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Opinions on March itinerary

Newmarket, ON
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Opinions on March itinerary

We are coming from Canada and will be in the LA area March 1st to 12th. We have two kids: our son, 9 and daughter, 12 and we like to do a little of everything on vacation. We've been to other big cities and live near Toronto, so we want to do unique to LA/California things and enjoy the weather.

We are arriving late (11pm our time) on the 1st, so we are planning on staying at an airport hotel the first night

We are definitely doing 2 days at Disney, one at each park, thinking we will stay for three nights in the Anaheim area at some point during the trip. Probably 5th to 8th but we haven't decided yet whether lower crowds during the week is worth giving up Fantasmic and Fireworks for?

We've ruled out other themeparks and studio tours, we've been to the taping of a TV show at home, and my husband isn't a big fan of rides.

Other things we are looking at:

- whale watching trip (is it worth it this time of year/where from?)

- day trip or overnight to see/experience the desert (which one/what to do/where to stay?)

- Getty Museum

- Griffith Observatory

- Science Centre (mostly to see the shuttle)

- La Brea Tar Pits and Museum

- Hollywood area: Chinese theatre and walk of fame

- walk down Rodeo drive (just to say we've been there)

- drive through Beverly Hills? (also just to say we've been there)

- a beach, thinking Santa Monica with a bike ride down the boardwalk (will there be surfers there?)

We are trying to stay as flexible as possible so we can maximize our time outside on nice days.

I THINK it would be best to stay at the LAX airport hotel, head to Disney/ desert, then come back and stay in the Hollywood area, but I'm not sure.

Advice on these plans, which ones we can combine into one day, and anything we should add or skip would be appreciated. We plan to rent a car for the entire time, unless anyone has a better idea. We don't mind public transit, but we also don't mind driving in traffic we just would rather not sit in traffic jams!

Thank you!

Nashville, Tennessee
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1. Re: Opinions on March itinerary

You can bundle Griffith Observatory, Hollywood, La Brea Tar Pits in one day, and depending on how much time you spend in Hollywood (can be done in less than 2 hours to see it) you could possibly do the science center on the same day. Do Griffith for the sunset, as it's beautiful. Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, Getty on one day, and then spend a day in Santa Monica on another day.

Whale watching season is until mid march, so you may still be able to catch whales while here. I would take a tour from Long Beach if you do it, which is a drive of an hour, give or take, depending on traffic.

As for the desert, Palm Springs and the surrounding communities are popular places to go, I personally like being in Palm Springs. It's about a two hour drive from Los Angeles with no traffic.

Since you're going to have a car, I would rethink staying in Hollywood. It's overrated, and once you see what you want to see, it's quite boring in my opinion. Think about the Beverly Grove area, or maybe even stay in Santa Monica. Let us know your budget for hotel, and we can recommend some hotels.

Edited: 17 January 2014, 22:26
Nashville, Tennessee
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2. Re: Opinions on March itinerary

p.s. March is prime season for the Palm Springs area, so expect some hotels to require a 2+ night minimum (not all do though) and expect prices to be a bit higher.

Rancho Santa...
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3. Re: Opinions on March itinerary

No, don't stay at an LAX hotel. The flight from Toronto isn't a big deal. If you can afford it, I'd say stay in Santa Monica for a couple of nights first and soak up some SoCal ambiance. Then head to Disney and desert. On your return, don't stay in Hollywood. Yes, you can do it in two hours, unless you've got a thing for wax museums or you want to see a movie on one of the historic screens (i.e. Chinese, Egyptian or El Capitan). I'd say the Beverly Grove area would be better as it is centrally located and pedestrian friendly. I stayed at the Farmer's Daughter last summer with some friends from NYC. It is across the street from the Farmer's Market/The Grove. My friends loved it.

tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g32655-d119479-…

The Natural History Museum is next to the Science Center and very worthwhile. That would add a few hours to your visit. The Grammy Museum downtown at LA Live is likely to be of interest. Consider adding that.

tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g32655-d10…

tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g32655-d17…

For a beach experience, I'd say drive up the coast one morning to Zuma Beach and Point Dume. There's a wonderful overlook at Point Dume with fantastic views of the Pacific and Santa Monica Bay.

tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g32676-d94…

For sheer local character, consider stopping at Philippe's. It is the city's oldest restaurant.

tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g32655-d3647…

HTH

california
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4. Re: Opinions on March itinerary

Since you're arriving at 11 pm, and it will likely take you an hour to get out of the airport, it makes perfect sense to stay nearby, and by the way, LAX hotels are not confined to Century Boulevard. There are some very nice ones on the south side of the airport, in El Segundo or Manhattan Beach, which offer suites, included breakfasts and LAX shuttle service (or a $15 taxi ride if you are too tired to wait). You could do a beach morning nearby in Manhattan Beach (much more of a true beach scene than Santa Monica, IMO, unless you want to visit the SM fun zone on the pier). There is a nice walking path and a small aquatic display on the pier http://www.roundhouseaquarium.org/ Check the car rentals available off=airport (eg Enterprise or Hertz in El Segundo), you may find that the total price is better since you don't pay the extra airport surcharges.

Then head south or east to Disney or the desert, depending on what you decide (personally I would do the days with Fireworks and parades).

