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help me plan family trip to california from uk

help me plan family trip to california from uk

Jan 1st, 2003, 09:16 PM
J Correa
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If you choose to go to SF - I would definitely go if I were planning the trip - you will not need a car while you are there. In fact, it's easier without one. The city is relatively small and the public transportation system is good. The Cable cars used to be used for transportation, but now they are pretty much a novelty because they are always so crowded - very fun to ride though. There is also another old streetcar line - the F line - which runs along Market St downtown, and then along the Embarcadero past all the wharves. The buses and lightrail/subway run all over town and are probably the easiest for getting around. You can also buy 1,3, and 7(I think) day passes which are good on all public transportation including the Cable cars.
Jan 2nd, 2003, 08:43 AM
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TTT for Elise... hoping she gets this!
Jan 2nd, 2003, 10:00 AM
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Elise: I would ignore the negative SF posts. If you visit this sight often, you will find that there are many trolls who love to bash the city. I assume that you and your husband will be travelling with your children and do not want to spend the entire trip on the beach, the freeway, or in an amusement park.

There are many fabulous activities for children in Northern Cal. and I would not skip it. My nieces and nephews love taking a ferry across San Francisco Bay to Alcatraz or otherwise. SF also has a Zoo, The Sony Metreon Center, Zeum, carousels an acquarium etc....and I can't believe anyone would find Yosemite boring --it is awe-inspiring.
Jan 2nd, 2003, 10:44 AM
J Correa
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Debbie - I can't imagine anyone would find Yosemite boring either. Different strokes I guess.
Jan 2nd, 2003, 11:29 AM
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SF does have its attractions, but as far as children's activities they don't really compare to similar activities found elsewhere in the state.

For example, I wouldn't bother going to the SF Zoo if you've been to the San Diego Zoo. The aquarium in Golden Gate Park isn't anything special compared to Sea World, Monterey Aquarium, or even the Long Beach Aquarium. The Exploratorium is fun, but perhaps not quite as impressive as the California Science Center in LA. The California Academy of Sciencess is ok, but,IMO, not nearly as good as the LA Natural History Museum. Also Southern California has the La Brea Tar Pits.

Jan 2nd, 2003, 11:31 AM
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As a mom of several boys, I have to add my two cents' worth here.

Ages 5 and 8 are a little young for the Grand Canyon. Most of the hiking will be too strenuous for the little guy, and he is too young for the mule ride. Helicopter ride might work out, but IMO kids are just not that interested in scenery. Save the Canyon and Las Vegas for five-plus years from now, when they have all kinds of energy to burn.

Three major locations seems like a lot with kids (and moving around that much is very hard on YOU, the keeper of 500+ family possessions!) You can easily spend two weeks just in the San Diego/LA area, but the ride to and from San Francisco is fun for all, so I wouldn't rule that out. Allow two days for it, or more. Since you are going in spring, you might want to start in the south and travel north in hopes of having warmer weather.
San Diego Zoo OR Wildlife Park is a must;Knott's Berry farm is a good choice, and their water park is great!I haven't been to Yosemite since I was a kid myself, but was a lot of fun then and certainly the kind of environment kids will really enjoy. Happy planning.
Jan 2nd, 2003, 12:32 PM
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Looks like you have had many varied responses --- but to add my opinion to others,

must see:

Yosemite National Park
Sequoia National Park
Los Angeles area
Coastal drive on highway #1 (any part)

Check out www.nps.gov/parks.html for all the national parks information & directions.

You might not have time to go over to Las Vegas or Grand Canyon. Not sure on your budget limits to go that far.

In answer to your earlier question, you will need a rental car. Reserve through a rental agency that will get you to a car right from the airport. It is the easiest way to get about & outside the cities.

April is a great time of year to visit.

Enjoy your trip!

