Our Southwest Road Trip Itinerary continued with one more state: California. We planned to spend the last 5 days of our trip visiting the happiest place on Earth and enjoying some relaxing ocean views.
It had been 3 days on the road and we had already seen so much and visited 2 states. Next up was California and we were all super excited! We are a theme park family and we planned to visit Disneyland and LEGOLAND California during our trip.
California was our last stop of the trip. We planned the trip so we would do the bulk of our travel at the start. There was more driving and a new hotel every night. In California, we stayed at our hotels longer and went at a slower pace. Below is our entire trip itinerary.
Southwest Road Trip Itinerary
- 6:00am Flight from Rochester-Baltimore-Albuquerque
- Arrive in Albuquerque at 12:00pm
- Drive Albuquerque to White Sands National Monument (223 miles)
- Visit White Sands National Monument, Stop for the night in Las Cruces. (52 miles)
- Drive Las Cruces to Tucson. (285 miles)
- Visit Tucson for the day/night.
- Tucson to Yuma (237 miles)
- Yuma to Anaheim (255 miles)
- Anaheim to Carlsbad (61 miles)
- Fly Home San Diego-Baltimore-Rochester
This is part 2 of our Southwest Road Trip. Read Southwest Road Trip: 9 Days, 3 States, One Amazing Family Vacation first and then come back to read this.
Day 4: Yuma, Arizona to Anaheim, California
We had a relaxing evening in Yuma eating burritos and catching up on homework. Today we packed up the car and headed west to Anaheim, California.
When we first planned this trip we didn’t plan on visiting Disneyland but after a little consideration we knew that we couldn’t be that close to Disneyland and not visit. So we changed our plans a bit and added Disneyland to our itinerary.
The drive from Yuma to Anaheim was over 4 hours and we wanted to plan a stop to break it up. We did a little research and discovered Cabazon Dinosaurs. Cabazon Dinosaurs is a road side attraction that has also been the location for a few popular movies.
Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure and The Wizard had filmed scenes here and we thought it would be a fun place to stretch our legs. It was a fun road side attraction. You do have to pay to enter part of it, but there are a few dinosaurs to take your picture next to that are free of charge. If you want to climb up the T-Rex you have to have a ticket.
We purchased tickets and it took us about 30 minutes to explore. Climbing into the head of a T-Rex is an interesting experience and something everyone should try!
Honestly, the visit is a bit pricey but we budgeted for it before we arrived. I don’t think I would pay again but I would stop and stretch, take a few pictures, and explore the gift shop. It was a one time visit and the kids enjoyed themselves.
From there we continued our drive to Anaheim. It was lunch time and we had planned our first visit to In and Out Burger. This is a west coast staple and everyone said we had to try it. I even went all out and got the milkshake!
I liked the burger and fries but the milkshake was my favorite! I went with the Neapolitan and highly suggest it! We finished the drive to Anaheim and made it to the Fairfield Inn Anaheim for our two night stay.
I have to admit, as much as I love a good family road trip, at this point we were tired of being in the car. When we finally arrived everyone was exhausted and ready to be done. I was happy we planned all the driving at the start of our trip.
We checked into the hotel and relaxed for an hour before walking to Disneyland.
Our hotel was across the street from Disneyland and perfect walking distance! We are used to Walt Disney World and it was kind of nice to walk out of our room and be at Disneyland in the time it takes to walk to a resort bus at Walt Disney World.
We picked up our tickets for the next day and walked around Downtown Disney. I am not a big shopper but we did walk through The World of Disney store to see all the new merchandise. We decided to eat Panera, located next to our hotel, in our room for dinner and enjoy a swim in the pool before our full day at Disneyland tomorrow.
Day 5: Disneyland and California Adventure
The feeling that takes over you when you are a huge Disney fan visiting Disneyland is incredible. It is the park that Walt built, and walked through and it is amazing. It is different than Walt Disney World but it is charming and nostalgic.
