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Holidays

California road trip with 1 year old

18 replies

Sideshowjen · 22/11/2019 00:03

We’ve just booked to go to California in January with our 1 year old and the DH is now getting a bit nervous and thinking “what have we done??” I think once the jet lag wears off it will be fun but maybe I’m being optimistic.

We are flying to San Francisco and hoping to do a road trip down to San Diego but we haven’t finalised the itinerary.

Has any one done this before? Any tips on things to do and route with 1 year old? Are we mad? Is this going to be a disaster?

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partysong · 22/11/2019 00:05

Yes you're mad but I have an acquaintance that did this for her honeymoon and it seemed to be fine. You'll have to time drives around nap time I think

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PeopleWhoRun · 22/11/2019 00:08

I wish I were as brave you!

Prepare for an absolute disaster. That way you'll be pleasantly surprised!

Enjoy!

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Eledamorena · 22/11/2019 00:12

We did a big road trip in South America when DD was 14 months old and it was fine... we did time drives around naps when possible and when we had a really long stint we just did a night drive (not for everyone, I know!) BUT... we weren't dealing with jetlag as we lived there at the time. If I were you, I would plan relatively short stints and just do your best. Don't worry if you have to change your itinerary if that will keep the baby happy and you sane! The trip will be what you make it. (We did west coast US for our honeymoon but that was pre-babies so quite different!)

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Ricekrispie22 · 22/11/2019 05:04

It will be great and you’ve chosen the best time of year to do it - not too hot for LO and not too crowded. I can’t help with an itinerary as you haven’t said how many days it’s for.

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SunnySomer · 22/11/2019 05:21

You’re not mad. We’ve always done road trips with our DS (admittedly normally Europe but also n Africa, Caribbean and N America) since he was 6 months they’re just different with a small child than when you’re just adults. Lots more stops, no evenings out etc.
I can’t make recommendations of stuff to do there with a baby, though would look at city websites of what the locals do. Though there are some lovely beaches all along your journey.
Just remember to have food for the baby in the car because they’re less relaxed about waiting till you get somewhere, plus you don’t always find the kind of food you’d necessarily want your child to eat.
As a PP said, just relax, don’t be too hung up on your itinerary, and enjoy yourselves!

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AttilaTheMeerkat · 22/11/2019 08:56

You are not mad but you need to plan properly and not underestimate driving distances.

How long is your holiday?. The distance between these two cities is over 500 miles. You really do not want to spend all your precious holiday time behind the wheel.

I would pace yourselves and spend time in and around the SF area particularly if you for instance have two weeks there. CA as a state overall is about the length of the UK.

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Sideshowjen · 22/11/2019 19:36

Thank you all for your responses! We are out there for 17 days in total. I would love to drive down the pacific highway and stop off at a few places along the way. Ideally I would like to spend 3 - 4 days in each place before taking a leisurely drive to the next place. Nap time is after lunch so hopefully this won't be too bad...!

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Ricekrispie22 · 23/11/2019 12:44

I’d do four nights in San Francisco. There’s so much to see and do, and you’ll want to recover from jet lag before you start driving.
Drive to Monterey via a quick stop in Santa Cruz.
Three nights in Monterey. Monterey Bay Aquarium would be good with a 1yo. Check out the stunning Point Lobos State Natural Reserve and chill at the Old Fisherman’s Wharf. If you get time, go shopping at Cannery Row.
Keep to the coast line along the Pacific Coast Highway and you’ll see Stearns Wharf and East Beach.
Drive to Santa Barbara via a stop at Hearst Castle on The Enchanted Hill in San Simeon.
Two nights in Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara Zoo, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden and Lotusland are all good with a 1yo.
Drive to LA via Malibu. Follow the signs to Point Dume and you’ll find a beautiful sandy beach, headlands, cliffs and rocky coves. Take a walk around Malibu and explore the piers. Leave Malibu via the stunning Topanga Canyon. Stay on Route 27. Get out at the top for an awesome view over the San Fernando Valley at the top of Topanga Overlook.
Four nights in Los Angeles. Visit the Kodak Theatre, walk along the Hollywood Walk of Fame, check out the Santa Monica Pier, drive down Sunset Boulevard and stroll down Rodeo Drive. You could check out the awesome views of the Hollywood sign from Griffith Observatory, visit Universal Studios or go on a stars homes tour.
Drive to San Diego via a stop at Long Beach.
Three nights in San Diego.

