3 weeks in West coast (December'23)

Old Jan 29th, 2023, 10:16 PM
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Just 2 quick comments . . . days 3 and 4 is best combined on the same day. They are all in essentially the same part of town. For example the boats to Alcatraz leave from Pier 33 which is about a 5 minute walk from Pier 39.

Day 6 is a non-starter You mention taking he 'scenic route' for the drive. That would be Highway 1 + 101 which (assuming Hwy 1 is open) is a 7 + hour drive without a single stop. You definitely wouldn't have time for any of those great kid-friendly sites along the way.
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Old Jan 30th, 2023, 04:13 AM
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How many other adults are you travelling with?
You've definitely planned out an epic bachelor-style vacation, though it translates quite poorly with two very young kids.

What will the kids be doing, and who will be watching them, during the multiple zipline tours?
Who will carry the kids, or push them in strollers, during the multiple back-to-back days of near nonstop walking/standing?

You will be at Disney/Universal during the largest crowds of the year (likely the last several years) = horrible experience.
You plan lots of "walking around" in SF/LA/LV, which have been overrun by crime and drugs in recent years.
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Old Jan 30th, 2023, 07:21 AM
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Where is your first zipline experience? I have seen the one in Las Vegas in action at the Fremont Street Experience in the older section of Las Vegas (north of the "strip"). If you want to be close to the zipline and the overhead light show of Fremont Street, check out the Golden Nugget. They have the worlds largest gold nugget on public display. They also have a swimming pool with a slide that goes through the shark tank.
The Golden Nugget also has a great all you can eat buffet upstairs. You can lead children through the casino as long as they don't touch any of the gaming machines.
A favorite of my son when he took the grand kids to LV was Circus Circus.
While in Santa Barbara, try to visit the great zoo. North of Joshua Tree NP, you can see lots of Joshua trees and some sand dunes in the Mojave National Preserve. Buffalo Bills casino in Primm NV (exit 1) has a big roller coaster. Bonnie & Clyde's shot up car is also in Primm.

Last edited by tomfuller; Jan 30th, 2023 at 07:30 AM. Reason: added info
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Old Jan 30th, 2023, 09:42 AM
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Santa Barbara with kids is great, especially its wonderful zoo. But, going from Monterey to Santa Barbara in one day will be a nightmare. Instead, consider stopping in Morro Bay or Pismo Beach. Take Vegas out of the mix completely and spend more quality time in kid-friendly areas. Santa Cruz and Monterey are great places to see ocean life, big redwood trees, and nature. Much better than Las Vegas.
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Old Jan 30th, 2023, 11:02 AM
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Sooo much driving with little kids. I mean this in the nicest way, but I feel sorry for them.

I would spend at least two days driving San Francisco to L.A. Your kids would enjoy the Monterey Aquarium and viewing the elephant seals at Piedras Blancas (near San Simeon). Cross your fingers that weather-caused rockslides/landslides don't close Hwy. 1 and make this drive impossible. (The drive wouldn't be possible today because a section is closed due to slides that occurred earlier this month.)

I live in L.A. and never understand the appeal of walking around in Hollywood. Disneyland and Universal, I get. Hollywood, no. It's just not an appealing area of L.A., and the homeless crisis makes it even worse. Your 6 y.o. would likely enjoy the La Brea Tar Pits a whole lot more. A whole lot.

If you keep all of these destinations (which I also don't recommend), you should re-order things. Universal Studios > L.A.> Disneyland > Palm Springs > Joshua Tree > Las Vegas. Stay 2 nights near Disneyland so that you have a full day to visit the park (or at least as long as the kids can handle). Driving back and forth between L.A. to Disneyland would eat time and patience,

Check the overall cost of the one-way car rental (pick-up S.F., drop-off L.V.). Pre-Covid, there were some companies that didn't add a one-way surcharge, but car rental terms and rates may have changed.

Last edited by Jean; Jan 30th, 2023 at 11:05 AM.
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Old Jan 30th, 2023, 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by bluegrass1
How many other adults are you travelling with?
You've definitely planned out an epic bachelor-style vacation, though it translates quite poorly with two very young kids.

What will the kids be doing, and who will be watching them, during the multiple zipline tours?
Who will carry the kids, or push them in strollers, during the multiple back-to-back days of near nonstop walking/standing?

You will be at Disney/Universal during the largest crowds of the year (likely the last several years) = horrible experience.
You plan lots of "walking around" in SF/LA/LV, which have been overrun by crime and drugs in recent years.
Hahaha yea, I have not travelled with 2 kids before and thats why I started this thread to get your experience and suggestions before I book anything.
We are total 4 adults, 5 year old, 6 year old and 2 year old.

