3 weeks road trip in USA West Coast: An Epic 20-21 days itinerary


USA West Coast Itinerary 3 Weeks: the Perfect 20-21 Days Road Trip

You’re planning to spend 3 weeks in the West coast of the USA and you’re looking for the best itinerary?

You’re at the right place!

In order to help you plan your stay, I have prepared for you this 3 weeks itinerary in USA West Coast.

During your 20-21 days trip starting from Los Angeles, you will discover some of the country’s best places to visit such as the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon and Bryce Canyon.

Then, you will head to Las Vegas, Yosemite, San Francisco and the California Coast.

In this guide, in addition to the best things to do and must-see attractions, I will also give you all my best tips as well as my list of the best accommodations depending on your budget.

So, how to spend 3 weeks in USA West Coast? Where to stay?

Let’s find out!


Renting a car for your 3-week road trip in the USA (West Coast)

To visit the west coast of the United States for 3 weeks, you’ll need a car. Don’t even think about doing this road trip by public transport, it’s impossible!

To rent a car, you should use Booking.com Cars website.

It’s the one I use for all my trips, as it’s super convenient: it allows you to compare all the rental companies’ rates in just one click and book your car rental at the best price!

And if you don’t have an insurance with your credit card, you can opt for the “Full Protection Insurance”, to be fully refunded in case of accident or theft. Tested and approved! (They refunded me more than 1200€ to date)

For this itinerary, you will need to rent a car in Los Angeles.

If you already know your travel dates to the American West, symply click on the button below to compare prices and rent your car: 

Voyage Tips - Advice

To rent a car in the United States, you need to:

  • Be over 21 years old
  • Have a valid license from your country of residence (you must have your driver’s license for at least 12 months)
  • Have an international license: it’s not mandatory, but more and more rental companies require it, so it’s better to have it (especially if your driver’s licence is not in English)
  • Provide a credit card in the name of the main driver
  • Present your passport.

Day 1 / Day 2 / Day 3 – Los Angeles

To visit the USA West coast in 20 or 21 days, you will arrive in Los Angeles (if you prefer to do the same road trip from San Francisco that’s also possible).

When you arrive, pick-up your car in Los Angeles’ airport and go to your hotel.

Once at your hotel, take a good rest to recover from jet lag so you can be at 100% to start your 3-week itinerary in USA the next day.

After a good night’s sleep, let’s visit the city of Los Angeles!

For your 1st full day in Los Angeles, you should visit (in order):

  • Hollywood Sign: catch a glimpse of the world-famous Hollywood Sign, an iconic symbol of Los Angeles. You can take the best pictures of the sign from Lake Hollywood Park’s viewpoint. But you can also opt for a walk if you want to go closer. Click here for information and to book!
  • Griffith Observatory offers panoramic views of the city and a closer look at the Hollywood sign. If you are interested in space and stars, you can also visit the observatory for free.
  • Walk of Fame: Stroll along the Walk of Fame, spotting stars dedicated to celebrities from the world of entertainment. And you can even get your own star (more information here!).
  • Sunset Boulevard: Drive through Sunset Boulevard, known for its lively nightlife and historic music venues.
  • Rodeo Drive/Beverly Hills: Experience luxury as you pass by high-end shops on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.
  • Do a minibus guided tour of celebrities homes in Beverly Hills. You need to book it in advance by clicking on the green button below:
  • Santa Monica Pier/Pacific Park: Head to Santa Monica Pier to enjoy the Pacific Park amusement park and watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean.
  • Venice Beach: End your day with a relaxed stroll on Venice Beach, famous for its bohemian vibes and Muscle Beach gym. There, you will also find many shops and restaurants, so it’s a great place to have dinner and spend a nice evening!

Spend the night in Los Angeles.

Voyage Tips - Advice

If you don’t want to bother with transport, you should book this guided bus tour, which includes all the stops of my itinerary. It’s super convenient!

Click here to book your full-day guided tour of LA!

Hollywood sign sunset
Hollywood sign sunset – 3 weeks USA west coast itinerary

On your 2nd day in Los Angeles, it’s time to experience one of the most famous places: let’s go to Universal Studios Hollywood!

This iconic theme park offers thrilling rides, shows, and behind-the-scenes glimpses of your favorite films and TV shows.

You can experience the magic of Harry Potter at the Wizarding World, face dinosaurs in Jurassic World, or go on a Studio Tour to witness how movies are made.

And let’s not forget the all-new open world: Super Nintendo Word!

You should dedicate the entire day to the visit, as there’s so much to see and do.

As this is one of the most famous theme parks in the USA, you really need to book your tickets in advance to avoid long waiting times.

You can choose between the “Normal” or “Express” (the best choice if you want to do as many rides as possible!) ticket upon booking:

I can assure you that this day will be one of the best memories of your 3 weeks road trip itinerary on the USA West Coast.

Spend another night in Los Angeles.

To learn more about the best places to visit in Los Angeles, you should read my dedicated article: The 45 best things to do in LA.

Accommodation in Los Angeles

As you probably know, hotels are quite expensive in Los Angeles, and the hotels offering the best value for money are fully booked very quickly.

To get the best rate, you should really book your accommodation in L.A as soon as you have your travel dates!

