A Travellerspoint blog

Road trip on the west coast of US

LA - Laughlin - Grand Canyon - Monument Valley - Lake powell - Bryce Canyon - Vegas - Death Valley - Bakerfield - Yosemite park - Oakdale - Monterey - San Francisco

semi-overcast 10 °C

Los Angeles

19 th of Nov to 23 th

19 th of November we arrived at LA airport.
First information : get a shuttle for 16 $ which will drive you to your hotel.
2 nd info : want to do all the west coast without a car ? forget it ,rent a car , no other solution ...
We stayed in Banana Bungalow Hostel.
This hostel was ok ,a 6 people dorm for 32 $ a night though but this is the LA price I guess ..
Don't book a car with them ( see below on San Diego )

What to do in LA?

Firstly, you can't walk in all LA , the distance are huge, when I say HUGE it is ! you have so many different part of the city ( Hollywood , Downtown , the Beach , Beverly hill, Melrose etc )
We tried , but after a day it was just too much ( Believe me , if you are at least 25 rent a car ! it's cheap , less than 25 , try to get around by public transportation )
Then, people told me to do not expect too much about LA , and they were right , go there, enjoy it but with not a lot of expectation or you will be disappointed.

Train : 1 $ card + 1.75 $ for one way
Bus : I think it was 1.5 $

At the bottom of this article you will find a map of Hollywood.

- Hollywood sign (if you stay where I stayed, it was 1 hour walk from there), you will see this famous sign and also a great view of LA. ( RED)


- Hollywood main street and his " Walk of fame " ( PINK )


- Santa Monica / Venice beach ( free one way bus via the hostel , take 1 hour ) ; there you will walk along the beach, see the pier, some street market it is very nice to see.


- Downtown of LA ... hum .. we didn't see a lot , actually none is done for tourist, we didn't even know what to see.
The Japanese area was nice and we found a bar randomly ( apparently one of the best of LA) and I recommend you to go if you are around : Angel City Brewery




Others things to do : http://travel.usnews.com/Los_Angeles_CA/Things_To_Do/

( Universal Studio seemed very great but too expensive for us as backpackers )



Following the advice of the hostel, we booked a car via " advanced rent a car near Hollywood " my advice is : AVOID THEM !!!!!!! run even far away , they will scam you.
We rent a car for 86 $ we said to them that we will go to San Diego and I was charged 90 $ on my account because of " limited of 100 km a day " .
Obviously no one told us that , not even the hostel.
Anyway .................

We went to the Zoo, world famous n .1 , 50 $ , was cool but not exceptional.
We also walk near the waterfront and in the city.
Good for a day trip , it took us approx. 2 h 30 from LA.

Others things to see in SD : http://www.sandiegostop10.com/SeeAndDo.aspx


Monday 23 th of Nov : Road trip getting started !

We needed to find a good rental company; as I'm 24 I knew I ll get charged more than if I was 25 + we ll drop off the car in San Francisco ( 150 $ fee in general ) , we called maybe 15 rentals company.
The best was ENTERPRISE , 822 $ for 2 weeks( taxes and insurances included.)
It is still very expensive but if you are 25 you will be ok especially if you are more than 2 to share this cost.

The highways are free, the gas is cheap, I think we spent maybe 200 /250 dollars for all the trip.


DAY 1 : LA - Laughlin : 297 miles ( 5 h / 5h 30 )

We were on the road around 3pm , we got lost and I drove during the night to arrive in Laughlin. ( during the winter , the sunset is around 4 h45 ).
We didn't take a GPS as the cost was 15 $ per day, we used our phone via our connection ( Btw , 40 $ month plan with 3 G )

In Laughlin, we found a really cheap hotel 3 stars for 22 $ a night : Colorado Bell.
Booking.com was our number 1 asset, if you book the night before or even the same day there are huge reduction prices.


DAY 2 : Laughlin - Grand Canyon : 201 miles ( 3h - 3h30 )

Driving again the next morning to finally arriving to the Grand Canyon, it was approx. 10 degrees when we got there.
The entrance was 20 dollars I think, but the best is to buy the annual pass which is 80 $ and you can use it in all parks in US.

In grand canyon you have different points of views, here a map =>http://www.destination360.com/north-america/us/arizona/images/s/aerial-map-of-grand-canyon.jpg

You can hike there but the winter wasn't the good season unfortunately..

We spent the night in a car as the hotels in the park are very expensive // Bad idea when it's cold ! we didn't sleep well but we have seen the sunrise at least :P


DAY 3 : Grand Canyon - Monument Valley : 152 miles ( 2h30/ 3 h ) and then Monument Valley - Lake Powell : 130 miles ( 2 h 30 )


After this beautiful sunrise in GC, I drove to Monument Valley ( free ), seeing the beautiful rocks and the drove again to Lake Powell.