Jan 2nd, 2003, 12:33 PM
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My goodness, what a wealth of wonderful (if not conflicting !!) advice. I am very grateful for everone's opinion and for the time you have taken to reply. Just a comment from me about the San Francisco dilemma. My husband really wants to visit SF and we are both keen to see Yosemite, although a day trip (aparently available by train?)will just whet our apetite for more I am sure). I know SF is not the most exciting destination for our children but this time THIS holiday is for US too. We are blessed enough to have sometimes two or three holidays each year as a family and my husband and I have spent the last eight nearly nine years planning holidays to entirely suit the boys. THIS time we have decided they can do what WE want - at least some of the time. I am sure this controversial decision will cause us extra agravation but kids (ours anyway) need to learn that life can't always revolve around them. My expectations are too high of course, especially in respect of my 5 year old. Probably he and his brother will be bored some of the time BUT I won't be. Hmmm that should provoke a few comments
I agree that it would be more sensible to leave the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and maybe even San Francisco for another trip when the children are older but, without wishing to be negative about the future, I am keen to take the opportunity to see these wonders whilst we can. The boys will love the cable car and Alcatraz if not Yosemite and of course we will visit the Zoo and an amusement park or two during the eight days we will spend in San Diego and LA. We will fly to San Diego from San Francisco as the drive would be tedious for them.
I know our planned itinery is ambitious but it will be a fantastic vacation for ALL of us. Thank you all. I have printed out this thread and will be using much of the advice given
Jan 2nd, 2003, 01:25 PM
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Elise -- Congratulations on your very sensible approach to your family vacation, too many parents plan everything for their kids enjoyment and forget about their own.
Jan 2nd, 2003, 01:39 PM
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I am confident your children will love San Francisco with the cable cars and all. If your hubby is set on it, then I say go for it! Besides, in my opinion San Francisco is a must see.

I'd say book your flight as a round trip to any of the three major cities (SF, LA, or SD) depending on which is cheapest, probably LA or SF.

I love San Diego as being a nice place to live and a great place for a more sedentary vacationing I don't think that there is anything original enough that you couldn't get in LA, besides perhaps the zoo. Given your time frame, I would skip San Diego and Palm Springs as well. PS would be very boring for the kids.
Jan 2nd, 2003, 01:44 PM
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Who said kids need a holiday anyway?
Jan 2nd, 2003, 02:14 PM
J Correa
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I think that wherever you choose to go, you will be able to find interesting things for your children to see and do.

As for Yosemite, I don't think there is any way your kids would be bored there unless they are the type of children that require surgery to remove the Play Station controls from their hands and scream when exposed to direct sunlight - LOL. Yosemite is great. I would suggest staying the night there because it is at least a 4 hour drive from SF and although it is possible to get to Yosemite by train/bus, I don't think it is possible to get there and back in 1 day. To get to Yosemite by train from SF, you will need to take BART to the east bay, catch the Amtrak to Modesto or one of those central valley towns and then take an Amtrak bus into the park. The Amtrak web site should have all the information you need.
Jan 2nd, 2003, 02:18 PM
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Don't forget that Southern California also has its share of world class "adult" attractions, as well. Just around LA there's the Getty Center, Huntington Library, LA County Museum of Art, the new Cathedral of our Lady of the Angels, and Museum of Tolerance, to name but a few.
Jan 2nd, 2003, 05:42 PM
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Hello Elise,

I've been dipped down into mexico right on up to canada... but I live in San Diego, and thats what I can tell you about. This is probably the most beutiful place I've ever been (the UK is amazing in its own unique way, too different to compare though!)

Things you can't miss.
1) Drive down to Coronado (free) and take a look at the city, you'll be able to because to get there you'll need to drive over the Coronado bridge, try it at night or durring the day to get an amazing view of san diego. You can also see our ballpark thats being built and a new hotel that is, from what I can see, 3/4 done... (A new Hyatt regency wing)

2) on the drive back (over the bridge again... you'll want to do this twice... its fun :0) go to Seaport Villiage to get some gifts for friends before you go back home.

3) You want to go shopping? or how about just window shopping? Go to Horton Plaza! Its one of the nicest malls in San Diego. While you get there... you'll pass by a bunch theatres and buildings that you might want to check off on your list of things you saw in San Diego... NBC, Spreckles theatre, Lycium theatre, ect. Ahh the city, I love it.. though I live way outside of it, its nice to see from my window far, far away and just visit for a bit then drive out whenever I'd like... thats San Diego!

4) Mission Bay! Don't miss this! This is where the surfers hang out. I used to skate here as a kid, before I went to SDSU and got serious about school. for kids: trampoline that you get strapped onto, arcade, roller coaster, they have a boardwalk where MTV (Music televesion network - they're BIG in the U.S.) has a beachhouse where they sometimes have this big Samoan dude just sitting up there on a beach chair. People skate, cycle, run, walk, or just sit on the wall and enjoy the sunset on the boardwalk. THE SUNSET! its priceless... you can't miss this view.

