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Driving from San Diego, CA to Lansing, MI w/young kids


May 25th, 2011, 09:42 PM
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Driving from San Diego, CA to Lansing, MI w/young kids

We are relocating from San Diego, CA to Lansing, MI. We have decided to drive and make it into a "vacation". We have about 6 days to make it to Lansing.

We will be leaving mid-June. We plan on taking the northern route...San Diego - Nevada - Utah- Colorado - Nebraska - Iowa - Illinois - (Indiana) - Michigan.

We are looking for places to stop with our two kids (7 & 2.5) along this route that would be fun for the whole family, like unique museums, parks, "world's largest" places, etc. We don't want to travel too far off the route, since we will be playing beat the moving truck. We have friends from Denver, CO and already have recommendations for that city.

Also, any hotel suggestions would be great as well.

Any suggestions are welcome and appreciated.

adflin is offline  
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May 26th, 2011, 08:01 AM
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Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha is one of the finest zoos in the world.

The Strategic Air & Space Museum misdway between Lincoln and Omaha is also, great, but your kids may be a bit young. However, there is a nearby drive through Wildlife Safari that may interest them.

I visited all three during this trip a few years ago. http://www.mightymac.org/zoosac1.htm

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May 26th, 2011, 08:11 PM
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Are you taking I-80 through Iowa? If so, you can stop in Des Moines and, if you have time, take the kids to Adventureland or the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines. There's also the Living History Farm - they do a lot of things for kids - farm animals to pet, educational programs. Lots of kid-friendly hotels in that area as well if you need to spend the night.

Also along I-80, in the Amana Colonies (a lovely little area with great food), there's a Clarion Inn with an indoor water park that I'm sure your kids would love.


www.wasserbahn.com (the water park)

Have an enjoyable and safe trip!
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May 26th, 2011, 10:13 PM
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Thanks for the help. Your pictures on your blog through the Wildlife Safari are great! It's definitely a place my kids would love. Depending on time, we may check out the Air & Space museum. We recently took them to the USS Midway here in San Diego and both loved it. Do you happen to know of any decent/family friendly hotels to stay in those areas?

Iowa girl,
Thank you for your recommendations. The Amana Colonies sounds like it would be perfect place to stop. I will be sure to pack our swim suits.

You both have been very helpful.
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May 27th, 2011, 01:42 AM
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We did a similar trip, but took the low route to St. Paul, MN, and returned the high route. We stayed at Hyatt Place Hotels, a new brand of the chain, great for one night stays. They serve a free hot breakfast in the morning and have a sitting area/sofa in the room.

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May 29th, 2011, 01:38 PM
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Hi, adflin.

Your post caught my eye because my wife and I, with 3 small kids, took a similar relocation trip from LA to Lincoln, NE in about 1962. Our practice then and on subsequent multiple day trips was to stop somewhere mid morning and again mid afternoon for all of us to have a potty break and a snack and for the kids to run around. At mid day we stopped in a small town and got directions to a park ("two blocks up Elm and a block right on Chestnut") and had lunch. Most of these parks were amazing. A one stoplight town would have acres of grass, huge shade trees, and best of all, lots of play equipment, made of steel and specifically designed to be dangerous to the kid's health. They loved it. Nowadays you can't even find a teeter-totter, and if you could, it would be made of plastic and would have safety belts so the little kids couldn't be catapulted into outer space by the bigger ones.

My reaction to your trip plan is that making it to Lansing in 6 days is doable but allows very little time for sight seeing. I use Google maps, but Mapquest says the same. It's about 2280 miles to Lansing, which is about 380 miles a day, or a little less than 6 hours of tires on the road. Add in time for the kind of stops I mentioned in the previous paragraph and you've got a 7 1/2 hour day. Day after day. And from that it's obvious that it's an advantage to stay in a hotel that offers a decent breakfast, to minimize the getaway time in the morning.

You can probably make it to Denver in a a few hours less than 3 days to see the sights recommended by your friends. But you will have to make it up during the subsequent 3 days. One way or another, your total actual driving time will be 34 to 36 hours.
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May 29th, 2011, 02:40 PM
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Regarding unique things to see on the way, take a look at the "Roadside America" website.

You can select the state you're interested in, then click on the map that appears and you will get a map with red pushpins for the various sites of interest. Click on a pushpin to get more info about the site.

Yes, the world's largest thermometer in Baker is on there, and you'll be going right thru there.
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May 29th, 2011, 03:44 PM
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There is a Big Boy restaurant right next to the world's tallest thermometer in Baker. It's a very long drive from there but if you could make it to Green River, UT it would make the following days easier. Second day-take a detour over to Moab for breakfast at the Moab Diner then take a drive through Arches National Park. After you leave the NP it is about 6 hours from there to Denver. Third day-Denver to someplace in Iowa. Fourth day arrive in Lansing.
Do not be tempted by the lure of Las Vegas.
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May 29th, 2011, 03:56 PM
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Making a stop in Iowa City would be great as well!
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May 30th, 2011, 09:12 AM
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In response to mschau . . . Rather than Iowa City, I want to recommend Ames. When you visit Des Moines, you are in close proximity to Ames (35 miles), and a visit there would show you a lovely midwest town with an extraordinarily beautiful university campus (Iowa State). Ames is also the only American city that I have ever visited (and I've traveled to all 50 states) that is home to crock pizza - wonderfully delicious. Other than the original Iowa capitol building, Iowa City has not much to offer. For a taste of true midwestern life, Ames is your place.
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May 27th, 2012, 09:44 PM
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2 adults and 2 little children on a 2200+ mile road trip.

God help you one and all.
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May 28th, 2012, 06:02 AM
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My experience with multi day road trips and young ones, a map of nice playgrounds would be more helpful. After 4-10 hrs of driving, the psyche of a child is not set for a museum or even other structured sightseeing activities
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May 28th, 2012, 06:10 AM
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I think the OP is already in Lansing (this was posted last year)--hope the trip went well
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Jun 3rd, 2012, 11:41 AM
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Dare I mention the Harold Warp museum in Minden, Nebraska?
It's about 20 east of Kearney, 12 mi south of I-80.
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