Here is my selection of the best hotels to stay in Los Angeles:

  • HI Los Angeles – Santa Monica Hostel: Located 200 meters from Santa Monica beach. Dormitory beds from €50. Strong points: cleanliness, location next to the ocean. The perfect hostel if you’re looking for a cheap accommodation in Los Angeles.
  • El Royale Hotel – Near Universal Studios Hollywood: Located close to Universal Studios, comfortable and spacious double room from €190, breakfast included. Strong points: friendly staff, free parking, comfortable beds.
  • Park Plaza Lodge: Located close to LACMA and Farmers market. Modern and comfortable double room from €190. Benefits: swimming pool, parking, convenient location for sightseeing.
  • citizenM Los Angeles Downtown: Located in Downtown Los Angeles, 400 metres from City Hall. Brightly decorated contemporary double room with large window overlooking the city, from €260, breakfast €19. Strong points: design, friendly staff, panoramic view of LA.
  • Loews Hollywood Hotel: Located next to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Beautiful double rooms, some with views of the Hollywood sign, from €255, breakfast €33. Strong points: heated swimming pool, geographical location, direct access to the shopping centre with lots of restaurants and a casino. My favorite hotel in LA for its excellent value for money!
  • Pendry West Hollywood: This 5-star hotel on Sunset Boulevard offers sublime, elegantly decorated rooms with large picture windows. From €620 per night, breakfast €56. Strong points: the rooftop pool, the view over Los Angeles, the design of the hotel.
  • Shutters On The Beach: Magnificent 5-star hotel located directly on Santa Monica beach. Rooms with balcony and some with ocean views from €880, breakfast €46. Strong points: the view, the good restaurant, the style of the hotel, the swimming pool, the attentive staff. This is my recommendation for a luxury stay in Los Angeles!
Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica Pier

Day 4 – Route 66 from LA to Kingman

Moving on from Los Angeles, the next part of your 3 weeks road trip itinerary on the West coast leads you to the iconic The Route 66.

This legendary highway, also known as the “Main Street of America”, allows you to discover quirky roadside attractions and beautiful landscapes.

From Los Angeles to Kingman, given the distance (5 hours by car without stops), you should plan one full day for the journey.

Here are the best places to see on the Route 66:

  • Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch: A unique art installation, where you’ll find hundreds of colorful bottles placed on metal rods, creating a forest of bottle trees.
  • Calico Ghost Town: Step back in time in this restored silver mining town from the 1880s. It offers a glimpse of the Wild West with its old buildings and history.
  • Bagdad Cafe: Made famous by the movie of the same name, this cafe is a perfect spot for a meal break and some Route 66 souvenirs.
  • Amboy Crater: An ancient volcanic cinder cone, where you can take a hike to the top for a panoramic desert view.
  • Oatman: A gold mining town, known for its wild donkeys that roam the streets. Don’t forget to catch a staged gunfight, a popular attraction here.
  • Kingman: Your stop for the night.

Accommodation in Kingman

Oatman gold mining town Route 66
Oatman gold mining town Route 66

Day 5 – Route 66 from Kingman to Grand Canyon

Today, the journey on Route 66 continues towards one of the world’s most iconic landmarks, the Grand Canyon.

Before leaving Kingman you should visit the Route 66 Museum. Here, you can learn about the history of this famed highway.

Then, take the route from Kingman to the Grand Canyon, with plenty of fun stops along the way.

For example, I suggest you stop off at:

  • Hackberry General Store: A classic Route 66 roadside stop, this store offers a mix of antiques and photo opportunities with old cars and gas pumps.
  • Seligman: A picturesque town on Route 66. It’s a real throwback to simpler times with its retro vibe and vintage cars.
  • Williams: Known as the “Gateway to the Grand Canyon”, this charming town offers a slice of Route 66 history with its vintage diners and neon signs.
  • Bearizona Wildlife Park: Before reaching the Grand Canyon, make a detour to this drive-through wildlife park. It’s a chance to see North American animals like black bears, bison, and wolves in a natural setting.

Spend the night around the Grand Canyon.

Mr D'z Route 66 Diner
Mr D’z Route 66 Diner

Where to stay around the Grand Canyon

You have 3 different options for sleeping near the Grand Canyon:

  • Grand Canyon Village, right on the edge of the Canyon
  • The town of Tusayan, 15 minutes from the Grand Canyon
  • The town of Williams, an hour from the Grand Canyon

At the Grand Canyon Village, you could sleep at:

  • Yavapai Lodge: Double room from €265. Strong points: free parking, the setting, close to the shops.
  • Maswick Lodge: Double room from 320€. Strong points: free parking, very big bedroom, close to the best sites and shuttles.

Here is my selection of the best hotels in Tusayan:

Here is my selection of the best hotels in Williams:

Route 66
Route 66

Day 6 – Explore the Grand Canyon’s South Rim

Let’s continue your 3-week road trip itinerary on the USA West Coast: today, you will visit the Grand Canyon!

One of the most celebrated natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon offers breathtaking views, challenging hikes, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

In particular, the South Rim of the Grand Canyon is the most visited and is known for its iconic viewpoints and trails.

Let’s dive into what you should absolutely not miss:

  • Yavapai Point: This is one of the best places to get a panoramic view of the Grand Canyon. From here, you can see the Colorado River winding its way through the canyon floor. It’s particularly striking during sunrise or sunset.
  • Free Shuttle: The National Park Service provides a free shuttle bus system in the Grand Canyon Village. It’s a convenient way to visit multiple viewpoints and landmarks. Take the shuttle which runs alongside Hermit Road and stop at the different viewpoints: Mather Point / Trail View Overlook / Powell Point / Hopi Point / Mohave Point / Pima Point.
  • Desert View Drive: This is a scenic 25-mile road that takes you from Grand Canyon Village to the Desert View Watchtower. Along the way, there are several viewpoints and pull-offs where you can admire the ever-changing vistas of the canyon. You will need to take your car for this road as there is no shuttle service.
  • Bright Angel Trail: If you’re up for some hiking, this is one of the most popular trails. It descends from the rim to the Colorado River, but this is a very difficult hike with a steep gradient (allow between 9 and 12 hours).
  • Guided Hummer Tour: For a more adventurous experience, consider taking a guided Hummer tour. These off-road excursions can take you to less-visited viewpoints and offer a thrilling ride along the way. Click here to book it!
Grand Canyon Mather Point
Grand Canyon Mather Point

A special mention should be given to the Helicopter Tour over the Grand Canyon.

There are few experiences in the world that can compare to flying above the Grand Canyon in a helicopter.

This aerial view gives you a unique perspective of the canyon’s vastness, depth, and the intricate play of light and shadow.

