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  1. Default Road trip California......help please

    Hi All.
    I am from New Zealand and want to plan a trip from July 1-30 2016 for myself, my 10yo son and 8yo daughter. Myself, I would like to hire some very cool cars to drive from place to place and see the coast. My son is movie mad, so Universal studios is his number one pick, while Disney is on the list for my daughter. My intention was to fly to LA, head to San Diego, back to LA, then Vegas and end in San Fran. Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Alcatraz, SD Zoo, Sea World, etc, should all be on the list. I want to create the best experience for my kids and I. Advice on the best places to stay, sights to see, time in locations and best way to experience things would be appreciated. Budget is about US23,000. Also a few days in Hawaii at the end is ideal.
    Detailed thought appreciated please......Daniel

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

    Default The 'loop'.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    With the time you have available you should consider driving a loop of the southwest rather than hire various 'cool cars' as it will save some hassle and money. You could then start out from the city that offers the cheapest flight deals from home, likely LA but could be Vegas or SF. If you join the 'loop' you will also have the experience of driving the beautiful coast highway around Big Sur between SF and LA. Travelling south from SF will put the Ocean and Oceanside scenic pull outs on your side of the road. Let's say you start in LA, there would be no need to go back there immediately after visiting San Diego, you could head straight for the Grand canyon and then go to Vegas. From Vegas you could then drive across Death valley and up the east side of the Sierra Nevada on US395 towards Mono Lake before driving across the mountains on Tioga Pass [CA120] into Yosemite valley. Then it's on to San Fran and back down the coast. If you wanted to you would have the option of travelling into Southern Utah from Grand canyon and enjoy the National parks of Bryce canyon and Zion but that depends on how you wish to break your time up.

    I would recommend you do some research and look at a good map of the area and see what appeals. You can find some good links in this thread and you will find many more searching the forums.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    SD Zoo, Sea World, etc, should all be on the list. I want to create the best experience for my kids and I. Advice on the best places to stay, sights to see, time in locations and best way to experience things would be appreciated.
    Time in locations - Sea World will take a good portion of the day, especially if you plan to see some of the shows. You can also get a really nice view of San Diego area by riding the skytower at Sea World. Wear good walking shoes - I easily put 3 miles on my feet one time there and we were only there for about 6 hours.

    San Diego Zoo -- also a place to spend an entire day, just at the main zoo in Balboa Park. You will walk your feet off here, too, so once again, wear good walking shoes.

    BTW, since I live in San Diego County, here is a thread I started about the area. Within this thread are links to two of our "Stay-cations" (2013 and 2015), which contain photos of the many things to be seen in San Diego.

    Universal Studios LA - well, be prepared for some big crowds this summer. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, LA version, opens there in April, so the first year will mean crowds. Go early in the day, if it's anything like the Orlando version, for less crowded conditions. Allow a full day there.

    At Disney -- well, it really depends on what you want to see there. Allow a full day for Disneyland itself. It's the original, and it's more compact than any of the other Disney parks, but you may spend time standing in line. Take advantage of Fast Pass whenever possible. If you want to go across the compound (VERY short walk) to California Adventure, it's another day to spend. Carsland is really cool. If you're into thrilling roller coasters, you'll find them at this park. Once again, take advantage of Fast Pass.

    Where to stay -- for Disney, there are any number of good hotels in the area. The last time we were up there, we stayed at Candy Cane Inn and enjoyed our stay. That particular Inn has a shuttle that runs to/from the park every 1/2 hour. There is a Best Western right outside the main gate that is also within walking distance, and two others off Katella Blvd that are within walking distance (a bit more of a walk). Unfortunately, one really needs a bit more loving attention and then charges for parking on top of everything -- Candy Cane Inn does not.

    There are also a lot of choices up near Universal, which is about a 45-60 minute drive one-way from Anaheim. Best Western was a choice of several of my friends and colleagues.

    San Diego hotels -- the more central ones are located in what's called Hotel Circle. See my thread for more information, but there is something to fit every budget there. There are also one or two in Mission Valley. A friend of ours recently stayed at the Double Tree there and enjoyed it.

