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US West Coast Tour - Advice welcome

So I have a few weeks off between contracts and I figured, fuck it, I am going to fly to Vegas. So today I booked a flight. My plan is to spend a couple of nights in Vegas, then hire a car and drive to LA, then head north to San Fran. Then I am going to fly up to Canada to see a friend for a few days, before flying home for Christmas.

This is the plan - Fly to Vegas Friday - Barstow - Santa Monica - Santa Maria - Monterey - San Fran - fly to Kelowna/ BC - fly home to London.

Reason I bring this up - I don't have a clue what I am doing! I am hoping the likes of @NapaAddick and @SDAddick can give me some tips, along with anyone who has done a holiday like this before...

Comments

  • I'm jealous. I have nothing to tell you though.

    But have a good trip.
  • edited December 4
    That's a great itinerary. I did something very similar in the summer.
    Vegas is mad but brilliant for a short stay and covered pretty thoroughly elsewhere. Much much bigger than I expected.
    Barstow is a shit-hole with no obvious qualities, so if you can handle an epic drive, give it a miss.
    Santa Monica is a really cool place to just hang out. I wanted to move there.
    Don't know Santa Maria.
    Monterey quite small but very nice. We had a brilliant whale watching tour there, but I don't know if it's the season.
    SF absolutely great. Fisherman's Wharf is a bit tacky, but pleasant enough. City centre great. My favourite suburb was Haight-Ashbury. Very cool. Alcatraz was superb and much better than I expected.
    You're going to have a great time.

    Edit: LV to SM is only 4 1/2 hours, so not even that epic.
  • Dunno if you are into golf (and even if you are not) go out on the Monterey Peninsula to see the golf courses - Spyglass Hill and Pebble Beach. SF is ace. Enjoy
  • There is no reason to head towards Barstow (other than for a diner lunch and to drive across more desert); better to go down south through Lake Havasu City (where the old London Bridge is now), across to Brawley (for that diner lunch and more desert) and up to LA past Salton Sea. Much better though would be would be to head north toward Beatty, then across to Death Valley, drive up/through the valley stopping at the various points, and then over into Panamint Valley next door. Stay at Panamint Spings motel, then drive south toward China Lake, and stop at the Trona pinnacles for an hour, before heading south to LA.
  • One of my wife's best friends live at Marina Del Ray with her husband at the other end of Venice Beach from Santa Monica. Check out the pier and hire a bike and ride up the beach.

    If you're West side, you need to go see Malibu and Santa Barbara too. SB and the purple trees lining the streets, I could easily move there!

    Monterrey, nice place. Check out the acquarium. Its huge.
    San Fran is an amazing place. Alcatraz with the tour is a must.
    Oh and get out the car and get a picture of Bixby Creek Bridge at Big Sur. You might want to take a lot of pictures along the PCH.
    There's also a seal sanctuary along part of the beach on PCH. The Piedras Blancas elephant seal rookery. You must go and have a look at that. When we was there, there was like a thousand seals on the sand. Never seen anything like it.

    To anyone making the trip to the West Coast, I'd put Yosemite, Sequoia and Death Valley on the list of must sees too. Obviously you're going in the opposite direction but definitely something to consider for next time.

    Vegas is marmite. You'll either love it or hate it. I loved it while I was there but if I was doing the trip again, I'd probably give it a swerve, preferring to use the time elsewhere.

  • Get to the Grand Canyon if you can, especially to see it either at dawn or at sunset.
  • I’ve done this, it’s a great trip. Didn’t pre-book anything. Just pitched up in towns and booked into the local motel. It was in 1991. No internet, no SatNav and the people in those small towns were so friendly.
  • _MrDick said:

    I’ve done this, it’s a great trip. Didn’t pre-book anything. Just pitched up in towns and booked into the local motel. It was in 1991. No internet, no SatNav and the people in those small towns were so friendly.

    That's what I was going to do, but was convinced by some people on Reddit to book hotels. So far I have done that for the first half, I think maybe I will leave the second half to do what you did!

    Thanks everyone else for your comments, really useful stuff.
  • Stop off in Death Valley on the way, amazing scenery especially the salt flats at Badwater Basin

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Badwater_Basin
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  • Yosemite is a must.
  • @JiMMy 85

    Bit selfish of you leaving poor old Ross1 to deal with all the matchday commentaries by himself. :-)

    Just joking, of course. Have a great trip.
  • Lucky git!