The flight usually lasts around 45 minutes, and you’ll be provided with headsets to hear the pilot’s commentary on the geological wonders and history of the Grand Canyon.

You need to book your helicopter flight by clicking on the button below:

If there is no more availability, you can also book with this other company (click here!), it’s exactly the same thing.

Spend another night near the Grand Canyon.

Voyage Tips - Advice

There’s an entrance fee for all the national park in USA, which is approximately $30 / 35$ per park.

To save money, I’d recommend buying the “America the Beautiful Pass”, which costs $80 and gives you unlimited access to all the US national parks for 1 year. As long as you visit 3 parks during your stay, you’ll get your money’s worth!

The pass is valid for all occupants of the same vehicle.

You can buy the pass at the ticket booths at the park entrances or at the Visitor Center. 

Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon

Day 7 – Monument Valley

On Day 7 of your 3 weeks West Coast itinerary, it’s time to discover the red sands and stunning mesas of Monument Valley.

From Grand Canyon Village to Monument Valley Welcome center, it takes about 3 hours by car.

This landscape has been the backdrop to countless films, advertisements, and television shows.

Situated on the Arizona-Utah state line, Monument Valley is managed by the Navajo Nation.

Here are some of the best things to see:

  • The View Hotel: Before visiting the valley itself, start with a visit to The View Hotel. As the name suggests, it offers one of the most breathtaking views of the valley. Even if you’re not staying here, the terrace is open to visitors, and it’s the perfect spot for photography.
  • John Ford’s Point: Named after the famous director who shot many Western films here, this viewpoint provides a panoramic vista of the valley’s buttes and mesas.
  • Artist’s Point: Another popular viewpoint, Artist’s Point offers varied perspectives of the East and West Mittens and Merrick Butte.
  • Three Sisters: These are a trio of thin, towering rock formations that resemble nuns, hence the name. It’s one of the many unique formations in the valley.
  • Ear of the Wind: A picturesque arch that’s perfect for a photo op. You should ideally go there in the morning, when the sunlight shines directly through the arch.

When it comes to exploring Monument Valley, you have 2 options:

1) If you’re on a tight budget or prefer to explore at your own pace, you can drive through Monument Valley using the 27 kilometer Valley Drive.

It’s a dirt road that takes you to many of the park’s main viewpoints and formations. A SUV or 4×4 is recommend, as the road can be a bit rough. Always check the weather before going, as the road can become challenging after rainfall.

You will also have to purchase a permit at the Visitor Center.

2) A guided tour is arguably the best way to experience Monument Valley.

These tours are conducted by Navajo guides who provide deeper insights into the history, geology, and culture of the region.

Not only will they take you to the most iconic spots, but they can also guide you to lesser-known areas that are off-limits to general visitors.

Opting for a tour also supports the local Navajo community.

You need to book this guided tour in advance by clicking here:

This excursion is also available in the late afternoon to enjoy the sunset. You can book it here!

Spend the night around Monument Valley.

Where to stay in Monument Valley

  • Wetherill Inn: Located in the city of Kayenta. Double room from 140€. Strong points: clean, spacious bedroom, good breakfast.
  • Goulding’s Lodge: Located in Monument Valley. Double room from 190€. Strong points: the view over Monument Valley, comfortable room, good restaurant, location.
  • Hampton Inn Kayenta Monument Valley: Located in Kayenta. Double room from 230€, breakfast included. Strong points: swimming pool, typical Navajo cuisine, excellent breakfast, peace and quiet.
Monument Valley
Monument Valley

Day 8 – Antelope Canyon / Horseshoe Bend / Lake Powell

Today, you’ll discover 3 other famous landmarks: Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and Lake Powell.

Located on Navajo land, 1.5 hours by car from the town of Kayenta, Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon made up of two parts: Upper Antelope Canyon (also called ‘The Crack’) and Lower Antelope Canyon (known as ‘The Corkscrew’).

The way sunlight dances through the cracks and crevices of these canyons creates a mesmerizing display of colors and shadows.

Visiting Antelope Canyon requires joining a guided tour (you need to book it by clicking on the green buttons below).

The Navajo guides not only ensure the safety of visitors but also share fascinating stories and insights about the canyon’s formation and cultural significance.

  • Upper Antelope Canyon: This section is famous for its light beams, which are best viewed between March and October. As it’s level-ground, it’s more accessible for all visitors. It’s in my opinion the best choice with you do only 1.
  • Lower Antelope Canyon: Though it involves some climbing, the effort is rewarded with incredible rock formations and fewer crowds.
Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon

A mere 15 minutes away from Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend is where the Colorado River takes a 270-degree turn.

The view from the overlook, standing 1,000 feet above the bend, is nothing short of breathtaking.

Next and last stop of the day: Lake Powell.

A man-made reservoir on the Colorado River, it offers a lot of recreational activities like boating, fishing or simply relaxing by its shores:

  • Rent a boat or go on a kayak tour: You can hire a boat or join a kayak tour to visit some of the lake’s famous spots, such as Rainbow Bridge, the largest natural bridge in the world.
  • Swim: Designated swimming areas provide relief from the desert heat.

That was another great day of visits! Tonight, you will stay near Lake Powell. Have a good rest and get ready for the next day of your 3-week road trip in the American West!

Where to stay around Lake Powell

All the hotels I’ve selected are in the town of Page, close to Lake Powell:

Horseshoe Bend Colorado River
Horseshoe Bend Colorado River

Day 9 – Bryce Canyon

On Day 9, you will discover the otherworldly landscape of Bryce Canyon (a 2h40-minute drive from Lake Powell).

Known for its hundreds of fairy chimneys (also called “Hoodos”), this national park is unlike any other.

The myriad viewpoints, scenic drives, and breathtaking trails make it a must-visit on any American west coast 3-week road trip.

