USA West coast...

Aug 13th, 2019, 01:58 AM
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USA West coast...

We are planning a trip with our four kids ages (10. 9, 7 and 2) for next summer July and August. We have around 40-42 days. Based on some recommendations on another thread I have resume our trip as follows. Are the times spend on each place good or we should add or reduce them? Should we consider another place or road? Any advice is welcome.
We are flying to Vancouver because we have always wanted to see it and is cheaper for us to start our trip there. We are planning on going to Seattle by train and there rent a car and finish in San Diego where we want to see family and have some relaxing days before heading back home. Thank you!

Vancouver (3)
Seattle (2)
Olympic national park (4)
Astoria or Canon beach (2)
Portland (3) (we have family)
Sunriver (7)
Redwoods/Crescent city (2)
San Francisco (3) (we have family)
Yosemite (3)
Lone Pine ? (1)
Las Vegas (2)
San Diego (8)
sundolph is offline  
Aug 13th, 2019, 04:45 AM
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Aug 13th, 2019, 05:01 AM
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In general it looks ok to me. It will be a lot of driving but I assume you already know that. You may find it helpful to map out each of ~40 days and include driving times so you get a feel for what each day looks like. Times you find on google maps will be pretty accurate but assume no stopping. Not for gas, not for rest break, not for food, not for seeing sights.

Just a few thoughts.
- Book accommodations at Yosemite NOW - look for rooms in the Valley - eg at Yosemite Valley Lodge - this is the one and only official reservation website.
- Las Vegas looks like an outlier to me. In July & Aug it will be too hot. The high today 8/14 is expected to be 40C. It's also not really a place for children. It looks like you've mapped Lone Pine as simply as stop over from Yosemite to LV., on a route that will take you through Death Valley (high today 46C) - truly deathly hot. Add in the time you'll be in the car just to take that side trip to LV and think more about it. If visiting LV is on your "must do list" then ok - it's your decision, but please seriously consider spending that time elsewhere along your route. There are many family friendly places to visit in - I'm sure others can come up with some recommendations.

Mine would include, just as possibilities to consider:
Big Sur
Gold country
Sequoia national park
J62 is offline  
Aug 13th, 2019, 07:58 AM
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Sundolph: Just time for some quick comments right now. July/August will be very VERY HOT in Las Vegas. Too hot to even lay by the pool after about 9 AM and there would be nothing much for kids to do because outdoor activities would be impossible. I'd skip it entirely and therefore skip the Lone Pine leg (the back side of the Sierra is gorgeous but it would only lead you down into the desert/Deah Valley/Vegas and that isn't a good idea at that time of year)

So instead of Vegas - from Yosemite head west as J62 suggests to the Monterey/Big Sur area and down the coast from there.

(J62 -- the law suit is over so the old names are back. No more Yosemite Valley Lodge or The Majestic. Thank heavens! They are Yosemite Lodge at the Fall and and Curry Village and the Ahwahnee and as they should be)
janisj is online now  
Aug 13th, 2019, 08:28 AM
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Yes, the silly lawsuit about the names of hotels/camping was resolved. Ahwahnee, Wawona and Curry get their names back but Yosemite Valley Lodge is keeping the new name.
J62 is offline  
Aug 13th, 2019, 08:34 AM
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Oh crap -- I thought it was going back too. I saw a photo with a 'Yosemite Lodge' canvas sign hanging over the reception office entrance right after the settlement but that must have just been a temporary 'guerrilla' effort
janisj is online now  
Aug 13th, 2019, 02:09 PM
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It is strictly personal preferance but I would also choose to drive Highway 1 from Monterey through Big Sur and south to San Diego but others prefer to drive in the mountains.
Your 2 year old will need a car seat and the 7 year old may need a booster seat depending on height.
jamie99 is offline  
Aug 15th, 2019, 04:08 PM
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Avoid will be all be miserable. It will be so much more comfortable along the coast and you can spend lovely days outside. The Monterey Aquarium is world class and the kids will love it. Santa Cruz is a fun stop. Drive down the coast to San Diego...take your time. The redwoods along the coast are great. No need to go east of the sierras in August.
michele_d is offline  
Aug 15th, 2019, 07:09 PM
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I wold drop Lone Pine/Death Valley and Las Vegas. I would only spend 5 days in Sunriver/Bend area. There are several places south of San Francisco to see large Coast Redwood trees without going to Crescent City.
Consider returning the Seattle rental car after visiting Olympic NP and taking another train from Seattle to Portland. Rent another car in Portland for all that you want to see in Oregon. The north entrance of Crater lake NP is only 90 miles from Bend (less from Sunriver).
If you decide you like train travel, you could return the rental car in Portland and take the Coast Starlight south from Portland to Sacramento arriving early in the morning.
Sacramento is a good jumping off point to go to Yosemite.
Would the kids rather spend a day or two at Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm or Six Flags instead of all that time in San Diego?
Try to avoid driving across the Mojave Desert in August.
tomfuller is offline  
Aug 16th, 2019, 04:40 AM
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Agree with the other posters - skip Las Vegas. It's NOT a place for kids. But, go back when it's just you & your spouse. It has great shows, shopping, hotels, restaurants, and casinos (if you like to gamble).
LT is offline  
Aug 16th, 2019, 11:34 PM
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Thank you all very much for taking the time to review our itinerary and made suggestions. We will consider them all. Itís so valuable to get advice and feedback from people that have been there and know the area.

