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Need help planning California road trip starting from Vegas!

Need help planning California road trip starting from Vegas!

Old May 12th, 2006, 08:34 PM
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Need help planning California road trip starting from Vegas!

Hi,
We are a couple in our early 30's from Australia. We are planning to go to Las Vegas this September. We then have 11 nights for our road trip. The main aim is to visit interesting towns, eat nice food and see some wilderness areas. Our initial plan is to head through Death Valley, to Yosemite, then on to Napa/Sonoma area (we are not that knowlegeable on wine but are interested in looking around and doing a bit of tasting). We wanted to visit the Redwoods if possible and then travel down the coast back to LA. I am just not sure how long it takes to drive between places and how long to stay in each place. Would prefer to just make our hotel bookings a day or so before, as we travel. Although I know that we should maybe book Yosemite now. Any thoughts/ help would be appreciated! Thank You.
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Old May 13th, 2006, 12:23 AM
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Hi there. Having lived in both states and always wanting to go "home" to Cali, I can say that if your trip is comming soon (Sept), to skip Death Valley altogether. Nothing of such beauty should been seen in summer months. The best things to see there don't come from the roadside - hiking when it is 122 degrees F isn't very fun.

I suggest going from Vegas to LA, then up the coast and stopping from a day or so at key points on the cost GOING NORTH. Hit Sonoma/Napa, see the redwoods, and Tahoe to the east. From here you can scramble down the Intersate to go back to LA (I assume you are leaving from there???) and only take a day to get back to LA.

Enjoy the desert in this time of year from I-15 to LA. Via the car...

Try local diners on any portion of this route. You should find a great mix of Cali foods, not be expected in a shorter trip. Try our Avacados plz!

Instead of going from Las Vegas to LA, try the short cut through Bakersfield via barstow to get north on I-5 and trickel down to LA via the coast after starting from the north (just go up as fast as you can [a day]).

you have alot of north/south fun ahead of you! Dont miss Santa Barbara for a few hours-to an entire day... FUN!

~Jay
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Old May 13th, 2006, 07:45 AM
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I think your plan sounds just fine. You won't have much time to spend anywhere, but you'll be able to sample the diversity of California.

I think you're right to book Yosemite now, although it should be less frenetic in September as the schools are all back by then.

For approximate driving times, play around at www.mapquest.com.
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Old May 13th, 2006, 10:42 AM
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Before going over the Tioga Pass to Yosemite, make a detour to visit Bodie State Park. I also would not go through Death Valley, but would go farther north going via Lida and Deep Springs to US 395 which you would take north to Lee Vining. Somewhere on the road between Lida and Deep Springs there is a turn off where you can go up and see bristlecone pines. It doesn't sound like much, but it is worth it just to get up to that altitude.
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Old May 13th, 2006, 10:46 AM
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Bodie would not be so much a detour but a drive past Lee Vining/Tioga Pass further north on 395 and then 13 miles on a dirt road. I'm not saying it's not worth it, you should just know what you're in for before you decide on a "detour"
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Old May 13th, 2006, 10:44 PM
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Thanks so much for your responses so far. Now I am thinking...do we really even need to go to Yosemite? Would we get enough 'natural scenery' experience just from driving north to the Redwoods? And less crowds? Anyone have any other options for the 11 day road trip? I am open to any other suggestions...Thanks again!!!
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Old May 14th, 2006, 02:04 AM
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If I were planning your trip, I would start in San Diego and head north toward Napa. There are plenty of places to go wine tasting in CA. other than in Sonoma County (Paso Robles, Monterey, etc.). By the time you reach Napa Valley, you should be a veteran (see http://totalescape.com/active/leisure/winery.html ). After your 5-hour drive from Vegas (if light traffic), spend a night or two in the Gaslamp District (go to the Strip Club for good steaks and a hip atmosphere). Maybe you could even catch a Padres baseball game or a trip to Sea World, the zoo or the wild animal park. They also have several museums worth mentioning. You could spend a couple days in San Diego and La Jolla. Head north and make a quick stop in San Clemente. Keep moving north on the 5 freeway and find PCH (hwy 1) at around Laguna Beach. From there, take PCH north, stopping when you find something interesting. If you take your time, you could hit Long Beach by mid-afternoon, but you can stretch this longer if you like. Have dinner at Yen (sushi) in Belmont Shore (2nd street in Long Beach) and spend the night in downtown Long Beach (the Pike). After the mandatory stop in LA, the next big stop is Santa Barbara (1.5-2 hours if you take the freeway all the way there. You will only probably want to spend a day there. Make sure you take HWY-1 once it spits from the 101. They say this is some of the most beautiful scenery in all of California. Other possible stops along the way north are Paso Robles,Pismo Beach (and Avila Beach), Morro Bay, Paso Robles (for the wine), Hearst Castle in san Simeon, Big Sur (must see), Carmel (home of Clint Eastwood… he even has a hotel / bar there), and Monterey. Basically, stick to the coast when at all possible. While in Monterey, check out the Taste of Monterey (wine tasting store on Cannery Row), the Aquarium, and have dinner or appetizers at the Sardine Factory. You can rent kayaks and paddle with the seals and Sea Otters or take a whale watching excursion. The drive from LA to Monterey is about 7 hours… but that’s all via freeways. I haven’t been to San Francisco or beyond so I can’t be of much assistance there. Enjoy!
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Old May 14th, 2006, 06:58 AM
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Yosemite is exceptional, and the rest of the Sierra do not compare. For big trees, you might want to see the Calaveras State Park north of Yosemite on your way to the coastal redwoods. On the other hand, if you decide to skip Yosemite, I suggest that you go up to Lake Tahoe, driving along the west shore and continue on hwy. 89 at least to Quincy, and then cut across to the coast.
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