That the United States is a country that many have in your bucket list, also in my case, is no secret. All the series and movies we’ve watched since we were little and we keep watching, have been filmed here. Admittedly, we all have stored in our minds millions of places that we have seen many times on the big screen, and we dream about going one day right? And mostly on the West Coast where most of those movies and series are filmed and with which many of us have grown up.
Who has not seen Beverly Hills 90210, Baywatch, the Prince of Bel Air, Melrose Place, Californication, Full House or Pacific Blue among many others? Yes, Pacific Blue, that tv show where Santa Monica cops patrolled Los Angeles Coast, aka Venice Beach or Santa Monica on a bicycle. Most of them are filmed in California, so I think it has become without knowing, a dream destination for many of us. I am, of course, one of them.
There are so many things to discover on the West Coast of the United States!
Los Angeles, with its famous Walk of Fame, the beaches of Venice Beach and its famous canals, Hollywood, etc. If you are a big fan of the movies, you will recognize movie scenarios at every corner. Here, more than anywhere you breathe the American Dream in the air.
As the”Pretty Woman” movie started saying:
“Welcome to Hollywood! What’s your dream? They all come here; This is Hollywood, Land of Dreams. Some dreams come true; others do not, But keep dreaming, this is Hollywood. It’s always time to dream, so keep dreaming. “
Who hasn’t dreamed of walking in San Francisco for its steep streets, seeing its iconic Golden Gate Bridge, its colorful Victorian houses, its piers full of sea lions…?
Or to go to Las Vegas, bet on their famous casinos only to see if we are lucky and because there are things to do once in a lifetime and as the famous phrase says “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”
I recommend you to go to one of its famous shows like the Cirque of Soleil, Jennifer Lopez music concerts or the Britney Spears ones. Also, it is incredible to walk around the hotels, inspired in all parts of the World, from Venice to Paris; New York or to ancient Rome like the “Caesar´s Palace.”
Its streets and buildings are full of neon signs. Vegas is magical by night. I recommend you to arrive just after the sunset and ride the entire Strip, a section of the street Las Vegas Boulevard South where the activity does not stop in 24 hours and where all the hotels and the most famous casinos in Las Vegas are. It’s awesome!
I have such good memories of this moment like I have some good memories too of the first time I went to Times Square in New York and you see all the immensity around you, all the people, high skyscrapers and everything, absolutely everything, full of neons. It is one of those moments that are stuck in you retina forever.
The United States is a country that amazes you. You’re amazed by a lot of things. Its National Parks are also spectacular. One of the things you can do in Las Vegas is to go to the Grand Canyon in the adjoining state of Arizona. I’ll explain in more detail in the post of Las Vegas.
From Las Vegas, as we did, a good option also is to drive to Page, a small town in the state of Arizona, located on the shores of Lake Powell, and visit the Antelope Canyon and the Horseshoe Bend. Again, I’ll give you all the details once I publish the Arizona post.
Without a doubt, the trip to the West coast of the United States is a dream trip where all kind of experiences and places have room. Where you will drive around big cities but also you will pass by deserts, will walk between vineyards, and natural canyons, live the experience of driving on the part of the famous Route 66. You will see ghost towns and typical towns from the films of the American West; you will be delighted by the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, you’ll be surprised to see animals like sea lions, seals or sea elephants.
If you are lucky, you can even see whales depending on what months you do this trip or you can also enjoy the migration of the monarch butterfly.
Let’s go! Join me in this incredible tour!
How much time do you need?
Since I was about ten years old, I wanted to go to California, and finally, my dream came true. We decided to make this trip in 3 weeks.
Instead of making this trip with friends or as a couple, as I always have visualized, we did it in a family: I went with my husband and our daughter who washy that time, a year and four months old. So if you read this and you are a parent, I tell you it is entirely possible to do it with a toddler.
If you do not have so much time, you can make this trip in 2 weeks and miss San Diego or Arizona although I would recommend you 100% to go to Arizona.
There are also some people who say that Los Angeles is not worth it and that spending 1 or 2 days there are more than enough. However, I have to say that I fell in love with Los Angeles. We spent there almost five days -not in a row, in 2 parts- and I think I could have stayed even more days… There are so many things to see and do there! Los Angeles certainly has something special. Not for nothing, it is called the City of the Stars am I right?
