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round trip San Francisco 19 days

hi, its my first time to US.
i am travelling solo and my main air tic is a round trip Singapore-SF 8 Jun'22- 27 Jun'22 (19 days)
i am not sure what to see or do. i know that Las Vegas and LA are 2hrs flight away from SF.
i like nature and i heard about Yosemite National park, grand canyon and death valley.

i was thinking if it it feasible to spend around 5-6 days in each city; first day head straight to Vegas-LA-SF or should i drop one of the cities?
are or there better sceneries or itineraries I should consider? is it feasible to drive alone on a road trip?

any advise please? thank you.

Posted by
21852 posts

O'''' you are looking at a lot of territory to cover. Get a map and put in a few pins to get any idea of the distances involved. You will not have any problem driving along other than the distances. You really need to spend sometime with guidebooks and identify things that appeal to you. You have the wine country north of SF and the redwood coast forests than can occupy a lot of time IF that is your interest. Many interesting areas in and around SF. As an American I have little interest in Las Vegas with the heavy emphasis on gambling. But -- that might appeal to you. Lake Tahoe is 3 hours west of SF is very scenic with lots of trees and rocks.

We probably could be more helpful if you returned with more specific questions.

Posted by
29 posts

Hello - Exciting that you are planning a trip to San Francisco and other nearby places! It is certainly feasible to drive alone. I'm afraid I don't know anything about Singapore, but here in the U.S., we drive on the right, in left-hand drive cars. The drive down the pacific coast from the SF area is one of the world's great scenic drives. When I did it, I started on the coast south of SF, around Santa Cruz. From there, you can follow Rt. 1 (the Pacific Coast Highway, or the "PCH") southward down the coast, through Monterey, Carmel, and the wilderness of Big Sur. Beautiful drive. (Gas up before you enter Big Sur.) You can follow that all the way down to the Los Angeles area, where you can turn inland and wind your way over to Death Valley. California is a big state! San Francisco itself is certainly worth a few days, depending on what you like to do. The Fisherman's Wharf area can be crowded and touristy, but is still a good place to stroll around and find lots of places to shop and eat. Have fun!

Posted by
3330 posts

Death Valley really isn’t a place to visit in the summer. Check temperature records. I believe the highest it has experienced are among the highest ever recorded on the planet.
Yosemite is magnificent. It is certainly worth 3, or even 4 days of your time. BUT, you need to line up lodging right now. If you are unable to secure a place in the park, check back here. People can suggest places just outside the park that will work for you.
At least half of your time should be spent in and around San Francisco. A good guide book or internet search will provide specifics of what to see and do in the city itself. Nearby are Point Reyes National Seashore and Muir Woods National Monument. (The latter may now require a reservation.). A little further away is the Monterey Peninsula, very beautiful.
L.A. is really just an hour by plane from S.F., but you have to add time to get to the airport (not actually in the city) and time for security clearing. If you haven’t already bought your ticket home, you should do multi-city, Singapore - SF, LA - Singapore. Otherwise you will waste a whole day just getting back for your return flight.
Again, a good guide book will help you pinpoint the attractions you wish to visit in and around L.A. It’s very important to know that public transportation is very limited in southern California, so you will have to figure out how to get around.
My own opinion of Las Vegas is that it is a disgusting example of human desecration of the planet. I’ll say no more.

Posted by
12 posts

My air tic is fixed, round trip Singapore-SF 8 Jun'22- 27 Jun'22 (20 days).
i am a half city half nature guy. 3 days in a city is gd enough for me, will like to explore nature in the nearby region.
any tips to find cheap and decent car rental? is driving alone very tiring and requires more stops?
i am surprised no one recommended grand canyon or antelope canyon?!

Thanks Tresana for recommending redwood coast forests and lake tahoe. unfortunately, i dont appreciate wine so the wine county may be out.

Hi Miles, you r right, the driving in singapore is opposite from US. is it easy to find a motel as and when you will like to stop or is it preferably to book online beforehand in June period?

Thanks Rosalyn, you right. yosemite requires reservation now and you can only bid for it one week beforehand just for normal entry, not overnight stay. thanks for recommending Point Reyes National Seashore and Muir Woods National Monument.

Posted by
842 posts

Regarding the Grand Canyon. No one mentioned it because it’s about a 14 hour drive from San Francisco. That’s excluding stops. Your 19 days are better spent exploring California. Generally speaking finding motel rooms along
The major freeways is pretty easy and you could do it at the last minute. Major chains include Best Western, comfort inn, and holiday inn express. You just might want to search a given location’s reviews before booking. Quality can vary widely.

