USA customer reviews
We are very proud of the feedback that we get from our trips and are pleased to share reviews from past travellers. These are kept as up to date as possible. Please have a read through these USA customer reviews to get a real sense of the kind of experience that you might have on a family trip.
Hogben Family (with children aged 7 and 10)
Travelled Summer 2023 – Alaska
Our family recently embarked on our third unforgettable journey with Stubborn Mule, and it certainly won’t be our last. This time, we explored the stunning wilderness of Alaska, where the weather proved as unpredictable as the breathtaking landscapes we encountered. Despite the challenges, this itinerary offered us a remarkable glimpse into Alaska’s wonders. The booking process was seamless, and our car hire experience was exceptional. We picked up our car at Anchorage airport, allowing us the freedom to explore at our own pace without any issues.
– The glacier tour was a unique experience, although younger kids may become restless during the extended plane ride.
– Boat tours, no whales, but plenty of wildlife sightings, including seals, sea lions, puffins, eagles, birds, sea otters, beavers, and more, compensated for it.
– The Denali bus tour was an absolute hit with the kids, offering incredible views and a chance to see the “Denali 5.”
– The national parks’ Junior Ranger activities were a fantastic way to engage the kids and introduce them to the wonders of nature.
– The hike to the top of Kenjai Fords glacier provided breathtaking views and adventure.
– The lodge near Talkeetna was the highlight of our accommodations, offering comfort and a serene atmosphere.
– The ever-changing Alaskan weather required multiple trips for warmer clothes and waterproof gear, with near-constant rainfall during our visit.
– Some accommodations fell short of expectations.
– The glacier tour, while exciting, might be less suitable for younger kids due to the long plane ride.
Our journey through Alaska with Stubborn Mule was an extraordinary adventure, filled with unforgettable experiences and breathtaking landscapes. While we encountered some challenges along the way, the highlights far outweighed them. We look forward to our next adventure with Stubborn Mule and the incredible memories it will bring.
Crone Family (with kids aged 12, 14 & 16)
Travelled Summer 2022
Hi Helene. This was the second trip booked with Stubborn Mule, and again, the advice and the detail in the booking were spot on and greatly appreciated. The national parks are amazing and thanks to the guidance given, we kept three teens plus their parents busy and active; hiking, climbing, kayaking, rock dumping and swimming in awesomely beautiful surroundings. A truly great trip. Thanks so much.
Rutherford Family (with children aged 9 and 12)
Travelled Summer 2022
Hi Liddy. We had a fabulous trip! Thank you so much for your bookings and all of your advice. You booked a great trip for us! It all ran very smoothly and we had no issues at all. We loved all the places that we went to. We did many of the suggested items in the itinerary. The Alamo car hire was great. Very efficient, and no problems at drop-off. Easy shuttle from car hire place to terminals from the car rental drop-off place at LAX. Decent car which was large enough for our needs. The driving in California was fairly straightforward and although some days were a bit of a drive, they were manageable for families with stops along the way.
In terms of hotels:
San Francisco – room was functional but it was clean, quiet and a nice hotel to relax in with jet lag. It is in a great location, near the cable car terminus and also many bus routes. Paying extra for Wifi is a bit annoying! The bar on the 46th floor is a nice place for a drink and has amazing views of the city – we watched the sunset one night – fab! The hotel pool is also lovely.
We loved San Fran. A real highlight for me in particular. The kids loved the Alcatraz audio tour and we really enjoyed the cycle over the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito – we highly recommend that families pay extra to drop the bike off in Sausalito and get the ferry back on foot if they don’t want to do a return trip over the bridge. The queue for the ferry for people with bikes was enormous and they only let a few bikes on each ferry trip.
Lake Tahoe – this was a wonderful place to relax. The hotel room was spacious with a view over the lake, which was nice. We found a lovely beach called Chimney Beach that you have to walk a bit to, and the locals seem to know about but was quiet in the morning and the water there is crystal clear and lovely for swimming.