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ruthieness · 23/11/2019 12:50

I advise to book Alcatraz for first slot in the morning if you are planning to visit - you will find it easy to get up early and it is amazing to arrive at an empty island!

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AttilaTheMeerkat · 23/11/2019 15:38

Are you returning from SF as well?. It appears so; its a long way back to SF from San Diego.

You need to put together a workable realistic itinerary in terms of what you want to see and experience in these 17 days you have. You really do not want to spend vast amounts of your precious holiday time driving from one place to another. It will be boring and your child will get fed up with being in the car seat.

(Star homes tours are generally rubbish; do not bother with those. All you will see are hedges, bins and maintenance staff. The whole area around Hollywood and Vine can be both crowded and somewhat seedy).

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foxatthewindow · 23/11/2019 15:46

@Ricekrispie22 has it covered - I’d add staying in big sur if you can (we stayed at glen oaks), and I would probably cross the bridge to Sausalito when in SF. I would probably spend less time in LA because it’s so seedy. I’d also not recommend Morra Bay. Hearst Castle is amazing though and I love Santa Barbara.

As for the 1yo, depends on how yours is in the car. Mine would have been a nightmare because of sickness. My DH travels a lot and does California once a year or so. We haven’t been together since DC as I think they are too young (5 and 3) to make the jet lag worth it. But you might be better off with a 1yo

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Sideshowjen · 26/11/2019 09:41

Thank you all so so much for your responses! We are flying to San Fran and back from San Diego although might change the return flight back from LA if there isn’t much to do in San Diego.

@Ricekrispie22 thank you so much for the suggested itinerary, this is so helpful and really appreciated.

@foxatthewindow thank you too for your suggestions and @AttilaTheMeerkat and @ruthienessthank you for the tips!

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LassoOfTruth · 26/11/2019 10:02

Some great suggestions above. If you like the outdoors/nature, don't miss out Big Sur National Park and looking out for elephant seals near San Simeon - it's a good time of year to see them. There isn't much in San Diego unless you like craft beer, but it's got its charms. The zoo is great, though expensive, and the desert around there is amazing (again, if you like nature). The Pacific Highway route 1 is just a fantastic drive - if you give yourselves time it'll be fun! Personally I would by-pass the horrible LA altogether but some people seem to love it and if you've never been, I suppose it's worth doing some of the touristy things there. Santa Barbara is nicer maybe to stay in. Also, it's maybe out of your way (bit north of SF) but Santa Rosa is lovely - Charles Schulz lived there and there is a very sweet Snoopy/Peanuts museum and Snoopy-themed ice rink if you need to break up a journey or have exhausted things to do in SF.

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serenfach1 · 27/11/2019 21:01

We road tripped for our honeymoon. We weren't that taken by San Francisco despite the hype. But I expect there'll be lots to do for a 1 year old. Maybe is was hyped up too much. We were pleasantly surprised by LA though. Loved Santa Barbara and Monterey. The aquarium was awesome. Your LO will love it. Didn't spend enough time in SD to comment. We're about to plan a trip for South Africa next year. Our LO will be 7 months. Like you I'm starting to freak out about it!

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Sideshowjen · 03/12/2019 06:07

@LassoOfTruth thanks for the tips, definitely going to look out for the elephant seals!!

@serenfach1 SA will be amazing!

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IJumpedAboardAPirateShip · 03/12/2019 06:15

I live in LA and have done since DC were newborn so PM me if you want any tips because it’s actually a great city if you bother to go beyond hollywood and the theme parks....

Otherwise some excellent suggestions above. We road tripped to SF and back when DC2 was 10months and it was fine - we did the trip home with only one stop over so I think 17days is great, you’ll really be able to take your time

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Yoollyball · 03/12/2019 06:25

Tips from me-
SF - stay near Fisherman's wharf/ North Beach - Union Sq and Market Street have got a lot worse the last few years ( homelessness and drugs - I won't stay there any more, we are regular visitors and used to stay at the Hilton union sq - no more!). Don't miss the muses mechanique at fisherman's wharf.
LA - the Getty Centre imo is the best thing in LA - an oasis of beauty and calm.
San Diego - i like it - you can spend 2 days just walking round balboa park.

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Mrscog · 03/12/2019 06:54

I’d make San Diego more of a priority that LA to be honest - loads to do with children in the park.

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