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California road trip with young kids?

(11 Posts)
Misty9 Mon 22-Jun-15 19:11:27

We're thinking about doing a 3 week road trip to California next April - when our kids will be 4.5 and nearly 2...are we mad?!

We know we can't pack too much in and would do something like:

Fly to San Francisco, 5 days here
Yosemite for 2 nights
Drive to San Diego (stopover if necessary) and legoland plus 2 nights here
Drive back up coast highway seeing carmel, monterey aquarium, big sur, possibly hearst castle, via san Luis opisbo for couple nights

Fly home from San Francisco

Is this hopelessly optimistic?! Thinking camping for at least some of it (tent provided at the site if this is a thing?)

Budget roughly 4 grand... (can get flights for 1.5)

jwpetal Mon 22-Jun-15 19:19:32

Hi. I have done this with my children - different itinerary. They are good travelers. I would just say to keep things flexible. You may have to stay longer in one place then expected and frequent stops. That itinerary seems a lot, but that depends on your children. The jet lag on both ends is not fun. Plan on the day starting very early for a few days, but if you can embrace that then all is possible.

NorahDentressangle Mon 22-Jun-15 19:23:34

Hire a big vehicle with a dvd player in the back.

Keep in mind to avoid rush hours, LA is huge and traffic bad.

Misty9 Mon 22-Jun-15 19:50:31

Our days start at 5am now petal grin what was your itinerary if you don't mind giving it? And how old were your dc?

So you two think it's doable? We were sat here, kids in bed, wondering if it's practical after all! Sharing a hotel room is not fun if we have to be tucked up early every night... But then doing this outside of school holidays just won't be possible once ds starts next year... Argh!

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 22-Jun-15 20:06:16

I would rethink part of this because that's a heck of a lot of driving.

CA is a vast state (its over twice the size of the whole of the UK in terms of area) and many people underestimate driving distances. The distance alone from Yosemite to San Diego is equivalent to driving from London to Edinburgh. You could end up spending most of it driving from place to place and would your children actually bear it?.

I would give Yosemite a miss with such young children; they may not get much out of the experience. You may want to look at this re camping in Yosemite

I would look at starting your trip instead in LA and staying at Anaheim. From there you could drive down to LEGOLAND (which is north of San Diego) and then stay in San Diego for a few days. You could then fly back from LA. I would look at fewer places to visit and spending longer in each place too.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 22-Jun-15 20:09:41

I would look at suite based hotels for accommodation (Courtyard by Marriott, Embassy Suites etc). These are ideal for families (and the Embassy Suites will include breakfast as part of the room rate).

Many standard US hotel rooms either have two queen (double) beds or a single king sized bed.

SkiSchoolRun Mon 22-Jun-15 20:14:43

We did similar with almost 3 & 5 year olds in Oregon last summer then flew down to San Diego. Had a blast. Didn't take DVD player or iPad! We stayed in motels with pools & VRBO properties. Oregon is an amazing state - volcanoes, fossils, beaches. So beautiful. Pm if you want more info.

PosterEh Mon 22-Jun-15 20:21:31

We did very similar trip with a 3 and 1 year old last year.
Our trip was roughly:
Week in OC (staying with family) - legoland, Disneyland, San Diego Zoo, Santa Monica pier.
Up the coast to San Simeon (recommend the Best Western there have, have stayed there twice and good both times). Then Monterey.
Then two nights in San Francisco (loves it and should have skipped Monterey and spent an extra night).
Then three nights just outside Yosemite at Evergreen Lodge. Really great accommodation - we had a lovely, little lodge so could stay up once kids in bed. Pool, sandpit and little tepees for them to play in. It was much cheaper than staying in Yosemite valley and only a 30-45min drive in from memory. I've stayed in Yosemite a lodge before and this one was much better value for money.
We then drove back down to OC with one overnight stop.

I think your budget is ok but you will need to be careful. It is generally cheaper to eat out as groceries are expensive. We tried to book one cheap hotel where we shared a room followed by a night in a suite or lodge to break it up a bit. You can get some very cheap rooms with two double beds as standard to save a bit of money.

I would pay a little extra if necessary and fly into OAK (or other bay area airport) and out of one of the So Cal airports.

We live in CA and have done many road trips including when the kids were small. We went to Yosemite when my oldest was 4 and he adored it and made me promise to come back again. However, the reason he enjoyed it was mainly because he got to play in rivers with rocks, floating leaves, making dams with daddy etc. He also enjoyed doing that in Big Sur.

We have a Children's museum for youngsters in San Diego if you make it down this way. Also the midway is fun for kids who would like being on a big ship as is the Maritime Museum (world's oldest ship that is still in regular use) and it is just across the street from a big new playground with water play.

SwingingBalls Mon 06-Jul-15 17:53:49

We did a road trip when the dc were 3 and 6.
We flew to Los Angeles and did Disney for a couple of days, San Diego, on to Palm Springs and then back to Los Angeles. Loads of driving but the dc did well without any gadgets although we sang alot (any girl guide I could remember).
I can't remember how much we spent but we loved it smile

SwingingBalls Mon 06-Jul-15 17:55:00

* girl guide song

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