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West Coast California road trip. San Diego-Grand Canyon?

Ballina, Australia
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West Coast California road trip. San Diego-Grand Canyon?

HI there, very early stages of planning a road trip starting from LAX down south as far as to San Diego, over as far as the Grand Canyon and then NE through DeathValley and onto Yosemite/SF then down south back to LAX ( a big loop).

Just not sure on the route out to the GCNP. Would it be best to first stop at Vegas for a night, drive out to the canyon for 2 nights and back to Vegas for another night before moving on or would it make more sense to make our way from SD straight to GCNP for 2 nights and then stop at Vegas for a night or 2 before heading to DV. We will also stop for a night along the way from SD to either Vegas or GCNP...

Any thoughts?

Tacoma, Washington
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1. Re: West Coast California road trip. San Diego-Grand Canyon?

How much time is this trip and when do you want to do it?

It makes more sense to do LA-SD-Grand canyon-LV-then to northern CA, then down the coast back to LA.

A stop over point for SD to GC would be Kingman, AZ/Laughlin, NV. SD to LV doesnt really need a stop over point unless you plan on stopping at Joshua Tree/Palm springs area.

Cleveland
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2. Re: West Coast California road trip. San Diego-Grand Canyon?

Yosemite's water features are fed by snow melt and so are spectacular in May. Waterfalls will be greatly diminished in September.

Ballina, Australia
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3. Re: West Coast California road trip. San Diego-Grand Canyon?

The trip will be about 4 weeks long either may or sept. I thought we might need a stopover between SD and LV as we have 4 kids (between 3 and 11 yrs). If going straight to GCNP makes more sense though we will just do that, Cheers

edited to add... just realised SD to LV is only 5 hrs... maybe just a stop for lunch and a visit somewhere if we decided that route?

Edited: 23 July 2014, 07:15
Encinitas...
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4. Re: West Coast California road trip. San Diego-Grand Canyon?

If you go to Vegas before the GC, you will have to backtrack to Vegas before hitting Death Valley.Go to the GC first.Its more of a loop then.

Ballina, Australia
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5. Re: West Coast California road trip. San Diego-Grand Canyon?

Thanks!

Uden, The...
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6. Re: West Coast California road trip. San Diego-Grand Canyon?

Also check out places like Palm Springs and Sedona driving between SD and GC With 4 weeks you'll have the time for more stops imo. www.visitsedona.com

Washington State
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7. Re: West Coast California road trip. San Diego-Grand Canyon?

>>either may or sept<<

Crossing the Sierra Nevada Mountains: tripadvisor.com/Travel-g61000-c158581 The article includes historical data about the opening of Tioga Pass (best, fastest, most scenic route from the east to Yosemite.) The usual openign date goal is the Friday of Memorial Day holiday weekend, but it's dependent on weather, snowpack, & avalanche danger.

Las Vegas to Yosemite: tripadvisor.com/Travel-g28926-c182361

Usual loop w/ San Francisco as the entry / exit airport: tripadvisor.com/GoListDetail-i38853 Advantage to using SFO is that a car is a hindrance in SF. But you can do a loop w/ SF in the middle.

You MUST have lodging reservations. A family of 5 is hard to fit in one hotel room in some destinations. A family of 6 is really really hard. You might need a suite or two rooms. The Top Questions on the right side of each forum page often has tips about lodging. May will be tough for Yosemite as you're already late booking (1 year in advance is better.) September will be tough for San Francisco as it's fabulous weather and full of conventions.

Make careful plans about where you'll be if you're in the US over Memorial Day weekend (May 22-25) or Labor Day weekend (Sept 4-7.)

Lewes, United...
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8. Re: West Coast California road trip. San Diego-Grand Canyon?

Hi

I'd say some of the advice you have been given already, such as drive directly from San Diego to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon was based on the assumption that your trip was perhaps around 2 weeks long or so - as that's all most folk allow. Now we know you have 4 full weeks, you can add stops to other worthwhile places in between, but not Vegas (as that fits better between GC and Death Valley), and also add other national parks, if these are to your family's taste.

However, to get more useful and specific advice, do you have a rough itinerary for your trip? Are there any other stops you are wishing to add, such as LA and Anaheim (for theme parks, given you have kids)? Also, while Vegas is worth checking outs and the adults may find it rather entertaining, it's not an idea place to spend too long with kids, but not is it devoid of amusements there for them.

The other thing to mention is that you don't need a car in SF, and car parking is expensive there, so do consider how that might impact your trip.

The other thing I thought useful to raise now is car rental. For a family of 6 on a long road trip, do make sure you rent something large enough so all passengers are comfy and you can stow all your luggage.

SWT

Edited: 23 July 2014, 17:17
Ballina, Australia
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9. Re: West Coast California road trip. San Diego-Grand Canyon?

Thanks for the advice, we will head straight to GCNP from SD.

This trip is not until 2016 so plenty of planning time. I want to be super organised and have most of itinerary sorted so that we can start booking as soon as we can for place like Yosemite. (although just thinking today maybe we could do september next year...)

We will be getting a 7 seater and we are thinking it would be best, considering the 4 young children, to travel before and after those public holiday dates ie mid april to mid may to have left by memorial weekend and after 1st week of september to avoid labor weekend? Or is it really not that busy?

Thinking...

1-Arrive LAX drive Anaheim

2-Disneyland

3-Disneyland

4-Universal (drive back to LA for this as the SoCal pass is WAY cheaper but must be used in 14 days and we dont fancy stopping for 1 night in LA on first arriving)

5-Disneyland

6-Drive SD early AM, sights.

7-SD zoo

8-SD sights

9-Seaworld

10-Drive Kingman early AM, stopping for lunch and a visit for a couple of hrs somewhere?

11-Drive South Rim GCNP, sunset

12-GCNP, sunrise, easy hikes, sights

13-Drive to LV early AM, visit Hoover Dam on way? what else along way to see?

14-LV, sights, outlet shopping

15-Drive Bishop early AM via Death Valley. places to stop/see along here?

16-Drive to Yosemite early AM, stop at Tuolumne Meadows for a visit

17-Yosemite, sights, hikes

18-Drive SF early AM, Stop at Mariposa Grove.

19-SF, Golden Gate bridge, sights.

20-SF, California Academy of Science, sights

21-SF, Alcatraz, sights

22-Drive Monterey early AM, aquarium

23-Drive to Pismo Beach

24-Drive to LA, sight seeing

25-LA, tour?

26-LA outlet shopping

27-Fly home.

Does this sound ok or too ambious... we want to see as much as possible but also dont want to go crazy just trying to get to the next destination... we can add days if needed.

We would like to break up our driving with interesting stops every couple of hours if possible so please advice if there is something we should be seeing along our route.

Also are there any opportunities for ghost towns, hot springs, native american culture/information and fishing in rivers/lakes along our route (or not far from it)?

Obviously we have heaps of time (but less if we decide to go sept 2015) so this plan will probably change heaps so feel free to reccomend something else and/or add to it.

Thanks!

Uden, The...
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10. Re: West Coast California road trip. San Diego-Grand Canyon?

I would not do amusement parks 8/9 days in a row but split them. So maybe San Diego at the start of your trip and Disneyland at the end. Young kids also will like Legoland in Carlsbad on the way to SD. If you come too early in the year there's a chance Tioga pass still will be closed.

Tet