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Family trip - West Coast - Summer 2017

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Apr 27th, 2016, 07:13 AM
  #1
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Family trip - West Coast - Summer 2017

Hi everyone,

I already asked your advice, about 2 years ago, about this trip which unfortunately we had to delay. We are now ready and are targeting summer of 2017 (will celebrate my wife's 50th and daughter 12th birthdays.......).

My name is Eylon, my wife is Sonja and we have 3 kids that will be 17, 15 and 12 at the time we plan to travel (2 boys and a girl). We are from Vienna, Austria.

I went through a lot of the messages here, around this topic, and got a lot of useful information (I think I read almost everything......). We are planning ~30 days trip.

For now, I have several questions which I will appreciate if you could provide me with your advice:

1. We are flexible with the dates. Which month would you recommend between middle June to middle September?

2. At the moment we are looking at the following schedule. Any recommendations are welcome:
Las Vegas (4 days including the Grand Canyon), Death Valley (2 days), Sequoia (3 days - I am convinced it worth the visit), Yosemite (4 days), Lake Tahoe (3 days), San Francisco (4 days), Santa Cruz, Monterey and Santa Barbara (each 2 days), LA (5 - 6 days).

3. Any recommendation for a nice and clean accommodations in the different national parks? We would like to book the accommodations in the parks (as per the recommendations we got). My understanding is that we should book it already now so it will be great to get your help.

4. Where would you think will be worth to stop over between: Death Valley - Sequoia, Yosemite - Lake Tahoe and Lake Tahoe - SF.

I am sure that my wife and I will come up with more questions later on but for now it will be great if you could reply to my above questions.

thanks a lot.

eylon
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Apr 27th, 2016, 07:39 AM
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Death Valley ==2 days. Cut it down.
Go to Muir Woods north of SF.
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Apr 27th, 2016, 07:54 AM
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Las Vegas and Death Valley will both be EXTREMELY hot during your whole time frame. Yosemite will be VERY crowded in July and August.

So -- I'd travel in June or Sept and cut the Vegas/DV bits back to maybe 3 or 4 days total. June would be better for Yosemite and Sept would be better for the coast but either is fine. The drive from Vegas or Death Valley to Sequoia is long and hot but doable,

>>4. Where would you think will be worth to stop over between: Death Valley - Sequoia, Yosemite - Lake Tahoe and Lake Tahoe - SF.<<

No 'need' to stop anywhere (and there really isn't anyplace worth stopping between LV and Sequoia) -- but exploring the Gold Rush country along hwy 49 would be fun. Small 19th century towns, mines, vineyards/wineries. If you take Tioga pass YNP to Tahoe (highly recommended) you could detour along hwy 49 between Tahoe and SF. If you decide against Tioga pass -- the hwy 49 fits in nicely between YNP and Tahoe. One or two nights would be plenty.

You most likely will find accommodations already full in Yosemite. But try -- Then if you don't get a booking, the book at Yosemite View Lodge in El Portal. It is a nice motel just outside the entrance gate and the closest property to Yosemite Valley. Then keep trying for a cancellation in the park - preferably at - Yosemite Valley Lodge. If you get in, you can then cancel Yosemite View.
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Apr 27th, 2016, 09:26 AM
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OP is going in 2017 - surely lodging won't be sold out for that yet. Is it even on sale?

I would agree on less time in Vegas since there is os much there that kids can;t do (they are not allowed in casinos, much of the entertainment is not appropriate - Vegas is really a playground for adults).
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Apr 27th, 2016, 10:35 AM
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oops -- missed the 2017 bit - thanks.

Then definitely 100% stay IN Yosemite Valley and the best combo of amenities and (relatively) affordable is Yosemite Valley Lodge (formerly and hopefully again in the future - long story - called Yosemite Lodge at the Falls).
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Apr 27th, 2016, 10:48 AM
  #6
 
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Definitely stay in the park at the Grand Canyon. I agree with Janis as regards LV and Death Valley. It sounds like you have a great trip planned. Very excited for you.
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Apr 27th, 2016, 10:59 AM
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Since you're planning time in Santa Cruz, I'm not sure it's necessary to go to Muir Woods as you'll have access to several less crowded redwood parks in Santa Cruz County. Just so you know, Monterey and Santa Cruz are less than an hour from each other so it's not necessary to split your stay though you can certainly do that depending on your interests. September is generally the nicest time of year weather wise on the coast. Gold Country is a good suggestion and an often overlooked area.
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Apr 27th, 2016, 11:05 AM
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I agree -- if you are going to be near Henry Cowell anyway, I would not take time away from San Francisco to fight the crowds at Muir Woods.
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Apr 27th, 2016, 12:00 PM
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Any interest in LA? I'd take kids there instead of Vegas.
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Apr 27th, 2016, 12:05 PM
  #10
 
