West Coast Road trip - Need advice

Old Jun 20th, 2011, 03:46 AM
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West Coast Road trip - Need advice

Hi all,

We are planning a vacation to west coast later this month and a major part of it is a road trip from LV - GC - LA - SFO. Its been almost 10 years since we last visited Vegas, and never been to Grand Canyon or LA. I need your advice and inputs on what to do and what not to. Here is our itinerary:

Day 1- Fly out of DC to Las Vegas, reach at 9 pm
Rent a car and check into Luxor, stay at Luxor for 3 nights
Day 4 - Drive to Grand Canyon (5 hrs), check into Yavapai lodge in the Grand Canyon village
Day 5 - Start driving to Anaheim, CA after lunch (close to 8 hrs). Check into hotel (near Disney land area) and call it a night
Day 6 - Disneyland
Day 7 - Disneyland
Day 8 - May be a drive down to SD?
Day 9 - Drive to San Fransisco (7 hrs). Check into hotel near Embarcadaro, call it a night
Day 10 - Explore San Fransisco. I have a fair idea of what to see as I have been to San Fransisco recently
Day 11 late night - Flight back to DC

It will be just 3 of us (wife and 5 year old boy). Do you think, its doable? Are we being too ambitious here? Thanks in advance for all the inputs.
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Old Jun 20th, 2011, 04:51 AM
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That's a lot of car time for a 5 yo. Personally, I would not add to it by going down to SD, but take two days with less driving on each to get to SF from LA, maybe stop and play at a beach for a while. Or, skip SF on this trip and fly out of SD, hit the zoo, chill a bit.
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Old Jun 20th, 2011, 05:01 AM
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Im with emalloy. I would definitely cut down the driving quite a bit.I would also skip SF and spend more time in SD.
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Old Jun 20th, 2011, 06:10 AM
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Arriving at 9PM you can get a ride to your hotel from the airport and rent the car the next day or when you are ready to head for Grand Canyon. You could stay a night at the Hacienda near Hoover Dam to shorten your trip to the Grand Canyon.
Please return your Las Vegas rental car to Las Vegas to avoid a big drop off fee. Allegiant Airlines flies from LV to Stockton.
http://www.allegiantair.com/
I would save SF for another trip perhaps including Yosemite.
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Old Jun 20th, 2011, 06:22 AM
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I assume that you know you'll be charged a hefty drop-off charge for the one-way car rental (not to mention California-size gas prices) and have budgeted accordingly.

I'd suggest you take a second look at some flights and alternatives. Consider, for example, driving back to LV and flying to the LA area from there instead of driving. Rent a new car at Orange County or Long Beach for your LA-area part of the trip (I'd fly into one of the smaller airports ... ideally Orange County) instead of LAX. Then if you really want to travel up to SF, consider taking the train. You won't need a car in San Francisco.

I'm not saying all this will be cheaper. It very well may not be, but it's worth pricing out to avoid the hassle of the long long drives between LA and LV and between LA and SF.

I'd also do San Diego instead of San Francisco, especially with a small child. But I am assuming you've already booked your plane tickets.
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Old Jun 20th, 2011, 06:55 AM
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I did not have a 1 way rental fee from San Diego to Vegas. Not sure if this is the norm but something to look into.
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Old Jun 20th, 2011, 07:03 AM
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Sometimes the drop fees aren't bad, other times they are killer if you are renting one-way.

I agree to skip SD or SF. I think your child would enjoy SD more.

Another thought might be to just stick with Californina and do Yosemite or Sequoia instead of the GC. This way you could fly into one city and avoid drop fee, etc. The Grand Canyon is an awesome sight, but there isn't that much to do there unless you are hiking, riding a mule, or rafting. At Yosemite or Sequoia there are tons of things to do. They are every bit as awesome as the GC.

I don't like Vegas for more than a night.
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Old Jun 20th, 2011, 07:06 AM
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For me your itinerary is too much driving trying to cover too much geography. I agree with others who recommend skipping SF this time. Fly home from orange county airport or San Diego. Your son might like Legoland near SD and sea world in SD. Also a couple of leisurely days at at the beach is always a huge hit with five yr olds.
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Old Jun 20th, 2011, 08:45 AM
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All of the suggestions you've gotten are really good. I live in SF, but would seriously consider dropping SF from this trip and adding San Diego. San Diego is great with kids -- beach, zoo, Wild Animal Park, Sea World, Balboa Park, Coronado, etc.

(FWIW, I would also not go to Las Vegas, but I'm a known Vegas-phobe One day every 10 years is enough for me!)
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Old Jun 20th, 2011, 09:59 AM
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Not quite sure what Stockton has to do w/ anything. And you really wouldn't have time for SF, let alone Yosemite.

