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  1. #1

    Default Ft. Worth > Anaheim & San Diego > Grand Canyon > FW - Family Trip

    Hello! I am new to this forum and would love some advice on planning our family summer trip. My husband and I are in our mid-30's and we have a 6 year old daughter. We took a six week summer road trip a couple of years ago from Ft. Worth > DC > Philadelphia > Williamsburg > Blue Ridge Pkwy > Hilton Head > Savannah/Charleston > Orlando > Destin > Ft. Worth. It was the most wonderful trip - we saw so many great towns and we did it at a very leisurley pace, so not too much stress.

    This year, we would like to go to the West Coast. We are planning on about a 3 week trip (could go as long as 4 weeks if needed). We are traveling in a Tahoe and usually plan to drive about 5 hours at most per day.

    So far, here is our itinarery:

    May 24 - Fort Worth to El Paso (stay with family )
    May 27 - El Paso to Anaheim: We do not mind taking 2-3 days to get to Anaheim. We plan on staying in Anaheim at least 4-5 days to go to Disneyland and other attractions. We will then head to San Diego for at least 4-5 days. We definitely plan on visiting the Zoo, Sea World and spending some time on the beaches. I would like to book our Anaheim & San Diego hotels in advance. From San Diego, we would like to go to the Grand Canyon (south Rim) and perhaps spend a couple of days there. We will probably make the trip there in 2 days, so any suggested scenic routes and stops along the way would be appreciated. We would like to stay in the Canyon, so I understand we have to book rather quickly as rooms are filling up. From the Grand Canyon, we are planning to head back to Ft. Worth. We can take a few days to head back.

    I have not added up all the days, but I assume this can be done in 3-4 weeks. I would mainly like advice on scenic routes for traveling between our main destinations and interesting places to see along the way (for us and a 6 year old). We do not have to have something to do everywhere we stop, but we definitely would like some pretty drives along the way.

    We are flexible on our dates for locations and the routes - the only definites are we have to be in El Paso on May 26, so that will definitely be our first stop. Otherwise, we can either do Anaheim first or perhaps Grand Canyon first. My only concern was that I wanted to be at Disneyland earlier to try and beat some of the summer crowds.

    I've gotten some info about the San Diego to Grand Canyon leg of the route from other threads, but would really like some suggestions for stops that would be interesting for a 6 year old. Especially from El Paso to Anaheim and the Grand Canyon back to Fort Worth.

    Thanks for any advice you can give!!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Québec, Montreal, Arizona, California, France

    Default Fun for the whole family

    Hello Dina and Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum!

    I assume this can be done in 3-4 weeks
    Yes it is entirely doable, although I would go for 4 weeks if you can afford the time off.

    I've gotten some info about the San Diego to Grand Canyon leg of the route from other threads, but would really like some suggestions for stops that would be interesting for a 6 year old. Especially from El Paso to Anaheim and the Grand Canyon back to Fort Worth.
    The Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico is worth a stop. Don't miss Roswell and its UFO Museum & Research Center and have an "unidentified meal" at the Crash Down Diner. Smokey the Bear Historical State Park in Capitan could be a fun stop, especially with a kid. On US 70, near Alamogordo, plan to spend at least one hour to hike through dunes of white gypsum sands at White Sands National Park (3$).

    Further west, if you stay on the southern route (I-10) Bisbee and Tombstone will be only a short drive south of the interstate, the first being an old mining town with a lavish architectural heritage and the latter a fun old west tourist trap. Just south of Tucson on I-19 visit the glorious White Dove of the Desert a.k.a. Mission San Xavier Del Bac. Other nearby attractions : Kartchner Caverns State Park, Saguaro National Park and the very famous Biosphere 2.

    In California, check out Anza-Borrego State Park and Joshua Tree NP. Back in Arizona, you could go to Lake Havasu City to see the London Bridge, take a horseback ride to the Havasupai Waterfalls or drive old Route 66 from Oatman to Williams. Here's a post with other suggestions for areas southeast of the Grand Canyon you might go through on your way back to TX.

