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  1. Default Family roadtrip Miami-San Francisco one way

    Hi all,

    We are a Danish family (but living in Nicaragua) planning a roadtrip this summer from Miami to San Francisco. Time schedule is about 3 weeks, and budget around 7-10.000 dollars
    Plan is to rent an RV, and price so far is 76$ a day.
    It will be a one way trip.

    Children age is 14, 12 and 6 years old.

    Our plan is to see:
    Miami - nothing really, maybe the Everglades - we have enough beaches and sun down here :-)
    Orlando - Disneyworld, Universal Studios (3-4 days - we have seen the small Disney in Paris, so it is just to let the kids see how HUGE it is compared to France)
    Memphis - Graceland
    New Orleans -
    Houston - Kennedy Space Center

    and then (don't know if the order is right)
    Santa Fe - Indian resorts
    Las Vegas
    Gran Canyon
    Death Valley
    Solvang (the Danish town)
    Hearst Castle
    San Francisco - Golden Gate, Fishermans Wharf and Seaworld (or is it better in Orlando?)

    Any comments on budget, time schedule or things we have to see ?
    Especially in the southern states ideas would be highly appriciated.
    We are into nature and history.

    I did a similar trip (SF-NY through the southstates and Orlando) when I was 13 with my parents, and remember it as THE all time favorite vacation, so now I want to share this with my own family :-) But since I was only 13, I didn't noticed the planning and what else to see.

    Our first plan this summer was just a roadtrip in Florida, but then we thought we had time to see some more, but I'm not sure of the budget.
    Is it correct the average campingfee is around 10-50 $? (RV 25ft)
    And we have to fly from San Francisco to either Atlanta, Houston, Miami og Ft. Lauderdale to get back to Nicaragua. Any cheap domestic airlines from SF to the above mentioned cities you know of?

    Please share your comments and thoughts :-)

    BR from the Danes,
    *where the streets have no names*
    Edit: just adding, that we HAVE been searching the forum, and seen some GREAT info, but please share your thoughts anyway :-)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default a couple corrections

    Welcome to the RTA forum!

    Your basic outline is good, and your cost estimates seem to be in the ballpark, however there are a couple things you should know.

    First, your 3 weeks is going to fly by faster than you think. It will be enough time, but you're looking at at least a full week just to drive the route you are talking about, so a couple days here and a couple days there will start to add up quickly.

    A couple things with the specifics.
    First, the Kennedy Space Center is along Florida's east coast (near Daytona) and that's where they actually launch the shuttle. The Johnson Space Center is in Houston. I'm sure either one could be a fun stop for your family. I haven't been to Houston myself, but I could see this as being a nice place to break up the trip.

    Seaworld also isn't located in San Francisco, the one in California is located in San Diego and so it wouldn't be on your current route. Personally, I wasn't too impressed with Seaworld when I went to the Orlando location last year. What I would recommend instead is to stop at the Monterey Aquarium as you are traveling up the California Coast. You won't get the dancing animal shows that you get with SeaWorld, but you'll get a more authentic experience seeing marine life.

    For flights, I'd probably see if you get get a good price on a flight from SFO that's with the same airline that you'll be connecting to central america. If for some reason you'd have a problem or delay getting to your connection and your flight is on the same ticket, then the airline is responsible for make sure you get to your destination. If you take 2 airlines, you wouldn't have much help if you miss your second flight because of a problem with the first. At the very least, you'd want to give yourself a full day between connections just in case.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Some Details


    Congratulations on your efforts to make great memories for your children! Your general route and budget both for time and money look reasonable, so let me just offer a few general observations and some specific suggestions for stops that might serve your purposes. First, although your children are a bit older than the ones I travel with, I find that it is a great help to let them get out of the car every few hours for something other than a simple roadside bathroom break, so look over these lists of parks and natural sites just off the main interstate highways. Also, as a general rule, I find state parks to offer some of the best and most affordable camping sites, so check out each state's State Park website and see if you can get a list of them to have handy.

    Now some specifics. Rather than plan on seeing the Manned Space Center in Houston, plan on seeing the Kennedy Space Center just east of Orlando on the coast. The center in Houston was never that impressive a place to visit, and it is now mostly closed to the public with a commercial museum next door to take up the slack. There are several places I'd recommend between Florida and Memphis since the South has a lot of both historic and natural opportunities. The first would be the Okefenokee Swamp in southeastern Georgia as it's more on your way than the Everglades, then two historic sites in southwestern Georgia which might be of general interest: FDR's Little White House and Andersonville a notorious civil War prison camp. Since you'll also be passing through or near Tupelo, MS and say you're going to Graceland, be sure to stop at Elvis' birthplace as well. On your way south from Memphis to New Orleans, plan on taking US-61, at least for a bit, with stops at both Vicksburg and Natchez.

    Then, if the only reason you were going through Houston was for the Space Center, I'd recommend that you instead head up through Shreveport and Dallas and then take US-287 up to Amarillo to join I-40 west to the Santa Fe/Albuquerque area. I just think that you'll find that a more enjoyable (and slightly shorter) drive than following I-10 through west Texas. In Dallas, you might want to check out the Sixth floor Museum, then as you proceed westward from the Albuquerque area to the Grand Canyon, a couple off other notable attractions include the VLA outside Socorro, the Petrified Forest National Park and Meteor Crater.