5) Seaworld is also in mission bay, they've got a great website check it out. SHOWS, FOOD, and DONT FORGET your kids can feed the dolphins! when my parents took me to Seaworld as a kid I NEVER forgot feeding the dolphins. YOU SIMPLY CANNOT MISS THIS!

6) And as long as you're in mission bay, Drive up to La Jolla! I love watching the seals! I love the views, I love La Jolla...

7) Balboa park, we have a very nice museum... and science center... the rest, well, lets just say, you have it in the UK. when I went to the museums in france and england I was convinced that SDs' just cant beat those, but there are some awesome sights and sounds that you can get here that I've just not seen anywhere else in the world.

8) For example, next to Balboa park is the "World Famous San Diego Zoo"... I've just never seen a better Zoo than this one. I grew up as a kid going to this zoo, getting used to seeing the best, and getting bored at every other zoo I've gone to. Other zoo's just arn't good enough... don't miss out on this WORLD, I repeat WORLD famous zoo.

have fun! e-mail me if you have a quick question, I live here so I can tell you whats going on right now!

Jan 2nd, 2003, 07:54 PM
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I would do a bit of LA, but not much... Maybe Sunset strip, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica Pier(use priceline.com for hotels) then head down to San Diego (Carlsbad has amazing outlet shopping). Take the PCH all the way down. Stop in Tijuana for an afternoon of bargans while in SanDiego. Make sure to take the bridge to Coronado Island... Have fun!
Jan 3rd, 2003, 01:15 PM
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Elise : I think your plan is a good one, and this thread is more sensible than most. I agree with J. Correa though that you may want to take the train to Yosemite, stay overnight and then come back. The views there especially the time that you are travelling are amazing. I do not think the kids will be bored--Yosemite is full of kids and even the abundance of squirrels and chipmunks should keep their attention. Have a great time!!!
Jan 3rd, 2003, 01:28 PM
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Elise - have a wonderful time in California! Your trip sounds wonderful and I hope you enjoy California as much as I have enjoyed traveling in England. I also hope Americans are as nice, friendly and helpful as the British people have been when I have traveled in England.

I would suggest that if you decide to go to Las Vegas that you fly instead of driving. It is a cheap flight, but a very boring, long drive.

Happy travels!
Jan 5th, 2003, 05:18 PM
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Jan 5th, 2003, 09:53 PM
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If you do choose to go to Las Vegas (although seems like you decided on a full schedule already) consider leaving out of Long Beach (about 30 minutes south of LAX in no traffic). A small airport with jet service. Check out JetBlue airlines...they have had fares as low as $19 one way to Las Vegas. Bring your own food (it's only a 45 minute flight though), but the seats are nice, and there's satellite TV to keep your kids occupied. Beats a 6 hour drive for sure!

If you can't get Jet Blue, there's probably cheap flights on Southwest from LAX, but it's much more of a pain in my opinion.

Also, if you travel to Vegas on a Sunday through Thursday, the hotel rates will be much cheaper (unless there's a major convention in town). Lots of people take weekend trips there, which hikes up the rates!

Hope you have a great time!
Jan 6th, 2003, 04:52 AM
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You have gotten so much good advice and I congratulate you. It is rare to see such a civil thread.

For San Francisco - the city - you do not need a car. However, for day trips such as Muir Woods and Golden Gate Bridge you will need a car. There are rental places in the city and you can get a day rental when needed. Taxis are not bad in SF and should be OK for city sightseeing.

If you want to really see the countryside without the hassle of driving you can take the train from San Francisco to LA. It will cost about US$ 50 per adult and less for children. It takes all day and is not luxurious but you will see beautiful scenery. The train should have an observation car where you can sit with your children facing the windows, watch the scenery, play games, eat our good junk food, talk and just plain relax.

In LA I would recommend a movie studio tour. In San Diego the zoo. I would do Las Vegas if time permits just because it is so unique. It is worth a couple days and you can combine it with a trip to the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam. There are many shows in Las Vegas that your children could enjoy and now many nice resorts which are not on the strip and thus not infused with gambling.

The parks such as Yosemite are great but time of the season means a lot. Snow will close some parks in the winter and over crowding will close some parks in the summer.

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