Flight: Orange County, SNA –> Salt Lake City; Denver, DEN –> Orange County, SNA
Duration: 10 days
Mileage: ~3200
Starting point: Salt Lake City, UT
States: UT, ID, WY, MT, ND, SD, NE, KS, CO
Budget for 2 people: $1953 ($22.5* flight,  $500 car rental, $700 hotels, $300 gas, $330 food, $100 other)
Map

  • Day 0: flight from Orange County, SNA to Salt Lake City, SLC; night walk in the downtown
  • Day 1: explore Salt Lake City, UT; drive to Jackson, WY via Idaho Falls, ID (300 mi, 5 h)
  • Day 2: explore Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park; stay in Jackson, WY
  • Day 3: continue exploring Yellowstone; drive to Hungry Horse, MT (550 mi, 10 h)

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Duration: 2 days
Mileage: 300
Starting point: Irvine, CA
States: CA
Budget for 2 people: $130 ($20 camp, $40 gas, $50 food, $20 other)

  • Day 1: drive to Joshua Tree National Park, CA; explore the park
  • Day 2: explore Noah Purifoy Outdoor Art Museum, CA; drive back home

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Duration: 2 days 
Mileage: 0
Starting point: Irvine, CA
States: CA
Budget for 2 people: $360 ($100 camp, $140 boat tickets, $60 food, $40 Uber, $20 other)

  • Day 1: take a boat from Newport Beach, CA to Avalon, CA; explore the island
  • Day 2: explore Catalina island, CA; take a boat back to Newport Beach, CA

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Duration: 1 day 
Mileage: ~430
Starting point: Irvine, CA
States: CA
Budget for 2 people: $70 ($40 gas, $30 food)

  •  Day 1: drive from Irvine, CA to Kelso Dunes, CA (215 mi, 4 h) and back

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Mileage: ~1600
Starting point: Irvine, CA
States: AZ, NM
Budget for 6 people: $834 ($184 hotel, $250 gas, $350 food, $50 other)

  • Day 0: drive from Irvine, CA to Phoenix, AZ (360 mi, 6 h)
  • Day 1: drive from Phoenix, AZ to Albuquerque, NM (430 mi, 7 h)
  • Day 2: explore Albuquerque, NM; drive to Sedona, AZ (360 mi, 6 h)
  • Day 3: explore Sedona, AZ; drive home to Irvine, CA (470 mi, 7.5 h)

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Flight: Orange County, SNA –> New York, EWR –> Orange County, SNA
Duration: 14 days
Mileage: 0, used buses and public transportation
Starting point: Irvine, CA
States: NY, NJ, PA, MA, Washington DC
Budget for 2 people: $3000 ($1316 flight, $176 buses; $275 hotel, $1000 food, $230 other)

  • Days 0-4, 7, 11-14: New York
  • Days 5-6: Boston
  • Days 8-9: Philadelphia
  • Day 10: Washington DC

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Mileage: ~800
Starting point: Irvine, CA
States: CA
Budget for 6 people: $2100 ($1300 chalet rental, $250 gas, $400 food, $150 other)

  • Day 0: drive from Irvine, CA to Yosemite, CA (350 mi, 7 h)
  • Day 1: explore Yosemite Valley, Lower Yosemite Fall, Mirror Lake
  • Day 2: do all day Panorama Trail hike
  • Day 3: visit Mariposa grove with giant sequoia trees; drive home (350 mi, 7 h)

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Mileage: ~1000
Starting point: Irvine, CA
States: CA
Budget for 2 people: $440 ($160 hotel, $130 gas, $100 food, $50 other)

  • Day 0: drive from Irvine, CA to Lone Pine, CA (250 mi, 4 h)
  • Day 1: Stovepipe Wells Area: Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes (80 mi, 1.5 h); Scotty’s Castle Area: Scotty’s Castle (40 mi, 1 h),  Ubehebe Crater (9 mi, 25 min); back to Lone Pine, CA (130 mi, 2.5 h)
  • Day 2: Furnace Creek Area: Salt Flats (115 mi, 2.2 h), Artist’s Drive (10 mi, 30 min), Zabriskie Point (12 mi, 20 min), Dante’s View  (20 mi, 40 min); drive back to Irvine, CA (290 mi, 5 h)

