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  1. Default Cal/Arizona/Nevada Road does my itin look?

    Hi there
    We are planning a 5wk trip for Sep next year with 2kids age 8. Theme parks are top of the list for the kids but we still want to see some natural wonders. Here is the itinerary we have nutted out. I know we probably dont need 4nts LA but am allowing for jetlag as we will be
    flying in from Western Australia (23hrs flying).
    4nts LA
    1nt Morro Bay
    1nt Monterey
    4nt SFO
    2nt Yosemite
    1nt Death Valley
    3nt Vegas
    2nt Page
    2nt Grand Canyon
    1nt Phoenix
    5nt San Diego
    6nt Anaheim

    After your opinions on this trip. We also have 1 extra night up our sleeve to push it out to 5wks including travelling time from Australia.
    My thoughts are do we break the trip between Yosemite and Death Valley, or do we add a night in Bryce, Zion or Monument Valley?

    Also I have read on various other sites that Sep is the worst time to visit Yosemite. We are looking at leaving mid Sep which will put us in Yosemite in the last week of Sep. So is Yosemite still worth visiting this time of year or do we take a different route?

    Oh, also Vegas with kids, should we perhaps drop this to 2nt and add a night somewhere 1 day enough for us to have a quick look with the kids. Obviously we wont be gambling, I guess its just a case of 'been there done that' for us.

    Any suggestions to make this trip our trip of a lifetime would be most welcome! We probably wont get back for a long time so want to see as much as possible without being too rushed.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome aboard RTA!

    From the start it looks like you have a good handle on your itinerary. Nothing jumps out at me. Seeing that you have 8 or 9 days in LA/Anaheim tells me that you are planning to do Disneyland (DL), Disney's California Adventure (DCA), Knotts Berry Farm (KBF), Universal Studios Hollywood, as well as the other Hollywood stuff? Also worth looking at, though adventurous to find, are the La Brea Tar Pits in LA. Young boys often look eagle-eyed at the big dinosaur in the museum area!

    In Las Vegas is yet another theme park -- Circus Circus has the AdventureDome. They also have an extensive video arcade up in the rafters of the casino. Our girls were a little older than your kids at the time, but they had more fun in the video arcade and watching the circus acts perform up there too. There are some other adventurous rides and sights to see in Las Vegas that will interest kids. I believe that many hotels have a babysitting service that you can arrange to use -- for a price.

    I wouldn't miss Yosemite just because you've read it's horrible at that time of the year. Most of the families with children have had to leave to get the kids back to school, and while it still has crowds, they aren't as bad in Sept. as they are in mid-July!

    If you wanted to get to Zion, the best place in your itinerary is between Vegas and Page. Simply head north on I-15 to just north of St George UT, where you can swing over to Zion. Make reservations in the hotel there as soon as you get this all ironed out for dates.

    All of the big national parks (Yosemite, Zion) have a Jr Ranger program for the kids. Your kids are the perfect age for it. They get a little activity book to do, things to look for, and earn a ranger badge from it. Also, there is a national parks "passport", which is a keepsake book in which visitor centers from the various national Parks can "stamp" the book at each park you visit. Over the years, this could be a nice souvenir.

    As far as San Diego goes -- we've got a lot to see and do here. Between the San Diego Zoo, the Safari Park (formerly known as the San Diego Wild Animal Park), Sea World San Diego, Old Town San Diego, and of course our beaches, you could stay here 2 or 3 weeks and not see it all.


  3. Default

    It wasn't clear if your LA theme park visits were all at the end of your trip. Splitting visits between the beginning and end of your visit might be more enjoyable and relaxing.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Kids love nature too !

    My thoughts are do we break the trip between Yosemite and Death Valley, or do we add a night in Bryce, Zion or Monument Valley?
    My immediate thought when looking at your itinerary were to be honest, visit Zion and Monument valley in a loop to the GC from Vegas and break down the 15 nights you have around LA and SD. You could spend just the 1 night in Page and one night in the lovely town of Springdale UT for Zion, but adding another night or 2 would be beneficial imo. That night in Vegas you are unsure of could be added to, Bryce canyon and MV are pretty special too.

    Also I have read on various other sites that Sep is the worst time to visit Yosemite.
    I don't understand this at all, it's a wonderful time to visit Yosemite !! The only downside is that the waterfalls are dried out at this time of year, but they are usually in July and August and beyond Sept until the Spring snowmelt again. The thing is the temps are usually good and you don't have the heat and crowds of the summer. Do not skip Yosemite, it is an amazing place !

