California Road Trip with kids part 2 – 30 day itinerary

Grand Canyon Ranch 9th – 10th August

This stop was a total pinch me moment from the moment we arrived to the morning we left. If you are planning a ranch stay I can highly recommend The Grand Canyon Ranch and Outfitters. Situated in Fredonia and nestled within the pines of the Kaibab National Forest this place is just breathtaking, I wish we would have stayed for two nights. Don’t expect luxury as this is a working cattle ranch but it was cosy and the owners welcome you as one of the family.

The ranch has been in the family for seven generations and you can really feel the history. I loved listening to the stories of how Butch Cassidy had once visited and about the old outlaw trail which cuts through the ranch. It was once used to take stolen horses to Mexico! This is still a working cattle ranch and they use it just the same as it has been for many many years. The horses are extremely important to them and you can tell.

Its around a 3 hour drive from Las Vegas to the Ranch passing through 3 states in a day. (Nevada, Utah and Arizona) The kids thought that was pretty cool! On arrival at the ranch we were offered cold drinks and home made cookies before checking into our cabin. The accommodation is pretty basic (no air con) but clean and homely. I think the rustic feel adds to the experience. We then saddled up and headed off on a horse ride which couldn’t have been more perfectly timed. The sun started setting and I had to literally pinch myself and stop tears. The most special evening and one I will never forget. They even leant cowboy boots, hats and jackets which of course I had to borrow and amerce myself in cowgirl life!

For only $15 per head you can eat at the ranch (I would definitely recommend this) Debbie makes traditional home cooked food for dinner and breakfast. (she also provides everything you need to make smores on the fire). The portions are huge so make sure you are hungry on arrival. If you fancy an alcoholic drink they do not serve any but you are welcome to bring your own. There is no wifi and just a generator for power which is switched off at 9pm! You will then just have the campfire and lanterns to guide you. I loved the fact that we completely switched off here. The kids played chess, befriended the dogs and kittens and we even had a family game of monopoly by candle light.

Palm Springs 10th – 12th August stopping at Grand Canyon North Rim for a day visit 

This was spectacular and I am sooo pleased we made a pit stop to view the Canyon from the ground although it did add a lot to our ongoing journey. I would recommend finding a stop on route to Palm Springs as it was a bit of a killer. It took us 8 hours in total but we made quite a few stops on the way. If I could do this again I would maybe drive 5 and a half hours to Phoenix for the night and then onto Palm Springs.

Palm Springs

Palm Springs really is a little slice of heaven. Word of warning, it is super hot in the summer months but the dry desert heat is kind of bearable. We used the two nights we were here just to chill out and recharge by the pool and it was fabulous. We stayed at The Renaissance Indian Wells Resort which we booked due to the reasonable price and good trip adviser reviews. I’m glad we did as it was very family friendly, the swimming pool even had a specific children’s area with a man made beach making it easy to get in and out of the water. There was plenty of food choices and the kids loved the outdoor cinema which they have on most evenings.

If we return to Palm Springs without the kids, I would without a doubt splurge and stay at The Parker but there are soo many stunning hotels in this area, It feels like you have stepped back in time to 1920’s Hollywood.

San Diego 12th – 16th August

Only a 2 and a half hour drive and you are in sunny San Diego, this was our longest stay as there is sooo much to do here. For any longer stays we booked an Airbnb so we could save money by cooking and also we were able to wash all the clothes. We stayed at 1214 Viola Street and it was great, perfectly located being a ten minute drive to everything. The apartment was well equipped, clean with a super friendly neighbour (she even had a glass of wine with us one evening in the garden)

  • Mission Beach – bustling and vibrant, home to the Belmont Park (we rode the old rollercoaster), Wave House and great cycle hire and paths
  • La Jolla – This area was our favourite, the beach is incredible and the whole vibe of the area was more relaxed. Watching the surfers at sunset was a special moment. We loved the al fresco restaurants lining the main street. You must definitely spend the day here.
  • Visit the USS Midway (you will need around3/4 hours for this) it is a huge aircraft hanger which houses a naval museum. While Neil took our boys here I snuck off and spent the afternoon shopping in Fashion Valley
  • Gas Lamp Quarter/ Little Italy – This is known as the entertainment district, great for an evening out and dinner. We loved a place in Little Italy called The Crack Shack, not Italian at all but the chicken was amazing and there are outdoor games for the kids.
  • Coranado Island – There is a huge beach on the Island which we did visit but I much preferred La Jolla and wish we’d gone back there instead. One place you have to visit even just for a photo is The Hotel del Coronado which dates back 150 years and was the location for “Some Like it Hot” in 1958.
  • Head to historic Old Town San Diego to sample some of the best Mexican Food and margarita’s.
  • We didn’t do this ourselves but I’ve heard that the San Diego Zoo is a great day out – one of the largest zoo’s in the world! It is located in Balboa Park which is a day out in itself
  • A special treat while in San Diego was dinner and drinks at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar – one of only a few 6 star hotels in the world.

If you haven’t yet read the first road trip instalment click here

I will be posting part 3 soon so make sure you have subscribed and you will receive a post alert.

As always, thanks for reading x


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