Hi! I'm bringing my daughter from Australia to the US in July 2006 for a dancing competition. I've decided its a great opportunity to bring the whole family (hubby and three kids (13, 10 & 7) for a fleeting 3 week visit. I must admit this is the beginning of my research so I don't know much just at the moment. I've had a few discussions with friends, one of which travelled to the same area in 2004. The dancing itself will be held in San Diego. I'm really quite desperate to visit the Grand Canyon and take the kids to Disneyland.
My friend recommended flying direct to San Francisco so we could travel down the Pacific Coast Highway and then travel onto Sequoia and then the Grand Canyon. Then head to San Diego for the dancing which I expect to last 3-5 days. While we are in San Diego we thought we might take in a major league ball game, visit the zoo, Legoland, the Crystal Palace and also have a day trip to Mexico. After the dancing head off to LA where we can visit Disneyland and Rodeo Drive in Hollywood. The idea of leaving Disneyland to last is that we are saving the best till last and the kids will go home on a real high.
I note comments from previous messages that we shouldn't miss the stretch between Monterey to Santa Maria.
I have no idea if we have enough time for all that and what things we should stop and look at along the way. Given our time constraints I am looking for input, where to go first, where to stop along the way, accommodation costs, car hire, everything!!!! I know we can't do everything in such a short time but looking for some guidance. Of course, everything will be on a tight budget.
Your plan seems great - you are seeing some of the best things in that area. I will begin to give some thoughts and then we can take it from there Dont wanna be a downer - but safety tips are part of a travel planning - so I will begin with those:
Traveling to mexico from San diego - I believe you mean Tijuana. I dont know much about safety in Tijuana - but we hear about abductions of teen girls that go south of the border to party - again this could be for some border towns in the entire southern front - but good to be alert and stay together at all times.
San Diego - beautiful place to visit - you have listed some of the key places to see; coming from land of G.B.reef - you may not find a 'whale watching' tour particularly exciting in San Diego, I enjoyed it though. The zoo is awesome. Although I did not have any safety issues while I was there - S.D ranks high in crimes, so just watch out for location of accomodation and traveling in downtown at night. Staying close to the beaches should be safe - I believe I stayed in a best-western off the marina.
Grand Canyon - you will love it - but it will be HOT in July, so be well prepared - the usual - sunblock/water/hat etc. You can choose to either stay at the canyon lodging or stay in couple of towns closeby - within an hour of driving - williams/flagstaff.
dont miss the sunrise or the sunset !
Accomodation costs - will vary; a bestwestern in san diego ran me around 120$ a night for 2 adults, you can get low price good quality hotels in Anaheim (disneyland area) for 60-70 $ a night. check out www.hotels.com
Car rentals - you can check www.expedia.com or go to a rental car site to get pricing details and policies (if any) for foreign visitors - I would start with www.enterprise.com, www.avis.com
Good luck with the planning - will be glad to answer any further questions
P.S: I dont mind helping you out here I am hoping you will have few tips for me - as I plan to visit Aus/NZ coming November myself
Wow, sounds like a great trip, but the drive to Grand Canyon will be a long (and Hot) one. Not sure that I would include it in this trip, personally, but that is just me. (I live in Arizona now but grew up in Monterey area of California.)
The scenery along the Pacific Coast Highway, aka Highway 1, is exceptional and not to be missed. Do not miss Big Sur!!! Carmel is magnificent as well, and Pacific Grove, and Pebble Beach are worthy of time too. Spend a night in Santa Barbara area if you can. (I went to college there and stayed in Santa Barbara for a while after college since I fell in love with it.)
If you have any questions, please feel free to write me. I have quite an intimate knowledge of these places, so maybe I could even be helpful!
Colleen, super ideas and so pleased you have 3 weeks as you will need every second to traverse this state. I concur that Grand Canyon should be put off to another followup trip. It is way out of the way and not suited for this CA one. Once you head to Grand Canyon, the areas of AZ and NM are a must to enjoy, Phoenix, Santa Fe, Taos, the Indian reservatiosn and art/culture/food. That would make a very swell 5-7 day trip.
Going down the coast from my SF, take 101 and south of Gilroy you will soon head over to the coast. There you will meet up with the Pacific, Carmel and do not miss Monterey...try to see that fine aquarium if tix are available. Then continue down the coast through Big Sur and at some point reach central CA and stay in college town of San Luis Obispo. Good places there and tons of history and wildlife as seals. You can then head south through Santa Barbara and go right into Santa Monica and LA. Also when farther south in SD, be sure to spend some time in La Jolla and do some hiking. Lovely. Tijuana is perfect for a day trip. It is safe, as you can take the neat train from SD to the border, walk through customs with passports, catch a cheap taxi to centro, or main area, for shopping. Have a blast doing that and stop at a restaurant for good authentic MX cuisine in that area, all within walking. I like Caesar's, named for the old chef who invented that salad. Then after more shopping, taxi back to border, catch train and head back to SD for the night. My entire family loved this trip recently.
Ask me if you desire more info...!!!
Thank you all so much for such fantastic information and advice. Its all just what I'm looking for. Happy to help in return with any information about Australia!
when you're in San Diego, you should visit the zoo as well as the Wild Animal Park - you can take a tram around a big portion of the park that mimics the African plains, all sorts of wildlife living together - elephants, giraffes, rhinos, antelope, hippos, etc. Your kids will really enjoy it - I did when I went there as a child.