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    New York + California and West Coast parks: how to plan your trip

    Who I am
    Martí Micolau
    @martímicolau
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    wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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    Among the many visitors eager to get to know America and its wonders, the travel New York + California and West Coast parks it's a pretty popular solution. Indeed, in about twenty days, this type of holiday allows you to explore some of the so-called "must see" of the States and for this reason it is particularly suitable for those who do not think they will be able to return to the USA soon and want to enjoy the most representative attractions. (you know the famous phrase: “I've been there too!”?).


    The combined tour California New York, particularly in vogue among other things also among the USA honeymoons, it also has another indisputable advantage, that of alternating 2 different and only apparently contrasting souls: the most adventurous dimension in on the road style, lover of natural beauty and the most sedate, restful, fascinated by the thousand attractions of the most famous metropolis in the world , a combination that allows you to satisfy the most disparate desires.

    Travel New York and West Coast: how to organize it

    So let's see how to organize this type of trip, both from the point of view of creating an itinerary and from that of booking what is necessary.


    How many days for the tour and for each stop?

    The first question we will try to answer is how many days it takes to organize a trip to both coasts. The minimum time to devote to this holiday is at least 15 days, in order to get to know Manhattan in depth (dedicating at least 3/4 days to it, net of the disturbing effects of the New York time zone) and to explore some decidedly representative stops of the West Coast area. However, if you can, I recommend that you embark on a journey that contemplates at least 20 days of permanence, because only in this way can you truly enjoy the many beauties available without being reduced to a race against time or having to give up some wonders that perhaps in your life you will no longer have the opportunity to admire.



    A little below we will talk in more detail about the stages to be privileged and we will outline a typical itinerary.

    First New York or California?

    This is one of those questions that can hardly be answered univocally. It tends to depend on your preferences. You can choose to visit the Big Apple first and then leave with a domestic flight to San Francisco, Los Angeles or Las Vegas, or you can arrive directly on the West Coast and leave for New York after your road tour. The aspects to be taken into account are the following:

    • The trip to New York is about 9 hours (excluding the stopover), the one to the West Coast (Los Angeles and San Francisco) is about 13 (again not considering the stopover). Therefore, it is a question of choosing whether you prefer to take the longest flight outward, taking away your thoughts or returning, putting your soul in peace.
    • Visiting New York first might be a better solution from the point of view of melt absorption (6 hours versus 9), but, at the same time, visiting it last would allow you to relax a bit after a road trip that, for as fascinating and unforgettable as it is, it will inevitably be more tiring than a few days' stay in Manhattan.

    Logistic aspects: airports

    As mentioned, a trip to New York + California and West Coast Parks will require you to take a domestic flight, the one that will take you from the Big Apple to the West, or vice versa (remember that there are more than one airports in New York). The cities in California to land in are San Francisco or Los Angeles, but alternatively, depending on the chosen itinerary, you could also choose Las Vegas, which is an excellent base for visiting the surrounding parks of Utah, Nevada and Arizona.


    To make the most of the days available, we do not recommend that you leave from the same arrival airport but from that of another city (for example, if you land in San Francisco from New York you could leave from Los Angeles). In this way you will optimize the times and every move will be aimed at the things to see in California and its surroundings.


    At the end of this article you can find some tips on how to find a suitable flight for this type of travel.

    Which stages to privilege?

    For the visit to the Big Apple, the choice basically boils down to the attractions to favor during your stay, and for this purpose here are 2 tips: the first is to get an idea of ​​the things to do in the city by reading our article on the main places of New York interest; the second is to buy a New York Pass to save on the cost of the attractions.

    As far as the West Coast is concerned, obviously things get complicated: between cities and natural beauties, there are many stops that deserve a visit. First of all, abandon the idea of ​​visiting all the parks, you will have to make a selection and this will also depend on your needs and aesthetic tastes. The tips I can give you about it are 3:

    1. take a look at our section on US national parks, you will find in-depth information for each park, in order to get an idea of ​​which ones best reflect your needs.
    2. to help you organize your itinerary we have published an article on how to organize a tour in California, but don't forget our example of a West Coast tour in 20 days, where we have included the most popular destinations in the West of the States.
    3. as a starting point, refer to a typical itinerary, for example this one below:

    Itinerary like New York + California and West Coast parks

    Here is a "typical itinerary" tested in the field by our friend Bernardo, which you can decide to follow step by step or customize to your liking:


    • Days 1-4: arrival and visit of New York
    • Days 5-7: Arrival and visit of San Francisco
    • Day 8: Yosemite National Park, Bodie and Mono Lake (Overnight in Independence)
    • Day 9: Death Valley (overnight in Beatty)
    • Day 10: Las Vegas
    • Day 11: Valley of Fire (overnight in St. George)
    • Day 12: Bryce Canyon (overnight in Kanab)
    • Giorno 13: Colorado River, Lake Powell, Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon (pernottamento a Page)
    • Day 14: Monument Valley (overnight in Kayenta)
    • Day 15: Grand Canyon (overnight in Williams)
    • Day 16: Oatman (overnight in Lake Havasu City)
    • Days 17-20: Los Angeles

    If you want further information on this trip, we refer you to the entire travel diary in installments that you can find at the following links:


    1. New York in 4 days: the metropolis of American desire
    2. From San Francisco to Las Vegas: between advanced civilization and indomitable nature
    3. From Las Vegas to Monument Valley: itinerary between Utah and Arizona
    4. From Grand Canyon to Los Angeles: the race around beauty

    This is a tour particularly suitable for the summer period, if you are interested in a travel plan suitable for all seasons take a look at this west coast tour in 15 days, which will allow you to see the main attractions of the region avoiding the roads closed during the low season.

    How to book flights, car rental and what you need ...

    To find the flights for your trip, we recommend using the "multiple destinations" option on Expedia, or, alternatively, you can check the prices in the various search portals that we have suggested in our article on how to search for a low cost flight in the USA. .

    You will only need car rental for the west area and in our article on car rental in the United States you will find all the information you need to book a car in maximum safety and with an eye to saving.

    As for the accommodations, I always recommend booking them in advance: also in this case you may find our in-depth information dedicated to individual cities or parks in the Where to sleep section or the Hotel USA page useful.

    Don't forget 2 other fundamental aspects for your trip: health insurance for the United States (not compulsory but highly recommended) and all the US documentation necessary to cross the border.

    Finally, given the large number of attractions, the kilometers to be covered and the limited time, I recommend that you also consider some pre-packaged tours for some trips, in particular:

    • organized trips from New York, which will allow you to make excursions in the surrounding area (for example New York Niagara Falls, New York Boston, New York Philadelphia and New York Washington)
    • tours from Las Vegas to the parks, which allow you to enjoy some natural beauty in comfort and at the same time make your vacation between New York and California less demanding (highly recommended is the Grand Canyon helicopter tour)
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