As mentioned above, the most iconic features of Bryce Canyon are the hoodoos – peculiar rock pillars shaped by centuries of erosion. These spire-like formations range in size and color, creating a visual spectacle that captivates visitors from around the world.

Stretching for 29 kilometers, the Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive offers some of the park’s best panoramic views.

If time allows, you should drive the entire route, but if you’re in a hurry, you should focus on these viewpoints:

  • Bryce Point: This viewpoint provides a sweeping look at the Bryce Amphitheater and its numerous hoodoos.
  • Inspiration Point: Offering three levels of viewpoints, this spot gives visitors different perspectives of the main amphitheater.
  • Sunset Point: As the name suggests, it’s a prime location to witness the sunset over the canyon.

Bryce Canyon also boasts a variety of trails tailored to different fitness levels.

Two of the most popular are:

  • Navajo Loop Trail + Queen’s Garden Trail: Combining these trails forms a loop. Starting from Sunset Point, the Navajo Loop descends into the amphitheater, passing the Two Bridges and Thor’s Hammer. Connecting with the Queen’s Garden Trail, you’ll meander through the floor of the canyon, reaching a rock formation that resembles Queen Victoria.
  • Peek-A-Boo Loop: This 9 kilometers trail offers a close-up view of the park’s hoodoos and is best suited for experienced hikers. Starting at Bryce Point, the loop takes you deeper into the park, showcasing some of its most intricate rock formations.
Voyage Tips - Advice

If you don’t fancy taking your car to explore the park or if you want to add a fun activity during the day, there are several other ways to discover Bryce Canyon:

Where to stay in Bryce Canyon

All the hotels are located in Bryce Canyon City, just before the entrance to the national park.

Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon

Day 10 – Zion National Park: The Red Rock Wonderland

Zion National Park is a 1h45 drive from Bryce Canyon. 

Renowned for its colossal red cliffs, emerald pools, and narrow canyons, Zion is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.

You will for sure love its massive sandstone cliffs painted in hues of cream, pink, and red, standing tall against the blue sky.

While you can drive into Zion National Park, some areas are accessible only by the park’s shuttle bus during the high-visitation months.

Here’s what you should know:

  • Own Car: Having your vehicle allows flexibility, especially for areas outside the main canyon. However, parking can be challenging to find during peak times.
  • Shuttle Bus: Zion’s free shuttle service is not just eco-friendly but also convenient. Running frequently, the shuttles stop at major viewpoints and trailheads. Plus, you won’t have to worry about finding a parking spot. If you’re targeting popular trails like the Narrows or Angel’s Landing, the shuttle is your best bet.

Given the park’s popularity, using the shuttle system can save you a lot of time.

Zion National Park
Zion National Park

Talking about the trails:

  • The Narrows: As one of the most famous hikes in the park, The Narrows has you wading through the Virgin River.

The river serves as your trail, and the hike can be as short as a few hours or an all-day affair. Ensure you have the right footwear as the riverbed is rocky.

The cool water and the towering walls on either side provide an experience unlike any other.

  • Angel’s Landing: This hike is not for the faint-hearted.

While the initial segments are pretty straightforward, the final half-mile requires you to navigate a narrow ridge with steep drop-offs.

However, your efforts are rewarded with a panoramic view of the Zion Canyon. If you have a fear of heights (like me!), this might be a challenge.

Voyage Tips - Advice

The park also offers several activities (click on the orange links for more info and to book):

Where to stay in Zion National Park

All the hotels are located in Springdale, just before the entrance to the national park.

Day 11 – Las Vegas

Next stop on your 3-week USA West Coast trip itinerary is Las Vegas, nestled in the heart of the Nevada desert.

It takes over 2h45 to drive from Zion to Las Vegas, often referred to as “The Entertainment Capital of the World”.

Even if you’re not into gambling, there’s plenty to keep you entertained on the bustling Strip.

The Las Vegas Strip is a 6.5 km stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard lined with mega-resorts, casinos, restaurants, shops, and performance venues.

If it’s your first time in Vegas or you’re just looking for the best highlights, here’s a route you can follow:

  • Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign: Kick off your Vegas journey with a photo-op at this iconic sign.
  • New York New York: Experience a slice of the Big Apple in Vegas. Marvel at the replica of the Statue of Liberty and for the thrill-seekers, take a ride on the Big Apple Coaster.
  • MGM Grand: One of the largest hotels in the world, you can spot the MGM Grand by its signature emerald green. Step inside for a plethora of dining, shopping, and entertainment options.
  • Bellagio and Fountain Show: A must-see, the Bellagio fountains put on a mesmerizing water show choreographed to music. Time your visit for the evening when the show is at its most magical.
  • Paris and Eiffel Tower: Fancy a trip to Paris? Visit the half-scale replica of the Eiffel Tower and enjoy panoramic views of the city:

High Roller Observation Wheel
Las Vegas
  • Caesars Palace: Dive into Roman opulence at Caesars Palace. Wander its sprawling grounds, try your hand at the casino, or simply soak in its grandeur.
  • The Venetian: End your strip tour in Venice – or at least, Vegas’s version of it. With gondola rides and its recreation of Venice’s landmarks, The Venetian offers a unique blend of gaming and romantic escapism.

While the Strip gets all the attention, I’d also recommend a visit to downtown Las Vegas and the Fremont Street Experience in particular.

A five-block entertainment district, this area is famed for its LED canopy, free concerts, street performers, and historic casinos.

It offers a different, more vintage Vegas vibe compared to the Strip.

Spend one night in Las Vegas.

Don’t hesitate to read my article about the city to learn more about the best places to visit: The 30 best things to do in Las Vegas.

Voyage Tips - Advice

When the sun sets, Las Vegas truly comes alive. Here are some nighttime activities you should consider:

New York – New York hotel and casino Vegas
New York – New York hotel and casino Vegas

Where to Stay in Las Vegas

There are a lot of hotels in Las Vegas, and choosing the best for your stay can be a bit complicated.

In order to help you out, I have selected for you the best hotels in Las Vegas depending on your budget.

