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  1. Default irish family planning west coast road trip

    Hi all.
    Myself, my wife and my two kids (8 and 6) are coming to the west coast from Ireland for a three week approx road trip.
    We are flying in and out of LAX and we want to hopefully take in the following:
    A few days in LA to get over jetlag taking in Disney, Universal, Seaworld etc;
    Then travel up the coast towards San francisco stopping on the way to visit some other highlights???
    Then to Yosemite and maybe Lake Tahoe??
    Then to Vegas via death Valley??
    Vegas to Grand Canyon.
    Grand Canyon to San Diego and then back to LA.

    Is three weeks too long or too little?
    Any ideas as to where to stay with kids?
    Any suggested stops we should take enroute or highlights we shouldn`t miss.
    Is Vegas and Grand Canyon suitable for kids?
    Any other help or ideas on car rental type or good hotels would be great.
    We are very flexible with time and budget.

    Very kind regards,


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Western/Central Massachusetts

    Default Welcome!

    Welcome to the RoadTrip America Forum!

    To quickly answer one of your questions -
    Grand Canyon is most definitely suitable for kids to go out and experience - the major tourist stops here all are easily accessible via the shuttle that runs through the park. I would imagine it comes down to the patience of the individual child.

    Here is some advice about stops between LA and SF.

    Here is a sticky thread about travelling to Las Vegas via Death Valley.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 04-23-2007 at 08:58 AM. Reason: navigation

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Sounds like a grand adventure!

    Quote Originally Posted by redfive View Post
    We are flying in and out of LAX and we want to hopefully take in the following:A few days in LA to get over jetlag taking in Disney, Universal, Seaworld etc;
    Sounds very wise -- one point -- Sea World is down in San Diego (about three hours south of Los Angeles)
    Then travel up the coast towards San francisco stopping on the way to visit some other highlights???
    There are some many cool places to stop and explore.

    Here is a photo of a place, taken by one of our members -- roadie -- that is easy to see from the highway, click here for information about where to park to see it.
    Mass Tim has already listed a couple of threads, but this one is being used to list those threads that the Moderators really like and they address most of your questions.
    Is three weeks too long or too little?
    It is about right, although I would think you might want to cut down on the driving a little and just hang at some of those places.


  4. Default A couple of notes about visiting the LA area

    I'm going to throw this in....

    Some scale facts about Los Angeles area for visitors

    There have been some comments by folks on RoadTripAmerica forum who have been coming to the US to visit Los Angeles that sort of indicated perhaps they didn't understand the scale of Los Angeles.

    It's big. No -- I mean its geographically BIG. Really BIG in scale.

    Let's consider London as a point of comparison. London is a great international city -- lots of culture, places to visit and things to do. Greater London has about 7.5 Million people, in an area of around 609 square miles. [Ref: Wikipedia on London]

    Now let's consider just a part of the Greater LA area: (Los Angeles and Orange Counties, not including the local areas of Ventura, Riverside/ San Bernadino, and etc). Total population in these two counties is 13.5 M people, in an area of 5700 square miles. That's something less than 2x as many people, but spread out over 9x as much area. If you run the numbers, the population density is about 12,000 per square mile in Greater london, and about 2,400 per square mile in the greater LA area. (Ref: LA population demographics from LA Economic Development Council, June 06 "L.A. Stats")

    The 'core' of the metropolitan in LA is roughly a triangle 100 miles east-west and 100 miles north south, bounded by the Pacific Ocean on the hypotheuse, and 10,000' mountains on the north and east. From a UK perspective think of this area as wide as from Bristol to London and as long as from London to Sheffield.

