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So Excited our first trip to the US! Help needed!

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Melbourne
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So Excited our first trip to the US! Help needed!

We are so excited to be heading to LA from Australia end of Feb 2011. We wil be over there for our daughters 8th birthday and our sons 5th birthday and our 10yr wedding anniversay which we are planning to head to Vegas to celebrate. Would love advise on what to do and where to stay and any money saving tips. Looking at staying in Anaheim but also wanting to visit LA. Not sure if we should stay the whole time in Anaheim and take day trips or stay in Hollywood aswell.

Thanks Mel

San Diego...
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1. Re: So Excited our first trip to the US! Help needed!

OK sounds like you want to visit VEGAS and LA but are going to staying Anaheim?

Are you planning on visiting Disneyland? How many days are you planning for Disneyland if you are visiting there?

I assume you are staying in Las Vegas as well? The drive from Anaheim to Las Vegas is roughly 5 hours (which certainly wouldn't be a day trip)

I would consider a hotel in Los Angeles as traffic there and back can be miserable.

Anaheim, California
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2. Re: So Excited our first trip to the US! Help needed!

OK, there is a lot to talk about.

First off, how long will you be in the USA?

How long do you want to spend in Las Vegas?

And what type of accomidations do you want?

If you are going to be in Southern California for a week or more, I would seriously look into the special 14 day pass to the Disneyland Resort that is only available to Australian and New Zealand visitors. (Check out Expedia.com.au for the special offer). But make sure you are buying the 2011 version, as most Disneyland tickets expire at the end of the year.

If you can, I would place Las Vegas at the beginning or end of the trip, and fly there. (Check out Jet Blue out of Long Beach or Southwest out of John Wayne (also known as SNA or Orange County). You will need to go to their own websites to check prices, but they tend to only book about 6 months out, so once again, you need to wait, but you can check out the prices now online, just use a earlier date. You will see that you can usually find better fares if you avoid Friday and Sunday, which is the two most popular dates for locals.

For great deals, I would check out www.lasvegasadvisor.com for not just Hotels, but other great bargains, such as food.

Anaheim is a great base location for the Southern California area, lots of Hotels and Motels in the area that compete for your business. There are Extended Stay Hotels that offer a full kitchen including the pots and pans (which is a great way to save some money, avoiding eating every meal at a restaurant), but also other great options.

The more we know about your prefences, the more the "regulars" at the Anaheim Forum can help guide you to the right choices.

Melbourne
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3. Re: So Excited our first trip to the US! Help needed!

Sorry yes we are planning on spending alot of time at disneyland with the kids :D I read about a 14 disney pass for Aussies and was thinking maybe that would be worthwhile so I thought we might base in Anaheim and travel to LA and San diago via car for day trips? We are planning on staying in Vegas with the kids for bout 3 nights.

Australia
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4. Re: So Excited our first trip to the US! Help needed!

Zugfrig - sounds like your trip will be a blast.

Just a few things from a fellow Aussie from my previous trips :)

I agree with darkbeer, Anaheim is a good base for LA. You can get good deals for family rooms and DL packages. Last visit I stayed at the Fairfield Inn DL Resort and for DL it was perfect, close walking distance to entrance, clean and free parking which was good for us. Lots of reviews here on TA if you want to read up.

Vegas - Location is everything (IMO) Most people that haven't been to Vegas underestimate how long the strip is (I did). A block is HUGE. So make sure you pick a good spot because it can be a LONG walk if you want to head to a particular casino/attraction and you're up the other end of the strip. We stayed at the MGM which we good because it has the monorail that can take you to the other end and makes a few stops in between. I've also stayed in the centre of the strip and enjoyed that.

I'd also suggest flying from LA to LV - we usually fly Southwest Airlines in the states as we find them the cheapest (equivalent to probably Virgin Blue) and haven't had any complaints from the 5 internal flights we did last time.

I haven't been to San Diego but that's next on the list when I head over later this month. I hear the zoo is incredible, so with kids I'd make that the first stop.

As for money saving tips, you can save alot of money initially by getting a good airfare - we fly V Australia and usually save a fair bit. Also, try and get accommodation where Breakfast is included. They are usually full breakfasts and so you can fill up in the morning. We did this and never worried about lunch but just had a snack in the afternoon.

Also if you do end up driving I'd suggest you get a GPS, this was a real lifesaver for us. We had a road atlas that we brought over there but it was so easy with the GPS.

That's all I can think of for now.....if I think of something else I'll post :)

HTH

Los Angeles
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5. Re: So Excited our first trip to the US! Help needed!

