My California Road Trip Itinerary: Yosemite (and Las Vegas)

The Perfect California and Las Vegas Road Trip

A few of you have been asking for Part 3 of my California Road Trip Itinerary, so here it is! I’m really sorry it’s taken me sooo long to get this up!

If you haven’t read Part 1 (San Diego, LA and the Pacific Coast Highway) you can find it here and Part 2 (San Francisco) here.

Anyway, today it’s time for Yosemite National Park and across the border in Nevada, a little ol’ place called Las Vegas! This one is a little different from the others as it’s less about sightseeing, and more about exploing, but hopefully you’ll like it! Oh, and it’s a long one so go grab a cuppa!

Yosemite and Las Vegas

Day Eleven: San Francisco – Yosemite National Park

After we left the gorgeousness that is the city of San Francisco, we headed east to Yosemite National Park, on roads that seemed to stretch on forever.

Yosemite and Las Vegas

Just before we headed to the US, Yosemite was hit by raging forest fires that that destroyed hundreds of miles of the park so we weren’t sure if we’d be able to go. It took just over two months to get the situation completely under control and they were still burning when we arrived, leaving the air thick and smoky. But the area we were staying in wasn’t under threat, so we were lucky!

Yosemite and Las Vegas

On the way we stopped at Mariposa Grove to see the Giant Sequoia Trees.

Yosemite and Las Vegas

Yosemite and Las Vegas

We’d left San Fran a little later than we should have, so it was pitch black when we pulled into Housekeeping Camp. After checking in we collected our hired bedding ($2.50) and headed over to our static tent. The tent had a double bed, two bunks and a camp bed ”“ snug for 5 of us, but it did the job. We also had a bear box outside, which is where you’re supposed to put any food in case they come into the camp at night in search of tasty treats. I loved being in the wild again, keeping a look out for wild animals on the way to the loo, reminded me of Africa.

Yosemite and Las Vegas

As we didn’t have any cooking equipment, we hopped in the car and headed over to Curry Village, just a few minutes down the road, and grabbed some pizza before heading back to the tent, for a surprisingly pleasant and bear free sleep. For the record, we didn’t see a single bear. Well, Simone thought she saw one when we drove out of Yosemite, but it was quite low light, so it could have been a tree stump. Oh well.

Yosemite and Las Vegas

Day Twelve: Yosemite National Park

It had been completely dark with not even a scrap of moonlight when we arrived and went to bed. So, you can understand my surprise and excitement when I stepped out of the tent in the morning to this view.  We hadn’t even realised we were next to water. Oh yes. That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

Yosemite and Las Vegas

Yosemite and Las Vegas

We headed back to Curry Village for breakfast and to rent some bikes for a few hours. With only 1 day in Yosemite we needed to see as much as possible!

Yosemite and Las Vegas

Yosemite and Las Vegas

Yosemite and Las Vegas

Yosemite and Las Vegas

Yosemite and Las Vegas

The bikes were so much fun and the scenery was beautiful. At one point I was free-wheeling, breathing in the fresh air and I just felt an overwhelming sensation of happiness.

Yosemite and Las Vegas  Yosemite and Las VegasOnce we’d handed the bikes back, we used the free shuttle to get around the valley and got on and off to explore. We saw El Capitan, a 3000ft vertical rock formation, popular with base jumpers and climbers. It takes a few days to get all the way to the top, so people have to sleep in hammocks or tents on the cliff face, suspended in the air just by ropes. I seriously can’t think of anything more awful. The climbers were hard to spot but the bus driver had expert eyes and found some within a few seconds.

Yosemite and Las Vegas

I had to use the zoom on my camera to get a better look at the crazy people!

Yosemite and Las Vegas

We drove up to Glacier Point at sunset to take in the views of Half Dome and the valley below, but the smoky air meant visibility was probably less than normal, but it was still a sight to behold. Perhaps take a little bottle of bubbly and a picnic for an extra special treat.

Yosemite and Las Vegas

Top Tips for Yosemite National Park:

  • I would have liked another day in Yosemite to do some hiking. If you like the great outdoors, then it doesn’t get much better than this.
  • Housekeeping Camp is a great budget option. The only downside is that it doesn’t have a restaurant on site, but it is the only place where you can have your own BBQ. The people next door to us looked like they had moved in for the season. But Curry Village is just a short drive down the road if you need it.
  • I definitely recommend hiring bikes $11.50 per hour or $31.50 per day at Curry Village (prices correct September 2013).
  • At certain times of the year, the Merced River is open for rafting and ice skating is available.

Day Thirteen: Yosemite National Park – Las Vegas

We were up and out super early, as we were driving to Las Vegas today. Our plan had been to take the road through Death Valley, but it was closed due to the fire, so we took an alternative route. Crossing the state border, we left California and entered Nevada.

