Self drive holidays in West Coast USA Page 2

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  • Mike_Hunt 8 Aug 2009 19:41:24 23,513 posts
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    Trowel wrote:
    Mike_Hunt wrote:
    Trowel wrote:
    As you're only there for a week, I wouldn't bother with Vegas - go to San Fran instead and save yourself a lot of time. Vegas is pretty crap unless you're on a stag do.
    See, I really don't get this. You've got a fantastic hotels, nice bars, great places to eat, some fantastic shows and exhibitions, the weather, great pools etc. etc.
    No doubt - it's the other people there who completely ruin the place.
    Well, I guess we must have just been lucky then as we didn't run into any "holiday ruining" people.

    [MH]
  • Deleted user 8 August 2009 19:48:57
    Post deleted
  • terminalterror 8 Aug 2009 20:10:11 18,937 posts
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    ryohazuki1983 wrote:
    One thing is though, the missus doesn't want to stay near the Staples Center as it's classed as "downtown" so wants to stay in hollywood so we can eat out in the evening(s) without fear of being shot.

    I'd imagine that you are as likely to be shot anywhere that has big hotels as anywhere else that has big hotels in LA, i.e. stay out of the poor urban areas you wouldn't be going near anyway and you'll be fine.

    Also, LA is massive. Don't think of it as one city, think of it as about 5 fairly large cities with overlapping suburbs. Just because two places are both in LA doesn't necessarily mean it won't take 2 hours to get between them.
  • Ginger 21 Oct 2009 16:57:20 6,838 posts
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    WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Off to SF tomorrow for 10 days

    /runs around the thrread like a lunatic

    London open taekwondo champion

  • smoothpete 21 Oct 2009 16:58:48 31,507 posts
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    I'd really like to explore the northern pacific coast, oregon, places like that. That's where the Transformers live IIRC
  • StarchildHypocrethes 21 Oct 2009 17:02:58 25,830 posts
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    I've been to the Goonies beach in Oregon.

    I am very jealous of Ginger too. San Francisco is an amazing place.
  • Fletche 2 Dec 2009 14:52:34 3,418 posts
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    After getting a couple of quotes in regards to cost was just wondering if anyone who has flown to America could recommend an Airline, have checked the usual suspects with American Airlines and Delta being the cheapest but just wondered if anyone ever used anyone a little more obscure.
  • corimi 3 Dec 2009 14:09:06 1,311 posts
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    Fletche wrote:
    After getting a couple of quotes in regards to cost was just wondering if anyone who has flown to America could recommend an Airline, have checked the usual suspects with American Airlines and Delta being the cheapest but just wondered if anyone ever used anyone a little more obscure.
    I'm planning a trip as well - someone recommended Trailfinders for getting good flight deals, so that might be worth a look. Not been myself yet.
  • Fletche 5 Jan 2010 10:03:46 3,418 posts
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    Booked our plane tickets yesterday 891 with BA which was easily the best price considering both flights are direct, American Airlines were a little cheaper but with stop-overs.

    So we will be landing in Vegas on the 16th Sep and I am as excited as it is possible to be with so long to go, now need to get all the hotels sorted
  • TheSaint 5 Jan 2010 10:14:45 14,375 posts
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    Tip for Vegas, book the cheapest room you can find at Caesars Palace. Last August I managed to get a basic room on Hotwire for about 50 a night. When you come to check in put a $20 bill in your passport and ask if they have any rooms available in the Augustus or Palace tower and they will upgrade you.

    I read about this online and wasn't sure it would work but didn't have any problems and talked to a few people who did the same thing. The premium rooms in those towers were amazing with great views of the strip and a hot tub. They usually go for about 200 a night on sites like Expedia.
  • Fletche 22 Mar 2010 11:35:11 3,418 posts
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    We are all booked up to go in Sept, flights are paid for, hotels booked, we did it all ourselves instead of going through an agency and save a fair bit, so now, just looking for places along the way that we must visit (according to you EG people)

    Our route is Las Vegas - Grand Canyon - Back to Vegas - Death Valley - Yosemite - San Francisco - Monterey - Santa Monica - LA. Obviously we are researching like mad but, apart from the obvious places to visit (Hoover dam, Mono lake, route 66) can anyone recommend anything we may otherwise miss?
  • corimi 22 Mar 2010 13:17:28 1,311 posts
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    Fletche wrote:
    Our route is Las Vegas - Grand Canyon - Back to Vegas - Death Valley - Yosemite - San Francisco - Monterey - Santa Monica - LA. Obviously we are researching like mad but, apart from the obvious places to visit (Hoover dam, Mono lake, route 66) can anyone recommend anything we may otherwise miss?
    We got back a couple of weeks ago from a trip to Mexico, then drove from LA - Seattle. It was ace, you'll love it :)

    We stayed in Santa Cruz instead of Monterey, it's cool from a rundown-ish resort point of view, plus it has the funfair from the Lost Boys. Supposedly the aquarium there is the business, but we didn't have time to go. Worth a stop and wander along the pier for some clam chowder.

