Five weeks itinerary for the USA with family

USA Itinerary

Five week Itinerary for the USA with family

Here is an amazing five week itinerary for the USA with family. We will cover:

  • Where to go in the united states of America?
  • How to enjoy the national parks in the USA?
  • Which cities to visit?
  • What to see on the east coast?
  • What to see on the west coast of the USA?
Week 1 - See the East coast
Spend 3 days in NYC, 2 in Washington DC and one in Philadelphia. You an consider swapping DC and Philly with Boston if you want to see famous educational institutions on the east coast
Week 2 - Experience Disney theme and waterparks
Kids will love you for taking them to Disney parks in Orlando. Stay at the Pop Resort. Be sure to visit all waterparks. They are a lot of fun. Book early.
Week 3 - See Yellowstone National Park and SF
4 Days in Yellowstone and 3 in San Francisco. Take the flight from Orlando to Sun Valley Idaho. Rent a car. Spend the night at Redfish lake. Drive through the Craters on the moon national park on the way to Yellow stone national park. Return the car at Jackson hole and take the flight to SF. Stay for 3 nights before driving down the pacific coast highway
Week 4 - Camp along the PCH and to Las Vegas
Rent a car in SF to return in LA. Camp at three amazing sites along the pacific coast highway between SF and Los Angeles. Get to Las Vegas and spend 3 days there before heading out to the Grand Canyon.
Week 5 - Grand Canyon and Los Angeles
Spend atleast one night at the Grand Canyon lodge to watch the sunrise and take the morning bus tour of the national park. Drive back to Los Angeles and spend 4 days there looking at the sights and universal studios before catching your fight out of LAX.

Week 1 on the East coast

New york city with kids

Spend 3 days in New york city. NYC has great sights to see but the kids will love to go to:
  • Natural history museum
  • Central Park Zoo
  • Horse carriage ride through central park
  • Chess players at Washington Square park
  • The lights at time square at night

These playgrounds in NYC are great for kids to relax

  • Evelyn Square playground
  • Hells Kitchen playground
  • Carl Schurz – East side park

Drive to Washington DC

What to do in DC with kids

The Smithsonian museums are some of the best in the world. Spend atleast two days so that the kids can see

  • Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
  • Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Then move onto other sights on the national mall, which is very similar to the India Gate area in New Delhi. See them side by side on google maps.

See:

  1. Lincoln memorial
  2. The White house
  3. The capitol building

Move onto Philadelphia and see the liberty bell and Independence hall or catch the flight to Orlando from DC. 

Images from NYC

Images from Washington DC

Week 2 in Florida

What to do in Orlando with kids

We went to Orlando to ensure the kids saw all Disney parks including the waterparks. We spent 5 long, tiring days in Orlando and could have spent even more. Trust me, if you want to do more that Disney, you will need even more time than 5 days. And, anything over five days in Orlando is just too much. It is too tiring, too hot, too crowded, etc, etc.

Disney Theme Parks

Disney Water Parks

The best way to do this is to buy tickets and hotel directly from Disney and book all rides well in advance of getting to the parks. Pre planning can save you over 3 hours in each theme park. All the parks are worth going to and need at least one day each. 

The kids really enjoyed the waterparks. Sometimes the hurricane warnings can shutdown the parks so be patient. Often times, its only a 30 minute interruption. 

The longer you stay the cheaper the per day ticket costs become. 

Spend time planning your entire trip on https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/plan/my-disney-experience/

Stay within the Disney parks since they have buses to take you to and back from each Disney park. You dont have to rent a car or worry about parking, etc. 

Have fun and then head out to Yellowstone, away from the crowds of Orlando to the land of bisons and bears.

Pictures of Orlando and Disneyland

Week 3 in Yellowstone and then San Francisco

Sun valley and Redfish lake in Idaho are amazing. We flew into Sun Valley, rented a car to be returned at Jackson hole and started our drive through this beautiful part of the world. 

The drive is marked on the map. Follow it. It takes you through craters of the moon national park and other scenic locations on the way to Canyon Lodge and Cabins in Yellowstone. Its a long drive and will take an entire day. 

Spend the next two days driving up to Mammoth and spending the night there. Come back down to Canyon lodge the next day. Day 4 – Drive to Jackson hole, return your car and fly to the west coast – San Francisco. 

What to do in San Francisco with kids?

