We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

USA holiday, thoughts and suggestions?

Quirindi, New South...
Level Contributor
181 posts
5 reviews
Save Topic
USA holiday, thoughts and suggestions?

In a few years I am planning on going on a family holiday to America. It will be our once in a lifetime holiday and we have a few years to save so I am after any imput. The kids will be 4, 6 and 8. Here is what I am thinking for now-

San Diego- 4 nights

Anaheim- 6 nights (day trip to LA)

San Fran- 5 nights

Yosemite- 2 nights

Las Vegas- 4 nights (day trip to Death Valley)

Grand canyon- 2 nights

New York- 8 nights

??Washington DC- 5 night ?? not sure may be adding to much

Toronto/ Niagara Falls- 4 night….. maybe 5 night

Hawaii- 7 nights

Do you think I should worry about Washington or not? Is there any places you would think about adding. Am I staying to long/not long enough at any places? Any info would be great, thanks

California
Level Contributor
1,937 posts
Save Reply
1. Re: USA holiday, thoughts and suggestions?

Wow, your questions seem very broad.

Not sure what you mean when you ask if you should *worry* about Washington. (If I may be so bold, I think most all of us in the US *worry* about Washington! HaHaHa)

^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^

What is it you would like for your family to get out of the trip?

What are your interests?

Fun? Education? Seeing the tourist things? Getting to know the "real" America, for example, experience life at a dude ranch and ride horses?

Visiting cities? Rural or country life? Getting close to nature? Seeing US Senate or House Of Representatives in session?

^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^

What time of year will you visit the USA? What month or months? It looks as if you are planning a six to seven week tour of the USA which also includes Hawaii. And some time in Canada, as well.

Do you have a budget in mind?

Off the top of my head, 4 nights in Las Vegas with three children ages 4, 6 and 8 seems to be too many nights. There is not very much in Las Vegas for small children to do.

Disneyland in Anaheim, CA will surely be alot of fun for your children. They might also like Universal Studios if they enjoy US movies alot.

Please help us out with more of your thoughts.

Thank you.

Edited: 12 May 2012, 09:10
Quirindi, New South...
Level Contributor
181 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: USA holiday, thoughts and suggestions?

Thanks, I mean worry as do I bother going there or skip it all together?

Since it will be probably our one and only trip to America I want to do a bit of everything fun, touristy, a little bit of education (natural museum of history is a must my boys love the movie night at the museum).

Budget is open at the moment as this is why I am doing a little bit of planning now to see around about how much I need to save and how long we will go for etc. We will be going November/december back a few days before Christmas at this stage

So far I was thinking things like this

San Diego- 4 nights- Get there sea world, lego land, Zoo and beach

Anaheim- 6 nights (day trip to LA/Hollywood (universal studios)), Disney.

San Fran- 5 nights- Not to sure but Alcatraz, seals, bridge etc

Yosemite- 2 nights

Las Vegas- 4 nights (day trip to Death Valley)

Grand canyon- 2 nights

New York- 8 nights- Museum of Natural History, statue of Liberty, Rockefeller, empire state building, central park, toys r us etc.

??Washington DC- 5 night ?? not sure may be adding to much

Toronto/ Niagara Falls- 4 night….. maybe 5 night

Hawaii- 7 nights

California
Level Contributor
1,937 posts
Save Reply
3. Re: USA holiday, thoughts and suggestions?

You say that your plans are for November/December.

Will this be like a summer vacation for your children? When is school out for your summer?

Remember, it will be cold weather here in the USA in Nov and Dec -- possibly snowing in many places you would visit -- of course, not snowing in southern California, but I don't think you would want to go to the beach in San Diego in November or December -- just waaaay too cold.

It will be just the opposite weather of what you have at that time of year. (I'm sure you realize this)

I think your trip would be much nicer if you could come in nicer weather. October would make for a better trip, esp to see Yosemite National Park and the Grand Canyon. Well, Hawaii would have nice weather in Nov and Dec, I think.

Just an idea ~~~ You might want to start your trip planning by researching temperature and weather data of the places you wish to visit, then you might be better able to grasp how well your children and family would enjoy a winter trip to the USA.

On the other hand, is your family avid skiiers? October is generally too early for skiing. November and December would likely have plenty of snow! And rain at the lower elevations (the central valley of California).

Quirindi, New South...
Level Contributor
181 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: USA holiday, thoughts and suggestions?

