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California: Santa Monica, Anaheim, San Diego...

California: Santa Monica, Anaheim, San Diego...

Old Aug 12th, 2012, 02:45 AM
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California: Santa Monica, Anaheim, San Diego...

Hi we are travelling for 2 weeks with a 12 and 14 year old, hitting the usual spots above an are thinking of going to the Grand Canyon, I understand it is a 8 hour drive from San Diego, thought we wouldl stop in Los Vegas and the head up to the Grand Canyon.. taking4 days...have we allowed enough time?,,,is it viable bearing in mind we do not want to spend all the time in the car.? Our kids love swimming so we would also like to spend some time at the beach..any suggestions on our schedule? In San Diego we plan to go to the aquarium, and Lego Land, Anaheim: universal studios and spend 3 days at disney and Califonia world. Although I am not too sure about california world.
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Old Aug 12th, 2012, 09:35 AM
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Are you traveling in and out of one city, or into one and out another as it might make a difference for your itinerary. What are your interests? If you are coming in and out of LA, I imagine your itinerary might look like this:

Arrive LA, hotel in Santa Monica or another beach town.

4 days at beach, consider surfing lessons for the boys; take one day to drive to Malibu (Zuma beach is a favorite), go to Reel Inn or Gladstones; go to Manhattan Beach, Venice Beach and/or Huntington Beach for fun in the sand and surf. It is a bit tough to get from Universal Studios from either Anaheim or the beach but you can do it in a long day and it may be the best park given your kids ages. I'd check out of the beach hotel and hit the road around 10:00 am to avoid the worst of traffic but still have a decent day at the park. Enjoy the day, then drive south to Anaheim after 7:00 at night. Or you could shave a day off the first set of days and spend one night at the hotel near Universal Studios with a side trip to Hollywood.

3 days in Anaheim; Others can comment more on the Disney parks, but my kids love both. We like the pool at the Disneyland Hotel. You might also consider going to Medieval Times dinner and show. We rarely go but always end up having a good time.

3 days San Diego: Wild Animal Park, SD Zoo, SeaWorld, rent bikes and ride around Coronado, spend a day in La Jolla. Legoland has a water park but it may all seem a bit young for your teens. The aquarium is in Long Beach (and the Queen Mary and Spruce Goose) and may be a better day trip from the beach towns on your first hotel stop (rather than from San Diego).

3 days - drive to Vegas (1 night, even if you don't go to casinos, many have terrific pools, lots to see), drive to Grand Canyon (2 nights, stay at rim), return to LA.

1 night LA, near airport?

The above itinerary sets out a few suggestions and should help you think about how to best organize your trip. You should have plenty of time, it just depends on how you divide it up. Also, if you or your kids have specific interests (beyond swimming) make mention of them, as there may be some cool sights for them to see or things to do that you might not otherwise consider. For example, my daughter loves animals so we arranged a behind the scenes tour at the Wild Animal Park which made the visit more cool and very personal for her. Perhaps you enjoy going to the movies - there are lots of cool movie theaters, some historical (Mann's Chinese, El Capitan, Cinerama Dome) others that are just plain cool (think leather seats, waiters, restaurant quality food) in southern California that makes going to the movies a little different than back home.

Have a great trip.
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Old Aug 12th, 2012, 09:43 AM
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From what I've read on Fodor's your kids are way too old to find Legoland enjoyable, it's more for the 5-7 year old crowd.

Skip the aquarium, and opt for the USS Midway tour in San Diego. You could also spend a really nice half-day in Coronado.

At Disney, 2 days should be plenty (should you need to find a day to spend elsewhere).

Where are you from? If you're not from someplace that has a baseball team, you might want to take in a game, either at the revered Chavez Ravine (home of the LA Dodgers) or the really nice new Petco Park (home of the San Diego Padres), or Angels Stadium (in Anaheim, home of the Anaheim Angels).
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Old Aug 13th, 2012, 12:55 AM
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Thank you for the replies. We are from new Zealand. We have 16 days and fly in and out of Lax. We hears the aquarium was great in San die ago? Have just looked at in las Vegas all look great. Any recommendations and attraction suggestions
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Old Aug 13th, 2012, 04:19 AM
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Maybe you mean Sea World in San Diego and not 'the aquarium?' There are some small aquariums at Sea World but its mainly Killer Whale, Dolphin and other sea creature type shows. It is a great way to spend the day.

If you want an aquarium, Long Beach is the place to go. It can be inexpensive, as you can visit from your low cost Anaheim base days vs the more expensive beach hotel days
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Old Aug 13th, 2012, 05:44 AM
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The aquarium is great, takes maybe an hour or two to see everything, because it's very small (we love it - and go often with our toddler grandchildren) and appeals more to young children.

I agree with others who have mentioned Sea World, the SD Zoo or Wild Animal Park, the USS Midway, Balboa Park, spend a day in Coronado, and La Jolla (the beaches in La Jolla are great for teens - especially La Jolla Shores where there are kayak and dive tours of the marine reserve).
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Old Aug 13th, 2012, 08:04 AM
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Nanabee, just for clarification, are you referring to an aquarium in San Diego or to the one in Long Beach?
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Old Aug 13th, 2012, 09:05 AM
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I'm sure you mean Sea World in San Diego . . . which is not an aquarium in the traditional sense of the word. Yes, Sea World is good for everyone and especially for kids.