Posted by
5752 posts

In my experience, many first time visitors to the USA do not have a clear idea of the scale of the country (especially those who coe from smaller nations). The distances between many of the places you mention are very very long.

You need to limit the scope of your trip, or you will spend too much of it driving driving driving driving driving all day long for many days. You can (and should) pick and prioritize what's most interesting and most important to you, but if you try to include large places that are very far apart, your trip will suffer.

The great national parks of the western US are wonderful and worth seeing. But you have to be careful not to try to see more tha one or two of the if you are also including cities or other places that are far apart. Don't try to drive very long distances. Avoid Death Valley. Skip outliers like Yellowstone (save for another trip). I agree that Las Vegas has very little appeal (although I know many foreign visitors want to go there...in my view, your time is better spent elsewhere).

As suggested above, get a guidebook -- and a map! -- and pick out your top priorities. Plan to return another time -- there is a lot to see, and driving distances between many of the places you want to see are crazy long. Driving is safe enough but be very careful about fatigue (you will arrive jetlagged and tired).

Posted by
8844 posts

any tips to find cheap and decent car rental?

Not really---- a service like Turo may be less, but has it's own set of issues.

is driving alone very tiring and requires more stops?

How accustomed to driving on the right hand side are you? If you have a GPS that speaks the instructions being alone can be much better than dealing with disgruntled kids in the backseat. :-)

Going to Grand Canyon, Yosemite etc is somewhat limited by what you have already arranged for lodging, or how far you are willing to 'commute' to see that type of major attraction. They are definitely worth seeing but getting a place to stay on relatively short notice will be challenging.

Unless you want the wall to wall casino experience, Las Vegas can be a stopover en-route the Grand Canyon

Going up the Calif coast makes a trip to Crater Lake manageable ( https://www.nps.gov/crla/index.htm )

Posted by
691 posts

You have already received a lot of great advice.

Here are a couple of options (1) includes SF, LA, and Vegas with a side trip to Grand Canyon (2) SF with a side trip to Yosemite and Vegas with a side trip to Grand Canyon (3) SF to LA with stops at Big Sur.

Option 1:
- Day 1: Arrive in San Francisco (don't rent a car), recover from your flight
- Day 2-Day5: Visit SF, if you want to explore the local redwoods you can take a tour to Muir Woods or the Sausalito Ferry to Muir Woods shuttle (weekends). If you want to stay in the city, the Presido or Golden Gate Park has walking/cycling trails. There are great neighborhoods to visit along with the traditional tourist sites. If you provide your interests, can share some recommendations.
- Day 6-9: Fly to Vegas and spend two days in Vegas with a side trip for a day to the Grand Canyon. If you are planning to go to the Grand Canyon and don't want to take a tour, then rent a car. The Grand Canyon is a day trip to the West Rim. You can stop along the way to see Hoover Dam. The West Rim owned by the Hualapai Indian Tribe, so you will need to park at the Welcome Center and take a shuttle that will take you to some of the most popular viewpoints. The number one recommendation is the Skywalk Glass Bridge. This horseshoe-shaped glass floor extends over the edge of a 4,000-foot drop to the bottom of Grand Canyon West.
- Day 10-13: Fly to LA. You will need a car. Lots to do in LA, including visiting some of the most fantastic coastline.
- Day 14-17: Drive to Yosemite (will take 6 hours). Spend a few days in Yosemite (make sure you make reservations in advance).
- Day 18: Drive back to San Francisco for your last day. I would recommend that you drop your car off and then go back into the City for your last night or stay near the airport and take the train in the City.
Option 2:
- Day 1: Arrive in San Francisco (don't get car)
- Day 2-Day6: Visit SF, if you want to explore the local redwoods you can take a tour to Muir Woods or the Sausalito Ferry to Muir Woods shuttle (weekends). If you want to stay in the city, the Presido or Golden Gate Park has walking/cycling trails. There are great neighborhoods to visit along with the traditional tourist sites. If you provide your interests, can share some recommendations.
- Day 7-11: Pick up car and drive to Yosemite (will take 4-6 hours, depending on traffic), spend a few days in Yosemite.
- Day 12-17: Drive to Las Vegas or drive to a local airport and fly to Vegas (closest airport is Merced, Oakland will have the most flights). Driving is about 8.5 hours, Flying will save you about 2-3 hours. Same advice for above except that if you skip LA, you have the options of going to the South Rim (staying the night) and the driving back to Vegas.
- Day 17-19: Stay near SF (same advice as above).