Yosemite and Las Vegas

Vegas appeared, rising like a twinkly, glittery Emerald City, an oasis in the Mojave Desert. The complete opposite to the natural beauty of Yosemite. Driving into Sin City, we did the only sensible thing –  whacked on ”˜Viva Las Vegas’ on the car stereo and took a drive along the Strip, we even spotted Elvis. I was completely in awe. It was just so big, brassy, busy and colourful. If Disneyland grew up and took steroids it would be Las Vegas.

We were handing back the rental car today, but before we did, we visited the Welcome to Las Vegas sign, parked up, took some photos.

Yosemite and Las Vegas Sign Wedding  Yosemite and Las Vegas Elvis

I never expected in a million years to love Las Vegas, but I did. It’s kind of weird writing about Yosemite and Las Vegas in one post, because they are as different as can be. Yes Vegas is tacky and seedy in parts, but then it’s also kind of beautiful too, if completely overwhelming. There’s also a lot more to it than gambling!

There are literally thousands of restaurants, clubs, bars, casinos, music venues, all open 24/7 and everyone is catered for, whether you’re 8 or 80, rich or not so rich. Had I been on a blowout weekend away with the girls, I can imagine it would have been a very different trip, which is why it’s difficult for me to say, ”˜go here, or go there’, as there is so much choice. I barely scratched the surface in the few days I spent there, but I’ll tell you what I did and hopefully it will give you an idea!

Yosemite and Las Vegas

Our hotel of choice was The Mirage. Swanky, well-priced and in amongst the action ”“ but to be fair, you spend very little time in your hotel room! For me, the location is the most important thing, central all the way! If I went back again, I’d definitely stay at The Mirage again, or perhaps The Bellagio, Paris, The Venetian or Caesar’s Palace.

Yosemite and Las Vegas

That evening, we met in one of the hotel bars, had a quick drink and a cheeky gamble before heading out for dinner with no plans whatsoever, apart from finding somewhere cheap and cheerful to eat. We turned left and headed for Treasure Island, watched the Pirate Show, and then went inside. One of the first places we came to was Gilley’s.

Yosemite and Las Vegas

A live band blasted out country rock music, whilst some enthusiastic line dancers twirled and grapevined across the floor. On the other side of the room, brave souls rode a mechanical bull to whoops from the crowd. Whilst I love a good Dosey Doe, the rest of my group aren’t quite so keen, but they all agreed it was a fun place and the boys quite liked the waitresses in their cut out leather chaps ”“ yee ha!

Yosemite and Las Vegas

Las Vegas

At the back there’s a BBQ restaurant which smelled oh so good, so we put our names down for a table and tucked into a tasty and hearty (if not healthy) dinner. We spent the rest of the evening wandering through the Strip, stopping off at various bars and casinos and just taking in the craziness.

Mike even won some cash. $0.15 to be exact. Ka-ching!

Las Vegas

Day Fourteen: Las Vegas

Our friends had organised a trip to the Grand Canyon. but we’d decided not to go. People have asked me if I regret not going, and my answer is no, not this time. I plan to do a rafting trip down the Colorado River at some point, so I’ll hopefully do it then! But they absolutely loved it and would highly recommend going! So definitely think about going if you have the time.

Instead, we walked the length of the Strip, dipping in and out of most of the hotels. Within one day we visited Paris”¦

Las Vegas Itinerary (28)

New York”¦

Las Vegas Itinerary (5)


Las Vegas Itinerary (23)

and ancient Rome.

Las Vegas Itinerary (19)

The atmosphere was electric. Today was the day of the Mayweather/Canelo weigh-in, ready for the big fight the following evening at the MGM Grand. We knew there were a ton of celebrities in town for the boxing, but the only person we saw was Magic Johnson signing autographs in Caesar’s Palace.

Las Vegas Itinerary

That evening we started off oh so elegantly in one of The Mirage bars, before going for dinner at the Outback Steakhouse.

Las Vegas

We then got touted into a small club at Planet Hollywood, called Koi Lounge, where there was a cover charge of $20 and guys drank for free until midnight, girls all night. The bar was heaving with guys at first, but after midnight, us ladies took full advantage of our offer. Then, it all gets a little hazy”¦ but we ended the night in the outdoor bit of Rhumbar at The Mirage. It was chilled when we left the hotel earlier on, but later everyone was up and dancing under the stars on the patio. Lots of fun and completely unpretentious. My kind of place!

This was probably one of the best nights out I’ve ever had in my life. We call it ”˜The Hangover’ night, because the following day, looking back through the photos was just like the end of the movie! It was everything you’d expect from a night out in Vegas.

Las Vegas

My favourite pic is this one, a shot of Simone, Mike and I full-on dancing, smack bang in the middle of The Mirage, no shoes on, with Matt holding my handbag looking on with disdain as people passed us by looking confused.

Day Fifteen: Las Vegas

We slept in. Unsurprisingly.

