California trip planning 2013

Discussion in 'California & the West' started by Neil_UK, Mar 14, 2012.

  1. Neil_UK

    Neil_UK Earning My Ears

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    Hey everyone.

    New to this board, first post - Wooooo

    Apologise if this question has already been asked, I did trail through the many pages and couldn't seem to find anything in detail on it..

    So it's a long way off yet, but planning ahead early so I can get an idea of costs and schedules. I am planning to visit California in June 2013 to visit some places on my bucket list. A fair few, a few miles apart.

    Places I am looking at going are:

    - Disneyland
    - Universal
    - Knottys Berry Farm
    - Golden Gate Bridge
    - Six Flags Magic Mountain
    - LA/Hollywood/Chinese Theatre etc
    - Venice Beach
    - Las Vegas
    - Grand Canyon.

    Due to the vast amount of places and distance, I'll be hiring a car.

    Can anyone recommend the best way round of doing this? I know obv Disneyland and Universal are in the same areas etc..
    But wondering how long I need to spend in each part? Where to stay hotel wise?
    Any tips?
    Or other landmarks I could visit that are near to here?

    Thanks in advance!!!

    Neil.
     
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  3. AngelDisney

    AngelDisney Dream a Disney Dream 0[;)

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    Hi Neil,

    Universal Studio Hollywood is actually in the same area as Hollywood/Chinese Theatre. Check out the Hollywood City Pass (a discounted pass) for 4 attractions/tours at Hollywood.
    http://www.citypass.com/hollywood?m...d=6485299109&gclid=CNer4uCv5q4CFcrrKgodtw59gA

    You can get to USH via subway from Chinese Theatre.
    http://www.virtualtourist.com/trave...ion-Hollywood-Public_Transportation-BR-1.html

    I am planning to go to:

    Huntington Beach (1.5 day for beach and whale watching)
    http://www.orangecounty.net/html/coupons.html#whales

    Hollywood (2.5 days for USH and Hollywood Boulevard)
    You may want to check out Restaurant.com for discounted restaurant certificate. Just register with a US zipcode. I use my hotel's zipcode.
    http://www.restaurant.com/

    Anaheim (6 days for DL and 1 day for Seaworld, shorter travel time to San Diego from Anaheim than Hollywood) and Las Vegas (4 days with 1 day visiting Grand Canyon). I split my hotel stay between these places since I won't be driving a car. I believe Grayline offers day tour from Anaheim to LA and Venice Beach. Viator.com offers periodic discounts on Grayline tours if you sign up as a member (it's free). I saved $50 for 2 USH VIP pass for my upcoming trip this summer. http://www.viator.com/Anaheim-and-Buena-Park/d797-ttd?activities=all

    Check out Anaheim coupons: http://anaheimoc.org/deals-and-discounts
    Check out Las Vegas coupons: http://www.vegas4locals.com/coupons.html
    Cheapest Grand Canyon Tour from LV: http://www.paradisefoundtours.com/grand-canyon-south-rim/bus/

    Hope this helps you start planning. Have fun planning!:surfweb:
     
  4. HydroGuy

    HydroGuy DIS Veteran

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    Hi Neil - welcome to DISBoards! :cheer2:

    OK, food for thought. All opinions. Take them however you want. :)

    Disneyland Resort - plan to visit there for four days minimum. This will be best with five hotel nights. STAY NEAR THE RESORT. Check the links in this thread - "HydroGuy's Hotel Rule" www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1199862

    Univeral Studios Hollywood - 1 day - combine this with a second day for Hollywood itself so 2 days total - not sure what hotel to recommend but I would get a hotel near these for a couple nights.

    Knotts Berry Farm - skip this, other better things to do with your time

    Six Flags Magic Mountain - Unless you are just really into rollercoasters, skip this.

    Venice Beach - Maybe, but since it is June I would plan a few days at the beach. It depends on if you like beaches or not. SoCal water is cold. In June you can go in the water but it will be chilly. I am more familiar with the beaches in Orange County which happen to be nearer to DLR - Newport Beach and Huntington Beach are good ones. You could visit these from the same hotel where you stay at DLR. But it would be better if you want time on the beach to stay on the beach for a few days. Many choices - depends on how many days and where you want to go.

    Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco - Plan for two days minimum. Visit Fishermans Wharf. If you are a big Disney fan go to the Disney museum there.

    Las Vegas - 4-5 hours from Disneyland Reosrt by car. Duration depends on how much you want to just observe vs. participate. Do you want to see shows? Gamble? Or just walk around at night to see the lights? Stay 2-3 days.

    Grand Canyon - Go to the South Rim. That will be maybe 8 hours drive from the DLR area. Stay at least two days. One idea is to stay in Williams and take the train to GC. See http://www.thetrain.com/. Did it once. Kind of fun but limits your time at the GC. Or you can stay near the GC. Or you can do both. I would lean towards not doing the train and staying nearer the GC but it depends on the visitor. If you stay near the GC there are hotels in the town just a few miles away (Tusayan) and hotels within the GC National Park (see http://www.grandcanyonlodges.com/). DO NOT MISS the awesome IMAX movie in Tusayan about the history of the GC - see http://explorethecanyon.com/

    OK, things you should consider adding to your trip:

    1. San Diego - beautiful beach city south of DLR by about 2 hours by car - but you can take a train there. Nice beaches and if you want 2-3 days at the beach you could do it there.

    2. Yosemite and Sequoia National Park - I have been to every continent in the world except Antartica and many countries and beautiful places - but IMO Yosemite is the most beautiful place in the world. Combine it with a trip to nearby Sequoia. These are 6-8 hours away from DLR by car. Altogether maybe 4 days (3 Yosemite and 1 Sequoia). Stay in Yosemite Valley and make reservations early. See http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/where.htm. I promise you if you go to the Grand Canyon (can't miss that - I agree) and then Yosemite you will feel that Yosemite was way better in the end.

    3. Big Sur - if you drive to San Francisco then use that time to stop by Yosemite and Sequoia in one direction (this is inland from the ocean) and the other direction take the coastal route of Big Sur - Highway 1.

    4. Other interesting things to consider - La Brea Tar Pits, Mission San Juan Capistrano, Hearst Castle, whitewater rafting, Lake Tahoe, Santa Monica Pier plus tons of others!


    OK, here is the final recommendation: Do your California touring before going to DLR. Then do DLR near the end and go to the DCA park and go on the Soarin Over California ride. It will be much more meaningful to you!

    Hope that helps! :wizard:
     
  5. Neil_UK

    Neil_UK Earning My Ears

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    Thank you HyrdroGuy.. that's REALLY helpful!

    We are quite big theme park/rollercoaster fans so Six Flags is definately on the list. Maybe might miss out Knottys Berry though.

    RE Disneyland/Aneheim.
    Is it just Disney that is around this area?

    RE Las Vegas..
    Not really gamblers, just an area we want to visit. See the hotels/lights
    Do you not recommend long here?

    Some friends have also recommended Pebble Beach and Aclatraz.

    SOO much planning! Arrrrgh!!
     
  6. skiingfast

    skiingfast <font color=teal>Has had no bacon<br><font color=b

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    In Anahiem it's just DLR, hotels, dining and a couple malls, and of course the city. Though LA is continuous city for miles and miles and miles, and Anaheim is roughly in the middle. Knotts, is about 10Km from DLR just in the next municipality.

    Near San Fransisco is also California's Great America near San Jose, and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Valejo. These along with Knotts have about 5 coasters each. Magic Mountain is really the epitome of West Coast Coasters.


    For Las Vegas, like Hydroguy said 2-3 days. 1 is too little 4 is too much. Depending on your schedule something like 2 and a partial day will work great. There is a lot to walk around and see. Plenty of dining, and lots of shows from free to expensive.
     
  7. HydroGuy

    HydroGuy DIS Veteran

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    As Ski said, pretty much. But DLR is 40 miles/60 km to Hollywood and it has the appearance of once huge city from LA to DLR.

