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Bus tour or drive?

Travel Forums North America Bus tour or drive?

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1. Posted by aussiefam5 (Budding Member 5 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Hi there, I am the proud mother of 3 boys ages 5,6 and11. We are currently planning a family holiday in the U.S.
I have areas of interest and would love some advice for any of it.........
We are planning: L.A, Universal Studios and tour of the landmarks,
Anaheim for Disney,
San Diego for Seaworld, Zoo and Legoland,
bus tour from L.A to San Francisco taking in Vegas and Grand Canyon and Yellowstone,
7 day cruise to Mexico
Fly to Hawaii and finally home.
Obviously it is all still in the early planning stages and still all over the place but my question is this, would we be better to do the guided bus tour or hire a car and drive ourselves?
What are the must see things to do on our Vegas leg of the trip?
I saw another thread here with almost the same travel plans and they had some great tips on it so thanks in advance for that!

2. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 2012 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

I would say the bus tour. For anyone not familiar with S. California freeways or American Interstate highways, they can be h__l on earth!

What time of year? I recommend October.

Are you aware that California is currently burning up?

[ Edit: Edited on Jun 29, 2008, at 12:37 AM by Daawgon ]

3. Posted by aussiefam5 (Budding Member 5 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Thanks for the thought.
This trip is still really early in the planning stages, may even be next year depending on when my husband can get the appropriate amount of time off work.
It was the negotiating of the highways/ freeways that concerned me most. Not to make it sound too much like we have gum leaves hanging out of our ears but we live in Nth Queensland and dont even have traffic lights to contend with!
Living in the Whitsundays definitely has it's advantages but it does not prepare you for that type of traffic etc.
I was looking in Sept mainly because we have some school holidays over here then, but was planning later in the month. May I ask why October? Is it for the weather or the crowds?
I am very sorry to hear about the bushfires, hoping all will be ok. Sorry for my ignorance but were there not some big fires over there not long ago?
Once again thanks for your help.

4. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 2012 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

I say October because the weather is usually ideal then, the crowds have lessened, etc. Spring is also a wonderful time (just remembered your seasons are reversed to ours, so Spring = April/May). If you're planning on Yorsemite National Park in California, May is the best for waterfall flow (by late Summer = August, the flow of water is way way down). Mid-Summer is not good because of crowds and heat (fires are very common in the Southwest).

Don't mean to toot my own horn, but the Pacific Northwest is the true beauty spot for nature in Western USA - great fishing, whitewater, camping, and green hills vs the brown of S. California, and Seattle and Portland have some of the best food too. Much less crowding, and the people are truly nicer!

5. Posted by Wonkerer (Respected Member 592 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

I would lean towards driving yourselves, especially since you have kids. The traffic can be crazy and California has overall the most sadly maintained roads in the country, but I guess for me the freedom of driving yourself outweighs the disadvantages. However, if you can find a good tour geared towards families then that might be good too. September shouldn't be bad, as most Americans are back in school. It would generally be considered the edge of tourist season here. Good luck

6. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 2003 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

While it's true that the LA Freeway system can seem like hell (as I wrote on another site, if you travel for 3 hours from the airport in any direction on an LA Freeway, at the end of that time you will be 5 miles closer to downtown--6 miles closer if an earthquake happens during this period), the amount of distance you need to travel will essentially "require" that you take a car--both because the cost will be much less, and because the public transportation system is a total joke (and I say this as someone that lived in the LA area for about 30 years).

The places you want to go to are up to 120 miles south (San Diego) and up to 450 miles north (San Francisco) and also east of the major bus routes (Yosemite) and also major tourist attractions, and the places where you will want to browse around. (California is great for this.)

Get a car--and just try to stay out of the downtown area of LA--or the area between downtown and Anaheim--and you'll be fine.


7. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 2003 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Oh, and there is nothing at all worth seeing in downtown LA (and I used to work in City Hall, so I'd know). All the good things to see in LA are along the coast (Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Malibu, Zuma Beach, Getty museum), or east of town (Pasadena, San Marino--where the Huntington Library and Gardens are at, or southeast of town--(Anaheim--Disneyland, Buena Park--Knotts Berry Farm)--or north of town--Hollywood--(Universal Studios), Burbank (NBC Studios and the Tonight Show taping), Valencia--Six Flags Magic Mountain.


8. Posted by aussiefam5 (Budding Member 5 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Thanks to all, advice noted. I will look into it a bit more. The thought of having the little fella's couped up in a bus with their short attention spans was my greatest concern about that, and trust me I'm only going on movies etc the thought of trying to negotiate those huge freeways and the over-pass thingy's scares me a little too!(Dont let my technical talk confuse you now!)
May I please ask someone what the average temps are for Sept-Oct in California? Warm? Cool? Cold nights? Sorry but it can be somewhat difficult to figure out. I mean it's winter here and we have had to wear warm clothes only a couple of times so far- not that I'm complaining mind you!

9. Posted by VgbndFrnk (Budding Member 12 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

I think that a bus tour would definitely be easier. I'm heading to Italy in about a month, and we decided to do the bus thing. Fumbling with directions and roads in a foreign place can often be stressful, and wear away at the fun! When you don't have to worry about the driving, you have more time to focus on the journey itself! Additionally, SoCal is a beautiful place, especially when heading down to San
Diego... you wouldn't want to miss all the sites in exchange for asphalt!

Either way, you're going to have a great time!


[ Edit: Sorry, no promos please. ]

10. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 2003 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Temperatures in LA in September:
High--28 Celsius
Low--18 Celsius

Temperatures in LA in October:
High--26 Celsius
Low--16 Celsius

Just consider 6 degrees Celsius less than that (daytime and for the same months) for San Francisco, but consider nightime about 8 degrees cooler. San Diego will be about halfway between LA and SF, weather-wise--probably slightly closer to LA, I'd say.

Las Vegas--September
High: 37
Low: 15

Las Vegas--October
High: 29
Low: 8

Grand Canyon: Same as Las Vegas

Yellowstone: much colder during the day and evening --about 21 High and 1 Low in September, and 14 High and -3 Low in October

Cruise to Mexico--same weather as San Diego, but windy on the boat, so it can get a bit cool

Hawaii--always balmy and pleasant--always! About 31 High and 23 Low both months with warm breezes out of the south during those months.

Enjoy your trip--and good luck with the packing based upon the real large changes in weather depending upon which location you are at.