The USA is a highly diverse country; the north doesn’t look like the south, and the landscape changes entirely from east to west. The same happens if you follow this USA West Coast itinerary for 2 weeks, a coast that, from my point of view, has so much to offer.
Although an extended vacation through all 50 American states would be fantastic, the country is so big and complex that you can’t see it all in one visit. The two coasts are the most coveted due to the breathtaking landscapes.
While the East Coast has access to the Atlantic Ocean and broader, flatter beaches, on the West Coast, we find a rocky, spectacular relief and the waves of the Pacific Ocean. It would be hard for me to choose between the two or to cover them in 2 weeks in USA itinerary, so I praise them one by one.
This article focuses on the West Coast, the one full of American metropolises, places seen in movies, dramatic cliffs, palm trees, canyons, giant trees, waterfalls, vineyards, and many other exceptional places. And yes, you can see them all on a 2 weeks West Coast USA itinerary.
Geographically, the West Coast includes the states of Oregon, Washington, and California, if we refer to those states that border the continental United States. But I will include tourist attractions from the states of California, Arizona, and Nevada in this USA 2 weeks road trip.
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USA West Coast itinerary 2 weeks
Day 1-2 Grand Canyon – starting point Flagstaff, Arizona
As already mentioned, Arizona is not on the short list of states that make up the West Coast, but it’s certainly part of the western half of America. And since we couldn’t miss Gand Canyon on this 2 weeks in USA itinerary, I had to include it.
The Grand Canyon is probably the most famous in the world; everyone has heard of it, although it’s not the largest. About 5 million tourists come here every year, convinced by the pictures and especially the movies in which the canyon appears.
Although it’s not the largest in the world, the size of the Grand Canyon is impressive. With a length of 446 km, a width of 29, and a depth of almost 2000 meters, it’s huge! Only when sitting on the abyss’s edge can you truly understand its grandeur and beauty.
In addition to the classic viewpoints, you must visit Horseshoe Bend for an unbelievable view, but a hike to Havasu Falls is also a good idea. The color of the waterfall is turquoise, a superb contrast with the copper of the rocks.
To begin your USA 2 week road trip with Grand Canyon, you should land at Phoenix International Airport (PHX) if you are coming from outside the United States. From here to the Grand Canyon, you have about three and a half hours by car.
Distances are significant, so I recommend you spend at least two days visiting the Grand Canyon. An excellent place to stay when visiting is Flagstaff, about 2 hours from Phoenix Airport and only an hour away from the Grand Canyon.
Top things to do in Grand Canyon:
- helicopter tour over the canyon
- Grand Canyon Skywalk with lunch included
- hike to Havasupai Waterfall
Where to stay in Grand Canyon:
- budget: Peaks Wildernest House Bed and Breakfast – pet-friendly, free wifi, very good breakfast
- mid-range: La Quinta by Wyndham Flagstaff – pool, pet friendly, free parking, delicious breakfast
- luxury: Courtyard Flagstaff– pool, free Wifi, parking, restaurant
On the second day of your USA West Coast itinerary, after spending some time in the morning visiting other parts of the Grand Canyon, you can dedicate a few hours to another spectacular place, another canyon, but with a highly different look. It’s the Antelope Canyon, whose name comes from the antelopes that used to graze here during the winter, many years ago.
The canyon was sculpted by water passing through it millions of years ago. At present, its walls resemble static waves, through which light rays penetrate and create a unique image.
The canyon consists of two canyons, the Upper Canyon or The Crack and the Lower Canyon or The Corkscrew. You can’t visit it without an authorized guide as it is part of the heritage of the Navajo tribe.
With a unique look, the canyon is one of the most photographed in the world, along with the Grand Canyon. The deposits of iron oxide gave the canyon reddish, copper, and even orange shades. It looks like it’s on fire. The depth of the canyon is a maximum of 40 meters.
