Southern California trip advice

Jul 16th, 2010, 10:50 PM
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Southern California trip advice


Our family of 4 (two daughters ages 3 and 6) is plannig a trip to Southern California. We would like to visit a water park, LegoLand and either San Diego zoo or SeaWorld. We would also want to hit a couple of coastal towns (maybe Laguna beach and La Jolla) to spend some time at the beach and downtown areas (just random stroll). And of course, we would also like a quick city tour of San Diego.

Is all of the above doable in 4 days? My wife always complain that our trips are too stuffy as we try to do too much in too little time. Now if I could only squeeze in a trip to Disneyland.... On a serious note, what would a better option: a day in disney land or a day in legoland? I fear that due to the season, lines at disney land would be too long and the weather these days is hot. I also think that setting for Disney Land is too urban. I would rather wait and visit Disney World instead sometime in the future (its bigger and in a more natural setting)

By the way, this will be our first time in that area.
qzseattle is offline  
Jul 17th, 2010, 04:48 AM
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Disneyland and Disneyworld are very different. For just the Magic Kingdom, I prefer Disneyland. It is much easier to manage Disneyland than Disneyworld. As for crowds, don't know what is the busiest time. Either place is usually very very busy to me. Disneyworld in Florida requires 4-5 days to do it right. You can do Disneyland/California Adventure in a day, but really 2 days would be better. The only thing that I don't like about Disneyland when comparing it to Disneyworlds Magic Kingdom, is that the Castle is so much smaller. For you beach visit, you really won't be able to swim, it is very very cold. Personally, I think you should add a couple of more days to your trip.
spirobulldog is offline  
Jul 17th, 2010, 06:15 AM
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Drop Laguna Beach and Disneyland. It's too much travel time IMO, with only 4 days. Legoland/Sea World/ Zoo/water park can EACH be a full day. There are so many wonderful things to do and see in San Diego outside of the main stream amusement sights. You didn't mention when you plan on coming but if the weather continues, you'll want to spend a lot of time at the beach.
SOCALOC is offline  
Jul 17th, 2010, 06:42 AM
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4 days in the San Diego area will be perfect for your wife's preference for a not "too stuffy" trip. Skip the long drive to Laguna Beach. And go to Disney World instead of Disneyland. You are right that the former is in an urban area and the latter isn't.
montereybob is offline  
Jul 18th, 2010, 06:40 AM
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"more natural setting". Ha. First time I've heard Orlando described in those terms.

I would also skip Disney. I would also not do more than two parks in your four days. There will be lots of walking and waiting in lines, even in Sea World or the zoo. These places are huge in area, and tiring for little legs. Do your girls love Legos? If not, I think you can also skip LegoLand. I would recommend it only for young kids that are huge Lego fans.

Our key to successful vacations with kids is scheduling in plenty of down time, either at the beach or the pool. IOne day Zoo, one day city tour and beach, one day Sea World, and maybe a 1/2 day at a water park, if you are not tired of the crowds, parking and long lines.
lvk is offline  
Jul 18th, 2010, 08:20 AM
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Yes you'll have to skip Laguna, and also I would skip the water park with a 3 year Legoland and Sea World. Get a hotel with a great pool area instead of trying to fit in a water park. Legoland and La Jolla Beach or Carlsbad beach you might try to squeeze into one full long day at the beginning when everyone is rarin' to go.
joesorce is offline  
Jul 18th, 2010, 08:44 AM
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To maximize your time, you need to think about & plan travel time, re: which hotel you pick.
You don't say WHEN you are coming to San Diego,or if flying or driving but June is the SD County Fair so I-5 North & South are log jammed, (dark on Mondays so ok). July, the Del Mar horse races start and again (same location, follows right after the Fair)I-5 North & South are log jammed.
Jan/Feb timeframe the Torrey Pines golf course hosts a major golf event & that also log jams Torrey Pines and I-5 North & South.
To avoid most of this, I would suggest this:
Skip Legoland, do Seaworld (go early am as they are gving out first come first serve wrist bands for new Dolphin show & they are gone by 12:00 noon), book hotel around Point Loma (Shelter ISland my first choice has several and is a nice tropical island feel to it with grass trees, plygroung for kids, park like area with good pools), good location for Seaworld, La Jolla, Zoo and airport
or Liberty station has both a Courtyard or Homewood Suites for kids (altho if you stay at hotel for pool over the day you will hear overhead plane traffic)
or downtown or Coronado (has bride traffic rush hour am & pm)
1JAR is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2010, 11:38 PM
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Thanks everyone for advice. We plan to visit either from August 6 to August 10 or first mid-September. We are kind of flexible either way. In September, we can avoid crowds though it could get chilly for water park and beaches?