The true "aquarium" in Long Beach is fine but not worth a special trip IMO. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is much better but your itinerary doesn't go that far north.

Your kids are entirely too old for LegoLand. It is a great place but really geared to the under7's (and their doting grandparents )
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Old Aug 13th, 2012, 11:18 AM
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The only aquarium I can think of San Diego is the Birch aquarium near La Jolla, it is small but very nice.
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Old Aug 13th, 2012, 10:02 PM
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Hi once again many thanks for the replies.We have decided to leave out San Diego and spend time in Las Vegas (any suggestions for hotels and activities - hoping to see some shows) and up to Grand Canyon for 2 days with a helicopter ride and hopefully walks - round about 2 hours - any tips? , aneheim, back to Santa Monica and then home it should fill the 16 days in nicely. will need to include shopping for myself!! and 14 year old daughter.
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Old Aug 14th, 2012, 03:54 AM
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You might want to reconsider leaving out San Diego.

First of all - the Birch Aquarium isn't just an Aquarium but a research center, and it ain't dat small. http://aquarium.ucsd.edu/

Secondly, and most important - it's far easier to get around San Diego than the more crowded LA/Orange county areas, and everything you find at the beach there (surf lessons, etc) you can find here and for less $ and much less headaches getting around.

And I think the young ones, as well as the older ones - would also like The Cove at La Jolla - which reminds one of the South of France. Plus, from there you can easily wander around the very cute/upscale village of La Jolla. http://www.lajollabythesea.com/la-jolla-cove

Also - from San Diego to Disneyland is only about an hour's drive.

So - IMO - San Diego makes for a lot easier vacation spot than in the more crowded LA/Orange County areas.
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Old Aug 14th, 2012, 06:48 AM
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Ah shopping, one of my favorite activities too.

A couple of suggestions for you and your daughter....

** in Santa Monica, 3rd Street promenade and Montana are the more concentrated areas (the first is a mall and a pedestrian street that has the feel of an open mall), the second is a little more high end and you are more likely to see a celebrity at the Starbucks. Main Street in Santa Monica is also a lovely walk, several great breakfast spots and the farmer's market (Sundays?) is pretty cool too.

** other beach shopping destinations, I like the cute shops in Manhattan Beach, others love Newport Beach and Huntington Beach, Venice Beach is something altogether different

** in Los Angeles, The Grove at the Farmer's Market (outdoor mall and permanent farmer's market), Melrose Street (more funky and hip), Beverly Hills/Rodeo Drive and Robertson (high end, celebrity spotting at The Ivy) are popular shopping areas. Hollywood and Highland is also a popular tourist stop in Hollywood - I haven't really shopped there but it is interesting and provides a good view of the Hollywood sign and is not far from Universal Studios. It can also be combined with a trip to the Farmer's Market.

** Both of the theme parks have a shopping area outside the parks - Downtown Disney and Universal City Walk.

** I frequently recommend spots in Pasadena for shopping (Old Town), dining and terrific gardens (The Huntington, LA Arboretum), so if you choose to stay inland for Universal Studios you might consider a few days in the Pasadena area as a base or just as a day trip from Universal (too far and too much traffic to travel as a day trip from the beaches or OC)

** from Anaheim, you can take a detour to South Coast Plaza, a giant upscale mall in Costa Mesa not far from the Disney parks. Fashion Island in Newport Beach is also a pretty amazing mall. I am not as familiar with shopping in the OC but I have been to both of those malls. There is also the Block at Orange but I haven't really been so can't recommend but you can probably check it out online.

** in Vegas I like the Grand Canal shops in the Venetian and the Forum Shops at Caesars, I am not a fan of the mall at the end of the strip. It just seems really big and like everything everywhere else, but I might just be tired by the time I get to it. I have a vague recollection of thinking the shops at the Bellagio were cool too.

** in San Diego, I like Old Town and La Jolla but have done little shopping as we are usually at the various parks or the beach, so others can recommend if it returns to your schedule.

There are also lots of great little neighborhoods in the LA area that have their own flavor and are fun to wander around for more individual collections, dining options etc. Once you have a better sense of your schedule and destinations, or if you have particular interests, I might be able to suggest a few more areas for exploration.

Also, there are lots of outlet malls (for "discount" designer shopping) but that really depends on where you are staying and how far afield you are willing to drive. There is a giant outlet mall just outside of Vegas but I've never found much of interest. We like the outlet mall in Cabozan (off the 10 freeway on the way to Palm Springs).
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Old Aug 14th, 2012, 07:22 AM
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I am not a shopper per se - (Big 5 Sporting Goods is my Nordstrom's Rack - but the Village in La Jolla is very cute with numerous small botiques - and the Westfield's in the nearby UTC is also full of many choices, including larger department stores/majors.

However - the the Fashion Valley Mall in San Diego/Mission Vlley - where you can see all kinds of young models types sporting the latest wares - has 7 Majors. http://sandiego.about.com/od/shoppin...ion_valley.htm

And downtown's Horton Plaza is also very popular with the shoppers, which the kids would like as well as wondering around the Gaslamp. http://www.westfield.com/hortonplaza/
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Old Aug 14th, 2012, 12:05 PM
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Uno mas - check this out: A $19 snorkeling special for The Cove - regularly $45. http://tinyurl.com/9w3bykt
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