California

I’m thinking about doing a road trip; family of four with two boys 14 and 10 by the time we go next year.

Yosemite, San Fran, Los Angeles and possibly Las Vegas springs to mind.

Anyone got any suggestions and routes we could take.

Thanks.


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CarbonMike

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Personally id start from LAX an pick up the car. Id avoid staying in down town LA as its not all that & the traffic there is a mare! Id stay in Santa Monica on the coast or somewhere like that. Hotel parking in LA varies from $15 to $30 a night depending on where you stay.

The drive from LA to Vegas takes about 4hrs but its a nice drive through the desert. Again, parking at every casino is plentiful but can be costly. Always self park as valet parking will cost even more! Rooms are cheap in Vegas as there hundreds avaliable on any given day.

Never been to San Fran so cant comment...

Not been to Yosemite yet as going next year but our agent reckons you need to book accomodation early as it gets very busy come end of May onwards.

If youve never driven in America its a sinch compared to the UK. Do a quick read up before you go, things like the move over law, turning thru some NOT all red lights etc 4 way stops blah blah.

Ive driven across a whole lot of America on various holidays (been to 20 states + DC)

We always plan a route on google maps first, then start looking things to do along the way then find hotels accordingly depending on distances.
 
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CarbonMike

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A quick look on google maps would suggest starting in LA then east to Vegas, north west thru Death Valley to Yosemite then finally west to San Fran. Or vice versa.
 
I did a trip 15 years ago starting in SF drove down Route 1 coastal highway visiting Carmel etc. on the way to LA. As Mike says don't stay downtown and stay in Santa Monica. Did Universal Studios and Hollywood Boulevard. Then drove East to Grand Canyon including some bits of Route 66 and did a walk down into the canyon. Then onto Vegas via the Hoover Dam, from there to Death Valley, then Grand Sequoia Park for the big trees, from there to Yosemite and did another walk, and then back to SF. That took 11 days IIRC. Amazing trip - I really ought to do it again sometime!
 

CarbonMike

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Yea down town LA, wouldnt bother lol it really isnt all that! We drove the entirety of Route 66 a few years ago in a lovely turbo Mustang & stopped in the city for one night.

The best holidays ive ever had have all been road trips around the US. This time of year is great for booking the flights too as most are on sale.

We found some direct flights from Heathrow to Vancouver (Canada) for £191 each way in May lol.
 
Thanks for the info, really useful. I hadn’t thought about visiting other parks and booking accommodation early is a good shout.

I wondered how long to go for, so 10 days gives me a bit of a flavour. I was trying to work out how long we should go away for.

I suppose the coastal road is worth it but takes longer?

It would be nice to have an open top Mustang but I’m not sure the four of us will be able pack light enough. I’ve always gone for bigger cars so we don’t struggle with boot space.


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CarbonMike

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Whilst the new Mustang really is a great car, the rear seats are teeny tiny and while the boot is deceptively spacious its not big enough for luggage for 4 people! Soft top would be even smaller.

There great for doing doughnuts tho. So im told anyway lol.

Bear in mind the longer you go the more its all gonna cost! Itll soon add up when you include long stay parking in the UK, longer car hire, more hotels etc etc.
 

Tj 0785

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Get yourself a suv plenty of room and comfort for the long drives I had one for 2 weeks and done a few long trips from Orlando to tampa and st Augustine and it wasn’t that bad on fuel . we just booked a full size suv fully insured for $1500 for 3 weeks was going to get a mustang this time as there’s on 3 of us but don’t think luggage will fit
 

Audi Bairn

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A few years back I did a two week round trip (sort of) as follows:

LA (chose your area carefully but many attractions too)
San Diego
Tijuana
Phoenix
Death Valley
Hoover Dam
Vegas (loads to see & do)
Yosemite
San Francisco (stunning city, plenty to see)

Only booked accommodation on first night and hired a car.

To be honest, I’d miss San Diego, Tijuana and Phoenix next time and spend time elsewhere.
 

CarbonMike

Registered User
We had a midsize SUV last year (Dodge Journey 3.6 V6) that was similiar size to a Q7.

Tonnes more room then the Mustang we had the year before but youd expect that from a 7 seater lol

This year we had a midsize saloon/sedan (Chevy Impala V6) and id say theres plenty room in that for 4 adults (was only 2 of us in it).

We select the type of car on the area we're going to that year. So like did Route 66 in a Mustang, 6 states of "New England" in an SUV etc etc.
 
