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Tigrest Travel Blog

This is a blog about destinations, food and travel tips

Tag: first time in usa

San Diego skyline

USA West Coast Road Trip – best moments

San Diego skylineNow that a month has passed since we returned from our awesome USA West Coast Road Trip, it’s time to sum up and create a post on the things we liked. We had planned a lot of different destinations, so the trip was quite intense. I might have to think of few more posts on some specific locations and things we did. Here are some of the best moments and memorable experiences from our trip.

Our USA West Coast Road Trip route looked like this:

Map of our USA West Coast Road Trip

Rental car for USA West Coast Road Trip

We started by picking up our rental car for our USA West Coast Road Trip from Phoenix, AZ. Rental company we chose was Alamo and the car was full size. When we were picking up, we had a choice (Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata, Volkswagen Passat) and were advised to choose cars with California plates (car return was in Los Angeles).

So we picked Hyundai Sonata. The car was 2015 model, very nice and smooth. I really loved driving it on US roads. Total cost for almost two weeks was around 600$. There was no issue with returning the car at SNA airport – very quick and smooth!

Our rental car for USA West Coast Road Trip Hyundai Sonata 2015

San Diego whale watching with Flagship cruises.

We booked this trip while being unaware of the weather. As it turned out – it was almost stormy on that day, so we got to experience some really nasty sea sickness. Luckily, the staff recommended to take sea sickness pills (sold them on board) and we took them in time (30 min before the shaking began). When it started rocking, some people felt really bad. We went out in the ocean and spotted some small whales. On the way back, we also got to see dolphins and sea lions (they were sunbathing). The trip takes approx. 3,5 hours and is a great way to spend a morning (or afternoon). The ocean is incredible and the views are spectacular! A must for a proper USA West Coast Road Trip!

USA West Coast Road Trip - Marine animals in San Diego Bay

USA West Coast Road Trip - Whale watching in San Diego Bay
USA West Coast Road Trip - Dolphins in San Diego Bay USA West Coast Road Trip - Sea lions in San Diego Bay

Must visit for USA West Coast Road Trip – Venice Beach in Los Angeles

Our trip to Venice beach was rather spontaneous – we made it there just in time before the sunset. The promenade reminded us of a typical south European resort – souvenir shops, cafes, people relaxing, playing music and enjoying themselves. The beach is very wide and clean – perfect for long walks. It’s a place that needs to be in any town – where you can come and spend the evening alone or with a friend.

USA West Coast Road Trip - Venice Beach, Los Angeles USA West Coast Road Trip - Venice Beach, Los Angeles USA West Coast Road Trip - Venice Beach, Los Angeles USA West Coast Road Trip - Venice Beach, Los Angeles

Cirque Du Soleil in Las Vegas

Visiting Las Vegas was high on our list during our USA West Coast Road Trip, but not for the casinos or party – we really wanted to see the shows. So on our first morning we went to one of the numerous Tix4tonight booths and stood in line before the opening. Surprisingly, we were not the only ones. The company is selling show tickets for the same night (sometimes for tomorrow as well) with nice discount (up to 50%). While you are in line, customer service reps help you pick the right show. After standing in line for half an hour and listening around, we decided to go for Cirque du Seleil show called Mystere. They were giving a charity show and therefore there was to tax charged. Two tickets cost us just under 100$. On the minus side – we had to get to the casino where the show was played right after buying these “tickets” to exchange them for actual tickets at the ticket office. The show was held in Treasure Island.

USA West Coast Road Trip - Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas USA West Coast Road Trip - Cirque du Soleil Mystere in Las Vegas

USA West Coast Road Trip - Cirque du Soleil Mystere in Las Vegas    USA West Coast Road Trip - Cirque du Soleil Mystere in Las Vegas


The things that I remember about Flagstaff are – fantastic BBQ ribs and very cold motel room. First – the ribs. It was time for dinner so I googled the best place to go out for bbq. The place we picked was called Satchmo’s and the ribs were AMAZING! If only I had a power to eat more, I would! About cold rooms – weather in March is still quite chilly (especially when you have just been to the desert), so at nights it dropped so much, that we had to keep the heating on (it was noisy). Here is a tip – visit Flagstaff in summer!

USA West Coast Road Trip - Flagstaff motel on our USA roadtrip USA West Coast Road Trip - Flagstaff motel

Grand Canyon

There are hardly any words to describe Grand Canyon properly – one just has to see it! It is powerful, majestic, breathtakingly enormous. One day is hardly enough to explore it. To see the best of it you need to hike, of course. We made a small hike just down the Kaibab trail. Really short one but enough to see the beauty and changing landscapes.

Later we visited some of the famous viewpoints – Grand View, Yucca Point and some others. It was a really great, but also exhausting day. I would totally recommend vising GC from Flagstaff – it’s an easy 1,5 hour ride. There is an entrance fee – 30$/car, and it is valid for 1 week. Totally recommend visiting as part of your USA West Coast Road Trip!

USA West Coast Road Trip - Grand Canyon Kaibab trail USA West Coast Road Trip - Grand Canyon Kaibab trail

Grand Canyon Kaibab trail Grand Canyon Kaibab trail

Palm Springs

Our last small adventure on USA West Coast Road Trip was a ride through an endless desert and finally arriving in Palm Springs for the night. To be honest, I always liked the idea of oasis, so Palm Springs was a natural choice. It’s hot and reminds of a resort, kind of get away spot. It’s very different from other places we visited – you can feel that people come there for holiday. Having said that – it should be no surprise that the first thing we did was to jump in the pool. What a great way to finish long day of driving!

Palm Springs pool
Palm Springs ice coffee Palm Springs motel

Palm Springs motel

Although our trip was amazing in almost any way, it was still so good to be back home! Traveling helps you realize how much you value the people and places. Sure, sometimes you may realize it was so much better somewhere you just visited. In this case you might need to move on, change your home for a new one. For us it was a moment of realizing that home is the best place on Earth – a place you always want to come back to!

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California Road Trip Itinerary (including Arizona and Nevada)

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. 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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