We are planning on taking our three children 11, 9 and 5 to Spain next Spring. We are going to stay 2 nights in Madrid upon arrival and then head to 5 nights in Barcelona. We were thinking of then renting a car and driving down the coast through Valencia, Alicante, etc. Would Alicante be a good home base? Is there much to see on the East coast of Spain? Should we take the ferry to one of the islands? Thanks.
Are there two questions? The title said west coast, but the text is dealing with the Med coast.
The kids will enjoy the acquarium at Valencia. Continuing down the coast will be a waste of time. Alicante is a dump. The islands aren't that impressive.
You'd get more out of the trip if you did the Toledo-Segovia-Avila loop or went down into Andalucia.
IMO, there's not a lot to see along the southeast coast of Spain. It's far better to south of Madrid, in Andalucia, or maybe to the northwest of Barcelona, into the Pyrenees and the Basque country.
I would also suggest a few more days in Madrid, since there are wonderful day trips to Toledo, Segovia, and even Avila available. If you want to reconsider your timing, you may want to go to Madrid, take the train in a curve down through Sevilla and Granada, then take a cheap airline flight to Barcelona....far cheaper and easier than renting a car.
Valencia is a beautiful city and the only real high lite along the east coast, haven't been to the islands so I will not comment on them. If you drive to Valencia, do carry on to Grenada, it is a must see in Spain. I agree with Norm "...there are wonderful day trips to Toledo, Segovia, and even Avila available." and would add Salamanca to that group as an over night stay after seeing Segovia and Avila. Toledo would be a separate day or over night trip in a different direction.
I haven't done the trip yet but next month we are going with our 8 and 6 year olds for 3 weeks. We are doing Barcelona (3 nts) then renting a cottage in Begur (NE of Barcelona on coast) for a week, then train to San Sebastian (4 nts) then Madrid (4 nts). Found amazing rentals in every city! We love train travel and so have two 5.5 hr rides (Barc - San Seb and San Seb - Madrid). Having our own apartment in each city makes everything more comfortable.
I have high hopes and we are all really looking forward to the trip!