USA ROAD TRIP: Route 66, from Chicago to Santa Monica and the Californian dream, from San Diego to San Francisco, via the great National Parks!

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Hey Guys! Are you ready for the most adventurous summer of your life 😎? Along the “Mother Road", passing through breathtaking landscapes, monuments of every shape and color (even the most kitschy ones!), ghost towns, motels lost in the distant past, National Parks, and more, we will discover the true American 🇺🇸 soul! Not content with Route 66, we will embark on another of the world's most fantastic road trips, the Californian one! From the sun-drenched streets of San Diego to the centuries-old Sequoias, from the majestic Half Dome 🏞️, to the world-famous Golden Gate, from the hippest neighborhoods of Hollywood, to the wild Big Sur, we'll get lost in the eternal and brilliant “California Dream”. But first… it’s-a a me, Giulia! I'm the typical Italian girl, raised on Margherita Pizza 🍕 and weird hand gestures! I love meeting new people and getting to know new cultures. Whether you are looking for a new friend, a new mum, or a new mascotte, I can be the one for you 😬! During the first two weeks of our trip, we will cover almost 4,000 km from Chicago to Santa Monica 📍, passing through famous locations, such as the glittering Las Vegas or the imposing Grand Canyon, but also through realities almost unknown to the general public, but for this reason more authentic and evocative, such as Oatman and the Cadillac Ranch! In the last 7/8 days of our expedition, however, we will explore California far and wide, filling our days between San Diego, Yosemite, and Palm Springs, San Francisco, and Carmel-by-the-Sea (and many more!). Where are we staying? 🏡 Being a Road Trip, we are going to change our “home” almost every night! The accommodations will mostly be hostels and motels. Rooms will be shared, counting 3 female mates and 2 male mates (due to the double beds accommodations). That’s why the perfect Mate for this Trip wouldn’t mind share the space, make use of shared bathrooms with others, and loves being surrounded by people 😉 I have already booked all the accommodations, in such a way as to guarantee us the spots we need in August (usually one of the busiest months, especially in the western area). Respectively: —> 1°/2° NIGHTS: Hostel - 2x single Bed in 10-Bed Dormitory + 3x single Bed in 4-Bed Dormitory (Shared Bathrooms) —> 3° NIGHT: Motel/Inn - 2x Room with 2 Double Beds - Non-Smoking (the girls will share a double bed in shifts so that one night on and one night off, they will have a private bed) —> 4° NIGHT: Hotel - 2x Room with 1 Double Bed and 1 Sofa Bed - Non-Smoking —> 5° NIGHT: Motel - 2x Room with 2 Queen-Size Beds - Smoking —> 6° NIGHT: Motel/Inn - 2x Deluxe Queen Room with 2 Queen-Size Beds —> 7° NIGHT: Wander Camp Grand Canyon - 1x Twin Tent with Shared Bathroom + 1x Family Tent with 1 Single Bed and 1 Double Bed (Shared Bathrooms) —> 8°/9° NIGHTS: Hotel - 2x Standard Room with 2 Double Beds —> 10° NIGHT: Motel - 1x King Room with 1 Queen-Size Bed (shared by 2 ladies) + 1xRoom with 2 Queen-Size Beds —> 11°/12° NIGHTS: Apartment - 2 double beds and 2 sofa beds —>13°/14° NIGHTS: Hostel - 3x single bed Female Economy Dormitory + 2x single bed Male Economy Dormitory (Shared Bathrooms) —>15° NIGHT: Apartment - 2 double beds, 2 sofa beds, 1 inflatable mattress —>16°/17° NIGHTS: Curry Village Yosemite - 1x Family Tent with 3 single beds and 1 double bed (Shared Bathrooms + men and women will sleep in the same room) —>18° NIGHT: Motel 2x Room with 2 Double Beds —> 19°-21° NIGHTS: Luxury Hostel - 5x Economy Class Pod in 6 Bed Mixed Dorm (Shared Bathrooms + men and women will sleep in the same room) What about transportation? 