US Trip: Itinerary suggestion, Weather and Tips?

Hi all

I am trying to figure out the plan for our first trip to US.

Firstly, is early October (1 to 16) a good time to visit west coast and also east coast?

We are not interested with Theme parks but love to do couple of activities (not bush walk things) with our teens. Any idea around the places that we will visit below?

Our draft plan (SF=San Fransisco, LV=Las Vegas, NY=New York)

Option 1

Day 1-2 SF
Day 3 SF. Day trip to Yosemite.
Day 4 SF. Fly to LV at midday
Day 5-6 LV. Day trip to Grand Canyon. Fly to NY at night
Day 7-13 NY. Fly to Toronto mid day
Day 14-16 Toronto. Back to Sydney at night

Option 2

Day 1-2 SF
Day 3 SF. Fly to NY at night
Day 4-8 NY. Fly to Toronto in the evening
Day 9-11 Toronto. Fly to LV evening
Day 12-13 LV, day trip to Grand Canyon. Fly to SF at night
Day 14-16 SF. Day trip to Yosemite. Back to Sydney at night

What do you guys think? Any suggestions?

I incline towards option 2 but it is weird that flight fares are higher. Also thinking to drop off LV (Grand Canyon).

For Yosemite, is it better day trip or stay overnight? Should we hire a car or join the local tour?

I will fly with United. Should I join MileagePlus?

Thanks all


  • Lv is pretty gross. Pimps in the street etc. The casinos are cheap to stay in but the smokers… Gramd Canyon is worth it tho.

    With United consider buying priority boarding as americans board the plane like it is iraq.

  • +1

    A lot of your time will be taken up sitting behind the wheel, and on or waiting for planes. I'd be inclined to spend more time at less places

    From memory the drive from Vegas to the closest section of the grand canyon (west?) was something like 3 hours each way and costs ~$100 to get in. Google says the south rim is a 5 hour drive, has better views and costs far less.

    I actually quite like Vegas as a city, ignoring the activities on 'the strip'

  • +1

    We normally travel in America in September/October.
    If you are a walker then Yosemite is certainly worth a couple of days. Walking up to Yosemite peak, travelling around the park and going to the waterfalls. You should also go to Glacier Point at dusk and watch the sunset across the Half Dome. There are also hiking trails around Glacier Point as well. We usually stay at motels outside the park and drive in each day as in the park can be expensive.

    The Grand Canyon is worth going to. You can get buses that go around part of the rim and it is worth the walk down to Indian Gardens if you have time but it is a bit of an effort. The sightseeing planes are good as well because the canyons go for quite sometime. I would fly in to Vegas for the evening, go to the Grand Canyon for the day, then fly back to Vegas for the evening and leave the next day. Do a lot of research so you can get the best out of the day.

    • fly in to Vegas for the evening, go to the Grand Canyon for the day, then fly back to Vegas <

      Sounds great idea. But… do you mean stay overnight at Grand Canyon, then next evening drive back to Vegas and fly back to San Fran?

      Is there a overnight group tour from Vegas or do you reckon better just hire a car? I try to convince myself, I can do Left side driving.

      • We've been to the Grand Canyon on several occassions. The first time we flew in one night from Vegas, stayed at the Canyon the whole day and night then flew out the next night back to Vegas. Most times since then we have just done a day trip. It can be done with a day trip but you will be very busy and won't see the canyon at sunrise/sunset. I would look into staying one night at the Canyon as long as it isn't too expensive. We have never driven to/from the Canyon but we have done the trip down from Yosemite, through the Sierra Nevadas and death Valley to Vegas - which is a good driving trip.

        The man drives, not me, but he seems to have no trouble on the other side of the road. The way he keeps it straight is to keep the white line next to him. He says the hardest bit is driving out of one way streets and roundabouts. Also if you intend to drive in San Francisco then look out for the 4 way stop signs. There are few times he has drifted on to the wrong side but it is something you need to think about if you are on lonely streets late at night.

        • I am not aware if there is airport at Grand Canyon. Yes, overnight at the Canyon sounds great but might not fit into our budget.

          If I stay overnight at Vegas, could you please recommend hotel/motel away from the Casino/Strip but still in the central?

          Thanks for the tips about driving.

        • @Smaland: The best recommendation I can make for Vegas is don't go on the weekend, that is when the prices go up. We have stayed at Rio Suites, Imperial Palace. From memory there is also a shuttle bus in Vegas that runs between some hotels and the strip.

          Look at something like Trivago, you can sometimes get good deals from decent hotels at Vegas mid week.

