USA Roadtrip!(39 Posts)
My DP and I are going to West coast of USA from late October for 17 days.
It's something we have both wanted to do all our lives and are really excited so just checking in with the MN geniuses for any tips or must sees.
We stay in Vegas for 5 days, then drive up to San Francisco for 5 days, then ending in LA for the rest.
We've got Alcatraz booked and want to see the grand canyon whilst in Vegas, and will be driving through death valley.
Any tips of any one of these places would be very helpful!
Just finishing our trip! Firstly I would stronglycogen recommend that you don't book any accommodation apparently from your 1st 2 nights and the last one. There is really no need and you will be limiting yourself u necessarily. We've had 3 weeks here and booked places as we went along.
I won't give you our route as we're further north, flying in and out of Portland. In fact, because of the fires, we had to totally rethink our route, but we've had a great time.
ust finishing our trip! Firstly I would strongly recommend that you don't book any accommodation appart from your 1st 2 nights and the last one. There is really no need and you will be limiting yourself unecessarily. We've had 3 weeks here and booked places
By the way, if you've already booked, this will have been the most unhelpful post ever. Sorry if that's the case.
We did this (twice - north and south) on the east coast. Sorry, I can't give you any advice about the west but you'll have a great time. The Grand Canyon is one of the most amazing things I've ever seen and it's on the list to see with dh in future.
Oct should be a great time of year to visit.
You'll drive across the Hoover Dam on the way to Vegas, I would allow some time to stop and take it in/ take photos as it's amazing.
In LA, it's only a 30/40 minute walk (definitely not a proper hike) to the Hollywood sign which is a great experience. If you google the road to start the 'hike', I would go early morning to avoid the heat and it's easier to park.
Alcatraz is brilliant. You can also rent bikes pretty cheaply from nearby and cycle along to the Golden Gate Bridge, across the bridge and to a lovely little town for lunch and then hop on the ferry back with your bike.
Also if you're able to, see a sunset over the Grand Canyon, and there's a place called Shoshone Point where a big rock juts out into the middle and you basically get 360 views of the canyon, it's incredible.
5 days in Vegas is a REALLY long time. I can't do more than 3, 4 max. It really is a giant shithole. Unless that includes a couple of days going to the Grand Canyon.
We really enjoyed a tour round the Hoover Dam.
Bring a jacket for San Francisco it can be pretty windy and cold. The driving in SF is also the worst we’ve ever seen in the USA.
Spend less time in Las Vegas and visit Yosemite and the Giant Redwoods instead.
We did 2 nights las Vegas/ hoover dam
2 night flagstaff to do grand canyon flying/ antelope canyon and rafting
1 night grand canyon north rim
Back to Vegas 1 night
Death valley / fire valley
1 night Bishop ( lovely outdoor railway museum there)
3 nights Yosemite(definitely needs booking ahead as gets booked early)
4 night San Francisco
1 night Monteray
1 night Santa Barbara
2 nights LA
3 nights San Diego
Dont underestimate how long drives are between places.
Definitely stop and take in the Hoover Dam. Lake Mead is quite nice to drive around too, not a must-see but if you have the time. We really e koyed the aquarium at the Mandalay Bay when we were in Vegas.
I’d agree that 5 days in Vegas might be a bit much. It’s very much a “marmite” place - people love it or hate it. Personally I was in the latter camp and frankly was happy to leave after 48 hours. If your 5 days doesn’t cover the Grand Canyon I’d probably recommend you spend less time there and take the spare days to visit a national park - Sequoia NP is very beautiful and we spent a great 4 days in a fantastic cabin in the wilderness at 3 Rivers.
LV shows etc get booked up, so don’t assume you can turn up and get tickets. Plan ahead and book ahead if you want to go to any events.
San Fran is great. Be prepared for variable weather though. It’s often surprisingly cold in the morning/evenings even in summer. I’d definitely visit the piers. Loads of nice shops/restaurants. I’ve been a few times and tbh it’s just a great city in which to wander.
Re: LA it’s worth a visit to Venice Beach - and especially a walk around little venice. The observatory is definitely worth a visit. Sunset strip and the walk of fame is hugely busy and a big tourist trap, but probably a must see :-).
Even as an adult I’d visit Universal - it’s not far out of LA and a great day out. You can definitely do it in a day, but if you can afford it I’d definitely pay the extra for the front of line passes to beat the queues. Before the park there’s a whole shopping area which is worth visiting by itself.