    Hope this helps --


    Donna

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default A Few More for the Kids

    It's not Disneyland, but my grandsons really enjoyed Legoland in Carlsbad (just north of San Diego). In San Diego, besides the zoo Balboa Park is home to a number of great museums including model trains, cars, puppets, insects, etc. that appeal to children. There are also a number of great national parks/monuments/lands in the general area you'll be driving through including Mojave National Preserve, Joshua Tree, Death Valley, the Grand Canyon, Walnut Canyon, Wupatki, Sunset Crater, Yosemite, and Point Reyes. Note that many of those parks have been used for movie location shoots. If you plan to see more than a handful of them, pick up an annual pass at the first one you come to. And by all means sign the kids up for the Junior Ranger Program at each and every one you visit.

    AZBuck

  5. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    With the time you have available you should consider driving a loop of the southwest rather than hire various 'cool cars' as it will save some hassle and money. You could then start out from the city that offers the cheapest flight deals from home, likely LA but could be Vegas or SF. If you join the 'loop' you will also have the experience of driving the beautiful coast highway around Big Sur between SF and LA. Travelling south from SF will put the Ocean and Oceanside scenic pull outs on your side of the road. Let's say you start in LA, there would be no need to go back there immediately after visiting San Diego, you could head straight for the Grand canyon and then go to Vegas. From Vegas you could then drive across Death valley and up the east side of the Sierra Nevada on US395 towards Mono Lake before driving across the mountains on Tioga Pass [CA120] into Yosemite valley. Then it's on to San Fran and back down the coast. If you wanted to you would have the option of travelling into Southern Utah from Grand canyon and enjoy the National parks of Bryce canyon and Zion but that depends on how you wish to break your time up.

    I would recommend you do some research and look at a good map of the area and see what appeals. You can find some good links in this thread and you will find many more searching the forums.
    Thanks Dave, this is really helpful. I will take your advice and do the loop in the direction you suggest. Arrive LA - San Diego - Vegas- San Fran - LA - Hawaii- Home.
    I am having the most difficulty working out what to do on the route from San Diego to Vegas and onto San Fran. What should be done around Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Death Valley and seen in Vegas itself and in what order. Arriving July 1 in LA at 12.35pm and was to drive direct to Sandiego, stay 3 days, then head to Vegas. Is hiring vehicles not the way to go? How then do you suggest moving from city to city? Want to be back in LA by 19th to have 5 days in LA, then head to Hawaii...

  6. Default San Diego to Vegas to San Francisco

    Hi Everyone,
    I wish to travel with my two kids from San Diego to Vegas and then onto San Francisco over 5 or 6 days.
    I would like to know what order to do things in and what would be good to see for a 10 and 8 year old (first big trip overseas from New Zealand). Should we hire one car for the whole trip?
    What should we see/visit and where is kid friendly and reasonable to stay in Vegas? How long should we stay in Vegas? I would like them to stay up one night to see the bright lights I guess....

    We wish to see the Grand Canyon. Where in the trip should this happen and what is the best location and way to do this?

    Is Yosamite worth seeing? Again, where and how do we fit this into the trip?

    For the long hot drives I was thinking of hiring a convertible mustang.....good or bad idea?

    thanks for the ideas and info...
    Daniel

    Please keep all posts about the same trip in the same place. - Mod
    Last edited by AZBuck; 02-06-2016 at 03:51 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    What should we see/visit and where is kid friendly and reasonable to stay in Vegas? How long should we stay in Vegas? I would like them to stay up one night to see the bright lights I guess....
    Child friendly -- well, frankly, Las Vegas isn't, at least not on The Strip. The bright lights are a draw for most kids. The volcano show at the Mirage is kid-friendly, as are the dancing fountains at the Bellagio. Few of the shows are kid-friendly.

    We wish to see the Grand Canyon. Where in the trip should this happen and what is the best location and way to do this?
    Probably the most accessible rim is the South Rim, about an hour north of Williams AZ which is on I-50. You could stay in the park, if your budget allows and you can get reservations. Just south of the entrance is Tusayan, and of course there is Williams or even Flagstaff.


