The 10-day trip to the US West Coast was a unique experience that I would repeat it with great pleasure.

There are plenty of places undiscovered by me yet, but I tried to enjoy as much as possible the time spent there and to cover the travel route that I carefully planned. So, here it is my wonderful 10 days journey on the West Coast of the United States:

   Period of time:

   13 October, Tuesday –  22 October, Thursday
   3 states: Arizona, Nevada, and California

   Plane tickets: around $500/ roundtrip American Airlines, Norfolk,VA- Las Vegas

   Route by plane:

   Norfolk, VA  –  Charlotte, NC – Las Vegas, NV

   Las Vegas, NV- Philadelphia, PA – Norfolk, VA


   Route by car:

It was a long journey, but there were also many destinations. So, I didn’t manage to stay in one place for too long.

But I have visited enough, and I think it is worth all the fatigue. This is what my route looks like for the 9 days itinerary on the West Coast:

   Las Vegas (McCarran Airport) – Hoover Dam – Grand Canyon, AZ – Las Vegas, NV- Death Valley, CA – Yosemite National Park, CA –  Hayward, CA – San Francisco, CA – Santa Cruz, CA – Monterey, CA – Big Sur, CA – Santa Barbara, CA – Malibu, CA – Los Angeles, CA – Santa Monica, CA – San Diego, CA, Coronado Island, CA – Las Vegas, NV




   In my opinion, is an absolute must to rent a car in order to make the most of your trip. That is, of course, if you came by plane.

You can rent a car at a reasonable price for the whole journey. We rented from Hertz (Las Vegas, McCarran Airport) a Toyota Corolla.

   Price: $380/ 9 days

Itinerary for a 10 Day West Coast road trip


   DAY 1 


In Las Vegas, I spent only 2 days, and I think it is enough to taste a little of everything the city has to offer. I really liked The Strip and would always come back to experiment more.

We visited some of the famous 5-star hotels, each with its own specifics. We also went to casinos, admired the fountain show, and had a great time.

    Las Vegas : The Strip, Bellagio, The Venetian Hotel, Paris Las Vegas, Miracle Mile Shops

    ⇒ Find the best hotels in Las Vegas.


Bellagio Las Vegas

Las Vegas

New York Hotel Las Vegas

   DAY 2 


On day 2 of my 10-day itinerary on the West Coast, I went to the spectacular Grand Canyon. The view took my breath away, and I can say that I did not have enough time to enjoy the beauties of nature.


I was only in one place where it can be admired, but I would return to see more. And I would definitely spend a few days there.


     Road trip to Hoover Dam & Grand Canyon

     Las Vegas – Hoover Dam: 45 min by car,  34 miles / 55 km

     Hoover Dam – Grand Canyon (South Rim): 4 h by car,  243 miles/ 392 km

     Grand Canyon – Las Vegas: 4h 30 min by car, 270 miles/ 435 km

     Grand Canyon entrance fee: $30/h – 7 days

     Read: Grand Canyon in 24 spectacular photos



Hoover Dam

Grand Canyon Arizona

Grand Canyon Arizona USA

Grand Canyon Arizona USA


  DAY 3 (15 October)


On day 3 I returned to explore a little more of Las Vegas. As I mentioned above, 2 days seems enough for a first impression. However, I would return to have even more fun in the Sin City.

     Las Vegas: Luxor Hotel, Fremont Street, Caesars Palace, Circus Hotel

     Read: What you must see & do on your first visit to Las Vegas


Luxor Hotel Las Vegas

Paris Hotel Las Vegas

Las Vegas The Strip

   DAY 4 (16 October)


The road between Las Vegas and San Francisco is the stage I regret the most from this trip. But that’s only because I didn’t get to see much of Yosemite National Park.

It seems to me that it looks sensational and that it is worth spending even a week there. It’s a dream!

     Road trip Las Vegas- Hayward, through Death Valley and Yosemite National Park

     Las Vegas- Death Valley: 2h 14 min by car, 142 miles/ 229 km

     Death Valley – Hayward: 8h 10 min by car, 432 miles/ 695 km

     Route: US-95 N/ CA-190 W/ CA-136 W/ US-395/ CA-120 W/ I-580




Death Valley California

road trip to San Francisco

Yosemite National Park

   DAY 5 (17 October)


Day 5 came with the first part of the trip on the most beautiful road in the world, the Pacific Coast Highway. I loved every stop I made, and I admired with all my heart the landscapes on the road.

     Hayward- San Francisco 45 min by car, 35 miles/ 56 km

     San Francisco: downtown, Transamerica Pyramid, Lombard Street, Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Heights

     San Francisco – Santa Cruz on Pacific Coast Highway/ California 1

     1h 40 min by car, 77 miles/ 125 km

     Santa Cruz – Monterey on Pacific Coast Highway/ California 1

     50 min, 43 miles/ 70 km

     ⇒ Find the best hotels in San Francisco.

Golden Gate San Francisco

Alcatraz San Francisco


Lombard Street San Francisco

Transamerica Pyramid San Francisco

   DAY 6 (18 October)


The most beautiful day of the trip was day 6. When we had the opportunity to admire the most beautiful landscapes on the California Coast.

I saw Bixby Bridge, Mc Way Falls, and a few small but chic towns. The Pacific Coast Highway is definitely one of the most beautiful roads in the world.