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And if the redwoods are of interest, I'd probably skip Lake Tahoe for the Redwoods NP. I liked Lake Tahoe but it wasn't one of my favorite spots.
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Apr 27th, 2016, 12:57 PM
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I'd go in September (kids back in school, less crowded, possibly lower prices).
I'd look into staying in Monterey, Pismo Beach or maybe Morro Bay and Santa Barbara.
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Apr 27th, 2016, 01:20 PM
  #12
 
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Summer in Arizona, Death Valley (there is a reason it is called Death Valley and the heat is why), and Nevada will have heat temps around 100 to 120 degrees in the shade. I can't imagine a worse time to go.
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Apr 27th, 2016, 02:18 PM
  #13
 
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>>I can't imagine a worse time to go.<<

But at least the hotel rooms will be cheap

(there is a reason one can get rooms in Vegas that normally run $200+ for $50-$55 in August - and they have trouble giving them away)

>>I liked Lake Tahoe but it wasn't one of my favorite spots.<<

Just different strokes. I go to Tahoe at least twice every year. It isn't Yosemite but is a great destination for families.
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Apr 27th, 2016, 04:06 PM
  #14
 
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Santa Cruz, Monterey and Santa Barbara (each 2 days), LA (5 - 6 days).

One poster mentioned this already. Stay in Monterey area for four nights and drive over to Santa Cruz as they are very close.

Look at the town of Pcific Grove for good place to stay. It has most of the coastline of the Monterey Peninsula. Go to pacificgrove.org to look at their choice of hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Also look at the web site for ASILOMAR. Great place to stay, across from the Pacific Ocean and historic. Check it out.
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May 6th, 2016, 03:32 AM
  #15
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Hi guys, thanks a lot for the great comments and sorry for my late reply. My wife and I are discussing these comments and trying to see how to implement those within the original plan.

While we will for sure come with additional questions, a quick one for now. In the US, how is it for families of 5 in the hotels? Are we required, normally, from your experience, to take 2 rooms or there are more economical ways?

thanks a lot.
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May 6th, 2016, 05:01 AM
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The number of people in a room varies by the property. Sometimes you can get a room with 2 queen beds that will let you bring in a cot. Often they will require 2 rooms. Often you can request adjacent rooms that have a door that can be opened between them.

Sometimes a suite will be large enough for 5. Seldom will you find a room with individual beds for each kid.

The lodging in the parks is mostly pretty basic and most of the lodging we've had while it did have 2 full or queen beds, did not have room for a cot. For Grand Canyon, check out the larger suites at the top of elTovar, they are expensive but might sleep 5 and cost no more than 2 of the double queen rooms in one of the other lodges.

It is nice to stay in the park for places like Grand Canyon to be there before and after the day trip people are there and not to have to drive the small roads with possibility of animals like elk and deer crossing after dark. They are mostly pretty basic, so do book some other lodging before and after the stay there with a pool and exercise rooms for the kids.
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May 6th, 2016, 07:01 AM
  #17
 
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There are many chains that will have rooms for 5 -- Residence Inn, Embassy Suites, Extended Stay (ES are usually very cheap), some Travelodges (also an inexpensive chain) , most any property w/ "Inn & Suites" in their names. It is MUCH easier to find rooms for larger families in the States than in Europe.
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May 6th, 2016, 07:03 AM
  #18
 
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As for hotel rooms, in cities look at hotels such as Residence Inn, Fairfield Inn and Townplace Suites (all Marriott chains). I'm sure the other chains have similar type rooms. We like Residence Inn because they have two bedroom/two bathroom suites including a living room with a pull out sofa as well as full kitchens, breakfasts are always included in the rate and they are usually pretty nice.
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Nov 27th, 2016, 08:59 AM
  #19
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Hi Everyone, again, thanks for all your great advices and sorry for not writing so far, we are planning .
As you might remember, we are a family of 6 (my mom will join) so 3 adults and 3 kids (17, 15, 12).
Dates are finalised (the entire July 2017) and we already booked flights and hotels in LV, Springdale and Bryce Canyon). We are looking to book all hotels no later than then next 2 weeks.

For now we are not sure about the following and your help will be great to have:

1. Any recommendations for a place to stay, 1 night, in Page?

2. Grand Canyon: We plan 1 night. Any recommendations for a nice hotel to stay in?

3. We want to get from Grand Canyon to Yosemite. As my wife wants to pass by the Death Valley we thought about traveling from Grand Canyon to Death Valley national park, stay the night, and then continue to Yosemite. Any other suggestions are welcome.

4. We plan to go with Airbnb in SF and LA. Any recommended areas?

Thanks again for the help.

eylon
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Nov 27th, 2016, 01:11 PM
  #20
 
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Be very careful with AirBnB. They are illegal in Monterey and Carmel and also Santa Barbara recently passed a law outlawing short term rentals. Santa Monica short term rentals have been illegal for a long time, also Manhattan Beach and some other cities in the LA area. They are still legal in Santa Cruz but just read yesterday some residents are asking the city to enact a law restricting the number of them.
Just because a property is listed on a site like AirBnB does not mean it is a legal listing. Mostly (not always) they are legal only if the owner is also living on the premises. So investigate carefully or ask online before sending any money.
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