As always, to get the best prices, you should book your hotel as early as possible*!

*And a little clarification: in Las Vegas prices can explode for weekends or if there is a special event during a the day of the week. For example, you can have a night at Caesars Palace for €140 and the next day it will be €1,600.

Please note that prices “start from”, they can vary greatly (and I’ve got nothing to do with that 😅).

In any case, I can always help you find a hotel within your budget if you ask me in the comments.

Here is my selection of the best hotels to stay at on the Strip:

  • Excalibur: With its castle-themed structure, it’s a hit among families and offers affordable rates starting at 70€ per night. Strong points: comfortable beds, size of rooms, price. An excellent choice for cheap accommodation on the Las Vegas Strip!
  • Luxor: Have you ever dreamt of sleeping in a pyramid? Well, in Las Vegas you can! Double room from €80. Strong points: helpful staff, big bedroom, connected to Excalibur and Mandalay hotels.
  • Caesars Palace Hotel & Casino: This famous 5-star hotel on the Strip offers rooms from €140. Strong points: its architecture, beautiful pools, nice and clean rooms.
  • Treasure Island Hotel & Casino: Double room from 170€. Plus points: spacious room, fridge in the room, great location on the strip, self check-in so you don’t have to wait, self parking.
  • Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino: Hotel located opposite the Eiffel Tower. Double room from 225€. Strong points: good restaurants, room and hotel decor, very comfortable.
  • Las Vegas Hilton at Resorts World: Double room from 290€. Strong points: room and facilities are new, great pool area, super comfy bed, super clean. This is my recommendation for a top-of-the-range stay in Las Vegas!
  • Bellagio: I can’t forget to mention the Bellagio in my selection of the most beautiful hotels in Las Vegas! The hotel offers sumptuous rooms from €480. Strong points: very luxurious, perfect location for exploring the Strip, fountain view. This is my recommendation for a deluxe stay in Las Vegas!

Here is my selection of the best hotels to stay in Downtown Las Vegas / Fremont Street:

Bellagio Where to stay in Las Vegas
Bellagio Where to stay in Las Vegas

Day 12 – Death Valley

Today, you will head to one of the most popular landscapes in the USA: Death Valley.

Allow around 2 hours 15 minutes’ drive from Las Vegas.

Often referred to as the “hottest place on Earth”, Death Valley holds the record for the highest air temperature ever recorded on Earth, a scorching 134°F (56.7°C).

Death Valley is also renowned for its landscapes, ranging from towering mountain peaks to vast salt flats, and from sand dunes to unique rock formations.

For your visit, you should take the Badwater Road is a scenic drive that showcases some of the most iconic spots in Death Valley.

Here are the essential stops:

  • Badwater Basin: This is the lowest point in North America, sitting at 86 meters below sea level. The salt flats here give the area its surreal, otherworldly feel.
  • Dante’s View: For a panoramic view of the valley, especially during sunrise or sunset, Dante’s View is the place to be. At 1,669 meters, it provides an elevated vantage point over the park.
  • Devil’s Golf Course: This vast expanse of jagged salt formations got its name from the saying that “only the devil could play golf on such a surface”.
  • Artists Palette: This is a spot where minerals have colored the rocks in hues of pink, green, and purple.
  • Golden Canyon: A popular hiking spot, this canyon offers trails that lead to the Red Cathedral and the Gower Gulch, with beautiful vistas all along the way.
Voyage Tips - Advice

While driving along Badwater Road, always remember to carry plenty of water, keep your car’s AC working, and avoid hiking during peak afternoon hours.

Where to stay around Death Valley

  • El Portal Motel: Located in Beatty. Double room from 90€. Strong points: free parking, outdoor swimming pool, clean.
  • The Ranch At Death Valley: Located in Furnace Creek. Double room from 150€. Strong points: comfortable, nice swimming pool and outdoor area, ideal location.
  • The Inn at Death Valley: Located in Death Valley. Double room from 320€. Strong points: the garden, the setting, the pool, provision of buggies to get around.
Death Valley
Death Valley

Day 13 – Mammoth Lakes

From Death Valley, allow 4 hours’ drive to get to Mammoth Lakes.

Nestled in California’s Eastern Sierra, this alpine haven is a gem that beckons travelers with its shimmering lakes, mountains, and dense forests.

Whether you’re seeking relaxation or adventure, Mammoth Lakes has something for you.

Known primarily for its world-class ski resorts in winter, Mammoth Lakes transforms into a paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts during the warmer months.

Here’s what you can expect:

  • Crystal Clear Lakes: As the name suggests, the area boasts numerous lakes. You should consider visiting Twin Lakes, Lake Mary, Lake George, and Horseshoe Lake, each offering unique vistas and recreational activities like fishing, kayaking, and paddleboarding.
  • Scenic Drives and Viewpoints: The drive to Minaret Summit offers panoramic views of the Ritter Range, while the June Lake Loop provides glimpses of lush meadows, aspen groves, and beautiful alpine lakes.
  • Hiking Trails: the area around Mammoth Lakes is dotted with hiking trails ranging from easy walks to challenging treks. Trails like the Mammoth Crest, Crystal Lake, and the trail to Rainbow Falls come highly recommended.
  • Hot Springs: After a day of exploring, you can unwind at one of the natural hot springs in the vicinity. Wild Willy’s Hot Springs and the Hot Creek Geothermal Area are among the favorites.

The town of Mammoth Lakes itself has a charm of its own.

With its cozy eateries, local boutiques, and a warm, welcoming atmosphere, it’s the perfect place to relax before the next leg of your USA West Coast trip itinerary in 3 weeks.

