Thursday, November 17, 2011

West Coast Road Trip – Summer 2012

Hi Jamie,

My sister, bro in law, and my two nephews 10 and 12 are going to do the San Francisco, Yosemite, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, LA trip next summer and my husband and I without children would like to catch up with them here and there but we’ve always wanted to do Route 1 in a convertible, with some wine tasting, a canyon and some desert somewhere, plus anything to do with "the movies".

Any suggestions how we might do that even if we have to fly a bit? We’ll all be flying in from the UK into SF or LA. I reckon we’ll have two weeks or so.




Hi Debbie --

Many thanks for writing in to Road Trip USA, and I hope I can help you have a memorable trip. It's hard to go very wrong traveling around the West Coast (so long as you don't place any reckless bets in Las Vegas!)

Traveling with such a varied crew (10 years old and up), you'll all have different interests for sure, but there's enough variety in California to accommodate you all -- you could definitely leave the in-laws to do Disneyland (and Six Flags Magic Mountain, if they are thrill-seekers) in LA, while you and hubby cruise the Route 1 / Big Sur coast in a sporty convertible. (LA is the best place to rent exotic vehicles.)

There are great wineries north of Santa Barbara (locations of the quirky film "Sideways" were around the Santa Ynez Valley, where you can stay somewhere like the very romantic Ballard Inn near the late Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch (where Elizabeth Taylor got married... how's that for Hollywood glamor!?...)

Since California is ideal for road -tripping, the only place I think you might want to fly would be Las Vegas, which is a long hot drive from anywhere, but very handy for the Grand Canyon

(Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon are about 4 hours away each other).

And if you want to do more than spend a day at the Grand Canyon, southern Utah makes a great 2 or 3 day road trip out from Las Vegas, touring Zion National Park and the deserts around Monument Valley (as seen in John Ford's classic Western Stagecoach); this route also lets you see the Grand Canyon from its calmer North Rim, which only gets about 5% of the crowds that can clog the more popular South Rim.

SF and Yosemite are definite "must see" places -- and the Wine Country areas of Napa and Sonoma north of San Francisco are also worth a day or two, for wine tasting and sight-seeing (Muir Woods, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, is also very special).

OK, there's a a short summary of what will be a magical 2 weeks -- for details, I cover all these places in Road Trip USA (apart from Yosemite, which deserves a book all by itself), and I hope all this helps you plan a great trip.

Happy Trails,

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA


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