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  1. Default 14 days in April LA to Grand Canyon

    Hello there

    We are planning on visiting from the UK in April, (arriving on the 4th) with our two children aged 6 and 8. We want to see everything, but as time is limited and we dont want to spend every day driving we need to be sensible. At the moment we are thinking of flying to LA, but can be flexible.

    Ideas so far consist of:

    LA - 2 nights to recover
    Death Valley - 2 nights
    Vegas - 1 or 2 nights
    Grand Canyon area - 2 nights

    then some suggestions please - is it feasible to go on to Bryce Canyon etc?

    Finally - 1 or 2 nights in LA to fit in Disney as a last treat for the kids before flying back early on Sat morning.

    We need to be able to include some things the kids will enjoy, as unlike us they will not find the scenery and journey itself enjoyable. I would be most grateful for any help - or other suggestions you can give. This forum is an amazing wealth of information. I have decided against visiting Yosemite based on closed roads I knew nothing of previously, so thank you.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default For Those Few Open Days...

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    The four locations you plan to see on your trip should certainly meet with the approval of both the adults and children in your group. But since you have what looks to me like three more nights to spend, I think you should look at spending one more in Las Vegas, which has become much more family-oriented in recent years, and maybe the other two days poking around some of the more 'wild west' venues in Arizona. In Las Vegas, the New York New York hotel has a small amusement park, complete with a roller coaster, on its roof, and there is a free-for-the-watching pirate show in front of the Treasure Island Hotel. Both hotels are on the Strip. For much more on what to do in Las Vegas, read through some of Megan's articles. In Arizona, besides the Grand Canyon, there are tons of western related attractions that appeal to kids including Montezuma Castle National Monument, Petrified Forest National Park, the towns of Sedona and Prescott, and even London Bridge, all of which could be strung together as a RoadTrip portion of your vacation between the Canyon and Los Angeles without having to drive too much on any given day.


  3. Default

    Personally I would do whatever it took to go to Zion and Bryce even if it meant trimming some time elsewhere. Both are incredible places and I can't wait to go back! I will into routes a little later...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default What this big kid would do....

    I'm a bit of a Disney freak myself. So I would either take AZBuck's suggestions of spending more time in Vegas or I would plan a bit more time in Disney. If you get tired of Disney, you could always go to Universal, Knott's Dairy Farm, or trek out to Six Flags Magic Mountain. All have great rides for the kiddies (and us big kids, too!).

    And you might be selling your kids a bit short. While all kids get a bit bored with long car trips, I think the scenery at places like Bryce, the Grand Canyon, and even along the highway is going to be so different than what your kids are used to, I find it hard to believe that they won't be intrigued with it...albeit in probably shorter doses than their parents.

  5. Default Some other ideas...

    Sounds like you've got about 6 nights to play with?

    There's a southern loop option which might be interesting as well --

    Grand Canyon through Sedona to Montezuma's Castle to Phoenix and on to Tucson (doable in 1 day drive...). In Tucson there is Saguraro National Park, plus the Tucson Film Studios where a lot of western films where made. From Tucson it's a day to San Diego via Yuma, with possibly a stop in the Yuma San Dunes area, or elsewhere along the way.

    San Diego gives you the San Diego Zoo, possibly touring some of the big navy ships there (or at least the USS Midway, which is now a naval musuem), plus multiple other musuems in Balboa Park. There are also some excellent beaches there, particularly at Coronado.

    San Diego to LA is a 2-3 hour drive, or you can stop at the San DIego WIld Animal Park about 30-40 minutes inland from the coast at Escondito. There are a number of other smaller stops along here -- the Scripps Aquarium (small but good aquarium at the Scripps Oceanographic Institute in La Jolla), Laguna Beach an artists community in south Orange County, wineries in the Temecula area, etc.

    This brings you back into the LA area from the south, coming into Orange County where Disneyland is. Besides Disneyland, there is also Knotts Berry Farm, a more western themed park about 20 minutes from Disneyland -- also might be popular with the kids. There is also the Pacific Aquarium in Long Beach, which is good aquarium to visit for local sea life.

  6. Default

    Thank you for all your suggestions.
    I think we will keep the Bryce/Zion part in then, as it looks like there is not a lot of added distance according to Google maps - I think you would be doubling back on yourself if you went to the Grand Canyon directly and back to Vegas anyway.
    I had not thought of adding in San Diego but that sounds interesting, and child friendly too. I am not sure how the kids are going to be, I know they will be awe struck at first. Also I know all sorts of spontaneous things will happen that cannot be planned for and that will no doubt be fun.
    It is tricky planning for something when I know very little - how did people do this before the internet!!

    On a different note - where should we stay in LA. I would like to go to a hotel in a taxi from the airport the first night, so somewhere quite close. Ideally it would be nice to be in an area with a few things to see/do/shopping or close to metro links to Hollywood and beaches etc. I then plan on picking up a car in LA, rather than the airport, on day 3 when we head off. - Feeling a bit scared of LA driving - is this well founded or not. I live in London and can manage there OK, but traffic seems to move faster in the US!

