View Full Version : Road Trip Hotels and Eating with 2 year-old

04-21-2003, 12:24 AM
Anyone have any hotel or restaurant chain suggestions for travelling across California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas with a 2 year old and a 2 month old?

Just wonder what restaurants and hotels we should favor....

Thanks for any advice!

04-21-2003, 12:12 PM
I also have a 2 year old and an infant.

No specific hotel recommendations (I haven't travelled enough with my kids!) but living in California I have found these chains to be very kid-friendly:

TGI Friday's (give out balloons, clowns make balloon animals)
Chilli's (whole coloring book, not just a placemat)
IHOP (free kids' entree on Tuesday nights)
Red Lobster/Olive Garden

Generally any family restaurant is fine and you can expect the wooden high chairs, plastic booster seats, crayons and a coloring sheet for your toddler. You can also ask for the 'kiddie' cups filled with ice water and you toddler will be entertained for awhile.

Many of these places also have the stands for infant carriers, so ask when you enter!

I prefer these kind of restaurants to fast food places because it is a real advantage just to be able to sit down and have someone else wait on you. I find that fast food restaurants usually have high chairs that are too small for a child over 1 and no coloring accessories. However these are great if you want to go through the drive through (so your kids don't have to be taken out of the car) and eat in the car.

04-21-2003, 05:25 PM
You can kind of get a sense of what restaurants are appropriate for the 'screaming toddler' ;) set (not that I let DD be anything but polite!).

But still, I've found that most restaurants, including non-chains, including restaurants you wouldn't expect, will generally accomodate you.

The main trick for me is that the restaurant have finger-friendly (toddler) or mash-friendly (baby) food. No restaurant has given me trouble about bringing something in special, or using a sippy cup. I usually feed my daughter off my plate.

Little cafe's sometimes work out very well. We hit one while travelling that made my daughter a little custom plate of avocado slices (her favorite) to go with the cereal and banana I'd brought, and didn't charge us.

Do make sure to bring a bib and a couple of washcloths to the table with you. ;) And it will save you a lot of grief if you bring the sippy cup.

04-21-2003, 10:17 PM
Thanks much for the suggestions!

04-22-2003, 09:55 AM
One other thing, I was reading my recent issue of Child magazine yesterday and they had an article about the top 10 hotels for families. Now all but one of the chains were pricey, but you could check it out. They said they also listed the 5 runners up on their web site.

Edited to add:

The previous poster is right about bibs. I have found Bibsters to be VERY helpful in restaurants. Also a bunch of pre-moistened towelettes to wipe the table with (if your child tends to spread out food). I also have a few small 'baby' spoons and forks in my diaper bag in case for some reason the utensils are inappropriate.

04-22-2003, 10:37 AM
Can you post the hotel names? Having trouble finding the article on their site.

04-22-2003, 02:23 PM
Found it at our local news stand. The magazine seems pretty interesting, but I was a bit disappointed in the article in that it focused almost exclusively on the most expensive hotels.

It would be better to have a range prices to choose from. I like knowing which deluxe hotels are best, but sometimes when we're just driving from place to place, I just want to know which of the Best Western-type places are best with kids. Guess I will be figuring it out myself on this roadtrip.

Thanks again,


04-22-2003, 04:23 PM
I agree that it was disappointing that the chains were generally expensive, however the Holiday Inn (number 4) isn't usually too bad. Plus if it's your final destination hotel (as opposed to a one night stop) you may be willing to pay more for some ammenities. I clipped the article and plan to pull it out next time we actually vacation with the kids. (as opposed to travelling purely to visit relatives...ugh! :-) )

05-06-2003, 12:16 AM
Post-Trip report:

I found McDonalds and Burger King play areas to be about the best things around for kids. Though the magazine article was an interesting read, I found it more or less useless.

For us, the real questions of how kid-friendly a hotel is was more about the staff and facility than anything that is chain-wide. The places that had pools and friendly staff were hits with my son. A truck or tractor in the parking lot or elsewhere made all the difference. It's nice that hotels offer crayons in their restaurants, but Jesse was really looking for other kids to play with and stuff to explore.

Our big lesson from the trip was to make sure we figure out where he'll be able to meet up with other kids next time we travel.

05-06-2003, 09:37 AM
Interesting finds! I agree with the McDonald's and BK play areas, however it seems that most of them are too 'old' for my 2 year old. However by the time we take our next trip they'll probably be a big factor.

That's really funny about the tractor or big truck. But I can totally understand it. Now that I think about it my brother and I went through a stage where we were fascinated with RVs... :-)

Thanks for the report!

05-12-2003, 06:44 PM
One more restaurant chain - Mimi's Cafe.

Recently I went to one for someone else's birthday, and was charmed when the hostess immediately provided us with a child appetizer of cheerios, cracker, and orange slices! She also got a tiny chocolate pudding for dessert, both free.

It was a very nice way to feel welcomed, and very smart for keeping the kids in line, especially with a large party that might not order immediately.