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San Diego-Vegas-G Canyon-San Fran-LA. 9 days..?

Sydney, Australia
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San Diego-Vegas-G Canyon-San Fran-LA. 9 days..?

San Diego-Vegas-G Canyon-San Fran-LA. 9 days..?

Hi folks,

I would be really grateful for any help with the following road trip we're planning.

Family of 4, kids will be 3&6. Trip planned for Dec 2014. Spending a week in Disney, a week in rented accommodation in San Diego over Christmas and then have 9 days spare (Jan 1-9) before return flight to Australia on the evening of Jan 9, 2015.

We would really like to see and explore Vegas, the Grand Canyon and San Francisco.

Hoping to do it all by hire car but would be grateful for advice on possible routes, places to stay and family friendly things to do.

Thank you in advance.

Ross

Cuenca, Ecuador
Destination Expert
for California Desert
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1. Re: San Diego-Vegas-G Canyon-San Fran-LA. 9 days..?

Hello Ross W, and welcome to TripAdvisor and the California forum.

Our international travelers often don't grasp how large an area our American West is. In the Eastern US, the counties and states have less land area, and things are more compact and reachable. Out here in the West and in California, you have some long distances between places and cities. With that in mind. . .

You've got the Disney Parks in Anaheim and your San Diego rental and activities planned out already, I take it. For the rest, try this:

Fly to Las Vegas, Nevada from San Diego's Lindbergh Field. Flights are readily available and plentiful via domestic carriers such as Southwest and Jet Blue, as well as others. Check them out. Short flight that will save you half a day's travel. Las Vegas isn't nearly as substantial a city as other American cities, and is based on gambling, which you will find after a while is rather one dimensional. Not discounting the shows and associated activities, some of which might be worthwhile, but in general I'm not a fan of Las Vegas and gambling. . . or getting rich quick. Las Vegas isn't child friendly by any means, either. They will have to stay out of the casinos should you wish to go there. Right there one of you will have to decide who will watch your children and who will stay. Like I say, not the most enjoyable for the whole family. With that in mind, my recommendation is to spend the night there in LV.

Day 2: drive out of Las Vegas to Grand Canyon National Park South Rim via Williams, Arizona. Please do yourself a favor and avoid the "West Rim" of the Grand Canyon, which costs more and is not the same views you are expecting to see, as the GC here is narrower than in the national park. The Las Vegas ad blitz is on for the West Rim, but you don't have to fall for it. I'd concentrate on the Grand Canyon Village and major overlooks east of there to the east entrance. The western part of the South Rim is open to visitors via shuttle bus most of the year, but in January it may not have the shuttles running. I'm not sure if cars are allowed then or not. Don't think so. Nevertheless, the park will have few tourists due to the winter weather - it will be cold and possibly with some light snow accumulations, but travel should usually not be a problem as the roads don't typically shut down for the entire Winter. Bring heavier type coats and gloves for your journey here. Overnight in Grand Canyon National Park or Tusayan at the south entrance.

Day 3: Grand Canyon NP visiting. Overnight GCNP.

Day 4: Head south to Phoenix via Flagstaff, Oak Creek Canyon on US 89A, and Sedona. Lunch on Sedona on the way. Great iconic red sandstone formations. Phoenix has flights to everywhere domestically and has international flights too. Head to San Francisco via Southwest, Jet Blue or similar good priced airline. Arrive SFO or airport of your choice. Overnight in San Francisco.

Day 5: San Francisco sights and attractions. Overnight in SF.

Day 6: San Francisco sights and attractions. Overnight in SF.

Day 7: Head out of SF to Los Angeles via flights from SFO. Southwest, Jet Blue or other good priced domestic airline. Arrive LAX, BUR or LGB (your choice based on price). See Los Angeles. Hollywood, Universal, Santa Monica, studio tour or television taping activities and much more. Overnight at Los Angeles.

Day 8: LA activities and sightseeing. Overnight at LA.

Day 9: LA activities and sightseeing. Head to LAX and home for flight back to Oz.

I recommend getting more input and advice from other forum members here on TripAdvisor from the Arizona forum (Grand Canyon too) and California's San Francisco and Los Angeles forums on your trip activities. Here's links to these: tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g28924-i139-Arizon… tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g143028-i157-Grand… tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g60713-i30-San_Fra… tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g32655-i61-Los_Ang…

I will say though briefly that while traveling from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon National Park, be sure to stop at Oatman near Bullhead City, Arizona on Historic US Route 66 for some Old West family friendly fun! Free gunfight show in the middle of the street twice a day (donations asked) and free roaming wild burros to pet and feed carrots to (carrots in town at shops. . . just ask). Old mining ghost town brought back to life. Link here: http://www.welcometooatman.com/ Be sure to travel the longest intact stretch of Historic US Route 66 from Kingman to Seligman, Arizona that is largely two lanes each direction, with exceptions. Actually, if you had the time, you could go from Oatman through Sitgreaves Pass to Kingman and then Seligman, but I doubt you would have time for that. Here's a link: arizonahighwayguides.com/seligman-to-kingman…

That's a good start to help you out. I hope other forum members will give you more info and ideas. Let us know if you need more and feel free to post again should you have further questions or comments. The forum members here are all too glad to be of service and make your international USA vacation the very best it can be!

