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Aussie family travelling US needs itinerary advice from Americans!!!?

Well, it costs a fortune to get a family of 4 from Australia to America, so we're probably only eva gunna do it the once! :-( There is a few places on our hit list and we realise it is such a huge country that we've limited it to only a few states, well aware that there is an awful lot we are missing out on. Would love some advice / tips on how our imaginary itinerary is coming together, too long or not long enough at each place, awesome spots inbetween we really should see etc. Please bear in mind that we don't want to go to a place, snap a photo and get back on the road, we want a relaxing holiday with no specific times at each place, and time to do things like going for hikes and catching a local sports game aswell as see the tourist sites etc. This is also probably about a 2 year plan, so haven't even thought about what exact months to travel, other than your summer! Kids will be 7 and 10. So, we're thinking of flying into LA, hiring a car and exploring LA, San Fran and San Diego over 3 weeks. Greyhound it to Vegas to stay for a week. Fly from Vegas to New Orleans for 2 weeks?... somehow get to Florida (heard driving from NO is a nightmare??) mainly for Disney for maybe a week in itself, then explore florida another week,(no hire car) finished off by a cruise for a week in Carribean....... THOUGHTS PLEASE PEOPLES????? LOL :-) xxxx Lisa xxxx

9 Answers

  • 9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    I'll try to be a little shorter. I would concentrate the majority of my time in California, and Florida (they're 3000 miles apart). These are the two states with the most to see/do for visitors. I would fly into San Francisco, not L.A. That will avoid hundreds of miles back tracking over the same places. DON'T go into Mexico when you're in San Diego. It's too dangerous for tourist. You can see Las Vegas, and New Orleans in a couple days. You'll get bored spending a week or more in either.

    June to September is the main vacation (holiday) time in the U.S. The schools are out for the summer, and most places will be crowded. Expect long lines for most attractions. The Caribbean cruse will be "frosting on the cake' , but choose carefully. Some islands (and the people) are wonderful, a few not so much so.

    Yes, everyone will be curious about your accent. You'll be the center of attention where ever you go.

    Source(s): So Cal gal.
  • 9 years ago

    Within the 3 weeks you are in California, I hope you also include Yosemite & Sequoia National Parks.

    If you have a chance the Point Reyes national seashore also.

    Going to Las Vegas = you are going to want to drive (about 4-6 hours depending on where/when you start) or fly (about a 1 hour flight)

    - in Vegas you are going to want to spend 3 nights, 4 days. It's a lot of the same thing over and over again. (google = how long to stay in vegas and this is what most people recommend too). Remember mid of May to mid of Sept = it's too hot to go outside

    And from Dec 1 to around middle of February = it can be cold and often has some slight snow at end of Dec or Jan.

    I would include Grand Canyon, Sedona, Santa Fe and Albuquerque and skip New Orleans. There are places in Florida and Georgia that have the feel you are looking for but are much safer and nicer.

    Disneyland (the original) has a much better feel than any of the other Disney's. It's commerical but does not feel as commercial as Florida or the other parks. I would only do Epcot and Animal Kingdom in Florida.

    American's don't use the same terminology = when you say "no hire car" do you mean you are not going to rent a car = I would advise you that you would need a rental car if you are going to drive around Florida.

  • 9 years ago

    That sounds like a great plan. The Grand Canyon is a day trip out of Las Vegas Nevada. There is also a power generating station called Hoover Dam that you should see as well. This dam straddles 2 states. It is located near Las Vegas and would be a day trip from there. This dam is over the Colorado River.

    Las Vegas has a number of shows that are definitely kid friendly. I went to Penn and Tellers magic show and was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. Also be sure to go see Blue Man Group in Las Vegas. They have a very nice show.

    When in New Orleans, be sure you go on a swamp tour. So you go on a tour that says it has authentic Cajan or Creole residents running the tour. They take you out into the nearby swamp. There is a layer of green plant material on the surface of the water. Then they would throw marshmallows onto the water. Real live alligators come up to the surface. These alligators are very real!

    You should also ride the streetcars in New Orleans. These are original. Also go to the Cemetery Tour. This sounds weird,and too much for little kids, but is very interesting how it is done there. New Orleans is only 6 feet/6 m above sea level. Jackson square has many outdoor musicians who play in the street. The French Quarter is around the corner.