I will take stroller for little one and 6 year old can walk with us. I am not going to be walking around 10 hours a day but take it easy and take cabs to different places.
Disneyland and Universal will be hectic thats why I have a day after to rest up or may be I will keep a day in between before I go to another destination.

When you say overrun with crime and drugs, is it not safe to walk around during day time? I wont be going out in the night much anyways. Any suggestion how to avoid any crime or such areas? bluegrass
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Old Jan 30th, 2023, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by tomfuller
Where is your first zipline experience? I have seen the one in Las Vegas in action at the Fremont Street Experience in the older section of Las Vegas (north of the "strip"). If you want to be close to the zipline and the overhead light show of Fremont Street, check out the Golden Nugget. They have the worlds largest gold nugget on public display. They also have a swimming pool with a slide that goes through the shark tank.
The Golden Nugget also has a great all you can eat buffet upstairs. You can lead children through the casino as long as they don't touch any of the gaming machines.
A favorite of my son when he took the grand kids to LV was Circus Circus.
While in Santa Barbara, try to visit the great zoo. North of Joshua Tree NP, you can see lots of Joshua trees and some sand dunes in the Mojave National Preserve. Buffalo Bills casino in Primm NV (exit 1) has a big roller coaster. Bonnie & Clyde's shot up car is also in Primm.
Hi Tomfuller,
I saw zipline and gandola option in Joshua national park and since we dont get snow during christmas in Melbourne, I thought of heading to national park at that time to enjoy some snow.
Thanks for some solid options to look at.
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Old Jan 30th, 2023, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Jean
Sooo much driving with little kids. I mean this in the nicest way, but I feel sorry for them.

I would spend at least two days driving San Francisco to L.A. Your kids would enjoy the Monterey Aquarium and viewing the elephant seals at Piedras Blancas (near San Simeon). Cross your fingers that weather-caused rockslides/landslides don't close Hwy. 1 and make this drive impossible. (The drive wouldn't be possible today because a section is closed due to slides that occurred earlier this month.)

I live in L.A. and never understand the appeal of walking around in Hollywood. Disneyland and Universal, I get. Hollywood, no. It's just not an appealing area of L.A., and the homeless crisis makes it even worse. Your 6 y.o. would likely enjoy the La Brea Tar Pits a whole lot more. A whole lot.

If you keep all of these destinations (which I also don't recommend), you should re-order things. Universal Studios > L.A.> Disneyland > Palm Springs > Joshua Tree > Las Vegas. Stay 2 nights near Disneyland so that you have a full day to visit the park (or at least as long as the kids can handle). Driving back and forth between L.A. to Disneyland would eat time and patience,

Check the overall cost of the one-way car rental (pick-up S.F., drop-off L.V.). Pre-Covid, there were some companies that didn't add a one-way surcharge, but car rental terms and rates may have changed.

Thats a great option Jean, I mite break the SF to LA in 2 breaks and visit more places.
Disneyland is only an hour away from LA which isnt a lot and we are used to driving an hour to get anywhere.
The trip is not only for kids but us too and since its our first time, I would love to walk around hollywood.
I will look into reordering things as you suggested, could you suggest a good location to stay where there is no crime and child friendly?

So I will rent a car from SF to LA, should i keep the car to visit around LA (universal/disneyland) or leave the car?
Is it not worth having own car to go to Joshua and Vegas and drop the car in vegas?
I dont know how it works out there but here we can pick up and drop off any city.
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Old Jan 30th, 2023, 04:29 PM
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This is really not a child-friendly trip. If I were you (!), I would have a day less in SF, skip Universal which is not a small-kid place, spend no more than two nights in Las Vegas, if you really have to go, skip Palm Springs, Joshua Tree NP. Do visit the Monterey Aquarium which the kids will love, especially the 6-yr-old. Do drive down to San Diego where you can take the kids to Legoland in Carlsbad and the San Diego Zoo. Spend more days in Hawaii. I'm not sure about whale watching with such young kids.

I understand that you want adult things as it's your first trip, but if the kids are miserable, you will be too.

Be prepared for all kinds of weather. This year is much colder and wetter than average. Who knows what it will be like next year!
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Old Jan 30th, 2023, 07:23 PM
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Makkks, I live in L.A. Depending on where and when you start your drive to Disneyland, esp. if it's a weekday, it could easily take 90 minutes. It could take longer than 90 minutes if there is a traffic "event" (or two) along the way or if it's raining. If this drive ends up happening on Friday, Dec. 22nd, there will be heavier traffic as people leave town for the holidays. You would be able to use the high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane (farthest left), but this will still be a long, patience-testing slog.

