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Travel Itinerary for USA, USA West Coast Itinerary | Don't Ever Look Back

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Our Proposed West Coast USA Itinerary

The countdown to our round-the-world adventure is now less than 7 weeks and the stress, panic and excitement levels are all rapidly rising. We keep saying it, but we honestly can’t believe how fast the last few months have gone by – hell, we’re nearly halfway through 2011!

Over the past couple of weeks we’ve started planning the USA leg of our trip and this post is dedicated to the West Coast section of our journey, which commences in mid-August after we’ve finished our 16 nights in Hawaii. This is by no means a finalized plan (flexibility is crucial when traveling like this) and we’re not sure how we’re getting between all of these destinations yet but we think it’s a good start.

Here’s how the map is looking at the moment:

West Coast USA Map

As always, we appreciate all of your feedback and suggestions – does it look like we missing something important? And if you’re anywhere on our West Coast route and want to catch up for a drink, shout out and let us know!

Our Planned Route

Our first stop on the mainland is Seattle where the major attractions we want to see are Pike Place Market, the Space Needle and the Woodland Park Zoo to feed the giraffes.

We’ll then head south to Portland and spend a couple of days enjoying the nature, food and breweries in this charming city. Depending on how we decide to get to the next destination, we may head off the beaten path a little bit and explore more of Oregon.

San Francisco

We’ll then enter California and revisit San Francisco for a second time. San Francisco is one of our favorite cities in the world and we’re really looking forward to seeing what we missed out on last time around including the Cheesecake Factory (yum!). We’ll also do a day trip to Napa Valley and get our wine tasting on – anyone care to be the designated driver?

From San Francisco, we’ll most likely head a few hours Northeast through Sacramento and onto Lake Tahoe for some perfect weather, outdoor activities and sunbathing by the lake.

We’re then hopefully going to drive from Tahoe into the Yosemite National Park, stopping off at the ghost town of Bodie on the way. We’ve got no idea what to see or how long to spend in Yosemite so if you can help us out, let us know!

Las Vegas

We’ll then make our way to the Sin City Las Vegas with possible stops in the Sequoia National Park and Death Valley. We’re looking forward to splurging a little bit in Vegas, staying somewhere on the strip and possibly seeing another Cirque du Soleil show among other things. Our Vegas plans deserve a post of their own – we want to spend at least a few days here!

If time and budget permits, we’d love to do a short road-trip to see the sun set over the Grand Canyon and then head onwards to Bryce Canyon and Zion Canyon in Utah. But these are a big ‘maybe’ at the moment.


It’s then on to Los Angeles/Hollywood to party like movie stars and catch a TV taping. Our growing to-do list also includes a visit to the Griffith Observatory and hiking to the Hollywood sign. After we’ve had enough in LA, we’ll then venture the short distance to the coast and Santa Monica/Venice Beach for some beach time, exercise and people watching.

… and then where should we go? San Diego? Phoenix? Or jump on a plane and head further out to Denver or Texas? Tell us what you think!


  • Unfortunately we won’t get to drive down Highway One again because we’ve opted to check out the National Parks this time instead.
  • This list has been trimmed down a lot since we first started planning and so far we’ve eliminated Palm Springs and Anaheim (already visited in 2009). More cities may be cut but we won’t know until we get on the road.
  • If a special flight deal or offer pops up, this entire plan could be thrown out the window! Ahh, the joys of long-term travel!

Can you help us?

As we said, if you’re anywhere on this route and want to catch up for a drink – let us know! We would also love to get a local’s perspective on some of the cities we visit and if you have a spare day to show us around or have a couch we can crash on, we would be forever grateful.

If you’ve traveled through this area before and have some great advice for us, please share it in the comments below. Whether it’s a critique of our itinerary, a fantastic hotel/hostel to stay at, a place to eat or a must-do activity, we’re open to all of your suggestions.


