West coast usa, info anyone - is this too much?

(52 Posts)
Bigwuss Sun 19-May-13 15:30:21

DH wants to see everywhere, literally everywhere, and I think we're trying to do far too much.

Plans so far are
Las Vegas -3 nights
Drive to Grand Canyon stay overnight
Drive to Phoenix stay overnight
Flight to LA
Anaheim 4 nights
Drive up the coast over 3 days
Looking to stay in Santa Barbara 1 night, somewhere near big sur, 2 nights.
San Francisco for 3 nights

What would you lose? Are the drives realistic given it will be summer?

flipflump Mon 27-May-13 09:12:50

Itchy, another plan could be, leave Santa Barbara in the morning and do Hearst then onto Monterey without staying a night. Again freeing up a night to use elsewhere. Stopping twice between Santa Barbara and SF seems quite a lot. I think you'd enjoy having some time to spend around big sur, the drive takes ages as its so scenic, you'll want to stop for lots of photo ops.

MorrisZapp Mon 27-May-13 09:22:11

Grr v jealous reading this! We've got a toddler so the long haul is off the agenda for a bit. My top tip is to fly to LA and stay in El Segundo, which is where the airport is. You can be in your hotel room ten minutes after leaving the airport, and it's brilliant for getting to wonderful Manhattan Beach. There are two awesome outdoor malls nearby too, including Whole Foods, Target etc. We loved staying there, it made an ideal base.

Agree with previous posters about Vegas - San Diego being a long drive just to prepare yourselves for but as your DDs are older (my two are little so forgive me, I have no idea what a road trip is like with kids beyond aged 4!) and lovely though San Luis is, if you want to cut down a nights stay cut it out there (maybe do two night in Monteray?)

Don't stay in El Segundo, there is nothing there and you can easily get to Manhattan Beach from Venice/Santa Monica/Marina Del Ray, which are also better placed for Hollywood etc. But I would personally stay on the Westside and not in Studio City where Universal is - only cos all the cool bits of LA are on the southern part of the Vally IMO

Otherwise, sounds like the perfect trip! PM me if you want any LA specific hints and tips as I live here!

Oo brilliant - thank you!
The reason we wanted 2 nights in Santa Barbara is we figured we'd be quite knackered after Disney, LA & Universal Studios so wanted some R&R at a laid-back beachy place. Plus it'll be our wedding anniversary.

We fancied a night at the Madonna Inn at San Luis as it looks so kooky.

And I've swapped Bishop for Lone Pine so we can enjoy journey back better.

Will give Vegas to San Diego some more thought... Trouble is, hotels are pretty much booked. I'll investigate.
Thanks again!

AmandaCooper Tue 28-May-13 00:57:09

We did a similar trip and loved being on the road. The one suggestion I'd make is don't drive up to and stay at the Grand Canyon - go from Vegas in a chopper.

MasterOfTheYoniverse Wed 29-May-13 06:09:59

we are doing pretty much the same working our way down from San Fran with a 5 & 7 year old.we also do 2 days in Nappa valley at the tail end.

4 days SF
4 days drive PCH down and stops in monterrey, Big Sur, San Luis de Obispo
5 days LA (Definitely no Disney for us. Only Universal and exploring the hills/santa monica and beaches)
3 days vegas, including return helicopter trip to Grand Canyon.
2 days Nappa Valley

we only drive 4 days + 2 days and fly LA-Vegas & Vegas-SF
Trying to limit daily drive to 4 hours with lots of stops to soak in the scenery and the missions.

MasterOfTheYoniverse Wed 29-May-13 06:11:37

Forgot to add, everyone advises to drive DOWN the PCH, not up to be on the right side of the road and make the most of the cliff views.

