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California, San Francisco, Yosemite National Park, North Lake Tahoe, Grand Canyon National Park, Los Angeles

USA Road Trip

We are a family of 5 travelling form Australia. We are planning a 2 week road trip. Plan to fly into San Francisco and out of LA. We would like to see Disneyland & Universal studios, San Francisco, train trip out to the Grand Canyon (I think this is out of Williams?), Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe. Thoughts and suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Is this a reasonable drive? We don't want to feel like we are in the car non stop. My husband has done quite a bit of driving in the US so we are confident with this. Amy suggestions on where to stay would also be most welcome.

8 Answers

answered by
Leonard from Minneapolis

specifically regarding Disneyland: 

Research before you leave home about FastPass. They will save you waiting in lines all day, and guarantee you get to see your favorite attractions. 


Go to Amazon and get a good guidebook for further tips on how to save money and see the park effectively. Have fun!

1 thanks

answered by

My initial thought was that you might be taking on a lot.  But if you can move through the sights you can do it.  I would land in SF, spend a day or two seeing the sights there.  Drive out to Yosemite, stay at the lodge there, Ahwahnee Hotelhike for a day or two.  Skip Tahoe, It's nice but Yosemite is way more worth it.  From there I would head East on the 120 and connect with the 395 and take it south towards Lone Pine. Head up into the Whitney Portal.  

You can hike up the trail to the lake for spectacular views.  From Whitney Portal head out to Death Valley, about 110 miles. Spend the night there.

oasis at Death Valley From there head towards Vegas.  2 days in Vegas, plenty of lodging options, use trip advisor to find what you want. From Vegas travel towards the Grand Canyon.  The Canyon is a day trip unless you plan to hike to the bottom and camp.  Or take a Helicopter tour into the canyon.  Make your way to Sedona, Stay in Sedona or Flagstaff.  Drive back towards LA for the theme parks.  1 day at each.  May want to also see the Santa Monica Pier Shop & Visitor Center, View of LA from U.S. Bank Tower  Like I said, you can probably do it all, if you push.  1-2 days max at each place.  Don't take the train.  Slower and you'll miss stuff along the way.  Breaking it up with all the stops will make it go by faster.  Don't do it during the summer months.  Way too hot!  Any specifics, hit me up!  have fun....

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Ahwahnee Hotel (hotel)
  2. Whitney Portal (attraction)
  3. Death Valley (attraction)
  4. Sedona (city)
  5. Santa Monica Pier Shop & Visitor Center (attraction)
  6. U.S. Bank Tower (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by

Hi Lyndal,

the short answer is YES it is a lot of driving. Californiais gigantic. I would go to Yosemite Valley, but double check distances on your google maps. Lake Tahoe is northeast of San Francisco about 4 hours if not snowing(it could be a lot more); Yosemite is Southeast also about 3-4 hours, depending on traffic; Grand Canyon National Park is way out East from Los Angelesinto Arizona; careful, if you don't want to spend most of your time traveling the vast distances of the West, make sure you check google maps and get directions with miles/kms and hours.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. California (attraction)
  2. Yosemite Valley (attraction)
  3. Lake Tahoe (city)
  4. San Francisco (city)
  5. Grand Canyon National Park (park)
  6. Los Angeles (city)

answered by
Leonard from Minneapolis

Addendum: when you arrive at the park in the morning, the first thing to do, before you do anything else, is run around the park and collect all your FastPasses for the day. You'll then know what your schedule is for the day, and won't have to spend all day standing in lines!

answered by
Alexiana from Philadelphia

I do not think it is unreasonable but I would do the stuff you really want to do first just in case you run out of time. 2 weeks is a bit tight but totally doable.

answered by
Shelvin from California

Sounds like a very eventful itinerary. I am assuming you will do this trip before November. If so, then my suggestion on the order of your itinerary is like this: San FranciscoLake TahoeYosemite ValleyGrand Canyon National ParkUniversal Studios Hollywood

Since you are willing to drive out to Grd Cnyon, you might consider adding a few other spots that are not much out of the way: Las VegasZion National Park - South CampgroundSedonaLake Havasu CityPalm Springs

Regarding hotels, you can book everything online. I book 100% of my hotels online through or If you shoot for 3.5 - 4 star level then you'll be ok.

answered by
Michael from San Francisco

Definitely doable. I've done that drive a number of times now (also an Aussie but moved to San Francisco 6 years ago).  



answered first by

First of all, don't rent a car until you are ready to leave San Francisco  From there you can drive up to Lake Tahoe  (about a 3 hour drive) and/or Yosemite Valley which is 5 hours from Lake Tahoe but only 3 hours from San Francisco.  I think if I were going to cut something out of the trip, I'd cut out Tahoe.

I don't know when you plan to make the trip, but it would be a good idea to make the reservations to stay in Yosemite as soon as you know your dates - a year in advance is not excessive. 

From Yosemite you can drive down to Disneyland Park/ Universal Studios Hollywood  That's about 6 hours.  It is also about 6 and a half hours from Los Angeles to Williams to get the train.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. San Francisco (city)
  2. Lake Tahoe (city)
  3. Yosemite Valley (attraction)
  4. Disneyland Park (attraction)
  5. Universal Studios Hollywood (attraction)
  6. Williams (city)

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