USA West Coast Adventure November 2018 (take 2)

Discussion in 'Trip Planning and Travel Concerns' started by Jason Goodwin, Mar 18, 2017.

  1. Jason Goodwin

    Jason Goodwin
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    Hi All

    Haven't posted for a while but will soon have a couple of Aussie Family adventures to add as the summer winds to an end here in Australia.

    So the dates and probably the locations for our expected trip for 2017 has blown out by a year.

    To recap the original plan was late 2017 travelling as follows;

    Family of 5: Mum, Dad 3 kids

    Brisbane to Los Angeles.
    Hire RV and travel the Oregon Coast to Seattle
    Seattle stay
    Seattle through to Las Vegas
    Las Vegas and Grand Canyon stay
    Las Vegas through to Disneyland
    Disneyland stay
    Los Angeles to Brisbane
     
  2. Jason Goodwin

    Jason Goodwin
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    So we now cant travel until November 2018 due to family and work commitments.

    My view is as follows;
    Seattle is out as at that time of year the weather will be a major factor. We also wanted to travel through Yosemite to Las Vegas but again the weather could make that a 50/50 option that having come so far isn't worth the risk.

    Here are the 2 front running options now;

    THE ARIZONA OPTION
    Brisbane to Los Angeles to Phoenix
    The plane gets in at around 0600hrs so as previously I wasn't jet lagged we would hire an SUV (I know its not an RV but this option now makes better sense for us)
    Travel Los Angeles to Phoenix which is indicated as a 4 to 5 hour drive which is really not much for us.
    3 nights in and around Phoenix that includes Pima Air Museum and the aircraft boneyard.
    Travel to Flagstaff with a focus for 2 nights on the Grand Canyon.
    Travel to Las Vegas with 4 or 5 nights that include Hoover Dam and the Vegas experience, with kids, so pretty tame.
    Travel to Universal Studios and stay in Century City as its a long way from there to Anaheim so it makes sense to do Universal, stay a night or 2, then move on to Anaheim and Disneyland.

    Timing for the trip gives us around 3 weeks in the country with 4 nights in Las Vegas and 7 nights in Los Angeles (Including Universal & Disneyland) so I am after the following;

    Thoughts on this option
    Places to visit in and around Phoenix
    Places and routes btn Phoenix, Flaggstaff & Vegas
    Is Phoenix even worth a visit?
    Better ideas

    On to the Texas Option.........
     
  3. Jason Goodwin

    Jason Goodwin
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    THE TEXAS OPTION
    Brisbane to Los Angeles to San Antonio (flights)
    4 or 5 nights in San Antonio...canal walk, alamo its Texas!
    Fly to Las Vegas
    5 to 6 nights in Las Vegas including trip to the Canyon now included
    Hire SUV travel to Universal Studios with 2 night stay
    Travel to Disneyland

    Again
    Thoughts on this option
    Places to visit in and around San Antonio
    Is San Antonio even worth a visit?
    Better ideas

    This is a predominately flying option. I prefer to drive as you get to meet people and experience the country better.

    We have the 3 kids who will be 14, 12 and 10 so their focus is on Universal and Disneyland but I want them to experience the USA and grow to love the country and people as I do.

    Over to the people that know!
     
  4. BankShot

    BankShot
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    Hi Jason - If you end up doing the Arizona option I would suggest that you add one other side trip to your plans. Nov. should still be decent weather-wise to go see the "Big Hole in the Ground" at Meteor Crater NP about an hour or so east of Flagstaff and close to Winslow where you can all "stand on the corner and watch people go by"... :D The crater is like the Grand Canyon, you can't imagine how big it is until you walk up to it and look down into it. There is also an RV park right there should you do the RV thing. A drive thru the Sedona area is also recommended even tho it can get pretty crowded and busy, etc. Lots of neat shops, places to eat and RV parks available, plus the scenery is spectacular. Whichever option you choose sounds like a lot of family fun and no doubt you will all remember this trip for many years to come........