    Still I would take two days and maybe see at least one show. Lots of options. If you are into magic see Penn & Teller. Great show. See the Belaggio fountains at night. Some of the casinos offer free "classes" on things like how to play craps. Even if you are not into gambling it might be fun to do that and then spend $50 at a table just to play. Just an idea.

    Also, there are direct flights from SNA (John Wayne airport) near DLR direct to LV so you may not need to drive it.

    Pebble Beach would be along the Big Sur coastal drive I mentioned. Not much there I can think of but I am not expert on that part of California. Another cool coastal town is Monterey. A tour to Alcatraz in SF is something I have never done but I would if I had the time.
     
  8. AutismMomma

    AutismMomma Earning My Ears

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  9. skiingfast

    skiingfast <font color=teal>Has had no bacon<br><font color=b

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    That's a good point about San Fransisco. The City Pass there is excellent and covers things that you should visit one way or the other.
     
  10. Caroline NZ

    Caroline NZ DIS Veteran

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    Hi Neil,
    We are travelling in 2013 as well, but not til Sep/Oct. I can't wait.
    My rough plan already is ( trip length = 4 weeks):
    Arrive LAX ( from NZ) the drive to San Diego
    San Diego 3-nights
    Palm Springs / Phoenix 2 nights - not sure what to do/see here yet?
    Grand Canyon or nearby 2 nights
    Las Vegas 3 nights - not sure what to do/see here yet?
    Yosemite or nearby 2 nights
    Maybe SFO 2 nights ( but we visited in 2011 so not a must see )
    Monterey or nearby 1 night
    Drive 17 mile beach and then down the Pacific Coast Highway to...
    Pismo Beach or nearby 2 nights
    Universal Studios 2 nights
    Anaheim 9 nights

    So kind of a big anticockwise circle starting and finishing at LAX
    I am looking forward to researching thing to see & do along throughout the trip
     
  11. HydroGuy

    HydroGuy DIS Veteran

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    LOL, your plan looks great and coincidentally follows almost exactly what I recommended to Neil a few days ago! :)
     
  12. ddwlms

    ddwlms Mouseketeer

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    Oh this thread is so awesome! We are taking a road trip thru CA as well in June 2013. San Francisco will be our first stop, but since we visit there often we will probably just spend one day, seeing Alcatraz and Pier 39. If it was up to me we would visit the Golden Gate Park (lots of stuff to do there: Academy of Science, Japanese Tea Garden, De Young Museum, Botanical Garden) and/or the Exploratorium, but I have to compromise.

    We’re not set in stone yet, but the tentative plan is to visit:

    Winchester Mystery House in San Jose
    Monterey – probably go the aquarium
    17-Mile Dr in Pebble Beach
    Hearst Castle in San Simeon
    Definitely Solvang!
    Hollywood (2 days, one for Universal, and one for Hollywood)

    We’d like to visit the ocean a couple of times. San Diego for absolute certain, and before that where ever it fits in, maybe Pismo Beach or Santa Barbara.

    San Diego for a couple of days.

    And now, much thanx to Hydroguy, I'm going to add Yosemite to the list. And maybe Newport Beach.

    (Since I cannot imagine going to DL for any less than 3 days, that may actually not be one or our stops. :sad2: I know, it seems shameful.)
     
  13. splash5

    splash5 DIS Veteran

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    If you are going to be visiting Alcatraz in San Francisco, I recommend that you order tickets online at least a couple months in advance. We were there in the summer and couldn't get tickets for the island any sooner than 3 weeks out. Sadly, we missed out.
     
  14. cyclenut

    cyclenut DIS Veteran

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    All of the advice here is very sound, but I wouldn't count KNott's out completely.l There is one of the best wooden roller coasters around called Ghost Rider. There is also the classic Montezooma's Revenge and Xcelerator. Those three coasters are worth the trip if you are a coaster enthusiast. Each has something unique to offer. They also have a couple of newer ones called the Silver Bullet and something that draws a lot of crowds called the Pony Express. The Sierra Sidewinder is different too as it is a traditional coaster but the cars spin individually. Don't get me wrong, Knott's does not compare to Six Flags Magic Mountain for coasters. Nothing tops that, but they do have these rides that I don't think you'll find many other places. Plus, they have Snoopy and the gang.