🚕 As for transportation, we are going to rent 1 big car (probably an SUV) 🚙, and pick it up directly at the arrival Airport (Chicago O'Hare Airport). I’ll be one out of the two drivers, so I’m only looking for another mate to join me as the Group’s chauffeur! The trip costs include 💰: - All the accommodations - Car rental - 6 Breakfasts - America the Beauty card (Valid for access to all National Parks, cumulative for the 4+1 of us. Each Annual Pass admits the pass owner and passengers in a non-commercial vehicle at per-vehicle fee areas; and pass owner + 3 adults, not to exceed 4 adults, ONLY where per-person fees are charged. Where they are charged, we'll dived equally the expense for the last person remained.) - Travel Insurance (unluckily, for now, provided only for travellers from Germany and Austria) What is not included 💸: - Flights - Food - ESTA - Fuel/Tool booths/Parkings - Other activities not mentioned in “The trip costs include” (ex: attractions/monuments in the big cities) - Antelope Canyon Tour (Optional, you can consider around 60 euros) - Alcatraz Tour (Optional, you can consider 50 euros) - Public Transportation in the big cities (and parking when not provided by the accommodation) - Travel Insurance (except travellers from Germany and Austria) ❕IMPORTANT GUIDELINES: —>It will be important for this specific trip to be lightly equipped, as we will be sharing one car (albeit large) with the 5 of us 🤓! I suggest a big hiking backpack for all the load and a really small bag 🎒 for daily explorations. As a matter of fact, while in the big cities/hostels, where available, we will use washing machines for our laundry. —> This trip (especially the first 10 days) will be all about traveling by car 🚙... so it will be important to take into account the hours spent on four wheels, which at times could reach 8 per day (with an average of 4/5)! So, if you don't like traveling by car or you rarely spend time in it, perhaps this is not the best possible choice... I can assure you, however, that there will be so many stops and things to do and such absurd views that you will be thankful you chose the car as your transport for your trip to America 🤩! —> Spending many hours in the car, it will be necessary to start our days early (sometimes even waking up at 6 a.m. ⏰)! Full (and not always relaxing) schedules must therefore be taken into account (sometimes we will have to have breakfast while driving as well!). On the contrary, this trip does not often involve nightlife. With a few exceptions (such as the first night in Las Vegas or the last one in San Francisco), we will frequently have to go to bed rather early to arrive charged up for the next day's morning wake-up call! —> Always bring with you some cash 💶, you never know! —> Dress in layers 🧥: despite the month, there are some destinations on our trip that might turn out to be a bit tricky, especially San Francisco, the National Parks, and Chicago. So you will need to bring at least 1/2 heavy sweater and fleece, rain jacket, and slacks, even better if you have a windbreaker jacket (No worries, before the actual trip I’ll send you guys a list with all you will need to bring with you!). —> For the first day, we will all meet in the afternoon at the airport for car pickup. For those arriving in the morning, you are absolutely free to move to the city center and begin your solo explorations, before the meeting hour (PLEASE NOTE: in this case, you will have to make your own arrangements for moving from the airport to the city center and you will not be able to check in at the hostel before I arrive). —> At the moment, for most European countries, you do not need a visa to enter the USA, only a Passport 🛂, and to fill in and pay the ESTA certificate! Remember, however, to check online the guidelines for your Home Country! For detailed trip stops, take a look at bottom of the page in the "Trip Itinerary" section! For any other questions or curiosity don’t mind sending me a message here on JoinMyTrip 🤗 Can’t wait to meet you soon, Giulia *The apartments and all the activities planned may be subject to variation based on both the weather and the number of TripMates. Every change to the original plan will be notified in advance
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CIAO, IT'S-A ME, GIULIA! But you can call me Juli 😙 I'm always bouncing around looking for new adventures, hope to meet you in one of them!

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Trip Itinerary


Day 1-3
Estimated driving hours: <1 Our first stop on this long journey! On the first day, we will meet directly at the airport ✈️ on the afternoon/evening of the 10th (the time will be announced in detail in advance)! As mentioned in the description, it will absolutely be possible to arrive early for solo explorations (in which case we will meet directly in front of the hostel at an agreed time). During our first few hours together, depending on the arrival time, we'll hang out around our centrally located hostel, visiting the adjacent Linkcoln Park and North Avenue Beach! We can then choose to spend the evening at the famous J. Parker Rooftop to toast to our trip 🍹, or pop in for a quick drink at the quirky Bourgeois Pig Cafe! Our second day in Chicago will be all about exploring its most famous gems. We will visit, in fact, among countless options: - Millenium Park, with its unmistakable “The Bean” - Magnificent Mile, famous for its glamour, the illustrious John Hancock Building, but also for the Chicago Water Tower - The Lake Front, with its distinctive Navy Pier On the second evening, we will return "home" fairly early for a good night's sleep... the next morning we will set off at dawn, venturing out, at last, on the legendary Route 66!

St. Louis

Day 3-4
Estimated driving hours: 5/6 Start Point: Chicago End Point: St. Louis Our first day on 4 wheels will take us to discover Illinois (one of the 8 states featured in our Road Trip)! After a very quick first pit stop, and a few shots, at the Route 66 start sign, we will set off into the unknown (or almost)! Among the various stops of the day: -The first Muffler Man of our trip (large moulded fiberglass sculptures that are placed as advertising icons): GEMINI GIANT (Photo Spot) -Atlanta, Illinois (Photo Spot) -The Old Station ⛽, Williamsville -Springfield, Illinois: Lincoln's hometown from 1837 until 1861, when he was elected to the White House as the 16th President -Brick Road (Photo Spot) -Staunton: Henry’s Rabbit Ranch Towards evening we will leave Illinois for the second state of our journey: Missouri.


Day 4-5
Estimated driving hours: 7 Start Point: St. Louis End Point: Tulsa This will be the first of the three days with the most hours spent in the car. Up very early, before leaving St. Louis, we will visit the city's landmark, the Gateway Arch! After this brief stop, we set off again through the semi-deserted streets of Central America, heading for... Cuba! Although we are not talking about the star of the Caribbean, this small town stands out for its famous murals! Next, another of Route 66's many oddities awaits us: the world's largest rocking chair! Heading towards Rolla, we then encounter the Devils Elbow Bridge 💀, so called because it crosses the Big Piney River at an elbow bend. The somewhat ghostly area also boasts an abandoned diner. After another famous pit stop, the Gay Parita Service Station (photo spot), we will enter Kansas! Our stay in this state will, however, be very short! In fact, the miles of Mother Road on this stretch of road are so few that only two stops will appear on our schedule: - Cars on the Route, old service station that gave birth to Mater! - OK-KS-MO Tri-State Marker, where the three states of Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma all meet! It will then be time to venture into Okhlaoma! Where we will spend the night in Tulsa.


Day 5-6
Estimated driving hours: 7.30/8.00 Start Point: Tulsa 
End Point: Tucumcari This will be, by far, the longest day on the road of all three weeks, but no less special for that! As our first stop, we will drive back a few kilometres to visit another of Route 66's most extravagant attractions: The Blue Whale of Catoosa 🐋. After a good dose of photos, and having explored the belly of the whale, we will head straight back to Okhlaoma City. In the capital city, we'll stop just long enough for a couple of shots at another Mother Road kitsch heritage gem, the Milk Bottle Building 🍼, but we'll continue in a hurry to El Reno and Hydro, a stretch of road that will give us breathtaking views, past cornfields and barns along a narrow, bumpy, and absolutely unmissable route. Halfway there, we'll visit the Cherokee Trading Post, a shop selling souvenirs and local Native crafts. Continuing our journey, amidst other oddities and surprises (not always planned on our famous schedule), we will enter Texas!
The first stop will be the Tower Station & motel U-Drop Inn Cafe, another gem for Cars fans, followed by Groom and Conway with their Leaning Tower of Texas, a no-longer-functioning inclined aqueduct, and the Giant Cross ✝️ (Photo Spots). Later in the afternoon we arrive at one of the most famous points of interest on 66: the Cadillac Ranch. This magical place, just outside the quaint town of Amarillo, is distinguished by a row of 10 Cadillacs, planted nose down in the ground. Visitors are invited to leave a mark of their passage by writing on the cars with spray cans (we will find used ones already on site or buy a couple in the nearby supermarket!). Finally, in the evening, we will leave Texas for New Mexico and stay overnight in the city of neon: Tucumcari.

Petrified Forest National Park

Day 6-7
Estimated driving hours: 6 Start Point: Tucumcari End Point: Holbrook We'll start the morning with a cool-down in Santa Rosa. The town is famous for its many lakes, which is quite unusual in a desert area like New Mexico. The most famous of all is the Blue Hole 🔵, where we will dive (and wake up 🤣) before setting off again on our long journey. From here we head to Albuquerque, where we'll visit the Old Town, a city within a city. In Adobe style, it is a delightful square full of Mexican restaurants and craft shops. A quick stop in Gallup, the heart of the Indian community, and we will venture, at last, into the first national park of our American trip (crossing the Arizona border line): the Petrified National Forest. Although we will only have a few hours to explore, it will be possible to drive across the entire park, and we will take advantage of this for a couple of not too strenuous hikes, one of the most recommended to admire the fossilised logs and logs that give this place its name. In the evening we will arrive in Holbrook, for an overnight stay.

Grand Canyon

Day 7-8
Estimated driving hours: 4 Start Point: Holbrook End Point: Grand Canyon Our day will begin like any other: the exploration of the Mother Road continues! The first stop will see us in Joseph City, where we will find one of the famous and curious roadside attractions: the Jack Rabbit Trading Post, with its giant rabbit 🐰. We will then move on to Flagstaff, a town at 2000 metres above sea level, characterised by a colder climate and coniferous forests all around. We visit its pleasant old town, wandering around Heritage Square with its restored 19th century buildings. It will be at this point, therefore, that we will depart from Route 66 for the first time (and not return to it for a couple of days). Indeed, waiting for us are the gates of the Grand Canyon 🏜️ (which we will visit the following day). Fantastic accommodation in the wilderness, in luxury tents, will await us for an unforgettable night under a starlit sky.

Antelope Canyon

Day 8
Estimated driving hours: 6.30 Start Point: Grand Canyon End Point: Las Vegas Up at dawn (literally, this time), we will head straight to the South Rim, the southern slope, where we will drive the Desert View Drive: a scenic road of about 40 kilometres that connects the Grand Canyon Village area to the Desert View Watchtower. As we drive along it, we encounter six scenic rest stops, four picnic areas and the archaeological site of the Tusayan Ruin and Museum. In the early afternoon, we will move on to another must-see stop in Arizona: Antelope Canyon. Where, having booked a special tour (which we will decide together whether to include in the total amount or pay for as an extra), we will explore Canyon ❎, the newest and quietest slot canyon. Afterwards, we will leave the wilderness for a scenery at the antipodes: we will head to Sin City, Nevada! Our first night in Las Vegas is waiting for us :).

Las Vegas

Day 8-10
Estimated driving hours: 0 To fully experience the atmosphere of this crazy city, our hotel will be located right on the world-famous Las Vegas Strip 🌆 - the central artery of Sin City and the main line to a majority of the city's best sights, gambling, food and fun - within walking distance of the famous Cesar Palace and Bellagio. Among the day's stops (which will remain flexible, however, unlike the majority of the rest of the trip), we may visit: -Omega Mart (an experience in an immersive storytelling and an example of an Alternate Reality Game. The overarching plot and lore of the Omega Mart Universe is still being solved using various clues) -The famous Adventuredome Indoor Theme Park 🎢 -Bellagio botanical Garden -Freemont Street -Neon Boneyard (an open-air museum of kitsch neon signs) On the second night in Las Vegas, we return to our old habits, and after a quiet evening, we will get ready to start our Road Trip again.

