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USA Vacation with a Young Family (Not Disneyworld)

Newcastle, England
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USA Vacation with a Young Family (Not Disneyworld)

Hello,

We are planning our 2012 family vacation and are keen to visit the USA. We plan to fly in from the UK in June / July 2012 with our two young children who will be 4 ½ and 1 ½ years old. The problem is we have no idea where to go! We want to avoid Disneyworld for the time being as our children are still quite young and I don’t feel they will get the most out of it. For the same reason we also want to avoid long stays in large cities such as New York.

We are happy driving in the USA and are also happy travelling between multiple locations. We just need some ideas for holidays which would be suitable for our young children. We have currently considered Yellowstone, Yosemite and Washington DC.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Kind Regards

Stephen

Uden, The...
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1. Re: USA Vacation with a Young Family (Not Disneyworld)

Hi

June will be great for Yosemite but you'll need to make reservations far in advance and there still can be snow that time of year. Yellowstone NP is a 2 days drive from Yosemite. www.nps.gov/yose June may be too early www.nps.gov/yell for Yellowstone and don't forget to visit Grand Teton NP as well.

How long are you coming? Are you traveling by car or RV? I would forget visiting both Eastern USA and Western USA unless you really have a long time for your trip. East will be hot and humid that time of year but you can have a fantastic vacation there. Glorious beaches for the kids. Disneyworld is in Orlando Florida, there also is Disneyland in Anaheim near Los Angeles.

The Pacific coast between LA and San Francisco is lovely but most important, please tell us first how long you are planning.

Btw, the State of California already is a lot bigger than the whole of the UK.

Tet

Belvidere, Illinois
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2. Re: USA Vacation with a Young Family (Not Disneyworld)

I don't agree. While Yosemite and Yellowstone are great, I feel your kids are too young. This kind of vacation is best enjoyed while hiking and from my experience Yosemite's trails are not for young children. I was terrified enough when my kids were 10. California is great,though. I would check out the San Diego area. There is a fabulous zoo, beaches, parks, sailing,etc. Legoland is not too far away either.

Edited: 23 July 2011, 14:02
Uden, The...
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3. Re: USA Vacation with a Young Family (Not Disneyworld)

Well, this is the first time I hear anybody telling you not to go to Yosemite with young children. To each his own. Maybe read this about Yosemite tripadvisor.com/Travel-g61000-c117388/Yosemi… Yosemite is fantastic and should not be missed imo.

Newcastle, England
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4. Re: USA Vacation with a Young Family (Not Disneyworld)

Hi,

Thankyou for your replies. We will probably be staying in the USA for 2 weeks. We are well experienced travellers to North America having previously visited NY, Washington, Boston, LA, San Francisco, Vegas, Seattle, Hawaii but these have mainly been multi centre city breaks without kids. We have visited Canada the last few years with our oldest child and found a multi centre road trip holiday worked well.

We have a preference for the East Coast area (I know Yosemite & Yellowstone are nowhere near the East Coast) just for flights and jet lag. We would also like to start and finish in the same location (flights easier to arrange and generally cheaper).

That being said I do like the idea of California, I imagine it will offer a lot for a young family.

This is our last chance to vacation outside of 'School Holiday's' which is why we want to go in June / July. We will be renting a car / SUV and would like to make a maximum of 5 stops spending a minimum of 3 nights at each.

Why would June / July bot be a good time for Yellowstone National Park?

I visited Disneyworld in Florida several times as a child with my parents and I fully intend to visit it again with my family but based on my experience I don't think my kids would get the most out of it just yet particularly with an 18 month old in toe.

Thanks

Stephen

Las Vegas, Nevada
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5. Re: USA Vacation with a Young Family (Not Disneyworld)

disneyland is very different than disneyworld to visit in that it is much smaller and more compact, easy to get around in both parks since they are directly across from each other, also you can stay directly across the street at disneyland, and easily walk across the street for naps ect

here is a map of hotels so you can see where things are, the disneyland main entrance is off of harbor blvd near where it says east shuttle area on the map.

printfreemaps.com/maps/freedisneylandareamap…

i think your children are the perfect age for visiting disneyland imo.

i would not miss going to San Diego, its a nice small city (downtown is quite small ) and easy to get around in and plenty to do with families you could stay right on coronado island which is a nice small beach town, and there is la jolla to visit with the seals and caves to visit, the san diego zoo, seaworld, balboa park ect ect.

the east coast would not be as nice in june july, hot and muggy, while the San Diego area would still be quite pleasant.

Edited: 23 July 2011, 17:38
Uden, The...
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6. Re: USA Vacation with a Young Family (Not Disneyworld)

Why do you want to start and finish in the same location? You can start in San Diego, stay several days, make your way to Carlsbad and Anaheim/LA and stay several days. Then drive up the coast via Santa Barbara, Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay, Cambria and Monterey. Take your pick were to stay. Then drive from Monterey to Yosemite NP to stay several days and eventually go to San Franciso for the flight home.

