LA/San Diego trip planning

Old May 8th, 2017, 06:37 AM
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LA/San Diego trip planning

Planning a family trip to LA and San Diego during the week of Christmas and I dont know where to start! My daughters want to do everything Hollywood and LA tours and my nephews will want to do more adventurous things like amusement parks and speed boats. We also want to drive to San Diego to check out the safari, balboa park and tbe san diego pier/amusement area.

We will be in CA for 7-8 nights and need advice on the following:

1. Should we rent a house in LA for the length of the trip and just do an overnight in san diego or should we split the trip (4 days in each location)?

2. What are some itinerary ideas?

3. What is a good area in LA to rent a home or hotel recommendations

4. Whats the weather like in late December?

5. Any recommended tours for both LA and San Diego?

6. What are some cool places to stop during the drive between LA and San Diego?

Thank you in advance for your assistance!
Vernellmarie is offline  
Old May 8th, 2017, 07:09 AM
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I'm a little biased since I lived in the San Diego area for years. You don't really need a stopping place between LA and San Diego. It's only a 2-4 hour derive depending on traffic but one of my personal favorites is Mission San Juan Capistrano. It's only a few hundred yards off of I-5 and is a serene and peaceful break as well as a snapshot into the Spanish history of southern California.

A few miles further south, the San Clemente beach and pier are a nice slice of California beach life.

Weather can be anywhere from gorgeous to cool and wet at that time of year.

There is a tourist trolley in San Diego that hits many of the highlights uncluding downtown, old town, and Balboa Park
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Old May 8th, 2017, 07:26 AM
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Sorry, somehow my reply above posted before I was finished.

The San Diego downtown area includes Fisherman's Village and a ferry to Coronado Island I always enjoy. From the wharf area where you catch the ferry, you can also get a good view of the naval base on North Island and, with luck, there will be an aircraft carrier in port. I also like Anthony's on the wharf for a great seafood lunch.

The tourist trolley is not the same as the San Diego trolley, a light rail system, that will take you north, south, and east from downtown.

The Wild Animal Park is well worth a visit and, IMO, the San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park is one of the best in the country. There are also 17 museums in the park from which to choose. My personal favorite is the Air and Space Museum.

While I was writing about San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente, I forgot to mention Balboa Pier and Amusement park in Newport Beach, a few miles north of San Juan. It also has a pier and great beach but the main attraction, given what you mentioned about your nephew's interest are the old time amusement park and the tiny ferries between the Balboa peninsula and the mainland.

I hope you have a great trip and enjoy your visit to SoCal.
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Old May 8th, 2017, 08:44 AM
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Thank you!
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Old May 8th, 2017, 10:50 AM
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I think you could spend at least 3 days in San Diego, an overnight might be too rushed for what I think might be fun for the group to do.

I agree that the Embarcadero on the harbor would be a fun place to check out. The USS Midway is right there, not far from the Coronado ferry. Unfortunately, Anthony's Fish Grotto closed this year, but a new, fun place to eat right near the ferry and the Midway is Carnita's Snack Shack. Also on the Embarcadero, a very short walk north, is the historic Star of India and other ships you can explore as part of the Maritime Museum of San Diego - you walk on and explore several difference ships. Seaport Village (which I think dwoddon was referring to as Fisherman's Village) is good for shopping, but mostly touristy type of things, but has great views of the harbor and the Coronado Bay Bridge. It is very pretty to walk around the park there.

Also a few blocks from the harbor is Little Italy. There are all kinds of Italian and other restaurants along India Street, along with several stores, and there is a great farmer's market there every Saturday morning.

Another place to visit is Cabrillo National Monument, at the tip of Point Loma not too far from the harbor (you will need a car, but I think there is also a bus that goes up there). There are some great views, if it's a clear day, and interesting info. There is a lighthouse there you can explore, and that will be whale watching season, so you can walk out past the lighthouse and see if you can see any whales migrating. Speaking of whale watching - you can take a whale watching tour. They last about 2-3 hours and typically see all kinds of marine life. If you decide to try that, check Groupon, they always have a coupon.

Another area to check out is Old Town. There are several historic buildings to check out, some open air vendors, and the Whaley House, which is supposed to be one of the most haunted buildings in the US. It is a historic home and set up like it was back when the Whaley's lived there. You can tour it, and also check out the historic cemetery a few blocks away.

I also agree that the San Diego Zoo Safari Park (formerly the wild animal park) is also a great place to visit. It is about 45 minutes from downtown, and I think you can buy combo tickets with the zoo itself. Not sure how old the kids are, but if they're under 10 or so, Legoland is also good.

The amusements at the beach are at Mission Beach, a little bit north of the harbor/downtown.
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Old May 8th, 2017, 11:18 AM
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Thank you!
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Old May 8th, 2017, 12:14 PM
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I would split my stay between LA and San Diego.
Many LA hotels will not let you put more than 4 people in a hotel room due to fire laws, so you are best off looking for a suite hotel such as Residence Inn, Homewood Suites, etc.
For vacation rentals, make sure they are legal as many communities have outlawed short term rentals such as Santa Monica.
The Safari Park is great and December should be a good time to visit as it can be very hot during summer and fall since it is inland in Escondido and thus does not get an ocean breeze.
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Old May 8th, 2017, 05:34 PM
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Thank you
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Old May 9th, 2017, 05:33 AM
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I would not do an overnight in San Diego - I would split the trip between LA (4 days) and SD (4 days).
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