When we ventured out after lunch, Vegas was bursting at the seams with people gearing up for the boxing. We tried to get in for breakfast at Matt’s favourite breakfast joint, The Peppermill, but the wait was over an hour, so we popped into a nearby Denny’s for pancakes with maple syrup and bacon. I also ordered some grits (I was curious), and I’m gonna say, I’m not a fan. Tastes like ugali/nshima I eat in Africa, but a thinner consistency and without the relish. Not for me I’m afraid.

Las Vegas Itinerary

We then visited the Stratosphere hotel, the tallest building in Vegas. The inside of the hotel and casino isn’t anything special in comparison to the likes of the Bellagio or the Venetian, but it’s what’s on top of the Stratosphere that’s the real attraction, the worlds’s highest thrill rides. Straight after we stepped out of the lift, we saw an old man jump off the building. He was doing the Sky Jump Las Vegas, a controlled descent zip wire. Literally terrifying.

Las Vegas Itinerary (26)

Then there’s the other 3 rides ”“ the Big Shot, Insanity and X-Scream. The others went on but hanging over a thousand feet up in the air is my idea of hell (mind you not as bad as sleeping on El Capitan), so I gave the rides a miss and just watched everyone else pooping their pants! Yeah, this thing dips forward like you’re about to fall off the building…

Las Vegas Itinerary

Next we headed downtown to Fremont Street to look around. Fremont Street takes you back to old school Vegas. The street is under a canopy which contains thousands of twinkling lights, I wished we’d seen it at night! It was pretty quiet when we went but it can get really busy, and in the late afternoon/evening there’s a real party atmosphere (my sources tell me).

Las Vegas Itinerary

That night we started off at the ”˜All You Can Eat’ Buffet at Harrah’s. Pretty much every hotel has one of these, so choose your location and fill your boots!

In a striking contrast to the buffet, our first bar of the evening was the elegant, laidback Zefferino at The Venetian. We sat in the bar and listened to the pianist play some classics. At my request he played The Way You Look Tonight and I felt as though we’d gone back in time, to the days of Sinatra and the Rat Pack. We tipped and thanked him as we left which struck up a little conversation and he told us about the good old days. Simply wonderful.

Las Vegas Itinerary

Next it was on to Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville for cocktails and dancing to salsa tunes. We then headed back towards The Mirage, stopping at a couple of bars along the way, before heading into 1 Oak nightclub. As we were staying there, we got free entry, which seemed like a good deal to me!

Las Vegas Itinerary

The club was about half full when we got in, but was filling up fast. The smallish dance floor was in the middle, and VIP booths surrounded it. We were on a budget so we headed straight for the bar, grabbed some (expensive) drinks and people watched from the side ”“ the only place you could stand. It took me all of about 10 seconds to realize this just wasn’t my scene.

Maybe it’s my age, but it just all seemed a little bit soulless to me. I’ve been to many a great club in my 34 years and I wasn’t overly impressed by the atmosphere, the attitude, the price or the music ”“ some of the 1 Oak Tripadvisor reviews echo my sentiments, but some love it. I guess it’s a matter of taste.

Day Sixteen: Las Vegas

Our last day was upon us and to say I was a little sad was an understatement. I’d had an amazing couple of weeks with four awesome companions and I didn’t want it to end.

Having walked miles and miles over the previous few days (and weeks), we decided it was time to have a little relaxing time by the pool. With a couple of cocktails, of course!

Las Vegas Itinerary (13)  Las Vegas

We headed out early in the evening as we were off to see Mystère by Cirque du Soleil at Treasure Island. Have you seen the film ”˜Knocked Up’? Well, Mystere is the show Seth Rogan and Paul Rudd go to see when they’re high on magic mushrooms!

Las Vegas Itinerary (38)

It did not disappoint.  The things the acrobats and gymnasts can do with their bodies and props is out of this world. I sat there in absolute amazement the whole way through. The only bad thing about it was that I wished it had been longer. It only lasted an hour or so, but then again, whilst the performance looked totally effortless, the strain on the performers must be immense.

Afterwards we headed to the Bellagio Fountains where crowds gather to watch the water dance to music ”“ really spectacular and not to be missed! We’d caught glimpses of it previously, but this time we wanted to be on the front row!

Las Vegas Itinerary (47)

Las Vegas Itinerary (45)

Las Vegas Itinerary (46)

Dinner tonight was at Serendipity 3 at Caesar’s Palace. We’d walked past it a few times and it looked really lovely so we gave it a whirl. They had a huge menu, literally, and portions to match! I thought I was ordering a relatively light meal with an omelette, stupid me!

Las Vegas Itinerary (49)

Las Vegas Itinerary (52)

Las Vegas Itinerary (51)

We finished off the night with drinks at the Wynn and Encore, two of the sexiest hotels in Vegas – pretty lights galore. The perfect way to end our trip.

Top Tips for Las Vegas:

Where to even start? There’s so much to choose from, so my best advice is to do a bit of research,plan and book a couple of things, but also leave time to just go with the flow, as it’s impossible to get round everything!