My plan is this:

Friday: Arrive at LAX late Friday night and drive to Newport/Laguna Beach stay there for the night.

Saturday: Sight seeing at Newport/Laguna beach in the morning, drive to San Diego with a stop at La Jolla, stay in San Diego area for the night.

Sunday: Visit LegoLand. Stay somewhere near Disneyland for the night.

Monday: Visit Disneyland. One day is too short for Disneyland, I know. We would be OK with whatever we can do in a day.

Tuesday: Visit a waterpark. I am not sure which one. Knott's Soak City? Wild Rivers in Irvine? Raging Waters is too far up North. Ideally, we want to be at LAX for 9PM flight to Seattle.

Does it seem to hectic? We could probably swap LegoLand or DisneyLand for SeaWorld.

qzseattle is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2010, 11:40 PM
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Contd... notice that I have not specified the hotels. I have selected them yet.

Again, thanks for the feedback.
qzseattle is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2010, 11:46 PM
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Hmm, I wish it was possible to edit a reply. Anyhow, I meant I have not selected the hotels yet. By the way, we are also planning to visit DisneyWorld in Oct/Nov next year so could perhaps skip DisneyLand.

Someone mentioned water at the beach would be too cold for swimming. Even in August? We dont plan to swim though wouldnt mind going in the water knee-deep. Is the water too cold for that as well? Is the ocean in Southern California area ever warm enough for a swim?
qzseattle is offline  
Jul 24th, 2010, 06:50 AM
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It depends what you're used to. In the San Diego area the water temperatures in August will be around 72 F. Not bad, but 80 is what most people like. See:
dbdurand is offline  
Jul 24th, 2010, 07:17 AM
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"In September, we can avoid crowds though it could get chilly for water park and beaches?"

You need think w/ CA weather in mind. September would not be chilly and it could even be warmer than August depending on the exact weather patterns at the time. September is still "Summer" on the west coast, and often along the ocean it is nicer in Sept than earlier in the summer.

The Pacific is never warm - it is a tad bit less cold in Aug/Sept but it is never warm. Whether it is warm enough for you and/or the kids to swim depends on your tolerance. For the kids, wading and chasing shore birds is always fun though
janisj is offline  
Jul 24th, 2010, 07:31 AM
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September is usually the best time of the year along the coast. Right now it is STILL gloomy. It has been a funky summer.

Question. Do you have to fly in/out of LAX? Disneyland, Newport/Laguna beach are in OC. The rest of your trip is in San Diego. If at all possible I'd fly into SNA- do OC then head to San Diego and fly out from there. Or reverse it. San Diego airport usually has great flight rates and it's a piece of cake. Even flying into LAX and leaving from San Diego would be better, since you have a pretty full itinerary.

