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  1. Default Road Trip, LV,LA,SF,GC

    Hi, we are travelling over to America from the UK and are flying into New York July itinery as follows:

    3 NIGHTS: DALLAS which brings us to August 10th 2015
    now we are trying to figure out whether to fly to LV,LA or SF to start our next leg,
    We would definatly like to do all 3 places and Grand Canyon not sure what else to add in, we were thinking around 15-20 days to do out tour not sure which order to do them in we are a family with 3 children ages 15,6,2, any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Many Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default A loop roadtrip

    Hi, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    The Western part of your trip - a loop through the southwest - is probably the most popular trip in these forums. It has been and still is discussed frequently.

    The beauty of a loop trip is that it really does not matter into which city you fly. However, in your case I would fly into the city out of which you will fly back to the UK. Dropping a rental car in the same place as you picked it up is always going to be cheaper. Let's say that is LA.

    From LA you would go direct to the GC, then via Monument Valley and Zion NP - maybe also Bryce - and onto LV. Then you could head through Death Valley to Yosemite, and then onto SF. The Pacific Coast Highway would take you back to LA. A loop like that would take you through some of the most spectacular country on this planet.

    As for how long to stay, that is a very personal thing. Suffice to say that the GC deserves at least a full day, Zion would be at least a full day, especially if you'd like to do some of the hikes (walks) which can easily be done with a 2 year old. Bryce can be seen in half a day. With more time you can take a few short walking trips into the canyon. LV is not much for young children, other than a walk down the strip at night. Death Valley in August would be a drive through only, stopping only to take photos and Yosemite deserves a couple of days to really get to see the best of it. (These parks are all quite big.) Then onto SF. The drive down the coast via Big Sur to LA is a two day drive, maybe even more if you stop to take a tour of Hearst Castle.

    All the mentioned NPs have the Junior Ranger Program which would be of great benefit to your children, and yourself.

    Last edited by Lifemagician; 06-19-2015 at 04:00 PM. Reason: typo

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Lifey has done a nice job of laying out the loop that's a very easy way to get to all the places on your list in the southwest, and as she mentioned, discussion about such a loop are among the most popular topics on this forum. Look around a bit, and then if you have some more specific questions, we'll be glad to help.

    I will say, with the first half of your trip, it's a lot of stopping/starting and time in airports. There's no single leg that stands out as a problem, but it seems like a lot of herding to do for a family of five, especially with 2 very young children. You're going to have 5 different flights, so five times you'll be plodding through security and dealing with the hassle of flights. I don't know if cost is an issue at all, as all of those flights will get to be expensive, but for the Toronto to Chicago leg, it would probably be much cheaper to go back to Buffalo, as domestic flights tend to be much cheaper. It could also be easier just to rent a car in Buffalo, so you have easy access to Niagara Falls and Toronto, and then bring it back to Buffalo.

    You might also consider Amtrak's train service, rather than bus/planes for the part of your trip, up to Chicago. I believe they have a multi-use pass for foreign visitors, similar to a Eurorail pass, that could make things cheaper, and perhaps easier for you as well.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Plane / bus / train.

    Picking up on Michael's comments, is there a reason why you can't fly into Boston?

    That would allow you to get an Amtrak ticket stopping over in NYC, Philadelphia and Washington DC. I'm sure you'd find this a much more pleasant way to travel than sitting in a bus, most of which stop frequently along the way. In the train the children can get up, walk around, and even spend time in the lounge car, playing games, etc. With three times as much room between rows of seats than on any aeroplane, I have always found Amtrak a comfortable way to travel. Can't say the same for any of the bus trips I have ever taken.

    You'd need to check if the multi-stop ticket for foreigners is available in the US, or if it is a ticket you need to buy before you leave home.

    Last edited by Lifemagician; 06-19-2015 at 05:29 PM. Reason: correction.

  5. Default

    Hi, yes we are flying from DC to Boston. I have booked the first part of our flights otherwise i would have cut out Toronto, Never mind.

    I will try to check with Amtrak about the multi-use passes as i did try to look for something similar but could not find anything.