Where To Eat:

Vegas has everything from cheap diners to top Michelin Star restaurants.

  • For cheap eats, we recommend Serendipity 3, Outback Steakhouse and Gilley’s, they were all delicious.
  • For the best restaurants in town, check out here and here. Matt recommends STACK in The Mirage for the steak dinner.
  • Most hotels have an ”˜All You Can Eat’ Buffet. They vary in price, but usually the cheaper the hotel, the cheaper the buffet. Harrah’s was ok! My mate Charlotte said the MGM Grand one wasn’t great. The Bellagio is meant to be awesome.
  • For breakfast (or lunch or dinner) try The Peppermill, a restaurant near to The Riviera hotel or Matt says to have the Giant Pancakes at Hash House a go go in The Quad. If all else fails you can always trust Denny’s for a good start to the day!

Where To Drink and Party:

This could be a very long list, so I’ll just leave this to the places I liked, and you can always check out  Thrillist to find exactly what you want!

  • If you are gambling, you’ll probably get a free drink or two, even if it’s just a few bucks in a slot machine and every hotel has a number of bars to choose from.
  • We basically, just wandered and popped into the ones we liked the look, and sound of. I really liked: Gilley’s in Treasure Island for Country, Margaritaville  at The Flamingo for Latin, Rhumbar at The Mirage for chart music, Rock of Ages at The Venetian for classic rock, and Zefferino at The Venetian for elegant piano. One thing that I didn’t do, but wish I had, is go to one of the Duelling Piano bars at either New York, New York or Harrah’s.
  • We also visited The View at The Palms, which was really nice. Matt’s been to Moon, Ghostbar and Rain previously and thinks they’re great.
  • Many of the hotels have afternoon pool parties, and if I went again, I’d definitely go to one. The Hard Rock Café and Encore parties are apparently awesome!
  • Recommended clubs are; Marquee at The Cosmopolitan, Hakkazan at the MGM GranD, XS at Encore and Pure at Caesar’s Palace. Next time Vegas!
  • Look out for the big name DJ’s coming to town, that’s often where the party is. Just arrive early unless unless you’re on the VIP list.
  • Sometimes tipping the doormen will get you in quicker, but not guaranteed.
  • Girls get in free at many of the clubs or drinks are included in the entry fee.

What To Do:

  • See a show. I can recommend Cirque du Soleil and we booked our trip through Viator.
  • I definitely recommend spending a day just touring the Strip to get a feel for the place, especially if it’s your first time.
  • Go and see the Bellagio Fountains, show times are here.
  • Drive along the Strip, see the Vegas sign and visit the Little White Chapel.
  • Scare yourself silly on the Stratosphere rides. There’s also a ride at New York, New York.
  • Visit the Mob Museum.
  • I’m not a massive fan of gambling, but I did have a little go, it is Vegas after all. But only gamble what you can afford to lose.
  • You can take day trips to The Grand Canyon, Red Rock Canyon and the Hoover Dam amongst other places. Perhaps take a helicopter ride with a Champagne breakfast!

Where To Stay:

We loved staying at The Mirage due to its central location on the Strip. The prices vary, but you can get deals on the more expensive hotels. As I said, you don’t spend that much time in your room, so it all depends on what you want. If you have a room overlooking the Strip, you’ll generally pay more than a room facing the other way or in a hotel than is set back from the Strip. But for your money, you’ll get a much better hotel in Vegas, than you would in somewhere like London. For the record, my ideal room, would be in the Paris hotel, with a view over the Bellagio Fountains or maybe one at the very cool Encore.

  • Central Strip: The Bellagio, Caesar’s Palace, Paris, Planet Hollywood, The Mirage, Bally’s, Harrah’s, The Flamingo, The Venetian, Cosmopolitan, Aria or Treasure Island.
  • South Strip: Monte Carlo, New York New York, Excalibur, The MGM Grand, Tropicana, Luxor or Mandalay Bay.
  • North Strip: Wynn and Encore (joined together), The Riviera, Circus Circus.
  • Other places to consider: the hotels in Fremont Street, The Stratosphere (which is on the Strip, but a bit of a trek), The Palms and Rio.

If there’s a particular club or pool party you want to go to, consider staying in that hotel as you often get in free or they may be able to sort you a special deal. Speak to the Concierge when you get there.


  • You do a lot of walking, so bring comfy shoes, or you can get a monorail between some hotels.
  • Your hotel Concierge is a great source of info!
  • Vegas is in the middle of the desert, and gets really hot in summer, so drink lots of water (especially if you’re drinking alcohol), and it gets cold in the winter, so take some warm clothes.
  • Drinking age in the States is 21, and you’ll need your ID with you.
  • You can drink on the street as long as it’s in a plastic cup
  • Don’t forget to tip! It’s expected in the States.
  • There are no clocks or windows in Vegas casinos (accept the doors). You would never know what time it is.
  • Let your hair down, you’re in Vegas Baby!!!!!!!!!!!!

