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  1. Default Summer road trip from Yosemite to LA - in need of some advice please

    My husband and I and our three children (ages 5,8 and 10) are embarking on our first big trip as a family at the end of July. We are flying from London to Las Vegas and our itinerary so far looks like this:

    Day 1 - arrive in Las Vegas
    Day 2 - day in Las Vegas
    Day 3 - drive to Grand Canyon North Rim
    Day 4 - Grand Canyon
    Day 5 - Drive to Page AZ
    Day 6 - Page
    Day 7 - Page
    Day 8 - Drive back to Las Vegas and fly to SFO ( I know flying isn't really in the spirit of this website but it seemed fairer to the children than to drive through Death Valley in August!)
    Day 9 - Drive to Yosemite
    Day 10 - Yosemite
    Day 11 - Yosemite
    Day 12 - Drive to Monterey for whale watching?

    And that's as far as I've got! We will have another eight days to fill before we fly out of LAX and I have promised Disney and Universal Studios but am expecting these only to fill two days. I wondered if anyone could give me advice on fun things to see or places to stay on the drive down to LA. We'd love to get off the beaten track a bit if we can and stay in places which are a bit more out of the way/less touristy - any suggestions would be gratefully received, as would any comments on the itinerary. Many thanks in advance...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Don't miss out.

    Hello and welcome to RTA !

    Although Death valley will be extremely hot it is an amazing landscape to enjoy, even from the comfort of your air conditioned car. You could drive through with a couple of stops and spend the night in Bishop or Mammoth. You would then enter Yosemite on the spectacular Tioga pass. Not only is the drive truly amazing, it will save you money and will be more enjoyable than sitting in airports and car rental offices. I would use some of your available time earlier in your trip and visit Zion and Bryce canyon NP on the way to the North rim. From Monterey I would also allow another night around Cambria on route to LA. You might enjoy a tour of Hearst castle.

  3. Default

    Sorry to say it, unless you have a really good reason for going to Page, its a long way for very little, once you have done the slot canyons of Antelope Valley, three days is a lot to commit to that, by the way Page is also very hot.

    Strikes me you are there to see the country - so drive it. the whole point about Death Valley is that it is hot, very hot, so the kids will enjoy it. No need to fry though, cars have A/C, run quickly out onto the salt lake at Badwater, stay at Furnace creek (yes they have A/C as well) and swim in the hot pool. experience the hot water that comes out of the cold tap. Walk on the dunes at Mesquite Flats and look for Sidewinders snake tracks. Visit/stay at Lone Pine see where all (alright, many of) the cowboy films were made, with Mt Whitney behind. Visit the Devils Post Pile at Mammoth. Stay at a B&B in beautiful June Lakes. detour to Bodie State Park, a real silver mine ghost town. Go look at strange Mono Lake, at the start of the Tioga Pass road eat at the best gas station in the area - Whoa Nellie's Diner, guarantee the kids will love it.

    Yes the Tioga Pass takes you to Yosemite. A day drive to Death Valley, a couple of days to Yosemite (to include some of the stops I have mentioned). Make sure you book real early for Yosemite, may be too late to stay in the Park for this year! - it gets very crowded very quickly, not the most spectacular place, but you gotta do it. Take another day to visit General Sherman in Sequoia - the kids will be amazed and you can walk through one of the felled trees.

    Personally I think that the South Rim has better, more accessible views than the north, but you may have already been there. Williams is neat with its gun fights, but I think the train ride to Grand Canyon may be a bit slow.

    Route 66 goes, in part from Williams to Kingman, the loop from Seligman to Kingman is probably a smoother ride than using I40. Your kids will have done Cars, and Cars is about route 66. Seligman is Route 66, stop and visit Delgadillo's Route 66 Gift Shop, the guys in there will tell you (and the kids) all about meeting the makers of Cars, ask to see their Blue Peter Badge! In Las Vegas the Hoover Dam will impress (it impressed me), You judge if its suiutable for your kids (they are young), but Freemont St Experience at night is amazing.

