Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > United States
Reload this Page >

Arriving in LA for 7 nights - want to experience California - but How?

Arriving in LA for 7 nights - want to experience California - but How?

Old Feb 15th, 2010, 11:13 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 1,111
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Arriving in LA for 7 nights - want to experience California - but How?

We have finally booked (and paid) for fares to the US and would like some help. We have 7 nights after landing in LAX on the 8th of December.
I would love to experience California so do not want to restrict myself to just Los Angeles.
There will be 3 of us. Myself, husband and 17yo son.
What can we do get the best use of our time.
Should we hire a car. Do we have time to get to SanFrancisco?
I would love to go to Las Vegas as well.
Although we love cities, we would also love to see the beach and parks
We do not even know where to stay in Los Angeles.
I have to keep in mind that my son needs to be entertained as well.
After California, we are heading to NYC so we would appreciate something not as fast paced.
Any help/suggestions would be appreciated.
millie2112 is offline  
Old Feb 16th, 2010, 04:25 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 1,722
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Doing all three cities in 7 days is a lot of traveling with worthwhile destinations. If you are committed to seeing all three, I would fly. Southwest Airline has frequent, economic flights between the three cities.

You need a rental car in LA, but not Las Vegas. In San Francisco, if you are doing the city only, you can take BART (rail) from the airport to the city.

The drive from LA to San Francisco is beautiful. It's about a 9 hour drive if you stay on the highway and don't sight see. If you take the Pacific Coast Highway, you will take much more time, and many take an over night midway. Consider renting a car in LA, dropping in San Francisco and then flying to Las Vegas. If your flight to NY is not booked, fly from Las Vegas on to NY, don't return to LA.

LA has a wide variety of acceptable areas and hotel prices. Santa Monica has several beachfront locations, near central LA that can be $$$. The beach cities south of LAX: Manhattan, Hermosa and Redondo have good hotels at moderate prices, but you are further from central LA. LA/Hollywood has the full range of hotels and prices. You are near many visitor favorites but far from the beaches. You should search the forums and check out several recent LA activity threads. For San Francisco, search StuDudley, who is Fodor's San Francisco expert.

Have fun. Hope the trip is a great experience.
stumpworks73 is offline  
Old Feb 16th, 2010, 10:07 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,830
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Good advice from stumpworks73 on flying to Las Vegas and then on to NY from there if you really want to do all 3 cites.

I would allow a full day to drive from LA to Monterey, following Highway 1 from Oxnard northwards. If you get an early start you might be able to squeeze in a tour of Hearst Castle at San Simeon north of Cambia, which could make a good lunch stop. Don't know if they do lunch, but the Sow's Ear and Robins along with Brambles are good eateries.

Spend enough time in Monterey to tour to aquarium before dropping you car in San Francisco. BART and cables cars will get you to most places you'll want to go.

Fly to Vegas. You won't need a car if you are staying on or near The Strip. Consider a tour that will take you out to Hoover Dam where you can tour the inner workings of the place.

Weather permitting, get an outside patio table at Mon Ami Gabi in the Paris resort and do some people watching.
DW and I also enjoy window shopping at the lovely shops in the market places of the Venetian and Cesear's Palce.

Various buses run up and down the Strip and into downtown. There is also a monorail, but it is limited use becase it covers less than half The Strip and requires lots of walking.

Have a great trip!
boom_boom is offline  
Old Feb 17th, 2010, 08:56 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 9
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If you need some advice on accommodations, you can see reviews for small hotels and inns on TripAdvisor, or just browse directories featuring unique lodgings. For example, some quality inns in Los Angeles: http://www.recommendedinns.com/Best-...alifornia.html
redhead_natalie is offline  
Old Feb 17th, 2010, 12:33 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 9
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Since you have such as short time in L.A., I recommend doing something that's L.A. unique such as:

I. Hollywood Chinese Theatre
Walk around the area, see a disney movie at the El Capitan, then do a Celebrity home tour. Go to a nice Hollywood restaurant.