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I'm a travel blogger and tour operator with a passion for Africa travel. I love the great outdoors, going on epic trips around the world and helping others travel!


  • Charlotte
    October 7, 2014 at 10:08 am

    Hmm my first comment didn’t post.. Another amazing piece of writing from you Helen, you are very talented. I really want to go to Yosemite now, the bear hut sounds fun! And your photos are amazing! You would be very fun in Vegas!! xxxxxx

    • Helen
      October 8, 2014 at 6:37 pm

      Thank you Charlotte!!! Yosemite is wonderful – didn’t see any bears though!

      Ha ha, glad you approve of my Vegas antics! xx

  • Simone
    October 9, 2014 at 12:40 am

    I saw a bear! 🙂

    • Helen
      October 9, 2014 at 9:47 pm

      5 mins later ‘oh I saw a bear’ ha ha ha ha ha!

  • Jo
    October 9, 2014 at 11:57 pm

    Love this – what a road trip! Everyone should visit Vegas at least once in their life 🙂

    • Helen
      October 11, 2014 at 9:05 am

      Thank you Jo! It was a fun trip!!! I think we should go on a gals trip somewhere next year! 🙂

  • Murissa
    October 14, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    I’ve been to the 1 Oak as well and just was not for me. It’s a place that screams “roofie” if you’re not careful. On the other hand I do love Vegas. I’ve been 9 times and am going again for my boyfriend’s birthday next month.
    Great pics! Looks like you had a great time Helen!

    • Helen
      October 14, 2014 at 10:29 pm

      Yeah, I just wan’t into it. Maybe better with a big group in a booth, but I think clubs should be more inclusive!

      Have an AMAZING time when you go back!!!! Happy Birthday to the BOYF!

      Miss you! x

  • Craig
    October 16, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    Glad you enjoyed your stay in Vegas. Never in a million years would I thought I would have liked Vegas (I’m more of a “visit Yosemite person”), but OMG! did I have a blast. Fremont Street is definitely my favorite, you get to experience a little bit of the shady/gritty aspect that Vegas was founded on. Great post, makes me want to go visit again

    • Helen
      November 23, 2014 at 10:51 pm

      I never thought I’d like it either, but it was so fun! Fremont Street was awesome, I could almost imagine Frank Sinatra just hanging out in one of the casinos. Glad you liked the post, thank you Craig!

  • Claire @ ZigZag On Earth
    October 25, 2014 at 3:18 am

    A fantastic post! You are right, Yosemite and Las Vegas on a same post looks strange but it works: from serenity to excitement.
    I have spent only a few hours in Yosemite and your photos make me want to go back.

    • Helen
      November 23, 2014 at 10:56 pm

      Thanks Claire! It was kind of strange going from Yosemite to Vegas, but was a really cool contrast! I didn’t spend enough time in Yosemite either – I would love to go back someday!

  • Stephen & Jess
    October 27, 2014 at 9:58 am

    Yosemite looks so beautiful and I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t know how to pronounce it till Apple used it. Great write up and very insightful 🙂

    • Helen
      November 23, 2014 at 11:05 pm

      Hi Stephen and Jess,

      Ha ha, don’t worry about that! I pronounce all kind of things wrong! 🙂

      Glad you found it useful, thanks so much!


  • Peter
    November 1, 2014 at 6:56 am

    Hey Helen, Nice to see you in Yosemite. I went there last year. The writing will be helpful to other travellers. Hope to see you soon in Virgin Islands. 🙂

    • Helen
      November 23, 2014 at 11:00 pm

      Thanks Peter! I’d love to go to the Virgin Islands, looks so beautiful there! Someday I will go! Who knows where my blog will take me in the next year? 🙂

  • Jason lewis
    November 1, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    Yosemite and Las Vegas are the two most beautiful places to visit. From food to shopping everything is awesome there. If you want to go for a vacation then you should give St Thomas a try. Anyway nicely written with beautiful pictures.

    • Helen
      November 23, 2014 at 11:07 pm

      I agree Jason! So different and both beautiful in their own way!

      I’d love to go to St Thomas someday, the Caribbean is one of my favourite places. So far I’ve been to Barbados, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Tobago…

  • Richard Rollins
    November 5, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    Refreshing post. Tonnes of information. Great narration.

    Now it is good you described where to hang out in Vegas, because there are a lot of people complaining that they ran out of money after visiting casinos.!!!

    Loved your post..! Keep it up.

    • Helen
      November 23, 2014 at 11:09 pm

      Thanks Richard!

      Vegas is expensive, but doesn’t have to be a place where you run out of money. Plenty of cheap places to eat and stay. But if you gamble all your money away… well, that’s the problem!

  • Matt D.
    November 15, 2014 at 7:16 am

    Nice photos. And look what they did to that poor tree.

    • Helen
      November 23, 2014 at 11:10 pm

      Thanks Matt! I have no idea what happened with the tree – I guess maybe part of it rotted away? Who knows?

