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3 weeks in California

Aalsmeer, The...
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3 weeks in California

I am planning a trip to California for around 3 weeks in July 2014 with my family (including 7 year old child), and came up with the following itinerary so far:

Day 1: Flight from Amsterdam to San Francisco

Day 2: San Francisco

Day 3: San Francisco

Day 4: Drive to Yosemite NP early morning (4 hr drive) – check in hotel early afternoon

Day 5: Yosemite: Yosemite Valley

Day 6: Yosemite: Tuolumne Meadows

Day 7: Yosemite: Glacier Point & Mariposa Grove

Day 8: Drive to Monterey early morning (4 hour drive). Visit Monterey Bay Aquarium / Cannery Row / 17 Mile Drive. Spend the night in Carmel

Day 9: Drive via Big Sur and San Simeon (visit Hearst Castle) to Cambria. Spend the night in Cambria

Day 10: Drive to Los Angeles (what to visit on the way?). Check in hotel in Los Angeles

Day 11: Los Angeles

Day 12: Visit Disney World

Day 13: Visit Legoland

Day 14: Beach

Day 15: Drive to Las Vegas early morning (4 hour drive). Check into hotel

Day 16: Las Vegas

Day 17: Drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon NP (4 hour drive).

Stay in El Tovar for 2 nights?

Walk along part of Rim Trail

Day 18: Grand Canyon

Bright Angel Trail hike

Day 19: Drive to Bryce Canyon (5 hour drive).

Stay at Bryce Canyon Lodge for 1 night?

Day 20: Bryce Canyon

Sunrise at Bryce Point

Navajo Trail/Queen's Garden hike

Drive to Zion – Stay in Zion Lodge for 2 nights

Day 21: Zion NP

Riverside Walk/Narrows hike from bottom up

Day 22: Zion NP

Angel's Landing hike

Drive to Las Vegas (2.5 hours)

Stay 1 night in Las Vegas

Day 23: Flight from Las Vegas to Amsterdam

Any feedback / advice would be very welcome!

Manhattan Beach...
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1. Re: 3 weeks in California

This is actually a really good itinerary.

Between Cambria and LA you could visit a winery north of Santa Barbara. Just above Hearst Castle is a state Beach that the California Elephant seals have taken over. They are a strange and unique sight, good for about a half hour as they fight over mates and have babies. Santa Barbara is a picturesque place to find a restaurant and shop.

You visit Legoland, which is good. More relaxing than Disneyland. I would get a hotel room in a place like La Jolla that night.

Partly out of personal ignorance I'm nervous about the Grand Canyon Bright Angel Trail hike with a child. Carry a lot of water. Catch the California Condor nature talk with the ranger. When we were there the condors would visit during the talk.

After Grand Canyon, if the timing works out, consider stopping in Page Arizona and renting a motor boat for an hour to see the canyon from the bottom up, from the water.

You are smart to fly out of Las Vegas. Again a really good itinerary!

Uden, The...
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2. Re: 3 weeks in California

Hi Ties en welkom op het forum.

Well planned indeed but you are going to visit more states like Nevada, Arizona and Utah, not only California.

Rent the car already from Europe and have all insurances included.

Buy an America the Beautiful pass at the entrance of your first NP. Valid for car and passengers for a year at $ 80,-- Will save you money.

Buy a cooler for on the road.

If you need info on carrental and the itinerary you also can use the Road Trips forum: tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowForum-g1-i12567-Road_T…

But, as said, your trip is well planned.

Instead 17 miles drive I'd visit Point Lobos SR just south of Carmel.

before Hearst Castle stop at Piedras Blancas for the elepahant seals

Take a look at FAQ's at the right hand side of this page

Maybe stop at Solvang before having lunch in beautiful Santa Barbara. Drive Pacific Coast hw via Malibu to Santa Monica.

Disney World is in Orlando. This one is called Disneyland. Suggest to stay Anaheim for a visit to it and also for Carlsbad.

Prob the drives to Las vegas and GC will take a bit longer than 4 hours. between Las vegas and GC stop at places for R66 like in Kingman, Hackberry and Seligman. Also Hoover Dam is on your way.

El Tovar is the classisc GC hotel. Best is to make dinnerreservations far in advance. And I agree, take care hiking BA trail.

A visit to Page is a great idea. You'll find Antelope Canyons, Horseshoe bend, Glen Canyon dam and Lake Powell here. There also is a colorado riverraft and a cruise to Rainbow Bridge but in that case you'll need more time in Page. Between GC and Page is Cameron Trading Post another must stop.

On the way from Page to Bryce you'll find Best Friends Animal Society. Your daugther will love it. Don't miss its pet cemetery. Also Red Canyon on the way to Bryce.

Between Bryce and Zion take the one hour trail roundtrip to Canyon Overlook just before Zion Mt, Carmel tunnel. I'm too chicken for Angels Landing but it you have the guts, go for it!.