    The countryside and coastline around Big Sur is really nice, make sure you go along Route 1 as much as you can (I'm sure you're planning this anyway).

    Another place to check out if you have time is Hearst Castle - there are half day trips you can go on. Again we didn't have the time though but stopped off to check it out from a distance.

    I'd maybe skip Santa Monica as it's pretty much just the outskirts of LA and about 45 mins drive to Hollywood. You could instead go somewhere like Solvang in wine country for the night, the drive to LA the following day wouldn't be too long.
  • Fletche 22 Mar 2010 14:26:30 3,418 posts
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    Hearst Castle looks great, thanks for that, we will be driving south on Route 1 as much as possible, really could be the highlight of the whole holiday for me.
  • TheSaint 22 Mar 2010 14:30:25 14,375 posts
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    Hearst Castle is impressive, we stayed at Cambria a few miles down the road which was really nice and had a hotel right on the beach.

    A few miles up the coast was a deserted beach full of Elephant seals which was also really impressive. Route 1 is an amazing drive just make sure not to rush as you will want to keep stopping around Big Sur.
  • Grunk 27 Jul 2010 12:58:13 4,718 posts
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    Okay Folks,
    I'm after some advice from the guys that have done the west coast trip.

    We're going in a little over 3 weeks and it's for our honeymoon (we didn't go last year when we got married).

    The Likely route is:

    Vegas
    Death Valley
    Mammoth
    Tahoe (or Yosemite)
    San Fran
    Then North to Seattle (up the coast road)
    (Going to end up going to PAX).
    Because of the fact that it's going to be 40+ in death valley I went for the SUV option instead of convertable (air con).

    Questions:
    We've booked a hotel in Las vegas, but nothing else, might be tempted to book San Fran ahead of time,
    Do we need to book accomodation in advance? or can we just pitch up and ask for a room somewhere?

    Any recommendations of things to do and see on the route?
    Any recommendations of places to stay? Especially in the more out of the way areas like death valley and up the 101?





  • Mike_Hunt 27 Jul 2010 21:21:06 23,513 posts
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    I went on a different route. Vegas > LA > Santa Barbara > San Fran > Yosemite > Death Valley > Back to Vegas.

    However, some advice. Based on personal experience, don't stay in Death Valley. Most places in and around the area are holes, and there really is *nothing* there (I know shock, but seriously, if you stop in a town near death valley, expect to be bored).

    For Death Valley, aim to get their early on, spend the day there until the sun sets (as you get some amazing views), and then as soon as it'd down, put some miles behind you and get a long way towards Yosemite. You should be able to get far enough so you've not got far to go to get to Yosemite the next day.

    For example - we stayed at the Amargosa Opera House which had fairly decent reviews. Man it was terrible. No food after 8pm, and nothing nearby to eat. We had to drive miles to find a casino which still served food. The bedrooms were rotten, and the included "continental breakfast" was a pre-packed mini muffin and some tap water!

    Aim for about 2 to 3 days in Yosemite - but book accommodation. If you go peak season then all of the half decent places will disappear fast. I know this removes some of the 'freedom', but there are some really dodgy places that call themselves 'hotels'.

    I'd aim to spend at least 2 days, ideally 3, in San Fran. We stayed at the Parc 55 hotel. It's really central, quite reasonably priced, and very plush. Definitely check it out, I highly recommend it. We "biked the bridge" which was pretty good - you get bikes for the day and can see most of San Fran that way. Bike across the bridge and then get the ferry back. Obviously there's the Rock, which is also worth seeing. You should easily be able to fill a few days there, and there's pleanty of nightlife near your hotel.