San Francisco...
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2. Re: San Diego-Vegas-G Canyon-San Fran-LA. 9 days..?

one week in Anaheim and one week in SD and then 9 days to cover huge amounts of land. Most would suggest 3-4 days to see LA, and SF each and Vegas is more of an adult playground. Are you planning to fly or drive between SF and LA. perhaps you can do SoCal this time grand canyon may have snow.

Come and see SF next time

Edited: 17 February 2014, 15:36
Los Angeles
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3. Re: San Diego-Vegas-G Canyon-San Fran-LA. 9 days..?

Even if Grand Canyon has no major snow, it will be cold in January. It is also very beautiful and crisp. But you have to prepared for snowy conditions, if you rent an SUV, be sure it is the 4WD kind. It will likely be sufficient for a GC trip in winter, but you won't know till you get there.

You were given thorough and excellent advice by Underdog...

Oregon Coast
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4. Re: San Diego-Vegas-G Canyon-San Fran-LA. 9 days..?

There are a lot of non-gambling, non-drinking things to see in Las Vegas, but your children are too young for much of it. I kind of doubt they'd be very interested in museums ;-)

Shorten your time there to allow more time for your road trip.

So Cal
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5. Re: San Diego-Vegas-G Canyon-San Fran-LA. 9 days..?

That is an *awfully* large amount of ground you want to cover. You could physically do it in nine days, but I don't think you'd enjoy it (and you wouldn't see much of it, either). Underdog's plan does get you to each of these, but only by spending a lot of time in airports. I wouldn't want to do that, but perhaps that works for you.

Instead, I would either: make a plan for the Grand Canyon and other areas near it (look at Zion, Bryce, Sedona, Red Rocks, Valley of Fire, Death Valley, Vegas if you absolutely must) OR San Francisco and nearby California (SF, Yosemite, Monterey, the Big Sur coast through to LA). While nine days is a very good amount of time, it's really not enough to enjoyably see all of the areas you're interested in. However, you could have a very good trip if you pick just one.

BTW, you can take your car west on the Hermit Road rim drive when the Grand Canyon shuttles aren't running. Highly recommended.

***ETA: Since it's a December visit...hm. Iffy weather everywhere...but the inland areas might be a better bet.

Edited: 18 February 2014, 01:34
Sydney, Australia
7 posts
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6. Re: San Diego-Vegas-G Canyon-San Fran-LA. 9 days..?

Firstly, you guys are amazing, thank you all for your time, thoughts and advice. What a great start to what will no doubt be a wonderful family holiday.

Secondly, I very much appreciate your diplomacy regarding our planned itinerary. We're not keen on more flying but also don't want to spend all day in the car so it's either the GC area or fly up to SF and then slowly drive back to LA for flight back to Australia.

Nightmare situation as we want to do both but I think given the weather may cause problems at GC and LV is not really a place for young kids we're going with SF and slow drive to LA.

Will look into SF and LA forum, and will post follow up questions if I may.

Really appreciate all your time and help.

Cuenca, Ecuador
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for California Desert
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7. Re: San Diego-Vegas-G Canyon-San Fran-LA. 9 days..?

Hi again, Ross. You are so welcome! Our pleasure.

I learned a long time ago you get more with honey than you do vinegar. . . diplomatic is the way to be. Wise choice in sticking with about half of what you were originally hoping for. Half a loaf is better than no loaf, and the California coast, especially the drive through Big Sur, is world class.

A suggestion: for the slow scenic Pacific Ocean view drive that California State Route 1 offers, start the day at Monterey/Carmel and end it at either San Simeon/Cambria (if touring Hearst San Simeon State Historic Park) or Pismo Beach (if Hearst doesn't appeal to you for whatever reason). I do strongly recommend Hearst Castle as it is full of architectural splendor and European museum worthy art. . . quite a package. Disclaimer: my cousin Countrydog is a tour guide there.

Looking forward to any followup questions you may have of us.

8. Re: San Diego-Vegas-G Canyon-San Fran-LA. 9 days..?

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