    Happy planning!

  3. Default Southern Route loop?

    Hi Dina --

    A slight alternative route would be to go from El Paso west to Tucson, and then continue west on I-8 to come into San DIego from the East. There are several interesting places along this route -- Karcher Caverns east of Tucson, Saguro National Park, or even to drop a bit south through Tombstone and Bisbee as mentioned previously. There's also an old west town near Tucson I've visited used in many western movies, and may be interesting to a 6 year old as they have old West gun fight shows. West of Tucson is Kit Peak National Observatory as a side trip, and the old fort and military post at Yuma.
    In the San Diego area besides the Zoo and Balboa Park, and Sea World, you might also consider taking the Trolley down to visit Tijiuana Mexico for the day (take your passports and your son's as well), visiting the Star of India in the port, visiting Legoland north of San Diego or the San Diego Wild Animal Park at Escondido. There are also well restored old Spanish Missions to visit in San Diego or San Luis Rey (east of Oceanside). There's a harbor tour in San Diego harbor that goes past the large navy base there -- when I was down there last week they have 2 carriers docked in the harbor as well as the USS Midway (which is now a Museum).
    From San Diego you can continue north to Anaheim. In the Orange County area, you can do Disneyland or Knotts Berry Farm, or visit the beaches in Huntington Beach area to watch the surfers and walk out on one of the many piers. There's a good musuem in Long Beach, as well as the Queen Mary to visit. You might be want to plan ahead about traffic and whatnot if you are visiting Hollywood -- there can be large rush hour traffic between Anaheim and the Hollywood area, and it may take an hour or more to make that drive each way.
    From Anahime it is a pretty good route to continue north via I-15 to I-40 Las Vegas or towards the Grand Canyon. There are several places to stop, but one of the more interesting routes is to go east to Palm Springs so you can ride the tram up to the top of the mountain for a few hours, and then continue north through Joshua Tree/ 29 palms (possibly staying the night in 29 palms). You can drive through Joshua Tree National park, and then continue north from 29 Palms to the tiny village of Amboy and then follow old route 66 (now the National Trails Highway) to either Needles or Laughlin.
    Oatman Arizona is a neat old mining town with wild burros wandering the streets wanting to be fed, and is reachable from either town. From there is a pretty straight shot to Williams and the western entrance to Grand Canyon, or you can continue to follow old Route 66 through Peach Springs to end up at the same place.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default But Wait - There's More!

    You may be getting a few more suggestions than you anticipated, and everything Gen and Larrison have proffered are good stops. But I had also started a response and then stopped when I saw all the good stuff you were getting. Now I'm going to back up a bit and cover some of the spots they missed. I'm also going to try to stick to your original trip outline, although some of the alternative routings they have given you are certainly worth looking into.

    Fort Worth to El Paso is a shade over 600 miles, so if you're going to limit yourself to 5 hours of driving a day, you're looking at two days to cover that, with Midland, appropriately enough, being the midway point. A couple of things in and around Midland to see and do that first evening or the next morning would include a quick visit to the world's largest jackrabbit statue on N. Sam Houston Street in Odessa, Dennis the Menace Park on Garfield between Wall and Front Streets in Midland, and, oddly enough, a replica of Stonehenge on the University of Texas (PB) campus in Odessa.

    El Paso to Anaheim is just enough longer than your first leg, at just under 800 miles, that taking a third day is probably in order if you want to keep to your relaxed pace. Your overnights stops would then be in either Wilcox or Benson, AZ on the first night and in either Quartzite, AZ or Blythe, CA on the second. If you stick to I-10 into The LA Basin, then some places to explore with along the way would include the aforementioned Kartchner Caverns (but make reservations if you plan on going) and Saguaro National Park in Tucson. But also consider the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum which is next door to the Tucson Mountain (western) District of Suguaro National Park. The Museum is much more of a zoo than a museum and fascinates young children.

