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  1. Default Orange County California to Nashville TN

    Hello,

    My husband and i will be moving from Orange County to Nashville in early to mid December. We're driving our cars out with a 7yr old, 4yr old and 3 month old. We'd like to drive a few hours in the morning, a few hours in the afternoon. Ideally stopping in Oklahoma City to see family. We'd love to time it so we can get out and walk around - possibly see some national parks en route to entertain the kids and get the wiggles out. Any route or stopping ideas/suggestions?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,051

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    The big question that you didn't mention: How much time do you have for this trip?

    The most direct way to go would just be to take I-40 the whole way. It's about a 2000 mile drive, and goes right through OKC. You'd need 4 days minimum to cover those miles.

    There are several National Parks near I-40, with the Grand Canyon being the most famous albeit about an hour detour off the interstate. However, keep in mind, particularly considering the ages of your kids, you don't need National Parks for a nice stop to get a break from the road. You've also got places like state parks, and really pretty much every town has a playground which can be just as good as anything when you're heading down the road.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,347

    Default It's What We Do

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Any map or GPS can tell you to just take I-40 pretty much all the way from LA (more or less) to Nashville. Some might even tell you that, realistically, you need a minimum of four days to make such a drive. But who else is going to give you a ready-made list of places where the kids can have fun spaced every few hours along that route? By all means, visit the major public lands on the way, including Mojave National Preserve, the Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest, and the Oklahoma City Memorial. But also take the time to visit Petroglyph National Monument near Albuquerque, Cadillac Ranch outside Amarillo, and Mud Island in Memphis.

    Your plan to drive just a few hours in the morning and another few hours in the evening should leave you lots of time to let the kids explore, run around, have a genuinely good time and (unbeknownst to them) actually learn something about the country. To that end, I'd also recommend that you purchase a national parks pass at the first park or monument you come to. It will be good for admission for the entire carload to all facilities in the national park system. Secondly, be sure to sign up all the kids of the appropriate ages for the Junior Ranger Program at each site you stop.

    One place where you can take the most advantage of the programs I just mentioned and where I recommend that you spend a full day or two if you can spare the time is in the Flagstaff AZ area, where besides the Grand Canyon there are a number of great national monuments including Sunset Crater, Wupatki, and Walnut Canyon.

    AZBuck

  4. Default

    Thank you! We do have our national parks pass! This is helpful!

    - - - Updated - - -

    Thank you! We don't have weeks, but we can certainly stretch it out to 6, 7 or 8 days

  5. Default

    Only your 7 year old will retain any memories from this trip, and they will be pretty sketchy at best. I agree with MM. Pick the scenic or educational sights that you want to see but any old playground will suffice for the kids at this age.

    I remember taking my kids to Disney World for the second time. After entering the park I asked them if they wanted to skip some of the attractions they saw last time and head for new ones. I was shocked at their reply "But Daddy, we've NEVER been here before!" They didn't remember anything about that EXPENSIVE day!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,347

    Default Time and Distance

    With something as variable as individual driving styles and trip plans, we tend to work with generalized 'rules-of-thumb' rather than precise formulas. When we said initially that it would take a minimum of four days to drive from Los Angeles to Nashville, that was based on an assumption of a solid ten hours of driving over each day. Now if instead you're only looking at about five or six hours of driving per day, then you're looking at a minimum of eight days for the entire trip. It's not a case of "stretch[ing] it out to 6, 7 or 8 days". You'll need eight to travel at the pace you're envisioning.

    Even at that, you'll have to forego any attractions that aren't right on I-40. That means no Grand Canyon; the time it would take to make that detour and actually drive the Rim Road would chew up your entire driving budget for the day. Fortunately, as travelingman points out, your children are too young to know or remember what they're missing. Instead, stick to smaller state and local parks such as those in the list I gave you earlier.

    Another thing you might consider is rather than doing just a pair of modest stretches, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, do three slightly shorter legs each day with two 'time outs' for the kids to get out and run around. That way you'll get in more actual driving, but the individual times that the kids are confined to the car will each be (slightly) less and they get an extra playtime each day. You can save a little more time (and money) by traveling with a cooler and doing picnic lunches at one of the stops.

    AZBuck

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,051

    Default

    As I mentioned, your kids will get as much out of stopping at a local park with a playground as they are likely to get out of a visit to a National Park, but having said that, it's easy to forget that a family trip isn't only about the kids. If you've always wanted to visit the Grand Canyon, then you absolutely should, even if your youngest kids aren't likely to remember much from the experience.

    Now, as Buck mentioned, going to the Grand Canyon is basically a full day detour all by itself, and you'll have to weigh that against how much driving you want to do each day, how much time you want to spend with family in OKC, etc. It sounds like you'll have a comfortable amount of time to make the journey, but if you start to stretch things out with lots of stops and short driving days, that time will quickly start to disappear.

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