II. Santa Monica Beach & Pier, squeeze in Venice Boardwalk, go to a nice beachside or waterfront cafe.

III. Spend the day on CatalinaIsland

More ideas look on this link.
http://insidelalife.net/dir/index.php
Lee00 is offline  
Old Feb 17th, 2010, 12:36 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 9
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If you book early enough you can fly to Las Vegas as suggetsed earlier in the thread inexpensively. It's a 45min flight.
Lee00 is offline  
Old Feb 17th, 2010, 01:10 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 15,295
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I would certainly skip Vegas - especially with a 17 year old. Is he really going to enjoy it in winter ???

I'll assume that you have a round-trip ticket to/from LAX.

Here is what I would do:
1. Nights 1-3 LA (I'll let LA people suggest where to stay & what to do). Rent a car.

2. Get an early start (to avoid LA commute traffic), and head up 101 towards San Luis Obispo & connect to Hwy 1 along the coast. Stop in San Simeon for a tour of Hearst Castle. If you get a late start, I would skip Hearst Castle to save time. Continue slowly up the coast. Stop at Nepenthe in Big Sur for lunch or an early dinner. Continue north on Hwy 1 & visit lovely Pt Lobos just south of Carmel. Stay overnight in Carmel. Explore the Carmel area.

3. Continue to explore the Carmel area for much of the day. It is about a 2 1/4 hr drive to San Francisco on a Sat, Sun, or outside of commute hours. On a work day, leave Carmel around 2pm or after 5 pm to avoid the commute traffic.

4. nights 5-7 in San Francisco. Return the car to a downtown location.

>>BART and cables cars will get you to most places you'll want to go.
StuDudley is offline  
Old Feb 17th, 2010, 01:12 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 15,295
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Lea))

Would you recommend II & III for a December visit??

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Old Feb 18th, 2010, 03:17 AM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 1,111
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
thank you very much for these wonderful suggestions.
I love the idea of driving all the way to San Francisco and then flying back to LAX.
Unfortunately we need to fly out of there to get to NYC. I just have to convince my husband to do the drive. He seems to think that December the roads will be covered in snow. I keep telling him not in California.
I would also love to visit the Hearst Castle.
Lots of planning to do.
millie2112 is offline  
Old Feb 18th, 2010, 06:30 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 15,295
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I have lived in California for almost 63 years. I remember that it snowed twice in "the City". Once in my early childhood in LA. Don't recall what year. Perhaps the early 50s.

It showed again in about '77 while we were living in San Francisco. Came out of a restaurant & there was about 2 inches of snow on the ground. Buses could not make it up hills, and people were skiing down 24th street - ruining their skis perhaps. By 11am the next day, the snow had melted.

My sister currently lives on the Grapevine just north of LA on Hwy 5 & they often get a snowstorm - perhaps once a year. However, that is at a high altitude, and you will not be traveling on that route.

I've did not dash over to the coast highway during these 2 brief snows - but I would bet that there was zero snow on the immediate coast.

About a zero likelihood that you'll see snow or patches of ice along Hwy 1. A major storm could close Hwy 1, however, in which case you alter your plans a bit.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Old Feb 18th, 2010, 06:37 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 2,729
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I would stay only 1 night in LA and get out and enjoy beautiful California.
I would head up through Malibu and Santa Barbara your first night..drive the 1 up to through Big Sur and stay in Carmel for 1 night.
SF for 2 nights (Union Square) and then take the 5 south down (8 hour drive) to San Diego for 2 nights..stay in La Jolla and then head up to LA for your trip back..stopping Laguna Beach/Newport Beach.
Native
ksucat is offline  
Old Feb 18th, 2010, 06:43 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 2,729
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
spending lots of time in Avalon in Catalina Island for many years, December isn't the ideal time to go.
Summer months into October are incredible.
One of the prettiest places on earth.

www.visitcatalinaisland.com

Vegas is super cheap the 2nd week of December..stay at the Wynn Las Vegas..great deals of $109 a night for a 5* resort.
sign up for the e-mail offers.

www.wynnlasvegas.com
ksucat is offline  
Old Feb 18th, 2010, 07:56 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 15,295
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
>>SF for 2 nights (Union Square) and then take the 5 south down (8 hour drive) to San Diego
StuDudley is offline  
Old Feb 18th, 2010, 08:00 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 5,545
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
In my opinion, it really depends on what your interests are and where you are coming from.

