We are planning a family trip (2 adults, 2 kids, 11 & 9) to California next year. Our plan is to arrive around the 6th of April and travel to a few destinations before returning home at the end of April.
After much discussion and help from the helpful people here (Thanks Darkbeer, Kibblesmom, Redlands Redhead, Belomiser, PacificNWFamily I really appreciate your input) I think we are getting very close to our 'perfect' itinerary. I am hoping we can get some more general feedback on our our trip but have posted in other forums to get specific help for each place we plan to visit.
We'd appreciate any advice at all.
Fly Melbourne to LAX (arrive early morning 7 am)
Stay in Santa Monica (Oceanview Hotel) for 3 nights (plan to do the 'Hop on Hop off' bus tour in LA, ,Hollywood homes tour and Universal Studios - at this point we'd be there on Easter Sunday will it be crazy there or should we be ok? We could add an extra day in Santa Monica and then go there on the Monday if that would be better or go a day earlier on the Saturday??)
Drive the coast road staying at Cambria for 1 night (not sure where to stay yet, suggestions welcome) visiting whatever takes our fancy along the way. is there anything we shouldn't miss? Looked at Hearst castle but was put off by a few reviews saying it wasnt really worth the cost happy to hear other viewpoints.)
Drive the coast road staying at Monteray for 2 nights (not sure where to stay yet,suggestions welcome) visiting whatever takes our fancy along the way, any places we shouldn't miss? Not sure if we should stay 2 nights here or get heading to Yosemite?
Drive to Yosemite staying for 2 nights (not sure where to stay yet, suggestions welcome) We think we will spend some time in the park the morning before our drive to San Francisco. At this point we will have Thursday afternoon, Friday, Saturday morning)
Drive to San Francisco (Holiday Inn Suites at Fishermans Wharf or Club Donatello or Suites at Fishermans Wharf ?) for 3 nights (plan to do Alcatraz tour, Golden Gate bridge, evening Chinatown dinner tour, ride the cable cars, Walt Disney museum, a bay cruise perhaps?) We have been told car parking can be expensive in the hotels here do you have any suggestions for those with cheap or free parking or could we survive here without a car?
Fly from San Fran to Las Vegas (Mandalay Bay - is it too far out? Is Circus Circus better for kids??) for 3 nights. (maybe see a show - I was sad to see The Lion King will be over, is the shopping good there? Neon Lights Tour? other sufggestions welcome, as the kids won't be old enough for us to be in casinos what shouldn't we miss?)
Drive to Grand Canyon - south rim for 1 night (not sure where to stay yet, suggestions welcome) We plan to do a sunset tour the day we arrive and then a sunrise tour the next morning. We will probably spend quite a bit of time there before heading to Phoenix.
Drive to Phoenix and fly to San Diego (Hotel Indigo Gaslamp quarter) for 3 nights (San Diego Zoo & ? probably not Seaworld as we went recently in Australia and there is quite a bit that looks similar)
The alternative is return to Las Vegas and fly to San Diego from there. Thinking a flight rather than driving to give the kids a break from being in the car???
Drive to Legoland for the day then on to Anaheim (Would the kids prefer Knotts Berry do you think??)
Anaheim (HoJo or Park Vue Inn - will it be warm enough for the kids to swim at HoJo's in late April?) for 5 nights (Disneyland (2 or 3 days) and California Adventureland, Medievel Times??, we think we can also have a recovery day in there somewhere between theme parks). Will 3 full days at Disneyland and California Adventure be enough? We could spend some more time there on the day we head to LA as our flight isn't until 11.30pm. Should we keep the car whilst in Anaheim? I think we'll be close enough to walk to the Disney parks so is it a waste?
We have considered staying in a Disney hotel but so far when I have tried to look at availability they are all showing as full, am I perhaps too early and need a travel agent to check it out or would they be booked? I think we'll probably be there (April 24th - 28th.
Our flight out from LAX is at 11.30pm
Fly home with smiles on our faces!!
I look forward to receiving your advice, thanks :) Sue