    Is Yosemite worth seeing? Again, where and how do we fit this into the trip?
    Yosemite is one of the most visited National Parks in the US system, so I think that speaks for its popularity. Stunning views, loads of recreational opportunities (especially hiking). You enter the park either from the south or the west, usually, though if Tioga Pass is open you can cross through the park from the east on CA-120.


    For the long hot drives I was thinking of hiring a convertible mustang.....good or bad idea?
    Um....with a family, I'd say "probably not". Mustangs don't have much trunk/boot space, and if it's super hot, you may want the top up and the A/C running anyway. Find a nice comfortable sedan and keep it throughout your loop trip.


    Donna

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default More Pointers

    If your intention is still to fly into/out of Los Angeles, then the logical order is as Dave laid out for you previously: San Diego, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Death Valley, Yosemite, San Francisco, and back down the coast road (CA-1) to Los Angeles. It makes no sense to rent more than one car for the entire trip. Doing anything else will simply increase your costs for no gain. I would also think long and hard about hiring a "Mustang convertible". Such a rental would be considered a specialty car and would come with a hefty rate. It also would not be a terribly practical car for driving in the desert where (trust me) you'll want shade and air conditioning, not being open to the sun, the heat, and the bugs. And besides, at least one of your children would necessarily be sitting in the back seat where they'd also be subject to 70 mph winds as you motor down the highway. Plus ragtops are a whole lot easier to break into.

    As noted, The Grand Canyon slots in best between San Diego and Las Vegas. The drive can be made in a single long day's drive, or you can break it up with a stop in Phoenix, or pull up short in Flagstaff. There is plenty to do in the Flagstaff area besides see the Canyon. I listed some of the surrounding national monuments in my previous response, but there's also Lowell Observatory (where Pluto was discovered) and the Museum of northern Arizona (native American archaeology/anthropology/geology).

    Las Vegas is still not what I would call especially kid friendly. Your children are too young to be present on any casino's gambling floors. But there are things to do. Walking 'the Strip' is entertainment itself, and some of the hotels have outdoor shows (free) to try to attract customers. There is also a small roller coaster on one hotel's rooftop (I forget which one). Outside of town, Valley of Fire State Park and Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area offer some good hikes - mornings are best before things start to heat up.

    AZBuck

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Planning tools.

    Quote Originally Posted by DanielM View Post

    Is Yosamite worth seeing? Again, where and how do we fit this into the trip?
    You clearly need a few good maps of the area you will be covering. It will lay out the route for you, and what else there is along the way.

    My suggestion is that you get a wall size map of the US. My preferred is the national geographic map for all the detail it has. Familiarize yourself with the lay of the land and where everything is in relation to all the other places. Furthermore, it would be extremely helpful if you had detailed maps of the areas you plan to travel. With that in mind I recommend you look at the RTA store at the bottom of this page and purchase a Rand McNally road atlas. If you order it now, you will have it in a couple of weeks.

    These maps have an incredible amount of detail, things to see/do along each route, your choice of routes and most attractions. Such maps are invaluable during the planning stage and essential when on the road. They will show you much more than any computer screen ever will. Don't be tempted to rely solely on electronics. Many have done so at their peril - some fatal.

    The children will also benefit greatly from seeing the trip laid out on a map, and will learn the essential skill of map reading.

    Enjoy the planning.

    Lifey

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

    Default Kids enjoy nature to.

    Is hiring vehicles not the way to go? How then do you suggest moving from city to city?
    Hiring a car [singular] for the whole trip is the way to go, you keep saying "cars" and multiple cars will cost you much more and inconvenience.

    I am having the most difficulty working out what to do on the route from San Diego to Vegas and onto San Fran
    I laid this out in my previous post based on things you wanted to see.

    What should be done around Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Death Valley
    They should simply be enjoyed. You can get info from the nps.gov site but once you are there it will take care of itself. These are among the most beautiful and diverse places on the planet.

    Is Yosemite worth seeing?
    Heck yeah !! I can see why you would want to take your kids to all the manmade attractions but I am sure they will love the National parks and beauty within them. These are the type of places where memories are made, not theme parks. Educate the children and let them open their eyes and enjoy the wilderness and it's wildlife. There are 'Junior ranger' programs in the park where they complete tasks and get a Rangers badge. Give me time here over the city any day.

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