    Go to the Cafe du Monde, a coffee shop that is iconic. Have some of their beignets, another iconic item.

    You would encounter some French speaking in New Orleans, though there is not much. Look for someone who speaks French on that swamp tour. They speak English also, but you want that flavor.

    Try for a trip to the top of Pike's Peak near Denver Colorado. A great kid adventure. The altitude will get to you and make you sleep on your way down. Uses an original Cog Railroad.

    If you have great distances to travel, you may be better off taking a flight. If it really is a budget thing, you can do Greyhound bus lines. Then rent a car in the new city.

    Best time to do this is early Spring, say April, May, June. It is becoming warm.

    I should mention that there is no good easy national travel system here. No trains between cities are really that good. We used to have a superior train systems but that was decades ago. So on your Greyhound portion of the trip, you may get stuck in a terminal for way too long. Consider that you must do a motel room overnight. is an international system for home type rentals. Can be pricey. There may be others like it that are better. But start with his. It's based in Austin, by the way.

    Source(s): Austin Texas USA
  • 4 years ago


  • drip
    Lv 7
    9 years ago

    Oh gads, not LA. Sorry, just not the best of the US. My husband and daughter went there- husband had a business trip. They both pretty much hated it. Horrid traffic, awful smog, VERY high cost of living-food, hotel will be pricey.

    San Fran and San Diego are nice-make sure to go to the San Diego Zoo.

    Vegas with kids, no. Not at all for children. Check out the Grand Canyon instead.

    Greyhound-eh. check prices and schedules. Greyhound tends to have bad schedules. stops in the middle of the night. And they are not going to let you take much luggage.

    Never heard of the drive from NO to Orlando as being bad. A week at Disney will be GREAT. check Two weeks in NO is too long.

    You may want to think about staying on one side of the US. You can do Chicago, NYC, the east coast states are full of great beaches and historic sites. and some good pro ballgames. Hit Washington DC. You could spend a week inside of the Smithsonian. Then go down to NO and Florida. The kids may like NASA in Florida.

    check out Amtrack trains. Unfortunately public transportation in the US between states is not that good. To rent a car you will need to be 25+ and have a credit card in your name- not a bank card or debit card.

  • 9 years ago

    Sound pretty ambitious!

    If you MUST do San Diego, I'd suggest you do a couple of days there, then head up the coast to SF [skipping LA entirely - waste of time and it will seriously fray your nerves]. You can either drive the coast highway, with stops in Santa Barbara, Big Sur, a detour to Yosemite National Park then up to SF for several days - Muir Woods, north of SF would be nice!] or take the train [Amtrak - see their website] to SF. You won't want a car in SF, or need one.

    I'd totally skip Vegas, too. It's totally fake and has nothing for kids. It's gambling and shows, although there are some good restaurants there. Definitely don't need a week there.

    Fly from SF to NO for a few days, then drive to Orlando, if you want to see DisneyWorld. You can easily spend most of a week in WDW, and you might want to do Universal for a couple of days. Tickets for both are very expensive.

    Don't know what sports events you're interested in, but if you come in summer, your major choice will be baseball. SD, LA, SF [and Oakland] all have major-league teams and there are teams in Miami and the Tampa Bay area.

    If you want to do hiking and outdoor activities, you may want to think about seeing some of our national parks [see the National Park Service website].

    Do you not want to cover any areas in the Northeast? That's doing a lot of traveling, but NYC would be much more worthwhile than LA or Vegas. There's also a lot of "nature" in the Northeast - the mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire, the seashore at Cape Cod, the Finger Lakes in central New York state, etc., etc., etc.

    I suggest you go over to It's a great travel site that has destination guides, hotel lists, "things-to-do" lists, and, most helpful, forums which you can browse or post questions in. Lots of great info there from experts and locals in any area you're interested in.

    Check out the routes available on Amtrak. They usually have a special fare for families from other countries that allow stops along the way. Our trains are certainly not as efficient or convenient as those in Europe, say, but they work in some situations.

    Good luck with your planning. Sounds like a fantastic vacation you're planning for your family.