We were staring at this beautiful landscape but once again...... because of the winter, we couldn't swim and enjoying the water with different activities ..
We spent the night in PAGE ( the closest city close by the Lake ).


DAY 4 :Lake powell - Bryce Canyon : 147 miles ( 2h30/ 3 h ) and then Bryce Canyon - Las Vegas : 260 miles ( 4 h / 4 h30 )

Bryce Canyon was amazing, the snow on the orange mountains looked so beautiful.
We walked a bit but we didn't have the right shoes to make it till the end.


Then we drove to VEGAS :D

As we were on Thursday night , the hotels were cheap, we spent the night in MIRAGE Hotel. ( https://www.mirage.com/en.html )
And I will add : If you plan to stay in Vegas, go there !!!!
We tried 4 hotels in Vegas, this one was the best so far.
You even have a " secret garden " where there are dolphins and tigers in lol.
We spent only a night because the prices for the week end were much more expensive but we have been upgraded and got a suite for the price of a double room :)


We stayed in Rita Suites 95 $ ( I do not recommend it to you, too expensive for what it is)


Vegas has a lot to offer :

- Shopping in the outlet (http://www.premiumoutlets.com/outlet/las-vegas-north )
- Shopping in different hotels as the Venetian or Ceasar
- Gambling
- Party , btw, don't forget to put your name on the Guestlist of the place you want to be ( http://www.freevegasclubpasses.com/free-guestlist-vegas-clubs/ )
- Walking in the strip
- Go for a day trip to Death Valley
- Go for a day trip to Grand Canyon


For our 3rd night in Vegas, we stayed in SLS vegas. ( 87 $ all included ).
Great room as well.

4th night was in Palace station for 30 $

DAY 8 : Las Vegas - Death Valley ( 150 miles ) 2h30 and then DV to Bakerfield ( 230 miles , 4 h )

After had chilled for few days in Vegas, We started to drive again to Death Valley.
Death valley is usually very hot all year long, but even there we couldn't get a good one lol , approx. 12 degrees lol.
Think to eat before arriving there, the food is very expensive inside and no Burger King or Mc Donald around lol.
We found a hotel via booking in Bakerfield and spent the night there.


DAY 9 : Bakerfield - Yosemite national park ( 250 miles) 5h30 /6 h

Ok .. the GPS will say 3 hours to go to Yosemite , but actually they speak about the " entry " of the park.
Once you get there you still need to drive few hours to get where you need to go lol.
Yosemite is my favourite place on this trip.
We saw some coyote, deers and beautiful mountains.

There are a lot of trails available, here is a good website : http://www.yosemitehikes.com/

Map of Yosemite : http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/upload/YOSEmap1.pdf



Day 10 : Yosemite - Oakdale : 66 miles ( 2 h )

We spent the night in Yosemite Bug ( approx. 80 $ a night )

They also have dorm, a kitchen, hot tub for 10 $, it is 1 hour drive from the village of Yosemite.
We made the " mist trail ", the path was frozen, quiet hard to make it without good shoes on ...
Then, we spent the night in Oadkale.
Ps: think about filling up your car with gas before going on road, there are not a lot of gas stations. ( we lost an hour trying to find one lol )

Day 11 : Oakdale - Monterey 150 miles ( 2h30 / 3 h )

Monterey is a very nice city and known for his whales watching.

Here is a map : http://monterey.org/portals/1/images/maps/ExploreMap/ExploreMontereyMapMain.jpg

Once we got there, we walk around the Cannary row ( where the shops are ).

At the end of the day we have been shopping in "Del monte shopping center" ( near the cheapest hotel anyway :P ).

Day 12 : Monterey - Carmel - SF 120 miles 2 h

We came back near Cannary row to see the Sea Lion laying on the beach by hundreds lol, try to see some whales by where we were and there are also some very nice spots to take a picture of.


Then, we spent an hour in Carmel by the sea, nice to see but their shops are pricy.

San Francisco


What to do in SF ?

- The famous Golden Gate Bridge, you can access easily by bus, just ask the staff of your hotel
( bus is 2 $ for 2 hours unlimited)
- Golden Gate park, where you can see some Bison
- Twin Peaks : Beautiful view on SF ( access only by car so think to go there before drop off your car )
- Union Square ( all the shops are in this area )
- Chinatown
- Fisherman's Wharf: really nice to see, it is also where you can see Sea Lion
- Castro : gay neighbourhood , it's cool if you pass by but don't go there just for it.


Most of SF Bars are on Polk street ( http://www.timeout.com/san-francisco/bars )

We stayed in Nob Hill Hotel which had a huge discount, we paid 210 dollars for 3 nights, it is right on Hyde street ( city center).
You can walk all around in San Francisco , it is smaller than LA, you just need to have strong legs when you're going up and down the hills.

Posted by celia0409 14:16 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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