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Suggested holiday ideas to see as many 'sites' as possible..

Surrey, England
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Suggested holiday ideas to see as many 'sites' as possible..

Hi all

Having never been to the USA before I'd like to see as much as possible while myself, my husband and will be 5 year old son are there for two weeks at the beginning of April 2014.

The places we'd really like to visit are:


Sea World

Las Vegas

Grand Canyon

Los Angeles beaches


San Francisco

That is a lot of places to fit into 2 weeks but I was wondering if anyone has any ideas on an itinerary to fit all of these in? We will of course be renting a car!

My current itinerary is:

London Heathrow flight to Los Angeles stay in Buena Park,

3 day Disneyland,

overnight stay in Las Vegas,

two night stay at Grand Canyon,

over night stay in Las Vegas back to Buena Park,

LA attractions,

Sea World

If time San Francisco and back to LA for flight home.

The San Francisco part is the one I really need advice on as it is a very long drive and I'm just not sure we'd have time for it (but as wee will probably never go to this part of US again it'd be a shame to not visit).

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!


Washington State
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for Yosemite National Park
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1. Re: Suggested holiday ideas to see as many 'sites' as possible..

If you're going to Disneyland, stay in Anaheim. Best to stay across the street from the entrance or a bit further at one of the Disneyland properties. Info on the Anaheim forum.

LAX - L.A. - Anaheim - San Diego (including Legoland, the Zoo, & beaches) - Kingman (if your child needs an overnight) - South Rim Grand Canyon National Park - Las Vegas - LAS (airport) - SFO (airport) - SF - SFO - home

Or maybe LAX - Anaheim - San Diego - L.A. - Kingman - GCNP - Las Vegas - flight - SF - home

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2. Re: Suggested holiday ideas to see as many 'sites' as possible..

I agree with the other post, if you are going to Disneyland, Anaheim is the best place to stay. Buena Park is quite a drive. There is Knott's Berry Farm and Medieval Times in Buena Park, but I really wouldn't waste my time going to Knott's unless you are HUGE roller coaster enthusiasts or your 5-year-old is obsessed with Snoopy. Their kids' area is Camp Snoopy. But, I would maximize the time at Disneyland.

You can probably do Disneyland in 2 1/2 days if you are trying to maximize time. San Diego is only a 2 1/2 hour drive. I would probably do 1 day at Disneyland, 1 day at California Adventure, and then go back the third morning to do a few things you missed. After that I would have lunch and drive to San Diego in the afternoon.

I would not waste my time at Legoland. I know some people really like it but we have never had a good experience. I also have a 5 year old and since many of the rides are small and slow, the lines take forever! On one visits we spent the first 5 hours going on just 3 rides. If you can when kids are in school on a week day, perhaps it is a better experience.

I would suggest spending 2-3 days in San Diego: 1 day at the zoo and 1 day at Sea World. Depending on time, you can spend a day at the beach and maybe visiting the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. You can do this in an hour or two.

The Grand Canyon and Kingman suggestion is good for the next leg.

Two nights in Vegas would be great. The heat there will be overwhelming! Be prepared. The difference between San Diego and Vegas can be 30+ degrees, so pack accordingly. Most hotels have great pools and all have great air conditioning so that is nice. If you stay on the strip, there is a tram that allows you to move between hotels. Our favorites are Ballys and Paris (which are connected) and The Flamingo which has been renovated and is close to the other hotels. It usually is a little less expenisve. I've never stayed at Mandalay Bay but I understand the pool is amazing for small kids. It is a little removed from the strip but it sounds like you will have a car. You can't go wrong with Caesars, MGM, Tropicana, honestly almost any of the hotels will be nice. It is very competitive.

When you come back to LA you have several options and they are all good! I personally love visiting Universal Studios Hollywood. There are some rides there and you do a tram ride that takes you through the Jaws and Psycho film sets. There is also a simulated earthquake and King Kong experience. If you love movies, this can be a lot of fun. The earthquake and King Kong simulations may be scary for a five year old, but if they don't scare easily they may like it. If you do this, I would suggest you stay in Universal or Studio City. These are next to Hollywood and where Universal Studios is located. There are actually a couple of hotels right next to the park. If you stay here, you are only a couple of freeway exits from Hollywood Blvd. This is where the stars' names on the sidewalk are located. If you want to drive around Hollywood, Sunset Blvd., Hollywood Blvd. and Melrose are the three main streets you can drive and they are all parallel to each other. You can also do a star tour, which is a bus that drive you around famous sites and stars homes. This is nice because you get to see all the different areas of Los Angeles. It will certainly go through Beverly Hills. You can take Sunset Blvd. from Hollywood, through Beverly Hills, all the way to the ocean.

