Golden Triangle Trip LA>LV>SF>LA 03.30-04.14

Old Jan 9th, 2017, 06:11 AM
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Golden Triangle Trip LA>LV>SF>LA 03.30-04.14

So sorry to probably ask the same thing that others have asked - I have looked, but can't necessarily find what I'm looking for, so any assistance will be very gratefully received (or even a nudge to the right place!)

My new husband and I will be visiting your beautiful country from 30 March to 14 April.
We fly in/out of LAX, and wish to visit Las Vegas, San Francisco and LA.

We have booked our fist night in LA (close to LAX) and will collect our rental car on the morning of 31 March. We then plan to drive to Vegas (which route would be the best?), stay in Vegas for 3 nights (leaving Monday 3 April).

We then wish to travel up to San Francisco, and have 3 nights booked in the Marina area 5-8 April. Therefore we have Monday, Tuesday and some of Wednesday to get to SF. I am aware that the Tioga Pass will likely be closed, what route would anyone suggest taking (and stops) so that we're not driving all day.

We then wish to take a couple of days to drive down to LA (leaving Sat 8 April) and then spend 2 days at Universal (hubby's bucketlist/must-do!).

Generally enquiring for route/stops LV>SF and SF>LA. Budget is mid-range.

MTIA, Nat
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Old Jan 9th, 2017, 07:18 AM
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I would spend the first couple of days in Los Angeles since traffic is lighter on weekends. Also, Vegas is more expensive on weekend nights, and Sun will be an easier drive to Vegas than on Friday.
On Wednesday April 5, there are $29 flights from Las Vegas to San Francisco (www.southwest.com, 2 bags pp included!) so that's a no-brainer, as long as you can find decent one-way-drop car rentals between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and then from San Francisco back down to Los Angeles.

That'll also give you a couple more days for the coastal drive between SF and LA, which is well worth 4 nights. Maybe a couple of them in Monterey/Carmel, then a night in Cambria or Morro Bay, and finally a night in Santa Barbara or Montecito.
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Old Jan 9th, 2017, 07:39 AM
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You will be there in April so driving between Vegas and SF is NOT a good idea. It is a loooooooooong and mostly boring route. (In April you cannot drive the scenic route up the back of the Sierra and through Yosemite National Park because the road is closed)

Fly from Las Vegas to SFO - then on leaving San Francisco pick up a car and drive down the coast. AND Since one does not need a car IN Vegas and now one has to pay to park there, I wouldn't drive from LA to Vegas either. I'd fly from LAX to Las Vegas either the same day you arrive or early the next morning. No need to drive.
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Old Jan 9th, 2017, 08:51 AM
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In this case I agree with Debbie and janisj. Fly into Las Vegas. If you want to see something outside LV like Hoover dam or Valley of Fire rent a car in Las Vegas and return it when you fly out to San Francisco (or Oakland).
Drive the coastal route from San Francisco to LA.
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Old Jan 9th, 2017, 09:05 AM
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I have to agree with the others, and since driving from Las Vegas to SF at that time of year is really not feasible, I'd do something like this:

Fly to LV (3 nights)
Fly to SF (3 nights)
Monterey-Carmel area (2 nights)
Coast (2 nights)
LA (3 nights)
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Old Jan 9th, 2017, 09:23 AM
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I should add, although ordinarily most people would say you don't need or want a car in San Francisco, the fact that you've chosen to stay in the Marina leads me to believe you will be at a hotel with free parking. It might not be a bad idea to have the car in San Francisco -- there are parts of San Francisco that are much more easily accessed by car than by public transportation (for example, Land's End), and with a car you could also take a day to "go north" if you want - Point Reyes, Bodega Bay, Sonoma/Healdsburg, Napa.
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Old Jan 9th, 2017, 09:50 AM
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Another vote for sf7307's itinerary, including having the car in SF if your accommodation includes parking. You'll have the car for the best drive, down the coast, and save yourself a great deal of time to use at your destinations by flying the other 2.
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Old Jan 9th, 2017, 12:38 PM
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Dang!

Thank you for your answers thus far....

Perhaps I didn't think this through right

We have the car for the full time we're in the States, bar the very first night. I've managed to book hotels in LV and SF which have free parking (Best Western Plus Casino Royal and Cow Hollow Inn,respectively).

Worst case scenario,what would be the best route LV>SF,if we can't change bookings/rentals we've already made?! Is it possible to drive the 395 to Yahoo and then drop over to SF? (Or would that road be closed/need snow chains)

Thank you!!
Daft English Tourist xx
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Old Jan 9th, 2017, 12:49 PM
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Trust us you don't want to drive from Las Vegas to SF in April unless there is absolutely no other alternative.