Go to:

  1. Union Square
  2. Lombard St
  3. Fillmore St to see San Francisco’s crazy topology
  4. Twin peaks to see the view of the city and take pictures
  5. Skip Alcatraz and hike Angel Island instead. Camp there to have an experience that very few tourists do
  6. See the nighttime view of San Francisco from Treasure island
  7. One afternoon – take the long walk through Golden Gate Park all the way to Ocean beach. 
  8. If you can ditch the kids, go to the wine country. If not, go hiking in Marin County. The hike at Stinson beach is easy and worth it. 

There is a lot to do in the San Francisco area. Three days is not enough. 

Where to eat in San Francisco

  1. Breakfast at Dotties’ True Blue cafe
  2. Breakfast at Chloe’s Cafe, Church Street – if you like eggs
  3. Breakfast at Hollywood Cafe on North Beach street
  4. Lunch Sandwiches at Molinari’s Deli in North Beach
  5. Burrito’s at Taqueria Cancun in the mission or at the fancy mexican at Gracias Madre or Tacolicious on Valencia St.
  6. Ice cream at Ghirardeli Square
  7. Chicago style pizza at Patxi’s
  8. Chicago style pizza at Zachary’s in Berkeley or Oakland
  9. Bread and pastries at Tartine Bakery
  10. Pastries and coffee at Stella Cafe in North beach
  11. Eat at established high end dining places like
    1. Hakkasan
    2. Gary Danko
    3. Michael Mina – Westin St. Francis
    4. Atelier Crenn
    5. Amber Indian Restaurant – Market St.

Again, there are way too many good places to eat in SF or in New York than you can cover in 3 days. 

Moving onto the pacific coast highway. 

Images of Yellowstone and San Francisco

Week 4 on the pacific coast highway and the drive to Las Vegas

Rent a nice car in San Francisco and return it at LAX

Spend three nights camping on the drive from San Francisco to Santa Barbara. Here are our favorites:

  1. Pfeiffer burn’s national park in the redwoods
  2. Lime kiln park by the beach
  3. Pismo beach – family camping and activities

It will get cold at the coast so make sure your sleeping bags are warm. If you missed seeing the elephant seals at Pier 39 in San Francisc, you should definitely see the elephant seals at the Elephant Seal Vista point at San Simeon. It’s the most accessible place for you to see then in the USA. It is also worth going to Hearst castle in San Simeon.

Head to Las Vegas from here.

What to do in Las Vegas with kids

The beds in Vegas will feel great after 3 nights of camping on the coast. Watch O at the Bellagio. It is the most spectacular show you will sea. 

Show them the outrageous hotels like the Wynn and the Bellagio. Stay at the Paris hotel and Spa so that you can see the fountains of the Bellagio from your window every evening. 

Watch the fountains right in front of the Bellagio at night. Its an amazing show. Add more shows if you have the budget for it. The Blue man group is fun for kids too. 

Head out to the Grand Canyon – South rim

Pictures of the pacific coast highway campgrounds and Las Vegas

Week 5 – Grand Canyon and Los Angeles

Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim is a 4 hour drive.

Grand Canyon to Los Angeles is 7.5 hours. Plan your drive. It might be good to stop at Vegas on the way back to LA to catch your flight out of the USA.

Grand Canyon South Rim is open throughout the year and is at an average altitude of 7000ft. It is a hard to appreciate the scale of the grand canyon just from a single vantage point. If you have the time for it, hike down the canyon and see the inner canyon.

he Inner Canyon
includes everything below the rim and is seen mainly by hikers, backpackers, mule riders, or river runners.

The inner canyon is a harsh desert environment with little shade and summer temperatures over 100°F. (>38°C)

This is the best guide to hiking the grand canyon since it is from the national park service itself. 

If you dont have the time and muscle to hike, spend the money to take a helicopter tour of the canyon. There are many service providers and we cannot recommend one over the other. 

Spend the night at the Grand Canyon Lodge and experience the sun rise. 

Drive to Los Angeles

What to do in Los Angeles

LA is massive. Its best to think of it as a set of small cities put together. The cities and things to do for tourists in Los Angeles are:

  1. Hollywood – Walk of fame, Dolby Theatre, etc
  2. Venice Beach – People watching
  3. Universal City – Adventure park
  4. Santa Monica Pier
  5. Paramount studio tour
  6. The Griffith Observatory
  7. A Concert at the Hollywood bowl

If you like standup comedy, make sure you go to the comedy store’s original room. It is a historically important place for American stand up comedy and gets A-list names in comedy every night. 

The La Brea Tar Pits have over 3000 reviews on google and have a 4.5 star rating. It is worth seeing if you have time.

 

Photos from the Grand Canyon and Los Angeles

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