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  1. Default Roundtrip roadtrip from Illinois to Cali (San Diego/Anaheim) - any recommendations

    In late July/early August, I'm going on a roadtrip with the family (wife and two daughters (ages 3 and 5)) from Illinois to California. The initial outline for the trip is below, but I am looking for any additional recommendations/advice on attractions/restaurants to visit, alternate routes, whether i'm being to optimistic/conservative on my driving estimates, etc. with a main focus on seeing attractions that my daughters will enjoy.

    I've tried to plan out the trip so that we spend the mornings at each stop, and then drive in the early to late afternoon and early evening when the kids will hopefully take naps for a good portion of the driving. Also, wanted to go to different places going vs return back just to see different areas, but also so that i can visit my brother on the way back in Dallas. (Although I don't really care if on the return trip we go to Tucson/Roswell or some place else, I was just trying to find good stopping points on the way to Dallas.)

    Day 1 - Drive to Tulsa, OK (9 hours of driving)
    Day 2 - Spend morning in Tulsa (children's museum, lunch), drive to Amarillo (5 hours of driving) - eat dinner at Big Texan
    Day 3 - Spend morning in Amarillo (historic district, cadillac ranch, midpoint cafe), drive to Alburquerque (4 hour drive)
    Day 4 - Spend morning/afternoon in Alburquerquee (zoo, botanical garden/aquarium, oldtown) - drive to Chambers, AZ (3 hour drive)
    Day 5 - Spend morning/early afternoon at Petrified Forest/Painted Desert - drive to Yuma, AZ (6 hour drive)
    Day 6 - Drive to San Diego (2 1/2 hour drive), day 1 in san Diego (beach, zoo, or sea world)
    Day 7 - Day 2 in San Diego (beach, zoo, or sea world)
    Day 8 - Day 3 in San Diego (beach, zoo, or sea world)
    Day 9 - Drive to Anaheim (2 hour drive), check into hotel and first day at Disney (figured this would be the day we get to the park in afternoon but stay to closing to see fireworks)
    Day 10 - 2nd day at disney
    Day 11 - 3rd day at disney, leave early afternoon - drive to Tucson, AZ (7 hour drive)
    Day 12 - Spend morning in Tucson, drive to Roswell, NM (7 hour drive)
    Day 13 - Spend morning in Roswell, drive to Dallas, TX (7 hour drive)
    Day 14- Spend morning/early afternoon in Dallas, drive to Memphis, TN (6 hour drive)
    Day 15 - spend morning in Memphis (probably zoo), drive home (6 hour drive)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think you've got a really good starting point, although I'll throw out a few thoughts.

    First, beware of online mapping travel time projections, they tend to really underestimate real world travel times. For example, most of those 7 hour drives you've got heading to Tucson/Roswell/Dallas are really going to be closer to 8 or 9 hour drives.

    I will also mention, you're adding some extra miles, and kind of doing a figure 8 by going from I-40 down to San Diego, back up to Disney, and then back along I-10. It would save you a bit of driving to either go to Anaheim before San Diego, or reverse your trip so you do places like Dallas and Tucson before San Diego.

    Finally, Is there a reason you've left off the Grand Canyon. It's unusual to be so close to that natural wonder and not include it in your plans.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Some Things to Be Aware Of

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    First, you are clearly getting your time estimates from mapping software. That's all well and good but you need to be aware of the assumptions that go into those estimates. The assume that you will be traveling at or above the speed limit for every second of the estimated time - that you will never have to slow down for traffic or construction, never have to stop for gas, never need to eat, never need to use a restroom, never even see a red light or a stop sign. In other words, they are simply not realistic except for very short runs along freeways. On longer drives such as yours you need to budget another 20% or so in time just for normal stops (they all take longer with children) as well as whatever time you plan to spend at attractions along the way. That shouldn't be a problem since you've planned on relatively short segments in any case, but you should keep the reality behind 'estimates' in mind as you proceed. I'm also assuming that you're starting out from around Springfield IL, based on your time estimates.

    The other things I want to bring to your attention are all sites that you and your family might enjoy that are on or very near your route and/or stops. One such stop is in Albuquerque. While the places you have listed are all fine, zoos and such are everywhere. You might want to take some time for a truly unique site, Petroglyph National Monument. Similarly, as you make your way down from Petrified National Forest to Holbrook and on to Phoenix, mapping software suggests using AZ-377/AZ-260/AZ-87 through Heber because that route saves a few miles/minutes. I'd suggest that you'd enjoy taking AZ-77/US-60 through the Salt River Canyon a lot more. You have nothing listed for Yuma, but the Territorial Prison is always a hit with kids.

    It would make a bit more sense to go to Anaheim first, then San Diego, then your more southerly route home, but this is not a big deal and I assume that you've got your own reasons for arranging your itinerary as you have. It's also a shame that you won't have more time to spend in Tucson, but in the evening of your arrival, I'd urge you to check out the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (more of a zoo than a museum) and any evening activities they may have. Then in the morning a visit to the Pima Air and Space Museum before things start to warm up might be in order. Between Tucson and Roswell, I think your kids would enjoy a stop at White Sands National Monument far more than they would any time spent at the manufactured and somewhat hokey 'attractions' of Roswell. This is also another place where mapping programs may miss reality. US-70 is occasionally subject to temporary closures during activities at the White Sands Missile Range. Farther east, on the leg between Dallas and Memphis, consider a short detour to Murfreesboro AK and Crater of Diamonds State Park to give everybody a chance to actually dig for, and keep, real diamonds. In Memphis itself, Mud Island is always a big hit.

    Other than those specifics, I have one other general recommendation. At every national park or monument you stop at, sign the kids up for the Junior Ranger Program. They will be given some activities to do and upon completion they'll not only know a lot more about the park but they'll get some very neat (and free!) souvenirs.


  4. Default

    Thanks! Yeah, it would be better if I could kind of reverse the order of san diego/disney, but I'm not sure thats possible because of plans ot meet friends in san diego. I will definitely look into this a bit more as saving some driving always helps.

    The main reasons I didn't include the Grand Canyon were because it was a bit out of the way (having to go north and then back south), but also because I figured the girls were too young to really do anything besides look at the views (which I figured we could still see some nice views at the petrified forest park). Hoping to make another similar trip years later that will include the grand canyon when my daughers are old enough so that we can do the mule trips.

  5. Default

    Thanks! I kind of assumed the map estimates would be off a bit, so I tried to keep the driving time under 8 hours for most days (other than the first one), but yeah, i may need to look closer on the way back as I have a few 7 hour drives that will most likely be significantly longer.

    You were close with the Springfield guess. I'm leaving from Champaign, Il (8 hours, 18 minutes according to google maps), but will probably be around 10/11 hours with stops.

    You listed a lot of interesting places that I will definitely be looking into as really the only places I had planned out so far were for Tucson, Amarillo, and Albuquerque. And thanks for the recommendation about the Junior Ranger program. Will look into that as well.

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