3 weeks in West coast (December'23)

Old Feb 1st, 2023, 10:26 AM
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bluegrass1 may not know that 'Tar Pits' is actually in the City of Los Angeles.

I don't really understand why someone from Australia should spend much time in Honolulu/Waikiki unless the family just can't stomach a 16 hour nonstop flight back to MEL from LAX. Isn't it just an expensive and more crowded version of one of Australia's many coastal resort areas? With its own dose of homeless characters, BTW. Are there particular reasons other than routing or beach time that you were considering that?

For fireworks we don't really hold a candle to Sydney. Disneyland can be pretty zoo-ish on NYE. We went once on NYE, never again. However the holidays are the best time to visit for the special lighting, parades etc. Definitely do some research on the best days to go. You will need reservations. Hopefully that cuts down on crowding.

Re Las Vegas. It isn't the worst drive from Southern California (about 5 hours) and for some reason overseas tourists love it. There are some kid things so I wouldn't automatically rule it out.

Last edited by mlgb; Feb 1st, 2023 at 10:31 AM.
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Old Feb 1st, 2023, 11:27 AM
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Even Las Vegas has stopped trying to persuade people it's a kiddy place.

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Old Feb 1st, 2023, 04:37 PM
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So go to Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, SeaWord, San Diego Zoo, etc. for the west coast visit. Choose a different island for the Hawaii stay if Oahu is not of interest for whatever reason.
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Old Feb 1st, 2023, 04:47 PM
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https://www.travelandleisure.com/thi...h-kids-6754687

Not only does Australia have their own island resorts, but it is also pretty close to other island chains such as Fiji (Fiji Air flies nonstop LAX to Nadi for example).
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Old Feb 1st, 2023, 05:59 PM
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I think the OP may already know that, yet they still want to visit Hawaii.
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Old Feb 1st, 2023, 06:35 PM
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Because they think it's a good place for New Years? It isn't like they need to go to Hawaii to see blue water or get warm in December.

I can understand wanting to break up the flights but then I don't know if they have an idea of what rooms for 7 would cost for that holiday week. Probably an arm and leg, or two. On top of who knows what the exchange rate will be.

Last edited by mlgb; Feb 1st, 2023 at 06:40 PM.
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Old Feb 1st, 2023, 06:54 PM
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Snow capped San Gabriel Mountains (from Signal Hill today).
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Old Feb 2nd, 2023, 02:27 AM
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And to answer one question the OP asked--to my knowledge you cannot order a cab with car seats. And depending on how big the 6 year old is he/she may need one also.
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Old Mar 20th, 2023, 06:48 PM
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Updated itinerary for the trip

Sorry for bringing this thread back but finally book my flights and got some amazing deal. Here is my current itinerary for your experienced eyes. I have made it more kid friendly and added and removed all recommendations Updated itinerary​​​​​​​
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Old Mar 20th, 2023, 06:52 PM
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Old Mar 21st, 2023, 06:46 AM
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Sorry, late to thread, some comments:

As you are from Melbourne, you already know that palm treed places can be chilly and wet in the winter, just don't expect anything but jumper weather and maybe you will get lucky with some warm days.

I'd rethink the whole Vegas thing, Phoenix will be warmer and there are nice resorts there, and it's not that expensive in the off-season. Just lining up a family to check into a Vegas casino hotel (can take over an hour) with young children is pretty daunting. But if your tickets are booked then I guess this is locked in. With children I would stay in a business hotel west of I-15 and drive to casinos, then walk the Strip from there. The free parking days are over but there is a lot of parking behind each casino. Or just walk, 20 minutes to the Strip, or take a taxi. Most business hotels also have a free breakfast room.

AFAIK there's no lodging inside Joshua Tree or resorts very near it, unless you are looking at Palm Springs a ways away? There are some motels near the 2 northern entrances in basically hamlets with a couple hundred people. Consider Death Valley instead which has lodging on-site and the distance from hiking spots to lodging is less than at Joshua Tree. 2 full days at JT is a lot.

You are listing 4 expensive things to do, 3 theme parks and the zoo, I guess if you have the money go for it. Last time I was at the SD Zoo 5 years ago the price for a family of 4 (2 teenagers) was over $200 even with a discount coupon. Sometimes the Klook app has discounts for these types of attractions. A note that Universal Studios is big on virtual attractions that aren't "real." Some of these work well, like the Harry Potter Castle, but most others you sit in a stationary place and get tricked into thinking you are moving by shaking and special effects, which make some people sick.

Last edited by tom_mn; Mar 21st, 2023 at 07:11 AM.
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Old Mar 21st, 2023, 07:08 AM
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Yea I was tossing between death valley and Joshua Park and the forum suggested Joshua instead so I look it up. I thought there are accomdotion inside but seems there are none. with expensive things , the whole trip is expensive man​​​​​​​ just the tickets for 4 people return during that time broke my wallet, specially the buisness class back home from Hawaii hahaha. It seems it's the most expensive time of the year in hawaii.​​​​​​​vegas is mainly for adults not kids haha, kids activities before then adult tymmmeee.We do use klook here in aus as well, very handy.
thanks for suggestion for accomodation, any other places for accomdoation would you suggest???

