California-Arizona-Nevada-Utah, USA



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TRAVEL GENERAL INFORMATION

Period of this trip: October 2011
Country: USA California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah
Currency used: USD
Duration: 2 weeks
Number of travelers: 2
Budget: ca. 4,000 GBP (ca 2,000 GPB pp)
Best Period: All years
Guide used: Lonely Planet
VISA: ESTA to do on-line prior arrival valid for 2 years
General Info: Travel in US is quite simple. Better to book hotel in advance as city like San Francisco or Las Vegas or very touristic places (such as Grand Canyon) get very busy. The risk is to find only expensive places available. Best way to go around US: driving!

 

 

 

TRAVEL PLAN

Day Area What to Do
1 London – San Francisco All day flight to San Francisco.
2-4 San Francisco We stayed in Aida Plaza Hotel. Quite central location, but hotel was very old. For 2 nights was just ok. Things to do in San Francisco:

  • Golden Gate Bridge, try cable cars, visit Chinatown, 49 Miles Drive, Union Square (business area);
  • Nob Hill area with spectacular views, Height Ashbury (where hippy movement is born)
  • Fisherman’s Warf (to see sea lions and famous for fish restaurants and shops)
  • Berkeley University
  • Alcatraz

One of the best place where we had lunch was

Tommy’s Joynt
1101 Geary Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94109
tel +415 775-4216
website: www.tommysjoynt.com

They also serve american beers (not bad!) and typical roast.

5 Monterey From San Francisco to Monterey we took the pacifica (route n.1) along the coast. We stop so many times to enjoy the landscape. Monterey is a very nice small town.
We stayed at Monterey Ocean Inn. We didn’t book in advance, just stopped by because it looked nice 🙂
6 Monterey – Sequoia National Park Half day whale watching boat tour. Quite of nice experience, but we liked more the Boston whale watching previous year and same period.
We could see only 2 whales and from distance. Soon after lunch we drove ca. 4 hours to Sequoia National Park. The park entrance fee is $20 for private vehicles and $5 for individuals on foot or on bike, and is valid for seven days.
We stopped at Sequoia Motel, just outside the Park – huge room.
7 Sequoia National Park 1 full day in the Sequoia National Park. At the entrance rangers gave us a very detailed map of the park, including trekking paths, location of restaurants, toilets and shops (this was the case also in every Park we went to). We did few trails and of course we went to see the famous General Sherman Tree, named for the American Civil War general. We saw various deers and an adult and a baby bear, so cute!!
8 Sequoia National Park – Death Valley Park From Sequoia National Park, we drove 547 km to Death Valley (ca 5 hours and half). Death Valley is a National park itself (same entrance fee and various maps available). We stopped at Furnace Creek resort for a break – nothing special.
In the afternoon we visited:

  • Bad water: Lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level, (in October is open all day, in the summer it’s open only at certain hours) a surreal landscape of vast salt flats;
  • Artist’s Palette;
  • Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes.

We decided to spend the night in Betty, which is not far from the Park and it offers more accommodation solutions at budget price.

9 Death Valley – Las Vegas Early morning, we visited the most impressive thing in the Death Valley (in our opinion!), the Titus Canyon accessible via a one-way dirt road near Betty town.
At the end of the visit we drove to Las Vegas (197 km for ca. 2 hours driving).
Arriving in Las Vegas at night is fantastic! it’s an explosion of lights. We had a pre-booked hotel in the centre, near the famous Flamingo Theatre. It was suggested by a friend. It’s not as fancy as many other hotels, but it’s ok and it got its own pool. In the evening we explored the city night life, impressive atmosphere!
10 Las Vegas During the day it’s quite insane to visit Las Vegas, it’s too hot. So pool is the best option. We started our tour of Las Vegas in the late afternoon.
It’s all about shopping malls (very good prices!), huge hotels and casino!
The Classic things to do in Vegas:

  • Bellagio water fountain show,
  • the Venetians,
  • watch a show (need to book in advance),
  • walk the Strip
  • play at casino (interesting, there are no watches in any of the walls and exit is not easy to find unless you ask!!). I’ve been lucky, I won $250 at the roulette!
11 Grand Canyon From Las Vegas we drove to Hoover Dam for a quick stop of 30 min to see this impressive Dam. Then we drove to Grand Canyon South Ream. All the hotels inside the National park were fully booked. So we stayed at the Canyon Plaza Resort, not so budget hotel, but it was the only one available and it’s just outside the Park. As soon as we arrived we went to see “IT”. It was almost the sun set and the view was breath-taking!! (Entrance fee Park was again 20 USD)
12 Grand Canyon Full day in the park. We did one of the trek suggested by the map we got at the Park entrance. We did 6 hours trek (2 hours down and 4 hours up!). Spectacular!!
13 Monument Valley Before heading to Monument Valley (284 km), we decided to do the helicopter tour of 45 minutes over the Canyon, reaching the North Ream. This is quite pricy (250 USD pp), but the show is unique and stunning! 100% lifetime experience.
On the way to Monument Valley we stopped in a place not far from the Canyon to see Dinosaur tracks. We followed a handmade signs and we didn’t expect to see such an interesting site. Totally worth the visit.  (Address: Highway 160, Tuba City, AZ).There is only one hotel in the Monument Valley national park and it’s expensive, however we’ve been lucky to be offered the touristic bus driver room at half of the price of the other rooms (although with view of the car park instead of the Valley!). We spent all afternoon going around the Valley and seeing the sun set, fabulous!)
14 Phoenix Sun rise in the Valley is an amazing show. We spent half day looking around, climbing rocks, doing pics, walking and enjoying the peace of this place.After lunch we drove to Phoenix (509km) for ca 5 hours driving.
15 Phoenix – London From Phoenix, we took morning flight to Philadelphia. We had 6 hours stop over before taking the flight back to Europe. Enough time to run up the Rocky Balboa steps @ Philadelphia Museum of Art.

 

TRAVEL COST LIST

San Francisco Hotel– 2 nights –
Aida Plaza Hotel
1087 Market Street,
Civic Center San Francisco (California),
CA 94103 1087
Tel +1 415 863 4141
e-mail:aida@sonic.net

This hotel is in a good a central position (room 110 USD pd with no breakfast), however at the time we went it was quite old and bathroom was outside the room!!

$210
Monterey Hotel
– 1 night –
Monterey Oceanside Inn
2030 Del Monte Ave, Monterey,
CA 93940, United States
website: www.montereyoceansideinn.com
$50
Sequoia National Park Motel
– 2 nights –
Sequoia Motel
43000 Sierra Drive
Three Rivers, California 93271,
United States
Tel. +1 559-561-4453
website: www.sequoiamotel.com‎
$200
Death Valley Motel
– 1 night –
Motel 6 Beatty Death Valley
550 E Hwy 95 N, Beatty, NV
(775) 553-9090
website: www.motel6.com (select Beatty – Death Valley)
$60
Las Vegas Hotel
– 2 nights –
Tuscany Gardens
255 E Flamingo Rd,
Las Vegas, NV 89169
+1 (702) 893-8933
website: www.tuscanylv.com
$174
Grand Canyon Hotel
– 2 nights –
Canyon Plaza Resort Grand Canyon
406 Canyon Plaza Ln,
Grand Canyon Village,
AZ 86023, United States
Phone:+1 928-638-2673
website: www.grandcanyonplaza.com
$318
Monument Valley Hotel
– 1 night –
TheView Hotel | Monument Valley

Indian Route 42 East,
Oljato-Monument Valley,
UT 84536, United States
Phone: +1 435-727-5555
website: www.monumentvalleyview.com

We actually paid half price as we used one of the room used by the touristic bus driver.

$109
Phoenix Motel
– 1 night –
Super 8 Phoenix Downtown Motel
965 East Van Buren,
Phoenix, AZ, US , 85006
$35
Car Hertz (We’ve been lucky to find a super offer at 20$ per day incl. insurance) $208
Petrol $200
Trips & Other All National Park entrance fees are $20 for private vehicles – Sequoia, Death Valley, Grand Canyon and Monument Valley $80
Whale whatching trip in Monterey – 3 hours($35,00 pp) $70
ESTA ( $14,00 pp) $28
Helicopter trip – Grand Canyon – 45 min ($250 pp) $500
Meals Average meal price $10-25
Drinks $1-4
Total Holiday Cost Range per 2 people excluding flights (2 weeks) $4,000-4,300
International Flight London to San Francisco and return from Phoenix to London (900$ pp) $1,800
Total Holiday Cost Range per 2 people (2 weeks) $5,800-6,100
£3,900-4,100

 

TRAVEL MAP

About Silvy

“To travel is to live.” ― Hans Christian Andersen, The Fairy Tale of My Life: An Autobiography

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