We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Need some ideas for Family trip to west coast

Level Contributor
1 post
3 reviews
Save Topic
Need some ideas for Family trip to west coast

Hello, im hoping someone could help me in planning a 14night holiday on the West Coast this December. 2 adults a 14yr old and 18yr old. I was thinking of doing vegas , including GC , los angeles, and san fran....or is that too much travelling? The kids are into everything about LA and hollywood but also love outdoor activities, and beaches but im just finding it hard to put it all together...please help!!!!

San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
52,061 posts
149 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Need some ideas for Family trip to west coast

Well you can fly into one of the 3 cities LA or SF or LV and start there If you do LV, a couple of days then drive to GC for an overnight before driving to LA for 4 days then up the coast to Pismo Beach and then Monterey and then to SF for 4 days

Have a look at the top questions on the right for ideas and each forum has TQs with more info. LV and GC are not in CA so please check those fora as well

San Diego
Destination Expert
for San Diego
Level Contributor
62,507 posts
67 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Need some ideas for Family trip to west coast

December is not always beach weather here in California unless you are wearing a wet suit!

We do not have tropical weather like in Florida so temps will be in the 60s F and ocean water temps will be similar. Also it is possible for snow at that time at the Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon National Park is a good 5 hr. drive from Las Vegas.

DO read the ideas on the right side of the page and then come back when you and the teens have had time to think about what they'd like to see/do.

Sorry I forgot we were on the LA page. IF you go up to the general California page there will be info about the coastal drive. If you go to the San Francisco page there will be info about SF. You can only see this info on the main web site and not on your phone app.

Edited: 02 September 2013, 15:04
Santa Monica...
Destination Expert
for Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Mammoth Lakes
Level Contributor
28,332 posts
38 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Need some ideas for Family trip to west coast

I wouldn't try to fit in GC with only two weeks. Two weeks is ideal for San Francisco to LA and all in between.

Read the Top Questions in the California forum (one up from the LA forums) about the trip between the two.

Santa Monica, CA
Destination Expert
for Santa Monica
Level Contributor
18,139 posts
249 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Need some ideas for Family trip to west coast

First,, welcome to TripAdvisor and the Los Angeles forum.

My concern about the Vegas/Grand Canyon part is that, in December, the GC could be snowed in. At the very least, terribly cold. Las Vegas does not have a great deal to offer the underaged visitor, so consider visiting it for two nights, three if you want to include the GC, weather permitting.

The right hand side of this page can help you with Los Angeles information. You should research movie lot tours.

There are many outdoor opportunities that don't include swimming (too cold in December). You should try to get out on a boat to do some whale watching.


We have great outdoor areas in the Santa Monica mountains, including Griffith Park:




Santa Monica is a fun place for young people, especially the 3rd St. Promenade.

I would fly into LAX, do the LA portion of your trip, fly to Las Vegas for 2 nights, fly to San Francisco, then drive down Pacific Coast Highway, taking your time, back to Los Angeles. You may need to modify your drive depending on weather. Don't drive PCH during heavy rain or if there has been heavy rain recently.

Use Southwest Airlines for your local flights. The sooner you can book, the better the rates you will find.

If you decide not to fly, you will probably need to take San Francisco or Las Vegas out of your plans or all you will be doing is looking out of car windows!

If you decide to drive, please refer to the Road Trips forum, where you will probably get better information:


London, England
Level Contributor
275 posts
36 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Need some ideas for Family trip to west coast

We had lovely weather in California one year over New Year in San Diego and Palm Springs. Would that be an option? Fly into LAX and do Hollywood, universal etc then drive down to San Diego and then to Palm Springs and maybe back round via Death Valley etc?

Los Angeles
Destination Expert
for Los Angeles
Level Contributor
15,783 posts
58 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Need some ideas for Family trip to west coast

I would suggest centering such a trip on San Francisco, LA and the drive in between them - and if there's time left, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon (can be done as side trip from Vegas). Keep in mind however that Las Vegas is mainly oriented towards adults - gambling is only allowed at 21 years of age and older, and a lot of shows etc. there are adults only. So its probably not a place I'd want to spend a lot of time with my kids with me.

In any case, the beautiful, scenic coastal drive between LA and San Francisco is covered extensively in the top questions in the California forum, so I'd start there and see if that drive interests you.

Torrance, California
10 posts
Save Reply
7. Re: Need some ideas for Family trip to west coast

Heres a list of things to do!

-Hiking in Red Rock

-Bonnie Springs

-ice skating at the Cosmo or Venetian (I prefer Cosmo)

-Mt Charleston (sledding + hot coco)

-Shopping: Fashion Show, The district, City within the city, The Galleria, Tivoli Village, Townsquare, Premium outlet,The forums at Caesars palace and more.

-Sunset park holiday lights

-Shark reef at Mandalay bay

-Food: Buldogis, Raising Canes, Sambalatte, Max Brenners, Islands, BJs, Texas De Brazil, Hot N Juicy or Boiling crab is delish, Tofu hut-korean bbq and more! Lots of great buffets (The M, Bellagio, Planet Hollywood, Rio)

You can do Red Rock- Scenic route, no need to hike if you dont want to. Waterfalls probably frozen in Ice box canyon & Bonnie Springs- ("haunted" western town, great for families Zoo & shows) in a day if you exit in the north side, you can go to Tivoli Village & Red Rock Hotel area LOTS of places to eat like BJ's, Islands, The Yardhouse is at the hotel? I think, Sambalatte & more.

