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USA road trip

Copenhagen, Denmark
Level Contributor
9 posts
1 review
USA road trip

Hi everyone,

I am in the proces of planning a trip to the States for 6 weeks in May/June 2013.

I am travelling with my husband and my two kids aged 13 and 5. The kids are used to travelling with backpacks everywhere, with different accomodation levels (apart form luxury ones ;o) and means of travel. This time we will travel by car, though.

I have made a rough itinerary, and I would be really grateful if some of you experienced travellers would comment on it.

The start and ending points are fixed, as are the days in Bahia Honda, but otherwise the plan is flexible.

Right now I am thinking of skipping the Florida West Coast and fly from Miami to New Orleans and spend the extra days in Utah which is the part I feel is rather tight scheduled, but please let me know what you think:

10 05 Arrival Orlando late

11 05 Disney World

12 05 Disney World or Universal Studios (Harry Potter)

13 05 Cape Canavarel – drive to Miami

14 05 Miami

15 05 Bahia Honda

16 05 Bahia Honda

17 05 Bahia Honda

18 05 Everglades

19 05 West coast Florida

20 05 West coast Florida

21 05 Fly to New Orleans

22 05 New Orleans

23 05 New Orleans

24 05 Through Louisiana towards Texas

25 05 Texas

26 05 Texas

27 05 Texas

28 05 Texas

29 05 New Mexico

30 05 New Mexico

31 05 New Mexico

01 06 Mesa Verde

02 06 Four corners and Monument Valley

03 06 Arches

04 06 Bryce

05 06 Zion

06 06 Zion

07 06 Grand Canyon

08 06 Death Valley and Las Vegas

09 06 Seqouia National Park

10 06 San Fransisco

11 06 San Fransisco

12 06 San Fransisco

13 06 Coast

14 06 Los Angeles

15 06 Los Angeles

16 06 Los Angeles

17 06 San Diego

18 06 San Diego

19 06 San Diego

20 06 San Diego – fly home in the evening

Best, Line

Copenhagen, Denmark
Level Contributor
9 posts
1 review
1. Re: USA road trip

Oops, forgot about our travel preferences:

Actually, we really enjoy almost everything: Nature, hiking, rafting, swimming, beaches, citywalks, museums, FOOD, music, history/culture...

We are not too keen on shopping and amusement parks, but there is no way around Disney World since I am staying there for a conference.

Level Contributor
10,853 posts
30 reviews
2. Re: USA road trip

Are you planning to go to Yosemite? The water features, fed by snowpack, should be very good in early June. It's one of the most beautiful places in the world, especially when the water is flowing in volume.

In-park reservations for both Grand Canyon and Yosemite will be difficult at this relatively late day. Check the FAQs for both parks. The Yosemite Valley will be worth a day trip even if you can't get reservations elsewhere. It will be crowded in early June.

While visiting the Kennedy Space Center, consider going to the Cocoa Beach Pier for dinner or at least a stroll, staying the night to visit the Canaveral National Seashore. Then eliminate the Florida west coast to pick up some time.




Check out "America the Beautiful" passes.

You may want to take time out of Texas, New Mexico and elsewhere to add Page and Sedona, both in Arizona, to your journey. Sedona has wonderful hiking and biking, the Oak Creek Canyon, red rock, etc. Consider flying from New Orleans to Santa Fe, Las Vegas or Phoenix, perhaps even skipping New Orleans. Check out Southwest Airlines for flights (low fares, lower luggage fees than other airlines). It's one of the largest airlines in the U.S. but you must make reservations on their website.

Have you considered where you want to raft? There are options from Page down the Colorado River.

Your time for Las Vegas and Death Valley seems very short, but I'll let others comment. You won't regret spending the night in Death Valley. It's lack of moisture and ambient light offers some of the best stargazing in North America.

You could add a day or two between SF and LA. Check out Big Sur, Hearst Castle, Santa Barbara, and Malibu (Adamson House, Getty Villa in the Pacific Palisades). Reservations are needed at the Getty Villa. Perhaps also check out the Winchester Mystery House if you like oddities that you won't ever forget.




In Los Angeles, consider staying in Hollywood near a subway station. Check out the Magic Castle (for a brunch given your children's ages) and perhaps the Magic Castle Hotel. Take the subway downtown for a walking tour (several available online) making certain to tour the Disney Concert Hall, one of the most iconic buildings in the world.

Los Angeles and San Francisco have the best museums along your route.

Try to stop at the Firestone Grill in San Luis Obispo for some excellent California tri tip. There is tri tip that tastes like roast beef in a TV dinner, then there is the heavenly version served at the likes of the Firestone. Get any sauce on the side.


Have you considered where you want to do a swamp tour in Louisiana? Here's one possibility.


Firm up your trip ASAP to begin trying to make reservations. Have you considered camping in some locations, perhaps making reservations more obtainable such as for the Grand Canyon?

Less driving and more doing will greatly enhance the quality of your trip!

Good planning!

Edited: 25 January 2013, 13:26
Level Contributor
10,853 posts
30 reviews
3. Re: USA road trip

One reason to consider skipping Texas and New Mexico is to get to the Four Corners region as soon as possible before the summer vacation stampede, which begins soon after Memorial Day weekend (the last weekend in May).

Also, I suspect you'll want more time than allotted in the Four Corners.

West Midlands...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
17,418 posts
4. Re: USA road trip


Agree with TE, you need more time in the west.

Have you considered flying from say NOLA to Phoenix or Albuquerque and having two weeks east, four weeks in the west?