Where to stay in Mammoth Lakes

  • Alpenhof Lodge: Double room from 145€. Strong points: close to the lakes and the town centre, quiet, very comfortable.
  • Cinnamon Bear Inn: Double room from 170€, breakfast included. Strong points: very warm welcome, good breakfast.
  • Empeiria High Sierra Hotel: Double room from 190€. Strong points: modern, pleasant, very clean, laundry and swimming pool.
  • Juniper Springs Resort: Flat for up to 6 people from €250.Strong points: real kitchen well equipped for cooking, spacious, friendly staff, barbecue.
  • The Village Lodge: Studios and flats from 260€. Strong points: facilities, swimming pool, Netflix, size of accommodation, terrace with views, free parking.
Mammoth Lakes
Mammoth Lakes

Day 14 – Yosemite

From Mammoth Lakes, it will take you around 2 and a half hours to get to the Yosemite.

While it’s impossible to cover all the attractions of the National Park in a day, here’s how to make the most of your time:

  • Yosemite Valley

The heart of the park, this seven-mile-long canyon is home to some of Yosemite’s most famous landmarks.

You can start your day early with a visit to Tunnel View, offering panoramic vistas of El Capitan, Bridalveil Fall, and the distant Half Dome.

  • Waterfalls

Yosemite National Park is home to some of the tallest waterfalls in North America.

Don’t miss the Yosemite Falls, the tallest of them all, cascading from a height of 739 meters. Bridalveil Fall and Vernal Fall are also worth a look. The waterfalls are even more impressive during Spring season, as it’s at that time that the water flow is the strongest.

  • Glacier Point

For an unparalleled view of the park, you should drive up to Glacier Point. Gazing at the vast expanse of the park with Half Dome standing proudly in the center is a great experience.

Note: The road to Glacier Point is usually open from late May to November, depending on snow conditions.

  • Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias: Home to over 500 mature giant sequoias.

Walking amid these ancient trees, some of which are over 3,000 years old, will make you feel really small!

Considering the vastness of Yosemite, you can either explore the park in your own vehicle or opt for the park’s shuttle service. The shuttle service is an excellent choice as it reduces traffic inside the park and is environmentally friendly.

Also, remember that some areas in Yosemite require day-use reservations, so plan ahead and don’t forget to check the official website.

You should end your day by admiring the sunset at Valley View.

Where to stay in the Yosemite

  • Yosemite View Lodge: Double room from 300€. Strong points: nice view, quiet, 4 pools, room with kitchenette.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park

Day 15 – From Yosemite to San Francisco

Day 15 of your west coast America road trip in 3 weeks takes you towards the buzzing city of San Francisco.

But before you get there, there are a few stops to make.

As you approach San Francisco, take a slight detour to visit Muir Woods National Monument. Home to towering coast redwood trees, some of which have been standing for over 800 years, this forest is perfect for a walk.

Allocate a few hours to explore the main trail, which is easily accessible. If time allows, you can venture onto the Dipsea Trail or the Ben Johnson Trail for more extensive hikes.

Please note that parking reservations are mandatory here, so make sure to book your parking space on the official website before going.

Next, you will go to the coastal town of Sausalito.

Perched on the northern end of the Golden Gate Bridge, this town is a delightful blend of Mediterranean ambiance and Californian charm.

Wander along the waterfront, dotted with unique boutiques, art galleries, and seafood restaurants. The floating homes, typical of Sausalito, are worth a look!

For a panoramic view of the Golden Gate Bridge, the bay, Angel Island, and San Francisco in the background, you should head to Vista Point and Battery Spencer viewpoint.

Of course, you can’t go to San Francisco without crossing the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, that’s what I suggest you do now.

This art deco suspension bridge is more than just a roadway: the symbol of San Francisco offers unparalleled views of the bay, Alcatraz Island, and the city skyline.

After these pit stops, San Francisco awaits!

Muir Woods National Monument
Muir Woods National Monument

Where to stay in San Francisco

There are a lot of hotels in San Francisco, and choosing the best for your stay can be a bit complicated.

In order to help you out, I have selected for you the best hotels in San Francisco, depending on your budget.

As always, to get the best prices, you should book your hotel as early as possible!

  • HI San Francisco Downtown Hostel: Youth hostel located in Union Square. Beds in dormitories from €50. Strong points: location, warm welcome, friendly atmosphere. An excellent choice for cheap accomodation in San Francisco!
  • Grant Hotel: Located 5 minutes’ walk from Union Square. Rooms are decorated in a slightly old-fashioned style but are spacious and clean from €105 per night. Strong points: location, free coffee and biscuits, friendly staff.
  • Greenwich Inn: Located between Presidio Park and Fisherman’s Wharf. Double room from €150 per night. Strong points: free parking, warm welcome, spacious room, plenty of restaurants in the area.
  • Handlery Union Square Hotel: Located in Union Square. Very spacious and comfortable double room with large windows from €210. Strong points: outdoor swimming pool, perfect for visiting San Francisco, comfortable beds.
  • Riu Plaza Fisherman’s Wharf: Located in Fisherman’s wharf. Modern, comfortable double room from €270, breakfast included. Strong points: outdoor swimming pool, location, good breakfast, very helpful staff.
  • Hotel Nikko San Francisco: Located in Union Square, this 5-star hotel offers tastefully decorated rooms from €500. Strong points: indoor pool, spa, attentive staff, design, valet parking.
Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge

Day 16 – San Francisco

Here are the best things to do on your first day in San Francisco:

1) The Presidio and viewpoints over the Golden Gate

Start your day at the Presidio, a former military post turned national park. Here, you’ll find multiple vantage points offering spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge, especially from Fort Point, Golden Gate Overlook, or Crissy Field.

2) Walt Disney Family Museum 

Nestled within the Presidio, this museum is a must-visit for Disney fans. Walk through galleries filled with early drawings and cartoons that trace Walt Disney’s life and innovations. The miniature model of Disneyland is a particular highlight.

3) Palace of Fine Arts: A short drive from the Presidio, the Palace of Fine Arts, with its Greco-Roman architecture, is the perfect place to snap a few nice pictures.

4) Alcatraz or San Francisco Bay Cruise

Head to Pier 33 and embark on a journey to the infamous Alcatraz Island.