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simonali

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Doing a road trip in September. Flying to Phoenix AZ, then going to Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Grand Staircase, Las Vegas, Death Valley, Yosemite and then probably into San Francisco to fly back. There'll be four of us in the car so an SUV is the way to go.
 
So far we’ve booked the flights to and from LAX. We’re going for 17 nights, so hopefully we should be able to pack quite a bit in without being on the road every day.

I’m looking at hire cars. At the moment the Ford Expedition (or similar) tickles my fancy. Any recommendations for car hire? It doesn’t look as though any of the companies are actually based in the airport.


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simonali

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I think we had a Ford Explorer on one of our road trips and it was plenty big enough. On the last trip to Georgia and South Carolina there were 5 of us and we had a Chrysler Pacifica MPV.
 

Tj 0785

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So far we’ve booked the flights to and from LAX. We’re going for 17 nights, so hopefully we should be able to pack quite a bit in without being on the road every day.

I’m looking at hire cars. At the moment the Ford Expedition (or similar) tickles my fancy. Any recommendations for car hire? It doesn’t look as though any of the companies are actually based in the airport.
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I was in Florida in October and had a Ford Expedition I liked it,was big enough for the 5 of us and are luggage and was comfy, even managed to get the back end out a few times in the wet ( when misses and kids were at the villa). I just booked another for when we go back even though there will only be 3 of us
 
I was in Florida in October and had a Ford Expedition I liked it,was big enough for the 5 of us and are luggage and was comfy, even managed to get the back end out a few times in the wet ( when misses and kids were at the villa). I just booked another for when we go back even though there will only be 3 of us

Which company did you use.


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KIll_the_cameras

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Sounds like fun! LA itself is not really worth visiting IMO. The traffic is hell-on-earth, and it's not as clean and sparkly as the movies make it out to be! Santa Monica is great though! Universal Studios is amazing, as is Six Flags Magic Mountain. If you do stay in LA try staying on the Queen Mary in Long Beach...it's an amazing step back in time! Personally, I love Vegas, but it's not really a place for children (Red Rock canyon is worth visiting if you do go to Vegas and need a break from the craziness!). Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon are awesome, as are Byrce and Zion, but I don't think you're going that far in that direction. A large SUV is the best vehicle for a road trip...for both luggage and people. Anything else you will find cramped and uncomfortable. We usually use rentalcars.com, with their added driver and full tank options. I think all the car rental companies are off-airport at LAX.
 

Audi Bairn

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So far we’ve booked the flights to and from LAX. We’re going for 17 nights, so hopefully we should be able to pack quite a bit in without being on the road every day.

I’m looking at hire cars. At the moment the Ford Expedition (or similar) tickles my fancy. Any recommendations for car hire? It doesn’t look as though any of the companies are actually based in the airport.


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We were meant to get an Explorer on one of our Canadian trips but got upgraded to an Expedition when we got there.
Nearly got it wedged in a multi storey it was so tall (my own fault). It's a big beast generally, a 6.3 V8 from memory.
 

CarbonMike

Registered User
So far we’ve booked the flights to and from LAX. We’re going for 17 nights, so hopefully we should be able to pack quite a bit in without being on the road every day.

I’m looking at hire cars. At the moment the Ford Expedition (or similar) tickles my fancy. Any recommendations for car hire? It doesn’t look as though any of the companies are actually based in the airport.


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We've always used Alamo.

Bear in mind the "or similiar" bit. Just because youve hired say a Mustang, you could end up with a Camaro for example. Similiar car, 2 door coupe but not quite exactly what you asked for.

As with all US airports, the rental car pickup is a short bus ride from the airport. The rental companies have regular buses from the terminals to car collection.

You cant miss the buses. There all sign written with what ever company... Alamo, Enterprise, Sixt etc etc.

Take your own satnav with a US map on a memory card. Usually works out cheaper then renting theres. We go US roadtripping every year so I have US and Canada maps on mine.

You may also require an EZ Pass toll. Ask at the rental about it and if your route may contain toll roads. There about $30.
 

Tj 0785

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We've always used Alamo.

Bear in mind the "or similiar" bit. Just because youve hired say a Mustang, you could end up with a Camaro for example. Similiar car, 2 door coupe but not quite exactly what you asked for.

As with all US airports, the rental car pickup is a short bus ride from the airport. The rental companies have regular buses from the terminals to car collection.

You cant miss the buses. There all sign written with what ever company... Alamo, Enterprise, Sixt etc etc.