Summer holidays her are from Christmas for 6 weeks *so Christmas start again Feb) so no it won't be there holidays they will be missing out on school. I like the idea of the snow. We have never seen snow before (besides hubby) and the idea of ice skating etc in New York appeals to me. As well as seeing all the Christmas decorations etc. (hence why I chose Nov/Dec) Do you think I should come at the beginning of the Aust October holidays (2 weeks then the kids will miss out on 5 weeks of school). This missing out on school doesn't worry me I am a teacher and think that they will get lots out of a trip.

Not planning to swim at the beach in san diego more just look. The beach is only 2 hours away from where we live so we can go any time here in Australia.

Las Vegas, Nevada
Destination Expert
for Anaheim, St. George
Level Contributor
27,637 posts
90 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: USA holiday, thoughts and suggestions?

Welcome to the forums mordygordy,

Are you planning on driving to some of these locations? you dont specify if you are or not

Its a good idea to consider that the week in between Christmas and New Years is one of the busiest times of the Year for Disneyland so i would try to arrange your trip so you were not going there near that time.

Las Vegas would also be very crowded on New Years Eve.

Yosemite would also have snow at that time of year.

You can also post questions in the specific City Forums you are thinking of visiting so they can better help with your itinerary ect.

Consider also posting in the Road Trip Forum since this is a Multi State trip

tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g1-i12567-Road_Tri…

I think how many days you have alotted to each destination seem fine, but, its best as i said to consider posting in the specific City Forums you are planning on visiting.

San Diego...
Level Contributor
10,251 posts
33 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: USA holiday, thoughts and suggestions?

I would choose June for your trip if that is possible, but it sounds like your schedule wouldn't work for that. June has much better temperatures than November and December, and the days are much longer, giving you a lot more time to see things each day. Both Yosemite and the Grand Canyon will be cold in November and December, and some park roads will be closed, limiting your ability to see and enjoy the parks.

October would be acceptable for most purposes, as the weather is generally very pleasant throughout most of the U.S. in October. Southern California including San Diego, Anaheim and Los Angeles can be hot in October, if the "Santa Ana condition" is prevailing. Otherwise it's very pleasant. October would mean fall colors on the trees in mountain locations and throughout the northeastern U.S., so if you are there in October you might want to take a drive through some place like Vermont. In October the famous waterfalls of Yosemite will be just a trickle or even totally dry. Other than that, October is a great time to visit California. In November everything turns colder and there may be the first winter-type storm of the season. June is ideal for most general-purpose tours in the U.S., but October would be the next best choice.

Your trip is heavily loaded with theme parks and other commercial sights, which are expensive. You have only 2 national parks listed. Frankly I would cut down the number of theme parks to just the ones you really want to see, and add more national parks and state parks, to balance it out. Your kids are at the perfect ages for Legoland, though, so that is one I would keep on the list.

There is a Museum of Natural History in Balboa Park, which is where the San Diego Zoo is, in fact I think the Natural History is the closest museum to the zoo - maybe a 10-minute walk from the zoo exit at most. You could start at the zoo in the morning, then late in the day walk over to the musuem, then walk back to your car in the zoo parking lot - no need to repark.

We often go to the beach in San Diego in November and December - not to go in the water as it's too cold then, but as long as it's sunny weather it's never too cold of a day to visit the beach here, any time of year. Even though you can easily go to a beach at home, I would still consider a few hours at a beach along the coast in La Jolla, a neighborhood of San Diego, either the famous surfing spot Windansea Beach, or else Marine Street Beach, Coast Boulevard Park with its tide pools, Shell Beach, La Jolla Cove, Goldfish Point, Coast Walk, and La Jolla Shores. The ocean water is not warm here, ranging from 55 F in the winter to a maximum of 75 F in late August.

You do not indicate how you are getting from Los Angeles to San Francisco, but I think you should drive along the coast as there is so much to see along the way that the kids will love. I would take 3 days of your trip just for that drive, staying overnight in Cambria or San Simeon, then another night in Carmel or Monterey. Another member of this forum took a trip along the central coast last year and posted a great gallery with descriptions at https://picasaweb.google.com/Mjneenan/Califo…

I think you should spend longer than 2 nights in Yosemite; I would recommend 3 nights there at a minimum. Lodging at Yosemite and the Grand Canyon fills up way in advance, even a year in advance. So you will need to get your reservations for lodging in those parks well ahead of your trip. The members and destination experts in the forum for each of those parks on this site will help you choose the lodging that is right for you and your family. With 5 people, you might consider renting cabins or private homes such as a cabin in Foresta, just west of Yosemite Valley.

Personally I don't think of Las Vegas as a great destination for kids. In the last couple of decades Las Vegas has made clumsy attempts to reposition itself as a "family destination" but in my opinion it is still basically an adult playground. I would not spend 4 nights there, with a family of kids. In my opinion your time would be better spent in national parks such as Zion which is only 3 hours away from Las Vegas.