I would also recommend you to spend a couple of days in Napa Valley, located only an hour and a half north of San Francisco. It’s a fantastic experience. And ignore the typical comment of “American wines are terrible, it is not worth to go.” They have no idea.Haven´t you drink some bad wines from Europe or South America? For sure you have. Well, the same thing happens here.
While the country has a relatively young wine culture compared to the thousands of years of Europe’s history and tradition, the technology and willingness to produce an excellent wine has paid off.
Currently, California is the most important wine region in the United States, as it produces 90% of all the country’s wine, so it is positioned as the fourth-largest wine-producing country in the world after France, Italy, and Spain.
What to see on the west coast of the United States in 3 weeks?
This was our tour:
- Day 1. Arrival in Los Angeles. Night in Los Angeles.
- Day 2. We visited Los Angeles.
- Day 3: Visit Los Angeles, Venice Beach, Santa Monica.
- Day 4: Road trip to Las Vegas, Route 66. Night in Las Vegas (Nevada)
- Day 5: Road trip from Las Vegas to Lake Powell. Night in Page (Arizona).
- Day 6. Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon and Lake Powell. Night in Page (Arizona).
- Day 7. Road trip from Page to Las Vegas. Night in Las Vegas.
- Day 8. Day in Las Vegas. Grand Canyon of Colorado. Night in Las Vegas.
- Day 9. We spent the day in Las Vegas. Night in Las Vegas.
You can see here the map of the first part of the trip.
- Day 10. We flew from Las Vegas to San Francisco. Night in San Francisco.
- Day 11. We visited San Francisco. Night in SF.
- Day 12. We’re going from San Francisco to Napa Valley. Night in Calistoga.
- Day 13. Road trip from Calistoga to San Francisco. Night in SF.
- Day 14. San Francisco and Santa Cruz. Night near Monterrey
- Day 15. Monterey, Carmel by the Sea and a part of Big Sur. Night in San Simeon
- Day 16. Hearst Castle, Pismo Beach. Solvang. Santa Barbara. Night in Los Angeles.
- Day 17. Los Angeles. Warner Bros. Studios. Night at the.
- Day 18: Road trip from Los Angeles to San Diego. Night in San Diego.
- Day 19. La Joya Beach, Laguna Beach (Orange County) and night in Laguna Beach.
- Day 20. LAX Airport. End of Trip
You can see here the second map of the first part of the trip.
This was the tour we made. Obviously, I would change some things or add another ones if I could do this trip again. I will explain all these things and everything we visit point by point in future posts that I’m going to publish.
Ok, let’s start!
How to get to California and how to get out of the airport
If you plan to make this trip, you will fly to San Francisco or Los Angeles. Los Angeles main airport is LAX, and it has flights from all over the world. We, being living in Moscow, discovered that there is a direct flight from here, so we flew on a direct flight from Moscow to Los Angeles with the Russian company Aeroflot.
Once you arrive at the airport, getting out of there can be complicated since LAX is one of the largest airports in terms of visitor traffic and the city of LA is known for its terrible traffic. You have several possibilities:
- Rent a car: It is the best option to get around Los Angeles. The best companies are AVIS or Avancar.
- Metro: The Metro’s Green Line arrives at the airport.
- Taxi: It may be an option but the queues to wait for a taxi are endless. These taxis charge a surcharge for leaving the airport (and, if you want to pay with a card, you may get a wrong answer from the driver).
- Uber works perfectly in the United States. Companies can only drop off and collect passengers at the top/exit level of the airport.
- Flyaway: It is a bus service that stops in different areas of Los Angeles. It has stops in Hollywood, Downtown, Santa Monica, Westwood (UCLA), Van Nuys and Long Beach. Before you opt out of this option, check if your hotel or accommodation is near those stops. FlyAway only allows payment by card and has a cost of between 8 and 10 dollars.
- Super Shuttle: These are shared vans operating from LAX and authorized to serve in all southern California counties. Passengers are advised to contact the company first for more information. Its prices range from 17-30 dollars per person, depending on your destination in Los Angeles. When you arrive at the airport, all you have to do is look for the poster where Super Shuttle is announced, wait for the blue van to come, show your reservation, and in a few minutes, you will be on your way to your destination.