    All the best, BankShot............(aka Terry)
     
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  5. Onemoretrail

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    The Arizona option sounds like the best plan. If you are not that keen to get around Phoenix, then use those days to do a tour up to Death Valley from Las Vegas. On the way you could stop at Red Rock Canyon. The temps in Death Valley should have moderated by November, so no worries there.
     
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  6. Hutch333id

    Hutch333id
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    I'd also opt for the AZ plan. We stay north of Phoenix in the small western town of Cave Creek - it's about a 45 minute drive from PHX. There is a small resort there called Rancho Mañana with excellent self catering apartments (Casitas), a pool, on-site but independent restaurant and a great golf course if that works for you. You are out of the hustle and bustle of the city but within striking distance.
    From there, drive up through Oak Creek and Sedona, staying a night or two if you can. We usually stay at The Ridge on Sedona Golf Resort. I haven't done the crater excursion but it is on my list of places to see. The historic mining town of Jerome is only a short drive from here and the kids will have a blast looking at the old mining relics.

    There are some hotels in the Grand Canyon NP that overlook the Canyon - breathtaking views and an awesome sunset.

    Drive west to LV from where you can see the Hover Dam (awesome) and take a drive out to Death Valley which, if I recall correctly, was about two hours west of LV.

    Take a look on Booking.com for less expensive ways of booking Rancho Mañana and the Sedona. They are both Timeshare locations and they will try to press you into attending a presentation but just say, "no" and they'll leave you alone.

    The weather will have moderated by that time of year but is still warm enough to get around without having to be wrapped up - although it could snow at the GC.
     
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  7. Jason Goodwin

    Jason Goodwin
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    Thanks Guys.....its not that we are not keen to see Phoenix @Onemoretrail I am just wondering if you all think its worth the time. It looks interesting but what to do is the question. I expect Pima and the Aircraft Boneyard to take up a day. The Sedona sounds very very interesting too.
    The more advice the better. I bet there are a few Texans that will add their 2 cents as well LOL
     
  8. Onemoretrail

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    Pima is another 2 hours down the highway from Phoenix. You might want to stay in Tucson instead. If your kids are into space, there is the Kitt Peak Astronomy Observatory, about 50 miles west of Tucson.
    Phoenix has lots of museums for all ages, as well as a pretty decent zoo and botanical garden. It's a big city with lots of traffic. Think of Sydney in the desert.:)
     
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  9. Texasrvers

    Texasrvers
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    The Arizona option: Absolutely do not miss the Grand Canyon!! However, a place no one has mentioned is Tombstone which is about 70 mi SE of Tucson. It is the site of the the OK Corral. If you are not familiar with American history it is where there was a famous gunfight between Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Virgil and Morgan Earp on one side and the McLaurys and Clantons on the opposite side. They have daily reenactments and the kids would love it. (http://www.ok-corral.com/)

    Also located in Tombstone is the Boothill Cemetery where notorious characters from the Old West are buried with some very interesting and unusual epitaphs. We certainly had fun reading them. (http://www.tombstoneaz.net/)

    Now as for the TEXAS option: I'm prejudiced, but San Antonio is the place to go. (http://visitsanantonio.com/Browse-Book/Attractions) Too bad you will not be there in the spring when our bluebonnets are in bloom. They are spectacular. (see my avatar). However, there are many other attractions.

    Of course there is the Alamo, which many people do not realize is in the middle of downtown San Antonio. They expect to see cattle grazing and people ride up on horses. It should not be missed, but the other missions that are not right downtown are also very interesting. The Riverwalk or Paseo del Rio is beautiful and has tons of restaurants and is about a 2 block walk from the Alamo. Across the street from the Alamo is the historic Menger Hotel. Teddy Roosevelt recruited Rough Riders in its bar (another moment in US history), and it is supposedly haaauuunted--ooooooo. For local culture go to Market Square. It is not right by the Riverwalk but there is a city trolley system that will easily get you there. This is a Mexico style market with vendor's booths and restaurants. Two good ones are La Margarita and Mi Tierra which is one of the oldest and best Tex-Mex restaurants in the city. It also has a great bakery.

