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  1. Default First family road trip in the US

    Hi all. First post in here. What a great forum!
    We are a Danish family with 2 kids (age 3 and 6) going to the US this summer. We will spend 2 weeks with family in NY and then fly to San Francisco. We have 10 days before flying home from LA, so we plan a 10 day road trip between SF and LA last week in July and first week of August.

    I know there are several threads on this route, but I would appreciate any tips for these 2 specific weeks - bearing in mind it's a family with small kids. So wine tastings, theatre night etc will have to wait for another trip :-)

    It's a short distance between the 2 cities, so with 10 days we have time for a bit of zig zagging and improvising. Besides of course the beautiful nature on the route, we are interested in American history and culture and small towns you don't necessarily read about in guide books.

    We are looking for:
    Any special events, festivals etc
    Unusual, off the beaten track sightseeing
    Places for kids
    Hotels/motels to stay
    Small charming towns

    Any tips will be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks a lot!!
    Tom

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,545

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    So many things you could do -

    Yosemite National Park. There, the 6-year-old is just old enough for the Junior Ranger program.

    Head south on the Pacific Coast Highway. Along the way you have lots of beaches, great scenic views for the adults. Solvang would meet your request for a "small charming town".

    Hotels/motels - well, there are lots of choices. Chains, mom-and-pop owned, inns that are "suites" (where you might get a bedroom for the kids and one for you).


    Those are just off the top of my head. Do you have a California map yet, or a road atlas that covers California? If not, you can order a road atlas from the RTA store - scroll down for the link - and you'll have it in a few weeks. Once you have a paper map, You will be able to see things that interest you.


    Donna

  3. Default

    Hi Donna.

    Thanks so much! I will definetely order a map asap.

    Any advice on best rental company in SF?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,747

    Default Car rental and some options.

    You will likely find much better rental deals booking in advance by using an On line company such as Rentalcars.com This is a great list of popular threads covering the area where you can gather ideas. Yosemite is an amazing place where I would certainly plan to spend a couple of days then, as mentioned above, you could enjoy the stunning coastline but you do have other options as well. Sequoia NP is just south of Yosemite which you could include and still head to the coast. Starting from Monterey you have the world renowned Aquarium and then lots of great scenery and towns along CA1. Alcatraz in SF and Hearst castle near San Simeon are popular tours to consider. Another option would be to head across the mountains from Yosemite on the spectacular Tioga Pass to Mono Lake and down US395 through the towns and around the lakes to Death valley. That will be extremely hot but it's an amazing landscape to drive through and then you could continue to the Grand canyon south rim, a true wonder of the world !!

    Travelling at this time of year means it will be busy and popular spots like Yosemite book up fast so if it's a place that appeals you will need to get onto it.

  5. Default

    Thanks a lot, Southwest Dave. Really appreciate it. And you think your suggestions will be realistic for a 10 days ride? I really want to include those places, but I have to be careful of not increasing the driving time by too much with the kids on board.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,545

    Default

    Suggestion: make sure you have "special toys" (small ones, of course) that you can bring out periodically on a long ride for your kids, and then put them away and get out something else. For my kids, it was My Little Pony, a travel-sized Etch-a-Sketch, and travel games. Your kids may require different, of course, simply because this is the 21st century. If kids are busy, they are usually not complaining. If you can bring their own car seats from home, they will probably be comforting.

    Donna

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,747

    Default It depends.

    Quote Originally Posted by Teacph View Post
    Thanks a lot, Southwest Dave. Really appreciate it. And you think your suggestions will be realistic for a 10 days ride? I really want to include those places, but I have to be careful of not increasing the driving time by too much with the kids on board.
    You would have time to do either of those options, but not everything without being rushed. I would decide on Yosemite and the coast [to possibly include Sequoia] or head inland from Yosemite to the Grand canyon. There are other ways to juggle things depending on your preferences and how much time you want to spend on the road. If your 10 days includes time to be spent in SF and LA, where a couple of days in each is easily done, your time is already becoming limited.

  8. #8

    Default

    Monterey is probably a two night stop allowing sufficient time to enjoy the aquarium which your kids will love. From there it is a beautiful drive South through Carmel and Big Sur. Keep an eye out for the giant sea lions road stop another kiddie delight (and adults).

    Ana half hour South of Big Sur is Cambria, nice place, but for a family I'd suggest another half hour to Morro Bay which has a larger selection of motels, walkable town, a few good espresso bars, plenty of restaurants and it's landmark haystack (big Rock in the ocean). Enjoy watching some surfriding near the Rock and some safe areas for the kids to dip their toes into the sea.

    Solvang is a cute Danish-themed town if you need a "Danish fix" during your trip.

    Continuing South is the small city /large town of San Luis Obispo which has an old Spanish Mission, one of the several early settlements along the coast. There is another in Santa Barbara but I can't comment on it having not visited it.

    Recommend continuing South on coastal highway from Ventura /Camarillo timing your arrival into Los Angeles before 2pm (rush hour).
    Last edited by landmariner; 03-12-2016 at 10:19 AM. Reason: Routing suggestion

  9. #9

    Default

    Possible route: San Francisco to Yosemite to Monterey to Big Sur / Coastal Highway to Los Angeles.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Good plan.

    Quote Originally Posted by landmariner View Post
    Possible route: San Francisco to Yosemite to Monterey to Big Sur / Coastal Highway to Los Angeles.
    That would probably be all I would do with two little ones. If you check your maps carefully, you will find there are lots of parks along the way, and normally every town will have a park and/or playground.

    After all, at that age they are not likely to be interested in the history and details of most sites. All they want is to have fun, and not sit in the car for most of each day.

    Lifey

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