    Historically, LA grew up as a bunch of separate cities and neighborhoods which have grown together over the last century, so there isn't really a single "downtown" area, and the good parts (and bad) are spread out all across that wide geographic area. Within that region there's a widely varied set of communities, many with almost unique flavors of community and culture. A few famous ones include Malibu, Hollywood, East LA, Little Saigon, Watts, Little Tokyo, Beverly Hills, Huntington Beach (Surf City), and Newport Beach ("the OC"). There's also a very wide range of geographic features as well, which range from the beaches to the urban centers to 10,000' high mountains in the San Gabriels (within 30 minutes from the city, and less than 90 minutes from downtown LA). And some real cultural gems, if you look for them -- the Getty Musuem, the Norton Simon Musuem, LA Musuem of Art, LA Natural History Musuem, Page Musuem at the LA Tar Pits, Aquarium of the Pacific, Olvera Street, Spanish Missions (plural), LA County Center for the Performing Arts, Segerstrom Performing Arts Center in Orange County, Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, 6 Flags Magic Mountain, East LA, the surfing beaches from Malibu to Huntington Beach, etc etc. A very diverse and somewhat eclectic collection of places including some real global cultural icons such as Hollywood. But it's diffuse -- you can't go spend a few hours and see much of what the city is known for in one spot.

    LA area also has somewhat of a unique cultural feel in many ways -- in general (and this is a very sweeping generalization) LA is a city of immigrants and their children from all over the world who have come to LA to create something new and different. It is unusual to find someone who is more than a 2nd generation citizen of the LA area -- just about everyone is from somewhere else within recent memory. And that attitude shows -- in music, in art, in entertainment, and in the industry around here. (LA is either the leader or number two in fashion, electronics, entertainment, aerospace, bio medicine, industrial design, science, and a couple of other areas). LA embraces change and new ways of doing things. Economically, if you put LA and Orange County together, they'd be the somewhere around the 15th or 16th largest economy in the world, somewhere around Russian and ahead of Australia and Sweden.

    The city has got its warts, sure -- but its a very interesting place to visit.

    But the issue in a lightning visit to LA is the scale. Even at full freeway speeds it will take about 2 hours to get through LA if you just zoom through doing nothing but looking out the car windows while traveling at the freeway speed limits of 100 kilometers per hour. If you try to do the zoom through with a visit to a single place it's an all day trip, and you'll probably go away with the attitude that all it is rush hour traffic and a single tourist attraction.

    If you want to visit, my suggestion is pick somewehre and visit it for a day -- then move on to another section and visit there for a day ("basecamping"). It's not Rome where the Forum, Colliseum, Pantheon, Tivoli Fountain, Spanish Steps, and Vatican are within walking distance of each other. ( I was there on business a couple of years ago, and walked to all of them on my lunch breaks). In comparison -- to walk from just Disneyland to Universal Studios would be a 40 mile, 2 day hike. And then to get to somewhere else (the Getty Musuem, for example), its another 15 mile hike including over some 1000' hills, and going on to somewhere like the Santa Monica Pier another 10 miles.

    Getting around LA isn't really bad -- if you have a car, or are willing to spend some time in a taxi. There's a subway system in downtown, there are several light rail systems over major corridors, and LA has the world's largest bus system. But the primary mode of transportation is by car, since its that's what the city has grown up around. Like any big city, there is rush hour traffic which can make traveling on the highly used transportation cooridors slow and congested. The folks who have problems are trying to rush through LA, and usually manage to hit rush hour traffic coming into the city, visit somewhere, and then hit it again as they leave the city.

    If you're just passing through the city, heading north to south (or vice versa) the issue is getting through the urban area without much hassle. At the best of times, it'll take you at least 90 minutes at freeway speeds to get through the city. The key is to avoid rush hour, that twice daily ebb & flow of commuters into and out of parts of the city where business and commerce are concentrated. The major traffic flows are into and out of the central LA area, into and out of the area around LAX (LA International airport) and into and out of Santa Ana/ Irvine area in Orange County. Rush hour really starts bout 700 am and continues through until about 830 am, and in the evenings starts up about 4 pm and continues until 6 pm. And of course, if there's a major accident traffic can be snarled way beyond these times.

    To speed folks through the LA area, you might take advantage of "Car Pool lanes", or "HOV lanes" (High Occupancy Vehicles" or "diamond lanes" (from the diamond shape painted on the roads to help mark them). On many of the major freeways there are special lanes for use by vehices with 2 or more persons on board, buses, or hybrid/ electric vehicles. These are typicaly on the inside lanes of the freeway (near the center) and have limited places where you can enter or exit the lanes. These can cut the trip through the city at rush hour by 1/2. But you will have limited options to get in or out of the lanes -- every mile or so. And the regulations to not just cut across the double-double lines are enforced pretty strongly ($350+ fine).

