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weekend trips from LA. help please!

Singapore, Singapore
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weekend trips from LA. help please!

Hi, im a student going to UCLA with a couple of friends for exchange and have my fridays(hopefully) to sundays free for 2 weekends. Could i please get recommendations and help to plan my route for 2 weekend 3 day road trips?

I am considering

1) san diego

2) santa barbara

3) vegas

4) yosemite

5) grand canyon

is there a way to route and see them all? if its not possible, which ones are recommended? how should i plan it?

at the end of my 3 week exchange, i'll then drive to SF.

do you recommend hiring a car and driving around LA with it?

or just hiring a car every weekend for weekend trips and for my trip to SF?

which car company is trustable and most value for money?considering im below 25 years old.

i really need the help and am kind of clueless, thanks in advance!

Anaheim, California
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1. Re: weekend trips from LA. help please!

Well, you could do some of the trip car-free.

For example, a trip to San Diego, take Public Transit to Union Station in Downtown LA, and then take the Amtrak Train to the Santa Fe Station in Downtown San Diego, and then get a Hotel on/near a San Diego Trolley Station, such as Downtwon San Diego, Little Italy or the Old Town San Diego Area, and then sightsee from the Hotel.

Santa Barbara is another car-free trip, once again, public transit to Union Station, and then Amtrak (this time North bound) to Santa Barbara, it is compact enough that public buses, walking and taxis will give you plenty to do for the weekend.

Las Veags can be done car-free, this time catching a flight from LAX to Las Vegas, fairly cheap, just watch the extra fees like baggage, you should only need one bag, so most discount airlines should be a good choice. Then a taxi from the Airport to your Hotel, and then public/mass transit.

Yosemite can be done by train/bus, but renting to under 25 can be expensive, I would ask around the campus for a recommend company that deals with younger students. Also, Yosemite can be done as part of the drive to San Francisco, since it is located in Northern/Central California.

With 2 choices, I would head to San Diego for one, and maybe Las Vegas for the other, for variety.

Santa Monica...
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for Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Mammoth Lakes
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2. Re: weekend trips from LA. help please!

Since you will be in San Francisco, that is when to visit Yosemite - it is certainly not a weekend trip from Los Angeles (and neither is Grand Canyon), so rule that out (both Yosemite and Grand Canyon should be ruled out).

I also recommend San Diego for one of your weekend trips, and be sure to include Laguna Beach - at least for lunch, if not an overnight. Santa Barbara would be my other choice, but given your age, go to Vegas for the other weekend, and fly there.

West Hollywood...
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for Los Angeles
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3. Re: weekend trips from LA. help please!

A third vote for San Diego -- either by car (2.5 hours WITHOUT TRAFFIC -- Friday evenings and Sunday evenings will take longer, i.e. 3.5 to 4 hours) or take the train from Union Station (3 hours plus an hour bus/metro rail transfer from Westwood to Union Station).

The other two options would be Santa Barbara or Las Vegas. Since Santa Barbara is a 'beach city' like San Diego, you might want to go to Las Vegas instead (or go to Vegas and Santa Barbara and skip San Diego).

I, personally, don't enjoy the drive to Las Vegas but many do. For a Friday-Sunday trip, you'll hit traffic in both directions (unless you leave for Las Vegas in late morning). So, a 4.5 hour drive might take 6 hours. Meanwhile, flights from LAX take 1 hour, 10 minutes and the hotels are within 5 to 10 minutes of the airport in Las Vegas. (You don't need to be at LAX for your flight more than an hour before departure). So, flying will save 5 or 6 hours in return transfer time.

One small correction to the public transit ride to Santa Barbara from Westwood. Don't take a bus to Union Station (1 hour ride) and transfer to a train, there, to Santa Barbara. Instead, take a bus to the Van Nuys rail station in the San Fernando Valley and catch the Amtrak train from there. The return train fare will be $10 less from Van Nuys and you'll save an hour of return transfer time on the train. In addition, you'll only need to take one conveyance (a bus) to Van Nuys, compared to a bus followed by a metro rail train to Union Station. The single-bus ride will save you $3 return if you depart for Santa Barbara from Van Nuys.

For Van Nuys, take the #761 bus northbound from the corner of Westwood Bl & Lindbrook Drive (or some other nearby stop) to the corner of Van Nuys Bl & Keswick St. Walk north on Van Nuys Bl 1 minute to the station.

Whether you hire a car to drive around L.A. first is up to you. If there's something that you want to see that's difficult to reach via public transit, then do so. Check CarHire3000.com for rates on car hire that include the mandatory insurance for non-U.S. citizens. This site assigns you to one of the top 5 car hire companies.

Pasadena, California
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4. Re: weekend trips from LA. help please!

Um... experts? I THINK there is another good transit option from UCLA to Santa Barbara, but correct me if I am wrong, or if the Amtrak option is better or significantly cheaper.

1. Flyaway Bus from UCLA to LAX, and then:

2. Santa Barbara Airbus from LAX to Santa Barbara


I'd recommend Santa Barbara or San Diego by public transit;

and fly to Las Vegas on Southwest Airlines.

Edited: 21 April 2012, 20:46
Berkeley, Ca.
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5. Re: weekend trips from LA. help please!

Pasca, that's a clever idea, but it doesn;t really save time. The Santa Barbara Airbus takes 2 hours, 15 minutes from LAX to Santa Barbara,, which is what the train takes from Van Nuys to Santa Barbara. It would be a little quicker to get to LAX (maybe 45 minutes) than Van Nuys (an hour) but not that much. The airbus also drops off at a less convenient location on East Beach, while the train station is right on State St. downtown.

For 3 people, you'd spend about $150 round trip using Amtrak, $230 using Santa Barbara Airbus.

If you were starting in Santa Monica or Venice, using the airbus might be a good option, because it would take you that much longer to get to Amtrak.

6. Re: weekend trips from LA. help please!

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