US - Los Angeles/San Francisco and Las Vegas


nemesis32

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#1
Dear all

Before I start, let me say that I have gone through the thread on US but it's not very organised and helpful so I decided to start a new thread. :embrass:

1) Trip date - Mid Sept to early Oct, likely 2 full weeks, inlcuding flight time, so about 12 Days.
2) No. of people - 2 (Me and my wife)
3) Transport - likely self-drive by my wife (I have no license!:embrass:) and public transport.
4) Location/Itinerary - Undecided (hence the thread).
5) Flight - SQ - (point redemption) - Can be SF/LAX or both (open jaw)... so flexible.
6) Purpose - Shopping (my wife), Photography (me).... sightsee/makan etc.
7) Pace - Not too hectic since only my wife driving and we like to take it slow.
8) Accomodation - preferably 4-5 stars... If can afford.. :bsmilie:

Ok, so that's the tentative information I have. Question time.. :)

1) Unlikely to cover SF/LA and LV in this trip. Probably choose between SF+LA or LA+LV. Anyone has any suggestions?
Possible options are:
a) SF (go north to Napa valley etc and maybe cover yosemite) - fly in/out SF.
b) SF/LA (coastal drive from SF to LA and maybe to San Diego) - Fly in SF, out from LA.
c) LA/LV/LA - Fly in LA, go LV/Grand Canyon, back to LA and fly out.

Which will be better for Photography during Sept/Oct?
For Shopping - I guess all comparable as long as we can find outlets ? LOL

Appreciate all help! TIA!;p
 

bitez

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#2
Hi nemesis,

Hubby n I just went to the same areas as what you planned in march/apr for 20 days incl flight time.

Our itinerary in order:
3 days SF (incl 1 day tour to Yosemite), drive down along the coast,
1 day Muir woods, gilroy,
1 day Monterey
1 day Cambria
3 days LA (2D Disneyland)
Fly to Vegas 5D (incl grand canyon, lots of shopping n musicals)
Fly back to LA 3D (universal studios n Camarillo factory outlet shopping)

I think we had a 50-50 of photography opportunities n shopping Cus I love both activities! :D My hubby n I enjoyed Yosemite and the Coastal region of Monterey n Cambria the most.. :)

Bring your own gps, key in the destinations of where you Wana drive to n save it in the gps before you leave sg, it'd b easier dat way. I can drive but I let my hubby do the driving Cus the ppl in the states drive so fast especially in the city area! So hopefully your wife will b mentally prepared..

For domestic flights we took southwest, $29/pax each way so its easier n less taxing to fly instead of driving 5 hrs from LA to Vegas we feel..

Hope this helps!
 

nemesis32

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#3
Hi Bitez...

Thanks for the detailed response. Still trying to decide if driving to GC or SF as only my wife drive. So envy that you guys have 20 days! we only have maybe 2 weeks max including flying so definitely can't do as much. Just a couple of questions on your trip:
1) How's the driving from SF to Yosemite? Did you guys stay overnight in Yosemite?
2) Muir wood seems quite far north, I never heard of it... is it nice? Anything nice about gilroy, i realise you prob drive pass it to LA?
3) For Grand Canyon, what did you guys do and how much time you spent?

Thanks!
 

bitez

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#4
Hi Bitez...

Thanks for the detailed response. Still trying to decide if driving to GC or SF as only my wife drive. So envy that you guys have 20 days! we only have maybe 2 weeks max including flying so definitely can't do as much. Just a couple of questions on your trip:
1) How's the driving from SF to Yosemite? Did you guys stay overnight in Yosemite?
2) Muir wood seems quite far north, I never heard of it... is it nice? Anything nice about gilroy, i realise you prob drive pass it to LA?
3) For Grand Canyon, what did you guys do and how much time you spent?

Thanks!
no problem, some of the CS peeps also helped me loads when i was researching for our trip... so its time to give back :) haha we saved all our leaves from last year and this year.. this was our honeymoon actually.. :p

1) we didnt drive from SF to Yosemite, we took a day tour from extranomical.com... luckily we didnt drive on our own cus there was a snow storm (freaking snow storm in Spring?!) and a few mud slides on our way to Yosemite, and visibility was bad. takes abt 2 hours there, and 3 hours back cus of the bad weather.. we opted the easy way out for Yosemite cus there was so much to plan and driving, so i didnt wanna tax us more by driving ourselves to Yosemite. I heard it would be nice to stay at one of the cabins in Yosemite as well, but too bad i only planned 3 days in SF, so no time as well to extend..