You'll lose one hour between Az and Utah because Az doesnot observe daylight saving time (except for the Navajo Nation) You'll gain one hour between Utah and Nevada.

Happy planning

Tet

Edited: 30 July 2013, 10:34
Uden, The...
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3. Re: 3 weeks in California

Forgot to add. Maybe visit Valley of Fire SP between Zion and Las Vegas and also Red Rock just west of Las Vegas.

Aalsmeer, The...
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4. Re: 3 weeks in California

Thanks a lot for your very useful comments. With regard to Disneyland, I was advised on a different forum to skip Legoland (2 hrs driving + attractions mainly for very young children) and instead take 3 days to visit Disleyland/California Adventure while staying in Anaheim. In that case I would drive straight from Anaheim to Las Vegas and also skip my relaxing day on the beach (day 14). To compensate I could consider to spend 2 nights at the beach on day 10 & 11 and from there take a day trip to LA (rather than staying in a hotel in the center of LA). What do you think about this idea? Any tips on the nicest beach near LA?

I am also quite nervous about doing the national parks with our 7-year-old son. Besides the Grand Canyon Bright Angel Trail, do you think the parks are suitable for kids? Thanks.

Aalsmeer, The...
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5. Re: 3 weeks in California

Here is the updated itinerary. What do you think?

Sat. 5 July: Flight from Amsterdam to San Francisco

Sun. 6 July: San Francisco

Mon. 7 July: San Francisco

Tue. 8 July: Drive to Yosemite NP early morning (4 hr drive)

Wed. 9 July: Yosemite: Yosemite Valley

Thu. 10 July: Yosemite: Tuolumne Meadows

Fri. 11 July: Yosemite: Glacier Point & Mariposa Grove

Sat. 12 July: Drive to Monterey early morning (4 hour drive). Visit Monterey Bay Aquarium and/or Point Lobos State Park. Spend the night in Carmel.

Sun. 13 July: Drive to Cambria. On the way, drive through Big Sur, stop at Piedras Blancas for the elephant seals, and visit Hearst Castle in San Simeon. Spend the night in Cambria.

Mon. 14 July: Drive to Los Angeles (visit Santa Barbara on the way). Drive Pacific Coast hw via Malibu to Santa Monica. Stay 2 nights in a hotel at the beach.

Tue. 15 July: Day trip to Los Angeles

Wed. 16 July: Visit Disneyland / California Adventure. Stay 3 nights in Anaheim.

Thu. 17 July: Visit Disneyland / California Adventure.

Fri. 18 July: Visit Disneyland / California Adventure.

Sat. 19 July: Drive to Las Vegas early morning (4 hour drive). Stay 2 nights in Las Vegas.

Sun. 20 July: Las Vegas

Mon. 21 July: Drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon NP (4 hour drive). Walk along part of Rim Trail. Stay in El Tovar hotel for 2 nights.

Tue. 22 July: Grand Canyon: Bright Angel Trail hike (not suitable for children?). Catch the California Condor nature talk with the ranger.

Wed. 23 July: Drive to Bryce Canyon (5 hour drive). On the way, visit Page (and rent a motor boat for an hour to see the canyon from the bottom up) and Red Canyon. In Bryce, stay at Bryce Canyon Lodge for 1 night.

Thu. 24 July: Bryce Canyon: Sunrise at Bryce Point, Navajo Trail/Queen's Garden hike. Drive to Zion. Between Bryce and Zion take the one hour trail roundtrip to Canyon Overlook just before Zion Mt, Carmel tunnel. In Zion, stay Zion Lodge for 2 nights

Fri. 25 July: Zion NP: Riverside Walk/Narrows hike from bottom up

Sat. 26 July: Zion NP: Angel's Landing hike (not suitable for children?). Drive to Las Vegas (2.5 hours). Maybe visit Valley of Fire SP between Zion and Las Vegas and also Red Rock just west of Las Vegas.

Sun. 27 July: Flight from Las Vegas to Amsterdam/Philadelphia

Uden, The...
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6. Re: 3 weeks in California

Think your son is a bit too young for Angels Landing but it depends on the kid of course. If he's into lego he's just the perfect age for a visit to Legoland and it isn't a 2 hours drive from Anaheim to Carlsbad (if traffic cooperates...) You can relax at the beach in our own country also so that would not be my first concern but places like Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Lagune Beach etc are pretty close to Anaheim. Las Vegas is not much of a children's destination. Maybe consider to drive from Anaheim to Grand Canyon with an overnight stay in Kingman and leave Las Vegas for 2 nights in the end of your trip. Yes, The Nps are very suitable for kids and one of the best things to do is to attend the Ranger programms. He will love that.

Tet

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7. Re: 3 weeks in California

I like Tet's revisions in Reply 6. National Parks are definitely suitable for kids. Las Vegas? Not so much!

