3 weeks in West coast (December'23)

Old Jan 23rd, 2023, 03:18 PM
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3 weeks in West coast (December'23)

Hi All, Thanks everyone for amazing work here on the forum.I am planning my trip from Melbourne to west coast this December( haven't booked tickets or accomodation yet)​​​​​​​. I need some help with my itinerary as it's my first time visit US.​​​​​​​after reading through the fourm and suggestions I understand it's not worth driving from SF to Vegas via Yosemite due to tough winter conditions at that time specially cuz I will be with 6 and 2 years old kids.so I m planning to miss Yosemite completely ​​​​​​​my current itinerary is#8203;​​​​​​6/12 - Melb to SF​​​​​​​6/12- 11/12 : travel around SF12/12-13/12- driving SF to LA stopping for a night somewhere (suggestions??)14/12-19/12 : visit LA20/12: drive to Vegas20/12- 23/12: stay in vegas24/12- 26/12: drive and stay at Grand canyon27/12-28/12 return to Vegas 29/12: fly from Vegas to hawaii29/12-2/01- stay in hawaii3/01- fly hawaii to SF or if tickets are not expensive fly directly to melbourne04/01- fly SF to melb
this is just rough itinerary I have made and would love to have comments and suggestions if it looks okay or I need to remove/add destinations in it.
any accomodation suggestion for the above destinations also welcome.

thanks for your help

cheers
​​​​​​​Mak
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Old Jan 23rd, 2023, 07:59 PM
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Welcome to the forums!

Between SF and LA you could overnight in: Santa Cruz, Carmel, Santa Barbara?

Where are you going in Hawaii? Which island?
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Old Jan 23rd, 2023, 08:45 PM
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Originally Posted by suze View Post
Welcome to the forums! Between SF and LA you could overnight in: Santa Cruz, Carmel, Santa Barbara? Where are you going in Hawaii? Which island?
Oahu and maui cuz I read best place for new years is oahu
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Old Jan 24th, 2023, 04:50 AM
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It's a glitzy trip for sure. Urban.
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Old Jan 24th, 2023, 08:04 AM
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You do not need a rental car in San Francisco. Be aware of the car seat laws for your young children when you do rent a car. For travel between San Francisco and Los Angeles, I like the Amtrak Coast Starlight from Emeryville to Santa Barbara. The train arrives in Santa Barbara about 6PM PT. You could fly to Las Vegas from Santa Barbara and skip Los Angeles. Rent a car in Las Vegas for your trip to the Grand Canyon (south rim). In late December there might be snow at the Grand Canyon which might keep you from getting there. If that happens, try to visit the town of Sedona. Flagstaff also has the Lowell Observatory which would be interesting for all ages.
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Old Jan 24th, 2023, 08:39 AM
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No criticism intended, but some paragraph breaks would help avoid confusion over which nights you plan to be in which places.

I think traveling with small children makes this trip quite a bit more challenging than it would otherwise. A few things...

The Grand Canyon south rim is at 7000 feet (2159m) elevation and icy roads in late December, on top of short daylight hours, can make for a treacherous ride.

There are a number of things to see and places to visit between San Francisco and LA, that might be enjoyable for your kids as well as you. Google the following to start:

- Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
- Monterey Bay Aquarium
- Pacific Grove Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary
- Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
- Piedras Blancas elephant seal colony
- Hearst Castle, San Simeon

Think about changing your schedule to swap Joshua Tree National Park for the Grand Canyon. There are lots of accommodation options in Palm Springs (very nearby) and in December you and the kids might get a kick out of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, a gondola that goes from the desert floor up to (almost) the rop of Mt. San Jacinto, where in December there's usually snow for the kids to play in (not something all that common in Oz.)

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Old Jan 26th, 2023, 06:33 PM
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So 6 days in Hawaii, and you are doing both Oahu and Maui?
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Old Jan 26th, 2023, 07:57 PM
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Welcome to fodors. I had a hard time following (between the run on paragraph and using day/month format my head was spinning a bit ) So I reformatted - for my own benefit.

