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  1. Default First Road Trip from San Francisco to rocky mountains/southwest in 2 weeks?

    we are family with 2 kids, 3 years and 1.5 years old. we would like to do road trip start in san francisco. we will drive a minivan.

    our thoughts are travelling to the following destinations:
    grand canyon
    new mexico (alberquerque and santa fe)
    denver
    salt lake city
    las vegas

    we will drive from christmas and plan to arrive back in san francisco by jan 5 or 6.
    can someone give us advice best places to visit and best route to go by? which places should i visit first and which place i should visit more time at?

    thanks in advance for all the advices.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Ambitious.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    I think your trip is a little on the ambitious side when you consider that you are thinking of driving over 3000 miles over 10 to 12 days in the middle of winter, where weather could cause disruption. It really won't give you much time to stop and explore the places you wish to visit and you could spend 6 hours or more of every day driving.

    Yes, it's doable but it might not be as much fun as you hoped, especially with 2 young ones riding along. It's possible you will encounter winter storms, snow and ice anywhere along your route, but in Colorado, even more so. If you were to attempt the route then I would visit Vegas on the way to GC and then head towards Reno from SLC on route back to San Fran.

    Personally, I would shorten the loop quite considerably and travel at a more relaxed pace where you won't spend most of your daylight hours in a van. You could visit some of the small towns along the coast, heading down the scenic coastal highway around Big Sur and head inland towards GC. From GC you could visit Monument valley and visit some of Southern Utah and the National parks of Zion and Bryce canyon and back to Vegas. Death valley and Yosemite are a couple of possible attractions on route back to SF. You will have to keep up to date with weather forecasts and road conditions as you go though. For instance you will not be able to cross the Sierra Nevada range if you wanted to go to Yosemite from Vegas, you would have to go around the mountains.

    Search the forums and check out the planning pages in the tool bars above for more info and as new questions arise, just ask, enjoy the planning !

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

    Default The needs of little ones.

    I would endorse all of the above advice, and add another thouoght.

    Imagine yourself as a three-year-old (I've had five and my seventh grandchild turned three today), or as an 18-months-old, strapped into a car seat for six hours (or more) each and every day. Not just a day here or two days there, but every single day for the duration of the trip. No matter how often you stop, it will not be sufficient activity and freedom for youngsters of that age. And in winter activities at stops along the way are even fewer. Dave's advice to cut this trip down drastically, is good advice. The alternative could be a nightmare trip with whining and miserable little ones, who won't be able to settle at night, depriving you of sleep. None of which makes for a pleasant and safe drive the next day.

    Lifey

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    One more thing to remember about doing this trip in late december that will have perhaps an even bigger impact than the weather: you'll also have the least amount of daylight of any point of the year. You're going to have less than 10 hours of light each day, with sunrise being around 730, and sunset coming by 5.

    That's going to make it even harder to cover this many miles in this time period, and i'd agree that scaling back would make sense.

  5. Default

    thanks for the advices, if i have to scale back, what places would you recommend us to visit?

    we were thinking of disneyland but our kids are probably too little to remember it ? will this reason make sense?

    we dont mind of destination and are flexible with destinations. we just want to have fun with our kids.

    thanks again.

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

    Default

    You are probably right, that yours could be a little young for Disneyland. Though I have heard of people taking little ones like that there. However, they may enjoy Legoland. It is set up for all ages. An Aquarium or Zoo are other great places which little ones enjoy in their own way, and where they have plenty of space to run around.

    I do not have any experience of America in the winter months, so have no idea what the conditions will be like. But we had a pattern when ours were very little, travel for up to a couple of hours to a place where they (and we) would enjoy themselves and wear themselves out. Then it was lunch time. After lunch another hour or two in the car while they slept. More time to play in a park or such, and then home (hotel/camp/whatever) where a preprepared meal could be served almost instantly. They would of course get in a heck of a mess, but hey! nothing a bath before bed could not fix.

    I think it is best with little ones as young as yours, that you not be in a different location each night. Children settle better in familiar surroundings. We would move on for two or three days, and then spend two or three days in the one spot, exploring the surroundings, as above.

    With a little bit of planning, there is no reason why you should not have a most memorable trip with your children.

    Lifey

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    I'd agree that I wouldn't try Disney with kids that young. They certainly wouldn't remember and would be too young to even enjoy a lot of it. If you wanted to do a big attraction, I might look more at places like the Monterey Aquarium, or the San Diego Zoo that are a little lower intensity.

    Traveling with kids that young in general has some good and bad. The good is that you really don't need to pick your destinations on what they would find fun, because they are too young to really comprehend big stops, and can be perfectly happy with a playground or motel swimming pool. The bad is that they do need to stop more frequently and be entertained - even if it is just with those small things, so you have to limit your travel time and driving days.

    I think I would start with the places you've already considered, but I would simply trim down the distances. For example, you could simply eliminate Colorado and New Mexico and do a loop out to Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Utah and back.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    In the winter, it's hard to find climate more agreeable than in San Diego. Look at Legoland, the San Diego Zoo, Sea World, and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park (formerly the Wild Animal Park). You can buy discount combination tickets too. That would use up 8 of your days, assuming 2 days driving each way and 1 day at each attraction. You could take the coast roads going down and go inland on the way back to see some natural attractions such as the Grand Canyon and Death Valley.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Disneyland with children that young would definitely be a problem. The children are simply too small to go on many of the attractions that are considered "E Ticket" ("the best"). Many rides do have height limitations. We live 90 miles from Disneyland, and have for years, but we didn't take our children until they were 8 and 7 years old. The younger one barely made the minimum height for one of the rides, too! There are safety reasons why DL has those limits.

    The San Diego Zoo is wonderful for youngsters, though. If you go to the Zoo *and* the Wild Animal Park (Safari Park), you can get tickets for both parks at a slight discount from buying them individually. We much prefer the Zoo and WAP, over Sea World (which we feel is too commercialized).

    I can't speak for Legoland - - I've never been, and neither have either of my children (now grown and gone).

    The Birch Scripps Aquarium is also a fascinating place for most small children - a small aquarium, not too pricey.


    Donna

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