You need the car in L.A. and Anaheim. I like Barbara's suggestion of going south after Disneyland rather than east to P.S., J.T. and L.V. Lots to see/do.

If your primary interest in L.A. is Universal, you might want to stay nearby in order to get an early start in the morning. Universal is on the San Fernando Valley side of the Santa Monica Mountains, not the city side. But if you identify other things you want to do in L.A., another area could be more central. Driving across the city (say, from Universal to the Santa Monica Pier, not that I'm recommending S.M.) could easily take an hour on a mid-week day.

As I said, you should check the current car rental terms and rates of a few companies. Lots of things changed during Covid, and I don't know if everything is back to the before-times. Also, unless you bring them from home, you need to check the rental cost of the two child seats you'll need (by law in California). The younger one will have to face the rear unless he/she exceeds 39 pounds/39 inches (18kg./100 cm.), and some kids don't like being unable to see or interact with the adults. Neither child can sit in the front passenger seat.
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Old Jan 31st, 2023, 03:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Makkks
Thanks Sameer,
I have included the places you have mentioned.
Any recommendation on place to stay in these places?
Where to book hire car, accommodation?
The West Coast of the United States offers a wide range of options for car rental and accommodations. Here are some popular websites that you can use to rent a car and book accommodation:

car rental:
  • Hertz
  • Avis
  • Enterprise
  • Budget Car Rental
Accommodation:
  • Booking com
  • Airbnb
  • Hotels com
  • Expedia
These websites offer a variety of options for car rental and accommodations ranging from budget to luxury in various locations along the West Coast. You can compare prices, read reviews from previous customers, and book online, making it easy to find the right car and accommodation for your journey.

Last edited by sameer_kr; Jan 31st, 2023 at 03:15 AM. Reason: some error
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Old Jan 31st, 2023, 04:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Makkks
Hahaha yea, I have not travelled with 2 kids before and thats why I started this thread to get your experience and suggestions before I book anything.
We are total 4 adults, 5 year old, 6 year old and 2 year old.
I will take stroller for little one and 6 year old can walk with us. I am not going to be walking around 10 hours a day but take it easy and take cabs to different places.
Disneyland and Universal will be hectic thats why I have a day after to rest up or may be I will keep a day in between before I go to another destination.
When you say overrun with crime and drugs, is it not safe to walk around during day time? I wont be going out in the night much anyways. Any suggestion how to avoid any crime or such areas?
I'm not trying to burst your bubble, but I would carefully consider all the feedback you've received, and completely rework your itinerary.
I don't see this trip being enjoyable for anyone, adults or kids. With so many separate stops, the amount of time you'll spend getting to/from airports, getting to/from rental car agencies, sitting in airports, flying, checking in/out of hotels, driving from destination to destination, finding parking, ect is staggering.

And doing this all with THREE kids age 2-6?
You mention taking cabs, but how will that work transporting 4 adults and 3 kids that need to be in carseats?
And you think the 5 year old and 6 year old have enough stamina to spend two full straight days walking/standing in crowds at amusement parks, then walking around Hollywood?

The way to avoid the crime/drugs/homelessness in these cities is to avoid them. I personally would not vacation in any of these cities with my family at this time. Not trying to fear monger, I just think you should know what the realities are in these cities.
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Old Jan 31st, 2023, 05:58 AM
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The car you will need to rent is a big van. Someone mentioned one way rental. I have read here that one way rentals may be available for renters outside the US so that may work for you.
Yes, you want this to be your trip also but things done for and with the kids becomes a great time for the adults too. You are traveling at a peak time. California traffic is something to be considered--in all the places you will be--as has been pointed out by people who experience it daily.
You talk about "walking around". You REALLY want to research what you want to see when you are walking around or it will be a valuable vacation day wasted. La Brea Tar Pits is mentioned. Don't miss. Art museums. Children's museums?


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Old Jan 31st, 2023, 06:56 AM
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I agree with Barbara and Jean. SanDiego is a great option particularly with kids.

I would spend a night or 2 near Disneyland to take full advantage of it.