If you are coming from Australia, the coast of CA is quite similar to the Australian coast so it probably would not be that interesting.

The California National Parks are very worthwhile and the mountains around Lake Tahoe are spectacular.

LA is not a very pleasant city to explore due to its large size and traffic. Las Vegas is even less pleasant due to its incredible tackiness.
RBCal is offline  
Old Feb 18th, 2010, 08:17 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 2,729
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
totally agree Stu on the not so scenic 5 but thinking of a quick way to get from SF to SD..we left a couple of months ago from SF to SD on a weekday and it was 8 hours total with a couple of half hour stops..we were going about 80+ and took the 405 and wasn't much traffic..timing is everything and luck too..there was no accidents.
Leave at 7am SF and be in La Jolla around 4pm.
Just did the trip a couple of years ago and it was quite doable!
ksucat is offline  
Old Feb 18th, 2010, 09:17 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 15,295
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Door to door the OP is still going to loose an entire day if he drives from SF to SD. IMO, not a smart use of time.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Old Feb 18th, 2010, 10:18 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 18,133
Received 77 Likes on 7 Posts
IIRC the OP is coming from Melbourne.

In which case a couple of views...

The coast road between LA and SF (Calif. Hwy 1) is actually quite similar in feel to the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. Granted the GOR doesn't have Hearst Castle, but IMO missing that is not a deal-breaker.

Beaches? Well possibly sunny but very cold water - not suitable for bathing unless you have wet suits.

If it was me with seven days, I'd head directly to Las Vegas - maybe even just connect through LAX and get the pain over with right away. My reason for suggesting this is twofold. First, your party is going to be seriously jet-lagged, and will want to sleep at all sorts of weird hours compared to the locals. Well, what better place in the world is there than LV for people who are awake in the middle of the night? Second, hotel rooms are dirt cheap and have all possible amenities for 17-y.o. as well as over-21s, and you can even skip the car for a couple of days. Or get a car and go out exploring the desert - maybe over to Death Valley for an overnight. I disagree on LV's suitability for teens - the lights, pirates, volcanoes, shows.. well worth the trip.

Then back to LA (either fly or rent a car one-way, which will probably be cheaper) once your clocks have had a little time to adjust and then do the touristy bits around southern California. Stay in Beverly Hills, go visit some movie studios or go shopping, hit Santa Monica, Manhattan/Hermosa or some of the Orange County beaches on day trips. Rent some movies before you travel, then find their shooting locations around town. Go to a Lakers (NBA basketball) game. Boredom is not an option.
Gardyloo is online now  
Old Feb 18th, 2010, 10:33 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 26,186
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I have to agree with the others that Las Vegas is not especially attractive for teens in December - if it were later in the spring, when it would be warm and therefore the pool would be open, maybe. Otherwise, maybe a day. (I admit I'm not a Vegas fan, a day every 10 years is enough for me, but I don't know what "amenities" Gardyloo is referring to for a teen.
sf7307 is offline  
Old Feb 18th, 2010, 10:35 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 15,295
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Las Vegas and LA (incl. freeway time) is not how I would try to "impress" someone from another country. But, we all have different tastes.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Old Feb 18th, 2010, 11:52 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 18,133
Received 77 Likes on 7 Posts
What I meant was heated pools - several hotels have year-round pools, and there are even indoor pools at some hotels, plus cable TV, numerous food options, video arcades, gyms... and lots of other "entertainments" around town. Look here for instance: http://www.vegas.com/traveltips/guide/teenager.html
Frankly I suspect there's more to do for teens within walking distance of most LV Strip hotels then there is within walking distance of most Russian Hill or Beverly Hills hotels.

I visited Vegas with my folks when I was a teen (granted, we got there by mule train) and I thought it was fab; we took our teenage son there several times and he never professed being bored. But as with all things touristic, YMMV.
Gardyloo is online now  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information