I have been in Las Vegas before and I would entirely skipped it, however my husband really wants to go and he says that we donít know when we will be back in that part of the world so, will see about this one. But maybe we can drive to San Diego along the coast and from there take an airplane for one night? Will see.

Thank you again!
sundolph is offline  
Aug 17th, 2019, 07:06 AM
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>>But maybe we can drive to San Diego along the coast and from there take an airplane for one night?<<

That would work -- fly to Vegas in the morning and fly back to SanDiego sometime the next day. You won't be able to check in to a hotel until mid to late afternoon but they will hold your bags until check in time. Minimize your time in LV and still get a peek at it. Be prepared for VERY hot
janisj is online now  
Aug 17th, 2019, 07:10 AM
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If Las Vegas is a "must see" place then I wonder if you might consider starting and ending there. I know you said you're starting in Vancouver because airfare is cheaper, but in July hotels in Vancouver are going to be very expensive, due to ordinary tourism plus the huge impact of Alaska cruise passengers coming and going. A 3-star hotel room in late June (too early to price July) is going to cost something like US$200 - $250, and assuming you'd need two rooms, a three-night stay in Vancouver could easily come to $1200 or more. However, for the same nights (according to Expedia which I just checked) the same nights at the Luxor Hotel (the one shaped like a pyramid) on the Las Vegas Strip would cost $49 per night per room, or $300 for the same number of nights.

Even if you got cheap flights to Vancouver (I think you mentioned Air Transat on another thread, which makes me think you're coming from Europe - right?) you could probably fly on separate tickets to Las Vegas and still be money ahead.

The other benefits of starting in Vegas are that rental cars might be cheaper (worth checking) and you wouldn't have to navigate major city traffic once you hit the road. And if you are indeed coming from overseas, there's no better place to overcome jetlag and a 8- or 9-hour time change than Vegas. If the bedside clock says 3 AM but your body says noon, it's not a problem. Things will be hopping downstairs, or you can go out into the desert and watch the sunrise before the heat of the day (and it will be HOT.) Everything's air conditioned, there are lots of activities besides gambling (visit Hoover Dam or some red rocks, for example.)

If you did this, you could do a great "loop" of the west, something like this - .

Worth crunching some numbers, anyway.
Gardyloo is offline  
Aug 17th, 2019, 06:05 PM
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Some thoughts on the northwest leg of your trip. What are you planning to do in Sunriver for seven days? Not that there isn't plenty to do around there for seven days, especially if you love the outdoors, just curious. I would highly suggest seeing Crater Lake National Park if you're staying for a few days in that area (on a weekday - not a Saturday or Sunday to avoid huge crowds). Bend and Sisters are also fun towns to spend time in. I'd suggest a drive on Highway 242 over McKenzie Pass, stopping at Dee Wright Observatory, and admiring the stunning volcanic landscape and mountains. Plenty of hiking options around there, and you'll want to have your camera on the ready. Then stop in Sisters for a leisurely afternoon, which is a rustic western themed town.