This is what you are planning:

6 Dec fly Melbourne to SF
6 - 11 Dec tour around SF
12 - 13 Dec drive SF to LA stopping for a night somewhere
14 - 19 Dec tour around LA
20 - 23 Dec Las Vegas
24 - 26 Dec: Grand Canyon
27 - 28 Dec Las Vegas
29 Dec fly from Vegas to Hawaii
30 Dec - 2 Jan Hawaii
3 Jan fly from Hawaii back to SF (or if tickets are not expensive fly directly from Hawaii to Melbourne)
4 Jan fly SF to Melb


The main problems I see 1) this is not really a child/toddler-friendly itinerary. Gardyloo's suggestions for family sites/activities are great but you'd need several more days to fit them in on the dive south. 2) that is a very expensive time of year in Las Vegas, and 3) Four days is not enough time for two islands

Since you plan on being at the Grand Canyon Christmas Eve/Christmas Day/Boxing Day so you will want to book far ahead. And you may need a Plan B if there are winter storms, especially along the California coast.
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Old Jan 27th, 2023, 09:57 AM
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Oh dear, only 4 days for Hawaii??? And 2 islands? That doesn't work really. That's a long way to go and will not be inexpensive for such a short time! Plus by changing islands means you basically have a single day each for Oahu and Maui. I'd rethink that part aloha...
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Old Jan 27th, 2023, 11:14 AM
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I assume you really want to see the Grand Canyon. We just got 60" of snow in Flagstaff for this January but this is unusual placing this January as #3 in snowfall for the month since records were kept. You might not see any snow. When the canyon gets snow the road from the Grand Canyon Village to Desert Watchtower is usually closed for one or two days. Same for Hermits Rest. This is because the snow plows are kept at Grand Canyon Village so that is the first area to have the roads plowed. Plus the Grand Canyon with snow is something special.

There are a number of viewpoints near Grand Canyon Village so even it the road to Hermits Rest or Desert Watchtower is closed you should get a wonderful experience.
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Old Jan 27th, 2023, 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Makkks View Post
Hi All, Thanks everyone for amazing work here on the forum.I am planning my trip from Melbourne to west coast this December( haven't booked tickets or accomodation yet). I need some help with my itinerary as it's my first time visit US.​​​​​​​after reading through the fourm and suggestions I understand it's not worth driving from SF to Vegas via Yosemite due to tough winter conditions at that time specially
Not exactly true. One can still visit Yosemite in December and go on to LV, but one would be using a different, longer route.

Your trip seems very hectic, especially with such young children. LV isnít really child friendly. That time of the year will be much too cold for pool use in LV plus many places close pools that time of year for maintenance.

Perhaps concentrate on California, SF, Monterey, LA and Southern California? Or LV, CG and So Cal? Iíd only go to Hawaii as a stop over on the way home.
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Old Jan 28th, 2023, 08:40 AM
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This itinerary, with a 6 year old and 2 year old in tow, feels like a nightmare.

I'm counting at least 9 separate overnight locations.
You should calculate the amount of time spent in airports/flying/ubering/driving/packing & unpacking.
A great deal of your time will be spent on nothing more than travelling to and getting settled into all these different locations.

Why dedicate so much time to these three large crime-ridden, drug infested cities?
I would skip one or more (or all) of these cities, in favor of spending more time in places like Hawaii, Yosemite, Grand Canyon and others mentioned above.
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Old Jan 29th, 2023, 05:28 PM
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Originally Posted by tomfuller View Post
You do not need a rental car in San Francisco. Be aware of the car seat laws for your young children when you do rent a car. For travel between San Francisco and Los Angeles, I like the Amtrak Coast Starlight from Emeryville to Santa Barbara. The train arrives in Santa Barbara about 6PM PT. You could fly to Las Vegas from Santa Barbara and skip Los Angeles. Rent a car in Las Vegas for your trip to the Grand Canyon (south rim). In late December there might be snow at the Grand Canyon which might keep you from getting there. If that happens, try to visit the town of Sedona. Flagstaff also has the Lowell Observatory which would be interesting for all ages.
Thanks for suggestion Tom,
I wanted to take kids to disneyland and universal studio so LA is on the chart. Reason I was planning was to stop and enjoy the little towns on the way (loads of threads talk about how beautiful the drive is). If it snows hard in december and GC in not accessible then I need to look at other plan after vegas like you suggested
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Old Jan 29th, 2023, 05:32 PM
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[QUOTE=Gardyloo;17431982]No criticism intended, but some paragraph breaks would help avoid confusion over which nights you plan to be in which places.

I think traveling with small children makes this trip quite a bit more challenging than it would otherwise. A few things...

The Grand Canyon south rim is at 7000 feet (2159m) elevation and icy roads in late December, on top of short daylight hours, can make for a treacherous ride.