BreakfastCricket Wed 29-May-13 21:40:43

itchyandscratchy not sure if you mean you have booked hotels already and can't amend or that hotels are filling up... if it helps we have just booked the Omni in San Diego this week and booked it using their own web site and got 25% off using their summer package discount. £106 for deluxe room so we saved £10 versus the normal best buy hotel websites. We also got free web usage and a preferred position by joining their loyalty scheme. The good bit is that a work contact who used to live in SD recommended that hotel the day after we had booked! However parking is £20 and you might not want a downtown location.

All these road trips sound amazing.

Pitmountainpony Sun 02-Jun-13 04:11:16

Disney is pretty special if your kids are of an age they will enjoy it but be warned it is very busy in the summer.
Nepenthe for a beer on the big sur and deepens is a nice place. for breakfast or to stay. It will be great.

Pitmountainpony Sun 02-Jun-13 04:11:37

Deetjens inn

Just spotted this thread. I think half of MN will in california this summer! We fly on 4 July. Into and out of Vegas.

1 night las Vegas - four seasons
Picking up hire car next day and hitting Target to stock up on snacks drinks etc for car
Driving to death valley - two nights there as will get there late in day
long long days drive to Sequoia
1 night there then on to Yosemite for one night
Yosemite to SF - 3 nights at westin
Sf to monterey for one night
Carmel for one night - I know they are very close!
Driving down PCH stopping off at Pismo Beach for two nights to just sit on the beach
Two nights at universal Sheraton hotel - will get there in evening and do universal next day and then head into Hollywood for a wander
Weekend in Simi valley with relatives
Couple of nights not booked yet but thinking San Diego
Two nights grand canyon
Two nights Vegas at bellagio

DH and I have done some of this before but in winter and without DS who is 11.

Advice/tips/don't do thats welcome!

If you have booked the Bellagio already then fair enough but I would have gone for the MGM Signature (a non smoking and non gaming facility). Bellagio is not all that child friendly.

Re San Diego would recommend the Embassy Suites in town situated near the Midway aircraft carrier.

Bellagio booked I'm afraid. And one of the few non refundable ones!

When you say not particularly child friendly what do you mean? He is almost 12 and we are not planning on being in the hotel that much. Will be doing my last minute shopping and maybe having an afternoon by the pool and having a wander in the evenings. We tend to be fairly boring in the evenings on holiday and just have dinner and head back to the room to watch a movie or something.

Please do not let my experience of it put you off any - you must go to the Jean Phillippe patisserie in the hotel. Also the Bellagio café is worth a visit. Your son can certainly walk through this casino with you but you must not linger at all.

Not planning on lingering. Have already warned him. I think our room has a view of the fountains so looking forward to that. We will have been travelling for over three weeks by then so will probably be shattered and not up for much wandering even.

Last time I was in Vegas the fountains were frozen it was so cold. And this was way before the bellagio was even built. We were there just after Xmas 1990.

The patisserie sounds good! Will bear that in mind. Just don't tell anyone on the low carb bootcamp threads! grin

Pitmountainpony Tue 04-Jun-13 19:11:19

I would say unless budget is no problem stay outside the canyon and drive in each day......we paid maybe 4o bucks for a morel room outside the canyon, drove in and ate one the hotels with views at the canyons.....the drive in was pretty quick....it was maybe a motel 6 ....but surprisingly pleasant and two doubles in a room. If you are too tired to do San Diego after la which will make for a longer drive on the final leg, you could always hang out in Laguna beach area or crystal cove......if you are tired of the city thing. Unless you plan on the zoo or sea world I personally find San Diego a bit bland and boring if you are doing SF anyway you get a nice city in there. But your satnav rather than rent as someone up Thread said. I really like Universal and it is better for an almost teen than Disney to be honest. Maybe walk from the hotel to save the parking fee as that hotel is right next o universal.
Have an amazing trip. We live here and we are still thrilled by every holiday we take here, forever tourists here. Forever on holiday somehow.