  • +1

    hi, I did a 2 week road trip in April on the east coast.

    started at LA (picked up car at LAX), drove north up to the 395 and to Olancha (4 hour drive going past mojave desert).
    next day drove through Death Valley across to Beatty and then north on the 95 then east back to the 395 and stayed at Bridgeport (that was a big drive and would suggest splitting it in half).
    next day (because the 130 was closed -winter- had to skip Yosemite. the 108 and 4 were also closed due to winter) and headed east on the Carson Pass Highway - route 88.
    stayed at Kirkwood (sky season had finished the previous weekend and everrything was closed but the snow was incredible.
    Then headed to San Fran - stayed 3 nights with a friend.
    headed south (started at Monterey)along the coastal road -route 1 - which had a partial closure.
    stayed at Pismo Beach.
    and then back to LA for 5 days.

    I was considering Las Vegas but it really had no appeal (went there 13 years ago) . it's lots of light and drunk people.

    My family loved the road trip. we saw such varied country/landscape. different animals, houses, etc

    your day trip to Yosemite would be pushing it. Why not just stick to the East Coast? You're there for 2 weeks. Big cities are worth spending more time in. San Francisco is fantastic. some beautiful areas. driving around Berkley and checking out the Uni, the houses, etc is great.

    • The aquarium at Monterey is great. If I had to choose between LA and Yosemite, I would be going to Yosemite. Apart from Universal Studios I've never seen much attraction to LA. San Franciso is terrific.

    • your day trip to Yosemite would be pushing it <

      I am thinking to stay overnight outside the park. Is there a tourist/public bus that go around the park?

      Why not just stick to the East Coast? You're there for 2 weeks. <

      At this stage, my bucket list is San Fran and Grand Canyon. And then I have 5-6 extra days so thinking to jump to West Coast as well. Wish I have 3 weeks.

        • Great. Thanks for quick response.

          Is there public bus to get to Motel/Bnb outside the park or driving is the only option? The worst case, I will do day trip tour from San Fran.

        • +1

          @Smaland: I would not be doing a day trip from San Francisco you will spend most of the day travelling back and forth. Personally, I think hiring a car is your best option and looking at staying at the motel just outside the park then driving in/out, parking and then taking the shuttle bus and hiking, you can then do the drive to Glacier Point for dusk and then back to the motel afterwards. Look into accomodation costs both inside and outside the park and do the calculations. Also look into options that include travel and accomodation.

  • One last thing. Do you aware of any major storm or hurricane that usually come in October ?

  • Toronto <3

    3 days may not be enough, unless you get in early or leave late on the arrival departure days. Especially if you’re planning a day trip to Niagara Falls.

    Also note Canadian border control gave me a weird time because I was only going in for 3 days once. They thought it was weird I’d come all the way from Australia to enter for that short a time. But I explained I’d been before and was already so close in nyc. It wasn’t a problem but it did come up.

    • Yes. Niagara Falls is our target. Is there tourist bus to get there or uber?

      I thought it is not far away from Toronto. Should we spent more days at Toronto or New York?

      Weather wise will early/mid October be cold and raining?

      Btw we will fly from NY to Toronto then back to Sydney.

      • There are day trips you can book at your hotel. Many different companies offer it so just book there. They will pick you up around 8am and you’ll be back by 4/5ish depending on the tour you pick. Some offer a trip to a winery and a visit to Niagara on the Lake (a beautiful town nearby). Others just give you time at the falls.

        If you have no interest in Toronto itself then that should be an ok time. It’s a lovely city but it’s like Melbourne, as a tourist there’s a little to do, but it’s a better place to live in, not visit.

        But I would still try and arrive early in the morning or depart late at night so you at least get a full day in the city, as there is a lot to do. (Rather than arriving at 6pm and leaving at 9am)

        Between nyc and Toronto there is an airline, Porter Air, that is great value. You also fly into/out of Toronto’s city airport which is only about 10-15 to downtown. You can also take a streetcar.

        As for NYC I wouldn’t suggest less than 5 days, 7 is good. It’s a big place and gets overwhelming. It’s one of those places that when you leave you’ll find a whole other trip worth of things you missed out on, so don’t expect to get everything you want to do done! There’s always more to do.

        As for weather, I haven’t been at that time so I don’t know. I have done Niagara in November. It was raining but still beautiful. There were fewer people around than in June which was also lovely. I don’t think October will be too cold. Probably just jumpers but no coats.

  • do Hwy 1, SFO to LAX or part of. Hearst Castle, about 1/2 way. We didn't allow enough time. Although you can drive down interstate from SFO to LAX in 5 hours, Hwy 1 takes at least 8 hours without stopping, but 2-3 full days would be minimum ideally.

    • If you do that route stop off at the Monterey aquarium. I agree it is a 2-3 day trip.

Login or Join to leave a comment