Mumsnet Logo
Please
or
to access all these features

Welcome to Mumsnet's holiday forum. Discuss all international travel here, including both shorthaul and longhaul trips. Related topics: UK holidays & day trips, skiing, camping & campervans.

Holidays

California holiday with 18 month old and 3 year old

22 replies

PSL1990 · 24/05/2021 13:41

We're considering a family holiday to California once it's safe to travel and holiday again.

Has anyone been to California with two very small children and have any advice/tips/suggestions on where to visit?

I like the idea of a few nights in Sam Francisco followed by a week or so in Yosemite but I've not looked into how child friendly these places are - what do you think?

Obviously there is the flight and time difference to contend with but those aside, is it a good option for children as young as ours - assuming 18 months and 3 years at time of travel

Thanks!

OP posts:
Please
or
to access all these features

Billybagpuss · 24/05/2021 13:49

I’m usually all for taking kids on new experiences, but I do think you’ll find that hard and stressful.

San Francisco Is a great place to visit but you’ll be relying on public transport everywhere. Yosemite is great but to really want to make the most of it you need to walk.

We first did the trip when I was pregnant and it was fab, we then took the dd when they were 16 and 18 which was perfect.

We did Disney Florida with them when they were the age yours are at, and it was good but they were tired a lot, spending long times travelling in the car between places as well won’t help.

Sorry not what you wanted to hear but having done the trip twice I think there are better, less exhausting trips you could choose when they are little.

Please
or
to access all these features

RampantIvy · 24/05/2021 13:50

I wouldn't.

The jetlag
The driving distances
I also wouldn't fly that far and spend that much money doing small child friendly stuff that I could do closer to home.

Please
or
to access all these features

BlackberrySky · 24/05/2021 13:53

I would not do this. Assuming you are in the UK, why not start somewhere closer to see how it goes? We took our DC to California a couple of years ago, and they were aged 8 and 10. This seemed like a good age to be able to enjoy all the places you mention, as well as cope with the jetlag and plane journey.

Please
or
to access all these features

grumpyhetty · 24/05/2021 13:58

We did this with young children travelling in a Winnebago. It was exH choice of holiday and was really more about what he wanted to do rather than what they’d enjoy. It wasn’t a terrible holiday but dealing with jet lagged DC was hard work and they spent a lot of time strapped in their car seats. A beach holiday in a UK or European resort would have been more enjoyable for everyone when they were this age. We regularly went to California when they were 8 yrs + and had some great holidays.

Please
or
to access all these features

SherryPalmer · 24/05/2021 13:59

We’ve done this a few times when our kids were various ages (including under 1 year). Pay more for a good location in San Francisco and you’ll find it’s quite walkable (if you don’t mind hills). We had our best trip just wondering around the city visiting various parks and cafes.
There’s plenty of pushchair friendly walks in Yosemite too. You can probably find them on the website. Plus there is a shuttle bus around the valley if you get tired. National parks are really good at grading their walks so we just picked short easy walks for our preschoolers to do on foot.

Obviously if it’s a “trip of a lifetime” holiday then maybe it’s best to wait but if you’ll have the opportunity to go again at some point and just want an interesting family holiday then I would definitely recommend.

Please
or
to access all these features

MsTSwift · 24/05/2021 14:15

Personally I would wait until they older. They are so tiny they won’t get much out of it. It’s a long way. You would have to pay me to do that flight with toddlers.

We did an amazing trip to Southern California when ours were 8 and 10. Six years later we still talk about it.

Please
or
to access all these features

GreyhoundG1rl · 24/05/2021 14:17

Sounds the opposite of relaxing to me... They'll get nothing out of it and won't even remember it later.

Please
or
to access all these features

Cuntryhouse · 24/05/2021 14:20

This does not appeal to me at all. They are far too young.

Please
or
to access all these features

Gemma2019 · 24/05/2021 14:34

God no I wouldn't do an 11/12 hour flight with two young children to go somewhere they won't even appreciate. I would take them over the age of about 8 or so and stay short haul until then.

Please
or
to access all these features

MsTSwift · 24/05/2021 15:31

When ours were tiny we stayed in uk northern France tops. They so intense it’s just childcare in a different location.

Actually when they were a baby and toddler we blew the budget on a uk holiday and went to a really posh hotel an hour from home and left the babies with my parents for 2 nights!

Please
or
to access all these features

fiveminutebreak · 25/05/2021 21:06

I'm not sure Yosemite with two small children will be great. You could probably manage the 18 month old in a backpack but the 3 year old will be tricky. Assuming you want to take advantage of the hiking? Obviously US families take kids of all ages, but the camp grounds are fairly basic / rustic, so you might want to consider the lodges which are likely expensive. You also need to book well in advance for Yosemite as it is incredibly popular and very busy at peak times. Most of the lower and most popular trails are well paved though and there is a good cafe and market on one of the campgrounds.

If you can afford to rent an RV, it might be the best option.

SF with 2 small children may be exhausting - it's very hilly and parking is expensive. So you need to factor in how you'll carry small tired kids around.