If you have enough national parks on your itinerary, you can buy the America the Beautiful pass, for USD $80, which is good for one year and allows you and everyone in your car admission to all national parks, national monuments, national forests and recreation areas, national seashores and national historic sites. You would buy it at the entrance to the first national park or monument you go to. Good for one year for hundreds of places. (Compare that with Disneyland which is now $80 for one person for one day.) The America the Beautiful pass would not cover state parks, though, so you would have to pay the day use parking fee at any of those you go to, but that is rarely more than $10 for most cars for one day.

I don't know New York at all, so I can't comment on that or Niagara Falls. But Washington DC is a good place to visit, with lots of history and lots of things to see, many of which are completely free. Your kids are young and I don't know how much history and museum visiting they will be interested in, but at least you would want to visit the Smithsonian and the National Air and Space Museum. I think Washginton would be worth a day or two of your time.

You don't have Yellowstone National Park on your list and that is worth seeing, but it would require several more days and it's so far away, takes so long to drive there, that I think it's much better to fly there. There is an airport at Jackson Hole (JAC) which is actually within the boundaries of Grand Teton National Park, and even though it's a tiny airport it is served by American, Delta, Frontier, Skywest and United Airlines. You could fly there and spend a few days touring Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and the surrounding areas. I'd rather do that than spend 5 days at Niagara Falls.

Edited: 12 May 2012, 15:53
Anaheim, California
Level Contributor
25,711 posts
13 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: USA holiday, thoughts and suggestions?

Well, the OP wants to do "Touristy" things, and Theme/Amusement Parks are the top Tourist Attractions. For example, the Disneyland Resort, if you add up the attendance for Disneyland Park, Disney California Adventure and Downtown Disney is about 40 million people a year. (Yes, some folks are counted more than once, and some are locals), but still, towns like Orlando wouldn't be what it is if Walt Disney didn't buy all that land, and started Walt Disney World, and then folks like Universal and SeaWorld built nearby.

I agree, folks should do some things other than just visit Theme/Amusement parks, but there is no problem making them a main focus if that is what your family prefers. As they say, different strokes for different folks.

Here is a Top Question that talks about all the different Theme/Amusement Parks in California. Not some of them are not open every day, in fact, California's Great America closes from early November through March, and others are not open every day during the off-season, including LEGOLAND, so check the operating schedules carefully.

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g28926-c4071/Californ…

Anaheim, California
Level Contributor
25,711 posts
13 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: USA holiday, thoughts and suggestions?

OOPS, typo, I should have said 30 million for the Disneyland Resort in yearly attendance.

Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
805 posts
177 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: USA holiday, thoughts and suggestions?

Niagara Falls in the winter is pretty much closed down in the winter. The falls are there, but there is not much to see, and the winter can be VERY cold, as can Toronto. Many of the tourist facilities which your kids would like will be closed entirely, and it's not going to be very fun to walk around the area when it's so cold. You will also not be able to do much of what makes Niagara Falls fun--such as the Maid of the Mist (or its replacement).

I would skip Vegas entirely. Because you're from Australia, you have plenty of desert, so I would think Death Valley would not be that interesting for you (and particularly the kids) either.

Yosemite in the winter can be beautiful, but it can also be VERY difficult to travel to or around. You will want to either skip it or have a back up plan in case roads are closed due to weather. Otherwise, you might find yourself stranded for a few days.

If your kids are not American, they are not going to get much out of the historical DC patriotic type of stuff. They will like parts of the Smithsonian, but that's probably the extent of it. But New York has some really great museums too, so if you wanted to skip DC you will be fine. I think the natural history museum in NY is on par or better than DC's, so I would do only one of them.

Remember the weather as well. New York will be cold and possibly snowy, so hanging out in Central Park will probably not be the highlight of your trip.

Florida has really nice weather that time of year, however, which is why I'd consider shifting south a bit, especially if you're into Disney and theme parks, Harry Potter, and Legoland.

Canada
Level Contributor
466 posts
31 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: USA holiday, thoughts and suggestions?

Can I just ask why you picked Toronto? Is it to see Niagra Falls? If it was going to be my only trip to Canada and I was visiting amazing cities like NY and SF during the same trip - Toronto would not be my stop. Toronto is great, but essentially it is a big city like the previous two. Have you checked out Calgary/Banff/Jasper Alberta, Halifax, Nova Scotia, PEI, Victoria/Tofino British Columbia. There are many special and unique places in Canada to explore. I'd encourage you to to have a look at the above places to visit. I think they would provide a much more memorable visit to Canada.

Have fun planning your amazing vacation!