Complete Summary Itinerary USA Road Trip : Self Drive California, Arizona & Nevada

Self drive is a perfect way to see America as it gives you freedom to explore and bring you to the places you wanted to see at your own pace. If you are traveling with several pax, you can save quite a lot by using a car rental to self drive American road trips. The most important thing is you can stop anywhere you like and do in impromptu sight-seeing. There are few routes in America road trip that I really enjoyed, few of them are the Big Sur with a rugged and mountainous coastline scenery and the other is desert view with Joshua trees on the way from Palm Springs to Las Vegas. If you are first timer driving in America, you can do some practice at the car park before you start hitting to the road.

My American Self drive road trip covering major cities in California and some part of Arizona (Grand Canyon) and Nevada State (Las Vegas).  The duration is about 2 weeks time and the season I choose was in winter.  You will be amazed how good the weather is during winter in California.  It is so warm, plenty of sunshine which is great for photo shooting and comfortable to walk around. I would say it is better than summer because summer would be too hot (above 40’c is common) in West Coast (California, Arizona & Nevada).

Why do self drive?

  • Flexibility – depart any time, go anywhere, stop anywhere etc
  • Cheaper cost 
  • Great for bonding time – Bring along grandparents and children including babies & toddlers to enjoy or a group of friends
  • Convenient – No need to rush for train or bus and climbing stairs up & down at station

The summary Itinerary for my self drive USA road trip, covering major cities in California and several cities  from Arizona and Nevada States in 2 weeks.  My itinerary include variety of things to explore; mountain, beaches, silicon valley tech tour, University tour, US war ship, Universal theme park, Sea world, Casino, Las Vegas Live perfomance and shopping at the premium outlets.  I have also included a link on how to rent a car and the airport review here.

Day 1 & 2 : Los Angeles, California

1. Things to do in Beverly Hills 90210

Beverly Hills is a posh neighborhood which we always see it on the American tv drama.  There are top 8 things you should spot when you are in this neighborhood.

2. Hollywood Walk of Fame

Hollywood Walk of Fame is one of Los Angeles’ most visited tourist attraction. Go find your favorite stars at the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  The number 1 must see is Dolby Theatre, join the Dolby Theatre  tour and have the opportunity to go beyond the red carpet and see inside this spectacular theatre!

3. Griffith Observatory – LA Top Attraction!

One of the best part of this place is you will be able to spot the “Hollywood” sign clearly is at Griffith Observatory.

4. Tips to explore Universal Studios Hollywood!

Universal Studios Hollywood is one of the favorite attraction in California.  It great to spend a whole day with family and friends.  Do check out the Wizarding of Harry Potter World once you enter the park, that is one of the highlight in this park.  Purchase online with klook to enjoy discount and save time on queuing.

Day 3 & 4  : San Diego, California

1. Exploring Warship CV41 – USS Midway San Diego

Vist American finest city – San Diego.  Check out the American Warship USS Midway! USS Midway Ticket – Purchase online to enjoy discount.

2. Top 12 Attractions to visit in Balboa Park San Diego

About 15 museums, few theatres, gardens & a Zoo all located in the Balboa Park.  There is no entrance fees for the park which is  good thing! You can spend whole day walking in this huge park.

3. Nine things To Expect In La Jolla Cove Beach San Diego

La Jolla Cove should be in your travel bucket list if you happen to drive down to San Diego.

4. San Diego Old Town – the Birthplace of California

San Diego Old Town is a nice park to walk around to discover the Californian history! The historical park is very big to walk around, there are several museum all with no entrance fees and few restaurants available.  You see a lot of staff wearing period clothings.

5. Top Tips To Explore Sea World San Diego!

You would love the Orca / Killer Whales show and see how smart these creatures are!  You need half a day at least to spend in this water park.

Day 5 : Palm Springs, California

1. Getaway To Little Desert – Palm Springs California

Palm Springs is surrounded by mountains & Coachella Valley which make the backdrop of the city so beautiful.  Just 2 hours drive from San Diego.

2. Palm Springs Aerial Tramride – World Largest Rotating Tramway!

Palm Springs Aerial Tramride is one of the world largest tramride that rotate 360′ degree.  Bring along a thick jacket if you are going up as weather is very cold up the mountain.

3. Desert Hills Premium Outlet – Cabazon, Palm Spring

The backdrop of the shopping outlets is stunning, it is surrounded by layers of desert hills mountains and enjoy up 70% of discount for the branded stuff.

4. Village Fest Night Market at Palm Springs

Palm Springs Village Fest is a night shopping day happen every Thursday night from 6 pm to 10 pm.  You will see the small town is full of people!  Interesting “pasar malam” in the WEST.