- Roadrunner: This long-distance door-to-door pickup company provides service from LAX to areas north of Los Angeles County. Passengers are advised to contact the company first for more information. These vans collect passengers in front of each terminal under the green FlyAway sign, buses and long-distance pickups. They travel to Simi Valley (approximately 44 miles or 71 kilometers northwest of LAX) and the Ventura and Santa Bárbara counties (both northwest of LAX), lasting about one to two hours depending on the specific destination.
- Hiring transfer with Civitatis: The company Civitatis, in addition to tours, also offer this service, pickup and transfer to the airport. Plus all the drivers speak Spanish. Take a look at your rates and book your transfer here.
How to get around the United States West Coast
The best thing as I said above is to rent a car. Los Angeles, in particular, is a city that is not made for walking and the most significant percentage of the population uses a vehicle because it is also a huge city.
Also, if you are going to make a Road Trip, it can be a good option, because having your car will allow you to discover other towns, beaches, and cities of difficult access by public transport.
The best thing is to rent an SUV type car as there may be certain roads challenging to do for car sightseeing, like for example if you are going to visit national parks or the desert.
If you are traveling with a child make sure to rent a baby/child seat as well. We rented it for the car, but in the end, we didn’t get it because the chairs they had in that company were the one that still looked back on. We knew that our daughter was not going to spend hours and hours in the car looking back, so we went to a Babys´R ´ us that caught us on the way to Los Angeles, and for about €100 we bought one.
If you decide to rent a car, remember that in red lights you can turn right if no other vehicles come (California law) and be sure to read a thousand times the parking lot signs to avoid fines that will persecute you until the end of your days.
When is the best time to travel to the West coast of the United States?
I would say that the best time to travel around the West coast of the United States, is in spring, from April to June or in September.
We went from late August to mid-September.
The weather in Los Angeles is mild all year round. Summers are warm but do not exceed 30 º C and the mornings are fresh. Winters are a little rainy, but the temperature is still good. During winter, there are fewer tourists in the city, and the prices are lower. Maybe the best time is April or May but when we went, at the end of August, we had perfect temperatures, good weather without getting too hot.
And as for San Diego, temperatures are more or less like in Los Angeles although we felt cooler in San Diego than in Los Angeles.
San Francisco, on the other hand, is always fresh, although more in winter when the average is about nine º C while in summer the standard is 17-18 º C. In winter it rains a lot. We specifically didn’t have bad weather in San Francisco. During the day, the temperatures are mild, but as soon as the sun goes down, it is a little chilly so you will need to put up a jacket because the heat usually go down to 11-13 º C.
The best months to go are April and May since in summer the city has more fog.
As for Nevada (Las Vegas), the summer months can be sweltering. It is necessary to keep in mind that it is located in the middle of the desert reaching the 40-45 º C of temperature easily. However, the city is prepared for the heat. All the establishments have air conditioning, and all the hotels communicate inside so you can walk almost from point to another without going out on the street.
Traveling to Las Vegas in winter can be somewhat annoying because in the city it is cold, but there will also be fewer tourists and also because of that, there may be fewer shows, but it will be cheaper.
In Las Vegas, you have to avoid the summer because it is super hot and the first months of the year because it is when the city hosts the conventions. Most companies make their convention trips here, and the city gets crowded, so you may not enjoy it so much. If you can, go to Vegas during the week. The best and cheapest days are Monday through Thursday.
The best time to visit Las Vegas is in April, May, September or October. The temperature is warm but does not reach the excesses of summer, there are not as many tourists as in other times, and you can find many offers even in the most luxurious hotels.
The city of Las Vegas is relatively inexpensive compared to other places in the US as long as you go on the dates of offers. You can get a room with spectacular views and without having to give up on the luxuries.
Try not to go to Arizona to visit Lake Powell and Antelope Canyon in the summertime. The hottest months are from June to August reaching 40-45 º C and are also the most touristy ones.
I hope you will be encouraged to make this road trip. As you know, I love to travel and have been traveling for years, visiting countries and making road trips and I must say, that this trip is my number 1. I would certainly do it again, and I know, in some way, that I will be back, at least to Los Angeles. It is a city that has left me amazed. Maybe because I heard bad reviews from it, but when I was planning the trip, I could see that it has so many places to see and many things to do. Once there, I was surprised. Not only is it the same as in the movies but it’s still much more.
I invite you to read my future posts about this trip. I’ll tell you everything we did, and we visited. I will give you recommendations and discover hidden places for you not to miss them. If you do not want to lose a post, do not forget to subscribe to the blog.
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