Edited: 30 July 2013, 14:50
Las Vegas, Nevada
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8. Re: 3 weeks in California

Las Vegas is fine for a few days, its not like they would be spending a huge amount of time there. Many families visit just for a few days to see the lights and sights ect. on their way to Zion or the Grand Canyon Ect.

However, I would not suggest visiting Valley of Fire in July! Its way too hot that time of year. Most of your viewing would be from the Car.

Manhattan Beach...
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9. Re: 3 weeks in California

I agree with happytotrip. My kids liked Las Vegas, but it was not too much fun for the parent (me) that had to entertain them there. The lights at night, the pirate ship, staying in a castle or a pyramid for a hotel, Circus Circus, the swimming pools,aquariums in the casino lobbies, were all entertaining for the kids. A lot of hikers wince at the idea of staying in Las Vegas, but it is really convenient if you are seeing the Arizona and Utah state parks. They have a lot of rooms, good restaurants, good airline service, major shows and it really is a unique place.

I am not a fan of staying in Anaheim, but it is convenient to Disneyland and every child deserves to go there, and it is also well located to get out of the LA area and onto Las Vegas.

If your child likes Legos, Legoland is really good to visit, but as previously noted, it is an hour out of the way.

I have a bit of a heretical view on Grand Canyon. It is a must-see park, spectacular in every way, but after an hour most people are done with it. I, like the majority of visitors, have never hiked into the canyon, so I am in no way an expert. There are a lot of warnings about the amount of water you need to carry, so it is not a hike that you would take up casually. It is aIso a hike that starts off by going down first, and then the arduous part is getting back, as opposed to Zion and Yosemite where you start off with the hard part, going uphill, and then can "coast" back to the bottom. The lodging and restaurant at Grand Canyon is pretty good.

Aalsmeer, The...
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10. Re: 3 weeks in California

Thanks again for the comments. Here is my revised plan:

Sat. 5 July: Flight from Amsterdam to San Francisco

Sun. 6 July: San Francisco (recover from jetlag)

Mon. 7 July: San Francisco (sightseeing)

Tue. 8 July: San Francisco (sightseeing)

Wed. 9 July: Drive to Yosemite NP early morning (4 hr drive)

Thu. 10 July: Yosemite: Glacier Point & Mariposa Grove

Fri. 11 July: Yosemite: Yosemite Valley

Sat. 12 July: Yosemite: Tuolumne Meadows

Sun. 13 July: Drive to Monterey early morning (4 hour drive). Relax in the Monterey area (maybe find a pool or beach?) and spend 2 nights in Monterey, Carmel, or Pacific Grove.

Mon. 14 July: Visit Monterey Bay Aquarium and/or Point Lobos State Park.

Tue. 15 July: Drive to Cambria. On the way, drive through Big Sur and stop at Piedras Blancas for the elephant seals. Spend the night in Cambria.

Wed. 16 July: Drive to Los Angeles (visit Santa Barbara on the way). Stay 2 nights in a hotel with a pool (relax rest of the afternoon).

Thu. 17 July: Los Angeles

Fri. 18 July: Visit Legoland. Stay 3 nights in Anaheim.

Sat. 19 July: Visit Disneyland / California Adventure.

Sun. 20 July: Visit Disneyland / California Adventure

Mon. 21 July: Drive to Las Vegas early morning (4 hour drive). Stay 2 nights in Las Vegas (hotel with pool).

Tue. 22 July: Las Vegas

Wed. 23 July: Drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon NP (4 hour drive). Stay in El Tovar hotel for 2 nights.

Thu. 24 July: Grand Canyon: Bright Angel Trail hike (up to 1.5 mile rest house) and/or follow Junior Ranger program. Catch the California Condor nature talk with the ranger. Kaibab?

Fri. 25 July: Drive to Bryce Canyon (5 hour drive). Take the more scenic drive on 89A, past Marble Canyon and the Vermillion Cliffs, rather than the route through Page. Stop at the old highway bridge over Marble Canyon, now a pedestrian walkway. In Bryce, stay at Bryce Canyon Lodge for 1 night.

Sat. 26 July: Bryce Canyon: Sunrise at Bryce Point, Navajo Trail/Queen's Garden hike. Drive to Zion. Between Bryce and Zion take the one hour trail roundtrip to Canyon Overlook just before Zion Mt, Carmel tunnel. In Zion, stay Zion Lodge for 2 nights

Sun. 27 July: Zion NP: Riverside Walk/Narrows hike from bottom up

Mon. 28 July: Drive to Las Vegas (2.5 hours). Maybe visit Red Rock just west of Las Vegas. Stay 1 night in Vegas.

Tue. 29 July: Flight from Las Vegas to Amsterdam

Tet, I may take your advice and drive from Anaheim to Grand Canyon with an overnight stay in Kingman and leave Las Vegas for 2 nights in the end of my trip.