, What is the cost for family of 4?

Where is the best rental for a car if arriving in LAX?

Do you recommend booking accomodation as you go, or go on line and book - recommendations website?

How much is the flight to NEW YORK, and how cold is it there in NOV?

Route 66 - what is the total distance and where is the best place in USA to get patches, gear (biker)?