    We have decided to fly into LV from Dallas and stop 3 nights + 1 day GC tour. Then, we would pick up a hire car on the 15th and head for DV. Can we see most of the main spots for pictures on a drive through or do we need to stop?

    Please could you advise what order we should do the photo stops and where in DV? and then we would drive to Yosemite and stop 2 nights. Please could someone let us know the things of which we need to see here? We thought we could do SF next and stop 3 nights ( the hotels are very expensive$$$ thinking of staying in the Hilton Union Square) To do Alcatraz, Golden Gate bridge and any suggestions that are welcome. We then thought that we would drive from SF to LA.

    Could anyone suggest where we could stop for pics, Nights to break the adventure up? We where then thinking of staying in LA for 3-5 nights and maybe drive to San Diego for 2 nights.

    Please could anybody advise on this and any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Many Thanks :)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Here's Amtrak's info on their multi-ride tickets. and here is info about their Rail Passes.

    Be aware, that the Grand Canyon is too far away from Las Vegas to really be done as a daytrip (It's about 5 hours, each way). Most one day tours claiming to go to the Grand Canyon in a day either go to the West Rim, located on Indian Lands where the Canyon is about about half as deep as within the National Park, or they go to the National Park, but spend so little time there it really isn't worth your while.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Thousands of photo ops.

    It would be a good idea if you picked up the car a day earlier and cut one day from LV to spend on a trip to the GC. Taking a day tour from LV is not visiting the Grand Canyon NP. An overnight stay at the canyon or close by would allow you to experience a sunset or sunrise over the canyon. Such an unforgettable experience.

    Death Valley is a spectacular landscape, which can be seen on a drive through, so long as you have a good map of the place and stay on the paved roads. To some points of interest it may take a bit of backtracking, but I thought it was all worth it. As for stopping to take photos - beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I took hundreds. It was a stop-start trip the whole time in that national park.

    Much the same goes for Yosemite, but all the beauty there is on a much larger scale. However, be sure to take your time over Tioga Pass, stopping at the view points along the way. They are there for a reason..


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default A few pointers.

    To enjoy Death valley and get into Yosemite NP the same day would be extremely long. I would look at Bishop or Mammoth for an overnight stop after DV and then continue to Yosemite, which will allow you plenty of time to enjoy the Tioga pass [CA120] through the mountains. You may have trouble finding lodgings within the park and if so you will need to look at other options. Mariposa, El Portal and Groveland are small nearby towns with Oakhurst that offers a larger range is further away, about an hour.

    From Vegas take US160 to Pahrump and then turn left onto Bell Vista Ave just north of town which will take you to DV junction where you will see the Amargosa opera house/hotel. Turn right and immediate left onto 190 that takes you through Death valley. A nice and easy photo stop can be found at Zabriske point before Furnace Creek, which is an intersting place to stop at and has a small museum and refreshments etc. You could detour here to Badwater Basin which is the lowest point in the USA and on the way back, take the one way detour through Artists drive. Leaving FC on 190 you will see the sand dunes on the right before Stovepipe Wells, another good photo stop.

    Along Tioga pass into Yosemite you will have many photo ops and there will be turn outs along the route. Tuolumne meadows and Tenaya lake are nice stops. In the valley you will see a photo everytime you turn your head in a new direction ! Do not miss the drive up to Glacier point and the short walk to the viewpoint, it will blow your mind !!!

    In SF you can find cheaper Motels around Lombard and Gough St and some of them include parking. The Buena Vist motor Inn was one we stayed in a few years ago and was perfectly ok. Not much of a walk to the Piers and transport links into the city. I would highly recommend you book your boat tickets to Alcatraz in advance, only do this through the official National park website to avoid fees or having to book other tours with it that you might not want. Pier 39, Cable cars, Coit tower, China town, Lombard [the crooked] street are just a few of the attractions in this lovely little city. Just walking around is an attraction in itself.

    From SF to LA you should take the coast road which will require an overnight stop, although 2 would give you more time. A one night stop would be best suited to the Cambria area and with 2 nights, you could stop at Monterey and Cambria, or perhaps Santa Barbara.

    As has been suggested, make a night of it and drive to the Grand canyon NP, you won't regret doing so !

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