I was saying that it’s best to visit together with the Grand Canyon since Horseshoe Bend is located just 10 minutes away from Antelope Canyon. Both canyons are so unique that you must add them to your USA West Coast itinerary 2 weeks.
So, you can visit both or just one of the two:
- Lower Antelope Canyon: Admission Ticket and Guided Tour
Days 3-4 Las Vegas | USA West Coast Itinerary 2 weeks
How about a 2-week West Coast itinerary without Las Vegas? Incomplete, I would say. At least once in your life, you must be one of the more than 40 million people who visit the city every year. Many of them come here to play at the casino, it’s true, but Las Vegas has a lot more to offer.
In Las Vegas, most hotels have a theme. Luxor, The Venetian Hotel, Bellagio Hotel, and New York Hotel are some of the most spectacular. A fascinating miscellaneous fact is that half of the 20 largest hotels in the world are in Vegas. Of these, the largest in Las Vegas and the second largest in the world is The Venetian Hotel.
The Las Vegas you are looking for is actually a long street, full of famous hotels, casinos, fountains, and lights, called The Strip. Glamor, brilliance, and all the attractions, shows, lights, and fun in Las Vegas are happening on this street.
Therefore, two days is more than enough to taste a little bit of every piece of Las Vegas you wouldn’t want to miss. Although The Strip is the star nowadays, the first paved street in Las Vegas was Fremont Street in 1925, which is considered the old Las Vegas.
I want to mention another thing the city is known for: the chapels for weddings. More than 300 weddings take place daily in The Sin City.
I’m sure not many of you knew that although it used to be the world’s gambling capital, in 2007, this title went to the Chinese city of Macau, with even more casinos and active winnings.
Best things to do in Las Vegas:
- the show of dancing fountains in front of the Bellagio Hotel; it costs nothing to admire them
- a gondola ride on the canals of the Venice Hotel
- take part in a show at the Park Theater
- admire the city from the High Roller
- tour the city on a hop-on-hop-off bus
- participate in a Cirque du Soleil acrobat show
- take as many pictures with Madame Tussaud‘s celebrities as possible
- adrenaline on a roller coaster at the Big Apple Hotel
- admire Las Vegas from the heights of the SkyPod Observation Deck
- visit the Eiffel Tower in Las Vegas
- visit the exhibitions at the Luxor Hotel
Where to stay in Las Vegas:
- budget: South Point Hotel Casino-Spa– pool, room service, restaurant, bar
- mid-range: Desert Paradise Resort By Diamond Resorts– pool, fitness center, free parking
- luxury: Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas– pool, private parking, bar, restaurant
Days 5-6 Yosemite National Park with a short stop in Death Valley National Park
Located about 2 hours from Las Vegas, Death Valley National Park is the ideal stop on the way to Yosemite Park, which is probably my favorite national park in the USA. Death Valley became a national park in 1994 and is the driest, lowest, and hottest spot in the United States. Its minimum altitude is 86 meters below sea level.
If we exclude the state of Alaska, then Death Valley is the largest national park in the United States. And to get a clearer idea of what the aridity of this place means, you need to know that it rains more in the Sahara desert than in Death Valley.
But even though it’s so hot, many animals live here, such as some species of squirrel, bats, foxes, rabbits, and others. Nature is not only enchanting but truly amazing.
Yosemite National Park
If I had to choose only one place to include in my 2 weeks in USA itinerary, I think I would select Yosemite. Nature made a natural spectacle on its surface, sprinkling granite monoliths, sequoia, and beautiful waterfalls. It’s an absolute pleasure to go hiking in Yosemite Park, regardless of the season!
Yosemite National Park has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984 and covers an area of over 3,000 square kilometers. You will need at least two weeks to discover it fully. However, you can still experience at least a small part in two days.
El Capitan and Half Dome are two of the most impressive cliffs in Yosemite Park. They remind me a lot of Rio de Janeiro, given that there are many such formations in the city of Guanabara Bay.