Take your own satnav with a US map on a memory card. Usually works out cheaper then renting theres. We go US roadtripping every year so I have US and Canada maps on mine.

You may also require an EZ Pass toll. Ask at the rental about it and if your route may contain toll roads. There about $30.

Sat nav I managed ok with google maps but definitely watch for the tolls 1st time I went Florida got to a unmanned toll had no change so just had to drive through spent the next few weeks expecting a bill when I return the car
 
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simonali

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I went through the wrong lane on a Florida toll road once when someone cut across the front of me and I had to swerve to avoid a collision. The toll was only a dollar and the rental car company charged me $11 when I took the car back.
 

Tj 0785

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toll pass is the way to go even though last time I only spent around $15-$20 on tolls I’d happily pay the extra so I don’t have to pull over every 5 minutes to pay it but never thought of getting a pass
 
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simonali

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My plan for our trip is to spend no more than a few hours in LV. Everyone else who'll be in the car has been there before, so they're not too fussed amd it doesn't really appeal to me. I'd like to drive down the main strip, but that's about it.

I'd also second the LA and SD criticisms. Not much there to see apart from lots of traffic. San Francisco or San Jose are nicer places to visit.

Another good drive in a different part of the country I can highly recommend is to fly to Miami and then drive to Key West, stopping at various hotel, motel, Holiday Inns on the way. Duval Street in Key West is great at night.
 
We've always used Alamo.

Bear in mind the "or similiar" bit. Just because youve hired say a Mustang, you could end up with a Camaro for example. Similiar car, 2 door coupe but not quite exactly what you asked for.

Tell me about it. Last time we were in Florida, I hired a Ford Edge and ended up with a Kia Sorento!

It was alright, but a far cry from being American.


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CarbonMike

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Tell me about it. Last time we were in Florida, I hired a Ford Edge and ended up with a Kia Sorento!

It was alright, but a far cry from being American.


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Ive been fortunate to do a fair bit of driving in America (around 6 or 7k miles) across 20 something different states lol

We always try & hire a car you cant get over here or in Europe.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do....

Even if that does mean doing donuts in a turbo Mustang :)
 
So the current thinking is

Arrive at LAX
1 night in Barstow
Few nights in Las Vegas
1 night in/near Death Valley
Few nights in San Fran
Few nights in Yosemite
Few nights in Los Angeles/Santa Monica
Back to LAX

The reason for Barstow is because I’m not sure 10 hours of flying then a 4-5 hour drive to Las Vegas is a great idea. Particularly considering I don’t think we’ll hit the road until at least 16:00.

Any thoughts.


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Audi Bairn

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So the current thinking is

Arrive at LAX
1 night in Barstow
Few nights in Las Vegas
1 night in/near Death Valley
Few nights in San Fran
Few nights in Yosemite
Few nights in Los Angeles/Santa Monica
Back to LAX

The reason for Barstow is because I’m not sure 10 hours of flying then a 4-5 hour drive to Las Vegas is a great idea. Particularly considering I don’t think we’ll hit the road until at least 16:00.

Any thoughts.


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Much of it depends on your interests.
However, for what it’s worth I’d comment as follows.
I agree with your overnight stay after arriving, as I’d need recovery time too. I don’t know Barstow though.
Personally 2 to 3 nights in Vegas would cover it.
San Francisco is worth spending the time in given its many attractions, much of it can be covered without the car too.
Unless you’re undertaking specific activities, an overnight in Yosemite and diving through it would be sufficient.
LA, although a massive sprawling city, has many things to do, again subject to your interest.
Whatever you decide, it’ll be a great trip.
 
Barstow is just on the outskirts of LA in the desert near Route 66, so we can cover a bit of their off.

Las Vegas will be our base. We’ll have to go and see a show and walk the strip, but we have no interest in gambling, so may have a nose, but that’s about it.

I did wonder about Yosemite. My wife wants to stay there three nights but font know if that’s too long. Maybe two.

LA/SM will be for the beach although we will look at the sights.


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simonali

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Not been to Yosemite (yet) but I did go to Yellowstone for 3 or 4 days and only saw a tiny bit of it in that time. Research is the key. Find out what there is there and whether you want to go look at it or not. That'll let you know how much time is required.
 