To stay some of the time in LA, or not, really just depends on how many days you think you'd want to do stuff there. By car, most of LA could be reached in as little as 45 minutes or so when traffic is great, but will take a lot longer when traffic is bad. Planning your drives to try to avoid heavy traffic periods, especially weekday rush hours (7-9 AM and 4:30-7PM are the worst times, weekdays) would be important. If you're planing 4 or 5 days in LA, it probably makes more sense to get a hotel there for that part of the trip. Ditto for San Diego, which is quite a bit farther from Anaheim than LA is (though a lot of that route often has more favorable traffic).

As for Vegas, I wouldn't say there's nothing for your kids to do there, but Vegas is really oriented towards adults. Of course the casino and other interests there know this and want to make it as attractive as possible for families, so there is certainly some kid oriented stuff, but a lot of the things you and your SO might want to do, you won't be able to let the kids tag along.

Muskegon, Michigan
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6. Re: So Excited our first trip to the US! Help needed!

Hi, Zugfrig. First of all congratulations on your impending 10th year wedding anniversary...that is awesome....a decade of unity.

LA Vs. Anaheim as home base: Forgive me if I didnt get this right from your post, but you said there is a 14 day Disneyland pass for Australian visitors? wow......that is a lot of days to explore the theme parks if you choose even to use half of that... well, I would suggest making Anaheim your base since the hotels there are really more oriented towards families as opposed to Los Angeles, which not only is a really big city, but the lodging options are pretty varied too. I'd suggest renting a car in Anaheim and using it to explore Los Angeles, San Diego and of course Orange County itself and the things you can do around the places. Orange County has shopping centers, beaches and of course good theme parks in Knotts Berry Farm and Disneyland itself. Los Angeles, as I said, is huge....and lots of things to do and see there ( Hollywood, Beverly Hills, more beaches, etc....). San Diego has the best zoo arguably in the US, and also has Legoland for the kids. Lots to do and see for you guys once you arrive here :)

Las Vegas: As mentioned, as lovely as Las Vegas is for adults, it is a total pain for those under the age of 21. I would suggest you visit the Las Vegas forum here on TA and read the sticky entitled "Law Girl's rules to Vegas trips with children" or something like that. It is written by one of the good and helpful (and pretty) regulars on that forum, and her guide should help any parents on what to do on vegas trips where they have to bring their youngsters along. As for where to stay, I would consider a hotel in the South Strip area such as MGM or its sister the Signature or perhaps one of the new City Center ones. That area of the Strip has many things for families....the Center Strip area is of course better location wise, but really is not as diverse as its Southern neighbors. I can help you further if you'd like on Vegas and Anaheim matters, since I am a regular on the Vegas forum too.

Hope this helps so far :)

Huntington Beach...
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7. Re: So Excited our first trip to the US! Help needed!

It really breaks my heart to know that so many Australians come to the US with the idea that the only places worth seeing are Disneyland, Las Vegas and Hollywood. And therefore, that's all they end up seeing. Really tragic as the Western United States has so many scenic wonders. Here in Southern California we have hundreds of beautiful beaches, mountains with pine forests (not Eucalyptus), interesting deserts. We have a world renowned zoo, one of the best aquariums in the world, great theater and concert venues. Yosemite National Park, The Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zion National Parks, Lake Tahoe (oh I could go on for an hour) are among the natural wonders of the world.

Please don't limit your trip to the man-made fantasy destinations.

Australia
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8. Re: So Excited our first trip to the US! Help needed!

LSCats - Good point!!

We got off the beaten track last trip and totally enjoyed it.

Yosemite National Park - simply amazing!

Highly recommend (and the kids would love it).

Adelaide, Australia
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9. Re: So Excited our first trip to the US! Help needed!

Hi, I'm in Australia to.

When we went to Vegas my daughter was 17 and had alot of problems walking through the casino's. They can be tough on the kids!! We stayed at the Exhaulibur and walked the strip a few times but when we got to tired to walk it anymore we went to MGM to get the monorail (as like the others have said the strip is long). Dont forget to do Freemont street lights at night. I missed it but the kids loved it. The Grand Canyon is a must when your that close to.

As for LA. We're going in few weeks time. We're staying in Ahaheim and have a 2 day pass for Disneyland as we've been there before but then do day trips for other places. There's a good bus tour down to San Deigo, then you learn information on the way. That does either the zoo or sea world there. The zoo is huge and very hilly. Also cater for the weather too. We got caught out there when it turned really cold so had to buy jumpers.

You can also do day tours from Ahaheim to LA as well.

If you do hire a car dont forget to get the internation drivers license. It's not that expensive and easy to get from here.

Melbourne, Australia
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10. Re: So Excited our first trip to the US! Help needed!

Just a point re the International Drivers Permit. I've never needed one to rent a car in the US as Australian licenses are in English. The IDP is needed to rent car's in some countries where English is not the first language.

The 14 day pass is especially handy when Disneyland is open late as you can do sightseeing during the day, then head to DL at night.

I agree that it's worth getting out of the cities. Try to include a visit to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas, but best to rent a car & self drive, staying overnight at the South Rim.