There is also Santa Monica or Malibu if you want to stay in the beach areas. These have nice beaches, good shopping and restaurants but it is not going to have the celebrity or film element. If you stay in this area, you may like to visit the J. Paul Getty Museum or the smaller Getty Villa in Malibu. If you do either of these, make reservations in advance. You have to reserve a parking spot for your car.

I would suggest staying away from downtown. Downtown Los Angeles is not the "heart of the city," like it is in some cities. It is actually isolated from the other parts of the city and you will have to take the freeway and be stuck in traffic to visit the other areas. Some people get touchy when talking about downtown because it is currently being renovated so that more people will relocate to this area. Some people argue that there are things to do at night, but there really isn't. And there are still many dangerous areas, so a tourist I would not suggest it. You may also feel isolated.

I hope this helps!

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3. Re: Suggested holiday ideas to see as many 'sites' as possible..

I just saw your San Francisco question. Yes, I think it is a bit much for all your want to do. It is a long drive, 5-6 hours. I really think you need to cut either Vegas or San Diego if you want to do San Francisco. I would personally cut San Diego between the two. Since you have a 5-year-old with you, I think San Diego may be more fun because of the activities. If you were just two adults, I think the nightlife in San Francisco may be better. BUT, if you want to experience great cities, I think San Francisco is much more interesting than San Diego.

If you decided to do both Las Vegas and San Francisco (or even San Diego and San Francisco), I would suggest you drive from LA to one and then fly to the other. The air probably wont cost much and would be a short flight. You could drive from LA to Vegas, then fly to San Francisco.

If you drive from San Francisco to LA, I would take highway 1 along the coast rather than the 5. The 5 is boring once you leave the Napa area. And, if you drive to Vegas you will be experiencing a boring, desert drive. Some desert is pretty, I'm thinking Utah and parts of Joshua Tree Park, but the Vegas drive is just boring! Taking hwy 1 instead of the 5 will take more time because a lot of the drive is two lanes along the pacific coast, but it will be worth it!!

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4. Re: Suggested holiday ideas to see as many 'sites' as possible..

One more suggestion! :)

Since you will be in Anaheim area, If you want to stay at the beach and enjoy the ocean, you don't need to go to San Diego or even Santa Monica. Huntington Beach is in Orange County, about 15 minutes from Anaheim. It is a few miles west to the coast from Anaheim. There are a couple of hotels directly across the street from a nice public beach. There is a main street with lots of restaurants and one of the hotels has a small waterpark at the pool. You are also just a few miles from Laguna and Newport Beach (to the south) and that is a beautiful 10-mile drive to take from Huntington Beach, with lots of restaurants and a beautiful outdoor mall called Fashion Island. This is easier to get around and more family friendly than the beaches in LA, which parking is more difficult and the beaches are more crowded.

I would suggest going to Anaheim and Disney for 2-3 days, staying in Huntington for 1-2 days, drive to Vegas and stay there 2-3, and then drive to the Los Angeles area and enjoy Hollywood, Universal Studios, and drive to the beach or do the stars homes. I think this is a relaxing itinerary that gives you a lot of variety. You can always squeeze in San Diego if you want. But, definitely fly if you really want to see San Francisco.

Once you know what you want to do, I would be happy to send you hotel names or links for Huntington Beach, Universal City, Anaheim, or Vegas.

Pauma Valley, CA
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5. Re: Suggested holiday ideas to see as many 'sites' as possible..

I would skip San Francisco, you won't have time. Unless you really love urban life and want to experience it. Then I would skip going out of state and just stick with California. The Grand Canyon as an experience that can't be beat. It's a long way from LA, however, if you want to cut down on the boring desert driving, you can fly to Vegas or Phoenix and drive from there to the Grand Canyon. There are several US airlines that serve these areas, I would start with Southwest (southwest.com). You can fly out of the Orange County airport. I once drove from San Diego to the Grand Canyon and back with a 4 year old,stopping over in Kingman, AZ both ways. It was a nice trip, don't recall anything terrible for the 4 year old so it is do-able. If you do drive, check out Rod's Steak House in Williams, AZ.

Edited: 27 May 2013, 00:30
6. Re: Suggested holiday ideas to see as many 'sites' as possible..

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