  • Michael Shane
    November 18, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    Hi how you doing…
    just googled searched san diego to san fran and came accross your blog.. class read.

    just booked up to do the same kind of tour end of january but starting in vegas… then fly to san diego to hire a car..

    only relised whilst reading part 3 about vegas that i was there the same time as you,, remember seeing magic johnston signing

    anyways your trip sounded class. prob do quite a few things you did between san diego and san fran..


    • Helen
      November 23, 2014 at 11:12 pm

      Hi Michael,

      I’m great thanks, how are you? Thanks, glad you enjoyed the post! Took a while to write! 🙂

      Wow, January will be a blast for you!!! I want to go again!

      Ha ha, how weird you were there too! It was in Caesar’s we saw him! Was a fun but busy weekend!

      Great that you’ll be doing some of the same things, hope this post helped!

  • Packing my Suitcase
    December 3, 2014 at 10:14 am

    Sounds such a fun trip!! I hope I can visit Vegas again, last time I went I was under age and couldn’t even enjoy the casinos 😀
    Great tips you have given, thank you for sharing all of it!!
    I have been following you on Instagram for a while and only now I came by your blog!! I loved it 😀
    I wish you happy travels 😀

    • Helen
      December 3, 2014 at 7:11 pm

      It was a fun trip! You have to go back! 🙂

      Thank you Allane! I’ve just had a look at your blog too! Love your header and can’t wait to look through your posts!

      Happy travels to you too!

  • Rob Evans
    December 8, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    Hi Helen

    Just booked flights for next year doing San Francisco to Las Vegas via San Diego. Your diary and suggested places to see looks just perfect for us. Cant wait and thanks for the post.


    • Helen
      December 8, 2014 at 7:28 pm

      That’s great Rob! No worries, hope you enjoy the trip! 🙂

  • rebecca
    January 2, 2015 at 9:18 pm

    stumbled upon your blog while researching for our honeymoon this august- WOW!! we are renting a house in the Hollywood hills for 5 nights then driving up to san fran and staying at a couple of places along the way.. amazing write up and extremely helpful and interesting! I cant wait to do this!! thanks! x

    • Helen
      January 2, 2015 at 10:55 pm

      Thanks for the lovely comment Rebecca!

      I hope you have an amazing wedding day and a wonderful life together!

      Enjoy the trip, it will be amazing! 🙂

  • Lianne
    January 6, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    Hi Helen, loved your blog. We are planning this trip for July so it’s been so useful. Just wondered how you found the journey from Yosemite to Vegas? Not sure whether to spend more time on the coast, end our trip at Yosemite/SF and do Vegas/Grand Canyon another time? (Bit scared of driving through Death Valley in July heat!!)


    • Helen
      January 6, 2015 at 9:35 pm

      Thanks so much Lianne! Glad it’s come in useful for you!

      When we drove to Las Vegas, because of the forest fires, the Death Valley route was closed, so we drove an alternative route which was absolutely fine! 🙂

      If you have time, do both. But either way you’ll have a wonderful time. I could have spent longer in all of the places we went to. How long have you got?

      • Lianne
        January 8, 2015 at 3:20 pm

        Hi. We’ve got 16 nights. The nights I’ve got so far are SF (3), Yosemite (2), Monterey/Carmel (2), Big Sur (1), LA (4), San Diego (4). (We’ve decided to give Vegas a miss now, as we were only going there to get to the Grand Canyon – and I don’t think we could do it justice in 1 afternoon!!).
        What do you think? Li x

        • Helen
          January 17, 2015 at 11:34 pm

          Hi Lianne, if I were you, I’d probably spend one night less in San Diego, and add an extra one in San Francisco. San Francisco deserves 4 days. But that’s just me! 🙂

          It would be good to do Vegas too, but I reckon you can do that as a separate trip. I think we rushed some bits a little, so your plan for PCH sounds great!

  • Nadia
    June 19, 2015 at 11:43 am

    Hey Helen 🙂
    Was just re-reading this post… I am going to be in LA/Las Vegas in November. I already have a loooong list of what I want to see and no idea how to fit it all in. Wanted to ask your advice… if you had a choice to visit Yosemite, Death Valley or the Grand Canyon but only had time to see 2 of those, which ones would you pick?


    • Helen
      June 21, 2015 at 7:38 pm

      Hey Nadia, how are you??? I’ve never been to Death Valley (the fires meant the road out of Yosemite was closed) and I didn’t go to Grand Canyon either, but, I would say Yosemite and Grand Canyon, however, if you are driving you can just drive through Death Valley on your way to Vegas, so you should be able to do all of them! Grand Canyon is a day trip from Vegas. I would say 2 – 3 nights in Yosemite at the least!