  1. Posted June 9, 2011 at 12:12 am | Permalink

    If you’ll make to Grand Canyon you probably will pass Page on the way to Bruce and Zion NP. So you should visit Antelope Canyon (at midday preferred) short drive East from Page. After that … Monument Valley is not so far 🙂
    Vi recently posted..How to add more photos to the existing album on Facebook

    • Posted June 9, 2011 at 12:29 am | Permalink

      Thanks Vi! We hadn’t heard of Antelope Canyon but a quick Google search and it looks absolutely amazing! It’s been added to the list of stops if we can make that road trip. 🙂

    • Posted June 9, 2011 at 12:35 am | Permalink

      Yes, it is very beautiful place. I hope you’ll make it 🙂

    • Lacey
      Posted June 9, 2011 at 1:13 am | Permalink

      I was going to also suggest Antelope Canyon, but I was beat to it! I second that suggestion though it’s a bit spendy. It was $150 for two of us. Our tour guide on that particular trip happened to be my neighbor in my town that was 4 hours away, he gave us 50% off!

      But well well worth it. Try to see it around noon, the sun shines into an area of the canyon and is fantastic.

    • Posted June 9, 2011 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      Two votes for the Antelope Canyon means it’s a must-do on our list. If we head in that direction, we’ll definitely stop on by.

      $150 with a 50% discount is still quite a lot though!

  2. Posted June 9, 2011 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    You know I offered to give you guys some tips as I have traveled extensively throughout CA, AZ, NV, etc. – Give me a shout, if you are on Google Talk, Facebook, etc, let’s catch up and I will help answer any questions you guys might have and give you guys some more tips. Might be a little easier than blog post comments 🙂 – email me, lets hook up – justin.edward.hamlin [at] gmail.com
    Justin Hamlin recently posted..June 7- Spin the Globe

  3. Posted June 9, 2011 at 12:59 am | Permalink

    If you are coming through Eugene (2 hours south of Portland) look us up. We’ll buy you a drink! If you have time in Oregon you should check out Crater Lake.
    Matt recently posted..World Domination Summit

    • Posted June 9, 2011 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      If we drive from Portland to San Francisco then we’ll definitely stop on by and then onward to Crater Lake! Thanks Matt!

  4. Posted June 9, 2011 at 2:27 am | Permalink

    When you hit Seattle, give a holler and I’d be happy to take you out geocaching (a great way to explore the Emerald City.) Indeed, there’s an especially fun hide called “Double Bubble Toil & Trouble) within steps of Pike’s Place!
    Dyanne@TravelnLass recently posted..Random Photo Memory- Meet my Thai Sponsor Child

    • Posted June 9, 2011 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      Sounds like a lot of fun Dyanne! We’ll be in Seattle for at least the weekend between August 12 and August 14 so we’ll let you know. 🙂

  5. Posted June 9, 2011 at 4:21 am | Permalink

    I personally love San Diego – definitely think it’s worth a visit! Where are you heading after the West Coast? I know you mentioned hitting Chicago at some point. Are you flying or driving?
    Katie recently posted..Five Favorite Things in Budapest

    • Posted June 9, 2011 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      We’re a big chance to visit San Diego – will just depend how we’re tracking at the time I guess. We’re not entirely sure where we’ll be headed after the West Coast… it might be along the south through Texas, New Orleans and Florida. Or we may fly inland to Denver and up through Rapid City and onto Chicago (which is a definite stop at some point of our journey!).

      We’ll most likely fly to the next destination after LA or San Diego.

  6. Posted June 9, 2011 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Skip Cheesecake Factory in SF, there are soooo many other good restaurants there (go to it in LA, if you have too, we’ve got plenty locations here:-))

    Haha, my sister and I were just talking yesterday about trying to find someone to drive her and her friend around Napa next month!!! She goes a lot and knows which wineries she wants to go too, otherwise, a tour is great fun (we did it for my birthday a few years ago!), if you are not sure where to go!

    Add Southwest and Virgin America to your flight alerts. They are the best short-flight airlines (especially from the West Coast) in the US and deals pop up all the time (esp with SWA!)

    Oyyy, I hope you are in LA when I’ll be! I’m going to Peru at the end of August! And I know, I owe you an email on Iceland. Coming soon!

    So exciting!
    Rebecca recently posted..Australia- Sydney- Off the Beaten Path

    • Posted June 9, 2011 at 10:49 am | Permalink

      Thanks for the advice! Any restaurant recommendations for SF?

