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USA West Coast - Just Cruising!
Posted: 9 November 2005
Auhor: L. Buraneri

If you are ever planning a quality, even paced vacation to the US, think no further than a road trip through the West Coast. Two weeks is just enough to get through the majestic Grand Canyon in all of its natural splendour, to cruise up and down the dazzling Las Vegas strip, catch a glimpse of your favourite movie star at Hollywood, to catch a wave at the sprawling San Diego beaches and to enjoy a Lobster lunch at Tijuana just accross the border in Mexico.

Getting around
If this type of vacation sounds like your style, don't waste your time looking around for guided tours or public transport. Car rental is cheap and plentiful, diections are pretty clear and straightfoward (otherwise buy a GPS) and the destinations are plentiful. We rented a 4x4 for about $50 a day with low insurance excess, and whilst we booked all of our hotels in advance you can just as well drop in at any one of the clean, secure and well-fitted motels along the way.

Vegas Baby!
Las Vegas
Our itenaray begins in Vegas, where most first timers are fascinated to find slot machines in the airport terminal! If you would like to spoil yourself a little, you could rent any one of the exotics like Ferrari's or Lamorghini's for a day or two and cruise like a millionaire up and down the nightlights of the infamous Las Vegas Strip. Having been voted the best cruising stretch of road in the world, you can rent practically anthyhing here: chaffeur-driven Bentley's, ultra-stretch Hummer limosuines equipped with hottubs, bars and dancefloors, horse and carriages or even the Batmobile! Save it for the evenings though, and enjoy the day casino-hopping and tucking into the scrumptios seafood buffets.

LA: Glitz & Glamour
Our road trip proceeds with a two to three hour drive to the worlds entertainment capital, Los Angeles. Along the way you will pass the Hoover Dam, a one of its kind wih azure blue water paradoxically contrasting the dry-baked desert sands of the Nevada plains. Limited watersports such as skiing and parasailing are available and will cost a short drive down to the National park. On to Los Angeles: and whether youv'e flown, sailed or drove in, the sheer enormity of the United State's largest city is mind boggling. This is where that GPS comes in real handy, especially if your'e on a tight schedule. Must see's in the city include the Hollywood walk of Fame, Venice beach, a Universal Studios tour, a day at Disney for the kids or if you fancy - and of course - the editors pick would be cruising the world famous Sunset boulevard by night and Malibu beach by day. Atmosphere oozes any time of day, with planty of fellow travellers or ludicrously rich locals taking to the streets in what must be the worlds most blinged-out cars, amazing street performers throwing out lively acts, and delicious snacks and treats to be found on every street corner. To round it up, a long walk along the humming beaches will help to cool things off by enjoying a bit of the surf and sea.

Surf's up!
San Diego
The drive down from Los Angeles to San Diego is what really makes renting your own vehcile worth it. The winding roads amidst lush green natural vegetation, coupled with breathtaking sea views set along the Californian cliffs is a must for any independent traveller. If you were to do the drive without stopping it would probably take you about 2 hours at a steady 60mph, but nature admirers would probably take twice the time given the numerous stops you would be tempted to take along the way. On to sunny San Diego, where the sun is always brighter, beaches pristine and ambience relaxed. It's a beautifully designed city, the shape reminiscent of the gorgeous Durban (South Africa) coastline, which takes full advantage of being developed along the natural shoreline. Besides swimming and tanning on the beautful beaches, every concievable watersport can be enjoyed including sailing, windsurfing, jetskiing, surfing and snorkeling. Young and old will enjoy a trip to what has to be one of the world's best and most famous reserves, the San Diego zoo. An enviable collection of animals ranging from African Giraffes, Australian Koalas and Canadian Grizzlys will delight audiences and entertain for hours. While entrance fees can be a bit pricey, you will find a day trip to the San Diego well worth the investment. If you have a day to spare fancy a trip down south accross the US border to Tijuana in Mexico. Although you could drive accross with your own car, the border can get quite crowded with traffic (especially during business closing and opening hours) and a lot of nervous or 'cautious' drivers can tend to find driving on the Mexican side potentially hair-raising. Several guided tours are available (which is what we opted for) and had the advantage of including a very low cost Loster lunch included as part of the deal. Although the place is driven mosly by tourist trade eminting from the US side, it offers a taste of the real Mexico, where one can enjoy horseriding along the beaches, shoppers can grab a bargain from the hundreds of informal vendors (look out for genuine fake articles though), and holidaymakers can sip on Magharitas at one of many 'saloons'.

The Mighty Grand Canyon
The last leg of the trip was probably the most boring drive, from San Diego to Flagstaff (Arizona), as it passes through the sparse desert terrains of Arizona and Nevada. Infrastructure is prety good though, with multilane freeways and frequent rest steps all along the way. Of course, Flagstaff is the American gateway to the Grand Canyon, a natural phenomenon so magnificent Grand Canyon that it would leave the most ardent disbeliever gobsmacked. If you have the time, spend a day walking down to the mighty River below and thn hop on board a mule ride back to the top. And if you have the budget, you could spend about100$ on a spectacuar guided arial tour of the Grand Canyon on board a charter helicopter of small aircraft.


One of this sites favorite picks, a road trip along the US west coast offers travellers the complete vacation experience: from the glitz and glamour of LA and Las Vegas, the sprawling natural beauty of the San Diego coast, and the soul invigorating beauty of the Grand Canyon. All this can be done on a moderate budget, with myriads of accomodation, transport and dining options, making the US West Coast road trip a must for all types of travellers!
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