Day 6 & 7 : Las Vegas, Nevada & Grand Canyon West, Arizona

1. US Road Trip from Palm Springs to Las Vegas

You get to see stunning desert view on the road trip for this route.  Joshua tree is one of the iconic plant here.

2. Chinatown Las Vegas 

Do not miss the best Pho noodle in Chinatown Las Vegas.

3.The Strip Las Vegas

Check out all the interesting hotels with different theme in The Strip Las Vegas.

4.Michael Jackson ONE by Cirque du Soleil at Mandalay Bay Las Vegas

One of the best show I would strongly recommend to anyone!

5. Lake Mead & Hoover Dam

Lake Mead is situated just 30 mins drive from Las Vegas. It is a man made lake, the largest reservoir in the world.  You will see Lake Mead and Hoover Dam when you are going to Grand Canyon West Rim.

6. Three Interesting Sites From Road Trip Las Vegas to Grand Canyon West Rim That You Should Look Out!

The road trip from Las Vegas took about 3 hours, three interesting stop you may want to pull over and go down have a look before you reach Grand Canyon West Rim.

7. Grand Canyon West Rim

You can do a day tour for Grand Canyon West if you stay in Las Vegas – it is achievable within a day.

Day 8 : Fresno, California

1. Calico Ghost Town

Calico use to be an old western mining town that has been around since 1881 during the largest silver strike in California.  A little fees to enter the Ghost Town but is worth the stop!

2. Yosemite Valley

The view from Yosemite Valley to Grand Canyon is totally different.  At the Grand Canyon road trip, you see desert and cacti plant.  In Yosemite road trip, you see big pine trees & oak trees.  Two totally different thing and different view.

3. My IN-N-Out Burger Experience in California

In-N-Out Burger is a wonderful experience for me overall, love the restaurant white and red setting, happy and young vibes of the friendly staffs. Do try their secret recipe.

Day 9 & 10 : San Francisco, California


1. Golden Gate Bridge @ San Francisco

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of San Francisco’s most iconic landmark that one can never missed.  Plenty of photo opportunities everywhere.

2. San Francisco China Town

Do you know the Kung Fu master Bruce Lee was born here at San Francisco Chinatown?

3. Lombard Street @ San Francisco – the most crooked street in the world! If you are doing a San Francisco city tour, don’t miss Lombard Street, about 20 mins walk from San Francisco Fisherman Wharf.

4. Top 10 things to do in Fisherman’s Wharf San Francisco

What I like best about Fisherman’s Wharf is the old antique cable cars running up and down which make it such an icon in San Francisco.

Day 11 : Tech Tour at Silicon Valley, California

1. Stamford University – climb up Hoover Tower and check out the view from the top!

2. HP Garage – Birth Place of Silicon Valley

HP Garage is birthplace of Silicon Valley. Located in a residential area but worth to visit.  The neighborhood is pretty quiet and nice ambient.

3.Google HQ

This is one of the mind-blowing campus and a dream place to work.  If you intend to explore Silicon Valley, then Googleplex at Mountain View is one of the must visit attractions when you do your tech touring.  Go check out the google electric car & google self-driving car somewhere at the campus too!

4. Facebook HQ @ 1 Hacker Way– go for the “thumb up” picture!

5. Apple Campus @ One Infinite Loop – If you are obsessed with all things related to Apple, then you might like this place and check out all the coolest gadgets offer at Apple Store at Apple HQ.

6.Computer History Museum

This place is pretty interesting to visit even for people like me, not a tech geek. I spent about 2 hours exploring the big museum, gone to the past and back to future. You will see how technologies changes our life through, healthcare, workforce and other daily activities. The most fun part is you get to sit in the auto self driving car -Waymo!

Max’s Original Restaurant Review – San Francisco Bay Area

Day 12 : Monterey, California

1. Famous Scenic : 17 Miles Drive Monterey

You need about half a day to explore all the 21 points of interest once you entered 17 Miles Drive.  My favorite points of interest would be the Lone Cypress and Ghost Tree.

2. Carmel-By-The-Sea

Residents who live in Carmel-by-the sea has no street addresses anywhere in town. Post mails has to be picked up at the local nearby post office. You may also want to take a look at the local post office located at Dolores St. and 5th Post Office.  You will find old fashion mail box lining up like an antique.

3. Most Photographed Bridge – Bixby Creek Bridge, Monterey  

Not sure you have seen Bixby Bridge in the Hollywood movie, it is one of the most admired bridges in America and has been featured in many movies scenes.

4. Big Sur Drive, The World Most Scenic Drive!

I do Big Sur mainly because my next destination is Santa Barbara at the south.  Choose to use the Big Sur coastline stretch mainly because of the spectacular ocean view and the rugged cliff.

