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San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas back to San Francisco

San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas back to San Francisco

Old Mar 12th, 2017, 12:26 PM
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San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas back to San Francisco

Hi,

We are an Irish family (boy 12yrs) and planning a fly drive holiday to the west coast USA early April for 2 weeks.
We would like to spend a couple of days in each of the main places (SF, Los Angeles, Vegas) before returning to SF to fly home. We plan to stop of along the way, so we are looking for some idea's on whats the best towns/places to visit and stay.

Would love to hear your thoughts and recommendations of where we should stop and stay.

Cheers
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Old Mar 12th, 2017, 12:43 PM
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Are you planning to drive a loop from SF to La to Vegas or are you using those as places to fly into and then drive around?

If it is a fly into SF and out of Vegas and drive in between, then one plan could be the following:

SF 3 or 4 days using public transportation

Rent a car day 5 and 6 drive to Monterey for at least 2 nights, visit Pt. Lobos from there.

You can't continue down the coast road all the way to LA, so I would head inland a bit and then continue on to LA for days 7, 8, 9.

Day 10, drive to Death Valley, spend the night there.

Day 11, visit the parts of DV you haven't had time to the day before.

Day 12 drive to Vegas

Day 13, Vegas visit Red Rock Canyon and/or Valley of Fire

Day 14 fly home


The drive from LA to Vegas is deadly boring IMHO, so if it works better, drop the car in LA, fly to Vegas, rent a car do day trips to Death Valley, Red Rock Canyon, Valley of Fire, Hoover Dam, etc. or head up to Zion and Bryce NPs until you have to fly home.
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Old Mar 12th, 2017, 12:50 PM
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The drive between Las Vegas and SF is looooong, boring, and mostly ugly.

Then there is the problem that the coast road between LA and SF is closed in the Big Sur area.

So -- what I'd seriously consider is visit SF car-less, then fly to Las Vegas where you can also stay car-less or you can hire a car to visit either Death Valley or Zion national park. Then fly to LAX or Orange County (or you could drive over from LV). Collect a hire car for a few days to explore the LA area/beaches/maybe Disney. Drop off the car and fly up to SFO to fly home.
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Old Mar 12th, 2017, 12:52 PM
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we were posting at the same time - either approach could work.
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Old Mar 12th, 2017, 02:39 PM
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Where are you flying in/out? Route 1 may be open by the time you arrive. We have had decent weather for the last week or so.
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Old Mar 12th, 2017, 03:45 PM
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Hwy 1 won't be fully open until Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge is rebuilt. That could take up to a year or longer. They're planning to demolish the bridge tomorrow.

Currently Hwy 1 is closed for over 60 miles from Palo Colorado Rd on the northern end to Ragged Point on the southern end. Caltrans is planning to open Hwy 1 from Palo Colorado to Big Sur Station (near Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge) this Thursday. Assuming no further storms (though we have rain in the forecast for the third week in March), that would be how far south you can travel from Monterey in early April. There's no no anticipated opening date past Ragged Point from the south yet.
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Old Mar 12th, 2017, 06:34 PM
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>>Where are you flying in/out? Route 1 may be open by the time you arrivehelpful folks have given really overly 'optimistic' info about both Hwy 1, and Yosemite access and Tioga Pass. The situation in Big Sur is a true disaster.
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Old Mar 13th, 2017, 06:26 AM
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The OP is flying in and out of SFO.

Unless it's possible to change that plan to fly into one city and leave from another. Like into SFO, out of LAX?
That would work better.

There are so many places to visit in California. What are your interests? Wine country, beautiful scenery, urban sites, Hearst castle . . .?

Las Vegas isn't a place I'd recommend, actually. I'd prefer more time in SF and along the drive to LA.
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Old Mar 13th, 2017, 08:07 AM
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You might want to check whether you can find a fly/drive package that allows free drop-off in different states.

For example, United Vacations (United Airlines) used to offer free drop-offs in California, Nevada and Arizona. Pick up the car in any one of them and return to any other. I don't know if they still do.

They also offered free stop-offs on their flights from the UK as part of the same fly/drive package. One stop off each way. So you could fly London to NYC, stop, NYC to San Francisco, stop. Then return, from Las Vegas to Chicago, stop, Chicago to London, end. Or any other combination you wanted.
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Old Mar 13th, 2017, 09:06 AM
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We recently rented a car at SFO and returned it in LAX, after driving down the coast. It was only about $100 additional fee.
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Old Mar 13th, 2017, 09:40 AM
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Typically, (though not universally) foreign visitors don't have to pay drop off fees. Many brokers catering to them offer all-in rentals - not as part of a fly drive.
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Old Mar 13th, 2017, 10:46 AM
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Hi Guys,

The plan is to drive to all the places and see as much of the country as we can. The last the we did a fly drive the rental company charged me a fortune when I dropped the car off in another state!!!

Patty thanks for letting me know the coast road is blocked.

Was hoping to do a big loop and return to San Francisco via Yosemite national park but I now believe the pass will probably be closed until May.

We're an active family and like to get off the beaten track and discover the really America as we drive through the country.

we don't plan to spend a large amount of time in Vegas but thought it's worth a visit if I can do a loop.

Cheers
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Old Mar 13th, 2017, 11:45 AM
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Try rentalcars.com, third party broker for overseas renters, they often waive the one way drop fee within California and Nevada (although not during July and August). they will also include all the insurance you need if you declare your nationality as Irish.
Parent company is Priceline so they are reputable.
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Old Mar 13th, 2017, 12:42 PM
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Planning on a visit in July, flying DUB - SFO return; to limit the amount of driving, we fly onward to Las Vegas on arrival. There are no drop off fee on our car rental from LV, returning the car in San Francisco.
Our plan is to drive to SF via Death Valley and Yosemite but access to Yosemite via Tioga Pass is not an option for you in April.
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Old Mar 14th, 2017, 07:22 AM
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SeeDee, if you have a car rental with no drop-off fee from LV to SF and the OP has written that they had to pay a big fee on a previous trip, don't you think the OP just might like to hear who you are renting from and not getting charged a drop-off fee?
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Old Mar 14th, 2017, 07:32 AM
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Nice
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Old Mar 18th, 2017, 02:34 AM
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Mea culpa Dogeared, for lowering the standards expected of contributors on this forum. My own research on car rental from LV revealed that many companies seem to treat LV as part of the California area so I did not regard the rental quote I received as being of particular note.
For the record, the company was Thrifty which I selected on the basis that I could return the car at a downtown location close to our hotel in SF. The quote was €405 for 9 days BTW, inclusive of one-way fee.
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Old Mar 18th, 2017, 06:57 PM
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I would seriously cut out Las Vegas. I live smack in the middle of California so listen to me when I tell you that Vegas is not worth the long drive for a short while with kids. Instead focus on the Centeal Coast (drive between SF and Los Angeles). Visit Monterey and Carmel (you may have to skip Big Sur because of the bridge being out). Visit San Simeon and see Hearsr Castle and the elephant seals. Then drive down for a night in Morro Bay or San Luis Obispo-both small coastal towns. Avila Beach is a fun local beach that is very quaint and is protected from any wind (I spent just last weekend there). Between SLO and Santa Barbara is a cool little Danish town called Solvang. You can stop there from sausage and some wine tasting. Then go through Santa Barbara, Ventura, and before long you are in LA!
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