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24 hours in LA area with a 4 year old

Harrison, Ohio
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24 hours in LA area with a 4 year old

Hello!

After reading through so many posts, I am hoping this will be the best place for recommendations.

We are taking a Princess cruise in November from the Port of LA and will have one day in the area after the cruise. We have never been to the West Coast and are open to pretty much anything. Seeing as it will be my husband my 4 year old (boy) and myself, we had originally thought we would do Disneyland but since we would have to choose one park and be very rushed, we have scratched that plan.

After looking, our thoughts are to visit Santa Monica pier, stay on the Queen Mary and hang out right near there, or stay in San Pedro and wonder around there. Also toying with the idea of the Sunseeker tour. We don't want to overfill our day with the 4 year old plus I have a few physical limitations.As of now, we are leaning away from renting a car but that is also an option.

Any recommendations or tips are definitely appreciated.

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1. Re: 24 hours in LA area with a 4 year old

With a 4 year old my inclination would still be Disneyland.

Regardless, rent the car. No need to hang around San Pedro or Long Beach. The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach is relatively close to San Pedro and it is popular with kids. I'd be less inclined to go to the Queen Mary, unless the child was really into ships (and the physical limitations aren't too severe), in which case I'd try to see the battleship Iowa, which is next to the San Pedro cruise terminal.

Near LAX, in Manhattan Beach, we have a touch tank aquarium at the end of our pier for kids. We also have a large playground and duck pond in Pollywog Park, about a mile inland.

Edited: 26 June 2014, 16:11
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2. Re: 24 hours in LA area with a 4 year old

Don't stay in San Pedro!! IF you don't want to go to Disneyland then decide what activities you'd like to do in LA and stay in LA. The folks on here will give you hotel ideas if you give them info about your budget in $$s.

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3. Re: 24 hours in LA area with a 4 year old

Keep it simple. Just hang in Santa Monica for 24 hours. Parents and child will be very happy. You'll be impressed and plan a proper return.

Here is a gorgeous new park near the pier which you'll love.

tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g33052-d49…

HTH

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4. Re: 24 hours in LA area with a 4 year old

For sure, rent a car.

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5. Re: 24 hours in LA area with a 4 year old

I'll start by saying that I'm not a huge 'theme park' fan. I've been to Disneyland and the others and had a great time but I wouldn't be apt to return anytime soon (On my one and only trip to Disney World, I met some people in a hot tub at the hotel who reported to me that this was their 19th visit to the Parks -- they visited twice a year).

With that said, I believe that visiting Disneyland for a day with a 4 year old after being on a cruise is a wonderful way to end a vacation. I'm not sure what you mean by 'being very rushed' and only being able to choose one park.

Yes, for a one-day visit, it makes the most sense to visit just one park (I'd recommend Disneyland) but you needn't feel rushed unless you feel the need to 'see as much as possible in that one day'. If that's what you're thinking, please stop thinking that way! Disneyland is a 'means', not an 'end'. The only goal you should have at Disneyland is to have fun -- not try to over-schedule things. You're not going to be able to 'see the whole Park' in one day but WHO CARES? Did your cruise take you to EVERY PORT in the world? Are you stressed at not being able to see the ENTIRE CITY of Los Angeles during your brief visit?

You will have spent several days on a schedule, arriving and departing at ports on a rigid schedule, racing off the ship for excursions and racing back to make it in time. Now, it's time to RELAX. If you've forgotten how, watch what the 4 year old does and imitate him.

In my 9 years with tripadvisor, not one family has complained that they had a bad time at Disneyland in spite of the fact that we've had tons of parents that have over-planned and over-scheduled their visits there, accompanied by lots of worrying.

It's time to stop worrying and simply enjoy the Happiest Place on Earth. Have a WONDERFUL visit.