In the current plan no Yosemite, one night for Arches, one night for Hwy 1 and the Big Sur, strange route from Zion to Death Valley, via Vegas and the Grand Canyon, all in two days!!

Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
Level Contributor
72,860 posts
133 reviews
5. Re: USA road trip

Is it possible that you think there is a 'quick route' from Death Valley to Sequoia NP? They look close on a map, but there is no road over the Sierra Nevada Mountains ~ you must go all the way around the southern end.

7 June Zion NP to the South Rim of GCNP, 5 hrs

8 June GCNP to Las Vegas & on to DVNP, 7 hrs (just driving, no stops)

9 June DVNP to SEKI, 7.5 hrs (again, just nonstop driving)

10 June SEKI to San Francisco, 4.5 hrs


This plan doesn't actually allow you any time to enjoy the destinations.

I'm not sure what you'd drop, but most folks use the Tioga Pass entrance to cross the Sierra in summer. Assuming it's open, try this route from Las Vegas to Yosemite Valley with one night's stop: tripadvisor.com/Travel-g28926-c182361 And here is info about crossing the Sierra: tripadvisor.com/Travel-g61000-c158581

Most folks spend 3 days / 2 nights driving from SF to L.A. The two usual nights are spent in Monterey and in Cambria or Pismo Beach. If you only have one night, then you don't get to see much of Monterey and you spend the night in Cambria.

Lodging reservations will be absolutely essential in National Parks and everywhere in California. The city/destination forums can help with that. Read the Top Questions (upper right) first, maybe hotel reviews, and then post on that forum.

Yosemite will probably be the toughest to find lodging, although I think that you've chosen an incredibly busy time to visit San Francisco AND you'll have a rental car (need parking), so SF might be a bit more challenging.

Level Contributor
10,853 posts
30 reviews
6. Re: USA road trip

BTW, I don't think you can do much in the way of rafting with a five-year-old. Perhaps the float trip from Page, but you'll have to do some research.

It sounds like your family would enjoy the boat trip and hike to the Rainbow Bridge National Monument near Page. It features the world's largest known natural bridge.


Level Contributor
10,853 posts
30 reviews
7. Re: USA road trip

Valiant is correct that your airport option in New Mexico is Albuquerque and not Santa Fe. The latter doesn't have much commercial service.

I mentioned Las Vegas as a possible airport destination with the possibility of doing a road trip loop out of the city in order to avoid drop charges. It also has many direct flight options.

If you have trouble obtaining reservations in the Four Corners region, you also might consider an RV for that loop out of Las Vegas. Check in the forums for the various parks about the relative availability of RV reservations versus lodging. You also could rent equipment in Las Vegas and tent camp on nights that regular lodging wasn't obtainable.

Unless you're hiking down into the canyon, you only need one night at GC with the goal of seeing one sunrise and one sunset. You need to plan on driving slowly in the dark in the rural areas of the West due the possibility of large animals in the road.

As a foreign tourist, you might be able to avoid drop charges between Las Vegas and destinations in CA. Search this forum for "drop charge" for many threads discussing the issue.

You also might consider a road trip loop out of New Orleans to justify your visit there. You could visit Cajun country for a swamp tour, then drive up the Mississippi River seeing Natchez and Vicksburg, where the sesquicentennial of the great Civil War battle and siege will be celebrated this year. Given your interest in music, you could stretch the trip to Clarksdale and Memphis, returning by way of Tupelo, if you are blues and Elvis fans. Search this forum for more information on these destinations.


Vicksburg has one of the best Civil War battlefield parks, featuring the U.S.S. Cairo. The major battlefield parks, such as Vicksburg, have very good visitors centers.

Consider reading James McPherson's "The Battle Cry of Freedom" before your trip if you want to gain a grasp of the cataclysmic struggle that transformed the U.S. into a nation. This single volume history won the Pulitzer Prize and is a volume of the Oxford History of the United States.


Although the population of the U.S. was only 35 million, there were more American military deaths (618 to 700 thousand) in the Civil War than all American military deaths in the U.S. wars of the 20th century, inclusive of both world wars. Vicksburg was a focal point in that continental war.

If you do visit New Orleans, you might want to read about the War of 1812, Andrew Jackson, and the Battle of New Orleans. The latter, fought in 1815, was the last great battle between the U.S. and the UK, and has been immortalized in song. The decisive American victory propelled Jackson to the Presidency and transformed American politics. Jackson Square is the focal point of downtown New Orleans.


The U.S. and Canada currently are celebrating the bicentennial of the War of 1812, even as the U.S. celebrates the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War.

Level Contributor
10,853 posts
30 reviews
8. Re: USA road trip

Utah has one of the best U.S. TA forums. See the FAQs and the "stickies" at the top of the forum, noting especially the great "Grand Circle" travel article initiated and largely maintained by OhioHick.



Here's a magnificent trip report of five weeks in California and the Southwest. Emma also provides many reviews of lodging and restaurants along with her great TRs. Of course the TR is from 2010....


Level Contributor
10,853 posts
30 reviews
9. Re: USA road trip

Another option is to drop the San Diego leg in order to gain time for more attractions elsewhere, if you aren't actually locked into San Diego as implied in your first post. IMO, you could cut one day out of both San Diego and Los Angeles, especially if you're skipping Disneyland in LA.

Level Contributor
10,853 posts
30 reviews
10. Re: USA road trip

Perhaps you could visit Sea World in Orlando rather than San Diego....