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  1. Default Family of six needs ideas for San Fran to LV

    We are an Australian family of six with four children aged 11,9, 6 & 4 who will be hiring an RV from San Francisco for 11 days in mid December. We are planning to make our way down the coast (highway 1) and across to Las Vegas. (You probably think we are mad!!!)

    We are looking for ideas of where we should stop along the way and which route we should take to get to Las Vegas. (We are keen to take a day trip into Mexico). In particular we are looking for a spot to spend Christmas Day which will be child friendly.

    We want to make this a memorable trip for the kids (I'm sure it will be!). We thought maybe staying on a cowboy ranch but can't seem to find one which will take RV's or maybe near hot springs (something we don't get here!).

    This RV rental is only part of our 5 1/2 week trip. We will visit Disney early December then drive to San Fran via Yosemite - is this a good idea at that time of the year? Will also have a week in a cabin near Grand Canyon and a week skiing at Mammoth.

    Would love to hear any ideas. We are looking forward to a great trip!

    Many thanks


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

    Default Welcome!

    Welcome to the RoadTrip America Forum!

    Las Vegas is a very popular spot on these forums - we actually have a dedicated Forum just for that destination! Additionally, you can look at this post for even more suggestions from our team.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Central California

    Default Ambitious...

    ...but fun - and not too mad!

    Hi, Your kids will have a great time!

    One caution, you probably don't want, or maybe aren't allowed, to take a rented RV to Mexico without paying for additional insurance. Check with the rental agency for details.

    If you can't find a ranch that will allow an RV, then work it into your plan when you have a car. Ranches aren't my expertise, but I'll be there are some near San Diego.

    RVing to Yosemite in December is perfectly OK. We spent a wonderous New Years there several years ago in our motorhome. You just have to be judicious with your use of electricity (I don't think any sites have hookups). Batteries don't hold their charge as well in cold weather.

    One idea for hotsprings is this one which is near Sequoia National Park, kind of on the way to Yosemite. There are lots of web resources for finding such places all over the state.

    Good luck and have a great trip,

    Craig Sheumaker
    co-author of the travel guide: America's Living History-The Early Years
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 10-17-2007 at 08:05 PM. Reason: preferred URL format herein

  4. Default

    Hello The_lost_tribe,

    It actually sounds like a fun trip. 11 days is plenty of time to do the coast road and yosemite and to Las Vegas. The usual route is south along the coast with side trips through Yosemite and etc,, through LA and then San Diego, and then back north & east to Las Vegas. A couple of things that you & your kids might really enjoy that are (sort of) between SF and Las Vegas that may not be at the top of the list yet, might include:

    - A side trip up the coast north of SF to the Redwoods. This is not into the mountains, but these are huge groves of quite large trees. But it's going to take a day up and a day back.
    - A side trip to the Sacramento Area for the California Railroad Museum. There are actually 2 locations for the California Rail Museum -- the one in Sacramento is very accessible. They run some of the old steam locomotives on a short run around Sacramento on the weekends, but that's only in the summer I believe. This site and the other in Jamestown CA are the sites used for almost all of the railroad scenes in western movies.
    - Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is rated as one of the world's best. Monterey and Carmel are very scenic.
    - The Elephant Seal Colony at Pedros Blancos, about 5-10 miles north of Hearst Castle. These are huge 1000 lb+ seals which have set up a colony right next to Coast 1. In a couple of places you can pull into a roadside area, get out and walk over to look at these huge animals.
    - Hearst Castle, near San Simeon
    - Besides the beach dunes at Pismo Beach, you can also explore them at Guadalupe Dunes a ways farther south. There are a couple of old movie cities buried somewhere under the dunes, dating from when Cecile B. deMille filmed "Ben Hur" there back in the 20's... When the dunes move, you can sometimes see part of the old sets.
    - Vandenberg Air Force Base. In a contrast to all of the natural scenery, Vandenberg Air Force Base is the busiest space launch site in the US, and its located along the route. You'll have to check with the base to see what their schedule is for tours and the like, but it might be something totally different for the kids. There are a couple of beaches near here that are nice too -- but you've got beaches in Australia as well - and December may be a bit blustery.
    - Some of the old Spanish Missions. There are several you'll be passing near, including Carmel, San Luis Obispo, San Ynez, etc. My favorite is the musuem in Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara is a nice town anyway), and there is a smallish natural history museum about a mile or so from the Museum.
    - LA area can have lots and lots of things for the family, but its a large area. Universal Studios (for a bit of Hollywood for the family) and Knotts Berry Farm (more of a western themed park, but with Camp Snoopy for the kids) could be options. Lots of musuems and places that they might find interesting ranging from the Page Musuem in downtown LA (LA Brea Tar Pits) to the museum complex near downtown (Natural History Museum, Science Musuem, Musuem of Flight), or the Long Beach Aquarium or a number of other places. But these are scattered over an area that's maybe 40 miles across. You also mentioned you were visiting Disneyland, so you'll already be visiting this area.
    - San Diego Wild Animal Park (near Escondido)
    - Lego Land (near Oceanside, not too far from Escondido)
    - In San Diego, take the harbor tour. San Diego has a huge naval base, so there will probably be a couple of carriers in town, plus other ships of all types. Depending upon the weekend, you may be able to take a tour of a ship. There're also a couple of maritime musuem, one including a carrier you can tour.
    - San Diego Zoo, Sea World, and the museum complex in Balboa Park (near the Zoo -- about 6 musuems).
    - take the Trolley (Light Rail system) from San Diego to Mexico at Tijuiana and visit Mexico for the day. This way you don't have to get seperate car insurance, hassle with a rental agency (most vehicles aren't allowed out of the country), and avoid driving in Mexico. Walk across the border (since you're from Australia I'd also check on visa and whatnot too...) and take a taxi to Revolution Plaza and look at the shops. It's a bit touristy and a border town, but interesting... For food I think you can get as good & authentic Mexican food at a number of places north of the border.

    Depending upon your route, you can east via the old mining town of Julian (mainly a mountain resort town now), through Anza Borrego, and up via Palm Springs, Joshua Tree National Park, north through Death Valley to Las Vegas. If you're visiting Mammoth, you might find it easier to visit Death Valley on that route, though.

  5. Default Dude ranches in California

    I was a bit surprized, when you couldn't find a dude ranch with horses along the route. I know there are some, although I've never been.

    I did find this listing of California Dude Ranches here. It should be noted that some of these shut down in the winter, and may have minimum age requirements. Some may be more family oriented or have week-long programs. And some are very expensive.

    Another option for the kids is a trail ride -- there are lots of place that can arrange a trail ride along the beach or into the mountains if you want to get a light taste of the cowboy experience. The trail rides can run from 90 minutes or so, up to several days through the mountains.

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