Another day...

You can go to M&M world, Coca Cola world, rides or just enjoy the view from the stratosphere, if you're into rides- The adventuredome, ice skating, the mile shops, explore hotels- theres a show in the venetian you can see characters walking around after-take pictures and you can take a ride on the gondola-also a quick show at caesars, grab a bite at a buffet or restaurant.

Another day,

If there's plenty of snow on Mt Charleston, sledding would be fun. Or do some exploring off the strip! Or theres also Fremont and there's a light show & ziplining& performances (diff bands)...near there is the North premium outlet and The Plaza has great Prime Rib!

If you were to do Vegas...

-Red Rock (& Bonnie Springs, if you'd like) in the day, if you're not too tired, explore the strip at night. Eat around Red rock hotel. I'd say if you're not staying ON the strip, park at the Bellagio. Take pictures in there! They change the settings for each season, its beautiful. From there everything is in good walking distance. Go to Planet Hollywood, City within the city (if you're willing to walk), Venetian, Eat at Caesars palace Serendipity and get a frozen hot chocolate! A bit pricy but big portions.

-Maybe visit the Hoover Dam. Go shopping! Fashion show, Premium outlets and Townsquare, definitely. Relax. If you're up for it, drive through sunset park lights. Or go ice skating. Stroll through Fremont or the strip if you didn't get to everything.

Second option, skip the 2nd and take a trip to the GC!


-Santa Monica Pier/Promenade

-Venice Beach

-Universal Studios, if not too cold

-Warner Bros Tour

-Griffith Observatory

-Griffith Park

-LACMA, Natural History Museum, Getty Center, La Brea tarpits

-Fashion District/Chinatown/Korea town

-If its a good day, do a picnic at the Korean Bell in Palos Verdes

There's lots you can do, depending on what you like!

If you're heading to SF...

Stop at Monterey, explore Cannery Row. There's usually lots to see and do. There is also a wildlife zoo, where you can also be interactive with the animals. I forget what its called. Its near by. Do the monterey Aquarium! Its 2 hours from SF.

While you're in SF, you can visit Old Sacramento- cute shops, places to eat, train ride, things to see. Visit the Capital building, its pretty cool.

For this 14 day trip..

2-3 nights vegas, 5 nights LA, 1 night Monterey, 5 nights in SF.

Day 1: Arrive/Relax/Explore

Day 2: Leave EARLY, day in GC

Day 3: Relax day/Explore (Do red rock or whatever you like, Head to LA. 4th day optional)

Day 4: Check out (Do red rock, last min shopping/exploring or whatever you like, if you didn't the previous day) Head to LA.

Day 5: Beach day- Check out Venice Beach in the day, head to Santa Monica 2 hrs before sunset, enjoy some rides on the pier then visit the promenade. Grab a bite and shop.

Day 6: Spend a day checking out some Museums (LACMA, NHM, La Brea, Getty Center) Ripleys if you want to go around Hollywood.

Day 7: City walk/Universals Studio

Day 8: Griffith Observatory. Watch the show. Go around the park. Rent some bikes. Have a picnic. Check out the map. Theres things to do.

Day 9: Have a family day: Do the LA zoo in Griffith Park.

Day 10: Check out. Head to Monterey. The 101 is beautiful. (Hearst Castle is also on the way to Monterey if you want to make a stop) Explore Monterey

Day 11: Monterey Aquarium, explore monterey more or go to the wildlife park and head to SF

Day 12: Visit the Golden Gate Bridge

Day 13: Visit Old Sacramento/Capital

Day 14/15: Anything else on your list! Head home.

Just an idea. Rearrange or take any ideas from that!

Torrance, California
10 posts
Save Reply
8. Re: Need some ideas for Family trip to west coast

My response is scattered. Haha sorry for that, I hope that gives you some what of an idea, and also there's this little danish town called Solvang, 3 hrs from LA if you want to spend a day there.

It has cute shops, greaaat food, definitely different and places near by! There's a winery and ostrich farm I think. Lol.

Hope my scattered response helps!

Manhattan Beach...
Level Contributor
4,051 posts
103 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Need some ideas for Family trip to west coast

To expand on Geraldine' s response, we have taken our kids to Las Vegas a lot since it is a cheaper Christmas than some of the other places we could end up. We can usually find suitable shows that everyone wants to see, like Blue Man Group, Jersey Boys, or Cirque du Soleil.

If you go to Grand Canyon, it is an easy drive, but it is 4 to 5 hours each way from Las Vegas. The killer about Grand Canyon is that it is a spectacular, must-see sight, but if you are not hiking, most people have had their fill after an hour. We did like seeing the ranger's California Condor lecture (when we were there the lecture was timed around the bird's daily arrival). This was extreme bad luck, but one friend drove straight from LA to Grand Canyon at New Years and arrived the one day of the year that it was socked in by fog.

If your kids are into Harry Potter or Batman, consider the Warner Brothers studio tour in LA. The props and costumes are all on display. It reminded me of viewing religious relics.

10. Re: Need some ideas for Family trip to west coast

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 05 September 2014, 05:18