For the city part of your stay, really depends on budget and itinerary, as Santa Monica is expensive although you may find hotels around West LA to Beverly Hills area that works out to be centrally located.

I would go with either Harbor Breeze out of Long Beach or Captain Dave out of Dana Point for whale watching. You can check the sightings logs but you should be able to see the grays in March. Will your kids be okay with rough water? To see whales they will go outside the breakwaters.

United States
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5. Re: Opinions on March itinerary

I don't think it makes any sense to stay near the airport at arrival time, it's 8pm and you need to start getting used to the time change otherwise you'll be waking up at 3:30am every day and ready for bed at 7. Make the easy drive to Anaheim and get an early start at Disney next morning. You won't have to deal with the morning Los Angeles traffic nightmares.

Also, consider a couple of nights in Santa Barbara instead of Palm Springs. It's a much nicer drive, there's more to do with the kids, and of course you'll have miles of beach.

West Hollywood...
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6. Re: Opinions on March itinerary

Don't stay at an airport hotel. It will take 15 or 20 minutes for the airport hotel's 'free shuttle' to arrive at your terminal, make its way around the airport (stopping at as many as 8 terminals) and then heading to the hotel. It will take just 5 or 10 minutes longer to take a taxi to Santa Monica (or, as migb, suggested, the same 15 or 20 minutes, to take a taxi to Manhattan Beach).

By getting away from the 'airport hotels', you'll wake up 'at the beach'. You won't need a car at the beach. When you're ready to move on, rent a car. If you stay at an airport hotel, you'll wake up at an airport hotel. You'll then need to fuss with transferring to a car rental office and then driving to wherever you're going to stay. (What a waste of time!).

Santa Monica, CA
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7. Re: Opinions on March itinerary

- whale watching trip (is it worth it this time of year/where from?): It's been a banner year for whale sightings. You can go from Dana Point or Newport Beach, I believe (while you're in Anaheim would be easiest). Whale season is from November through May.

- day trip or overnight to see/experience the desert (which one/what to do/where to stay?) - Palm Springs is great for families. They have a very neat desert zoo, aerial tram, and of course Joshua Tree National Park.

- Griffith Observatory - Science Centre (mostly to see the shuttle) - La Brea Tar Pits and Museum -Hollywood area: Chinese theatre and walk of fame: You can do this in one day. First, visit Hollywood - it will only take an hour or two. Next, head to La Brea Tar Pits and Page Museum. After that, if it's lunchtime, check out the Grove/Original Farmers Market nearby. Afterward, go to the Science Center - it is quite good. Take family photos at Exposition Park, outside. The roses should just be blooming in March. Visit Griffith Observatory in the evening.

If you don't have time for the whale watch while staying in Anaheim, you could do it from Marina del Rey while staying in LA:

http://mdrsf.com/whalewatching.html

Edited: 18 January 2014, 06:55
Santa Monica...
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8. Re: Opinions on March itinerary

Don't stay at an LAX hotel - it will make your vacation more work than necessary (checking in, checking out, being far from everything). Go to Santa Monca, start your vacation there for a couple nights, do the bike ride, etc. Palm Springs is gorgeous in March, but as stated, it's prime season so you will want to go mid or early week so you can do just one night at a hotel.

california
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9. Re: Opinions on March itinerary

I assume Canadians go thru immigration and customs at LAX? That can easily take an hour, plus the hassle of getting the rental car (all off site). Even if you decide to pickup the car after you arrive, and then head to a hotel, it will be 10 pm local time (1 am your time) by the time your young family gets settled in.

Some of the suites hotels for families south of the airport are Hyatt House El Segundo and the Manhattan Beach Residence Inn. They are 1.5-2 miles from the beach in Manhattan Beach, there is a nice Westfield shopping mall at Rosecrans and Sepulveda, supermarkets, restaurants, Target store, etc.

I think you will find Manhattan Beach safe, clean, convenient, and family-friendly.

Before booking your hotels, be sure to check the Disney calendars, to see when Fireworks and Fantasmic are playing. At the moment only March 1 is up, hopefully the balance of the month will be up soon.

Newmarket, ON
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10. Re: Opinions on March itinerary

Fantastic input, keep it coming!!! THANK YOU! I think I need more time. :)

Definitely adding the Grove/Farmers Market, Phillippes is exactly the kind of place we like to find, looking at all the beach options mentioned.

I need to look into the rough water for the whale watching, me and the kids are fine, hubby maybe not. He and I have been in the Bay of Fundy before, but that is much smoother. Where would I find sighting logs?

My daughter is jumping up and down about the Grammy museum and Palm Springs sounds great!

I guess I should have mentioned, we are flying out of Buffalo, ($1000 less) so we have 7 hours of flight/layover time, and a 3 hour drive that day. So no immigration but tired enough that driving a rental car in the dark in an unfamiliar city doesn't sound like a good idea. We planned to take a taxi to the hotel that night, and then shuttle back to the airport to get a rental car in the morning. (We'll be up early after all!)

I like the idea of a taxi to a hotel at/near a beach and then rent a car and go from there. However, if we go with an offsite rental, we would have to get back to LAX at the end of the vacation. Any thoughts on how we can do this or avoid a one way car rental if we go this route?

Edited: 18 January 2014, 18:17