    So.. for redfive, give some thought as to where in Southern California you'd like to visit. Seaworld is in San Diego, and is a great place to visit -- but its about a 2- 2 1/2 hour drive from the LA international Airport (known as LAX from its international designation). I would recommend driving down and staying the night in San Diego, enjoy Sea World, and perhaps the large San Diego Zoo, or some of the many musuems in Balboa Park (near the Zoo). Disneyland is in Anaheim, about 35 miles from LAX. Universal Studios is about 35 miles from Disneyland through downtown LA (and possibly some heavy traffic).

    Other places you might enjoy in Southern California might be Knotts Berry Farm in Buena Park, La Brea Tar Pits (closer to downtown LA), Pacific Aquarium in Long Beach, the surfing beaches alogn the coast, or some of the many musuems or other places to visit. From a natural side, one of things that my cousins from the UK always spoke about was being able to be on the top of an 8,000' high mountain in 90 minutes from Disneyland.

    What are your kids and your family interested in?
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 07-13-2007 at 11:12 AM. Reason: fixed a link

  5. Default Thanks for the quick replies

    Going to have a look at all that info and make some bookings etc;
    Didn`t think LA was that big so will have to look at that in more detail.
    My kids are very interested in beaches and Disney etc; and hopefully some national parks.
    Thanks again guys and great work.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Great post, Larrison

    That should be a sticky, imho. Great info on LA and what to expect. Kudos!

  7. #7

    Default Sounds fun!

    Try to make a stop in Monterey! The Monterey Bay Aquarium is wonderful! and you can take the kids to the Dennis the Menace playground to "get the wigglges out". We usually take a picnic lunch there. You can pick up lunch from a local grocery store.

    and I love Rio Del Mar beach (north of Monterey) with the kids

    It's a nice beach, you can park and walk to the beach without taking steep stairs, there is a coffee shop right next to the parking lot (and they let you use the bathroom if you ask nice!) and there is a very nice little lunch diner, reasonable and quaint. (can't remember the name but you can walk to it from the lot..Pixie's maybe?)

    Have fun and Welcome to CA!

    ps: Love Yosemite! In fact, we just decided today to go this Saturday! We go at least 2-3 times a year.
    Last edited by Momto3plusdog; 04-26-2007 at 07:20 PM. Reason: Preferred URL Format

  8. #8


    Oh, and dont forget Lego Land!! Everything made entirely of legos? Come on, how can you beat that? Its in Carlsbad, between Sea World and Disney Land. And Disney Land can be a 3-4 day adventure now. they have package deals with the local hotels which will give you some decent rates. You can spend 2 days in Disney Land, 1 in Disney's California Adventure, and then one in Downtown Disney. They are all sitting right on top of eachother and the hotels will shuttle you over. You wouldnt have to get in the car for a few days.

    Do you golf? Southern California has a ton of wonderful golf corses. Like Pebble Beach and stuff. They are all over.

    Have fun!! I'll have to hit you up when I take my trip in Ireland in like 5 years!


  9. #9

    Default For the kids...

    When in San Francisco, take the kids to the Exploratorium. It's a great science museum perfect for kids that age.

    I would recommend Yosemite over Lake Tahoe any day- so much to see there! But be sure to make lodging reservations in advance, especially in the summer when it gets quite crowded.

    Have a wonderful trip!


  10. Default

    Red, I'm from Ireland, my mate was living out in san fran so we set our base out there. lovely city for a family i reckon as there is a good bit to do ( probably a little further out of the city ). If you have any interest in wines and the like ( which some of us didnt but others did on the trip ) then head out to napa valley, couple hours drive from san fran, nice scenery and the tour in the robert mandavy ( sp? i know ive spend it wrong) winery is very informative. The kids mightn't enjoy it but you will.

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