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Flight: Orange County, SNA –> Seattle, SEA –> Orange County, SNA
Mileage: ~500
Starting point: Irvine, CA
States: WA
Budget for 2 people: $1530 ($613 flight, $57 car; $330 hotel, $80 gas, $250 food, $200 other)

  • Day 0: late flight from the Orange County, SNA to Seattle, SEA; sleep close to the airport to pick up a rental car next morning
  • Day 1: drive to Olympic National Park, WA; see Port Angeles, Clallam Bay (200 mi, 5 h); stay at Port Angeles
  • Day 2: continue exploring Olympic National Park, WA; see La Push, Hoh Rainforest and get lost taking a wrong road (400 mi, 8 h)
  • Day 3: explore Seattle; see Space Needle, Science Center, Chihuly Garden and Glass, Pike Place Market
  • Day 4: see Waterfront Park, Olympic Sculpture Park, downtown, Gum Wall; take a ferry to Bainbridge Island (35 min)
  • Day 5: walk to and take pictures from Kerry Park; fly back home

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Flight: Orange County, SNA –> Houston, IAH –> Orange County, SNA
Duration:15.5 days
Mileage: ~4200
Starting point: Houston, TX
States: TX, LA, MS, AL, GA, FL, SC, NC, TN, MO, AR, OK
Budget for 2 people: $2775 ($590 flight,  $415 car rental, $800 hotel + free points nights, $350 gas, $520 food, $100 other)

Map>

  • Day 0: flight from the Orange County, SNA to Houston, IAH; night walk in the downtown
  • Day 1: explore Houston, TX; drive to New Orleans, LA (350 mi, 6 h); explore night life in New Orleans
  • Day 2: explore New Orleans, LA; drive to Biloxi, MS (90 mi, 2 h); drive to Mobile, AL (65 mi, 1 h); drive to Pensacola Beach, FL (70 mi, 1.2 h)
  • Day 3: drive to Panama City, FL (90 mi, 2 h); drive to Crystal River, FL (270 mi, 5 h)

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Duration: 4.5 days
Mileage: ~1600
Starting point: Irvine, CA
States: CA, NV, AZ, UT
Budget for 2 people: $800 ($250 hotel, $200 gas, $250 food, $100 other)

Map 

  • Day 0: drive from Irvine, CA to St. George, UT (400 mi, 7 h)
  • Day 1: visit Antelope Canyon, AZ (160 mi, 3 h); Horseshoe Bend, AZ (10 mi, 20 min); then drive to Monument Valley, UT (130 mi, 2.5 h)
  • Day 2: sunrise at Monument Valley, UT; Natural Bridges National Monument, UT (70 mi, 2 h, 3 mi gravel one lane steep road); sunset at Arches National Park, Moab, UT (120 mi, 2.5 h)
  • Day 3: Arches National Park; drive to Cedar City (300 mi, 5 h)
  • Day 4: drive back home (450 mi, 7 h if no traffic from Las Vegas)

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Flight: Orange County, SNA - Portland - Orange County, SNA
Mileage: ~1000
Starting point: Irvine, CA
States: OR
Budget for 2 people: $850 ($20 flight - we used our points, $240 hotel, $70 car rental for 2 days, $150 gas, $320 food, $50 other)

  • Day 1: flight to Portland, explore downtown
  • Day 2: drive to Crater Lake National Park (600 mi, 11 h round trip), visit Bend on the way
  • Day 3: Multnomah Falls (30 mi, 40 min); Oneonta Gorge (2 mi, 10 min); Cannon Beach (120 mi, 2.5 h one way)
  • Day 4: Portland, flight back home

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