One of the highest waterfalls in the world is in Yosemite Park. It has a height of 739 meters, and it’s stunning every season. As you might already know, waterfalls are my weakness, so I wouldn’t make a USA West Coast itinerary without one.
If we talk about activities, climbing is one of the most sought after, but also the most dangerous. A classic view in Yosemite is Tunnel View, which features El Capitan, Bridalveil Fall, and Half Dome. The rocky peaks offer dreamy views over the broad valleys, so is no wonder that there are crowds of tourists who come especially for this.
As I said, Yosemite Park is a place full of natural wonders that you must see at least once in your life. About 500 redwood trees are in the park. They can reach the age of 3000 years and grow in diameter, even up to over 30 meters.
Things to do in Yosemite:
- hiking on the mountain trails in the park
- visiting the Yosemite Museum and Indian Village
- looking for the biggest redwoods in Mariposa Grove
Where to stay in Yosemite National Park:
- budget: Sierra Meadows – pool, chalets
- mid-range: Tamarack Lodge – pet-friendly, free parking, restaurant, bar, free Wifi
- luxury: Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite – 2 pools, spa, pet friendly, free parking, free Wifi, delicious breakfast
Days 7-8 San Francisco | USA 2-week road trip
Next, spend two days in San Francisco, the hilltop city and the thirteenth-largest city in the United States. To see it in all its splendor, you should start your days in this city with a visit to the Twin Peaks hills, where you can have a panorama over the whole place.
The Golden Gate Bridge is the symbol of the city and such an easily recognizable element on the world map of tourist attractions. It’s almost 3 km long, and although it’s called golden, its color beats more towards a copper-red. That’s because red is more visible, especially in the city of San Francisco, which is often shrouded in fog.
Don’t miss Lombard Street when you visit San Francisco. It’s the narrowest street in the world, located on the Russian hill, and has a length of 180 meters; you go on foot or by car.
Another attraction that you should put on the list of San Francisco tourist attractions during the 2-week itinerary in the USA is the Alcatraz Prison. The prison on the island in the middle of the bay had famous detainees, including Al Capone. However, they say that no detainee escaped from here.
The attractions you should experience in The Golden City don’t end here. You have enough time in two days to see Fisherman’s Wharf and Haight Street, take a short walk through Little Italy, China Town and Japan Town, Golden Gate Park, Baker Beach, and admire the famous pastel Painted Ladies.
Fun things to do in San Francisco:
- Bay cruise
- Go Car Tours
- Alcatraz Prison Tour
- helicopter flight over the city
- tour of SF locations where famous movies were filmed
- walking tour in China Town
Where to stay in San Francisco:
- budget: Hotel 32One – private parking, Wifi, good location
- mid-range: Club Donatello – fitness center, private parking, bar, very good breakfast, central location
- luxury: Hotel Triton – fitness center, room service, Wifi, excellent location
Day 9 – Big Sur
Big Sur is a relatively large portion of central California, located between Carmel and San Simeon, just two and a half hours from San Francisco. It’s also one of the most picturesque areas in the US, where you would like to stay for at least a day.
I know this is a 2 weeks USA West Coast itinerary, but if you had a longer time, I would advise staying at least 3 days in Big Sur, if you are a fan of gorgeous landscapes.
Bixby Bridge, McWay Falls, woods, beaches, and lovely scenery are just a few of the attractions of this place. These fairytale lands are traversed by Highway 1 or Pacific Coast Highway. I still consider it the most beautiful road I have traveled so far.
Big Sur has plenty of viewpoints dotted along the 90 miles, and each will leave you breathless. You must spend a whole day in Big Sur; the more time you have, the better.
There are not many accommodation options, and those few are pretty expensive. A premium option would be Alila Ventana, or you can choose to stay in Carmel Valley at the Hidden Valley Inn, which is a much more budget-friendly option.