2) Muir woods is not very far north, about 1 hour from union square.. if u like nature, tall redwood forest you should like it here.. a change from the usual bustling city.. http://www.nps.gov/muwo/index.htm
We went Gilroy for the factory outlets.. :p btw, if ure intending to head to the factory outlets, register yourself as one of the vip members (foc) so that you can print a set of coupons, and also exchange for a more current set of coupons at the information booth there.. www.premiumoutlets.com

3) we took a day tour for Grand Canyon too cus we didnt have a car in Vegas. abt 5 hrs drive to Grand Canyon and 5 hours back.. Err, we watched a IMAX show which was ok... and walked around the South Rim, or rather, bits of the South Rim.. if i could do it again, i would opt to stay a night at the Grand Canyon, and hike down to the floor.. and if i could go again, I would opt to go to the Antelope Canyons.. its beautiful! from the pictures of course..

if you wanna shop crazily, shop at Vegas, 2 factory outlets there and a fashion show mall as well.. taxes are the lowest there among the 3 cities at 8.1%... Try to limit your number of driving hours per day to 4 hours.. we took 4 hours to drive from Cambria to Anaheim in LA, hubby was quite shagged that day from all the concentration and me trying to understand the gps.. use google map to plan out your route, can agar agar see the duration you'll have to drive..

no problem, if u have any more qns, there are lots more experts here to advise! :)
 

bodhi

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#5
i would suggest the following route

if you want to focus on landscape:
san francisco
napa valley
yosemite np (great place)
maybe mono lake

but for 2 weeks i would take THIS route:
san francisco
highway 1
los angeles (santa barbara, malibu, santa monica and stuff)
san diego

in my opinion its a nice but still relaxed tour without any hustle
it includes land- and cityscape and a lot great places

have fun there & good journey
 

qwerty125

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Apr 15, 2008
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#6
bitez,

I'm glad you enjoyed your honeymoon and took my advice to take day tours for Yosemite and Grand Canyon. Self driving is only recommended if you intend to stay overnight at these 2 places. Otherwise, it's too much of a rush, especially so for the Grand Canyon.
 

bitez

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#7
qwerty125 said:
bitez,

I'm glad you enjoyed your honeymoon and took my advice to take day tours for Yosemite and Grand Canyon. Self driving is only recommended if you intend to stay overnight at these 2 places. Otherwise, it's too much of a rush, especially so for the Grand Canyon.
Hi qwerty!
Yes, thanks to your very detailed itinerary, we managed to plan n enjoy a relatively hassle free trip in the States! :) :) Other than the last minute changing of flights due to the radiation in Japan, everything went well!

And yup, agreed on the driving to Yosemite n Grand Canyon..
 

nemesis32

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#8
Hi Bitez

Thanks again for the great help :)
I think we more or less decided to drive up or down central coast between SF and LA. For LV, we may just take an internal flight to cut down on driving. For Yosemite, I am quite keen on going but i think day trip is probably too rush so maybe will skip unless we drive. Muir woods look interesting and we will consider visiting if we decided to drive up north to Napa valley etc.
 

nemesis32

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Hi Bodhi,

Ya, i think option 2 is more likely, thinking of staying maybe in Monterey and Santa Barbara etc. :)
 

nathaniel

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#10
am heading out to Yosemite (from LA / Pasadena) tomorrow morning... heard it's a 6hr drive. booked two nights near the southern entrance (at Oakhurst) and one night at the entrance near Mariposa. couldn't get a hotel booking inside the park (as it's really busy in the summer), but at least these two hotels seem to have free wifi :) . hope to see mono lake if time permits, and thinking of heading back via the coastal route.
 

nathaniel

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#12
save some time for mono lake, you would regret it if you miss sunrise at mono lake
hope you have a nice trip
thanks. yesterday, i was up at glacier point - brilliant views of the waterfalls there... saw a bear on the way there (people stopped their cars on both sides of the 2-lane road just to take photos). saw a deer, wolf(?), and a chipmunk. went to the giant sequoias part as well. melting snow still remains in the last couple of miles on the way up to glacier point (though it's already mid-june).
 

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#13
Highway 1 is recently opened - was closed till 10th June for road slide reconstruction or something.

I juz did the drive from SF to LA few days ago, and my advice is to take at least 1 night in between, better still if you can get 2. With 1 night, I can barely cover all the scenic points (less morro bay) but cant go into the state reserves at all.

For overnights, I guess Monterey and perhaps Morro Bay or Santa Barbara.

Also, if you intend to stop @ mcway falls, do note that there is NO vista point from the car. You must stop and walk abit to see it. I had to give it a miss as I realise this abit too far from where it is. Pretty much everywhere else, if there's a vista point, there's probably something meaningful to see, if not, just stop where you find the sceneries are nice :) It's a really enjoyable trip, especially if there's no fog during the travel
 

nemesis32

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#14
Thanks everyone for their contribution. I have yet to finalise my trip but i think this thread is good for anyone going to west coast of USA so keep it going! :) Cheers!
 

nathaniel

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#15
i just took the drive from Gilroy to Monterey to Morro Bay then to LA (8+ hrs including stops) on Wed. yes, highway 1 is open, but there is still some construction going on. some parts are just one lane, so i encountered at least 2 traffic lights that are red for 5-15 mins intervals. it's a really LONG drive, so many people cut short the coastal part of the drive from SF to LA to just the stretch between Monterey and Morro Bay. if it's only one driver, i suggest splitting it into 2 days, or just driving to Monterey (the view approaching Monterey is great). you could also drive maybe 10-30 mins past Monterey, make a U-turn at one of the turn-outs, and then drive back to SF. Between SF and Monterey, if you or your wife like factory outlet shopping, like the 2nd post says, take a side-trip to Gilroy - lots of great deals from Coach, Timberland, etc.

