North America

The Ultimate Road Trip Guide to USA: Part 1

Written by: Sheida

Roadtrip USA wearenodes
All photos are taken and owned by Andrea Hansen.

After months of travelling in the States and South America, I finally got to sit down with one of my best friends, Andrea, to hear all about her dream vacation. When she showed me her very detailed road trip guide, I was amazed by how good it was – so I decided to share it on the blog so that more road trip enthusiasts can take part of it. You can basically just copy it and you’ll have your dream holiday planned in a heartbeat!

Read The Ultimate Road Trip Guide to USA: Part 2 

The route:

San Fransisco – Napa Valley – Yosemite National Park – Big Sur – Los Angeles – Las Vegas/Grand Canyon – Monument Valley – Santa Fe – Dallas – Memphis – Nashville – New Orleans – Breaux Bridge – Houston.

Days: 34
Budget: 4980$ (excluding flights) = 110$/day for car, gas, food, housing and tourist attractions.
Rental Car: 1770$, from Hertz (+ GPS from TomTom, 100$ – bring or buy one to take with you, to avoid paying extra for a rental car with a navigation system!)
Click here to jump right over to Part 2 of our USA Roadtrip guide.

San Fransisco

Nights stayed: 2
Where we stayed:
Airbnb outside the city centre.
What to do:

October 4 – Landed mid day in San Francisco. We stayed at an Airbnb outside the city centre since it’s very expensive to live central.

October 5 – Go sightseeing in San Fran (visit Alcatraz, Fishermans Wharf and of course the Golden Gate bridge.)
The Alcatraz prison tour won’t leave you disappointed and is recommended to book well in advance! The price is 66$ including a ferry ticket.

October 6 – Take the whole day to explore the city. Make sure to stop by at Leo’s Oyster Bar or Hoy Island Oyster Co for lunch if you are into shellfish and oysters. Oysters are very popular in San Fransisco – and price worthy!

October 7 – Pick up the rental car early in the morning (at 6-7 a.m) and continue to Napa Valley for lunch and wine tasting. Driving time: approximately 1.5 hours.

Napa Valley

Nights stayed: 1
Where we stayed:
Wine Valley Lodge, about 2,2 km from the wine train. Price: 100$/night.
What to do:

October 7 – Park the car at the hotel and walk to the train station for check in at 09.45 a.m. The Wine Train leaves at 10.15. Don’t forget to bring your ticket and proof of registration!

Andrea choose the ‘Quatro Wino package’ which costs 143$ and included 4 stops at 4 vineyards + 4 meals on the train. The excursion was well worth the price!  

October 8 –  Wake up early, put on a good playlist and head on to Yosemite National Park.
Driving time: 4 hours depending on the traffic.

Yosemite National Park

Nights stayed: 2
Where we stayed:
Mariposa Inn (330$/2 nights including a light breakfast)
What to do:

October 9 – Spend the whole day out in the wild in Yosemite (visit Glacier Point, Tunnel view and wander among the big Sequoia trees). Driving time from the hotel to the Arch Rock Entrance took 1 hour.

Yosemite Tips:

  • The best time to visit Yosemite is during spring, otherwise waterfalls and lakes might have dried out!
  • All national parks in the United States are charging an entrance fee, Yosemite cost 30$ per vehicle.
  • If you want to drive with your own car, it’s best to go before 10 a.m. Parking lots in the park can get full quickly, at least at the lookout points.
  • It’s possible to stay at a hotel in the middle of the park if you can afford it!

Big Sur

Nights stayed: 1
Where we stayed:
Days Inn Motel in Monterey
What to do:

October 10 – Next stop is Monterey.
Driving time: approximately 3,5 h. We stayed at Days Inn Motel in Monterey and drove to the villages Carmel-by-the-Sea and Pacific Grove during the afternoon. Park the car in Carmel-by-the-Sea and take a walk along the coast to Pacific Grove.

An accommodation that looked nice in Big Sur that Jonas Cramby (famous Swedish food writer & chronicler) recommends is Detjen’s Big Sur Inn. (Not the one in the picture)

October 11 – Drive further along Big Sur to Santa Barbara (driving time: approx 4 hours), and take breaks along the road for the beautiful view (don’t miss McWay Falls!). We stayed the night at a motel in Santa Barbara.

The stunning McWay Falls! 

Los Angeles

Nights stayed: 6
Where we stayed: Air BnB in Venice, 663$ for 6 nights.
What to do: 

October 12 – From Santa Barbara, continue to Los Angeles. Driving time: 2 h along highway 101.

The world’s best ice-cream according to Andrea can be found at Salt & Straw at Abbot Kinney! Their vanilla ice-cream with caramel, brownie-fudge and sea salt is AMAZING! 

October 13 – Chill time in Venice. (Look at the canals, the beach in Santa Monica – and why not go watch an NHL game?)

October 14 – Magic Mountain! (Buy tickets online 6 days in advance to get a big discount!). If you are not a roller-coaster enthusiast, you could visit Universal Studios instead.

October 15 & 17– Sightseeing-days (Hollywood-sign, Griffith Observatory, Beverly Hills, Walk of fame, the LACMA lamps etc.)
October 16 – Melrose/Fairfax Flea Market in the morning (open only on Sundays!) + take a look at the vintage boutiques in the area.

Restaurant tips: Abbot Kinney in Venice (also known as “the coolest block in America”, has a lot of good & hip restaurants such as Gjelina!). A good breakfast-spot is Blue Jam Cafe at Melrose Ave and Malibu Farm in Malibu for fresh salads.

Las Vegas

Nights stayed: 2
Driving time: 4-5 h drive from LA.
Where we stayed:  
Hotel Flamingo, with central location right on the Las Vegas Strip.
What to do:

October 18 –What don’t you do in Vegas? Driving time LA-Las Vegas: approximately 4-5 h. 

October 19 – Tourist day in Las Vegas (start off with a long hotel breakfast, try your luck at a casino, chill at a hotel pool, maybe go watch a show)

Grand Canyon

Nights stayed: 1
Where we stayed:
Red Feather Lodge.
What to do:

October 20 – Have an early start from Vegas on to Grand Canyon! Driving time: approx 4,5-5 h to Yavapai Point or Mather Point.

Read the second part of the USA Roadtrip guide here


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *