If you have ever been to, or wanted to plan a trip to the USA, you will understand just how big the country is. If you only have a limited time to visit, you are best off trying to focus on one section such as the East Coast or the West Coast. In this article we explore some of the must see places along the West Coast including Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Big Bear, and Las Vegas, in order to help you come up with a 2 week USA West Coast itinerary.
- USA West Coast Itinerary 2 weeks
- West Coast USA itinerary- day by day
- Where to begin on your 2 week West Coast Itinerary
- Days 1-3 Seattle
- Days 4-6 San Francisco
- Days 7-9 Los Angeles
- Day 10 Big Bear Lake
- Days 11-14 Las Vegas
- West Coast USA Itinerary Map
USA West Coast Itinerary 2 weeks
The more time you have to spend on the West Coast the better, but for the purposes of this article we have come up with a 2 week itinerary. This gives you a decent amount of time to get a taste for life on the West Coast. We have also included Las Vegas which technically isn’t West Coast but no West Coast travel guide is complete without a quick trip to Vegas to blow off some steam.
West Coast USA itinerary- day by day
Day 1- Seattle
Day 2- Seattle
Day 3- Seattle
Day 4- San Francisco
Day 5- San Francisco
Day 6- San Francisco
Day 7- Los Angeles
Day 8- Los Angeles
Day 9- Los Angeles
Day 10- Big Bear Lake
Day 11- Las Vegas
Day 12-Las Vegas
Day 13- Grand Canyon
Day 14- Las Vegas
Where to begin on your 2 week West Coast Itinerary
Days 1-3 Seattle
We recommend starting your 2 week West Coast trip in Seattle. It is an incredible city surrounded by mountains, water, and forests. For a detailed guide on all the things to do in Seattle check out our post, but in the meantime here is a rundown.
Things to do in Seattle
☞ Space Needle
To get a view of the expansive terrain surrounding the city you should head up the Space Needle. From the observation deck you get 360 degree views of Seattle from 520 ft in the air.
☞ Museum of Pop Culture
Just a short walk from the Space Needle is the Museum of Pop Culture. It is an immersive museum that contains some rare artefacts including lyrics written by Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix, both prominent acts born in Seattle.
One of the quirkier areas of Seattle, Freemont is a fun place to explore with lots of vintage shops and supercool cafes. It is also home to the famous Freemont Troll located under the George Washington Memorial Bridge.
☞ Gum Wall
Only a city as quirky as Seattle can get away with having a wall literally filled with gum as a tourist attraction.
☞ Pike Place Market
This is one of the best markets we have been to. The seafood here is incredible and it is a great place to get all your Seattle souvenirs too.
Why visit Seattle
While Seattle is definitely an underrated city, it is an eclectic city and with so much natural beauty too, it is certainly worth a visit. It is also the place the first Starbucks opened and the birthplace of grunge music.
Getting from the Airport
The cheapest and easiest way to get from the airport in Seattle is by Light Link Rail. It takes approximately 40 minutes to get from the airport to downtown Seattle, and will set you back a little over $3. You could also get a shuttle bus which will cost a bit more but takes you straight to your hotel door.
Where to stay in Seattle
The most convenient place to stay in Seattle is the downtown core and whilst it may be a little more expensive it makes it so much easier to visit all the must see tourist spots. It also means you are close to public transport and close to a lot of the action.
Eating and drinking in Seattle
We highly recommend visiting the original Starbucks located at Pike Place Market. It is interesting to see the first store, particularly as you practically get them on every street corner now.
Days 4-6 San Francisco
The flight time from Seattle to San Francisco is just over 2 hours. There are regular flights everyday with a variety of airlines. For a more comprehensive guide of things to do in San Francisco checkout our post, otherwise read on for a brief guide of things to do.
Things to do in San Francisco
To get those postcard perfect shots of San Francisco then you have to checkout Postcard Row. It is famous for the row of houses referred to as the ‘Painted Ladies’ with the city skyline in the background. You will probably recognise these houses from TV shows.
☞Golden Gate Park
If you want to explore some of California’s natural beauty, then the Golden Gate Park is the perfect place to go. One of the highlights of the park has to be the Japanese Tea Garden which is a great place to sit and reflect if you have the time.
☞ Golden Gate Bridge
One of the must do’s in San Francisco is walking across the Golden Gate Bridge, one of the city’s most iconic structures.
☞ Haight Ashbury
Haight Ashbury is a great place to go if you are a fan of the unusual. There are a number of quirky shops and cafes, and it is an area synonymous with the hippie movement in the 1960’s.
☞ Pier 39
Probably one of the most touristy places in San Francisco has to be Pier 39. But don’t let that put you off. It is a great place to explore, and you get some amazing views of Alcatraz from here. The sea lions are also pretty amazing to see and have been drawing tourists in for years.
☞ Historic Cable Cars
You can’t say you have been to San Francisco if you haven’t hung off the edge of a cable car as it whizzes down one of the city’s incredibly steep hills. There are two lines; one that takes you from near Fisherman’s Wharf to Union Square, and one that goes past Lombard Street.
☞ Lombard Street
One of the steepest and most beautiful streets in San Francisco is Lombard Street. It is mostly tourists who drive down, although you do see the occasional resident too.
One of the most notorious prisons in US history has to be Alcatraz. If you choose to do a tour make sure you book your tickets in advance as if you don’t, there is a high chance you will miss out! You can read our top tips for visiting Alcatraz here.
Getting from the Airport
The easiest and cheapest way to get to downtown San Francisco is via the BART. Although you are limited in the stops you can get off within the city. If you are staying near Union Square then this option is perfect, but if you are staying near Fisherman’s Wharf for example you will need to disembark and change onto another form of public transport. You can also get the airport shuttle which will usually drop you straight off at your hotel.
Where to stay in San Francisco
We stayed pretty close to Union Square which was really handy. It was a short walk to Chinatown and a number of restaurants and bars. It was also close to the BART station as well as the MUNI metro.
Eating and drinking in San Francisco
Our top tip in terms of food has to be Chinatown. You have so much choice and the food is really good including Japanese, Chinese, and Vietnamese food. It is also relatively cheap. If you are a fan of seafood we recommend heading down to Fisherman’s Wharf. They do some pretty good clam chowder bowls and quick bites.
Days 7-9 Los Angeles
There are regular flights between San Francisco and Los Angeles and the total flight time is under an hour. For more information on LA you can read our guide.
Things to do in Los Angeles
☞ Griffith Observatory
For some great views of the Hollywood sign and LA in general, the Griffith Observatory is a must. You can also learn all about the cosmos and look through some powerful telescopes.
You cannot go to LA without visiting Hollywood. Contrary to popular belief it is not swarming with celebrities, instead you will find your typical tourist activities and wax museums. Some must see parts are the walk of fame as well as the handprints at the TLC Chinese theatre.
☞ Beverly Hills
Full of fancy shops, fancy cars, and fancy people, Beverly Hills is where you come to be seen.
☞ Santa Monica
A great place to go shopping or ride some rollercoasters by the sea, Santa Monica is always a fun day out.
☞ Venice Beach
One of the true gems in LA is Venice Beach. It is one of the best places for people watching and is about as far removed from the Hollywood glitz and glamour as possible. If you do get the time we highly recommend visiting.
Getting from the Airport
LA is absolutely huge and so the best way to get to your hotel is via the airport shuttle. It is actually relatively cheap compared to airport shuttles in other cities, and you get dropped off right at your hotel door. You can book the shuttle at the designated booth in the arrivals section of LAX.
Where to stay in Los Angeles
There are so many different parts of LA to explore but one of the best areas to stay has to be Hollywood. There is a lot going on in terms of nightlife and it is much nicer than say Downtown LA. We actually ended up staying in Downtown LA at a nice hotel. The only issue was we didn’t really feel comfortable exploring at night.
Eating and drinking in Los Angeles
Hollywood is a great place to go for a mix of food. Our favourite place though was Mel’s Drive In. It is a great place to go for milkshakes and apple pie, which is pretty much all I wanted since we landed in the US.
Day 10 Big Bear Lake
If you are wanting a break from the hustle and bustle of cities, and want to be at one with nature we recommend a trip to Big Bear Lake. It’s better to rent a car in order to get there, and if you are looking for tips you can checkout this post.
Things to do in Big Bear Lake
Big Bear Lake is great all year round. In the winter it is popular amongst skiers and snowboarders, and in the summer months it is an ideal place for boat trips and hikes.
Getting here from LA
We hired a car in LA and did the drive to Big Bear Lake. It takes around 2-3 hours depending on traffic and the views along the way are absolutely stunning.
Where to stay in Big Bear Lake
We highly recommend booking lakeside accommodation. We stayed in a resort right on the lake where the rooms had a cabin feel. It was perfect especially in the evening as we had a fireplace which made everything feel that much cosier.
Eating and drinking in Big Bear Lake
If you make your way into the village there are a number of places to eat and drink. Our favourite though had to be the Peppercorn Grille. They serve food including staples such as pizzas, burgers, and steak. They also rustle up a pretty decent cocktail.
Days 11-14 Las Vegas
Nothing beats that incredible feeling of driving through the desert into Las Vegas. The drive from Big Bear Lake is about 3-4 hours depending on traffic and whether you stop off anywhere. And as you see Vegas in the distance growing ever larger, the excitement hits you.
Things to do in Las Vegas
☞ Hotel Hopping & Gambling
Let’s face it, the number one thing to do in Vegas is to hotel/casino hop. The hotels are incredible here and walking into each one is like walking into a different world.
☞ Vegas Sign
No trip to Las Vegas is complete without a selfie in front of the Vegas sign. Located at the top of the strip near Mandalay Bay, you will find queues of people lining up to get a picture of the famous sign.
☞ Freemont Street/ Old Las Vegas
Old Las Vegas comes alive around Freemont Street. There are a number of things to do here from the zip line that whizzes you across Freemont Street at speed, to the Neon Sign Museum. Also worth a visit is the Mob Museum which shows you the fascinating history of the mob in Las Vegas.
Grand Canyon Day Trip
There are a number of day trips you can do from Vegas, including the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon. You can book these tours through your hotel concierge and if you have the time they are a nice break away from the craziness that is Las Vegas. If you plan on visiting the Grand Canyon, just be aware that it is a full day trip leaving early morning back late at night (unless you have struck it lucky and can treat yourself to the helicopter tour), but if you do have the time it really is worth it!
Getting from the Airport
The easiest and quickest way to get from the airport to the Vegas Strip is via shuttle bus. You may have to wait a while depending on what time you fly in, but the service is great and you get driven straight to your hotel door.
Where to stay in Las Vegas
Ideally you want to stay on the Vegas Strip as this is where most of the action is. We stayed at Paris, and it was centrally located and in the middle of all the hustle and bustle. Hotels in Vegas range in price and also standard so whatever your budget, there is a lot of choice.
Eating and drinking in Las Vegas
You will be spoilt for choice for food and drink in Vegas, from the elaborate hotel buffets to the restaurants owned by celebrity chefs. There are way too many places to choose from and something to cater for all tastes.
West Coast USA Itinerary Map
Hopefully this West Coast travel guide will help you plan your next trip. If you have any questions or any must sees that you think people should visit please feel free to leave a comment below.