For Seattle, if you time your visit there on a weekend, I'd suggest the Ballard Farmer's Market on Sunday. One of the best farmers markets and charming neighborhoods you'll find anywhere. I think you could easily add a third day there and not run out of activities. A day trip via ferry to Bainbridge Island or the San Juan Islands (Friday Harbor) is a great day trip. The Pike Street Market is always a must, but if you can avoid it on a weekend and time your visit earlier in the day, especially with kids, I'd recommend that. It is just smashed with hoards of people and it's just excruciating pushing through the crowds and waiting in long lines to get into any of the popular spots.

You mentioned four days at Olympic National Park, which seems like a lot to me if you're not doing some substantial hiking into the back country. I think two days, maybe three, is sufficient to see the area. Be sure you stop for oysters at Hama Hama Oyster Saloon on Hwy 101 in Liliwaup along Hood Canal. And if you want an unbeatable view of Puget Sound, on a clear day, drive or hike up to the Mt. Walker viewpoint near Quilcene, where you get an incredible aerial vantage of Puget Sound and be able to see downtown Seattle, Mt. Rainier and the surrounding area from across the sound.

The kids will love Cannon Beach. Gorgeous beach, and Ecola State Park is nearby for hiking. One of the great thing about Oregon beaches is they are public and you can walk for miles. The town itself is fun - lots of candy and ice cream shops - and I would highly recommend the Cannon Beach Smokehouse for lunch. Astoria is my favorite coastal town in Oregon, and there's plenty to do, such as the Astoria Column, the Oregon Film Museum, Astoria Riverwalk, and the Maritime Museum (very interesting). You'll have to visit Frite and Scoop along the Riverwalk, and visit the Fort George Brewery. Astoria is my favorite "walking town" with its charming old victorian houses and the Flavel Mansion, beautiful river views along the river walk, and historic downtown area. If you're headed south down 101 any further than Cannon Beach, I'd recommend a stop at the Tillamook Cheese Factory (kids love this) and even further down is the town of Newport (another one of my favorite towns on the coast) where you could spend a day. After that, you could head east on US Highway 20 towards the Cascades and on to the Sunriver area. I'd also recommend Silver Falls State Park, which is a 7 mile loop trial that will take you to about 10 waterfalls.

Down towards the Redwoods, be sure to take the Howland Hill Road detour, which is a dirt cutoff road that bisects the Jedediah Smith State Redwoods and takes you into Crescent City from Highway 199. In my opinion, this is the best of the best of the redwoods. The road winds through massive trees that will blow your mind. The Boy Scout Tree Trail is about halfway down the road and is a must if you enjoy hiking. The Prairie Creek Redwoods are also lovely (often times you can see wild elk there), as well as the Lady Bird Johnson Grove. For a longer day hike, you can hike from the Prairie Creek Redwoods visitor center over the ridge into Fern Canyon, which is amazing with it's fern covered canyon walls. It's about an eight mile hike round trip through primordial redwood forest, and worth every step.

A few more ideas down in redwood country. Patrick's Point State Park is gorgeous just north of Trinidad. And Trinidad itself is a fascinating little town and a hippy enclave. They have their Trinidad Art Nights on Fridays during the summer, and has a sort of "time warp back to the '60s" feel. There's some lovely beaches right around there as well. Arcata is fun on a Saturday. They have a really great farmer's market. For breakfast, I would recommend the Samoa Cookhouse, which is an old logger cookhouse that's now a logging museum and serves old style all-you-can-eat logger breakfast. Just across the bay on Hwy 255 from Eureka.

A little further down Hwy 101 south of Eureka about 20 miles in Fortuna is the Chapman's Gem & Mineral Shop, which is worthwhile and fascinating. There's some really fantastic mineral and fossil specimens there. And, if you're not redwooded out by this point, the Humboldt Redwoods State Park is a little further down. These are the more 'touristy' redwoods where you'll find the drive-thru tree (that you have to pay money to drive through), and are the ones you see in the postcards. There's more traffic, RV parks, and tourist traps around here, but I'd still highly recommend driving down the Avenue of the Giants, which is absolutely amazing.