Once one has kids, vacations become about them. Happy kids, happy parents.
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Old Jan 31st, 2023, 07:10 AM
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There is far too much to unpack here including some revisions to your itinerary which I wouldn't make such as Palm Springs/Joshua Tree instead of the Grand Canyon for example. If there is snow, you do not have to pay an arm and a leg for snowplay and not everyone enjoys the vertigo-inducing tram ride (Tram tickets are $30 adult, $18 child). I would suggest following the website momsla.com for local kid stuff. For example
https://momsla.com/best-places-for-s...r-los-angeles/

For Disneyland I do agree with relocating to stay near the theme parks. Lots of family-friendly hotels within a short walk to the parks (handy for a mid day nap). And that you may find San Diego a better place to spend time, versus Northern California, especially in December. The weather often is significantly different south of Point Conception. There is also LEGOLAND in Carlsbad (north County).

As mentioned by others you may not be able to drive Hwy 1 Big Sur although December is USUALLY drier than January-February.

I think you will be shocked at the quantity of homeless encampments and panhandlers "living rough" in some places including the Walk of Fame in Hollywood.

Last edited by mlgb; Jan 31st, 2023 at 07:14 AM.
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Old Jan 31st, 2023, 09:28 AM
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I'm still trying to wrap my brain around going to Hawaii for only 4 days! But spending so much times in other way less interesting places.

Also there is so much car time and miles on this trip. I know thinking back to my own family vacations (I grew up in California) us kids would have been absolutely miserable. I hate to even bring this up, but do you know if any of the kids get car-sick?!?
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Old Jan 31st, 2023, 09:41 AM
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Did you have any particular type of vehicle in mind to rent? Don't forget that you'll have quite a bit of luggage as well as people and car seats. Car seats, even booster seats, significantly reduce the amount of seating space.
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Old Jan 31st, 2023, 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Barbara
This is really not a child-friendly trip. If I were you (!), I would have a day less in SF, skip Universal which is not a small-kid place, spend no more than two nights in Las Vegas, if you really have to go, skip Palm Springs, Joshua Tree NP. Do visit the Monterey Aquarium which the kids will love, especially the 6-yr-old. Do drive down to San Diego where you can take the kids to Legoland in Carlsbad and the San Diego Zoo. Spend more days in Hawaii. I'm not sure about whale watching with such young kids.

I understand that you want adult things as it's your first trip, but if the kids are miserable, you will be too.

Be prepared for all kinds of weather. This year is much colder and wetter than average. Who knows what it will be like next year!
Duly noted Barbara, I will plan accordingly. Mite skip vegas this time and head to san diego instead
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Old Jan 31st, 2023, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Jean
Makkks, I live in L.A. Depending on where and when you start your drive to Disneyland, esp. if it's a weekday, it could easily take 90 minutes. It could take longer than 90 minutes if there is a traffic "event" (or two) along the way or if it's raining. If this drive ends up happening on Friday, Dec. 22nd, there will be heavier traffic as people leave town for the holidays. You would be able to use the high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane (farthest left), but this will still be a long, patience-testing slog.

You need the car in L.A. and Anaheim. I like Barbara's suggestion of going south after Disneyland rather than east to P.S., J.T. and L.V. Lots to see/do.

If your primary interest in L.A. is Universal, you might want to stay nearby in order to get an early start in the morning. Universal is on the San Fernando Valley side of the Santa Monica Mountains, not the city side. But if you identify other things you want to do in L.A., another area could be more central. Driving across the city (say, from Universal to the Santa Monica Pier, not that I'm recommending S.M.) could easily take an hour on a mid-week day.

As I said, you should check the current car rental terms and rates of a few companies. Lots of things changed during Covid, and I don't know if everything is back to the before-times. Also, unless you bring them from home, you need to check the rental cost of the two child seats you'll need (by law in California). The younger one will have to face the rear unless he/she exceeds 39 pounds/39 inches (18kg./100 cm.), and some kids don't like being unable to see or interact with the adults. Neither child can sit in the front passenger seat.

Thanks for the information Jean, very handy.
I will rent a car after I am done with SF and keep it till I fly to Hawaii.
I have been reading about car rentals and yes child seats are required same as in Melbourne.
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Old Jan 31st, 2023, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by sameer_kr
The West Coast of the United States offers a wide range of options for car rental and accommodations. Here are some popular websites that you can use to rent a car and book accommodation:

car rental:
  • Hertz
  • Avis
  • Enterprise
  • Budget Car Rental
Accommodation:
  • Booking com
  • Airbnb
  • Hotels com
  • Expedia
These websites offer a variety of options for car rental and accommodations ranging from budget to luxury in various locations along the West Coast. You can compare prices, read reviews from previous customers, and book online, making it easy to find the right car and accommodation for your journey.

perfect mate, I do get company discount with hertz and avis so mite try them.
Any specific location in SF and LA where there are no crimes and all? Also close to attractions?
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