    That stretch of coastline is arguably the best in the world and I'm sure you'll have a great time. North to south is best though!!
  • we're driving san fran to vegas in a couple of months. can't remember where exactly we're stopping other than Solvang which is an odd town with old style Danish architecture; give it a look
  • JiMMy 85 said:

    So I have a few weeks off between contracts and I figured, fuck it, I am going to fly to Vegas. So today I booked a flight. My plan is to spend a couple of nights in Vegas, then hire a car and drive to LA, then head north to San Fran. Then I am going to fly up to Canada to see a friend for a few days, before flying home for Christmas.

    This is the plan - Fly to Vegas Friday - Barstow - Santa Monica - Santa Maria - Monterey - San Fran - fly to Kelowna/ BC - fly home to London.

    Reason I bring this up - I don't have a clue what I am doing! I am hoping the likes of @NapaAddick and @SDAddick can give me some tips, along with anyone who has done a holiday like this before...

    Mate that's awesome!

    What are the dates you're going (you can DM me and I promise I'll respond)? I'm going down to LA for the holidays and I'm guessing I'm gonna miss you by like a week.

    I can do more detail on this, but
    1) Santa Monica--Yeah, it's beautiful and just nice to wander along the cliff that overlooks the ocean. I also recommend Venice Beach, which isn't too far (by LA standards) south of Santa Monica. The Venice boardwalk is what you've seen in loads of films and it's just fun to wander around. I know it's kind of cliche, but it's one of the touristy things I still enjoy whenever I'm showing people around.

    2) Monterrey: Yes! An absolutely beautiful part of the world. Go to the aquarium. It's absolutely brilliant.

    3) SF: I don't know that I have anything that you wouldn't get in guidebooks really. Eat in Chinatown is probably my one thing. It's a compact city by American standards, so when I've taken people there it's usually just been good to kind of wander around. Everyone else in my family has either spent large chunks of time or lived in SF so I'll ask them.

    I completely agree with the Grand Canyon and Death Valley. The problem is they're well out of the way for what you'll be doing. Yosemite is slightly less out of the way, also absolutely stunning, but I think it's still a good three hour drive from SF. So it's just a question of the time investment.

    I'll come back and update this as I think of stuff. Weed is legal in California if that's your thing. I think a lot of things are legal in Vegas but I'm not much help there. And unfortunately I've never been to Canada.
  • I'll add my vote to Yosemite, Grand Canyon and Death Valley if you have the chance.
  • @SDAddick - I’m flying out Friday, then working my way west from Vegas and up to SF. Aiming to fly to Kelowna from SF around the 18th or so, then home from there on 23rd. Well up for a beer if it’s feasible!

    Also, I have no plan for San Fran and can imagine not making the most of it, so all tips welcome on that one. I am considering Yosemite!
  • Alcatraz tour is worthwhile.
  • If you do Yosemite, make sure you check the road closures in and out of the park, especially if you're heading up the 395 to take the Tioga Pass, as its closed for snow fall a lot.

    https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/tiogaopen.htm

    We drove the Tioga Pass in a RV in May. We made it halfway across when they shut the road at both ends to new traffic. One of the most amazing yet horrific all at the same time experiences I've ever had lol. Done about 10 miles in 4 hrs in thick blizard conditons.
  • Only been to Kelowna, but the Okanagan is a real hidden gem of a place. Drink lots of local wine is the best advice I can give, but I would imagine you friend will have all the local knowledge you;ll need there.
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  • Do Yosemite - it is absolutely stunning. Try staying in the lodges in the outskirts of the park.

    Also get a convertible Mustang. Great fun to drive!!
  • JohnBoyUK said:

    If you do Yosemite, make sure you check the road closures in and out of the park, especially if you're heading up the 395 to take the Tioga Pass, as its closed for snow fall a lot.

    https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/tiogaopen.htm

    We drove the Tioga Pass in a RV in May. We made it halfway across when they shut the road at both ends to new traffic. One of the most amazing yet horrific all at the same time experiences I've ever had lol. Done about 10 miles in 4 hrs in thick blizard conditons.

    this is why we've decided to go the coastal route in March. we'd originally planned to drive across to lake tahoe and then down but realised we might get stranded
  • SDAddick said:

    JiMMy 85 said:

    So I have a few weeks off between contracts and I figured, fuck it, I am going to fly to Vegas. So today I booked a flight. My plan is to spend a couple of nights in Vegas, then hire a car and drive to LA, then head north to San Fran. Then I am going to fly up to Canada to see a friend for a few days, before flying home for Christmas.

    This is the plan - Fly to Vegas Friday - Barstow - Santa Monica - Santa Maria - Monterey - San Fran - fly to Kelowna/ BC - fly home to London.