To visit Alcatraz, you need to book your tickets in advance by clicking on the green button below:

If prisons aren’t your thing, opt for a Bay Cruise, where you can enjoy views of the city, the Golden Gate, and the surrounding islands.

Alcatraz Island
Alcatraz Island

5) Fisherman’s Wharf + sea lions at Pier 39

A bustling hub of activity, Fisherman’s Wharf is full of seafood restaurants, quirky shops, and street performers. This is the perfect place to have your lunch.

And don’t forget to go to Pier 39 to witness the playful antics of the resident sea lions.

6) Lombard Street

Known as the “crookedest” street in the world, this steep hill with eight hairpin turns is both a driving challenge and a tourist favorite.

Whether you take it by car or on foot, this street, lined with classic San Francisco houses, is well worth a visit.

7) Coit Tower: For a panoramic view of San Francisco, head to Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill. The frescoes inside the tower, painted during the Great Depression, add a touch of history to your visit.

Coit Tower San Francisco
Coit Tower San Francisco

8) Chinatown: Dive into the rich culture and history of the oldest and one of the largest Chinatowns in North America.

9) Ferry Building Marketplace: End your day at this historic building turned gourmet marketplace. With a range of artisanal shops and cafes, it’s the perfect spot to grab a bite and relax by the bay.

Spend a second night in San Francisco.

You can find all the details about the best things to do in San Francisco in my dedicated article: The 27 Best Things to Do in San Francisco.

Voyage Tips - Advice

To visit San Francisco and save money, you should buy the San Francisco All-inclusive pass by Go City. 

The pass is valid for 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 days and give access to more than 30 tourist attractions .

Here are some of the activities included:

  • San Francisco Bay Cruise
  • Aquarium of the Bay
  • Fisherman’s wharf walking tour
  • Entrance to all the museums
  • Chinatown walking tour
  • Mission district tour.

For more information about this pass and the activities included, click on the button below:

Golden Gate bridge from Presidio of San Francisco
Golden Gate bridge from Presidio of San Francisco

Day 17 – San Francisco

Has you had a glimpse of San Francisco’s best places to visit yesterday, it’s now time to explore the most beautiful districts of the city.

Start with the Golden Gate Park.

Wander along the tranquil pathways, relax by the lakes, or visit the picturesque Japanese Tea Garden.

For those with a penchant for the arts and sciences, you have the choice between:

  • de Young Museum: This fine arts museum houses a collection ranging from American art to African and Oceanic artifacts.
  • California Academy of Sciences: A natural history museum, aquarium and planetarium rolled into one, the perfect visit for the curious minds.

Then, head to The Haight Ashbury district.  Once the heart of the 1960s counterculture Hippie movement, today it’s a neighborhood filled with vintage stores, quirky boutiques, and a rich musical history.

Not far away, you will find the Painted Ladies.

These Victorian and Edwardian houses, painted in multiple colors, are an iconic sight. You will get a great view over the Painted Ladies from Alamo Square.

Painted Ladies of Alamo Square
Painted Ladies of Alamo Square

Next, I’d like to recommend 2 other areas to walk around in San Francisco:

  • Mission District: Home of Hispanic culture in San Francisco, it’s the place to taste authentic tacos and burritos. It’s also home to a lot of murals, which depict the district’s history and cultural diversity.
  • Castro District: Known as the gay district, the Castro brims with history. The Castro Theatre, a city landmark, often hosts classic movie screenings or drag queen show.

And if you like modern art, you should visit the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

As the evening approaches, head to Union Square.

It’s the city’s main shopping, dining, and entertainment hub. Whether you’re looking to shop high-end brands, dine at a local bistro, or simply watch the world go by, Union Square is the perfect spot.

Spend a third night in San Francisco.

Mission District Murals
Mission District Murals

Day 18 – Monterey and Carmel by the sea

Today, you will head south from San Francisco to disocver the Pacific Coast.

On the Road from San Francisco to Monterey, you can make a few stops at:

  • Half Moon Bay: This quaint town is known for its sandy beaches and eateries. Perfect for a short break and to have your morning coffee!
  • Pescadero: Here, you can visit the Pigeon Point Lighthouse and perhaps spot some seals lounging around.
  • Santa Cruz: With its iconic boardwalk and lively surf culture, it’s an essential stop for beach enthusiasts.

Upon arrival in Monterey, you can visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Then, take a stroll on Cannery Row. Once the center for sardine-packing factories, it’s now a bustling waterfront street with shops, eateries, and historical buildings. 

You should also pass by the Fisherman’s Wharf. Here, you can indulge in seafood delicacies, shop for souvenirs, or embark on a whale watching tour.

Monterey Bay is famous for being home to many species of whales. Whatever the time of year, you’re guaranteed to see them!

The boat trip is also commented by a biologist who will teach you more about these extraordinary marine mammals.

Book your whale-watching cruise in Monterey by clicking here:

A short drive from Monterey, Carmel by the sea offers a different vibe.

With its pretty cottages and art galleries, it has a charm that’s hard to resist.. Here are some things to do:

  • Carmel Beach: Known for its soft white sands and cypress trees, it’s an idyllic spot for a leisurely walk
  • Downtown Carmel: Meander through the cobblestone streets, visit the boutiques, and enjoy the artistic aura of the town. If you’re an art enthusiast, there are numerous galleries showcasing local talents.
  • Carmel Mission: A historic Spanish mission founded in 1770, it stands as a testament to California’s early history.

Accommodation in Monterey

  • Arbor Inn Monterey: Double room from 110€. Strong points: cleanliness, location, peace and quiet.
  • Casa Munras Garden Hotel & Spa: Double room from €180. Strong points: swimming pool, a warm welcome, comfortable beds.
  • Svendsgaard’s Inn: Double room from €200. Strong points: free parking, close to the sea, quiet.
  • Carmel Bay View Inn: Double room from €240. Strong points: room with sea view, free parking, spacious, close to shops, restaurants and beach.
  • Carmel Beach Hotel: Double room from €440, breakfast included. Strong points: on the seafront, very comfortable bed, very friendly staff.
Carmel by the Sea
Carmel by the Sea

Day 19 – Discover California coast on Highway 1

Let’s continue your 20-21 days itinerary in western USA.