    You should also consider taking the following 'detour' around Phoenix. At Casa Grande, AZ take I-8 west instead of I-10, then at Gila Bend take AZ-85 north to Buckeye where you'll rejoin I-10. This alternate route west is signed so it's easy to follow and it saves you from driving through Phoenix. On the third day, you can take some time off the road and visit Joshua Tree National Park

    While in San Diego, be sure to plan on at least a day wandering around Balboa Park. There is more to do there than you can ever get to in a short visit so be sure to stop at the visitor's center first to see what is most appealing. Also, my 6 year old grandson particularly enjoyed Legoland north of San Diego, besides the other places you have already mentioned.

    For a two day scenic drive from San Diego to the Grand Canyon, try heading east out of San Diego on I-8 (or even CA-94 if you're feeling adventurous) through the Santa Ana Mountains to El Centro, and then follow CA-78, I-8, and AZ-95 north up the Colorado River Valley to Lake Havasu City where you'll spend the night in the shadow of London Bridge, and on the next day continue north to I-40 and AZ-64 to the Grand Canyon.

    From the Grand Canyon Back to Fort Worth is another 1000 miles, so again you're looking at three days. Here the most direct routing is I-40 east to Amarillo and then US-287 into Fort Worth. Possible stops along the way include Walnut Canyon National Monument, Meteor Crater (and the nearby Wigwam Motel, Petrified Forest National Park, and Petroglyph National Monument. with your overnight stops being around Grants, NM and Amarillo, TX.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default A couple more of "adds" for Midland


    I wish you had posted this message before last Thursday! I was just in Midland, Texas and I would have enjoyed seeing those places that AZBuck pointed out above. I did capture a really good mural of "oil grasshoppers" downtown which I will be posting later this month. But there are a couple more "must-see" attractions in Midland.

    First, at the airport is the CAF exhibit -- it has a different official name, (Commemorative Air Force) but everyone I know calls it the Confederate Air Force. And the petroleum museum is one of the best in the country (Hmm -- I see our article doesn't have the current link so, here it is...) -- plus it has a relatively new wing full of race cars. Heading further west -- you might get a kick out of the Million Barrel Museum.

    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 01-10-2007 at 02:53 PM. Reason: added a navigational link

  6. #6

    Default Thanks for all the advice!

    Wow, so many great suggestions! Thank you everyone for all the advice! Now comes the fun part of trying to plan our route and incorporate lots of the information, looks like so many interesting places!

    I do have one more question. My husband is interested in seeing the Gila Cliff Dwellings. I know it is a little bit out of the way, which he is fine with (we can plan around it). I am just not sure if the trails would be a little too much for our 6 year old daughter. I know I went when I was young and I kind of remember it being a little scary for me (I was afraid of heights). Would we be better off doing it when our daughter is older, or would it be okay for her to do now? I have lots of family in El Paso, so we tend to visit every 1-2 years, so we can definitely plan to go on a later visit.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Gila and an Alternative

    I have not visited Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument and so can't offer any first hand advice. but the following is from the park brochure:


    Due to the roughness and elevation gains of the one mile trail to the Cliff Dwellings, this trail is not wheelchair accessible. The trail to the Cliff Dwellings is not paved and both the final section ascending to the dwellings and the trail descending from them are very steep. The dwellings are entered via a short staircase and may be exited, if desired, via a wooden ladder.

    Part of the "Trail to the Past" at the nearby Lower Scorpion Campground is wheelchair accessible (for viewing of pictographs) as is the Visitor Center.

    The trailhead Contact Station is wheelchair accessible.

    I'd let that description, your own memories, and your knowledge of your daughter's adventurousness be your guide. But if that's still not enough to make up your mind, by all means call ahead and talk to a ranger about just what is available and what you and your daughter would get out of a visit.

    I have visited Walnut Canyon, outside of Flagstaff, and recommended it above. It is a much smaller scale, more accessible, and less scary example of cliff dwellings (although it's still a good hike), and could serve as a good substitute


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