We recommend a walk to Eagle Lake – you can take swim stuff up there as the lake is beautiful. It’s a bit of an ascent though so perhaps not for very young children. We found an amazing bakery/coffee shop called Clyde’s- they do wonderful pastries for breakfast and the coffee was great. Friendly staff too.
Yosemite – amazing! What a highlight! Loved it here. The lodge that you booked was perfect. It really wasn’t far to get into the park in the mornings. It was great for families – a local shop on site to buy breakfast, snacks, and alcohol! Also, two restaurants on site were a bonus after a long day in the park. The River restaurant was lovely so we dined there twice. There were 5 or 6 different swimming pools, which the kids enjoyed but the feature the kids loved the most was the Games Room! It was great! Free pool tables, shuffleboard, arcade games, table football. Perfect for pre- or after-dinner entertainment! This is a great location and we felt on reflection that it wasn’t worth paying extra to stay in park.
Monterey – Lovely hotel. Very comfy beds and a good location. We dined at the great onsite tapas restaurant. Highly recommend it although not cheap. The aquarium was great and we liked the whale watching too. Having to pay 34 dollars for parking at the hotel was a bit galling but we had to do the same in LA, so I guess that’s a common thing in the USA.
Santa Barbara hotel – a wonderful place! We needed this after several days with the kids in our room! They are very noisy at night! It was nice to have a lounge and kitchen and a bit more space. The location was very good too. Lots of restaurants on State ST. We loved Santa Barbara! We hired a Surrey bike and pedalled along the front one day, which we all enjoyed and the next day we went body boarding- we all loved it!
LA hotel – this was a real gem and surprised us. LA was a very pleasant surprise in general – we were really glad that we saw a bit of it. Nice city. We had expected a slightly small functional room in the hotel, but it was relatively large, newly decorated and clean. The room was very quiet and the buffet breakfast there was really good. So, just perfect for our needs.
The hotel’s location was spot-on – just around the corner from the tourist attractions. We went to the Griffith Observatory which we highly recommend. The planetarium show was great and we loved the space exhibits – really interesting.
Also, amazing views from the hilltop. It was a bit of a kerfuffle to get buses there (2 buses needed) so we just got Ubers there and back – almost the same price as the bus for 4 and only 10 minutes or so. Great for people with limited time like us. We loved Santa Monica too – a definite must for people going to LA! We all went on the pier rollercoaster!
On the way to Tahoe, we stopped at the Petrified Forest, which was interesting, and also went to the Old Faithful Geyser. This was a great afternoon. There are family games and seats for people while waiting for the eruption, which passed the time. Definitely worth seeing and a nice place to relax in the middle of the drive.
Thanks again for booking this for us. It was really wonderful.
Boase Family (with children aged 9, 11 & 13)
Travelled Summer 2022
Dear Liddy. We had an absolutely amazing time! Thank you so much for putting together such a wonderful holiday. The original idea and structure was ours, but we loved all the stuff you added in and having the arrangements made for us was brilliant. Since we got back, I’ve been meaning to drop you a line to thank you and give you some feedback. Bear with me – I will send you a longer email when I get a moment. I hope you had a great summer too!
McGimpsey Family (with grandparents and children aged 3 & 5)
Travelled Summer 2022
Hi Helene. The holiday was absolutely fab. My only other experiences of America are Florida as a child and NYC before children. It has never really been somewhere I have been that fussed on travelling to but I was totally won over by it. San Fransisco, Fisherman’s Wharf is a great location. The hotel was lovely and the breakfast in the restaurant is great. We cycled across the bridge and I’m very proud of my 5yr old who cycled the whole way – about a 9-mile round trip! There’s quite a good children’s museum and play park for anyone with younger kids. We also went to the food market in the Ferry Building and took the tram to Lombard St. Pier 39 is really touristy but plenty of choice of restaurants and lots of people-watching to do!