    I'm sure the Kids will love the theme parks, but don't underestimate how much fun Kids of that age will have among nature. Running around, spotting wildlife and playing by the river are the things they tend to remember as they get older. You can also sign then up to Junior Ranger programs in the National Parks where they collect badge and learn interesting facts.

    The other thing you could consider is doing your trip in reverse order. The main benefit would be having the Ocean on your side of the road heading south to LA.

    You are in for a great trip !

  5. #5


    I would agree with Southwest Dave - don't miss Yosemite because it has some of the most magnificient scenery anywhere. September is not the best time because of the diminished water falls but it is definitely better than not going at all.

    If you do decide on Bryce Canyon, there's a little nightly rodeo at the Ruby Inn the kids might enjoy. It's just a small rodeo that only lasts about an hour and alot of the contestants are kids.

    Have A Great Trip !!

  6. Default too much research = I want to do it all!!!

    Thanks so much for your advice so far. Southwest Dave, we are going to take your advice and travel in the reverse direction and do San Diego at the beginning, Anaheim at the end which I think will be good to split the theme parks up rather than having a 10 day hit.
    Basically we are keeping the itinerary pretty much the same however with adding a couple of nights in and stealing a night from San Los Angeles we have some extra time that I would like to spend in the Utah/Arizona area.
    So, I am thinking something like the following:
    1nt Phoenix
    1nt Sedona (mainly so we can take the kids to the Out of Africa Wildlife Park)
    2nt Grand Canyon
    2nt Page (need 2nts here as we want to do float trip and Antelope Canyon)
    then 1nt Monument Valley, Bryce or Zion (we can pick two of these)

    So out of Monument/Bryce/Zion which one would you drop? Or do we drop the Wildlife Park and do all 3? Keeping in mind we are travelling with 2 8yr olds would it be 'too much canyons and too much of the same' if we do all 3. Am thinking the kids will really love the wildlife park so that will keep them happy!

    Also we have decided against staying in Death Valley and are have a look on the way through and stay probably in Bishop to put us a bit closer to Yosemite. And yes Yosemite is definitely on!

    Any tips and suggestions would be really appreciated.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default We all know that feeling !

    It would certainly be possible to squeeze a visit to Monument valley travelling between GC and Page without an overnight stop. All 3 are wonderful options and I would prefer any [and all of them] over a wildlife park, but of course you have the Kids to consider. Zion is to me the obvious choice as it's on the way back to Vegas, it's a wonderful family friendly park with riverside walks, lots of wildlife [including mule Deer] and wonderful views.

    So you could do Monument valley and Zion possibly as things are. Bryce is very unique and the rock formations quite remarkable. [Sorry that's not helping ! ;-) ]

  8. #8


    Personally, I'd drop Monument Valley in favor of Bryce Canyon and Zion - they are very different so it's not a case of "More Of The Same." To really see Monument Valley, you have to take a 17 mile loop drive over a rough, dirty road. When we were there, we saw alot of people taking guided tours in open vehicles and a lot of them had an "Are We Having Fun Yet?" look on their faces. Additionally, you'll see equally impressive red-rock formations in the Sedona Area. Don't short change Sedona - it's an absolutely beautiful area. On the way down to Sedona from Flagstaff on Alternate 89, the kids would get a real kick out of a stop at Slide Rock State Park. The kids have a great time sliding down very smooth rocks in the stream that runs through it. My guess is that for the kids, it would be a highpoint of the trip. If you click on "Visit The Web-Site," there's a great video which shows what I'm talking about.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2009
    SF Bay Area

    Default Then again.....

    Alternate viewpoint: I've done the drive-yourself loop in MV (in a 4WD SUV), and taken guided tours twice (out of Gouldings; different trips). Fully enjoyed both the half day and full day tours. The DIY drive was OK, but you get into sections of the valley on a guided tour you don't get to on your own.

    Also did a guided tour in Canyon de Chelley once; enjoyed it as well.

    Things you only see on a guided tour of Monument Valley

    Photo: Don Casey

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default all of the above?

    I'm not sure this has to be an either/or decision. I really don't see why you couldn't see all 3 places - and possibly even more.

    You're talking about a 5 week trip here, afterall. There are plenty of people who do loops of the entire US in that amount of time. Now, I'm not saying you need to do anything that extreme, but under your current plan you're spending 15 nights just in Southern California. I'd think you could easily take a few days from LA/Anaheim/SD and fit in everything you'd want to see in Southern Utah (possibly even adding in some more places, like Arches and Canyonlands).

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