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California Road Trip with 3 Year old

Whitley Bay, United...
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California Road Trip with 3 Year old

Hi guys,

My husband and I are planning a 3 week trip at Easter which must include time at Mammoth Lakes for snowboarding.

We need to keep distances between towns as short as possible as our 3 year old is not a keen traveller :-/.

Our rough intinery so far is as follows:

Santa Monica/LA - 3 nights

Santa Barbara - 1 night

Big Sur - 1 night

Santa Cruz - 3 nights

Sacramento - 2 nights

Mammoth Lakes - 4/5 nights

Lone Pine - 1 night

LA - remainder of holiday.

Basically I was after some advice as to whether people think this sounds good or should we say only have 1 night in Santa Cruz and more elsewhere or more in Santa Cruz and less in Sacramento for example.

We have been to California twice before so have visited SF and San Diego.

Many thanks in advance for your help,

Lyndsay

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1. Re: California Road Trip with 3 Year old

I would spend more time in Big Sur than Sacramento! Santa Barbara is a beautiful area also where you may want to spend more time. We like The Harbor View Inn there. :)

Napa, CA
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2. Re: California Road Trip with 3 Year old

That's a lot of time in Santa Cruz. Are you surfers? And, Sacramento for 2 days? What's the attraction there? Will the 3 yr old enjoy touring museums more than driving?

My question is if you just do short drives each day, what do you do with the 3 yr old for the rest of the day? Just hang out in the motel room? I don't get it.

San Francisco
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3. Re: California Road Trip with 3 Year old

Mammoth is a lot easier to get to from SoCal than NorCal, especially in winter. And while there probably won't be a snowstorm in the Sierra in late March, you never know.

I don't understand the 2 nights in Sacramento but none in Carnel/Monterey. Nor 3 nights in Santa Cruz for that matter. (Not that it isn't a nice place but it's not going to be beach weather at Easter.)

Besides snowboarding, what's the purpose of the trip?

San Francisco...
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4. Re: California Road Trip with 3 Year old

Lots and lots of driving with a 3 year old. Oh well I guess that is the way you like to spend your vacations. The drive from SB to Big Sur Village (when you say Big Sur, I presume you mean the village area) is very long and can take 5-6 hours without stops.

I would reconsider this whole vacation if I were in your place with a 3 year old. Looks like an adult vacation and not a family one

San Diego
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5. Re: California Road Trip with 3 Year old

I agree that this looks like an adult vacation and not one for a family with a 3year old who is "not a keen traveler"!!

I am not from the camp that says that every trip needs to be filled with only kiddie activities but I DO think that taking the child into consideration a bit more might be a good idea!

Many young children have trouble changing hotels often because they can never really get comfortable in each new place!

I would stop and think a bit about why you are visiting each place on your list and think about what you will do at each stop and IF it is active or interesting enough for the child . Then I'd alternate the activities so there are some child oriented ones each day with some for the adults too.

I would think that going to one nice resort from which you could do day trips or do fun activities would be more relaxing than dragging the child all over California!

Whitley Bay, United...
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6. Re: California Road Trip with 3 Year old

Thanks for your replies.

Can I just make a few points. Firstly in order to get to Mammoth when we fly into LAX requires a long drive. We are aware that its a bit unfair for our daughter to be stuck in the car for 6 hours which is why we are trying to brake the trip up, ensuring we stop at places where there is plenty to do with her. For example visiting the zoo at Sacramento, the funfair at Santa Cruz, etc. I suppose we could hang out in LA for a week, drive the unscenic route to Mammoth for a week then back down to LA for a week.

Lots of driving is not how we like to spend our vacation, but like I said how else could we get to Mammoth? Unless we looked into flying from LAX but then am sure the cost of our trip would increase greatly.

The only 'adult' activities we'll be taking part is 3/4 days snowboarding, everything else will be centred around our daughter.

Roseville...
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7. Re: California Road Trip with 3 Year old

I live in Sacto area & with all due respect to my home turf, I can think of lots of Cali places with more to offer someone with limited time from a foreign country than here. That said, the three year old might enjoy the railroad museum and a trip to one of the jumpy kind of places like Whacky-Tacky (sp?). Also, local zoo.

For sure, spend at least one day in Monterey & see the aquarium. Stuff there your child will enjoy.

Napa, CA
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8. Re: California Road Trip with 3 Year old

I did not know about the Sacramento Zoo. It looks like a great place to take kids but there are probably bigger and more interesting zoos in LA, Oakland, or San Francisco. During Easter week, 6 Flags is open in Vallejo and they have lots of interesting wildlife exhibits.

www.sixflags.com/discoveryKingdom/index.aspx

You could certainly spend more time in Southern California. There's plenty to do there for kids especially in Orange and San Diego counties. The beach is nicer down there too at that time of year. And, the desert is great too then.

The drive up 395 to Mammoth is hardly "unscenic". It's one of the most spectacular drives in California. But, probably not that interesting for a 3 yr old.

San Francisco...
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9. Re: California Road Trip with 3 Year old

>>We are aware that its a bit unfair for our daughter to be stuck in the car for 6 hours which is why we are trying to brake the trip up, ensuring we stop at places where there is plenty to do with her.

So instead of that, this is what you are planning to do

http://goo.gl/maps/agc6U

If it were us, and we wanted to do Mammoth and LA, perhaps we would just spend time in the LA area, go down to Orange County and San Diego and either go to the closest ski area close to one of the areas. Big Bear comes to mind. You say you have done San Diego before but I bet your kid does not remember that. Plus there is so much to do in that county. One could go to Carlsbad or La Jolla.

But at the end of the day it is your vacation, you asked for advise so here it is. There is no right or wrong thing to do. Just our opinion so please take it or leave it and do what you think is best for you and your family.

Edited: 31 December 2012, 21:37
Whitley Bay, United...
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10. Re: California Road Trip with 3 Year old

Once again, thank you for your replies.

Many of you have confirmed my doubts about the distance with my 3 year old and because of that we have decided on the following:

Fly to LAX from UK with a few days leisurely spent in and around Santa Monica to help with jet-lag. NO DRIVING!!!

Fly from LAX to Mammoth for a week again no driving involved.

On our return to LAX pick up hire car and head down to San Diego for a week or so then back to LA for flight home.

Maybe throw in a trip to Disney too!

Wow I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders!!!

Thanks everyone for making me see sense.