     Monterey – Bixby Bridge: 30 min by car, 18 miles/ 30 km

     Bixby Bridge – Big Sur (McWay Falls): 24 min by car, 24 miles/ 39 km

     McWay Falls – Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery: 1h 15 min by car, 48 miles/ 77 km

    Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery – Santa Barbara: 2h 30 min by car, 140 miles/ 225 km

     Santa Barbara – Malibu: 1h 10 min by car, 67 miles/ 108 km

     Malibu – Los Angeles: 1h by car, 42 miles/ 68 km

     Read: 10 things to consider before road tripping the Pacific Coast Highway, USA



Bixby Bridge California

Monterrey California

McWay Falls California

California Pacific Highway

Santa Barbara California

Santa Cruz California

   DAY 7 (19 October)


On the day with no. 7 I saw some of the main attractions of Los Angeles. I liked the view from the Griffith Park Observatory.

I have long wanted to get to the Hollywood Sign and especially to walk among the houses of celebrities in Beverly Hills.

     Los Angeles: Griffith Park Observatory, Hollywood Sign, Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, Universal Studios, Walk of Fame

    ⇒ Find the best hotels in Los Angeles.


Griffith Park Observatory

Hollywood Sign Los Angeles

Beverly Hills Los Angeles

Beverly Hills Los Angeles

  DAY 8 (20 October)


On the 8th we ate the best eclairs, with a view of the beautiful Santa Monica. But that’s not all.

Day 8 also came with the fulfillment of a childhood dream. That of seeing the filming location of a series that marked my first years of life, Sunset Beach.

     Los Angeles: Seal Beach, Sunset Beach, Santa Monica Pier, Downtown LA

     Read: 3 Days in Los Angeles – what to do and see


Seal Beach California

Seal Beach California

Queen Mary California

Santa Monica Los Angeles

Santa Monica Los Angeles

   DAY 9 (21 October)


On the 9th I went to San Diego. Although I spent a short time there, I quickly realized that it is a destination that deserves all the attention.

It is a beautiful city, maybe even more beautiful than Los Angeles and has some sensational beaches.

     Los Angeles: Rodeo Drive, Laguna Beach

     Road trip Los Angeles – San Diego: 2h 30 min by car, 124 miles/ 200 km

     San Diego: downtown, Coronado Island

     Read: A taste of San Diego, California


Laguna Beach California

San Diego California

Coronado Island San Diego California

   DAY 10 (22 October)


Day 10 was less special. We returned to Las Vegas, from where we had to fly back to Norfolk.

     San Diego – Las Vegas: 5h 10 min by car, 330 miles/ 531 km

     Las Vegas: Mirage, The Strip

     Read: What you must see & do on your first visit to Las Vegas


Las Vegas in the night

Bella’s tips:

   1. Car rental problems

   We had a little problem with the car we rented. We found a small crack in the glass (probably from a pebble) and had to go back to the airport and change it.

   We had another problem with the next car after we got to LA. The car needed to have its oil changed, so we had to go to the nearest airport and change the car again. They gave us a Hyundai Elantra.

   If you experience such things, you may ask for compensation. They gave us a $50 off coupon, for the next time when/if we will rent from Hertz company.

   2. Car rental price

   To get a slightly better price for the rental car, I recommend you to book in advance on the website, where you have the option to bet for the price.

The difference will not be very noticeable, but you will save some dollars.

   3. Refueling

   On the Pacific Coast Highway, fuel prices are quite high. Therefore, you might want to fill inside the cities.

   4. Road trips between the cities

  Do not follow the shortest or fastest route,  imposed by GPS. For example, we made our own personalized itinerary between San Francisco and Los Angeles. If there is a long distance anyway, I recommend you to go for the scenic drive.

   Between Las Vegas and San Francisco, we chose Death Valley and Yosemite National Park.

   Between SF and LA, we chose Pacific Coast Highway and I can say it was the most enjoyable experience of the whole trip.

California 1 is one of the most spectacular coastlines drives in the US.

  5. Accommodation in SF

  In San Francisco hotels are pretty expensive and, therefore, I advise you to check on the website. We found a good price for a room in Hayward, a neighbor city of SF.

   6. North to South on Pacific Coast Highway

   Why? Because it will be much easier to stop along the way for pictures and, as a bonus, you will have the ocean view on your side while driving.

   7. Bring layers

   West Coast weather is quite changeable and varied. In Las Vegas and Southern California was hot and sunny, but in SF we had to add some extra layers.

   8. Hit the road early in the morning

  Especially on the Pacific Coast. It could be quite a mood setter to start your morning on such an iconic road, and of course, there is no better light than the morning light for taking the best pictures.

   9. Cell phone service

  Don’t count on it because it will be completely off in some places, so make sure you memorize the route or get a map to help you.

   10. Pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge

   I didn’t get the nicest aspects of the bridge in my photos. Later on, I found out about Baker Beach. Go for it!

   11. Food

  Make sure you take some food with you on the road because you may not find many places to stop and buy something to eat.

   12. Big Sur

   This stunning place has so much to offer, that you should allow yourself to spend here at least 2-3 days in order to fully enjoy it. Therefore, I made up my mind to come back and camp above the McWay Falls someday.

   13. McWay Falls

  Be careful not to miss it! I thought we did because we couldn’t spot any sign, indicating the place where the falls were situated.

Once we passed the Pfeiffer State Park sign, we started looking very carefully, until we reached a place with many cars parked on the roadside. There it was…

   14. Pictures

   I am aware of the fact that every stop on Pacific Coast Highway leads you to catch dozens-hundreds of frames with the ocean and the hills, but time passes so quickly that you won’t even notice how fast will get dark and you will miss other important places.

Each stop will cost you at least 10 minutes, do not forget to take this into consideration!

The trip in numbers:

Flight: 12 h roundtrip

By car: 2069 miles/ 3330 km

West Coast road trip

Grand Canyon view from the plane

Las Vegas view from the plane

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