    Knott's is the original SoCal theme park and it shows, in both good ways and sometimes bad. However, they have a new park head over there that is making substantial improvements to the place. I still think it is worth a visit.
     
  15. Neil_UK

    Neil_UK Earning My Ears

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    cheers Cyclenut..

    I do like my coasters a fair bit.. not as much as I used to be, but I remember seeing Ghost Rider on a programne. Maybe I will go there after all!

    Going on the places I want to see, do people think I can do this all in a 2 week trip?
     
  16. HydroGuy

    HydroGuy DIS Veteran

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    Fair comment, but in context I was not dropping Knotts as being not worth it at all. I was dropping it in that IMO there are other things more worth seeing than Knotts. The OP only has so much time. I think it is a shame when out-of-staters come to California and spend all or most of their time a theme parks.

    :)
     
  17. TwingleMum

    TwingleMum DIS Veteran

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    HI Hydroguy where would you recommend a family to go for a beach day near DL?? We are from the Right Coast and live right by the beach. I thought the kids would have fun going to 'the other' ocean. The kids can swim pretty well but I would not want anything too crazy (rip tides, heavy surf etc..) I would have thought the water would be warm in So Cal. We are going in Aug so hopefully it will be a little warmer Thx for all your help to all of us Dis'ers.
     
  18. HydroGuy

    HydroGuy DIS Veteran

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    .
    As I said, Newport Beach or Huntington Beach. :) But anywhere you go you need to watch your kids close.
     
  19. skiingfast

    skiingfast <font color=teal>Has had no bacon<br><font color=b

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    Any of the three beaches mentioned above should be fine, though I would stay closer to the Pier in Santa Monica at Venice. It's bound to be colder, because the ocean current comes from the colder north, versus in the east where your current is coming from the equator. Try walking out on one of the peirs and watching surfers.
     
  20. Neil_UK

    Neil_UK Earning My Ears

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    Hey guys,

    Thanks to everyone for their feedback and ideas..
    Still looking into everything so I still need a little bit of help.

    We have decided that the best way round of doing our trip is in 3 parts in the following order:
    - Fly to SFO
    - Travel to LA
    - Drive to Las Vegas

    Travel between SFO and LA:
    Can anyone suggest if it would be better to drive or fly?
    I didn't realise it was around 7 hours drive. Is there anywhere in the middle that is worth visitiing? So we could drive in two journeys?
    Or would you say just fly and save time?

    Disney area:
    Someone mentione before allow 5 days here.
    Is this really needed? I'm not very clued up on DLC, is it just Disneyland Park and California Adventure that are the main highlights?
    Could we squeeze this down to any less time?

    Chhhhhheeeeeers guys :)
     
  21. DisneylandForever

    DisneylandForever At Walt's in DLP

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    It's about a 6 hour drive if you take I5, which is the faster route because not only is it more direct, but there is nothing to see along the way.

    If you take Highway 101 it's a much prettier drive, with places to visit. Some of the more touristy things are: Hearst Castle (off Highway 1), a cute little Danish town called Solvang (although you probably don't need to travel all the way to California to see European culture ;) ), towns like Morro Bay, Monterey, Santa Cruz. And you already mentioned Pebble Beach.

    If you decide to fly, you can get pretty cheap flights from SFO to LAX via Southwest, American, United, Virgin, etc. It takes less than 90 minutes gate to gate.

    While you're in San Francisco, try to visit the Walt Disney Family Museum in the Presidio. As a Disney fan that's way more worth doing than Alcatraz, IMO.

    You can definitely squeeze that down. It all depends on your pace. On my Eurotrip I had 4 days set aside for London but saw everything on my list in 1.5 days. Of course I could have found more things to do in the remaining 2.5 days, but I opted to head out and see the next place! That said, you could do 2 days in Disneyland and 1 in DCA and be just fine.
     

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