Personally, I think you are going to find yourselves very busy. But if that's your style- go for it. Have a great time! And come in September.
SOCALOC is offline  
Jul 24th, 2010, 07:40 AM
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I would pick Sept. Everything is less crowded than Aug. Also, Sept. usually has just as warm ocean water as Aug. Water temps in SoCal are not as warm as the Caribbean or Hawaii. You will feel a chill when you first get in but will gradually get used to it. Especially if you are only knee deep. Millions of people happily swim in these ocean waters every summer.
If you are going to Disney World, definitely skip disneyland. It would be mostly redundant. I would also skip Legoland and do Sea World. Yes, IMO, your itinerary is too hectic. Do less and enjoy more.
The drive from LAX to the places you are going is boring and at time riddled with congestion. If possible, it is much better to fly into Orange County airport at Newport Beach or San Diego Airport, or fly into one and fly out of the other. Even if it costs a little more than LAX, it is worth it.
montereybob is offline  
Jul 24th, 2010, 09:42 AM
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Yes, it seems too hectic. With 6 and 3 year olds, I would not hotel hop so much, nor would I do a water park. You will be at the ocean, and little ones love to play on the beach. Why not take advantage of the freebies that mother nature provides? When our kids were that age, I always thought they were happier with simpler play time, than carting them through expensive theme parks.
PeaceOut is offline  
Jul 24th, 2010, 10:21 AM
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Sept is usually one of our better weather months along the coast as there isn't the early morning fog and clouds. Sept in fact can be very warm. This has been a strange year for weather, though. The "June Gloom" we usually have has been around for most of the month of July. To me the ocean is always chilly but in Sept the water is warmer than most of the rest of the year.

I agree with everyone else that you are doing way too much and covering too much ground in 4 days. You need to either do San Diego or Orange County but not both.

You need to make a decision of whether you want to do Disneyland and the beaches in Orange County or Seaworld, the Zoo or Legoland in San Diego. You mentioned you were planning a trip to Disneyworld soon and so would maybe skip Disneyland but then you still put it in your itinerary. I personally think Disneyland is better for small children as it's not as big as Disneyworld and is easier to navigate. Especially after Labor Day, Disneyland would be much less crowded. But since you are going to Disneyworld soon, I would skip Disneyland and focus on San Diego.

If you can, I would change your flights into OC or San Diego. I also agree about not so much hotel hopping which can be time consuming. Also with young kids, it's nice to have a home base. I see you are arriving late on Friday night. Don't know what late is but if you can't change your flights to San Diego, then maybe you'd have to stay in OC one night. If you want to stay by the ocean then stay the first night in Laguna Beach. Laguna Beach is mobbed in the summer but again after Labor Day, everyone leaves. After breakfast and walk along the beach, head to San Diego. If your girls really want to do Legoland, you are driving right by it and could spend the afternoon there. After Legoland, head into San Diego. I like 1Jar's idea of staying around Shelter Island. The next day go to Sea World. So here is how I'd break it down if you can't change flights.

Fri - Arrive late LAX. Spend night in Laguna Beach.

Sat - AM in Laguna, Drive to Legoland which takes about 45 minutes. After Legoland check into hotel in San Diego

Sun - Beach time with girls. Visit La Jolla. Nice beach at La Jolla Shores.

Mon - SeaWorld

Tues - Zoo/Balboa Park and head back to LAX if you can't change flights.

I know my girls at that age liked SeaWorld the best. They also just liked chilling at the beach as PeaceOut suggested. I usually tried to have one day at a theme park, followed by a relaxed day. Made for happier kids and parents.
paula1470 is offline  
Jul 24th, 2010, 10:28 AM
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Saw you wanted to do a quick San Diego City Tour. Not sure how much interest that would be for the girls but you could probably do that on Sunday before the beach time. There is the Old Town Trolley Tours that last about 2 hours and go to Old Town, Balboa Park, Coronado and Downtown San Diego. You could fit that in Sunday or Tues am.
paula1470 is offline  
Jul 24th, 2010, 11:26 AM
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I agree with paula1470 and want to add that the trolley is "hop on/hop off" meaning that you can get off at any stop, see the sights or whatever and then get back on a subsequent trolley. The driver gives a humorous and informative commentary as you go along. It goes more places than paula mentioned, as described on their web site.
dbdurand is offline  
Jul 24th, 2010, 12:21 PM
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Yeah dbdurand, didn't know all the stops but just mentioned the highlights. Thanks for mentioning it's a hop on/hop off.
paula1470 is offline  
Jul 28th, 2010, 01:03 AM
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We have pretty much decided to visit in second week of September. How long are the lines at Disneyland, SeaWorld etc that time of the year?
qzseattle is offline  

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