      Have a great time!!! xx

  • Donna
    July 20, 2015 at 6:05 pm

    Hi Helen, you are like a guiding angel for us that are researching this trip. Your blog is so helpful, intact I am just going to follow you plan and as you say play about with it. I know you didn’t go to Death Valley and I would love to experience such a drive so I just want to ask a couple of questions to maybe help me decide on what to do.

    How long is the drive from San Francisco to Yosemite? Do you think it is possible to leave San Francisco around 6am, get to Yosemite to spend a few hours there then continue on through Death Valley. The issue I am having is that I have 4 days and 3 nights to travel from San Francisco and see Yosemite/Death Valley and Las Vegas. Therefore, my question is do I spend one night in Yosemite or one night in Death Valley on my way to Vegas?

    The plan I have already is 3 nights in San Diego, 1 night at La Jolla Beach, 3 nights in LA, 1 night in Cambria and 4 nights in San Francisco. So from San Francisco. As I read and know you didn’t get to drive through Death Valley because of the fire conditions but just incase any of the people who have commented on your post have experienced both Yosemite and Death Valley, do I spend one night in Yosemite or one night in Death Valley on my way to Vegas?

    Thank you once again for your blogs. They are amazing 🙂


    • Helen
      July 20, 2015 at 9:51 pm

      Ha ha, no worries!! I think the drive from San Fran is around 4 hours direct.

      However, I think a few hours is too short to spend in Yosemite. I can’t comment on what Death Valley is like so hard to say, but Yosemite is beautiful and I’d say spend a night there.

      Hope that helps! Other people may say different, but that’s my thoughts! 🙂

  • Aine
    August 24, 2015 at 12:26 am

    Hi Helen,

    Fantastic read!! So informative and interesting!! Myself and my partner are planning on going to the states next summer and plan on flying to San Francisco, renting a car and driving to Vegas via Yosemite and then onto LA before heading back to San Fran for our flight home!! We picked up so many great tips from these few blog posts but I was just wondering if you could do a post on the cost and expenses involved and any advice on how to plan a budget for a trip like this and how much spending money would be needed! Any advice would be greatly appreciated! 🙂

    Aine x

    • Helen
      August 29, 2015 at 11:57 pm

      Hi Aine! My budget post is up! Let me know if it helps! 🙂

  • Rhianna
    January 19, 2016 at 9:09 am

    Hi Helen,

    I love your blog!!
    I have booked my flights to California for this September flying into LA on 1st and then out from Las Vegas on the 18th.
    Can I ask what time of year did you travel there?


    • Helen
      January 19, 2016 at 10:36 pm

      Thanks Rhianna!

      I went fom the 1st to the 17th September so exactly same time as you! Weird coincidence! 🙂

  • Hayley
    January 29, 2016 at 8:02 pm

    Hi Helen, your road trip writing was so interesting and informative. We are planning a Vegas to San Fran trip this year for my 50th Birthday which is in June but I’ve heard there is June gloom weather along the coast road from LA to San Fran and that June is too hot for Vegas, Death Valley and Yosemite and the Grand Canyon, should we move our trip to Oct and do something else in June for my birthday? How long would it take with stops between LA and San Fran and if we visited Disney for a day too as well as all the above? Sorry so many questions?

    • Helen
      January 29, 2016 at 9:09 pm

      Hi Hayley,

      I don’t think the weather would ruin your trip, but if you are worried, maybe move it back. I went in September and it was gorgeous. I think to do all of the above you are looking at at least 2 weeks. I’d say 3 days LA, 3 – 4 San Fran, 3 days Yosemite, 3 Las Vegas, 1 -2 on the coast in between LA and San Fran!

      You will have an amazing time!!


  • Arabella
    March 1, 2016 at 7:37 pm

    Awesome set of posts. I’m planning to see a bit of California and Vegas in November two weeks. I’ll copy most of your itinerary, but since I’ve been to San Francisco, I’ll just stop there for a day and head to Napa Valley. What do you think?

    • Helen
      March 4, 2016 at 10:39 pm

      Hi Arabella,

      Sounds like a plan! I’ve not been to Napa Valley, but I hear it’s lovely. If you feel you’ve done everything you want to do in San Fran, then maybe move on! I’m sure you’ll have an amazing time!!!


  • Amy Jones
    April 5, 2016 at 8:43 pm

    Hi Helen,

    So glad I came across your amazing blog!! I am so jealous of all your travelling and so inspiring that you left your job to do it!

    We are planning our trip this July and most is booked now- quite similar to yours!!
    London into LA- 3days here
    LA- Vegas for 2 nights
    Vegas- Yosemite -2 nights
    Yosemite- San Fran- 4 nights
    San Fran- Monterey 2 nights
    Monterey- Santa Barbara- 1 night
    Santa Barbara- Santa Monica- 2 nights (stopping here again to do the beaches and relax before our flight as most of the trip will be jam packed!)
    Fly from LA back to London!!