Option 3:
Day 1: Arrive in San Francisco (don't get car)
- Day 2-Day5: Visit SF, if you want to explore the local redwoods you can take a tour to Muir Woods or the Sausalito Ferry to Muir Woods shuttle (weekends). If you want to stay in the city, the Presido or Golden Gate Park has walking/cycling trails. There are great neighborhoods to visit along with the traditional tourist sites. If you provide your interests, can share some recommendations.
- Day 6: pick up car and drive down the Highway 1 to Monterey, stopping along the way at Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz.
- Day 7-9: stay in Monterey, visit the aquarium, whale watch, kayak Elkhorn Slough.
- Day 10-12: drive down Hwy 1 to Big Sur and stay in Big Sur 1.5 days.
- Day 13-14: drive down to Cambria (stay near Moonstone beach), visit Hearst Castle, the Elephant Seals, hike Fiscalini Preserve.
- Day 14-15: drive to Santa Barbara and stay for a few days.
- Day 15-18: drive to LA and stay in LA, fly back the evening of the 18th day and stay near the airport in SF, spending your last day in SF.

Posted by
77 posts

Hi, you’ve got lots of good advice already, but I think your plan of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Yosemite is doable. We took a similar trip several years ago and only had about 12 days (admittedly we like fast paced travel and it was a LOT of driving). The driving was tougher than we expected, especially in the more mountainous areas near Yosemite. And the traffic around LA and San Francisco was no picnic either! Allow for longer drive times than Google Maps will predict😀.

We only spent two nights each in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and it was rushed. We definitely could have spent much longer times in both cities. In Los Angeles, a bus tour called “A Day in LA” got us to the high points in LA and Hollywood without us having to fight traffic and find parking. Adayinlatours.com

We loved the Pacific Coast Highway (we took it from LA to San Francisco). Lots of interesting stops/beautiful views. I know there’s been some road closures around Big Sur in recent years, so definitely research that before you set your plans. I’m not up to date on what the status is currently.

In our case, we made a loop in and out of Las Vegas (very affordable flights from our home city). To me, Las Vegas is worth a night or two if you’ve never seen it, and if are interested in that sort of thing, but not essential. Much better things to see in the US! There are tours to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas, but I think it’s pretty far afield for your trip. And I think the Grand Canyon deserves more then a couple hours day trip. And I recommend seeing the South rim of the GC. Most of the day trips from Vegas go to the East Rim I think. I haven’t seen the East Rim, but the idea of a glass platform over the canyon wasn’t appealing to me (but to each is own!).

On our trip, we stopped at Death Valley NP just to experience it for a few hours, knowing it would be way too hot to do any walking/hiking (it was June). And it was unspeakably hot! We worked it into our loop back to Vegas for our flight home.

For Yosemite, I believe you will
need an special entry ticket in addition of the regular National Parks pass. That’s something you’ll need to plan ahead for and do some research. From recreation.gov:

Beginning May 20, 2022 through September 30, 2022 reservations are required to visit Yosemite during peak hours 6 am to 4 pm.
Tickets go on sale for all arrival dates, May 20th through September 30th, at 8 am PT on March 23, 2022

I wouldn’t leave lodging near Yosemite to chance. It’s a very popular park, and you may have to find a hotel outside the park(which is fine) since your trip is soon. We stayed at a motel called the Aladdin Inn. It was clean and worked for us (not fancy) but outside the park. Check current reviews-my experience was a few years ago.

There is also Sequoia National Park in California. We ended up skipping it during our trip, because it didn’t fit into our time
Frame. It may or may not fit into your finished itinerary.

I think how much you do on this trip really depends on your travel style-do you prefer fast or slow travel? As for safety, I wouldn’t worry about being a single traveler-just be observant of your surroundings as you would anywhere.

Posted by
13211 posts

Some good suggestions above, but here is a reality check.