Mojave Desert

Day 10-11
Estimated driving hours: 6/7 Start Point: Las Vegas End Point: San Bernardino After a couple of hours on the road, we reach Oatman, back on route 66 and back in Arizona! Oatman, a ghost town whose characteristic feature are the donkeys, which graze freely along the only road, asking visitors for food. We will then spend the next few hours through the Mojave Desert, finally in California, and its satellite towns, such as Needles and Amboy. We will then reach Newberry Springs and Barstow, where we will detour slightly to Calico Ghost Town 👻, a gold rush-era town in full western style (you should have guessed the recurring theme of the day by now 😜!). The last stop of the day will be Elmer Long's Bottle Tree Ranch, which he started in 2000. It is a 'forest' made of multi-coloured glass bottles, topped with all kinds of objects (Elemer sometimes accepts small gifts from travellers that he adds to his crazy work). In the evening we will arrive at a motel in San Bernardino.

Palm Springs

Day 11
Estimated driving hours: 4/5 Start Point: San Bernardino End Point: San Diego Our first stop, will be right exactly in San Bernardino, for a few shots at the world's first MC Donald’s 🍟🍔 (now a museum). We will then leave Route 66 again for another two-day deviation. The main destination of the day will be sunny Palm Springs 🌴🌴🌴. Among the different stops: -House of Tomorrow (Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway) -VW Spider Sculpture -Coachella Valley Preserve (Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve) -Palm Springs Windmill Tours (self driving tour, you can consider 18$) -Desert Christ Park -Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Art Museum Depending on the available time and the weather (the place is not really the best destination with the extremely strong heat of August) we may take a fast stop at the Joshua Tree National Park. But remember, this specific activity is not guaranteed. In the late afternoon we will leave for our new home for two days: San Diego! Our accommodation will be very close to Little Italy, which we will immediately explore in search of a typical little Italian restaurant to end the day in the best possible way.

San Diego

Day 11-13
Estimated driving hours: 0 If we had lost ourselves in the wonders of the Italian quarter the night before, we will instead begin our day in the Mexican 🇲🇽 neighbourhoods of the Old Town, among typical shops, local restaurants and even the most impressive tobacco shop ever: the Racine and Laramie Tobacconist. In the early afternoon we will move on to San Diego's landmark, the Balboa Botanical Park! We will walk the length and breadth of it, in search of all its points of interest, such as the House of Hospitality, Casa del Balboa and Casa del Prado. We then head to Chicano Park, home to the largest concentration of Chicano murals in the world, with over 100 paintings. Towards early evening, we will visit the island of Coronado, home to the iconic Hotel Del Coronado, which is THE place to visit! We will linger in this magical place until sunset, which we will enjoy over a chic aperitif or sitting on one of the island's fantastic beaches!

Santa Monica

Day 13-15
Estimated driving hours: 2 Start Point: San Diego End Point: Santa Monica Before leaving San Diego, we head for the world-famous La Jolla Cove, a bay with a waterfront framed by cliffs, where a long white beach flanks a rocky stretch of coastline, interspersed with small coves of flat rocks on which seals and sea lions rest. Back on the road, we will reach Santa Monica, where we will finally conclude our journey on Road 66, reaching 'The End of Trail' on the world-famous Santa Monica Pier. After a few shots to crown our feat, we'll soak up the unique atmosphere of the famous Pacific Park 🎡 on the Santa Monica Pier, the city's iconic amusement park. Our hostel will welcome us a few metres away from the pier and will be our home for two nights.

Los Angeles

Day 15
Estimated driving hours: 0 Our first morning in Santa Monica will begin with an hour of public transport to Los Angeles! During the morning, we will visit the city's most famous points of interest, such as: -The last Bookstore 📚, famous for its creative displays and book sculpture -El Pueblo, historic district located in the oldest part of Los Angeles -Walk of Fame ⭐, with its stars and the famous Chinese Theatre In the afternoon, we will return, instead, to the coast, and visit the eclectic Venice Beach!