I'm not sure this trip would be the top of my list with an 18month old and 3 year old. Older kids, yes, it would be a lot of fun and they will remember it for years. If you think it's something you might only be able to afford to do once, then I would consider waiting until they can fully appreciate it (probably from 7 and up)!

Also, bear in mind jet lag. We moved to the west coast with older kids and it took about a week for their bodies and sleep patterns to adjust. And long car journeys mean your kids will be sleeping at random times and totally out of routine which will likely make for grumpy kids!

Having said all that though - lots of families do it with young kids and manage, you just might need to be very flexible with your plans and give yourself plenty of time .

Please
or
to access all these features

doorornottodoor · 25/05/2021 23:32

No way! We did that trip with our three when they were 10 12 and 14 and it was fantastic. But lots of time driving and hiking to get the best out if it. How would you transport the 3 year old?!

At the age yours are we did beach holidays/Europe and once they were a bit older say 5, 3 we went to Morocco/Malaysia/Sri Lanka. We also went to Disney Florida.

One thing I loved about going East rather than West was more sleep as my usually very early risers slept until 10am every day - heaven!

Please
or
to access all these features

doorornottodoor · 25/05/2021 23:36

Actually this place was amazing at your kids’ ages.

villapia.com/

Really relaxing and you could tag on somewhere else in Italy. We had a proper holiday there!

Please
or
to access all these features

BritWifeinUSA · 27/05/2021 06:08

What exactly would the children get out of it anyway? They won’t remember it. Obviously there are child-friendly places and things to do in San Francisco - people with children live there. But are they worth hauling two little children 5000 miles for? I doubt it.

Please
or
to access all these features

MsTSwift · 27/05/2021 07:13

Yeah - this is actually insane with those ages

Please
or
to access all these features

SummerLightning · 27/05/2021 07:51

We took our two to Vancouver and around at that age, same time difference, it was great! No they won't remember it but I do - I'd go for it if you are adventurous.
I agree Yosemite not great with tiny kids for more than a short amount of time anyway. You could just go for a couple of days and pootle around the bottom, maybe go to Taft point (would probably have to get hiking backpack, but not too far of a walk). Tahoe is amazing, also highway 1 and the beaches. You should do it.

Please
or
to access all these features

PresentingPercy · 28/05/2021 21:35

Your dc won’t enjoy it so what’s the point really. You are essentially dragging them around after a long haul flight and significant time difference. Wait until they might appreciate it.

We found Brittany brilliant for toddlers. Beaches for them and great restaurants for us. We got British baby sitters where we stayed. Easy enough to get to and charming towns and villages as well. Far less stress than long haul.

Please
or
to access all these features

AppleDumplin · 28/05/2021 22:02

I did a California trip with mine age 8 and 13.

We had a fabulous time but would not do it with younger kids in a million years! For all the reasons pps have said.

The long flight and jet lag was brutal- and we flew business class!
My kids were old enough to appreciate and enjoy everything we did - beaches, restaurants, cities, Hollywood, American football match, museums- but younger kids wouldn't have.
The driving distances
We didn't have to be constantly watching the kids so could relax and enjoy ourselves

I'd wait till your kids are older tbh.

Please
or
to access all these features

Quincejam · 28/05/2021 22:08

We did it when ours were 11,14 and 16 - we could do bike rides, visited theme parks, did walking tours of SanFran, etc - much better age, when ours were toddlers we went on Uk holidays where they could go to farm parks and the beach - no way would I have subjected them to 13hr plane journeys!

Please
or
to access all these features

PresentingPercy · 29/05/2021 16:45

It’s not 13 hours but the time difference is the killer.

Please
or
to access all these features

SoupDragon · 29/05/2021 17:11

I've done Florida beach holidays with children that age and the jet lag wasn't too bad but the key thing was that they were beach holidays and completely geared towards small children. They aren't interested in cities, no matter how child friendly.

10 hours (?) on a plane with an 18 month is going to be hell.

Please
or
to access all these features

RAINSh0wers · 30/05/2021 14:28

We took a 2 year old, flew into LA, had a few days in Santa Monica, drove down via Santa Barbara Monterey, onto San Francisco. We had a brilliant time but it was with only one (fairly easy going!) child! Now we have two, we’re waiting until the youngest is about 5 before we do it again. I’d maybe wait a couple of year if you can.

Our trick to making it successful was to scope out child friendly places as much as possible, e.g aquarium in Monterey, a great kids science museum in Pasadena (which I think DH enjoyed as much as DD!), the Getty which was amazing for outside space to run around, the rides at Santa Monica pier etc. We had a few nice lunches out by coordinating them with DD’s nap time (which was pretty reliable!). In San Francisco we found a lot of places did happy hour which also included some food so she’d have dinner early while we had a drink and then we got room service or she slept in the pram and we ate later.

We also splashed out mostly on hotels where we weren’t confined to one room which I think was the biggest key to success! She actually coped really well with jet lag and the flights, on the way home it was overnight so she slept most of it.

Please
or
to access all these features
Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Sign up to continue reading

Mumsnet's better when you're logged in. You can customise your experience and access way more features like messaging, watch and hide threads, voting and much more.

Already signed up?