I would very first of all try to modify your booking to collect the car in SF. Your hotel in Vegas is in the middle of the Strip so you would have no need for a car at all (and traffic in that part of Las Vegas is really REALLY bad so you won't want to use the car anyway.)

The drive from LV to SF would be through the desert and Bakersfield and then up the length of the Central Valley which is VERY long and awfully boring.

If you can't change your booking there are other places you could go -- Like up Hwy 395, to Lake Tahoe and then west to San Francisco -- but that is one hellaciously long drive for what would basically be 1.5 days.
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Old Jan 9th, 2017, 01:15 PM
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I've never heard of a non-cancellable car rental, although there could be some and I just haven't seen them. If you've booked an air/car rental package I suppose that might be the case. It would be worth something of a cancellation fee to me to change your bookings though. Often plans can a toss-up and just personal preference but, in this case, not driving those 2 legs make much more sense for several reasons. And not advantageous in any way that I can think of.

You'll find good airfares for both routes here: https://www.southwest.com
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Old Jan 9th, 2017, 01:20 PM
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Did you prepay your rental car? Normally you can just reserve a car without paying any money at all. Some companies have been offering a prepay option but the small savings are not worth the money by being locked into certain dates and times.
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Old Jan 9th, 2017, 04:34 PM
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The OP is from overseas so in fact it may be a prepaid booking. I often pre-pay when booking a car in the UK/Europe. But I'd still look int changing it. Even if there is some sort of penalty/surcharge it would be more than worth in IMO.
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Old Jan 9th, 2017, 11:47 PM
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Hey Jamie. Yes, we prepaid, but hoping we might be able to cancel or amend booking.

Thinking that we could, as suggested, fly LA>LV, do our days there, then get a tour back to LA (so we can see the desert). Stay in LA for a few days and do Universal (Web says it will be more quiet 4/5 April than 11/12). Then, pick up the car, drive up to SF on the freeway, do SF, then drive leisurely back down the coast. (Thinking picking car up in LA to avoid high one-way cost)

Does that sound ok?!

(Seriously hoping I haven't tuned our Honeymoon plans!!)

Thank you lovely people
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Old Jan 10th, 2017, 12:37 AM
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I'd personally pay the one way rental charges (if there are any). -- driving up half the state then turning around and driving back south would be a serious waste of time.

Fly to Vegas - IF you want to see desert, rent a car for one day while you are in Las Vegas and do a day trip to Death Valley and back.

Then fly to SFO. Then get your rental car for the drive down the coast to LA.
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Old Jan 10th, 2017, 11:25 AM
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Vegas is a better place to "see the desert". The drive between LV and LA is dull, long, sometimes dangerous due to sleepy drivers, and sometimes fraught with freeway closures due to accidents. Visit Valley of Fire (60 mins from Vegas), Hoover Dam, & Red Rock Canyon from Vegas and you'll have your fill of desert vistas.

But first things first, let us know if your car is changeable. You might have to contact the car rental company directly rather than going through your booking agency.
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Old Jan 10th, 2017, 01:03 PM
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I agree with Debbie, rent a car in Vegas for the day and drive to Valley of Fire.
After the first hour the drive between LA and Vegas is deadly boring and you will be praying for a billboard to read.
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Old Jan 10th, 2017, 02:57 PM
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Haha!! Thank you.

Yes, it looks like we should be able to cancel the car, or at least change it.

Think our new plan is return flights LA>LV, do Universal and LA. Head up to SF, then drive back down the coast.

We already have a recommendation for tour to GC from a colleague, but will look into Valley of Fire, thank you.
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Old Jan 10th, 2017, 03:19 PM
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>>Think our new plan is return flights LA>LV, do Universal and LA. Head up to SF, then drive back down the coast. Vegas. Then fly from Vegas SFO. Then get a car and drive down the coast. You'll wat several days for the drive south.
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Old Jan 10th, 2017, 03:36 PM
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One of the main reasons for coming back to LA from Vegas is so we can go to Universal earlier, hopefully escaping some of the crowds which will apparently be there in the week before Easter. It looks like 11/12 April will be crazy busy.

We weren't planning to drive up then straight back down - we will spend a few days in SF and surrounding area first.

Ultimately, and unfortunately, it will depend on cost. If there's no/not much saving, then we'll fly LA>SF too. If it's a lot cheaper to rent a car for longer but in/out of LA, then we might have to do that.

I appreciate your message though x
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Old Jan 11th, 2017, 10:12 AM
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I don't really have any advice to add - I just wanted to mention that the term Golden Triangle was made up by travel marketing people who are advertising trips to CA and NV. It isn't a term that people really use here. I mention it to help avoid potential confusion in your planning and once you arrive
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