Also how are the public transport there, is it worth hiring the car or using public transport? Car hiring is another big ticket item costing over $1200 for 8 days
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Old Mar 21st, 2023, 07:26 AM
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I don't understand Dec. 17th. Are you staying near Disneyland, driving to Universal Studios and returning to Anaheim... in the same day? It's a Sunday, which could give you some relief on the traffic , but the drive will still take at least an hour each way and more when you add in time for parking and walking to the entrance. If it happens to be raining, I'd drop the whole idea. BTW, you may want 2 days to explore all of Disneyland/California Adventure... separate parks that can easily fill one day each.

If you were planning to stay the night of Dec. 17th near Universal, the drive to San Diego on a Monday morning could easily take 3 hours.

And then there's that notation on Dec. 18th... "hire car for 8 days." How are you getting around before then and after you return the car in Las Vegas on Dec. 25th?? Have you investigated the cost of this one-way car rental?
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Old Mar 21st, 2023, 08:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Makkks
Also how are the public transport there, is it worth hiring the car or using public transport? . . .
LOL

But seriously, there is decent public transport in some areas, very limited public transport an a lot of places, and essentially no practical public transport in many others. Now, there are some specific journeys where public transport is fine -- but your entire itinerary would just about require having a car.

I was worried the Joshua Tree fans (I am one BTW) would convince you to go there. It is a great place visit but really don't think it is the right fit for your family. The almost total lack of accommodations is only one reason.

I urge you to spend two full days at DisneyLand/California Adventure. Many who say one day is enough either aren't big fans or have been many times and forget how overwhelming it can be for first-timers. It just takes time and planning to get in all the rides/meals/parades you want to see/do - neither park is a quick visit. In a perfect world I'd even recommend 2.5 or 3 days -- but that would get into REAL money and eat up too much of your limited time.

tom_mm's comment relating hotels in Vegas should be noted. Without 'status' there is no way to quickly check in to any of the Strip hotels. There are specific queues and specific time windows and it is very common to stand in line for an hour or more.
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Old Mar 21st, 2023, 10:11 AM
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I also question the Universal visit and think a second day (at the Disney Resorts) might be better. I gather someone is a huge Harry Potter fan? Be sure to check the minimum heights required on some of the rides. Also it sounds like you are not renting a car until you leave Disneyland? That obviously won't work if you are going to Universal for one day from Anaheim.

As far as deserts, they are going to be pretty much the same weather, Phoenix or California makes little difference. Can be cold at night and pleasant during the day. Not really "pool weather". For lodging near Joshua tree (and elsewhere) with a low budget and a large party size you should look at rental homes such as in Twentynine Palms. I wouldn't wait too long as many snowbirds will have booked already. You can use Airbnb, as well as Expedia or booking.com for searches. For a "Resort" on the Palm Springs side it is going to be about $800/night with that many people.


RE Grand Canyon, are you aware that most of the "Day Trips" don't take you to the famous part of the Grand Canyon but rather to the "West Rim" with the skywalk? I would suggest driving yourselves drop a night somewhere else (LV?) and spend a night near the park. If two rooms inside the park is too expensive, check Williams which is slightly over 3 hours from Las Vegas and be sure to stop in Seligman. There are more options there and it's about an hour to Grand Canyon Village at the South Rim. There is also a train that runs daily from Williams (return time 5:45 pm) although doesn't really work for a sunset viewing, even in winter. If you want to play by ear in case of snow at the rim, the Motel 6 chain has a good cancel policy, the one in Willaims (West) isn't terrible.

Last edited by mlgb; Mar 21st, 2023 at 10:17 AM.
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Old Mar 21st, 2023, 10:35 AM
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Did you look at hotel prices AND AVAILABILITY in Waikiki before you decided on those flights? Options are going to be limited even this far ahead.

If you find nothing within your budget you may want to put a hold on the two-bedroom suite at the Ilima hotel. Nothing special but it should hold all of you, the rooms are large and include a kitchen. Otherwise then you will probably need to book two rooms. Don't forget that Hawaii charges rather significant taxes and resort fees so ask about those. If you are looking for a condo, Oahu only allows RESORT CONDOS of which there are a few but not many.

Book direct at https://www.ilima.com/

PS they are very nice, if you cannot book online, call them and ask if anything else can accommodate your group. Cancel policy is not bad there for holiday (7 day notice through the 31st and forfeit one night). Many other places require full prepayment. Good luck.
Although they do have free onsite parking, it is first come first serve and I do not think a passenger van will fit into those spaces.

Last edited by mlgb; Mar 21st, 2023 at 11:20 AM.
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Old Mar 21st, 2023, 01:32 PM
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I would skip Joshua Tree and spend a night or 2 at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Nothing like it.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2023, 02:45 AM
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I don't have much to offer except it has turned into a kids' trip to amusement parks. The time of year has pre-empted Yosemite I guess and the original time arriving in San Francisco is gone. Museums in Los Angeles? La Brea Tar pits?
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Old Mar 22nd, 2023, 09:18 AM
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OP's latest itinerary is considerably better than their original plan.
However, they are definitely still trying to cram too many stops into this short trip.

Also, they are travelling with three kids...2, 5 and 6 years old.
And planning to visit THREE separate theme parks AND the zoo over the course of a few days PLUS take them to Las Vegas WITH a day trip to the Grand Canyon?
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Old Mar 22nd, 2023, 09:35 AM
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Other than the stay in Waikiki this is a bog-standard Aussie tour of the West Coast. If you go to Disneyland when the local passes are blacked out over the holidays, you hear a lot of those accents!
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