      We’re not sure where to go in Napa so a tour might be the best option. Originally we were planning of spending a couple of nights up there but don’t think we’ll have the time or the budget.

      We’ve signed up for flight alerts, thanks for the heads up.

      We should be down in LA by the end of August – but better still, we’re almost certain of being on the Big Island at the same time as you! I’m going to send you an email now and you can include the Iceland details in a reply. 🙂

  7. Posted June 9, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Looks good guys! I honestly have only been to San Fran, and it is awesome as you know. Try to catch a a baseball game, they have a great stadium with amazing views. I lived in Vegas for a couple years, and I would suggest checking out Red Rock Canyon for some hiking. It is only about 15-20 mins west of the Strip, and has some amazing desert landscapes and is a good way to see the other side of Las Vegas. Also, there is a cool little non-touristy dive bar behind the strip called the Double Down Saloon … it is always my first stop when I head back to town.
    Scott recently posted..Traveling On Ice

    • Posted June 9, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

      We segwayed past AT&T Park last time we were there, it did look great! We caught a game in Anaheim and at the very least want to visit Yankee Stadium (though I’m working hard to convince Amy to go to a game in Seattle and maybe one in SF… haha).

      Red Rock Canyon sounds good but what would the weather be like in late August? We were in Vegas the same time 2 years ago and it was way too hot to do anything outside! And Double Down Saloon has been noted, thanks! 🙂

  8. Posted June 9, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Stop in Sacramento on the way to Tahoe for a meal! Try Squeeze Inn–right off the freeway–and Guy Fieri told David Letterman it was the best burger in America! SO GOOD. Or Mikuni, any Sacramentan will swear that it’s the best sushi you’ll ever eat 🙂 Are you going to Travel Massive on Tuesday? If so, happy to give more California tips!!!

    • Posted June 9, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Christine – a Squeeze Burger sounds like a perfect lunch to me! We’ll try our best to get to Travel Massive next week, should know whether we can make it sometime over the weekend!

  9. Posted June 10, 2011 at 1:45 am | Permalink

    I agree with all the people who suggested Antelope Canyon – go for Lower Antelope Canyon, that’s the prettier one (some pictures here: http://on.fb.me/l9E03r) We paid around $35 each last year, still expensive but totally worth it!! If you can make it to Monument Valley from there I highly recommend it! Stunning scenery. And we loved San Diego, definitely worth a visit.
    Globetrottergirls recently posted..Tops and Flops of 400 days of travel

    • Posted June 10, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

      Great photos! It does look totally worth it – both Antelope Canyon and Monument Valley are definitely on our radar.

      Any recommendations for things to do in San Diego?

  10. Posted June 10, 2011 at 5:03 am | Permalink

    I vote that you make Zion a definite stop. I toured the National Parks of the West for six weeks at the start of my year round-the-world and it was my favorite park. So peaceful, great hikes, incredible beauty, …

    So excited for you!
    Jacob recently posted..A Visit to Dharamsala’s Norbulingka

    • Posted June 10, 2011 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for commenting Jacob, we’re pretty excited too! 🙂

      If we head into Utah then we’ll make Zion a definite stop but as we said, time will tell.

  11. Posted June 11, 2011 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    This sounds like an awesome itinerary! I’d absolutely love to follow this same route, and I’m jealous that you’re going to Seattle! haha
    Seattle Dredge recently posted..How to Make Friends while Traveling

  12. Bogdan
    Posted January 2, 2013 at 5:41 am | Permalink

    Amy & Kieron, I’m planning a similar trip with my wife and 2 girls (9 and 7 yrs old). Could you tell me how long your trip was and which sites would you recommend for us as must see. Thanks !

  13. Posted January 3, 2013 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    San Francisco and Yosemite National Park are two must-dos, although so is Highway 1 so you might need to make a choice between the two. Definitely do a stop in Las Vegas with a day trip out to the Grand Canyon and obviously you can’t do it without stopping in LA/Anaheim for at least a day or two (Disneyland!).

    We wrote about our trip day-by-day starting at Lake Tahoe – you can start here http://www.donteverlookback.com/category/destinations/usa/page/6/ and go back from there.

  14. Bogdan
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Thanks much for the tips, I will check the link, too!

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