We had a big day planned. Disneyland and California Adventure. 2 Parks in 1 Day. I don’t suggest this for your first visit because there is so much to see and do that you will miss a lot. We didn’t have a choice and couldn’t choose a park so we decided to tackle both.
We started early and were at the Disneyland gates at 7:45 for a 9:00am opening. From there we purchased MaxPass to maximize our FastPasses and explored the park. We prioritized attractions that are not at Walt Disney World and managed to ride everything we had on our list.
Visiting both Disneyland resort parks is easy because they are so close together. It makes park hopping much easier and allowed us to do a lot in one day.
We opened and closed Disneyland and walked back to our hotel after a busy day. I loved that the hotel was within walking distance and would stay again on our next visit. (I share the Fairfield Inn room tour in the video below.)
Day 6: Anaheim, California to Carlsbad, California
We slept in after our Disneyland day and then packed up for our last destination of the trip: Carlsbad, California. We stayed at the West Inn & Suites and it was the perfect place to finish the last few days of our vacation.
We checked in early, got lunch at Cessy’s in Carlsbad Village. I ordered the Carnita platter and it was delicious!! Then we headed back to the hotel to relax. We played games, watched TV, did homework, and went in the hotel hot tub.
Our family needed this time to recharge and relax. We like to see a lot when we travel but we also like to plan a bit of down time. At the end the night we enjoyed the warm cookies at the hotel and went to bed excited for the next day at LEGOLAND California.
Day 7: LEGOLAND California
My kids love LEGO. We are totally a LEGO family and we are a theme park family. Put those together and it is an awesome day!
We made the 5 minute drive to LEGOLAND California early so we could explore the on-site hotels before the park opened. LEGOLAND California has 2 hotels: The LEGOLAND Hotel and the Castle Hotel. Both are perfectly LEGO themed and the kids love them.
We didn’t stay at the LEGOLAND hotel because we didn’t want to switch hotels during our stay. We had packed and unpacked so many times we wanted a few days to be in one place, but I would recommend a stay. The hotel is so much fun and has so many activities for families.
During our visit the weather had been kind of crazy for Southern California and it rained on and off during our visit. Thankfully it wasn’t a complete wash outbut it did close a few rides throughout the day. As much as this changed our day it also kept the crowds low and we never waited longer than 5 minutes for anything.
We loved the NINJAGO ride and were pleasantly surprised by the Deep Sea Adventure Ride. We assumed it would feel a bit claustrophobic inside the submarine but it wasn’t at all. It was our favorite of the day.
LEGOLAND closed around 5:00pm so we headed back to the hotel for dinner in the room. We ordered pizza, borrowed some games and a movie from the front desk, and had some family time in the room. I love balancing busy days with rest and relax time.
Day 8: La Jolla Beach
La Jolla Beach has been on my list forever because I wanted to take the kids to see the seals on the beach. It was about a 1 hour drive from Carlsbad and the kids were not excited to get back in the car. (Next time we rent a van!)
We were all so happy we did though because feeling our toes in the sand, running through the waves, and seeing the seals was one of our favorite memories of the trip.
La Jolla Beach is stunning. There is so much to explore and it is easy to walk around. The parking can get busy but we found street parking and walking along the ocean was good for all of us.
We spent our morning at La Jolla and then returned to our hotel to pack and get ready to fly home tomorrow. In the evening we went to Joe’s Crab Shack for dinner and watched the sunset on the bay.
Day 9: Time to Go Home
We scheduled an afternoon flight so we wouldn’t have to rush out in the early morning. I was so happy we did this because we went back to the hot tub, enjoyed a slow breakfast, and then drove to San Diego airport for our drive home.
As I write this I know that this trip was a once in a lifetime trip. It had it’s ups and downs but it made these memories that I will never forget. We saw parts of the country that I may never see again. I am so happy we stepped out of our comfort zone to plan and take this trip.