  • 9 years ago

    It seems that you would be better off renting a car for the entire trip. You will see more and since you have so much time you will be able to enjoy yourself better. If you book your car ahead of time it can be very inexpensive and a lot of times work out cheaper than bus/airfare with a family of 4. The Greyhound but is in no way glamourous so I would advise against that. 2 weeks in New Orleans seems like a very long time. A week maximum I would recommend and explore another area instead. I've traveled all over the country by plane and road, feel free to contact me if you need more suggestions.

    Source(s): Experience
  • terri
    Lv 4
    5 years ago

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  • Joe C
    Lv 7
    9 years ago

    Concentrate on California. There is so much to see in the state from the beaches to the mountains to the deserts. Lots of amusement parks, attractions, National Parks, and places to see before you die. If you want to get a flavor of the US, California has it all. You can spend many years here and not see everything. I would avoid New Orleans, terrible climate and a lot of crime. The main attraction is drinking and partying.

    Head to San Diego and see the best zoo in the world. You can take the train to/from L.A. The Surf Line Route has been voted one of the most scenic rail routes in the country. It runs along the coast with the tracks just yards from the Pacific Ocean. The train also stops in Anaheim, just minutes from Disneyland.

    Some must see attractions in San Diego are the world famous Zoo, Sea World, and Balboa Park. Balboa Park is the largest urban cultural park in the country. You can get a park passport which allows you entry to a dozen museums as well as the zoo.

    Check out these sites for discount coupons and other info

    Los Angeles has all the major tourist traps like Disneyland, Magic Mountain and Universal Studios, but try and take in some sights like the Getty Center. It has one of the largest art collections in the world and because of its large endowment, it's free.

    The American West is all about vast spaces and natural wonder and the National Park System has preserved them. California has several.

    Yosemite is one of the most unique places on earth. It's one of those places you must see before you die.

    If you want stunning vistas, Yosemite is the place. Glacier Point is breathtaking.

    If you want to see big trees, there are groves of Giant Sequoias in Yosemite (they are the largest trees on earth, bigger then the redwoods)

    San Franciso is one of the great cities of the world. Ride the Cable Cars to Fisherman's Wharf, visit Coit Tower, see the Golden Gate.

    On the central coast there is Hearst Castle.

    Here is a suggested itinerary

    Start in San Diego - it's a must see and there are tons of things to do. After a few days, take the train to LA or Disneyland. Head up to the Central Coast by car on US 101 past Santa Barbara. Go to San Simeon and spend the night. The next morning, tour Hearst Castle. After lunch, continue up the coast on CA 1 to Big Sur and the Monterey Peninsula. Stay the night and the next day visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium then ride along 17 mile drive in Carmel. From there, head to SF.

    If you have the time, go to Yosemite. You can cross Yosemite on route CA 120 across Tioga Pass, the highest vehicle pass in California. You climb thousands of feet on a mountain road and reach the Alpine meadows of Yosemite. That drops you off at Lee Vining and Mono Lake. The lake is in a caldera of an extinct volcano. Take US 395 south and connect to I-15 north to Las Vegas. US 395 has some great scenary. It goes through the Ownes Valley which is a graben; a downdropped block of land between two vertical faults. You go along the easterrn side of the Sierras and Mt Whitney is visible from the road.

    A couple of days in Vegas is more than enough. A week is overkill. If you plan to go to the Grand Canyon, consider also checking out the canyon country of southern Utah. Do the "Great Circle Tour" to see Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches National Parks and the Grand Canyon. Bryce is one of the most fantastic sights in the southwestern U.S.

    Get an early morning (dawn) start from Las Vegas, head north on I-15 to St. George, UT and turn off there for Zion and Bryce. You'll be at Zion by 11 AM and spend a couple of hours touring the canyons of the park. Then head to Bryce. You can make Ruby's Inn by sundown. If you time it right you can see sundown on the Hoodos (very impressive)

    At Bryce Canyon everyone stays at Ruby's Inn. Utah Route 12 is one of the most scenic roads in the country. Red Canyon and Big Thunder Road in Dixie National Forest is the inspiration for Disneyland's Big Thunder Mountain

    Spend the next day or half day in Bryce and head east. You can then take the Route 12 Scenic Byway and head back east toward Arches National Park. You can cross the Colorado River at Lake Powell and head to the Grand Canyon and back to vegas or L.A.

    I really want to stress the beauty of Bryce and the Route 12 Scenic Byway. It's one of the most impressive drives I've ever been on.

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