    I have a question though- we want to drive from Vegas to Yosemite via Death Valley in a day. We plan to leave Vegas really early and stop a couple of times but I’ve read on many posts that this is too much for a day. How did you find it? I know that the road through Death Valley was shut when you went but do you think it’s doable? All our accomodation is booked so I’d only really want to reduce Yosemite to 1 night from 2 if we decide to stop between Vegas and Yosemite! I’d much rather spend 2 days in Yosemite however on walks, bike rides etc rather than trying to rush it all.

    I know you have received a lot of questions on this but I’d really value you opinion! It will be our first trip to the states and long haul trip at that so want to be as prepared as possible!

    Thanks in advance! Amy

    • Helen
      April 7, 2016 at 8:42 pm

      Hi Amy! Great holiday you have coming up!! You will love it!!!

      As you know, I didn’t drive through Death Valley! The road we drove was fine but the scenery wasn’t that amazing! But it was easy to do in a day!

      I didn’t know about Death Valley, so I called in some advice from some other travel bloggers (thanks guys) and they said:

      “Yes, it is possible. However, Death Valley in July = extremely hot temperatures (well over 100 degrees F). Also there is really a lot of great scenery and places to visit on the eastern side of the Sierras that it would be worth adding at least one day.”


      “Yes, it is possible but it would make for a very long day. In July, the heat on the pavement in Death Valley can melt your tires – seriously – and they’ll be missing so much if they just pass through. If they don’t have time to stop and take it in, I would suggest they just bypass Death Valley.”

      I hope that helps!

      But if it were me, I would say you have a lot of time in LA. If you can, maybe spend one less night in LA at the beginning, and get to Vegas/Yosemite earlier? If you can change your accommodation? Or maybe reduce San Fran by a night? San Fran is amazing, but so is Yosemite!

      But remember, whatever you do, you’ll have an amazing time!!!


  • Karishma
    May 5, 2016 at 2:44 am

    Hi Helen

    We are planning a road from SFO. Your experience on SFO,Vegas and San Diego was amazing and helped us to to plan better. Just a suggestion I want from you, we want to return back to SFO , so should start from SFO to la or SFO to vegas

    • Helen
      May 5, 2016 at 9:08 pm

      Glad it helped.

      You can go either way, but if it were me, I’d go SFO – LA – VEGAS – SFO.

  • Alison
    June 6, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    Hi Helen,
    This is such a great blog! I wondered if i could ask your advice? We’re planning a trip next May for our 10th wedding anniversary. Definitely want to do Vegas (& renew our vows in front of Elvis! Private joke that has become an actual thing!) & Yosemite. Thinking maybe San Fran (been before & liked), Carmel &/ or Monterey? Wasnt a fan of central last time. But not sure of feasibility or number of days to do in each so not rushing or spending hours in the car each day. Or how to break up the Vegas to Yosemite drive. What would you suggest? Thinking total trip will need to be 2 to 2.5 weeks for work reasons (would love longer but might struggle to get signed off). We fly from manchester. Any thoughts, tips, suggestions very welcome!

    • Helen
      June 6, 2016 at 8:30 pm

      Hey Alison,

      Thanks for reading! Firstly happy anniversary! You will love the trip! But there is a lot of driving, but to be honest, there’s so much to see on the drives, it doesn’t feel that bad! As long as you get 2 or 3 nights in one place, you won’t feel too rushed – at least I didn’t (except in Yosemite on the PCH – we spent one night on PCH and 2 in Yosemite but arrived really late, so may as well have been 1 night)!

      I’d recommend…

      2 nights San Diego
      3 nights LA
      2 nights PCH
      3 nights San Francisco
      3 nights Yosemite
      3 nights Vegas

      We didn’t break up the Yosemite to Vegas drive, we went all in one go – but we didn’t drive through Death Valley.The road we drove was fine but the scenery wasn’t that amazing! But it was easy to do in a day! However if you do want to drive Death Valley, you would probably want to stay somewhere in between Yosemite and Vegas, like Furnace Creek Inn. You could then maybe reduce a day in LA or just add an extra day onto your hols! 🙂

      Hope that helps! x

  • Sunil
    June 3, 2017 at 5:05 pm

    Great pictures!! This makes me miss California even more, though. Loved it there! Can’t wait to go back one day.

    • Helen
      June 17, 2017 at 8:27 pm

      I miss it too!!! 🙂

  • Anisha
    August 8, 2017 at 4:24 pm

    Hey Helen,
    Great post!!! You have definitely gone into a lot of detail. Me and a friend are planning on going to California in December I’m coming from London and she’s coming from Estonia). Arrive on 9th in the afternoon in LAX and then depart LAX in the evening of 25th! So we have 2 weeks there. We have never been and want to budget for it now-ish. I’ve found flights for £40 return which is great and I also don’t want to spend too much on this trip as you did. Wonder what it is like in December and would you recommend driving? What would you recommend for us? Also, I hear that most people don’t book accommodation in advance and just book motels there and then. I’m not sure about this. Any help would be great! Thanks in advance


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