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  1. Default Aussie family needs your help to plan road trip

    Hi. Love this site! We are very excited about our trip and this forum has brought it to life for us in a way that no brochure ever could. My wife, myself and two daughters aged 6 and 8 are flying from Sydney to LA Feb 13th and back home on the 4th of March. The basic outline of our trip goes like this so far......

    13th - Land LAX 4pm - pick up rental (large suv?) Stay first night Sheraton Gateway airport hotel (booked).
    14th - head north up the coast, stay somewhere near Cambria? (Is Hearst a bit much for the kids? Isn't Lego land around here somewhere?)
    15th, 16th & 17th - Stay San Fran (possibly the Argonaut or the Union Square Hotel) Explore the area - any suggestions beyond the obvious?
    18th, 19th & 20th - Yosemite, hopefully Evergreen Lodge unless there is somewhere better? assume there will be snow and cold?
    21st - Death Valley, not sure yet where to stay
    22nd & 23rd - Las Vegas. People tell me there's not much for Kids, is this true?
    24th & 25th - the Grand Canyon. Would love to stay on the South rim but having trouble finding accommodation that will sleep the four of us comfortably. Anyone heard of the Grand Canyon Ranch? (it appears to be in the Musical Mountains rather than the Grand Canyon)
    26th - Not sure at this stage if we should stop a night in Vegas again on the way to back to LA or whether we should stay somewhere else or push straight through so that we have more time in LA.
    27th, 28th & 1st - Anaheim - Doubletree Suites Hotel? Disneyland! Either Two or Three Day Park Hopper tickets. I've heard there might be a way to pay extra and jump the queue?
    2nd & 3rd - LA. Venice Beach.
    4th - 8pm Fly home to Sydney

    This is a once in a lifetime trip and we really want to make the most of it.
    Any helpful hints or advice on where to stay, what not to miss, best route, anything at all would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Some Bits We Can Help With

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Quote Originally Posted by moltz

    Hi. Love this site!
    Well, thank you, but one of the things that makes this site is that we try to make recommendations and comments only from personal experience. That means that we won't know about and really can't help you with reviews of individual hotels or restaurants. There are simply too many and they change hands too frequently. Some of the things we can help you with:

    Legoland is south of Los Angeles, just north of San Diego in fact, in the city of Carlsbad. You can certainly go there from Los Angeles and your children will love it (We take our grandsons there every other year), but it would take a full day to enjoy it and it's simply not on the way to San Francisco.

    I highly recommend the drive up the Pacific Coast Highway (CA-1), but again it can be time consuming. If you try to drive it in a day, you simply won't have time to enjoy its many attractions including the sea lion rookeries, the Carmel Mission, Monterey Bay Aquarium, etc. Hearst Castle tours take a couple of hours and may not hold the attention of younger children for that long, but it is a fascinating place nonetheless. In all, you should really consider devoting two days to this drive.

    In San Francisco, try to get out to Alcatraz and to the Exploratorium besides the 'obvious' Chinatown, Fisherman's Wharf, Cable Cars, etc. Yes, you can expect snow and cold at Yosemite, and the road over Tioga Pass (CA-120) will be closed, but there will be few other visitors and there is a special beauty to Yosemite Valley in the winter. The closure of Tioga Pass also means that to get from Yosemite to Death Valley you'll have to drive all the way around the Sierra Nevada to the south through Bakersfield.

    It's true that Las Vegas was not built to cater to kids, but there are certainly nearby attractions that you could take them to including Valley of Fire State Park and Hoover Dam. As for the Grand Canyon, besides the in park accommodations, there are several motels in Tusayan just south of the park and even more reasonably priced options in Williams or Flagstaff. There really isn't any point to going back over Hoover Dam and through Las Vegas to return to Los Angeles. The direct route from the Canyon to L.A. is already around 500 miles and a full day's drive. On the way you might consider brief stops to see the London Bridge in Lake Havasu City or to take a drive through the Mojave National Preserve.

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 12-08-2009 at 11:46 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Anti-clockwise

    As Buck has mentioned, you really need to allow at least 2 days for the PCH, which is every bit as magnificent as The Great Ocean Road, west of Melbourne.

    May I suggest you think seriously about doing this trip anti-clockwise. Then while driving from SF to LA you will be on the coast side of the road. (Remember you are driving on the other side of the road.) Along this road there are many view points and pull-offs most of which, I am sure, the children will enjoy. It adds considerably more time to the trip if each time you need to wait for oncoming traffic when pulling in and out of these.

    I would also agree that Alcatraz is a must. But if I were going with children the age of yours, I'd give Hearst Castle a miss. Spend the time, and money at the aquarium.

    It is a great time of the year to visit Death Valley, not hot and a good time to enjoy some of the short hikes most of which would be fine for the children. There is no place on earth like it. They will remember it forever. Make sure you take the opportunity to see the stars at night.... you just don't get skies like that in cities.

    Enjoy!!

    Lifey in Melbourne

  4. Default

    hey ! Sounds like the same trip we are doing.. What type of car did you get ? we where thinking of a small car for the two of us... We looked at getting a suv but do not think it's worth the extra money as a lot of roads will be closed.

    very exciting we leave very soon !

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Automobile Club Membership

    Hi righthanddrive, I meant to say this for Moltz as well... if you are a member of the RACV or NRMA or RACQ, etc. make sure you take your membership with you. It will enable you to get tourist information and free maps of all the places, cities and states you are visiting. Nothing like having good maps to help you get lost! LOL

    You will find the address of the AAA in either LA or SF (or Vegas, or wherever) on their site.

    Lifey who has used them extensively

  6. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lifemagician View Post
    Hi righthanddrive, I meant to say this for Moltz as well... if you are a member of the RACV or NRMA or RACQ, etc. make sure you take your membership with you. It will enable you to get tourist information and free maps of all the places, cities and states you are visiting. Nothing like having good maps to help you get lost! LOL

    You will find the address of the AAA in either LA or SF (or Vegas, or wherever) on their site.

    Lifey who has used them extensively
    Thanks Lifemagician ... I will pull the NRMA card out tonight.. What do you think of the size of the car to hire for this time of year ? Also should I stick with Budget, avis or hertz ?

    thanks again

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by righthanddrive View Post
    What do you think of the size of the car to hire for this time of year ? Also should I stick with Budget, avis or hertz ?

    thanks again
    As for car, I would say get whatever you think you will be comfortable in.

    As for which company.... well, I guess it all depends on what deals you can get. I always check out the company websites (rather than these generic, so called cheapest sites). See what they have to offer. Be especially aware of the cost of extra mileage, if unlimited miles is not offered. Be aware of one way drop-offs, and insurance charges.

    Having said that, whenever I have rented, it has always been from Budget. Somehow that is where I have always found the best deal to suit my needs.

    Also check with your car insurance and your travel insurance (you do have travel insurance!) to see if they cover the insurance on a rental car. I know when I used Covermore I quoted the number to the rental company, and did not need to pay any insurance.

    Lifey who hopes you find a good deal

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