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Vegas, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, San Francisco

Knoxville, Tennessee
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Vegas, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, San Francisco

Hi all! I'm new here and tentatively planning a road trip for my family for next summer. We will be traveling the last week of June. Travel party to include 2 seniors, 4 adults, and 3 children (ages 6, 4, and 2). My father-in-law has always wanted to go "out west" so we are trying to get him out there. All he has told us is that he wants to see the redwoods and sequoias, and I know he would like to see the Grand Canyon. We are not, however, interested in doing a lot of hiking. Mother-in-law is very interested in driving up the California coast, so we will be doing that as well. They are not very interested in the city life, so we won't be visiting LA and will only be spending a 1/2 day or so in Vegas. Here is my tentative schedule. Please let me know your thoughts. I'm looking forward to constructive criticism. Thank you!

6/22/13 – Fly to Vegas, spend night

6/23/13 – Rent car, drive to Grand Canyon, tour, spend night

6/24/13 – Drive to Santa Monica, spend night

6/25/13 – San Simeon (Hearst Castle), Big Sur, Monterey/Carmel, spend night

6/26/13 – Yosemite National Park, spend night

6/27/13 – Yosemite National Park, spend night

6/28/13 – Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay, Muir National Monument, San Francisco (return rental car)

6/29/13 – San Francisco

6/30/13 – San Francisco, fly home

I'm not sure if one partial day will be enough at the Grand Canyon, but we are only planning to see the South Rim, so I don't know. Thoughts?

Wednesbury, UK
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1. Re: Vegas, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, San Francisco

Hi and welcome to the forum.

I suppose the obvious observation is a few extra days would make this easier no end but.....

Its about a 4.5 hour drive from LV to GCNP, longer if you stop at Hoover Dam and drive the section of route66 betweeen Kingman and Seligman. However, with an early start you'll have time to drive the Rim taking in the overlooks and watch the sunset.

Your next day is a big one, 9-10 hours driving to Santa Monica, and it also means your drive the next day up Hwy 1 and the Big Sur is going to be rushed, starting from so far south. I'd like to suggest you aim a bit further up the coast, around Cambria if you can, but that adds about 140 miles to the drive via Bakersfield, and will be about a 12 hour drive. You know what kind of travelers your kids are better than us?

The 28th's going to be a busy day as well but possible with an early start from Yosemite, 4 hours to SF then the time touring.

Next question is what are you looking to hire? With seven people ( think the seniors in the four adults total?) plus luggage, you will be looking at a mini van maybe or an extended seven seater SUV like a Chevy Suburban if you can find one. You will know about the one-way fee on the car also, can't see how a US citizen will avoid paying it?

Edited: 12 December 2012, 07:50
Perth, Australia
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2. Re: Vegas, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, San Francisco

I think it is too rushed ... I agree with Valiant about the long drive from the GC to Santa Monica ..

The drive from Santa Barbara up to Carmel is a great drive .. especially the Big Sur area .. and it's a two lane very winding road, so it takes longer.

You seem to be spending all day every day driving, with a couple of exceptions ...

Atlanta, Georgia
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3. Re: Vegas, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, San Francisco

I agree that the 24th and 25th are much too long of a day of driving with seniors and kids.

Also before you make reservations for airfare check on one way car rental rates- they can be very, very expensive.

Lewes, United...
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4. Re: Vegas, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, San Francisco

I would have to agree that it seems like way too much driving, even if the kids are tolerant to several consecutive days on the road in the back. If it was my trip, I'd aim for a more relaxed trip. Even if you don't plan to hike, you will want photo stops, leg stretches, short strolls to viewpoints, etc, and I'd have thought a few leisurely family picnics would add to the fun but slow you down, too.

SWT

Park City, Utah
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5. Re: Vegas, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, San Francisco

As noted, really have more driving than sightseeing in the plan - especially for such a large group. Several days are long but the one I especially want to note is Yosemite-Santa Cruz-Half Moon-Muir-San Fran. You might be able to drive that in a long day if you didn't get out of the car. And that's probably the singlemost scenic day of your trip. If redwoods are a big focus, don't shortchange it. Also, John Muir is a good redwood stop, but not as good as the forests in northern California, but that would require several extra days. What is good is that you can walk just a short distance to enjoy the experience.