Yosemite is one of the most difficult places to visit, especially with last-minute planning like this. You absolutely must have reservations, and if your lodging is not inside the park you also need a day-use permit to enter the park. Most of those permits for June were released for booking in late March and were all taken. They will release a limited number of additional permits each day, one week in advance of the entry date, so you would need to be ready to grab one for your visit the moment they are released. Here is more information:

https://www.recreation.gov/timed-entry/10086745?tab=info

So it is much better to have lodging reserved inside the park ( so you don’t need a separate entry permit), but those lodges and cabins went on sale a year ago and were almost fully booked up at that time. Usually there are some tent cabins at Curry Village left, but for June those may have been booked more recently. Then, some people cancel their reservation made long ago, and the room or cabin appears back on the official website. So you may find something for one night here or there if you keep looking ( several times a day), but it is very difficult to find a 2-night or longer stay at this point.

If you want to look, use ONLY the official website for Yosemite lodging, which is https://www.travelyosemite.com/

There are websites like one called “national park reservations” that will say they can book you a room at a park lodge, then switch you to a room in a motel outside the park—-and then you cannot enter the park unless you have that day use permit.

So I would suggest you skip Yosemite altogether.

Grand Canyon National Park is well worth a visit, and lodging can be hard to find there as well, but it is not as crucial to stay inside the park there. It is preferable, but not essential like it is at Yosemite.

The official websites for booking at the park lodges at Grand Canyon NP are:

South Rim: https://www.grandcanyonlodges.com/ and https://www.visitgrandcanyon.com/yavapai-lodge

North Rim: https://www.grandcanyonforever.com/

If there is nothing available inside the park, there are motels and hotels in the village of Tusayan, right at the park entrance.

I am not a fan of Grand Canyon West and the Skywalk suggested above. It is highly promoted to Las Vegas tourists, but it is expensive, and you are not at the best part of the Grand Canyon.

There are other national parks near to your route which are well worth seeing, and I will suggest a basic route. Start in San Francisco, spend 3-4 days in the city without a car. Then rent a car for 5 days and drive up the coast and back, for the redwoods and coast views.

If rental car prices at San Francisco look too high, I have found decent prices on car rentals in the past month by looking at Santa Rosa. You can get there by ferry plus commuter train from San Francisco. We had fun doing this.

If you want to spend more time in California with the car, you can visit Big Sur and Monterey south of San Francisco, or maybe Lake Tahoe to the east.

Then return the car at Santa Rosa (or maybe SFO—-it did not cost extra for us) and fly to Los Angeles. Alaska Airlines has direct flights. Spend the time you want in Las Angeles without a car, then fly to Las Vegas and rent another car there to drive to the Grand Canyon. Consider adding Bryce and Zion National parks, which makes for a nice loop back to Las Vegas.

Return the car at Las Vegas and fly back to San Francisco for your flight home.

Posted by
5752 posts

Really good reality-check above about the difficulty of visiting Yosemite.

I live in the US, on the west coast, I can be stubborn and bull-headed when necessary and am willing to go through a lot of preparation and planning to make trips happen. I have made several attempts to go to Yosemite (with months of advance planning). I've given up on Yosemite every time, frustrated and disappointed, eventually deciding that while Yosemite does look nice, it's just not worth all the trouble it would take to actually go and have a good experience there (I know, that's blasphemy to many, but there are plenty of other places to go that are equally special, if not as well known, that don't require all the long-range planning, hoop-jumping and getting lucky).

OP does not seem well prepared for what it would take to pull off a successful Yosemite visit. Best to spend their time elsewhere, I suspect.

Posted by
12 posts

I have done some research. Couldnt get a spot to Yosemite at all. thank you everyone for the advice, now i will check for any reservations needed for any national park. like red woods, muirs etc.

Since I touch down to SF on the 1st day at 11.35am, might as well take a later flight to Vegas after I touch down to SF. Booking air tic tmr after work.

Spending 2 days in Vegas city and 4 days to explore canyon. if cannot get accom or car for canyon trip, will consider tour. Currently reserve one accom for 11 and 12 Jun near Valle airport, 30mins away from Grand Canyon entrance.

Spend 1 day to drive or fly from Vegas to LA. 3 days in LA.

Spend 4 days to drive from LA to SF via Pacific west coast highway.
Haven’t decided what to do at SF.

Any advice to amend my itinerary?