You’ll have a great time :-)
For us, one of the best things is talking to Americans. Our shared language and the fact that most of them are very friendly and open, and interested in what is happening in Europe, means that we've had some many interesting conversations. So, wherever you go, talk. That's what we'll remember.
Agree that five days in Vegas is a lot, but might be ok if you're getting out to see the Grand Canyon. Seems geographically a bit odd to do Vegas, then San Fran then LA. Vegas is much closer to LA than San Fran.
I recommend a stop in Santa Barbara - wine district around there is lovely. There's great food.
Big Sur is also a beautiful please to stop - we stayed in a log cabin by a stream and it was so peaceful!
Oh, and if you can afford it, it's worth it to hire a convertible. Made such a difference to the experience.
It's a wonderful trip - you'll have a great time!
It's probably a bit quieter in October, than when we went, but we had to book an Alcatraz tour in advance otherwise we wouldn't have got there.
Do some research on LA. The city itself is absolutely massive and so are the surrounding areas so have a good idea of what you want to see.
Actually that's a good point about being clear on driving times as everything can seem right next to everything else but the scale is completely different. What might look like a shortcut avoiding the motorway could take three times as long and you won't see another soul the whole way (speaking from dumb experience).
For any desert drives take note of local advice re packing your car (eg water and blankets) in case of breakdown.
Wow, thank you for all the replies! ~I was dreading having to post this in AIBU~
We have universal studios and Alcatraz tickets! ~also Britney spears~
Agree about Vegas, we might see if we can take a day or two out to spend more time at GC and Yosemite.
Universal is good ( but harry potter eas closed the day we went much to ) but we preferred Warner Bros ,
Also we did stay wrong side of LA for both, next to Disney and it took over an hour to get to both, traffic was horrendous and scary.
The observatory at sunset is a must in LA.
Bruffin where did you stay in LA? What's considered the 'wrong' side?
Op I just accidently bumped a very old thread on this now showing as I have been taken by the sudden desire to go...t other thread has some great great tips and ideas on it
LA you want west hollywood, thats where rodeo drive is all the stuff yu want to see
Can I ask if it's safe to do, a long time ago car jacking was common... Do people who have done it feel safe?
SunSeptember it depends on where you're going and what you're doing. Apparently it's still something of a problem in Detroit. I have a lot of family in the US and I don't know anyone who has ever been a victim. My uncle had a car window shot out driving in Newark NJ and he is the only person I know who has been a subject of gun violence.
Felt safe on our last two road trips except for one very odd Ohio campground that exuded a Deliverance vibe. Were awakened by headlamps and an idling engine in the early hours in an utterly deserted out-of-season lakeside camp. After some time trembling in our tent we had a look and concluded that these fellas were either going for an innocent predawn fishing trip or stealing a boat. We couldn't go back to sleep so we shoved some cash under the office door and legged it. I admit we were spooked and checked the rearview mirror more frequently than usual, but not for any good reason.
There seemed to be a number of 'campgrounds' that were less for holidaymakers and more like trailer parks with permanent residents (also stayed in a hotel that was like a b&b for homeless families with old cars for sale in the car park). Some of those places felt a little menacing for lots of reasons. I think anywhere in the world where you have tourists side by side with residents who live in poverty the vibe is going to be a bit funky. We got caught out a couple of times because we were doing it all on the fly (no pre-booking) and nowhere posh but more often than not our system worked for us. My overriding experience is that we were welcomed warmly and asked a lot of friendly questions. People seemed flattered that we'd come so far to see their corner of the world, which they usually regarded as unremarkable. I'd do it again in a heartbeat!
Next places on our list are the west (Grand Canyon), New Orleans and the old tourist route through the Florida panhandle. I love America.
Sometimes you get the feeling of how big and how underpopulated some places are and how anything could happen. But have never felt unsafe. If a motel looks dodgy we'd go somewhere else. I echo cheers comments. Americans are the main reason we come here. We 'he had great holidays all over the world, but being able to have proper conversations with people makes it so much better.for one, you realise what a load of bs we are fed by our news media.
We stayed at a hotel next to disney world called majestic gardens in Anaheim. We had to leave at 7am to get to warner bros for 9 and only just made it.
The next day we had to leave just as early for Universal. It was the only mistake our travel agent made. It was a nice hotel and had a fantastic view of Disney fireworks, not not great for Universal/ Warner Bros.
We did the Warner bros tour in morning the drove to see Hollywood sign/ Chinese Theatre and then up to the Observatory for sunset, next day was Universal and then on to San Diego.
Agree with ap who said Santa Barbara well worth a visit. The court house is lovely and we loved watching the sea lions at the pier. Also the elephant seals just outside
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