Las Vegas / Grand Canyon is quite a long drive (for one driver), so it might be better to take a flight there (if you have the budget). i haven't been to either yet, but may make a trip there later this year.

I liked Yosemite slightly more than the coastal drive. Views were great, though i missed the sunrise/sunsets (think of the orange colours of the sunset casting a golden hue on the waterfalls) as well as the rainbows in the falls (i think you have to get closer to the falls for that. note that some waterfalls require hiking to get close. if you want to get really really close, you'll need a raincoat). was glad to see some wildlife - a chipmunk, a few deers, a coyote/fox/wild dog (?), and 2 bears (by the way, they are dangerous and even break into parked cars if you leave food in them--food needs to be kept in bear-proof canisters according to the notices in the park). Glacier point has great views, but you need to take a very winding road up. it's also closed for a large part of the year (due to snow, i think). For entering Yosemite, i think the route into the park via Mariposa is the easiest (the other two - the south entrance and the tioga pass go through more mountains). I heard the Tioga pass has nice views, but did not have time to go there. if you don't like driving through mountains, then maybe go back via Mariposa. otherwise, try entering the park via Mariposa (highway 140) and leaving back for SF via the Tioga pass road (highway 120). in this case, one possible itinerary might be:

SF - Monterey - 30 mins coastal drive & back to Monterey - Gilroy - Mariposa - Yosemite Valley - Tioga pass road - SF
 

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agape01

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Currently, I am living in SF so if you want Nemesis32, you can look me up and if you really want, I can still bring you into Yosemite FOC. PM me for more if you like.
 

daredevil123

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#17
Hi Bodhi,

Ya, i think option 2 is more likely, thinking of staying maybe in Monterey and Santa Barbara etc. :)
If staying at these 2 locations, please book hotels in advance. They get filled up really quick. Monterey hotels also depends a lot on where you want to stay. You can stay in the city area itself, the doubletree near fisherman's wharf is quite good. But there are a lot of small quaint hotels there as well. Or you can opt to stay near scenic waterfront in Carmel or on Pebble beach itself.

As for driving, the fastest routes from SF to Monterey to LA are the most boring ones. Hwy 101 all the way down to Hwy 880S then down Hwy 17 to Santa Cruz, then from Santa Cruz Hwy 1 to Monterey. If going to Gilroy first, then 101S to Leavesly road exit (Gilroy outlets). Then from Gilroy to Monterey you will take 101S then 156W then Hwy 1 to Monterey.

If you intend to see sights along the way, Take Hwy 1 from SF to Monterey. Will take your breath away, but will also waste a lot of time. And it is not an easy Hwy to drive on, especially if you get stuck behind a slow truck on the one lane Hwy.

As for LA, I never enjoyed LA for its sights. I usually go there only to visit friends staying there. Disneyland, and Universal Studios gets old after a while. If you enjoy rides, might as well stop over in San Jose (aka Silicon Valley) and go to Paramount Great America theme park. But please check timings, I think theme parks will close for winter Oct or Nov.

As for Vegas, book rooms direct on the internet. You can get very good deals. I usually stay at Luxor or Excaliber, and on weekdays, I can usually get rooms that cost below US$80 a night. The cheapest I ever got was Luxor at US$59 a night (twice too).
 

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nathaniel

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#18
As for LA, I never enjoyed LA for its sights. I usually go there only to visit friends staying there. Disneyland, and Universal Studios gets old after a while. If you enjoy rides, might as well stop over in San Jose (aka Silicon Valley) and go to Paramount Great America theme park. But please check timings, I think theme parks will close for winter Oct or Nov.
am living near LA in Pasadena now. doesn't seem like there's a lot to see (haven't been to Disneyland or Universal Studios yet, though). so far, have been to Santa Monica pier and then to the Hollywood Bowl overlook at Mulholland Drive for a night view of the city and the 4th of July fireworks. that's about it... can't think of much else nearby to see (still looking around for ideas).
 

wayne900

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#19
i'm planning for my honeymoon to LAX too this Sept. Will reach there on 17th and back on 1st Oct. So far nothing is planned yet.

Now i am also having headache. Not sure if i should cover LAX, SF and LV. Have decided to get a car. Either I drive to Vegas from LAX and fly to SF from Vegas and from SF fly back LAX for my flight back to singapore.

If you have your itnerary already, care to share it?
 

agape01

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#20
i'm planning for my honeymoon to LAX too this Sept. Will reach there on 17th and back on 1st Oct. So far nothing is planned yet.

Now i am also having headache. Not sure if i should cover LAX, SF and LV. Have decided to get a car. Either I drive to Vegas from LAX and fly to SF from Vegas and from SF fly back LAX for my flight back to singapore.

If you have your itnerary already, care to share it?
Question for you to consider is how much shopping do you really want to do as well as how much of your trip is planned for photography.
 

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