No great west coast road trip is complete without some time in Los Angeles. Fulfil your dreams of strolling the Hollywood Walk of Fame, or people watching down at Santa Monica.. Vegas is a spectacle by night, but what happens before dark? Appreciate the neon-filled city at all hours of the day with time and flexibility to do as you please.. Take a bird’s eye view and admire the winding gorges and desolate rock landscape of the Grand Canyon by helicopter in an unmissable optional activity.. Cover Yosemite’s many trails over two full days and three nights dedicated to the park. You will be able to hike and explore until your heart (and camera) is content.
Los Angeles and San Francisco are two of the most well-known locations in the USA. But what’s in between? The Real LA to San Francisco tour takes you from the bustling vibes of La La Land to the shores of San Francisco, via Arizona and Nevada. See desert landscapes, beautiful national parks and the extravagance of Las Vegas. If you want to experience the buzz of the big city mixed with the adventure of forest and national park, this trip has all your bases covered. Journey through the west coast on a classic North American road trip with the flexibility to go with the flow.
Breakfast Included: Lunches Included: Dinner Included: 1
Welcome to Los Angeles, in the US of A! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting in the hostel lobby today at 6 pm. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you do arrive early, take a stroll on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, experience the food markets of Downtown LA, or head to one of the many theme parks in the area. Following the welcome meeting, take a stroll down Venice and Santa Monica beach for a bit of people watching, and perhaps head for an optional group dinner on the boulevard.
Joshua Tree National Park
Head away from the buzz of the big city and drive to Joshua Tree National Park. Sitting between the Mojave and Colorado Deserts, the park is famous for its spectacular desert plants, cacti and spiky trees, bizarre rock formations and a pretty good U2 album. After a wander through the park, head to Lake Havasu on the Colorado River (at the Arizona border) and set up camp for the night. You might like to head out on a scenic hike around the town, learn the backstory of the city’s unique London Bridge, or even take a refreshing dip in the Colorado River. Covering around 600 kilometres (372 miles) of ground today, there will be time to stop for short walks, photo opportunities and some roadside snacking.
Grand Canyon National Park
Drive towards the Grand Canyon, along a section of Route 66, stopping in at the eccentric town of Seligman. Arriving later in the Grand Canyon National Park, get ready to admire a natural wonder formed by over six million years of erosion by the Colorado River. When you think about its dimensions – 450 kilometres long, 630 kilometres wide and 1600 metres deep – it really does warrant the whole ‘grand’ title. You’ll spend two nights here which allows for a full day of exploration tomorrow. Check out the park’s massive scale on a walk on the rim or, if you’re feeling more active, hike into the canyon itself to stretch your legs. Spend the night at comfortable digs near the park.
Grand Canyon National Park
Today is a free day to explore the Grand Canyon in all of its beauty. Stroll along the meandering South Rim Trail or hike your way down to Plateau Point. If you're feeling extra adventurous and angling for a bird’s eye view, splash out on a scenic helicopter flight over the area. You’ll see the winding rivers from up high – a highly recommended way to understand how each section pieces together. In the early evening, relax at the canyon's edge and enjoy a spectacular sunset over one the world's natural wonders.
Head out of the Grand Canyon and cross the western deserts of Arizona to the original sin city: Las Vegas. Vegas may be known for its casinos and late-night antics, but there's plenty to do if gambling isn't your thing. Hit the shops, see a world-class stage show, feel your stomach drop on a rooftop roller-coaster or stroll along Freemont Street, soaking up this neon-filled desert city. In the evening, head to Pink Taco for an included street taco dinner from the famous LA chain’s cantina located in Las Vegas Hard Rock Hotel – a perfect way to begin a night out on the town. Later on, why not go see a stage show? Remember that tickets can sell out quickly for popular shows, so best to book before your tour begins.
With another day in Las Vegas, continue discovering all things over-the-top. Food-focused travellers may want to check out one of the celebrity chef restaurants around town (Giada De Laurentiis, Gordon Ramsay and Wolfgang Puck all have places here). See the Eiffel Tower of the USA, check out the Bellagio Fountains or visit one of the wacky museums on offer. If you didn’t head out last night, chat to your tour leader for the lowdown on Sin City's best shows, clubs and restaurants, and the option of hiring a limo for the night. You might as well go all out in Las Vegas, right?
Sierra Nevada / Keough Hot Springs
Head out of sin city to the Sierra Nevada mountain range today on your quest for greener pastures. The Sierra Nevadas are sandwiched between Central Valley and Death Valley, a scenic trip that will take you to the town of Bishop, where you’ll camp the night and visit some nearby natural hot springs. In town, perhaps go to Erick Schat’s European-style bakery for a delicious treat, or stop in tomorrow for a coffee and cake on the way to Yosemite.
Yosemite National Park
Drive west into the heart of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to your destination: the magnificent Yosemite National Park. Passing by the striking Mono Lake, your private vehicle will travel through the Tioga Pass (weather permitting) and past serene vistas like Tenaya Lake and the Olmstead Point viewpoint, where you’ll catch a glimpse of one of Yosemite’s most recognisable features – Half Dome. You'll spend three nights in the Yosemite National Park so that there are two full days available to explore at your own pace. The total driving time today is approximately 5 hours.
Yosemite National Park
Today is free to discover the wonders of the park. One of the most famous parks in the USA, Yosemite boasts colossal granite cliffs, cascading waterfalls and redwood forests attract visitors from all over the world. The group leader will point you in the right direction from the village, before leaving you to spend the day as you please. There are plenty of hikes available, each varying in steepness and difficulty. Hike under the cooling breezes of Nevada Falls (4-5 hours) or to the serene Mirror Lake (45 minutes). Keep an eye out for squirrels and perhaps even a bear along the way. You might prefer to hire a bike and explore Yosemite Valley. Visit the park's museum, photo gallery, shops and restaurants along the way, and in the heat of summer a relaxing float down the Merced River is highly recommended.
Yosemite National Park
With a second full day in the park, there’s an opportunity to explore a different side of Yosemite, and the group leader will take you on a guided hike to Hetch Hetchy, an often overlooked, elevated valley in the park’s northwest corner. The name comes from ‘hetchetci’, describing seeds from a grass that grows in the valley. It has a floor elevation of 1150 metres (3800 feet), and one of the main characteristics is its man-made reservoir, built in the early 20th century. The area attracts far fewer visitors than the more well-known Yosemite hiking points, and its remoteness makes it the ideal place to discover cascading waterfalls and beautiful wildflowers.
Leave Yosemite behind today and drive west for about 4 hours to San Francisco. The City by the Bay has a beautiful setting and a vibrant, multicultural heart. This trip finishes on arrival into San Francisco after a stop at the Golden Gate Bridge for a walk. No accommodation provided for tonight. If you do wish to spend extra time in San Francisco, we'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). Perhaps check out the vintage stores along funky Haight Street, catch the tram down to the waterfront or take an adventure cruise on the bay past Alcatraz Island. Better yet, consider booking an Urban Adventures sightseeing tour like Bridge and the Beach, where you’ll see a different side of the Golden Gate from Baker Beach (see urbanadventures.com/destination/san-francisco-tours).