Day 13 : Santa Barbara, California

1.  Top 10 things to do at Stearns Wharf Santa Barbara

Stearns Wharf is an icon for the beach city Santa Barbara, southern California and Central Coast California.  There are plenty of things to do, check out the list before you go.

2. Old Mission Town Santa Barbara

Old Mission is a must stop if you happen to be in Santa Barbara. It is a good place to check out the stunning old architecture and most importantly learn about California history.

Day 14 : Los Angeles, California


Paying a visit at UCLA is like coming into the many Hollywood movie scenes or American TV series! Located at Westwood, this campus is only minutes away from the Pacific Ocean, founded in 1919 and one of the most applied University in America.

My budget for 3 adults :

  • Ticket United Airline : SGD $ 1,000 per pax – purchased in promotion.  We have 3 pax SGD $ 3,000
  • Hotel (3-4 stars) : average SGD $200 per night for triple sharing (3 pax), total of 13 nights = $2600
  • Car Rental : Nissan Sentral SGD 1000 for two weeks plus insurance protection.
  • Entrance tickets for sites : In total we spent SGD $1200 for all the entrance tickets. We purchase most of our tickets from Klook online (SGD $700) to enjoy discount.
  • Eat & shopping at premium outlet (bought 2 designer bags, Coach & Kate Spade) & petrol & snacks & souvenirs = $2000

In total : 3 pax rough budget is a little over SGD $10k.  Per pax is about SGD$3k to 3.5k.  Your budget can go lower by staying in cheaper hotel or staying in airbnb where you can do your own cooking. Things are very cheap in the local supermarket,  you can cook your dinner and breakfast if you have a big group.  We could not cook as we stayed in hotel, only instant noodles.  We brought in some instant noodles (last us about 6 meals) for our breakfast and sometimes dinner.  When we are sick of the food outside, we ate noodles in the hotel.

Other information :

  • Visa is not needed for Singaporean but ESTA is needed. Apply online before departure, a small fees (USD $14.00 per pax) is needed.  Please go to the official website of ESTA and not third-party agent website as the fees can be different and a lot higher.
  • International driving permit – not needed in West Coast but some part of America need it.  Click on the link to check.
  • Travel Insurance – Best to purchase before departure.

You may also like other self drive destination :

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Booking Resources :  

31 Replies to “Complete Summary Itinerary USA Road Trip : Self Drive California, Arizona & Nevada”

  1. I absolutely love visiting all of these a,aging places! Monterey is one of my favorites and I really enjoy Cannery Row there.

  2. Wow what a great itinerary you provided here. It sounds like you had the best time exploring and self driving too!

  3. Who knew there were so many beautiful sites in America! Being from the States, I am in awe of foreign destinations with their beautiful waters and breathtaking sites. However, the thought of exploring the beauties of America has not crossed my mind. It looks like you had an amazing time! I lowkey will be working undercover to get my family to go on a roadtrip with me.

  4. Wow you visited a lot of cool spots while in California. Will have to check back to a few when I go back this summer. I also loved your creative fashion style, statement makers for sure!

  5. My partner and I are planning a road trip in the US so I’m so grateful to have stumbled on your post! Your resources, photos and itinerary are so thorough and detailed!

    The 17 Miles Drive looks exceptional! Thank you, looking forward to more of your posts!

    1. Dear Dana,
      Wow, your brother works in Facebook, then you should visit him in Facebook Palo Alto. What a great opportunities to go beyond the tight security gate and see the real campus in Facebook. I wish I know someone there!

  6. California’s one of the best places on Earth. I thought I’ve went to all the awesome destinations here but seeing some more here makes me feel giddy to spend another two-week vacation up there.

  7. This is an awesome road trip itinerary! You got to see so many wonderful places and your photos are great! Brought back some great memories of our road trip travels through this region of the US 🙂

  8. Wow, such a detailed post that would be so helpful to plan a great trip to California. Loving the pictures so much.

  9. K- What a great life you have! I’ve read some of these posts and they are all excellent, providing not simply your point of view, but great recommendations on where to stay. I think we’re going to need a “Carmen Santiago” Kumamon edition in honor of your world travel adventures 😀 <3 Xo Evelyn, Path of Presence

  10. This is such an amazing journey! I am so impressed. California looks amazing –– I go for work but I never get to explore 🙂

  11. looks like a fun trip! glad you included UCLA, my alma mater. You should add on 7 magic mountains near Las Vegas, an outdoor art exhibit up through next year. it’s really something!

  12. Love the idea of a self-guided driving tour – it looks like so much fun! You did a great job of capturing all the sites to see. I’ve visited Palm Springs, San Diego, and San Francisco, and they are well worth a visit!

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