Sequoia National Park

Day 15-16
Estimated driving hours: 4/5 Start Point: Santa Monica End Point: Woodlake Today we will start with our dawn wake-up calls again (you missed them, huh? 😂). Taking advantage of the morning time to avoid the congested traffic in Los Angeles, we will head for one last pit stop in Los Angeles: the Griffith Observatory, which will give us a magnificent view of the city and the famous “Hollywood" 🎥 sign. To reach our destination, we will also make sure to pass through Beverly Hills, to capture some of the luxury of the neighbourhood and admire its mansions, even if only quickly on 4 wheels (nothing will prevent us from taking advantage of the early hour for a quick stop and a few shots). We will then leave the chaos of the city behind and set off towards the boundless American spaces. Our destination for the day will be Sequoia National Park, where we will reach the park's most iconic path, the “Sherman Tree Trail”, which will take us to the roots of its protagonist (after whom it is named): General Sherman, the world's largest tree 🌳, measured by volume. 
We will also be able to admire other trees of note, such as the “Twin Sequoias”! Depending on the time we have available, we will also try to venture into another area of the park, to some points of interest such as Tharp's Log and the Tunnel Log. Towards evening, we will say goodbye to the park, and head for the small village of Woodlake, where our cottage will be waiting for us for the night

Yosemite National Park

Day 16-18
Estimated driving hours: 3.30 Start Point: Woodlake End Point: Yosemite National Park After a restorative night, we leave for another Californian wonder: Yosemite! Here we will spend two nights as never before: in fact, we will stay overnight directly inside the park, in one of the facilities arranged: the Curry Village. During our two and a half days we will explore the park to the fullest, venturing out on the most beautiful trails 🚶🏼‍♀️🚶🏻🚶🏼‍♀️ (we will decide together whether to tackle only those classified as “easy” or venture out on some “intermediate" ones as well).
We will discover the wonders of this place, such as Half Dome, El Capitan, and Yosemite Falls.


Day 18-19
Estimated driving hours: 4/5 Start Point: Yosemite National Park End Point: Cayucos After our second wake-up call in the park, we will enjoy one last trail (indicatively, we will choose one lasting a couple of hours at most) and leave, albeit with melancholy, this magical place. Back on the road, we set off towards the coast to reach probably the least known destination of our entire trip, the town of Cayucos. Although not particularly noteworthy, this stop will allow us to enjoy some relaxation by the sea 🏖️ and will prove to be the best starting point for our stops the following day.

Big Sur

Day 19
Estimated driving hours: 5 Start Point: Cayucos End Point: San Francisco The last day on the road will see us take a trip along the California coastline, with breathtaking views. In fact, we will reach (and cross) the fantastic Big Sur, defined as the longest and most scenic stretch of undeveloped coastline in the United States! We will then reach Carmel-by-the-Sea, a place that can almost be described as a fairy tale 🧝🏼‍♂️✨. Here we will lose ourselves in the narrow streets of the Hugh Comstock Historical Hill District, and pick up a map at the Visitor Centre along Ocean Avenue, which shows the district's most enchanted buildings. Having concluded our explorations, we will head for the last leg of our trip: San Francisco!

San Francisco

Day 19-22
Estimated driving hours: <1 Our last three nights will be spent in the Golden City, browsing the major attractions that "Frisco" offers its public. On the first day we will visit the following areas: -Union Square -Chinatown -Embarcadero, with its Ferry Building -Coit Tower -Pier 39, with its sea lions blissfully relaxing -Fisherman’s Wharf -Powell/mason cable car turnaround 🚋 The second day will see us exploring the world-famous and lugubrious Alcatraz (tour will be booked subject to availability, the price will be around 60 euros, for the ones who'd like to partecipate) during the morning.
 In the afternoon, however, a pit stop at the quintessential symbol of San Francisco: the Golden Gate 🌉! We will walk its length until we reach Marin County. Back on the south slope, depending on the time left, we will stop at Alamo Square with its "Painted Ladies"! We end the evening in celebration and farewells, our adventure comes to an end!

San Francisco International Airport

Day 22
I personally will drive to the airport around 11 AM (the exact time will always be communicated in advance) to catch my flight, and return the car. For those who wish, of course, it will be possible to reach the Arrivals, all together by car (distance calculable as 20/30 minutes). Otherwise, you will be free to stay and further explore this fantastic city! Always bearing in mind, that you will, in this case, have to organise your own transport back to the airport.
Trip Summary
Hotel & Camping & Apartments & Hostel
22 days trip
Chicago, St. Louis & 17 more
Questions and Answers

hi Giulia!! what do you think about the trip starting from LA, then Phoenix-Page-Moab--Salt lake cit... Read More

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