Agree w/ most everything else above. San Francisco is wonderful -- but not a trip one should take w/ a small child -- unless you take 3 days for the drive and include the Monterey Aquarium.

Since the timing looks like that isn't really possible - I'd take the SF drive and day and add it to San Diego. Besides what has been mentioned--Legoland is GREAT for young children.

Even IF there are drop off fees -- a one way rental is your best and likely cheapest option. Otherwise you'd be flying from LV or Phoenix to Orange County which for would cost more than the drop off.
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Old Jun 20th, 2011, 10:25 AM
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>>

If you're interested, the Southwest Airlines magazine has a discount coupon this month for Legoland. I don't know the terms (no small children here), but I brought the magazine home, and I'd be happy to mail the coupon to you if you're interested.
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Old Jun 20th, 2011, 11:02 AM
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Ok, it's true I'm not a big fan of Las Vegas, but what are you going to do for two full days with temps at 100+ with a 5 year old unless it's just to relax by a pool?

You are traveling 500 miles for just a couple of hours at the Grand Canyon? Even as an adult that doesn't sound like something I'd want to do, let alone having to spend that much time in a vehicle at the age of 5.

I agree with everyone that says SF is also to much driving. Stick with Disneyland and San Diego.

Utahtea
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Old Jun 20th, 2011, 11:17 AM
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That drive from Grand Canyon into LA is exhausting. I usually poop out around Palm Springs. So I'd consider the option mentioned of flying back out of Las Vegas, or perhaps overnight in the Palm Springs area.
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Old Jun 20th, 2011, 11:36 AM
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What I'd probably do is stay one full day in Las Vegas (Two absolute maximum) because even just staying near the pool will not be comfortable and there is nowhere much indoors you can go w/ your child.

Hopefully you can book an extra night at the Grand Canyon - because driving there one day and immediately on to LA the next would be tough for anyone but especially for children.

Spend ALL the rest of your time split between Orange County and San Diego.

But mainly get out of LV as quickly as possible. If you can't book an extra night at the GC - then I agree -- don't try to drive it -- go to Phoenix and fly to either John Wayne or LAX.
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Old Jun 20th, 2011, 01:31 PM
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Thank you all for the wonderful responses. This forum seems great...I've never seen a site where members are so willing to help...including offering to mail out coupons. Big thanks to all.

Unfortunately our non-refundable return flights are out of SFO, so we will have to visit San Fransicso. We are picking up the rental car at the Las Vegas airport upon arrival and dropping it off in SFO. Surprisingly, the rates are very reasonable with Fox rental, and for a full size car for the whole trip its costing us $285 with unlimited miles. We did think about driving back to LV and taking a flight out to Long Beach (only $59 on Jetblue), but we figured if we are going to drive 5 hours back, why not drive a couple more hours and get to LA instead. May be a rookie mistake!

I agree with dropping either SD or SFO, but since we cant drop SFO we"ll have to give up on SD to gain an extra day in LA. We will instead plan to spend that extra time in Disney or Universal.

We are in Vegas for only two days (Thursday and Friday). Plan is to start very early on Saturday to get to GC by 1 pm. The next day, we plan to leave GC at around noon and try to get to LA by 8 pm.

A good friend of mine at work just decided to book the exact itinerary today, minus SF as they have to return to DC by a certain date. They have two kids (14 and 10) and this family of four will be staying at the same hotels and driving along with us in another car all the way thru the completion of LA leg of the trip.

I understand this is a tough trip with a lot of driving. But we are very excited about it and hope to make the best of it. Will keep you updated. Thank you all again.
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Old Jun 20th, 2011, 01:47 PM
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I guess you are stuck with driving to SF.

I'm still not sure what your plans are for two full days in Las Vegas with kids unless you plan on the 14 year old babysitting your 5 year old. I would recommend spending two nights and one full day in Las Vegas when kids are involved and spend two nights and one full day at the S. Rim of the Grand Canyon. Then you can get an early start from the Grand Canyon to Los Angeles and you won't be doing long drives on back to back days.

Utahtea
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Old Jun 20th, 2011, 01:51 PM
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" agree with dropping either SD or SFO, but since we cant drop SFO we"ll have to give up on SD to gain an extra day in LA"

Not necessarily. Consider two other options.

1) How much will it cost to change your return flights from SFO to LAX. If it the change fees aren't huge it might pay to stick to SoCal.

or

2) Drop the car in LA, Orange County or SD (depending on which order you do things) and fly up to SFO the morning of your flight home. This would save you more than 8 hours in the car.
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Old Jun 20th, 2011, 02:49 PM
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I agree. You can change the city you come home from even on a nonrefundable but there are fees.
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