    From Yosemite take the state route 49 North and you will pass through Jamestown, your kids will enjoy the train museum (they have the loco used in Back to the Future III) and if you didn't get to Bodie the Columbia State Park (in California that is) is a Living History Gold Town, in the 49er tradition, the kids can even pan for gold.

    You could carry on up the 49 and visit Sacramento with its Capitol building and Historic Riverside town centre, though that may be a bit far north.
    (Coming straight down from Yosemite you are about 3 hours drive from San Francisco. I love San Francisco, but would not recommend it for a family with three younger children as there is a lot of walking between places. Although it is quite a small city it is quite difficult to get about with kids, as parking is not easy, so apart from the city with its bridge and trolleys (a long day for kids though) the Golden Gate Park (nowhere near the bridge) is great, the Japanese garden is great for kids. the Exploratorium is amazing for kids, but watch out for parking.)

    If you do Seqoiua then coming down from the mountains there will take you straight to Monteray, but its not an overtly interesting drive. You can play I-spy every known fruit and vegetable known to man as you cross the Central Valley, but that's about it until you reach San Juan Bautista. This is a fascinating town, you can walk around one of California,s 19 Spanish Missions and visit a living history state park. Of course if you are a fan of Alfred Hitchcock (Kids are unlikely to be) the Mission and the court house opposite were featured in A H's Vertigo.

    Once in Monteray you will probably need two days to see the aquarium (I think you can get a ticket deal for two days, but check the web site). Before yhou reach the aquarium there is also a very nice park/playground the Laguna Grande Park, also the Monteray State Beach is nice for a day on the beach, pretty certain you can get boogey boards there. I suggest you don't rush into the sea in a demonstration for the kids of having made it to the Pacific ocean, its usually flipping freezing. Spend an afternoon driving out past the aquarium on Ocean View Blvard - its free, no need to pay for seventeen Mile Drive - you won't see Clint Eastwood anyway. Stop and watch the Sea Otters swimming in the waves. Out on Point Pinos Lighthouse you may see Gray Whales (not sure about July though!).

    If you are taking Route 1, the coast road, it is lots of fun, but make sure you know where you are going to stay. About 3km before you get to Hearst Castle you must, must, must stop at the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery, though the kids will probably be bored before you are.

    Pismo Beach is fun - you can drive onto the sand and along the beach (rental insurance probably voided here though) and have a picnic straight from the car. Stop at the Rock and Role Diner on the way out of the town - converted train, great place to eat.!2e0

    While driving South call in at the Union Hotel in Los Alamos - cool place.
    For the grown ups - Los Olivios is a town full of wine tasting shops.
    Solvang is where I will guarantee your whole family will recite in unison "Only In America". It is a town given over to Denmark and the danish - I will say no more, except it also has one of those nice cool Missions.

    Once you hit LA you are on your own - not a place we enjoy going, though I doubt very much that you will get away with only 1 day in each of Dis and Uni St.
    Gosh and you still have a week left! Check on line for a rally cheap 3/4 night cruise from Long Beach - kids will love it

    One other item to find out about. Check online for rodeo's and PowWows, there are lots of them around, they are cheap to attend, the smaller the better as you see much more. It can be tricky finding one at the date you are travelling through the area, but they are well worth the effort.

    Well I hope that's given you a few ideas - you will find info on all these places simply by choosing one and searching on line.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 03-23-2015 at 10:38 AM. Reason: added some white space

  4. Default Thank you!

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write down your advice - it was exactly what I was looking for and am now really looking forward to researching all of this online. Fortunately I had taken advice from a friend and booked accommodation in both Yosemite and the Grand Canyon. I love the sound of Solvang and Pismo Beach - thank you so much - I can't wait for our road trip now…..
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 04-13-2015 at 01:13 AM. Reason: Removed quote of previous post for easier reading.

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