Luxury Rating: ****/*****
Holiday type: Fly drive
Budget: Approximately £2,500 for 12 nights for 2 people in April
Agent: Flights and hotel booked through Expedia
Thinking about a California honeymoon with a stop in Vegas too? A fly drive along the west coast is a great way to explore loads of amazing places over a relatively short period of time. Here’s a schedule for the kind of trip that you can put together and which can be easily tailored to fit you:
The Omni is a great hotel to start off your trip. It’s also in a good location, just next door to the Museum of Contemporary Art and a short walk to the Walt Disney Symphony Hall.
There’s plenty to do in and around LA so you need to get organised if you want to fit everything in. It perhaps sounds a bit vanilla, but a great way to get around the city is to hop onto a sightseeing bus and jump on and off at the stops which take your fancy. How about a trip down Hollywood Boulevard, where you’ll see the names of Hollywood stars along the Walk of Fame (however, if you’re not into the whole Hollywood thing then we’d recommend skipping this bit because it is tourist central!). Beverly Hills is a great place to head if you love shopping – it has an array of world-renowned fashion houses, plus its own local boutiques. However, our pick of LA is the Griffith Observatory, not so much for the Observatory itself, but for the amazing views across the Hollywood Hills and, in particular, that snap of you with the Hollywood sign in the background. Cameras at the ready!
We’d recommend picking the hire car up as you leave LA, which saves you the hassle of having to navigate your way around the streets of a big city you don’t know (on the right-hand side of the road) and the often hefty cost of parking in a city of LA’s size!
Santa Barbara is a quaint little coastal town around 90 miles north of LA. The Fess Parker, just setback from the East Beach, is an ideal place to stay. The beach is only a stone’s throw away from the hotel and you can easily stroll into centre in the evening to eat at one of the local restaurants. During the day you can walk along the long sandy beaches, or just stroll around the quiet streets surrounded by the Spanish-inspired architecture. Certainly a place to stay longer if you want some real rest and relaxation!
As you travel north toward Monterey, it is definitely worthwhile taking the coastal road. You’ll travel along a stretch of coastline called Big Sur, which has some spectacular views! There’s no doubt it’s slower than taking Route 101, but you won’t regret it!
Monterey is probably most famous for its sea life, which includes sea lions, otters, seals and dolphins. Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of the largest aquariums in the World and is truly spectacular. If you do just one thing whilst you’re in Monterey, it should be a visit to the aquarium! Monterey is also steeped in history, mainly related to the history of fishing in and around the city – highlights include Cannery Row and Fisherman’s Wharf.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Monterey, Hotel Abrego is a good bet. It’s a short walk from the centre and most of the main attractions.
The Clift is a boutique hotel only a short distance from Union Square (Union Square is where you’ll find many of the boutique shops, cafés, restaurants, theatres and galleries, so the best hotels are in and around the Square). If you want to stay somewhere a bit different, the Clift is the place to stay. It’s a boutique Hotel, with decor fashioned by the renowned Philippe Starck, which gives it a really unique feel. The hotel bar is particularly cool and serves some amazing cocktails!
There’s loads to do in San Francisco, but the highlights have to be the shopping, restaurants and bars; taking a trip on a street-car; a stop-off to get some photos of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge; and, our favourite, getting a boat over to Alcatraz Island and doing a tour! It’s not all about the prison; Alcatraz is a beautiful little island with tons of history and is host to some magnificent wildlife. If Alcatraz is on your to do list, make sure you book in advance to avoid disappointment!
Strictly speaking Yosemite is not on the west coast, but at approximately 3 hours’ drive from San Francisco, you simply can’t afford to miss it. The scenery is breathtaking!
There are a couple of hotels to stay at in the National Park itself, which get booked up quickly and are generally more expensive. However, there are other hotels that are equally as good, just outside the Park, where you get more for your money. We’d recommend Tenaya Lodge, which is a great hotel in Fishcamp, just 5 minutes from the National Park in the car.
There are endless spectacular views across Yosemite, but if you’re on a timescale, take a trip up to Glacier Point which offers views across the National Park, including Yosemite Valley, Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, Vernal Fall, Nevada Fall and Cloud’s Rest. Another place well worth a visit is Yosemite Valley, which gives you a different perspective on the amazing scenery, particularly some of the impressive waterfalls. Finally, take a trip to Mariposa Grove to see the Giant Sequoia trees!
Las Vegas is renowned for its gambling and nightlife and if you enjoy the party life, it’s a great place to end your honeymoon. However, there is more to Las Vegas than all of that. If you love shopping and eating out then you can’t get much better than Vegas. Las Vegas is also home to a large number of shows, including a number of different shows by Cirque de Soleil, the largest theatrical producer in the World! The other place you must go whilst you’re in Las Vegas is the Grand Canyon! It takes a whole day to get there and back, but it’s definitely worthwhile. If you really want to push the boat out you can take a helicopter trip to the Grand Canyon and explore its depths by air!
If you are looking for somewhere to stay in Las Vegas, we would recommend the Cosmopolitan, or even the Bellagio if you really want to splash out. Both hotels are in the centre of the Strip which means it’s quicker and easier to get to most of the main attractions. If your budget won’t take you that far, Paris is a good option because the rooms are still of a very good standard and it’s also in the centre of the strip. If you’re looking for somewhere a little quieter, try the Trump, which does not have its own casino like most of the other hotels, and whilst not on the Strip is still relatively central.
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