Yosemite is absolutely breathtaking. Photos and videos do not do it justice. The hotel is quite old-fashioned but definitely worth staying in it for the location. Much better to be inside the park than having to travel in/out every day. All the Americans we spoke to said we were there at the best time of year as the waterfalls are full with snow melt. The only thing I would say is that as it was not peak season, lots of the restaurants in the village were not open which really only left us with two options.
Carmel is such a pretty little town. We only had two nights there and by the time we arrived and then had to leave, it was only really one full day. We went to the Monterey Aquarium, which people had raved about but I was a bit disappointed with it to be honest. We also did the 17-mile drive around Pebble Beach – a must for any golfers! On reflection, I think we could have stayed there an extra night to spend a day wandering around Carmel. The hotel was lovely and the inclusive breakfast there was brilliant. The drive down Route 1 through Big Sur is fab. We stopped at a cafe/restaurant called Nepenthe on the way through – would definitely recommend it and the views are wonderful.
The hotel at Pismo Beach has an amazing setting, however, it is outside of Pismo so we had to either drive/get an Uber… We went to the dinosaur caves park and spend a day in Pismo. That was enough time there though we did go to an amazing seafood restaurant called The Cracked Crab. You have to wait for tables but it was totally worth it.
Santa Barbara was lovely – great vibe and beautiful beaches. Recommend Brophy Bros restaurant – really buzzy.
Santa Monica – the hotel here is the nicest hotels I’ve stayed in and has the most amazing setting right on the beach. We went to Beverly Hills and walked to Venice Beach one day but otherwise, we stayed around Santa Monica. The pier there is a bit gimmicky – think Ferris wheel, rides, and chain restaurants but the kids enjoyed going to it. The beaches are amazing though we didn’t swim in the sea the whole time we were away as the water was freezing. Luckily all the hotels had heated pools.
It was a truly amazing trip and I would definitely go back to California. I think it’s a really great trip for families.
Hodges Family (with children aged 12, 12 & 17)
Travelled Easter 2022
Hi Liddy. Thanks for your email. Yes, we had a great holiday, everything went really smoothly. The boys liked the hotel with the pool tables and games. The motel in Santa Barbara was good, great location, breakfast, and a nice area for sitting out. We are still hopeful for Japan at some point in the future so I’m sure we will come back to you for that.
Family P (with children aged 9, 11 & 13)
Travelled August 2021
Thank you so much Helene for all your help with planning and excellent route ideas and tips, and really appreciated the benefit of your firsthand experience. San Francisco was fabulous. We loved the hot air balloon ride and cycling in the Napa Valley, and the great hotel there. South Fork rafting was amazing. It was well worth the flight to Vegas and the trip to Zion National Park and Bryce. It was blistering hot but we loved it. Great idea to visit the north rim of the Grand Canyon rather than the South Rim as it was much quieter. We enjoyed the mule ride and gentle walks but it is v high (2700m) so altitude does affect energy levels. Antelope Canyon and Lake Powell was an incredible day trip too. Top tip – stop at Subways for lunches. Healthy build your own options, reasonable prices and quick as lots of driving to do. Download audiobooks ahead of time. Kids had no time for electronics which was a good thing. (US citizenship allowed this summer trip despite restrictions)
Gandy family (with children aged 9 & 11)
Travelled August 2019
We weren’t sure that the kids would ever forgive us for giving the Florida theme parks a miss, but we’ve had such an AMAZING trip that they never even mentioned it! It was such an adventure and we feel like we’ve done so much, but also realise how much more there is to do! We loved San Francisco and Yosemite, although both were quite busy.
Sequoia was really special and much quieter than Yosemite – we really recommend this to other travellers. However, our favourite was Sedona with the incredible red sandstone rock formations. We did a full day hike here which the kids were not looking forward to but it was fab. Amazing scenery, cacti, stunning views etc. We packed a huge amount of food which kept them going and it ended up being a real highlight.
Thanks so much for your help with the planning. Next year we’re thinking coastal California!
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