As I read it, you have nine persons. You'll need a large passenger van (12 persons to accommodate for luggage). That will limit your selection as not all rental companies will carry the vehicle or allow it to go one-way. One-way fees can be high. I checked the route with several companies and was not able to find one that would allow a one-way on a 12-passenger. Those that had smaller minivans were charging .99/mile plus the rental cost. So do make sure you find a reasonable rental car before you book your airfare.

Trim it back a bit and have some fun.

Washington State
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6. Re: Vegas, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, San Francisco

I think you definitely need to 'trim' your wish list of destinations. Use Google Maps to get drive estimates, and then add time for restrooms, gasoline, fussy adults, stretching legs, and so on.

How about this loop?

Sat 6/22: Arrive SFO, taxi to SF, stay SF

Sun 6/23: SF

Mon 6/24: pick up rental van or rental cars & drive to Yosemite (rent a cabin that fits your large group ... get it now!, info on the Top Questions on the Yosemite page)

Tues 6/25: Yosemite

Wed 6/26: Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias in the morning, exit the South Entrance, to Cambria

Thurs 6/27: drive Hwy 1 / Big Sur, many scenic stops, several Traveler Articles about this drive on the Top Questions on the CA state forum page, stay Monterey

Fri 6/28: Monterey

Sat 6/29: short drive to Santa Cruz, SC Boardwalk (old fashioned, pay for rides you want, eat salt water taffy, play on beach), visit Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park), stay Santa Cruz? back to Monterey? need to stay near SFO for early morning flight?

Sun 6/30: depart SFO

----------------

I think there isn't much time in San Francisco in my sample itinerary. If you want more time in this diverse city, the itinerary could be modified. For example, you could reduce travel time by traveling to Monterey from Yosemite NP; the next day drive down Hwy 1 for just some of the scenic bits and then return to Monterey.

The Top Questions on the destination forums have great info for travelers. Read those for lodging & activity tips.

Edited: 12 December 2012, 14:11
Knoxville, Tennessee
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7. Re: Vegas, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, San Francisco

Thank you so much to all of you for your input! I think we may end up doing as Pacific suggested and focusing on Northern California and Yosemite, saving Vegas and the Grand Canyon for a later date.

Now does anyone have any lodging suggestions? We are looking to keep costs down a bit as our flights/car rental are going to be pretty expensive.

ETA: I reread and noticed the tips from everyone regarding where to look for lodging suggestions. Thanks again!

Edited: 12 December 2012, 21:04
Washington State
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8. Re: Vegas, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, San Francisco

Glad you found the way to get the best lodging tips.

------------

My car rental tips for a US resident renting in San Francisco ....

- pick up the car AFTER your SF tourism

- search to find the cheapest rental and make a reservation. Use a comparison matrix like Travelocity, Expedia, Kayak, Costco, whatever. When you find the cheapest company, go to that company's website and look for their coupons. Also look for coupons from RentalCarMomma or Entertainment Book.

- check every week or two to see if the price has gone down. If it has, make a new reservation and cancel the old one. Continue to look for coupons or discounts. (I used a San Francisco Bay Area coupon for a Sacramento rental one time. No one but the corporate office of this car rental company thinks that Sacramento is in the Bay Area, but that was okay with me. Big discount!)

Atlanta, Georgia
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9. Re: Vegas, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, San Francisco

slrtravelplanner- the DE for South Dakota did a similar trip last year and had a nice trip report and lodging info. I have taken the liberty to post a link here as it may be very helpful for your family- there was a good choice and mix of lodging here which would be helpful for a family. It has been a number of years since we did the California coast part of your trip.

tripadvisor.com/…42872307

tripadvisor.com/…42851523

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g33039-i829-k56609…

tripadvisor.com/…42872212

tripadvisor.com/…42872198

Knoxville, Tennessee
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10. Re: Vegas, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, San Francisco

Thanks Peach and Pacific! Very helpful info. Much appreciated!