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West Coast trip, puzzled Europeans - advice?

London, United...
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West Coast trip, puzzled Europeans - advice?

Hello!

We (a couple of 25 year olds from UK) are thinking about spending some time travelling along the Canadian/U.S. west coast this autumn, and we could really use some advice. This is our plan at the moment:

1. Oct 12 - flying into Vancouver

2. Oct 12-24 - staying in Vancouver, exploring the surrounding areas etc.

3. Oct 24 - train to Seattle

4. Oct 24-25 - staying in Seattle (a bit of a forced visit as we cannot get to the Seattle-San Francisco train in time otherwise)

5. Oct 25 - train to San Francisco (24 hours, we arrive San Francisco on the 26th at around 10am)

6. Oct 26-Nov 1 - staying in San Francisco, visiting Yosemite, lake Tahoe, anything else we can reach.

7. Nov 1 - flying to Las Vegas

8. Nov 1-7 - staying in Las Vegas, visiting Grand Canyon as well

9. Nov 7 - flying to Los Angeles / Anaheim for a 3-day conference

10. Nov 7-10 - staying in Anaheim

11. Nov 10 - train to San Diego

12. Nov 10-12 - staying in San Diego

13. Nov 12 - flying out of San Diego

Have we screwed anything up? Is there something you definitely would/would not do? We like to do a mix of city- and nature-exploring, probably somewhere around the 40%-60% mark. We would not be renting a car, but we have allocated a reasonable (at least we think so... ~$12k) budget for this, so we have some flexibility. This is a rather special occasion, so any criticism or ideas would be much appreciated.

We have never been to the U.S. west coast and only spent a week in the U.S. in our lives, so please pardon any ignorance!

Thank you very much :)

San Francisco...
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1. Re: West Coast trip, puzzled Europeans - advice?

If you use the search box in TA and look for the road trips forum, you can post your question there as this is the California forum, You have a short visit. Any reason to rely on Amtrak vs a flight from Seattle to california.

6. Oct 26-Nov 1 - staying in San Francisco, visiting Yosemite, lake Tahoe, anything else we can reach.

You may want to map it out. You have 4 days in SF and YNP is at least a 2-3 day trip not worth a 9 hour drive as a round trip. Same goes with Lake Tahoe 8 to 9 hour round trip.

I would try and reduce the number of places you want to cover given the time you have.

Do you not want to drive and see the CA coast

Check the TOP QUESTIONS on the California forum for a lot of info

Edited: 5:46 pm, June 22, 2014
2. Re: West Coast trip, puzzled Europeans - advice?

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Elk Grove...
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3. Re: West Coast trip, puzzled Europeans - advice?

This is not quite a road trip either. Flying or train from city to city. :)

Those seemed to be the destinations you want. San Francisco, Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Diego. Doesn't see a lot of "nature". More cities.

What advice you are looking for? The number of days in each city seemed about right. Except in Las Vegas - seems a little bit long. (Can use time to tour another city or something.)

Also, there is a big stretch of California that offers nature scenes from one town to another, such as along California coast. But maybe difficult to visit without a packaged tour or self driving.

Washington State
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4. Re: West Coast trip, puzzled Europeans - advice?

Maybe you don't know how to drive?

Are you fans of trains? Flying from SEA to SFO is easy and fast. Views are pretty good as well!

If you can drive, spend a few days in SF then get the car. Drive to Monterey for at least 1 night, maybe 2. Drive to Yosemite for at least one night. Drive over Tioga Pass (assuming it's open) and on to Lone Pine. Drive thru Death Valley NP and to Las Vegas. SF to Las Vegas: tripadvisor.com/Travel-g28926-c200326

From Las Vegas, either drive to the South Rim and stay a night, then drive to Anaheim... OR ... take a bus or fixed wing flight to GCNP. If you choose grandcanyonwest, know what you're buying. Details on the Las Vegas forum's Top Questions.

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5. Re: West Coast trip, puzzled Europeans - advice?