  7. Default LA... and beyond

    I think its a smart thing to find a hotel after a long flight from the UK, and unwind a bit after a long flight. This should also help you readjust a bit from jetlag. There are a number of large name-brand hotels on Century Blvd next to the entrance to LAX (LA International Airport) -- Radisson, Hyatt, Sheraton, Crowne Plaza, Mariott, Hilton, Westin, Renaisance, Embassy Suites, etc. Those are probably the easiest -- and I'd bet all of them have a shuttle bus to and from the airport.

    However, while in general these hotels are large with the usual large hotel amenities, these hotels are a fair distance from the beaches or major shopping areas. Mass transit in LA is OK -- but not wonderful. The Metro does not really go near LAX, other than one terminal on Nash Street, south of the runways at LAX. LA is big in scale -- something like 5x the area of greater London, so while there are buses, the subway/ light rail system only covers a few routes. My recommendation would to either a) Stay a hotel near LAX just to recover, or b) Take a taxi closer to where you want to visit, and then stay there (there are usually hotels near all major destinations).

    Most car rental locations are near the airports, or other major transportation hubs, although there are some scattered about everywhere.

    If you're concerned about driving in the US, the 2 or 3 things to keep in mind are:

    a) You'll be driving on the other side of the road, compared to the UK. So be a bit careful starting out, since as a force of habit you'll be looking the other way for oncoming traffic. (I know, I do the same when I'm in the UK -- including stepping off curbs at street crossings!!)

    b) Like any big city, LA has "rush hour" traffic, when traffic ebbs and flows into the business districts of the city, and then back out in the evenings. The downtown area and LAX are a couple of business hubs that traffic flows to and from. So you might consider getting a little bit of late start (say hit the road about 9 am or so) on your first day, to avoid the folks heading to work.

    c) In general, LA (like most of the US) has very good signage for roads and highways. A good paper map, and perhaps some printed directions should do you fine. However, these signage are different than what you are used to. the Interstates are typically large freeways (up to 4-5 lanes on each side) and traffic moves pretty well, even at rush hour. To speed you along, many freeways in LA have "Diamond Lanes" or "HOV Lanes" (High Occupancy Vehicle), or "Carpool Lanes". These are on the inside of the freeway and limited to cars with 2 or more passengers in them (unless you are in a designated electric or hybrid vehicle). Even in the worst of rush hour, these will move rapidly -- 45+ mph even with stop and go traffic on the rest of the road. However they are limited access -- you can only enter, or exit the carpool lane at designated spots, indicated by a dashed set of lines on the road. Otherwise the marking is usually a double set of double yellow lines which are treated as a physical barrier -- with significant fines if you cross over them (typically $350+ per ticket).

    If you're concerned about traffic, pick up your car, have your spouse handle navigation and act as a second lookout while you get used to the driving on the other side of the road, and head for a freeway. The freeway won't give you the challenge of on-coming traffic and should speed you out of the heavier traffic in the urban area, wherever you start from.

  8. Default Trip is shaping up

    Hi there,
    After thinking our trip was off for a few weeks - we couldnt find anyone to look after our aging dog!! we are now all set to go and have booked flights. The delay has meant we have to do the route in reverse, as Death Valley was booked up, but this is the agenda now, with a few gaps that I was hoping you could give us some more advice on...

    4th Arrive LA - hotel near the beach
    5th LA - resting!
    6th LA - being a tourist, Hollywood, Beverley Hills etc
    7th drive to 29 Palms (maybe via Palm Springs and do the tram thing), explore Joshua Tree NP
    8th - not sure whether to stay in 29 Palms, or go on towards Grand Canyon and stop somewhere to break the trip
    9th Grand Canyon - long day if all in one.
    10th Grand Canyon - and Monument
    11th Bryce Canyon
    12th Bryce Canyon
    13th Vegas
    14th Vegas
    15th Death Valley
    16th Death Valley
    17th drive to Anaheim, stopping at Ridgecrest to see Tortoises? long day
    18th Day in Disney, overnight in Anaheim
    19th Spend day in Long Beach, aquarium etc, drop car and fly home Sat night.

    so, I guess the question is, do we spend 2 days exploring Joshua Tree, or use that day en route to GC, or from Bryce to Vegas. I would love to be more relaxed and flexible, but I feel we need to book accomodation to be sure of good value.
    Thank you so much for your help so far, it has made things so much easier.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default considering

    Your trip looks good except for the Grand Canyon portion. It seems odd that you are giving yourself 2 days at each attraction you want to visit, except for the Grand Canyon, where you could basically be trying to fit both the canyon and Monument Valley into one day.

    Considering that, I would certainly look to cover some ground on the 8th. If you wait until the 9th to leave, you'll spend almost all day driving, and really won't have much time left on your schedule to see the Canyon or Monument Valley

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    totally agree with michael,but if you are pushed i would leave m/v out and give yourself more time at the g/c,much more rewarding in my opinion.
    i would also recommend spending less at bryce and taking in zion. bryce is a wonderfull place but from the viewpoints you can see it in a few hours.zion offers much more in the way of exploring. either way it's going to be awesome!

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