Today, you will experience one of the most scenic routes in the USA: Highway 1.

This stretch, from Carmel to Pismo Beach, offers magnificent ocean views and plenty of stops.

With the Pacific Ocean on one side and the rugged California coastline on the other, Highway 1 is the perfect road for a road trip!

On the road, you shouldn’t miss:

  • Big Sur with the Bixby Creek Bridge, a symbol of the California coast and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, where you can wander among the redwoods and even see a waterfall or two.
  • San Simeon, where you can visit the Hearst Castle and go to Elephant Seal Vista Point to witness the spectacle of elephant seals in their habitat.
  • Cambria, a picturesque coastal town
  • Harmony: this tiny town boasts a rich history of dairy farming. You can visit Harmony Glassworks to see glass blowing in action or Harmony Pottery for beautiful handcrafted goods.
  • Harmony Cellars: A little outside the town, it’s a spot where you can enjoy wine tasting with views of the rolling countryside.
  • Morro Bay and Morro Rock: This imposing volcanic plug is the centerpiece of Morro Bay and offers a perfect backdrop for photos.
  • San Luis Obispo: Often termed as the happiest city in America, you should stroll through its downtown and visit the historic Mission San Luis Obispo.

The town of Pismo Beach is your final destination for the day. It’s known for its large sandy beaches.

Accommodation in Pismo Beach

  • Edgewater Inn and Suites: Double room from €140. Strong points: by the ocean, heated swimming pool, close to shops.
  • The Grove at Pismo Beach: Double room from €150. Strong points: clean, perfect for an overnight stay.
  • Cottage Inn by the Sea: Double room from €260. Strong points: heated outdoor swimming pool, the magnificent view, the waterside location.
  • SeaCrest Oceanfront Hotel: Double room from €320, breakfast included. Strong points: the design of the hotel, facing the beach and ocean, good breakfast, elegant rooms.
  • Inn at the Cove: Double room from €350, breakfast included. Strong points: beautiful, modern and spacious rooms with superb sea views, jacuzzi and heated swimming pool.
Bixby Creek Bridge
Bixby Creek Bridge

Day 20 – Santa Barbara and Malibu

Today, you will continue on Highway 1 towards Los Angeles.

On the way, I suggest you first stop off to visit Solvang Danish Village.

As you stroll around Solvang, you’ll discover windmills and traditional Danish buildings. It’s for sure very different that what you’ve seen in California so far!

After your visit, get back in your car and drive to Santa Barbara.

The main place to visit there is State Street. Lined with shops, restaurants, and galleries, it’s the heart of the city.

You can also visit the Santa Barbara Courthouse whic offers panoramic views of the city from its clock tower and Santa Barbara Mission for a peek into California’s colonial past.

From Santa Barbara, it will take 1h30 by car to reach Malibu.

There are 2 famous beaches in Malibu:

  • Zuma Beach: Known for its wide sandy stretches, Zuma is ideal for sunbathing, surfing, or simply enjoying the ocean views.
  • El Matador Beach: this beach is renowned for its sea caves and rock formations.

Reach Los Angeles for the last night of your 3-week stay in the American West.

Malibu beach
Malibu beach

Day 21 – End of your 3 weeks-itinerary in the American West

And that’s it, you have discovered the best of Western USA in 3 weeks!

Head to Los Angeles airport to catch your return flight.

20 or 22 days West coast itinerary

If you only have 20 days to visit the West coast, you should remove a day in San Francisco or Los Angeles.

On the contrary, if you’ve got 22 days for your West coast road trip, you can add a day in one of the National parks, depending on your preferences.

Tips before setting off on your road trip in the USA

Here are some tips to consider before embarking on a road trip in the USA.

Get your ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization)

If you don’t live in the US, it’s mandatory. You can’t enter the country without it. 

  • What is it? It’s an online application system introduced by the U.S. government to pre-screen travelers from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries.
  • Before You Apply: Ensure your country is a member of the VWP.
  • Duration: It’s typically valid for two years or until the traveler’s passport expires, whichever comes first.

Apply for your ESTA at least 72 hours before your travel.

Use only the official website to avoid scams.

Travel Insurance

  • Why is it Important? Medical care in the U.S. is extremely expensive. Having insurance is the only way to avoid unexpected medical bills and other travel-related mishaps.
  • Coverage: The basic insurances cover medical emergencies, and more expensive ones also cover trip cancellations and lost luggage.

On my side, I always opt for ACS: it’s a great deal and they are very reliable. You can check their price and purchase your travel insurance by clicking here.


I already talked about that at the beginning at this article but here is a quick reminder. To drive in the US, here are the important things to know:

  • International Driving Permit (IDP): If your driver’s license is not in English, or if you’re planning to rent a car, it’s a good idea to get an IDP from your home country.
  • American cars are usually automatic. If you’re not used to it, learn the basic functions and controls before hitting the road.
  • Stay Updated: Download navigation apps like Google Maps or Waze for real-time traffic updates.

Map of your 3 weeks itinerary in USA West Coast

To help you visualize your itinerary a bit better, I’ve created a map of all the best places to visit during your 3 weeks in the USA.

You can display the map legend by clicking the button with a small arrow located in the top left corner.

Don’t hesitate to ask me your question if you need help to plan your 3-week itinerary in the USA!

Book your trip now and save money!

You’re traveling in the US? These articles will help you!

Discover all my articles about USA: All my articles to help you plan your trip to USA are listed there.

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west coast road trip 3 weeks
west coast road trip 3 weeks

Creator of the Voyage Tips blog, travel and photography lover. I give you all my best tips to plan your next trip.

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