Tuesday, January 18, 2011

California with Kids + Las Vegas?

Hi Jamie,

My wife and I will be travelling from Melbourne, Australia with our 2 daughters (6 and 2) arriving early morning at LAX around 15th April and departing around 5th May. The places we definitely want to visit are Disney, Legoland, San Francisco and Death Valley.

We did think about including Las Vegas, not for the gambling more for the experience/lights but don’t know if would be suitable with young children or not.

Would appreciate any advice for the upcoming trip.




Hi Jamie (great name, by the way!) --

Thanks for writing in to Road Trip USA -- and hope you have a great trip. I think you have enough time to see Las Vegas, and a lot more -- with the Grand Canyon, Sedona Arizona, Zion National Park in Utah, there are a huge number of great places to see in the southern Utah / Arizona region, which can be a great place to travel in April and early May.

Las Vegas is a surreal place -- worth seeing for all the lights and crazy architecture, and a very affordable destination, too, since hotel room rates are kept low so people stay longer and gamble more. Along with awesome light displays outside the big hotels -- one of which (The Mirage) has an exploding / erupting volcano! -- Las Vegas is a very convenient place, which to my mind makes it pretty good for young kids -- with nice swimming pools and lots of food, 24hrs a day, what more could you want?

Las Vegas also makes a good base for exploring Grand Canyon and Death Valley et al. Death Valley in particular should be lovely in late Spring -- and there are a lot of other pretty desert areas to enjoy (like Joshua Tree National Park, near the resort community of Palm Springs.)

Along with Disney and LegoLand (which should be a big hit with your 6 year old!), I'd also recommend you consider the pair of animal parks in and around San Diego -- which has the best "zoo" in the USA, plus a Savannah-like "Wild Animal Park". And there's also Sea World, which has some great trained-animal performances and "touch pools" and up-close sightings of creatures (like the Walrus seen above!) .

When my kids were little we did a lot of traveling with them, so I applaud your bravery in making such a big trip. In my experience to key to happiness when traveling with small kids is not to over-reach or over-plan things -- rather than worry about getting behind schedule, just kick back and enjoy the time together.

Happy Trails,

Jamie Jensen

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