    On the outskirts of the city there is Sea World, which I'm sure you know is a marine animal theme park (https://seaworldparks.com/en/seaworld-sanantonio/) and Six Flags Fiesta Texas, another theme park with roller coasters, thrill rides, shows and other activities. (https://www.sixflags.com/fiestatexas) Unfortunately both parks have limited operation days in November, but they might be open when you are here. Another place to consider is Natural Bridge Caverns and Wildlife Park. (http://www.naturalbridgecaverns.com/(S(eirg2cm5af4dkw551xbs1wz1))/Index.aspx) It is about 20 mi north of San Antonio, and I'm pretty sure it is open year round.

    There's a lot more in the area, and I can't list it all, but hopefully the San Antonio website listed above will give you some other ideas. With all the suggestions you have received from everyone, you are bound to have a really fun trip.
     
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  10. TheCubanMama

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    If you get an opportunity, Sedona, AZ is on the way between Flagstaff and Meteor Crater. The canyon is spectacular and you can even take a hot air ballon trip over the area. It is one of the global vortices if you believe in these. You might also consider the north rim of the Grand Canyon. You also have access to Zion and Bryce National parks. These are spectacular, especially the pinnacles at Bryce. The north part of the canyon allows you to access major national parks in Utah. Just remember that in November, the altitude in the Grand Canyon/Flagstaff areas can bring some interesting weather that includes snow, not a good road surface for an RV.
     
    #10 TheCubanMama, Mar 26, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2017
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  11. Texasrvers

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    The north rim of the Grand Canyon is also pretty spectacular, but I am pretty sure it closes down around the middle of October so you may be out of luck if your trip is in November. On the other hand the south rim is open year round. Something else about the south rim that would be fun is to take the train from Williams, AZ to the Canyon. I think it goes up and back two times a day and on the way back the train is held up by outlaws on horseback. They board the train and demand your money until the sheriff rides up and captures them. https://www.thetrain.com/

    I agree that Meteor Crater, Sedona, Zion, and Bryce are all great places. So much to see, so little time. How will you ever choose?!
     
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  12. Jason Goodwin

    Jason Goodwin
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    So far the following is looking good;
    Fly into Los Angeles hire car drive to Tucson 3 nights there
    Pima Air Museum and the Aircraft Boneyard
    Tombstone
    Drive via Meteor Crater and possibly Sedona? to Williams Arizona
    The train to the Grand Canyon and back with a couple of nights in Williams
    Drive through to Las Vegas for 4 nights
    Drive through to Century City 2 nights and do Universal Studios
    Drive through to Anaheim 5 nights 3 days at Disneyland
    Possible (Not sure) travel to San Francisco for 3 nights before heading back to Australia

    19 nights.............

    Thoughts all?
     
  13. Jason Goodwin

    Jason Goodwin
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    Also I have discovered that the trip between LAX and Tuscon is 7 hours which is too long after the 20 odd hours flying from Brisbane Australia.
    Can anybody provide advice regarding somewhere nice to overnight between Los Angeles and Tuscon that would let us get around 4 to 5 hours drive under our belts and shorted the trip to Tucson the next day.
     
  14. BankShot

    BankShot
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    Hey Jason - In that you said you probably won't be renting an RV of some sort and will be taking this trip by car, you really have just two main routes to get from LA to Tucson. First one is I-10 that takes you to Phoenix and then you'd drive south from there to Tucson. The other route would be I-8 out of San Diego which I feel is a much nice overall drive and will take you more directly to the Tucson area. By looking at a map of So. Calif and AZ you will see what I'm saying here. If you decide to try the I-8 route you could hold up for the night in Yuma and there are many good motels to stay at there. Also just east of Yuma off of I-8 is the wartime Tank Museum at the old Yuma Proving Grounds that might be worth a few minutes of your time. They have some really neat old WW1 / WW2 / Korean War tanks there on display. Not quite what your War Memorial Building in Canberra is but still pretty interesting to be able to walk right up to each tank and see it up close and personal, etc. Anyway, that's just one suggestion, others will no doubt chime in with more to confuse the dickens out of you and cause you to put on your old thinking hat about what to do. As Texasrvers stated, so much to see and so little time to see it all but somehow you will end up having a wonderful time and will bring home a lot of memories for your memory book. And we all know we will be seeing some great pictures after you get back and get them all sorted out................. :D

    Cheers Mate, BankShot............(aka Terry)
     
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  15. Jason Goodwin

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    Cheers Terry @BankShot I knew my mates would have ideas.......Did you say TANK Museum......