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6. Re: 24 hours in LA area with a 4 year old

One more thing about going to Disneyland with a 4 year old - Tom Sawyer Island is one of several places that you can go within the park where the parent can have some down time while the kid gets to run around and have fun. I would put some of the open air shows in a similar category, places where a parent can just sit for a while.

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7. Re: 24 hours in LA area with a 4 year old

I don't think it matters.

With a 4-yr old, most anything on the trip , I imagine, is a wonder.

Perhaps, you can play it by ear.

Reserve a car, which you can cancel anytime, if you are nice.

Near the end of the cruise, you can decide what is best for the whole family.

Enjoy the cruise; there will be time for another visit.

Sincerely,

John

Harrison, Ohio
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8. Re: 24 hours in LA area with a 4 year old

Is there a particular reason NOT to stay in San Pedro? Safety, lack of things to do, etc

Disneyland was eliminated simply due to the cost to visit for just one day and we would have to choose between a visit to Carsland or Star Tours. These are the 2 highlights to the trip for my son. :-) Since they are both in different parks we thought maybe to save for another trip to LA and visit both.

The Queen Mary may be eliminated purely due to the fact that the one night rate for when we will be staying is pretty high.

For a 4 year old, he loves transportation of any kind and we would easily be able to make a day just about anywhere.

Thank you for all the suggestions, they are definitely helping to point me in a direction!

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9. Re: 24 hours in LA area with a 4 year old

San Pedro is a working industrial port with all the associated grit and charm. There are some nice residential areas in the hills above.

A lot depends you on and your family. A lot depends on what exactly you want to get out of the 24 hours. Is budget a constraint? i presumed if Disneyland was a possibility, you had some options. Is keeping it simple a priority? Staying near San Pedro would help in this regard. My concern is if you stayed in or near SP, you'd get a poor impression of LA and cross it off you list for the future. LA is a very large and complex place and immensely rewarding, if you dig to find the incredible stuff. To many visitors, LA is some tacky neighborhood called Hollywood surrounded by a morass of congested freeways. They arrive. They are disappointed. They never return. They miss literally everything. We're trying to avoid that here with you. We want you to see something memorable and enticing.

Thus, my suggestion to stay in Santa Monica. It is a splendid introduction to greater Los Angeles. But, if you find the rates too high or the fiddle of renting a car, driving there and back a hassle, I understand.

I agree with the notion four-year olds are still at that wonder age. So they are pretty easy to satisfy. I think Disneyland is total expensive overkill at that age. Maybe you just want a decent hotel in an attractive setting to let everyone unwind. A swimming pool would probably be a good idea. I would point out, hotel rates in LA tend to the expensive. If you're expecting Vegas rates, you're bound to be disappointed.

Tell us more about how you want to spend the 24 hours.

HTH

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10. Re: 24 hours in LA area with a 4 year old

I completely agree with Hitch and how he phrased his comments. San Pedro is an odd selection for a place to stay.

I assume that you are flying out of LAX so you will eventually have to get there, so I don't see any savings in travel costs by staying close to the cruise port. Santa Monica, El Segundo, the beach communities of Manhattan, Hermosa, and Redondo, all come to mind before San Pedro.

If you do rent a car you could go to the LA Zoo in Griffith Park. On the way you would pass downtown. Next to the zoo is Travel Town which is popular for children's birthdays. They have a bunch of trains there that the kids can climb on. It would take about an hour to get there. After the zoo you could drive through Hollywood and look at the gaggle of tourists, and then maybe drive up to the Griffith Park Observatory and admire the view. From there you could go to a hotel, maybe in Santa Monica.

Another alternative would be to go from the San Pedro cruise terminal to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. It is very good and it is popular (and unfortunately often crowded) with children. On the way to the aquarium you get to go on a tall bridge and see the port which I find interesting, with all of the trains, ships, and cranes. Long Beach is an urban area without a lot of beach, but it has some nice hotels and it has an area with restaurants & night life. This you might be able to do all via taxis and airport shuttle.

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