Days 10-12 Los Angeles | USA West Coast itinerary 2 weeks
First, we have the classic sights that everyone who arrives in Los Angeles for the first time will see. I mean Beverly Hills, the famous Hollywood sign, Walk of Fame Boulevard, Venice Beach, Santa Monica, and others. However, those who want to discover the real LA must try something else.
LA has a lot of little-known museums for the general public, such as the Art Museum, the Natural History Museum, the California Science Center, and more. And if you want to see other beaches, except the famous ones, go to Seal Beach, the place where the American series of the 90s was filmed, Sunset Beach.
Los Angeles also means fabulous dining experiences. You have to try the lobster from Causita, pizza from Pizzeria Sei, sushi from The Brothers Sushi, and, why not, the famous burgers from In-N-Out.
Best experiences to have in Los Angeles:
- Universal Studios Hollywood
- tour to discover the homes of celebrities
- Helicopter flight over Beverly Hills and Hollywood
- hike to the Hollywood sign
Where to stay in Los Angeles:
- budget: American Hotel – downtown location, free Wifi
- mid-range: Best Western Plus Hollywood Hills Hotel – great location, pool
- luxury: Dream Hollywood – excellent location, pool, bar, fitness center, private parking
Day 13- 14 San Diego
The warm and temperate climate, beautiful beaches, Mexican influences in gastronomy and architecture, military history, and arts. In short, this is San Diego, the last stop on the 2 weeks West Coast USA itinerary.
Like San Francisco, San Diego has a Little Italy. It’s worth visiting at least for the variety of Italian restaurants, but also the atmosphere of dolce vitta or dolce far niente. Ah, how I miss Positano and, overall, the Amalfi Coast!
If you visit San Diego, you shouldn’t miss the USS Midway, a floating museum where you will learn a lot about the importance of the San Diego naval community and the military events that this museum hosts annually.
There are many scenic spots in San Diego, but Balboa Park is one of the most beautiful. Spend an afternoon here and get in touch with the locals, take a bike ride and admire the floral arrangements. Also, here is the San Diego Zoo, but I don’t recommend it because I’m not a fan of them. I don’t think animals should be held captive.
And since I mentioned the picturesque places with fairytale landscapes, I have to talk about an area at least as beautiful but more natural, wilder, and unaltered by human hands. The Torrey Pines Nature Reserve is ideal for hiking and exploring, especially as there are plenty of trails worth taking.
Activities and trips to do in San Diego:
- visit the USS Midway Museum
- adrenaline in the Sea World amusement park
- kayak tour and guide in La Jolla
- cruise to watch dolphins and whales
- food walking tour through the old center
Where to stay in San Diego:
- budget: Gaslamp Plaza Suites– restaurant, Wifi, parking, bar
- mid-range: Hotel Indigo San Diego – Gaslamp Quarter– fitness center, fabulous breakfast, private parking, bar
- luxury: Pendry San Diego– pool, fitness center, delicious breakfast, private parking, room service
Things to know when planning a 2 weeks West Coast itinerary
What is the best time to visit the West Coast of the USA?
I consider spring or autumn to be excellent times for an ideal West Coast road trip. The weather is pleasant and is not as crowded as in summer. Winter can be too cold, and some sections of the road are closed, especially in the National Parks or Big Sur.
How much money do you need for this USA West Coast itinerary 2 weeks?
The USA is an expensive country, and the West Coast, especially California, is one of the most costly areas. Excluding flights, I’m thinking of at least $ 200 a day if you rent a car and get decent hotel accommodations. For 2 people, such an all-inclusive road trip, except for flights, reaches around the average of $ 4500. It can be made even cheaper, but I don’t think it can be less than $ 150 a day.
What other places you should add if you extend the period?
There are so many gorgeous places on the West Coast. Therefore, if you extend your road trip, you can get to see so much and have a great experience. I would add Zion Nationa Park in Utah, the city of Portland in Oregon, Seattle in Washington, Yellowstone and the Monument Valley, and so many others.