    What did you think of the plan mate a couple of posts ago Tuscon...williams...Vegas etc.....very keen to get your thoughts and those particularly of @NYDutch
    @mdcamping @Onemoretrail @Texasrvers @Fitzjohnfan @BCWanderer

    Hope I didn't leave anyone from the Gang out...LOL
     
    #15 Jason Goodwin, Mar 28, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2017
  16. BC Wanderer

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    This area is not my neck of the woods. I can't be of any help other than to say "where you are going is on my bucket list and no matter what route you choose there are amazing things to see and do." You will not be disappointed.

    Darrell
     
  17. BankShot

    BankShot
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    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Yes, I did say "Tank Museum". There are a dozen or more old tanks like the Sherman and M60, etc. placed in sort of a circle on the desert that you can walk up to and examine, etc. There is also a "big gun" or two, some missiles, and a couple of helicopters nearby that you will be able to look at, and there's also the Heritage center that is inside and features many displays of the various war items like uniforms, weapons, and memorabilia etc. It's all a short drive up Hwy 95 out of Yuma and depending on your schedule you might want to check it out. You can use Google and type in Yuma Proving Grounds Tank Museum, AZ and it should pop up several websites that you can look at to determine if this would be something interesting for you and the family as you can see a lot in a short amount of time and still make Tuscon the same day...............

    The Tucson/Williams/Vegas route sounds like a good one and should give you a lot to see and do in the time period you have outlined. Get some good maps of the various areas you will be in as they will help immensely in examining the route you end up taking as to mileage and any other side trips you may feel you can squeeze in, etc. Nice thing is that you have some time to put this all together so that when you do come here you will have a lot to look forward to seeing and have a route chosen to get it all done in the time you have. Anytime you have questions or need info about various things, just let us know and one of us will jump in with some answers and ideas, etc..............

    Tipping a Carlton Draught to you.............Terry
     
  18. Jason Goodwin

    Jason Goodwin
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    Guys thinking of something like one of these to travel in......
    2017-escalade-gallery-exterior-intersection-silver-1280x400.jpg
    Family of 5 with luggage and want to be safe. Other option is one of these......
    2016-nissan-quest-side-profile-grey-original.jpg
    You guys certainly make BIG vehicles!

    Thoughts?
     
  19. Jason Goodwin

    Jason Goodwin
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    So after attending an excellent Travel USA expo in Brisbane we have decided to add Zion National Park to the trip.
    Met a wonderful lady from Utah that explained and showed us how we could add to the trip by travelling from the Grand Canyon east and up and around to Zion before heading through to Las Vegas.
    I am after some ideas re accommodation and the points to visit in Zion so far I have found the following items of interest and possible stays;

    Locations
    Lake Powell
    Zion Canyon Scenic Drive
    Zion Narrows walk
    Emerald Pools
    Towns
    Kanab
    Springdale
    St George

    We are thinking that we would have about 4 nights between The Grand Canyon and las Vegas to spend between Lake Powel and the Canyon. Any advice and recommendations you can provide re the locations, new locations and what towns would be the best to stay in would be great.
    Again its a family of 5 with medium fitness as a whole.

    Found this place that looks amazing;
    https://www.zionponderosa.com
     
    #19 Jason Goodwin, Aug 21, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2017
  20. Fitzjohnfan

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    Zion is a great place to visit. Check the website and your route. There is a restricted tunnel in the park that some larger rigs cannot go through. Our 32' motorhome was ok, but you have to follow a pilot car through.

    A stop at the Wahweap campground at lake Powell should be enjoyable. If you have time, take a boat tour of the lake, or just walk down to the shore for a quick swim. Many rv sites give a good view of the lake.

    Chris G.
     

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