California Road Trip Itinerary (including Arizona and Nevada)

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As time is getting closer to a moment, when our flight will take off, it is a good idea to think about the California Road Trip Itinerary. The trip is 2 weeks long and covers a lot of ground. As a first time visit, there is a number of must-see cities and sights. Before hitting the road, we will spend our first night in San Francisco, as that is where our plane from London lands. There are many hotels in the area with great reviews. In the end, the hotel we booked is located near the SFO Airport and cost us 70$/night. The next morning we will catch a flight with Southwest Airlines down to Phoenix, Arizona. This airline has some impressive offers, our rate was 60$/person for mentioned flight! Once we land in Phoenix, a rough plan looks like this:

Rough plan of our trip

  • Landing in Phoenix, Arizona
  • Driving to San Diego, CA
  • Heading North to Los Angeles, CA
  • Visiting Sequoia National Park, CA
  • Heading East to Las Vegas, NV and Grand Canyon, AZ
  • Visiting Sedona, AZ
  • Heading back West to San Clemente, CA via Palm Springs, CA
  • Flying back from Los Angeles, CA

Arriving in Phoenix and the start of California Road Trip Itinerary

Upon arrival in Phoenix, we will be spending first night at a friend’s house. A rental car will be picked up from the Airport the following day. It is going to be mid size car (Ford Fusion or similar) Total price for the 2 weeks came down to around 530$. We will then head to San Diego for three nights. We will be staying at Good Night Inn near SeaWorld. This small, but cozy hotel offered a hard-to-beat rate of 143$ for three nights. In San Diego, a few attractions are planned: SeaWrold, Zoo and Whale watching cruise. Combo ticket can be purchased online with 20% discount compared to gate prices. Our ticket cost ca 135$ for mentioned attractions. As the time difference may have an effect, will take it easy and try to spend some time on the beach and simply relax.

san diego - part of our american roadtrip

California Road Trip Itinerary: Los Angeles & Sequoia national park

After such great time in San Diego we will head North to Los Angeles to enjoy the famous city of movie stars. Venice Beach, Hollywood Walk of Fame, as well as Sunset Blvd nightlife are all on the list. Will stay at Budget Inn in Hollywood (65$/night). This accommodation is a bit outdated, but all we really need for that night is a place to crash. We will skip Universal Studios, as theme parks are not on the top of our interest and visiting the giant trees seems like a more tempting idea. Next morning will head North to the famous Sequoia National park and spend the day among these amazing trees. Will spend the night at Bakersfield roadside motel (50$/night).

Centuries old forest

sequoia park

Las Vegas & Grand Canyon

Next on the list is a trip to Las Vegas. After the long ride through the desert, will hopefully reach the fabulous destination, check-in at Fortune Hotel and Suites (95$/2 nights), relax and get ready to hit the Strip. Bellagio Fountains, High Roller, Variety show and other attractions are on the list. Not to forget – the night would be wasted without spending some time at the slot machines. This is Vegas after all! If there is enough time, we will take a look at Fremont Street as well and take part in the nightlife there.

After Las Vegas we will drive east and settle in Flagstaff for two nights(75$/2 nights). The choice of this destination is not random – it is equally close to both Grand Canyon as well as Sedona. We will be taking a few trails (Kaibab Trail in GC and Cathedral Roch trail in Sedona) to ensure the best memories and pictures are taken home. As we are nature lovers, visiting the Canyon was high on the list. Additionally, we might check on Jerome – a ghost town, highly recommended by a friend as a must see in the area.

City that never sleeps

las vegas

Always colorful Canyon


Palm Springs and San Clemente

After enjoying Canyon trails we will start our way back to California. Originally we planned to stay at Laughlin, as this place has amazing hotel rates(as low as 20$/night in a 4* resort), but changed our mind and decided to stay in Palm Springs instead. The reason is quite simple – after Las Vegas, vising another Casino resort seemed too much. Moreover, we have heard a lot about Palm Springs and the events that are being held there every year. So this was a definitely better option.
Our last night will be in San Clemente, right near the Pacific Ocean. Very quiet and peaceful, this seaside town is a great place to relax and take it easy. It is a perfect spot to say our goodbye to California and USA.

Romantic pier

san clemente

Hotel rates

A lot of mentioned hotel rates may seem surprisingly cheap. There is no secret really – all hotels were booked online and are simply a result of daily monitoring of prices. I’ve been planning this trip for almost a year, reading about various places of interest. Here is a tip – use the Free cancellation option and keep checking the rates once every few days – your might get lucky and catch a good deal! You may also try Airbnb, if that is your thing. For me personally it is much more comfortable to stay at hotels, rather than at someone else’s home. But many people are using this service and it is certainly worth a shot. One thing to know about booking online – the rate doesn’t include tax, which is usually somewhere between 10 and 12%.

Renting a car

Great rental car deals for your California Road Trip Itinerary can be found online. Beware, however, that some rates are suspiciously low. When i was looking for a deal myself, the cheapest possible option was the one by However, i decided to read some reviews and found out it is not very trustworthy, meaning there are some negative feedback. So i decided not to risk and went to my travel agent. They had a deal with a different company and with the rate i got free second driver and a free tank of fuel. That came out to be better deal than what other companies are offering.

Comfort during your trip

rental car

International Drivers Permit

It is also a good idea to check, if you are from Europe or anywhere else in the World, if your drivers license is valid in US. I’m from EU, so i had to make myself IDP for a fee of 26 Euros. Not a big deal, but good that i checked it before going. Rental company could refuse to give me the car without it. Please note, however, that IDP is valid WITH original drivers license, not alone!

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