There are a number of things to see and places to visit between San Francisco and LA, that might be enjoyable for your kids as well as you. Google the following to start:

- Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
- Monterey Bay Aquarium
- Pacific Grove Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary
- Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
- Piedras Blancas elephant seal colony
- Hearst Castle, San Simeon

Think about changing your schedule to swap Joshua Tree National Park for the Grand Canyon. There are lots of accommodation options in Palm Springs (very nearby) and in December you and the kids might get a kick out of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, a gondola that goes from the desert floor up to (almost) the rop of Mt. San Jacinto, where in December there's usually snow for the kids to play in (not something all that common in Oz.)


Hi Mate,
Thanks heaps for your suggestion.
I used my phone to post the thread and it looked alright on phone but not on the thread somehow
Thanks for those solid options for stopover on the way to LA
I mite have to skip GC completely unless I can do like helicopter ride in december over GC from Vegas and visit Joshua Tree national park instead. Kids are making it hard to plan this itinerary haha.
I also need to pack my bag with snow gear to rugg up the kids.
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Old Jan 29th, 2023, 05:40 PM
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Originally Posted by suze View Post
Oh dear, only 4 days for Hawaii??? And 2 islands? That doesn't work really. That's a long way to go and will not be inexpensive for such a short time! Plus by changing islands means you basically have a single day each for Oahu and Maui. I'd rethink that part aloha...
Woops!!
Yes I have only planned for 4 days and I will be in Hawaii during peak season and celebrate new years there. Would you suggest to stay in Oahu or Maui for 4 days then and which place is better for new year celeb?
I would love to do whale watching with kids and rest up.
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Old Jan 29th, 2023, 05:46 PM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
Welcome to fodors. I had a hard time following (between the run on paragraph and using day/month format my head was spinning a bit ) So I reformatted - for my own benefit.

This is what you are planning:

6 Dec fly Melbourne to SF
6 - 11 Dec tour around SF
12 - 13 Dec drive SF to LA stopping for a night somewhere
14 - 19 Dec tour around LA
20 - 23 Dec Las Vegas
24 - 26 Dec: Grand Canyon
27 - 28 Dec Las Vegas
29 Dec fly from Vegas to Hawaii
30 Dec - 2 Jan Hawaii
3 Jan fly from Hawaii back to SF (or if tickets are not expensive fly directly from Hawaii to Melbourne)
4 Jan fly SF to Melb


The main problems I see 1) this is not really a child/toddler-friendly itinerary. Gardyloo's suggestions for family sites/activities are great but you'd need several more days to fit them in on the dive south. 2) that is a very expensive time of year in Las Vegas, and 3) Four days is not enough time for two islands

Since you plan on being at the Grand Canyon Christmas Eve/Christmas Day/Boxing Day so you will want to book far ahead. And you may need a Plan B if there are winter storms, especially along the California coast.

Thanks for sorting the paragraph mate.
I haven't travelled with 2 kids yet and yes it will be not easy I reckon.
Any suggestion on how my itinerary should be with kids, what to skip or add?
I will stay in 1 island either Oahu or Maui for 4 days
I will book accommodation as soon as I finalize my itinerary so it doesnt cost me a bomb to stay in vegas and Hawaii.
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Old Jan 29th, 2023, 05:49 PM
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Originally Posted by MikeS View Post
I assume you really want to see the Grand Canyon. We just got 60" of snow in Flagstaff for this January but this is unusual placing this January as #3 in snowfall for the month since records were kept. You might not see any snow. When the canyon gets snow the road from the Grand Canyon Village to Desert Watchtower is usually closed for one or two days. Same for Hermits Rest. This is because the snow plows are kept at Grand Canyon Village so that is the first area to have the roads plowed. Plus the Grand Canyon with snow is something special.

There are a number of viewpoints near Grand Canyon Village so even it the road to Hermits Rest or Desert Watchtower is closed you should get a wonderful experience.
Thanks for your input mate.
I reckon I will go with what Gardyloo suggested and skip GC completely and head to Joshua park instead.
I heard accommodation is a bit of problem otherwise I was planning not to book accommodation and do as the weather permits.
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Old Jan 29th, 2023, 09:01 PM
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Thanks Sameer,
I have included the places you have mentioned.
Any recommendation on place to stay in these places?
Where to book hire car, accommodation?
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Old Jan 29th, 2023, 09:02 PM
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need 10 posts to post a image?
okay here is my 10th post.
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Old Jan 29th, 2023, 09:03 PM
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How does this look? too hectic?
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