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Roadtrip California - Arizona - Nevada

Perth, Australia
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Roadtrip California - Arizona - Nevada

Hi all,

Am planning a 2 month honeymoon to the US. Flying into LA where we'll do Disney/Universal then train down to San Diego. Intend on flying San Diego to Boston where we're doing a self-drive section, a tour (to New Orleans) & a Caribbean cruise. Then we intend on flying back to the south west where we have 2 weeks to drive around. I'd like to get opinions / suggestions for that portion of the trip.

Here's the plan at the moment:

Oct 19 - Fly into San Francisco

Oct 20 - San Francisco

Oct 21 - San Francisco

Oct 22 - San Francisco

(Pick up car)

Oct 23 - Monterey

Oct 24 - Santa Barbara

Oct 25 - Joshua Tree NP

Oct 26 - Grand Canyon NP

Oct 27 - Grand Canyon NP

(Drop off car)

Oct 28 - Las Vegas

Oct 29 - Las Vegas

Oct 30 - Las Vegas

Oct 31 - Las Vegas

(Coach)

Nov 1 - Los Angeles

Nov 2 - Los Angeles

Nov 3 - Fly home to Australia

Are the driving distances reasonable enough? We're used to driving long distances in Western Australia but we obviously don't want to be exhausted from driving constantly. We will just have come off a Caribbean cruise though so we will have had our rest & will be keen to hit the road.

Will we get accommodation inside Grand Canyon NP or have we left it too late?

Not really keen on spending the last 2 days of the trip in LA but hubby says basketball season starts around then & he's waiting on fixtures to become available. He wants to be in LA in case he can catch a game on those dates. Likelihood of actually getting to a game?

Drop the car off in Vegas & enjoy the Strip using shuttle/taxis? Or keep the car in Vegas & use it to get back to LA? Will we be charged one-way car hire for hiring in San Fran & dropping off in Vegas/LA? Is it California in which they can't charge extra for the 2nd driver?

Are Monterey / Santa Barbara good overnight stops to make on the Pacific Coast or are there better towns to stop over in?

Appreciate any advice offered. Thanks :)

Edited: 01 May 2014, 17:45
San Francisco...
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for San Francisco
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1. Re: Roadtrip California - Arizona - Nevada

Well the plan sounds ok. Most do Monterey then Cambria and perhaps Santa Barbara before driving to Vegas. Keep the car and do JNTP on the way back to la. The Grand Canyon forum has info on hotels. It is not in this state

Visitors from abroad do not have one way fees and additional drivers are free in California

Manhattan Beach...
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2. Re: Roadtrip California - Arizona - Nevada

Thursday night in San Luis Obispo is a giant weekly farmer's market/street fair. I would target to spend the night there (23 October), but not at the expense of San Francisco or Monterey.

You left out Yosemite. I think that I'd try to get a night there.

Grand Canyon is spectacular, but I would not spend two nights there. Similar thoughts about Las Vegas. Unless you are really into gambling and shows, four nights there is a lot, especially if you have just done a cruise.

M D
Irvine, California
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3. Re: Roadtrip California - Arizona - Nevada

I would change your trip so you stop in LA after santa barbara before joshua tree. You are driving through anyways. This will save you a whole day on a coach coming back if you just fly straight home from vegas (with a connecting flight of course).

Also you're going to want the car in LA.

Edited: 01 May 2014, 19:13
M D
Irvine, California
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4. Re: Roadtrip California - Arizona - Nevada

Oh nevermind. I misread the fine print.

So Cal
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5. Re: Roadtrip California - Arizona - Nevada

By "coach", do you mean you're planning to take a bus between LV and LA? If you're going to spend hours and hours across the desert in a car, much better to be driving your own than crammed into a bus. If you don't want to keep the car (which you might want in LA, if not in LV), then look for a cheap flight. Southwest is one option - they allow two free checked bags per person, flights are found only on their own website www.southwest.com. Flight costs are generally low.

National parks do book up fast, so you want to get on that. Book only through the official concessionaire's site, www.grandcanyonlodges.com . If there's nothing available (or nothing that you want), Tusayan is the closest town.

Perth, Australia
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6. Re: Roadtrip California - Arizona - Nevada

Thanks all for your input. I'll check into all of your suggestions.

Why the suggestion please to stop over in Joshua Tree on the way back from Vegas to LA as opposed to on the way from the Pacific Coast to Grand Canyon national park? I thought Pacific Coast to GCNP would be a long (9 hours?) drive therefore would need to be broken up whereas Vegas to LA is much shorter?

Yosemite would be great to get to but geographically it doesn't seem to fit in. When would we do it? As an overnighter at the start from San Fran? That doesn't seem enough time to do it justice. I'm trying to be realistic about how much can be fit in so may need to leave it for another time. It would be great to come back in a few years after we've started a family & do an RV trip to Yosemite, Death Valley, Bryce Canton, Zion, Monument Valley etc.

Tripadvisor is such a great resource!

Manhattan Beach...
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7. Re: Roadtrip California - Arizona - Nevada

This comes down to personal preferences, but I think Yosemite would be a better place to visit than Grand Canyon. Grand Canyon is relatively remote and most people get there, are impressed, and are pretty much satisfied after an hour. The canyon is spectacular and it is beautiful in the evening, but it is static. Yosemite has varied sights and is green with running water and waterfalls. It is a lot more accessible and is less than a day's drive from LA or San Francisco, or Las Vegas. If the Tioga Pass is still open, you can drive through the park and out the other side and see the Eastern Sierra, maybe even head to Las Vegas. You do run the risk of snow though if you do Yosemite (or Grand Canyon) too late in the trip.

We did a cruise out of New Orleans this year and loved it (Roatan, Belize, & Cozumel). The Trip Advisor page for New Orleans had a great idea for a free walking tour of the Garden District that we really enjoyed.

Perth, Australia
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8. Re: Roadtrip California - Arizona - Nevada

Hey Ralph_MB... would you recommend Yosemite at the expense of the Pacific Coast then? i.e. San Fran to Las Vegas via Yosemite instead of via Monterey/Santa Barbara? Time won't allow us to do both I don't think.

Manhattan Beach...
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9. Re: Roadtrip California - Arizona - Nevada

I agree that it ruins the nice circuit to go from San Francisco to Yosemite and then back to Monterey, but that would still be my inclination. This comes down to personal preferences and sounds chauvinistic, but I would not sacrifice time in California, but I'd give up a day in either Arizona or Nevada. I'd steal the time from either Las Vegas or Grand Canyon, and spend a night in Yosemite, shifting your schedule back by a day. It will not do justice to Yosemite, but will whet your appetite. I might think differently if a trip highlight was to hike into Grand Canyon, which is a serious undertaking.

Perth, Australia
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10. Re: Roadtrip California - Arizona - Nevada

Thanks. Food for thought. Better make up my mind soon before national park accommodation books out.