    Erm, other tips? We were doing a lot of driving and tending to spend a whole day in a place and then get to the next destination fairly late on. The problem with this is that everywhere in America seems to stop serving food at 9:30/10pm. It's really odd. Even in Vegas we couldn't find anywhere other than a Maccy Ds to eat after 10. It's not so bad if you're staying at a decent hotel who will have room service, but if you're in a smaller town, make sure you get there at a decent time if you want a proper meal.

    Enjoy mate, I hope you can make sense of the waffle!

    [MH]
  • Fletche 28 Jul 2010 14:25:15 3,418 posts
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    Yeah, we decided against staying at Death Valley, now going further on to Lone Pine but will be taking the Badwater Road route through death valley from Vegas, few more sights to see going that way and will have a nights rest before heading on to Yosemite, also will now be a shorter drive.

    Sept 16th can't come fast enough!
  • Khanivor 28 Jul 2010 18:24:56 40,741 posts
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    Restaurants indeed stop serving food rather early. So get thyself to a bar where most will serve food up till 30 minutes or so before closing.
  • iokthemonkey 28 Jul 2010 20:03:04 4,664 posts
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    Just live on Twinkies and Slim Jims.

    You'll be living the dream!

    http://that-figures.blogspot.com/

  • iokthemonkey 28 Jul 2010 20:03:29 4,664 posts
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    Or you could just eat at the Waffle House.

    http://that-figures.blogspot.com/

  • Grunk 29 Jul 2010 14:31:25 4,718 posts
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    I think we will be staying either in Furnace Creek or Lone pine.

    Is it pretty straightforward to buy a map, drive up tothe base of a short trail (2-3 miles) and go for a walk?

    Or it not recommended?

    We might have to skip Yosemite in favour of Tahoe, since it's meant to be pretty booked out during high season. And anyway on streetview it just looks like trees.
  • Fletche 29 Jul 2010 15:00:27 3,418 posts
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    Go to Lone Pine, you can scout the town for me :o)
  • Fletche 15 Sep 2010 07:23:08 3,418 posts
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    Can't believe I started this thread in July '09, was just something we were thinking about at the time but after many months of planning, tomorrow we head off on down to Heathrow and board my plane heading for Vegas, just need to get through one more day of work and I am finally off! Getting really excited now!
  • Deleted user 15 September 2010 08:41:52
    Excellent work, which route are you going to go?
  • Big-Swiss 15 Sep 2010 08:44:25 8,087 posts
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    have fun! if you drive by Modesto at any time, tell that place "hi" from me!
  • Fletche 15 Sep 2010 08:58:10 3,418 posts
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    mcbi4kh2 wrote:
    Excellent work, which route are you going to go?

    Vegas - Grand Canyon - Vegas - Lone Pine - Yosemite - San Fransisco - Monterey - Cambria - LA :o)
  • Grunk 11 Apr 2011 14:40:27 4,718 posts
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    Hey guys,

    So after last years trip, which was excellent, it turns out we're heading back to vegas for a wedding.

    After having an awesome time in San Fran, we've decided to go there first, and hang around in California for a week, before flying to Vegas.

    Decided against driving as the only route we wanted to do was the tioga pass, which doesn't open until june usually.

    So I am looking for somewhere to spend 3-4 days near SF, currently heading up to Napa to guzzle some wine, then got 4 days to kill.

    Was thinking of spending a couple of nights in Monterey but I have no idea what to do with the other 2?
    Is Santa Cruz nice?

    Are there any other places on route 1 or 101 between SF and Monterey that we should check out?
  • Fletche 11 Apr 2011 14:54:04 3,418 posts
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    Santa Cruz was ok but a bit British sea-sidey, fun for a day though, saying that, when we went it was really quiet on the boardwalk. Make sure you check out Moss Landing, it isn't far from Monterey but it is the most secluded beach I have ever been on, at first you won't think there is much there apart from a Power Station but take a short walk over the dunes and the beach just opens up.

    We stayed in Monterey a couple of days so please feel free to view Mrs' Fletche's trip reports:

    Monterey
    We stayed here
  • Grunk 11 Apr 2011 15:01:15 4,718 posts
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    Cool, thanks for the link.

    What did you think of Lone Pine?
    We thought it was strange in a good way, and the food was very cheap compared to everywhere we stayed. Although the Motel we stayed in was a bit smelly.
  • Fletche 11 Apr 2011 15:05:57 3,418 posts
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    I loved Lone Pine but we didn't really have enough time there as it was just a stop-over between Vegas and Yosemite, motel was very basic but lovely views and a great American small town feel to it
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