I agree that you seem to be in Las Vegas for a long time. Las Vegas hotels can be reasonably priced & you don't have to spend a lot there on meals. On several occasions I have driven to Grand Canyon National Park (the South Rim). From Las Vegas once I took the Grayline bus tour of another section of the canyon, "the Western Rim". The same company offers tours of the South Rim. A lot of people are very negative towards the West Rim because it costs more than the national park, it is not as beautiful, and it is very undeveloped without rangers, ranger talks, restaurants, or guard rails. It is however closer to Las Vegas and it can be seen by helicopter (& bus). If you do the bus trip it is a long day for either one of the trips. I think you would be happy with either trip. Both locations are dramatic, but fairly remote.

Anaheim is not a great location for seeing LA, but I guess you have to be there. Outside of Disneyland and going to sporting events, I find the area a little dull.

San Diego
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6. Re: West Coast trip, puzzled Europeans - advice?

The only reason to stay in Anaheim is if Disneyland and California Adventure are on you agenda. It is 1 hr. south of LA and is not the city of LA at all!

I also wonder why you are taking the train from Seattle to San Francisco?

It is not necessarily a scenic route and flying is soooo fast and easy!

7. Re: West Coast trip, puzzled Europeans - advice?

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LA
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8. Re: West Coast trip, puzzled Europeans - advice?

Nearly two weeks in Vancouver?

You can do some things without renting a car, but I don't see spending all that time exploring the area without a car.

A week in Las Vegas but only 5 to do San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite? That seems wrong to me.

Four nights San Francisco, three nights Yosemite, at least one night on a drive between Yosemite and Las Vegas I what I would recommend. And yes, you need to rent a car for the San Francisco-Las Vegas journey. It is a spectacular drive and October will be a very beautiful time of year with all the leaves changing in the Sierras.

October will also be a beautiful time of year in Orange County, where Anaheim is. The water will still be just warm enough to splash in and the beaches are glorious.

Yucaipa, California
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9. Re: West Coast trip, puzzled Europeans - advice?

Darrell,

You say you are flying to "Los Angeles/Anaheim". Are you planning to fly into LAX? Anaheim is not in Los Angeles, but in Orange County. The airport in Orange County is in Santa Ana, not too far from Anaheim. It is SNA, otherwise known as John Wayne Airport. The Long Beach Airport is also close to Anaheim. The Anaheim Resort area of the city is where the Anaheim Convention Center and surrounding hotels are. (Across from Disneyland Resort.)

If you decide you would rather not fly from Las Vegas, but don't want to drive, there is a coach transport called Lux Bus as a possible option. It provides door to door service from select Las Vegas hotels to select Anaheim hotels. There is a limited set daily schedule.

Some helpful info if you are also visiting Disneyland or adding a day to do so prior to your convention. It is likely that ABC will be in the DL on the 8th filming various segments of the Disney Christmas Day Parade Special. They will likely be doing set up on the 7th. However, if you discounted tickets with your convention that are for evening hours or just want to visit the park at night after meetings (assuming meeting are during the day), filming does not typically take place after dark. (Sleeping Beauty's Castle's walkways will be blocked.) Their Christmas celebration with special shows begins typically right after November 11. The weekend prior they sometimes start early shows by doing a "soft opening". So it is possible that the evenings you are there will have Christmas themed fireworks with " snow" after as well a A Christmas Fantasy Parade. They will have most of the holiday decorations up throughout the park.

Edited: 1:17 am, June 23, 2014
Sacramento, CA
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10. Re: West Coast trip, puzzled Europeans - advice?

I would fly Seattle to SF. It will be faster and cheaper and save you a day. Much of the scenic part of the train ride will be passed through in the dark.

If you don't wish to visit Seattle you can fly direct from Vancouver to SFO. Try Alaskan Airlines or Southwest.

5 days is too short for SF-Tahoe-Yosemite.

I would spend a minimum 4 days in SF then rent a car and drive to Tahoe 1 night, Yosemite 2 nights and Las Vegas maximum 3 nights (not a fan of Vegas).

Watch the weather though as snow can be an issue in the High Sierras (Tahoe / Yosemite) in late October.

Edited: 1:31 am, June 23, 2014