18 answers

Long Road Trip... Need Advice

We are taking our kids (2 and 4.5) to San Diego the first part of May. I am very excited but at the same time a little panicked. We decided to drive, a 12 hour drive I might add. We will be spendin the night in Las Vegas to break the trip up on the way there and on the way back. Does anyone have any good advice for such a long road trip? I have a DVD player but my kids are so active that the TV just doesn't hold their attention to long. In San Diego we are going to Sea World and the zoo. Does anyone have any other suggestions as to things we should do or see or places to eat. Anything will be helpful. Thanks.

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Oh, and as for the driving at night thing - we never do that anymore after having minimal success. In fact, it usually completely backfires on us and we all end up miserable. Neither of my kids sleep well in their car seats, and we generally just end up messin' up their schedules. Just plan to have lots of games, entertainment in the car as others have suggested, and stop a lot.

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We are going from Indiana to Oregon in about 18 days. This should be about a 3 day trip and we have a 2 & 4 yr old. We've got lots of things planned to help them. My husband is going to drive as far as possible at night. During the day it will be my job to make progress, but not a huge necessity. We have a list of EVERY McDonalds play place on our route, and plan to use alot of them.

As for car entertainment...I am making these cookie sheet chalkboards (get an old or cheap cookie sheet, do a few coats of chalkboard paint). Personally I am going to glue felt to the bottom so it will be quieter. These are magnetic, so you can then buy alphabet magnets or whatever other magnets you can find for them to play with. I've also been collecting small cheap coloring books, drawing pads, toys, books, ect. We are seperating them into different little boxes/bags, and they will get a new "set" every day. Within that set, we also have a new dvd for each day, some new, some recorded off tv.

Our kids don't normally get many processed snacks, so we also have stocked up on goldfish, fruit snacks, animal crackers, and juice boxes.

If you can do it, I'd recommend driving at night. The last time we drove from San Diego to San Francisco, we left right around my son's bedtime. He quickly fell asleep and stayed asleep the entire eight-hour ride. When we've attempted this drive during the day, he would get bored and we'd have to stop every few hours just to let him run around and blow off steam. It definitely made the trip a lot longer. The downside, of course, to driving at night is that the adults have to stay awake. But I just popped in a book on tape, and it was fine.

As far as San Diego, you already got a suggestion for Balboa Park. They also have a model railroad museum that most kids usually like. There is also a little train by the zoo that the kids can ride. The Flower Fields in Carlsbad will be open until May 9 (www.theflowerfields.com). There are also strawberry fields you can visit to pick your own strawberries in Carlsbad. The Hotel Del Coronado on Coronado Island is also worth a visit. You can rent bikes or a surrey and bike through downtown Coronado and down the Silver Strand. Also, if you're a baseball fan, take in a Padres game at Petco Park. They have a little "Park at the Park" that you can set up a blanket and just let the kiddos run around if you don't think they'll sit still enough in the stands.

Have fun!

You will want to eat at the Guadalajara Restaurant in Old Town if you and your kids like Mexican Food!

You will also want to spend some time at Mission Bay and take a drive through the Paradise Point Hotel. It is absolutely beautiful.

I grew up in the San Diego area and I love the Wild Animal Park. It is about a 45 minute drive from the zoo and Sea World (basically another day trip). The WIld Animal Park and the San DIego Zoo are both owned by the San Diego Zoological Society. You can learn more about both from their website: http://www.sandiegozoo.org/

The Zoo itself is within Balboa Park, which is huge and has lots of things to do. On the day you go to the zoo, make sure to check out the carousel nearby. You can spend another whole day at the park checking out the 15 or so museums there, the green spaces and playgrounds. My favorite museum for kids is the Ruben H Fleet Space Center and the Natural History Museum. Here is a link for the park: http://www.balboapark.org/

While you are in the area, you should also check out Legoland. This is a fantastic amusement park for little kids. Bring bathing suits and towels for the kids because they have a water zone area (lots of those fountains that squirt up out of the ground.) Here is the link: http://www.legoland.com/California.htm

As for your long drive, I am afraid I am not much help. My kids are restless travelers also. I find they will sit still and watch TV longer in the car because there is nothing else to do, but still we need to stop every two hours or so to let them burn off some energy.

I read through some of the suggestions, good ones! We like Lego Land and the beach. Scripts is fun, too.

As for in-car entertainment, I love giving my kids Color-forms to stick on the car windows. They clean up in a hurry and don't leave any sticky mess. And you can use them again and again.

As a side note, color-forms really freak out flight attendants if you let your kids stick them on the airplane windows! :) Always good for a little laugh!

good luck and have fun!


Wild animal park is close, as is legoland. Depending on how long u are staying Disneyland is about 1-1/2 hours away without traffic.

You have gotten some great ideas on things to do for the drive. I just wanted to add a side note since we just made this same trip just after X-mas. (only we flew.) $550 round trip air fare for a family of 4. Also if you have not already gotten your tickets to the zoo and seaworld check out costco.com we got tickets there that included a five day unlimited pass for San Diego Zoo, The Wild animal park and Seaworld. They were about $360 for all four of us. They included alot of extras like a wild safari tour at the animal park as well as the sky ride at the zoo. We went to each place for a whole day adding in a day at Coronado Beach (FREE) and on our last day when we asked the kids which place they would like to re-visit, since our passes were good for one more day, they wanted to go back to the beach. It was a great trip 84 degrees on New Yrs Day at Sea world (it was 20 degrees in SLC when we left) Hope you have fun!!! San Diego is BEAUTIFUL!!!

Leo Land!!! My husband would be so sad we we went all the way to San Diego and not visit Lego Land!

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