Hope some of this gives you some ideas. Cheers!

Last edited by jeverett; Aug 17th, 2019 at 06:20 PM.
jeverett is offline  
Aug 17th, 2019, 08:33 PM
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Thank you for pointing out that the price of the hotels was so high in Vancouver during July. Weíll start looking now...

Last edited by sundolph; Aug 17th, 2019 at 08:44 PM.
sundolph is offline  
Aug 17th, 2019, 08:40 PM
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ďEven if you got cheap flights to Vancouver (I think you mentioned Air Transat on another thread, which makes me think you're coming from Europe - right?) you could probably fly on separate tickets to Las Vegas and still be money aheadĒ

Yes we are coming from Europe but I havenít mention anything about an airline. It must be a thread by someone else but now Iíll check that one, I didnít know it.

Thank you for you thoughts and suggested itinerary. Flying to las Vegas is cheaper than to Vancouver actually! Something indeed to consider. Even flying from there to Vancouver is an option....

sundolph is offline  
Aug 17th, 2019, 08:59 PM
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Jeverett, wow how many detailed activities suggested. Thank you! Weíll write them down and try to see as much as possible. Weíll definitely add one night in Seattle.

About Olimpic national park we have planned to go to Victoria from there. Itís just 1.5 from Port Angeles where we will be staying for a few days. And in the park itself we want to see the rainforest, coast, lake Crescent, etc. We wonít be doing serious hicking but we will have then a 2 year old and we wonít be able to do much in one day. I was considering 3 nights in Port Angeles and 1 or 2 in Quinault lake. Are you familiar with the park to suggest accomodations? I was thinking Lake Quinault lodge. And in Port Angeles still donít know yet. Not too many options via Booking...

In Sunriver we thought that it was good to spend a week in one hand to give the kids and us some rest (not to have to pack and unpack and move all for a few days), and in the other to have a base to make a couple of field trips...

Thank you and everyone else here once again!

sundolph is offline  
Aug 17th, 2019, 09:27 PM
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>>Flying to las Vegas is cheaper than to Vancouver actually! <<

It often is.

>>Even flying from there to Vancouver is an option....<<

Consider flying into Las Vegas (as mentioned it is about the best place in the World to recover from jetlag/re-set your body clocks ) Then do a long linear drive from Vegas to San Diego, up the coast, squeeze in Yosemite, the Redwoods, Oregon coast and turn the car in at Seattle. Even if you can work out a one-way car hire from the US to Canada -- it would be very expensive, so drop it while still in the USA. Then you can take a train or bus from Seattle to Vancouver and then either fly home from Vancouver, or get a cheap flight down to Vegas and fly home from there.
janisj is online now  
Aug 18th, 2019, 07:14 AM
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Olympic Lodge in Port Angeles. Avoid the Red Lion.
Bobmrg is offline  
Aug 18th, 2019, 07:39 AM
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Yes, do not even consider the Red Lion. We made that mistake ONCE and never again. Back to the OL for all of our visits. Lake Quinault Lodge is wonderful! Be sure to check out the rain gauge on the back patio.

jeverett has excellent suggestions. The Ballard Market is amazing and always surprises people as they think it will be just like any other farmers market, but has has so much more! Pike Place Market is great, but as mentioned try to avoid the weekend at least as with a little one it won't be as enjoyable with the crowds. The Bend/Sunriver area has so much to offer. I think of any of us that have spent time there could write a book on suggestions, lol. A full week at Sunriver is great, IME. We have done that numerous times and never run out of things to do. There are several routes from Portland to Bend, and each has its own great scenery, so the hard part is choosing a route. You can't go wrong with any of them. The McKenzie highway is beautiful. Silver Falls is great, even if you can only visit the falls that are easy walks to get to (not sure if you want to do the full hike, which is great, but does take time). Sahalie Falls is beautiful. So a few ideas for the various routes.
mms is offline  

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