USA Travel by Car in 3 weeks

Travel around USA in a car


Summary of Itinerary


Day 1:        Arrive in San Francisco late afternoon.


                    3 nights in San Francisco.



Day 2:        San Francisco: Alamo Square, Palace of Fine Arts, Golden Gate Bridge.



Day 3:        San Francisco: Alcatraz, Fishermans Wharf/Pier 39, Chinatown, Transamerica Tower, Tram rides.



Day 4:        Collect Car. Morning San Francisco: Golden Gate Park, Lombard Street.


                    Afternoon drive North to Red Bluff near Lassen Volcanic National Park (3 hour drive).


                    1 night in Red Bluff.



Day 5:        1 hour drive to visit Lassen Volcanic Park. Including 3 mile walk to see mudpools and geysers.


                    Leave in afternoon and drive to Oakhurst just south of Yosemite National Park (5.5 hour drive).


                    2 nights in Oakhurst.



Day 6:        Visit Yosemite. Couple of short walks and loads of viewpoints.



Day 7:        Drive to Monterey going via Ano Nuevo State Reserve to see Elephant Seals (5 hour drive).

                    3 nights in Monterey.



Day 8:        Monterey: Kayaking at Elkhorn Slough in morning (Sea Otters, Seals, Sealions, Pelicans) and visited Monterey Aquarium in afternoon. 



Day 9:         Monterey: 4 hour Whale Watching trip and drive round Carmel coastline late afternoon.



Day 10:       Drive down Big Sur coast to Los Angeles stopping at Point Lobos State Reserve and another Elephant Seal viewpoint (6 hour drive).


                     3 nights in Los Angeles.


                     Overnight Los Angeles.



Day 11:        Visit Griffith Observatory, Hollywood, Walk of Fame, Beverly Hills and Venice beach.



Day 12:       Visit Universal Studios.



Day 13:       Drive to Las Vegas (4 hour drive).


                     2 nights in Las Vegas.



Day 14:       Las Vegas: Casinos/hotels/shops. Hoover Dam (1 hour drive each way.



Day 15:       Drive to Bryce Canyon National Park going via Zion National Park (5hours). Watch sunset at Bryce.


                     1 night in Tropic, town near Bryce.



Day 16:      Visit Bryce in morning. Including 3 mile walk into canyon. Afternoon drive to Moab near Arches National Park. (5 hour drive).


                  2 nights in Moab.



Day 17:    Visit Arches. Including 3 mile walk to Delicate Arch and 1.5 mile walk to Landscape Arch.



Day 18:      Drive to Tusayan just south of Grand Canyon going via Monument Valley (6 hour drive). Watch sunset at Grand Canyon.


                  2 nights in Tusayan.



Day 19:    Visit Grand Canyon.



Day 20:   Drive to San Diego via Phoenix going close to Mexico border (9 hour drive).


                  2 nights in San Diego.



Day 21:    Visit SeaWorld.



Day 22:    Leave San Diego very early and fly home.



Day 23:    Arrive home early morning.




General Information:


We stayed in mid-range motels/hotels: Super8, Travelodge, Best Western, plus a couple of independent ones. Most we booked through Expedia or Booking.com or comparison website garlic.com.


We always use Tripadvisor to check hotel reviews. We stayed at the “New York, New York” in Las Vegas which was great fun.


I drove just over 3,500 miles in the 3 weeks, so a lot of driving.


If you missed out Lassen and Arches then this would reduce the amount of driving significantly, but having said that I’m really glad we went to both of these.


We aimed for a mixture of scenery, walking, wildlife, cities and theme parks but you can obviously tailor to your preference.


There is absolutely loads to see at all of these places and we really wish we had longer virtually everywhere. There is a lot that we didn’t manage to see or do!


Temperatures ranged from around 16C in San Francisco to 44C in Vegas and Phoenix at that time of year. So any outdoor activities are best planned for the morning! One of my daughters fainted the first time she we went from the air-conditioned car into the desert heat, so you do need to be careful.





Lots, but I’d probably say:


Kayaking with Sea Otters near Monterey


Walk into Bryce Canyon


The mad world that is Las Vegas


The spectacular scenery of Utah.





I dread to think the total, and don’t really want to know, but in general:


Flights: Around $1200 pp, but we didn’t fly direct which reduced it down to around $1000 pp.


Hotels: From $110-$180 per night for 4.


Car Hire: $550 for 18 days for intermediate SUV.


Petrol: Very cheap, less than half the price of UK.


Food/meals: Similar price to UK, maybe slightly cheaper.


Plus cost for extra activities and ticket entry to National Parks, Universal and Seaworld. 


Took me several weeks/months of planning to work out a suitable itinerary, plus hotels and activities, so if you are thinking of something similar you need to plan ahead!