Day Stay
8-Jun wed SF-Vegas Vegas

9-Jun thu Vegas Vegas

10-Jun fri Vegas Vegas

11-Jun sat Drive to Canyon Canyon park

12-Jun sun Canyon Canyon park

13-Jun mon Drive to Page Page

14-Jun tue Drive to Antelope Vegas

15-Jun wed Drive/fly LA LA

16-Jun thu LA LA

17-Jun fri LA LA

18-Jun sat LA LA

19-Jun sun LA Cambria

20-Jun mon Cambria Paso Robles

21-Jun tue Cambria Monterey

22-Jun wed Monterey SF

23-Jun thu SF SF

24-Jun fri SF SF

25-Jun sat SF SF

26-Jun sun SF SF

27-Jun mon 13:40 flight Home

Posted by
13211 posts

A couple of things come to mind right away.

I suggest you plan to fly from Las Vegas to LA, not drive. If you keep the car you rented in Las Vegas to drive to LA, spend time there, and then drive up the coast to San Francisco, turning it in as soon as you arrive there, it will add over $1000 to the cost of the rental car, compared to renting at Las Vegas for the Grand Canyon and returning the car there, then flying to LA and picking up another one there. This is due to the combination of large drop fees for taking the car from Nevada to California, plus the extra time you will have the car.

You definitely do not need or want a car in San Francisco. LA is more spread out and not as easy by public transport, but traffic is terrible. Maybe you could limit your LA sightseeing to a few things that can be reached easily without a car. Or limit your time in LA altogether—-it is not a great tourist destination unless you have a great interest in Hollywood, movie-making, and Disneyland (which is in Anaheim, not LA). Yes, there are some great museums, and nice beaches, but the city itself is “meh”.

Why 2 nights in Page? The main thing to do there is Antelope Canyon. You must have reservations with a Navajo guide to enter the canyons, and they may well be sold out. If you can get a reservation, you still need only one night in Page. The lake there is so low there are no water activities worth doing.

Cambria is great, but it is known as a romantic destination for couples, and priced accordingly. Nearby Morro Bay offers less expensive accommodations if that matters. Or the villages of Cayucos ( with a nice beach) or San Simeon. Paso Robles is a wine destination and very hot in June, as it is inland, away from the beach. No reason to go there for a person not interested in wine.

Posted by
12 posts

thanks Lola, i will check out the car rental price and air ticket price. i was intending to return a round trip car in vegas and rent a new car from vegas and drop at LA, thinking its a popular pick up destination.

its 2 nights in canyon and 1 night in Page. after 2nd night in canyon, drive to Page in the day and stay one night there.

4D3N itinerary pacific coast highway is just reference i took randomly. havent dive deep in the stops.

is there any area i can save one day because i am thinking of doing a day trip to see death valley?

is it better to drive from page back to vegas via zion national park route?

Thanks.

Posted by
12 posts

i have 3 nights and 2 days in vegas before renting a car to head for canyon. i touch down at around 17:15, planning to stay in hostels n taking bus from airport.
where should i stay to explore the city, fremont street or the strip?

Posted by
15045 posts

Before you buy any more plane tickets, make sure you have lodgings in those places. You're looking at very short lead time and high season. Grand Canyon lodgings aren't as hard to get as Yosemite, but they sure aren't easy either.

Also, I wouldn't count on being able to find a room on the fly anywhere in California. Book ahead or you may end up sleeping in the car.

Posted by
691 posts

For Vegas, check on hotel rooms on the strip for deals. If you are not going to have a car, you will eat up expenses Ubering/Lyfting or taxing from place to place. I personally would stay on the strip if I didn't have a car (Excalibur is one of the lower cost options with a free Monorail to Mandalay Bay, Luxor, and a short walk to NY/NY and MGM.

I personally don't like Fremont street, but you can find good hotel deals there (better than the strip). The problem is that you will have to take a taxi anywhere you want to go.

Posted by
12 posts

thank you guys.

i managed to get lodging at williams, one hour away from grand canyon.

i am renting car from 11 jun to 14 jun.
i am kind of frustrated comparing the car rental price. the third party website like, carngo or renta-car.com seems cheap and they are getting the car from Hertz. but doesnt cover roadside assistance and though include GPS but before tax.

when i look at Hertz website, the cost is almost doubled, and certain coverage has to be bought over the counter. no GPS mentioned.

enterprise only includes base rate, all insurance coverage and equipment is to be purchased at the counter.

i have also checked from budget, sixt and advantage. seemed to me some dont mention if they cover 0 excess damage.

should i pay and reserve the cheapest from direct car company website and pay all the coverage when i am there or should i
go there to look for one?