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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Evanston, Illinois
    Posts
    10

    Default Roadtrip through California with kids

    Hi,

    It's time to organize a new roadtrip with with the family. So, here I am looking for advice. We'll be traveling through California in June 2017 and our plan looks as follows: LA, Sequoia, Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Lassen, Redwood, SFO, route 1 to Santa Barbara, and back to LA. We are thinking to take something between three and four weeks (no less than three, no more than four). Finally, the group is composed of two adults, one six-year old, one three-year old, and one one-year old. This will be our fourth roadtrip with the oldest one, third with the second one, and second with the third one. However, we have never been to California so we don't really know what to expect in terms driving from one park to the next, getting into and out of big cities, etc. And, we definitely prefer scenic routes to highways. We won't be in any need to rush from one place to the next. Any advice would be great.

    Thanks,
    Fernando

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,081

    Default

    Are you flying between Chicago and LA? Does the three-to-four week time frame include the plane trip (or the drive to/from Chicago)?

    Driving from one park to the next, etc. -- well, if you can drive in Chicago, you'll be fine in LA. They are both large cities with traffic hassles. The main differences are that LA is a little more spread out, and there are less toll roads. Having good maps, and the ability to read them and navigate, is a big help. For the most part, LA is well-signed.

    At a glance, your trip has already started to be thought out well. LA to Sequoia can be driven on a combination of interstates and smaller highways, in about 5 hours (depending on traffic).

    From Yosemite, if Tioga Pass is open (ask a ranger first), you could drive to the eastern side of the park over the pass, then take US-395 and CA-89 to get up to Lake Tahoe. (If the pass is closed, you could use CA-49 and then US-50 to get to CA-89 and Lake Tahoe. Either drive is beautiful!)

    From Tahoe, use CA_89 for another beautiful ride up to Lassen. While you're in the Lassen area, Subway Cave is a lava cave that all ages love -- especially kids. The lava fields around Hat Creek are also very interesting!

    From Lassen, take CA-44 west to Redding, take a good look at Shasta Lake. It keeps shrinking! Then head west on CA-299 for another pretty drive across the state to US-101 north to the Redwoods. Then take the 101 south to SFO, and the PCH-1 (CA-1) south to LA.

    Around Redwoods National Park, there are other redwood state parks in the area. There's also the Avenue of the Giants, along the 101.

    What did you have in mind for San Francisco? Of course, Golden Gate Bridge and Golden Gate Park are fun. Muir Woods north of the city is also worth a visit (IMHO). With really young kids, it might be tricky to be riding the cable cars.




    Donna

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,195

    Default

    By June the Tioga pass has a very good chance of being open and that's the route, as described by Donna, I would take from Yosemite to Lake Tahoe. Near Lassen you will find Burney Falls which is a nice stop. When you head south to San Fran be sure to exit before the Golden Gate bridge and drive up the Marin Headlands on Conzelman road for great views of the City and Bay. [Fog permitting] You should consider booking your NP lodging well in advance as they are very popular places and if you plan to visit Alcatraz Island [recommended !] I would also suggest booking in advance to avoid long queues with the possibility of not getting on the next boat. Book through the National park site as it's the only official ticket office that doesn't charge agent fees or sell you other tours you may not want as a way to make their money.

    Any specific questions just ask but generally speaking you should have no issues.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Evanston, Illinois
    Posts
    10

    Default

    Thank you for all the help! We are definitely flying to LA, not driving. We haven't decided yet on what to do in San Francisco but we are looking for child friendly activities.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,081

    Default

    In San Francisco, Golden Gate Park comes to mind as "child friendly". If you have your own transportation, Children's Fairyland in Oakland is a favorite place for young children, where all the fairy tales and nursery rhymes come to life. (It's an old park, been around for about 65 years or so, but has been revamped. I still have my magic key, from when I was a child.)

    Alcatraz Island may interest you. If you go to book a tour, do so through the NP concession rather than any other online place so that you get the best deal.

    Donna

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Evanston, Illinois
    Posts
    10

    Default

    Thanks Donna.

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