PHX - LAX - SFO Road trip with kids

Mar 11th, 2009, 01:41 PM
  #1  
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PHX - LAX - SFO Road trip with kids

My husband will be spending 2 weeks in California on a business trip. I've managed to use FF miles to book tickets for my sons (ages 2.5 and 5) and i to go along for part of the trip. The boys and I are on a pretty strict budget.

We're flying into Phoenix to visit family for a few days and then will be renting a car to drive from Phoenix to LA, where we'll meet my husband.

Then, we'll have a few days in the LA area before driving, with him, up the coast to San Francisco.

Finally, the kids and I will have a couple days to entertain ourselves in San Francisco.

SO...
-It seems that I just have to resign myself to a pretty boring drive from Phoenix to LA. Is there really nothing to see on that stretch?

-What are the cheap kid highlights in Los Angeles and San Francisco?

-We are members of our local museum and our membership gets us free access to several other science and children's museums - which ones are the ones not to be missed?

-At best, we'll only have 2.5 days for the LA-SFO drive. What's a good stopping point? What would the kids like to see on the way up?

Thanks so much!
TravelingMom is offline  
Mar 11th, 2009, 03:01 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
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If you click on my name, one of my trip reports is on Southern California--from last summer. We also like to use memberships where possible. Besides what's in my report, I would also suggest the Huntington Library & Gardens in Pasadena. I went years ago and loved seeing the Gutenberg Bible, Shakespeare's First Folio.

In the Bay Area, my husband loved San Francisco's Exploratoreum (sp?) but I have not been. We both loved the Monterey Aquarium as well.
5alive is online now  
Mar 11th, 2009, 03:01 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
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Some suggestions for your drive (in no particular order) from Phx to LA:

Quartzsite, AZ (if your boys are into rocks, gems, minerals, and fossils)

Cabazon, CA (Cabazon Dinosaurs)
http://www.cabazondinosaurs.com/main.htm

Banning, CA (Hadley Fruit Orchard)-great place to stop for lunch and maybe even get them to try a date shake.
http://www.hadleyfruitorchards.com/aboutus.cfm

Palm Springs, CA (Tram)-not sure how much time you will have and they may be to young to enjoy it?
http://www.pstramway.com/
overyonder is offline  
Mar 11th, 2009, 04:52 PM
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Well of course the best place in LA for kids is Disneyland or second choice Universal Studios. If you want really cheap then just take them to the beach. On the way to SFO, the most scenic and charming stops for adults is Big Sur, Carmel, and Pacific Grove. However for just plain fun for kids I would recommend the Beach Boardwalk and Amusement Park in Santa Cruz.
In SF, for kids the zoo is good and the Exploratorium. Oh, I also forgot the world famous Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey half way between LA and SF is absolutely awesome for kids and adults alike. It is a must see on this trip.
montereybob is offline  
Mar 12th, 2009, 07:47 AM
  #5  
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Thanks all!

Both boys LOVE dinosaurs, so I think Cabazon will definitely be a stop. My oldest loves all things science, and it looks like Quartzsite is about halfway, so that might be a good break as well.

I'll have to look into the Exploratoreum - it sounds fun.

I think we're going to skip the theme parks. I'm not a huge fan of them anyway, so I don't have a lot of motivation to try to conquer one with both kids by myself!
TravelingMom is offline  
Mar 12th, 2009, 08:02 AM
  #6  
lvk
 
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If your boys like dinosaurs and science, then they probably would enjoy the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles www.tarpits.org/ . The L.A. Museum of Natural History also currently has a dinosaur encounter. You might look in to buying a family membership, as that allows you entrance to both places. (If you don't already have reciprocal privileges with your current memberships) www.nhm.org/encounters/

The California Science Center is also a hands-on museum with an IMAX Theater. It is located in Exposition Park, close to the Natural History Museum. www.californiasciencecenter.org .

The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach might also be of interest. www.aquariumofpacific.org/

Chace Palm Park in Santa Barbara might be a nice place to stop and stretch on your way up the coast. There is a carousel and a shipwreck-themed park. It is right across from the beach.
lvk is offline  
Mar 12th, 2009, 08:24 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
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The California Science Center is a great suggestion (especially for travelers on a pretty strict budget - admission is free/parking is $8)

Also the The Aquarium of the Pacific in LB is wonderful but can become pretty spendy by the time you include admission and parking.

You might check out the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. It is smaller in scale but for the age of your boys it is the perfect size (admission is free but they do accept donations). It is located right on the water (Cabrillo Coast Park) where you can walk on the trails to tidepools, salt marshes, and of course the beach. Bring a picnic lunch and make a day of it (there is a playground there as well).

http://www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org/default.asp
overyonder is offline  
Mar 13th, 2009, 02:19 PM
  #8  
lvk
 
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If you do decide on San Pedro, here are a few other budget-friendly options:

Spirit Cruises operates out of Ports of Call Village and does 1 hr., 90 minute or 2 hr. cruises around Los Angeles Harbor. I think the 1-hr price for kids is only about $6. www.spiritdinnercruises.com/ (click on "Public Cruises").

Also at the Port is the Los Angeles Maritime Museum and the S.S. Lane Victory. www.lanevictory.org/ (I believe that both have free admission for children)

Another freebie at the Port is the new fountain show by the designers of the Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas. www.portoflosangeles.org/recreation/fountain.asp

The Marine Mammal Care Center is at Fort MacArthur. www.marinemammalcare.org/visitcontact.html This is where they bring injured or ill sea lions to nurse them back to health. You can view the sea lion tanks from outside a fence.(also free.)
lvk is offline  
Mar 16th, 2009, 04:45 PM
  #9  
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I can't believe the tarpits didn't occur to me - they'll love that! It looks like the CA Science Center will be on our list too.

We just found out that my husband doesn't have to be at his conference until about lunch time on Monday, so we'll have more time than expected for the drive. We'll likely be leaving LA late afternoon on Friday and can stay somewhere Fri and Sat - suggestions? Should we stay one place both nights or find two different locations?
TravelingMom is offline  
Mar 16th, 2009, 10:11 PM
  #10  
 
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I hope you get the guide at the tarpit we did. I would probably stay in one place but can't help you with a hotel.

People also gave me some good advice last summer on beaches and museums. I will try to put the links for both strands:

http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...oc-beaches.cfm

http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...a-birthday.cfm
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