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Fly Drive Itinerary SF, Yosemite, Coast, Las Vegas and GC

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Fly Drive Itinerary SF, Yosemite, Coast, Las Vegas and GC

Hi all,

My future wife and I are mid 30's and looking to do a Fly Drive starting in SFO and ending at the Grand Canyon, flying home to London probably from Las Vegas as no realy diff in £. We are into food, wine, sights, culture - just amazing experiences really and for those that know it, had a wonderful time exploring the Garden Route in South Africa and want to do something similar and we also love city breaks, NY being a regular. We are happy to do a few day hikes but this is a holiday, so some chilled beach/reading time also good. We were thinking of doing this probably in September '14, plan to do just over two weeks to get it all in!

Budget isn't really an issue, but want to stay in nice, comfortable accommodation, but likely want to eat out so B&B is fine too and my future wife will not be camping for more than a single night and "it had better be worth it"!

First things first is the itinerary thoughts: Fly into SFO and do 4 nights, get hire car (you have all made it clear it's pointless before!) and drive to Yosemite for 3 nights, then head to the Coast - maybe to Santa Cruz for lunch/pm, then to Monterey/Carmel for 2 nights, then drive Big Sur etc. and 1 night in Cambria, 1 night in Santa Barbara. We are not fussed about LA at all so then want to head to Las Vegas for 2 nights and GC for 3 nights to end our holiday. Does this cover the main things? should we add other bits or tweak the time spent?

In terms of getting from Santa Barbara to LV i thought we could drop hire car at LAX and fly and pick up another at LV. Then the final question is do we drive to GC or fly? If we drove we would have a day and a half in LV and then leave early to get to GC having then 2 full days after this, leave the following day for the return journey to LAS and fly home at 21:15.

It's full on but happy to miss LA to see GC! I drive 3 hours a day round trip to work so the distances don't phase me, as long as we have some good scenery! I just don't know if DVNP is worth seeing or not?

Secondly, should we do this ourselves independently (we did SA ourselves, so not put off!) or do through a specialist like Trail finders?

Thanks all


San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
34,027 posts
143 reviews
1. Re: Fly Drive Itinerary SF, Yosemite, Coast, Las Vegas and GC

This is fine please look at each forum for ideas on what to do and where to stay. You can read reviews and find the best hotels in your budget in each area. pacific grove or Carmel would be a good B&B spot. Please drive from LV to GC. That part is outside CA so please check that forum. Yosemite hotels Rez book up a year in advance so please reserve a room now

Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
Level Contributor
47,219 posts
92 reviews
2. Re: Fly Drive Itinerary SF, Yosemite, Coast, Las Vegas and GC

I think the overall itinerary looks great.

If you don't want to drive to Nevada / Arizona, how about flying from an L.A. area airport (there are several!) to Phoenix PHX, then driving to the South Rim of Grand Canyon NP. If you have time, spend a night or two in lovely Sedona. Then drive to Las Vegas for the last part of your trip. As a foreign visitor, you won't pay that pesky one way drop fee that US residents have to pay ($250 - $500!)

>>I just don't know if DVNP is worth seeing or not?<<

Absolutely worth it. Maybe plan a night away from Las Vegas, a day trip from Las Vegas, or a totally different end to your itinerary (Santa Barbara - DVNP - Las Vegas - GCHP - PHX/Phoenix)

>>should we do this ourselves independently<<

Definitely. Folks on each city/destination forum can help you choose lodgings that suit your travel style & budget AND are in good locations. Read those Top Questions on the right side, read relevant threads, look at hotel reviews, then ask for assistance. TA 'forumites' enjoy helping folks develop their own personalized itinerary.

San Francisco...
Level Contributor
3,794 posts
137 reviews
3. Re: Fly Drive Itinerary SF, Yosemite, Coast, Las Vegas and GC

Lots of "chilled beaches" in SF Bay Area. Warmer beaches in Orange County and San Diego area if you just want to drive through LA.

San Diego...
Level Contributor
9,094 posts
33 reviews
4. Re: Fly Drive Itinerary SF, Yosemite, Coast, Las Vegas and GC

If you aren't interested in Los Angeles, you could just do SF -> Santa Cruz -> Monterey -> Big Sur -> Monterey -> Yosemite -> Lee Vining -> Mammoth Lakes -> Lone Pine -> Death Valley -> Las Vegas -> Grand Canyon -> Las Vegas.

How far down into Big Sur you want to go is up to you. At least go to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and then turn around and go back north. Be sure to set aside at least 4 hours for Point Lobos State Natural Reserve near Carmel.

Death Valley will still be hot in September, so if you go there make your visit there as early in the morning as you can.

For the Grand Canyon, if all you want to do is look at it from the viewpoints on the rim, stay 1 night there. If you want to hike down into it or take a mule ride down into it, stay 2 nights there. Don't go to the Skywalk. Don't bother with the helicopter tour. Drive to Grand Canyon National Park.

If you want to actually swim in the ocean, go to San Diego.

Here is a travelogue of the central California coast: https:/…5621071823861282305

And one of the eastern Sierra region: travelswithbillandnancy.com/eastern_sierras.…

Uden, The...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
60,605 posts
42 reviews
5. Re: Fly Drive Itinerary SF, Yosemite, Coast, Las Vegas and GC

Most scenic stretch of hw1 is between Monterey and Cambria. You could drive from Cambria to GCNP in 1.5 days, visit GCNP (reservations needed www.grandcanyonlodges.com ) and drive to Las Vegas after that spending the last days there. You also can drive from Cambria to Death Valley NP, stay overnight and to Las Vegas and GC after that.

6. Re: Fly Drive Itinerary SF, Yosemite, Coast, Las Vegas and GC

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