JonChalk

Registered User
We did Yosemite this June, for 3 days. Not enough time.
It's the only place we've been on holiday to, that both myself and my wife agreed to break our "never go to the same place on holiday" rule for in the future. We're planning to go back in 2022 (sad, I know but our 20th anniversary), for a lot longer.
Absolutely loved it.
Drove up from Vegas:
Screenshot 2019-01-26 at 16.15.43.jpg


Once you get onto 266/160 across to Big Pine / Inyo Forest there are some fantastic views. Mono Lake at Lee Vining is beautiful in a weird way.
We then drove up the Tioga pass (it had only opened the week before after being closed for winter) into Yosemite and out the other side to get to Oakhurst, where we were staying.
(Can post some piccies, if you want)
 
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CarbonMike

Registered User
^that does look a nice drive to be honest.

The never go back rule.... theres soooo many places ive been to in America that Id happily go back too! Towns, national parks, raceways & definetly some amazing car collections!

We booked our 2019 trip yesterday lol Colorado, South Dakota & Wyoming.
 
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simonali

Guest
Been to the Florida Keys at least three times now. Love it. Also been to Boston three times. Go on my 0 year birthdays. Didn't intend for it to become a tradition but it did. Last Feb there was a day when it was 23°C and the ice rink in the park melted!
 

CarbonMike

Registered User
I spent christmas in Florida in 2014, absolutely fantastic time!

In summer 2017 we started a 6 state, 2k mile round trip in Boston. Such a nice clean city with some great sea food & boat trips.
 
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simonali

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I met a guy from Vermont in a bar in New Orleans who recommended his home state for seafood. I need to see more of that top right corner, so it will hopefully be planned in for the next road trip.
 
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simonali

Guest
We booked our 2019 trip yesterday lol Colorado, South Dakota & Wyoming.

Did that one in 2011. I somehow managed to format the memory card in my camera and have next to no photos from that trip! Flew to Denver, headed north through Cheyenne, stayed in Custer SD near Mount Rushmore (don't miss the similar Crazy Horse monument, it's on the way), then headed west to Yellowstone, then south through Teton to Jackson (Hole) then back to Denver via the Rockies at 12,000 feet or so. We stayed in a place called Grand Lake on the way back that had a superb bar with live music. It also had a (supposedly) good steakhouse but we got so s***faced in said bar that we never made it there!
 

CarbonMike

Registered User
Vermont is a fantastic place to be in the summer time. To be honest, the entire 6 states that make up "New England" makes for some amazing driving & spectacular scenery.

We booked a package trip through an American/Canadian specialist tour operator called Bon Voyage for that & I could not recommend them enough.

We'll be going to Mt Rushmore this year for sure. And also driving the auto route to the top of Pikes Peak (14000ft+) We have a reservation at a hotel in Yellowstone too.
 
So far I’ve booked a cheep hotel in Barstow just so we can get our heads down on the first night.

I also booked a large SUV last night, so that’s all sorted. Next i want to book Yosemite and Las Vegas. The rest we’ll probably go on spec. Any ideas for hotels/motels?

I’m also considering adding Sacramento to our list of destinations. We’ve been looking at white water rafting just north of there.


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CarbonMike

Registered User
Theres is an enormous choice of rooms in Vegas. And because theres so many there keenly priced.

Ive stopped in both the Monte Carlo (4*) & also the Bellagio (5*).

You cant go wrong with any of the big casino hotels there really.

However, be sure to self NOT valet parking. Valet parking can cost upto $50 + the daily fee! Self parking is like $12/15 night.

Theres also a great shooting range out in the desert if thats your thing. From hand guns to big calibre rifles & automatics lol.
 

JonChalk

Registered User
Theres is an enormous choice of rooms in Vegas. And because theres so many there keenly priced.

Ive stopped in both the Monte Carlo (4*) & also the Bellagio (5*).

We've done Bellagio a few years ago & the Venetian last year - not a lot in it, but Bellagio just heads it for me.
 

JonChalk

Registered User
So far I’ve booked a cheep hotel in Barstow just so we can get our heads down on the first night.

I also booked a large SUV last night, so that’s all sorted. Next i want to book Yosemite and Las Vegas. The rest we’ll probably go on spec. Any ideas for hotels/motels?

I’m also considering adding Sacramento to our list of destinations. We’ve been looking at white water rafting just north of there.


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We stopped at the Sierra Sky Ranch in Oakhurst for 3 nights for Yosemite - Oakhurst is the first reasonable sized town on the Western route out of Yosemite, think there's a bit of hotel choice there, plus all the other shops, etc you'd expect. It's about 45 (maybe a bit more) mins drive into / out of Yosemite if you avoid peak time queues.
 
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