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West Coast Road Trip (Dec 2018)

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West Coast Road Trip (Dec 2018)

Hello! My family will be visiting the West Coast of USA at the end of this year for 21 days. We are flying into San Francisco on the 21st of December and flying back home from San Francisco on the 11th of January. As the youngest, I've been assigned to plan the itinerary but I'm having some problems. Here's a rough overview:

21/12-26/12 San Francisco

27/12-31/12 ???

1/1-4/1 Seattle (flight from ???)

5/1-8/1 Portland (by train from Seattle)

9/1-11/1 Drive from Portland to SF

I can't decide what to do from the 27th to the 31st. Parents want to go Las Vegas+Grand Canyon but my siblings want to visit Los Angeles+San Diego. I would love to hear opinions on the feasibility of the two options (time-wise) and also which you think will be more worth it! (based on your experiences of the places during the winter season) Also, opinions on the other planned places will be greatly appreciated. I'm especially worried about whether flying/driving during the Christmas/New Year period will be a problem.

The US is a long journey from home so I really hope to be able to make this trip worthwhile :-) Thank you for your help!

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8 replies to this topic
Eugene, Oregon
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1. Re: West Coast Road Trip (Dec 2018)

Portland to SF is normally an 11-12 hour drive down I-5 or at least 2-3 days down the coast and through the redwoods. In winter, however, the mountain passes along I-5 can be treacherous due to ice and snow, often requiring chains (not usually allowed on rental cars) or sometimes being shut down altogether.

Www.tripcheck.com will have the latest road and weather conditions and forecasts for Oregon.

Along the coast snow isn't as common, but drenching rain, gale force winds and impenetrable fog are not uncommon.

If you get any adverse weather forecasts, fly from Portland to SF.

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Oregon
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Long Beach...
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2. Re: West Coast Road Trip (Dec 2018)

You might want to post on the road trip forum

https:/…ShowForum-g1-i12567-Road_Trips.html

Christmas/New Years is a busy time to travel, you'll want reservayions.

I would stay in California-- much better chance of good weather. A common California-ish itinerary. SF > Yosemite (cold) > Coastal Drive/Big Sur > Los Angeles > San Diego > Palm Springs/Joshua Tree > Death Valley or Grand Canyon (cold) > Las Vegas -- fly to SF

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3. Re: West Coast Road Trip (Dec 2018)

Where are you coming from? US, UK, Oz?

I would skip Portland and Seattle. Weather crummy at best

What are you interested in doing? Beaches? Museums? Fine dining or vineyards? Scenic place? Skiiing? Hiking? Gambling? Road trips?

I dont get any idea about what your family's interests are so I can't really give you much more advice until maybe I have a better idea what would good experiences for your trip

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Seattle
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Elk Grove...
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4. Re: West Coast Road Trip (Dec 2018)

Not sure what country you are from. That time of the year, it snows in Seattle and Portland. In general, Oregon is a very wet state in the winter. Heavy snow is common. It will likely impede your trip. The Portland to San Francisco drive may lose its meaning. Along the coast it could be heavy rain and freezing cold, and inland it is massive snow.

California is better in the winter. Coastal California is too warm for snow, though we may have storm systems that brings in heavy rain and gusty conditions. If you plan your times in California instead of Portland/Seattle, you will have less risks of snow-bounded. The Sierra-Nevada mountains may not be passable during a storm (e.g. to South Lake Tahoe, Yosemite), or have snow-chain requirements. Death Valley, Las Vegas and Grand Canyon are generally okay. They are cold but typically dry cold because they are in a desert. Los Angeles and San Diego are quite mild (warm) in their winter. May not even have rain.

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5. Re: West Coast Road Trip (Dec 2018)

Thank you all for your advice! Seems like the general consensus is that the weather in Seattle/Portland is not the best, especially for driving. What would you suggest then if my family would still like to do a long car drive journey? :-) There's 5 of us (2 parents and 3 children aged 18-23) and we're from hot humid tropical (also very tiny) Singapore. We would love to experience driving along the coasts, mountains or just any scenic view really! Other than that, we aren't too big on fine dining, vineyards and gambling. More interested in places with good food, fun activities to do (beaches, interactive museums, amusement parks/carnivals, etc.) and perhaps shopping heh.

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Seattle
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6. Re: West Coast Road Trip (Dec 2018)

Given the time of year, I'd stay away from the mountains (even Yosemite because of the risk of snow) and focus on some coast, plus desert. If you follow lemoncurl's itinerary, once you reach LA, there's no reason Mom and Dad can't fly to Las Vegas and visit the Grand Canyon (preferably an overnight tour), while the rest do a road trip to San Diego.

Take a look at some of these sample itineraries and see which appeal: https:/…California.Itineraries.html

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Washington State
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7. Re: West Coast Road Trip (Dec 2018)

We don't necessarily get snow in December in the Seattle area, but we get rain and some really short hours of daylight.

I think a California + Nevada + Arizona trip makes more sense. And I'd include Yosemite!

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Munich
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8. Re: West Coast Road Trip (Dec 2018)

If it's only for a long drive, than I'd suggest:

Driving from SF to LA on the coast to San Diego, further on to the desert national and provincial parks:

Anza Borrego, Joshua Tree, Mojave Desert NP, Death Valley, Las Vegas. When the weather is fine you can do a detour to Grand Canyon Nationalpark (maybe a guided bus tour?).

Beate

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