    Reason I bring this up - I don't have a clue what I am doing! I am hoping the likes of @NapaAddick and @SDAddick can give me some tips, along with anyone who has done a holiday like this before...

    Mate that's awesome!

    What are the dates you're going (you can DM me and I promise I'll respond)? I'm going down to LA for the holidays and I'm guessing I'm gonna miss you by like a week.

    I can do more detail on this, but
    1) Santa Monica--Yeah, it's beautiful and just nice to wander along the cliff that overlooks the ocean. I also recommend Venice Beach, which isn't too far (by LA standards) south of Santa Monica. The Venice boardwalk is what you've seen in loads of films and it's just fun to wander around. I know it's kind of cliche, but it's one of the touristy things I still enjoy whenever I'm showing people around.

    2) Monterrey: Yes! An absolutely beautiful part of the world. Go to the aquarium. It's absolutely brilliant.

    3) SF: I don't know that I have anything that you wouldn't get in guidebooks really. Eat in Chinatown is probably my one thing. It's a compact city by American standards, so when I've taken people there it's usually just been good to kind of wander around. Everyone else in my family has either spent large chunks of time or lived in SF so I'll ask them.

    I completely agree with the Grand Canyon and Death Valley. The problem is they're well out of the way for what you'll be doing. Yosemite is slightly less out of the way, also absolutely stunning, but I think it's still a good three hour drive from SF. So it's just a question of the time investment.

    I'll come back and update this as I think of stuff. Weed is legal in California if that's your thing. I think a lot of things are legal in Vegas but I'm not much help there. And unfortunately I've never been to Canada.
    Death Valley is a detour from the direct Vegas to Barstow route, but not massively out of the way as it is in the general area, the Grand Canyon is a long drive in the other direction
  • RobRob
    edited December 4
    I live in Walnut Creek which is 20 miles east of San Francisco. A good itinerary. You'll get plenty of good advice on here. When you drive up from LA make sure to use Hwy 1. Spectacular all the way up. Carmel just near Monterey is nice. Clint Eastwood used to be mayor there :). Santa Cruz is a nice seaside town. Plenty of surfing there.

    If you fancy a beer while you're in San Francisco let me know.

  • RobRob
    edited December 4
    Things to do in San Francisco. Alcatraz is definitely recommended. You'll get there on a boat from Fisherman's Wharf so you'll see that as well. Fisherman's Walk is interesting to walk along and people watch. Good seafood restaurants. You must try the crab if you like that kind of thing. You could do Alcatraz and Fisherman's Wharf in a day. If you wanted you could get to Fisherman's Wharf on a Cable Car which is a real San Francisco experience. Pick that up at the junction of Powell and Market Streets and experience the steep San Francisco streets and go over to Fisherman's Wharf.

    For another day - Leave early ish. Drive over the Golden Gate Bridge. A great vista point on the Marin side for photos. Hope the weather is clear. From there you could drive up past San Quentin prison and then go on to Napa Valley for the day. You could even stay up there the night somewhere and come back to San Francisco the next day but you'd be able to do it in a day if you preferred. The Napa Valley is beautiful and try some wine tasting. There's also another place up there called Sonoma. A quaint little town with a bit of California history. There's an old Mission there and it also has wine tasting. You could manage that if you decided to stay the night somewhere. If you do stay the night Calistoga in the Napa Valley is a quaint little town to stay and then back to San Francisco via Sonoma on the way back.

    Regarding flying from San Francisco. Oakland is another airport you could fly from if that was more convenient. From downtown San Francisco it's much the same distance wise to San Francisco airport or Oakland airport.

    Like i said, if you fancy a beer in San Francisco let me know.

    Cheers. Rob
  • Advice on Yosemite. Winter is not the best time to visit.

    From google -

    Spring is by far the best time to visit Yosemite Valley. In May the waterfalls are at their peak, the wildflowers are blooming, and the summer crowds have not yet arrived. Daytime temperatures are often divine, but be prepared for chilly temperatures at night.
  • Rob said:

    Advice on Yosemite. Winter is not the best time to visit.

    From google -

    Spring is by far the best time to visit Yosemite Valley. In May the waterfalls are at their peak, the wildflowers are blooming, and the summer crowds have not yet arrived. Daytime temperatures are often divine, but be prepared for chilly temperatures at night.

    Absolutely this. We was in Yosemite in May and we froze our tits off at night. Could only have the RV generator on over certain hours and had to be off by 9pm. I'd left one of the storage flaps open by mistake and it left a bloody draft right under our bed. It was -3 that night!!! have never ever been so bloody cold lol.

    Mirror Lake was only half full when we went, which was a bit gutting!
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