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Need help planning California trip

Pavilion, New York
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Need help planning California trip

My husband, 8 yr old and I are trying to plan trip to Cali. We want to fly into LAX go to Disney ( thinking of staying 3 nights there). Then we want to do the touristy things like Hollywood sign, Walk of fame, Universal Studios 1 day and go to a beach- do not know which to go to. Want to accomplish this all in a week. I am scared to drive because every post mentions how crazy it is. Any suggestions for the least amount of driving or using hired transportation would also be greatly appreciated.

Santa Monica, CA
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1. Re: Need help planning California trip

Welcome to TripAdvisor and the Los Angeles forum, Mary.

First, traffic issues are greatly overblown. I've experienced worse drivers when I lived on the east coast. There are a lot of cars, yes, but we are very civilized and easy to get along with (for the most part) and driving is not that bad.

If you want, you can spend your entire time in Anaheim and make trips from there (it's where Disneyland is located, about 1 hours' drive from LA).

You can visit Orange County beaches from there (you might want to rent a car for that and Universal Studios). There are bus tours available that take you to Hollywood, but you could actually do it yourself with a rental car - go to Hollywood, take the red line to Universal Studios, then return to Hollywood afterward and see the stars, hand/footprints, visit Griffith Observatory at night for the views, then drive back to Anaheim. I'd plan a day trip to Laguna Beach/Newport Beach, too.

If this sounds like a plan, please visit the Anaheim forum to ask more questions:


West Hollywood...
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2. Re: Need help planning California trip

I grew up just outside of NYC and lived there for a few years and honestly, the traffic in L.A. is not a big deal. Lots of visitors use Anaheim as a base, however (I wouldn't do it as you waste an inordinate amount of time transferring in and out of Los Angeles) but if it pleases you, go for it.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles is so much more than "central Hollywood" (which is a small neighborhood in the second-largest city in America). I invite you to learn about Los Angeles. There is lots of info about L.A. in our TOP QUESTIONS BOX at the right side of this page as well as links in the green bar at the top of this page. You'll need a computer (rather than a phone or tablet to see these). If you don't have one, here's a shortcut to this content (link and SCROLL DOWN for the content):


Look especially at the link that says WHAT TO DO.

Once you decide upon an itinerary other than Universal, Hollywood and a beach, let us know about it and we can make recs for the best neighborhood in which to stay. Imo, you can see Universal and nearby Hollywood on the same day (the walk of fame and chinese theater are open 24 hours a day); you'll need a 'day at the beach' so that leaves 2 more days to fill.

Once you have some itinerary ideas, tell us your budget for a hotel as well as your exact travel dates.

BTW, some locals shudder at the thought of the word "Cali" so you might want to use CA.

Los Angeles
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3. Re: Need help planning California trip

I wouldn't worry about the driving thing too much. We have people coming here all the time from foreign countries where they're used to driving on the other side of the road and they manage fine. I've seen driving situations in Manhattan that are a lot worse than anything you'd normally find in LA. If you can handle highway driving in the New York area, you can handle the freeways here.

For sure a 3 day visit to Disneyland, you should stay in Anaheim for those nights. From LAX you can take the Disneyland Express bus to most of the hotels around Disneyland, then visit Disney for a few days, then if you decide to drive, you can pick up a car for the rest of the trip since you won't really need one at Disneyland. Alternatively, you can reach the central LA area from Disneyland via public transportation (taxi / bus to the Fullerton train station, then Amtrak / Metrolink train to Union Station in downtown LA, then subway or bus to wherever you decide to stay) or private bus (look up Lux Bus America's hotel shuttle service).

As to where to stay in LA, Hollywood or downtown tend to be best for most tourist itineraries without a car. With a car, many more choices - you can add West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Westwood, Santa Monica and other areas to potential places to stay, depending on budget. Santa Monica is the most central beach area in LA and is a great beach to visit. Malibu, Manhattan Beach or Hermosa Beach are other alternatives for a beach day, though I would not suggest staying at any of these, especially without a car, as public transit access in these places isn't very good and even with a car they are more or less not central.

Fremont, California
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for San Francisco
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4. Re: Need help planning California trip

You have already done the right things in terms of minimizing driving.

You want to see Disneyland and Hollywood.

Just stay by the park in Anaheim.

Then drive across town (or take a shuttle from Disneyland area to Hollywood) and stay in Hollywood.

We like the Magic castle Hotel in Hollywood - its older, but there are also more trendier places to stay there.

and from there you can walk to almost everything in Hollywood including Metro to take you to Universal Studios. There is also a lot of tours that leave Hollywood area to explore other areas of the greater LA area.

5. Re: Need help planning California trip

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