We are planning to take a road trip in May 2015. It will be 3 adults and 2 kids (12 and 10 years old).
We want to start our trip in Los Angeles as we have some business there and then after 3-4 days in LA, we want to make the road trip to San Diego-Las Vegas-San Francisco and end the trip in LA then fly back from there.
Some places that we want to visit are:
LA - 3 days - Westlake village, Thousand oak mall as we will be staying there for business
San Diego - 3 days - Lego land, Zoo, Balboa Park and Sea World
Vegas - 3 days - 2 days in Vegas and 1 day Grand Canyon & Hoover Dam
San Francisco - 3 or 4 days including 1 or 2 days for Yosemite National Park
Can some one please suggest the best route for this trip, good stopovers with kids and also other places that we should see or skip.
We want to make it a 20 days trip including car journey from one place to another.
The key to this trip is going to be avoiding rush hour. Fridays to Las Vegas from LA or San Diego are always a nightmare - a 4 hour trip can easily turn into an 8 hour trip. The same goes for Sunday's coming back on the 15. The 15 and the 5 are going to be your best routes, but like I said just keep rush hour in mind when leaving/entering each city :) (Very early morning, late morning/early afternoon or later at night will typically be the easiest.
Things to try to add to your LA itinerary (and not terribly far from Thousand Oaks): The Getty Center and Universal Studios HollywoodSan Diego: try to make it to La Jolla Cove during a weekday, my niece and nephew loved it there.Las Vegas: the High Roller is the tallest observation wheel in the world and is great for families. That area, The Linq, is family-friendly too - Sprinkles Cupcakes and plenty of restaurant options.San Francisco: the SoMa StrEat Food Park is worth checking out if you're interested in seeing what the fuss with food trucks is all about. Schulzies Bread Pudding is an awesome bread pudding dessert shop and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is one of my favorites!
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With kids that age, don't miss the California Academy of Sciences and the Exploratorium while you're in San Francisco. Great fun. Also, plan on more than a day for Yosemite National Park, if possible. There's a lot to see (if you want more than just a quick tour), and it's a long enough drive from the park to SF that it's preferable not to do it at night after a full day of activities... but that comes down to what you think the family is capable of and what you want to get out of the park stop.
I would shave a day off of San Diego and add it to either San Francisco (maybe an additional jaunt into wine country like Sonoma), or for a stop in Monterey County or someplace along the central coast on your way from SF to LA. Another great spot a little ways south and east of Yosemite is Mammoth Lakes, which is beautiful during the summer (lots of hiking and other outdoorsy things with incredible scenery.)
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I love road trips!
I suggest this route: LA - San Diego - Vegas - Grand Canyon - Bryce Canyon (Utah) - Mono Lake - Yosemite - San Francisco - and back to LA via the 101
San Diego: spend a day at the zoo and Balboa Park, a day around La Jolla, a day at Lego Land. (you may want to skip Sea World)
On the way to Vegas, stop by Queen Califia's Magical Circle in Escondido - it's a delightful mosaic sculpture garden of mythical serpents and maze that not too many people know about (**check with the website to see if it's open - it's been under renovation for more than a year)
Rather than backtracking from Grand Canyon National Park back to Vegas, why not go a little north to Bryce Canyon National Parkin Utah - it's as magnificent, if not more, than Grand Canyon. Spend a night there and head toward Yosemite National Park through the beautiful Dixie National Forest - you'll want to stop now and then along the scenic way - don't miss the creek at Duck Creek Village - so beautiful!
Before Yosemite, if time permits, you can do another stop-over at Mono Lake - the landscape is out of this world. (though you probably should skip this if it's getting too late in the afternoon as the drive to the Yosemite valley from the lake is beautiful but quite long and winding)
Yosemite deserves at least one night's stay, if not more, and you should plan for your accommodation right now as hotels and camp sites inside the valley get fully booked long in advance.
San Francisco is a great walking city - you can easily walk from Union Square to Chinatown to North Beach, or hop on a cable car!
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From LA to Vegas, there isn't too much, but perhaps stop at State Line and take the kids on the roller coaster if it is still open.
In Vegas, Desert Springs is a great place for the kids, and the Wet n'Wild water park. Also cool is the Neon Museum in Vegas, Circus-Circus' Adventuredome.
Out of town in Vegas, you can take them to Bonnie Springs, a western ghost town, or up to Mt. Charleston, the highest peak in So Nevada for some beautiful hiking!