    Actually, it looks like your biggest problem will be the one Michael pointed out: You only have 3 weeks!


  4. Default

    Hi again and thanks for your answers, they were really helpful :-)

    We have looked at the suggested websites, and are planning to see some of them.
    We have changed the route at bit, and are skipping Memphis and, as suggested above, Houston too. That way we'ill be going:
    Pick up in Ft. Lauderdale 12th of June
    Drop off: San Francisco 6th of July

    Orlando (seaworld, universal, space center)
    New Orleans (just the atmosphere (spell?) and the childrens museum)
    Dallas (sixth floor museum)
    Amarillo (some old cars buried in sand)
    Santa Fe (we would like to see some indian reservates, isn't it near by?)
    The meteor crater
    Grand Canyon
    Hoover Dam
    Las Vegas

    And then it gets difficult. Depending on how much time we have left, we would either go from here to LA and then up to San Francisco. That way we'll see Solvang and Hearst Castle, (and maybe from SF, back and see Yosemite) OR
    go from Las Vegas through Death Valley to Yosemite and then San Francisco and Napa/Sonoma without LA.
    Any thoughts on what would be best?

    We are planning to buy a GPS when we arrive to the US. We have never owned one before, so are there any reasons we shouldn't go for the cheapest model? We just wants one who can show us the way, and maybe have informations about touristplaces/campgrounds/gasstations or so?
    And where to buy?

    Hope you can help again.

    The Danes in Nica,
    looking forward to see some civilization soon :-)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    A ~$100 GPS from Walmart should serve the purpose. However, you should also have paper maps!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default We don't do "best".

    Hello to the Danes,

    Both your choices for the end of your trip are good ones , but what's best for one person isn't so for another. In other words only you can decide what's best for you. If time becomes an issue then I would have thought DV and Yosemite would be easier as I can't see the point in driving through the Urban sprawl of LA without spending the time there.

    Whatever GPS you decide on it is worth taking paper maps, I still think they are the best device for finding places that appeal to you.

  7. Default

    Thanks again for your replies, and yes, paper maps is a must.

    Especially to avoid the "Are we there yet" ! :-)

    It is a lot easier for kids to get involved in the planning and knowing where we are, and where we are going, and how long it will take with paper maps. So that will be the first thing we buy.... well...right after buying the GPS, so we know how to get there! :-)

  8. Default From LA to Miami - have map, need comments


    We were planning a trip from Miami to San Francisco, but it turned out that all the best (read: cheapest) RV's were in LA, so now we changed the route a bit :-)

    I have marked almost all of the places/cities that we want to visit on our trip from 12th of June to 9th of July on google map, but I would very much like your comments on them.
    Especially if you have some ideas for what else to see, or an alternative way/direction between some of the places. (a nice campground, view, hiking place, museum, historic place etc etc... (childrens age 13, 12, 6)
    We'll be renting the RV for 24 days, and I hope this will give us enough time to both enjoy the driving, and have enough time to see the marked places.
    We will have another 3 days in Miami in a rented car/hotel before going back to Nicaragua.

    Please see the map here:,53.4375&z=5

    (please be patient, it can take a little while for the map to load or maybe it is just my Nica-connection....)???
    Lisbeth & family
    Last edited by AZBuck; 06-02-2009 at 09:46 PM. Reason: Merged. This is still essentially the same trip.

  9. Default

    Looks like fun! Make sure that you allow enough time to drive through Yosemite--the Tioga Rd (Rte 120) is very narrow & twisty-turny, so you're probably only going to be able to go 30mph or so through there...but you'll be rewarded with some of the most fantastic scenery in the country! I found this site very helpful when planning our trips to Yosemite.

    The Tioga Gas Mart, which hides the gem "Whoa Nellie Deli" inside, is a great place to stop in Lee Vining, right where the 120 meets 395. It's an amazing place!

    Another must-see is the Erick Shatz Bakkery in Bishop, a few hours south. It's right in the center of town on the main drag, on the right as you're heading south, and has great bread, sandwiches & pastries.

    Have a great trip!
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 06-03-2009 at 04:14 AM. Reason: in line answer, quote removed

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Good planning

    Your trip is taking shape and looks pretty good. I am wondering why you're skipping driving on the coast in California? CA-1 is a bit more tiring for the driver, especially when driving an RV, with its twists on a relatively narrow road. Yet the views are amazing. You might consider, at the very least, doing this stretch along CA-1 if you don't feel you can do the whole SF-LA leg along the coast. This way you don't have to do that little run out to the coast for Hearst Castle and then backtrack to get back to 101. The views are really worth it.

    Amarillo (some old cars buried in sand)
    That would be Cadillac Ranch.

    Santa Fe (we would like to see some indian reservates, isn't it near by?)
    Here's a good map of Native American reservations in New Mexico. Download the PDF to enlarge it. I'm wondering if you're thinking about Taos and the Taos Pueblo? Taos is about 2 hours north of Santa Fe.

    Santa Fe is also a very cool city with lots of architecture, museums, history and some Native American stuff as well.

    If you find that these are too much of a detour, you might enjoy Albuquerque, also a beautiful city. You will get a taste of Native American culture there.

    I'm not real familiar with where the best Native American places to visit are along your route, nor which will be the easiest to visit. Hopefully these will give you some ideas and someone else with more knowledge will pop in here.

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