Rent the car from Europe and often no drop off charges and it won't matter much for the flights either.

For the East, yes you can make 14 days trip there also. I love the East coast beaches. Maybe try places as St. Augustine, Amelia Island, Savannah, Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Outer Banks etc. You can fly Atlanta. Or even maybe Orlando. Many more options like Great Smoky Mountains NP, Blue Ridge Parkway, Shenandoah NP. Atlanta lies like a spider in its web..

Tet

Washington
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7. Re: USA Vacation with a Young Family (Not Disneyworld)

Stephen,

We all have different travel philosophies. I have traveled to all the places you mention with very young children - loved every trip, and have wonderful memories. No regrets. True, our children may not remember exact details from those trips, but that was never our intent. I believe that those early trips build a memory bank of travel experiences that last a lifetime. Our boys, now all in their 20's, are all eager and easy travelers, and never pass up an opportunity to get away - whether it is camping for the weekend or exploring a new country.

There are so many great choices. I guess, my advice to you, with two young children, would be to make a plan that fits your family the best. You stated that the east coast is appealing for the flight time and time zone. That's a good starting point. Most likely, it will be more favorable for your airline budget too. As much as I agree that California is wonderful for families, staying on the east coast is just as good.

Tet has given you good options along the eastern seaboard. Remember too that July 4 is US Independence Day, a national holiday, and a big get-away weekend/week, filled with parades, community events and fireworks. In 2012 July 4 is a Wednesday. Many communities have celebrations on July 3 and July 4, so do expect travel to be busy at that time. If July 4 could might be in your time-frame, I would start building my itinerary around that date and work backwards. Everyone is different, but our family just loves to celebrate the 4th of July in smaller towns instead of fighting crowds in the big city. We love the kitschy hometown parades, picnics and fairs - they are perfect for a young family.

Lots to think about. Let us know how else we aid your planning.

Chicago, IL
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8. Re: USA Vacation with a Young Family (Not Disneyworld)

Well, I am partial to Cape Cod but at least it is an area that is unique in the US. There are all sorts of cultural, historical and commercial activities but the Cape is known to be very kid and family friendly. Kids can enjoy anything from nighttime stories at a beach bonfire by a National Seashore ranger to a fishing trip specific to kids to putt putt golf, to whale watching and much more plus the beaches. There's a different beach for each day of the year on the Cape but you'll enjoy the Nantucket Sound beaches, the Cape Cod Bay beaches and the body surfing beaches along the National Seashore, the Atlantic. Each town also has it's own personality. At night there's children's playhouse, live entertainment for kids like at the iconic Melody Tent and plenty of commercial options. After you've explored the whole Cape you could also go off Cape to visit Battleship Cove or Newport, RI or go aboard the Mayflower in the harbor at Plymouth. You could easily spend two weeks on the Cape doing a variety of things. You would fly into Boston and get a car rental at the airport for the 90 to 120 minute drive to the Cape. July would be a better time to go than June which can be beautiful or cool.

Doylestown...
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9. Re: USA Vacation with a Young Family (Not Disneyworld)

With children your age, and wanting to stay near the East Coast, you can look into Sesame Place which is very close to Philadelphia. It is based on the children's TV show Sesame Street. It is part waterpark part carnical rides. You can make it 2 days to that park alone. There is also a Crayola factory not too far from there, but you would have to do that a separate day (not close enough). The beaches on the east coast are good. Cape Cod area is great for families. Also, look into the Strong Toy Museum in New York state. My friends went an loved it. I personally feel as though your kids are too small for Washington DC, but if you are set on going there, you can easily find things to do there. Also, look into Colonial Williamsburg. That is a very nice history place and kids enjoy it. So, you could fly into Philly/Newark. New York City and make a loop from Toy Museum to Crayola, to Sesame to DC to Williamsburg, and finally end up relaxing on the east coast beach somewhere - like Jersey shore or Cape Cod.

western WA
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10. Re: USA Vacation with a Young Family (Not Disneyworld)

The Crayola museum is a smile and doesn't take long -- maybe not enough for a trip to Allentown. Dorney Park is there, which is one of the Cedar Fair parks and is geared to families. Our young family loved it when our kids were just the ages of yours.

The Jersey shore has a lot to offer for families too, and is overlooked by visitors. It is not overlooked by locals at all, so actually can be hard to find a spot. But a rental house at the shore is a classic Jersey vacation. They typically rent for a week at a time, so it wouldn't be what you are really looking for I think. We loved it with our little ones as they could relax more and not be told not to touch or be strapped in a car seat all the time.

Regarding school holidays, you are here during the holidays so all kid related activities will be crowded. Everyone is out vacationing in June July and August. It does get very hot and muggy so I would also stay out of the cities.