Pitmountainpony Tue 04-Jun-13 19:15:00

You can also buy a super cheap cell phone here maybe 25 bucks wth small amount of credit at Walmart so in an emergency you can use it...prob cheaper than using a uk mobile........do not go into Death Valley without masses of water and a mobile phone. It is incredibly hot there in July.
Nepenthe for a drink on the big sur. it is the most spectacular view....as is that from the waterfall that is signed. Pffeifer beach is a must in big sur too. Hard to find, a small fee to park but oh so worth it. Stunning.unmissable.

clam Tue 04-Jun-13 19:20:55

We did this last Summer. Would give right arm to go back this year too!

monsterchild Tue 04-Jun-13 19:23:18

Phoenix? really? why?

Ok, I live in the SW US, so perhaps the charm is lost on me...

If you can, I'd go to the north rim of the GC, as it looks much more impressive because the south rim (what you'd be looking at) is a big giant wall, the north side is broken up into smaller canyons, and while big and cool, isn't as impressive.

It sounds like a fun trip!

HormonalHousewife Tue 04-Jun-13 19:28:00

Does anyone know if there is likely to be snow at the grand canyon in April ?

we are planning to go next year and repeat the road trip DH and I did 10 years ago. Back then we went in Feb and hardly saw any of the grand canyon due to snow - dont want to make the same mistake twice sad

Bigwuss we didnt rate vegas at all - couldnt wait to leave but I realise that lots of people love it !

monsterchild Wed 05-Jun-13 19:48:07

There is a chance it will be cold, yes. That time of year its usually cold at night and hot during the day, about a 40 degree (Fahrenheit) difference.

monsterchild Wed 05-Jun-13 20:01:33

HH, its less likely you'll have much snow in April. At least you aren't likely to have a multi-day storm

webwiz Wed 05-Jun-13 20:19:54

We've done this trip a couple of times and DH would have us staying somewhere different every single night. I have put my foot down and insisted on a few longer stays to break up the driving as I get sick of living out of a suitcase.

We are going this year as a last big family holiday with the DCs who'll be 22, 20 and 16. We are starting in San Francisco then taking a few days to drive down the coast to LA. 4 Days in LA and then to Las Vegas, after a break in Las Vegas we are visting Grand Canyon, several national parks I can't remember the name of and Monument Valley. We are flying back from Las Vegas rather than doing a complete loop. I can't wait!

Oh and Phoenix is grim - I didn't feel safe at all as there was a weird atmosphere.

mrsmortis Thu 06-Jun-13 10:24:23

I'd recommend you sit down with Google maps and work out how long a drive each of those is really going to be and decide if you can really manage it. I'd consider flying from LV to LA rather than driving and then maybe do Yosemite out of SF and flying back to LV from there.

Remember that you don't need to fly back from the same airport you arrive in. This summer we are flying LHR-SFO-LAX-LHR and it was about £30 more expensive than the return flight to SFO was going to be. I'd consider flying into LV spending 3-4 nights there to get over the jet lag then flying to LA (probably SNA rather than LAX). Doing LA, Anaheim, Santa Barbara from a base there, possibly without changing hotels, or at least doing Disney and LA from the same base. Then fly to SF and do the things around there (Monterey is an easy day trip, coach trips run daily, you can do an overnight tour to yosemite from there as well). You could then fly home from SFO. I'd consider only hiring a car in LA, you certainly won't need one within the city limits in SF and you'll pay a fortune for parking.

Pitmountainpony - canyon hotel already booked! And SD is partly as we have some friends there. Not staying with them but planning on seeing them.

We already own a sat nav and DH is trying to load updated maps onto it.

Will def be taking lots of water and phone into death valley!

Reason for universal over disney is that we have done Florida twice so only wanted one day at a park so picked universal as DS prefers it to Disney.

We have one really long drive - death valley to sequoia. 9.5 hours I think. We will probably still be on UK time so waking up really early if past experience is anything to go by so plan is to get up and get on road as soon as we wake up and drive for a couple of hours before stopping for breakfast. Will try and plan a couple of interesting stops on the way.

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