Southern California trip advice

Jul 28th, 2010, 06:24 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 12,311
With a 3 and a 6 year old, I would definitely choose Legoland, you've got plenty of time to enjoy Disney parks with them but Legoland is most fun when they're that age. Leaving Disney for another time will make your trip a lot less hectic, September is a good time to visit Dland crowd-wise but it's still a lot for a 3 year old to handle....rides that the 6 year old can handle but the 3 year old cannot etc. If you had a couple more days, maybe...but for a 4 day jaunt....Legoland and Sea World/Zoo is plenty.
clarkgriswold is offline  
Aug 10th, 2010, 01:18 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 206
Hello again!

I found that if we travel between Seattle and Long Beach on JetBlue, it would save us about $250-$300 when compared to LAX/San Diego. How is Long Beach airport in terms of facilities/freeway access?

Current plan is:

Sept 17: Arrive at Long Beach in the evening, stay at Laguna Beach
Sept 18: Early morning at Laguna Beach, lunch at La Jolla, late afternoon/evening in downtown San Diego
Sept 19: Some water park
Sept 20: SeaWorld or San Diego Zoo or Disneyland
Sept 21: Disneyland
Sept 22: Return to Seattle from Long Beach

We are still unsure about Disneyland vs SeaWorld vs San Diego Zoo on Sept 20. We are pretty sure about water park and at least one day at Disneyland. Could someone please suggest a water park between Anaheim and San Diego? Raging Waters is too far up north, I believe.
qzseattle is offline  
Aug 10th, 2010, 05:06 AM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 96
Didn't you mention above that your wife complains about you stuffing too much into your vacations?

This looks exhausting to me and will likely wear your kids out (and you) - my kids are close to yours in age and maybe yours are different but I see chaos ensuing with this many activities.

You're really not going to get much out of Laguna Beach if you are getting there in the evening and grabbing breakfast and then taking off plus you are adding an extra place for your kids to get acclimated to as far as sleep.

Also - decide on San Diego or Orange County and stick to that area. So...Lego Land and Sea World....or Disneyland...not both areas in such a short amount of time. As a heads up, we took my son when he was 4 to Disneyland and he had a great time...but he was still about a year or two too young to get the full experience. At the end of the day we asked him his favorite part and he said it was the lollipop grannie got him. I think you're slightly early on the 3 year old for Disneyland but they will have fun at the Zoo and at Sea World. Legoland will be great for both of them.

I would skip a water park - you can get these in many areas of the country but the beach in La Jolla or Laguna Beach is unique. Kids can spend hours running into and out of waves, making castles, etc.
vova is offline  
Aug 10th, 2010, 06:07 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,535
I agree, I travel with my kids to San Diego every year and by far their favorite days are the slow beach ones. La Jolla also has tide pools to visit. I personally don't like Sea World, but Legoland would be perfect for your girls at their ages whether or not they like legos. For you I would say do less and enjoy it more!
MonicaRichards is offline  
Aug 10th, 2010, 06:08 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,535
Oh, and I would definitely skip a water park. They have those everywhere and your three year old is too young for all but the wading pool and a lazy river, so what would be the point when you could go to the beach instead?
MonicaRichards is offline  
Aug 10th, 2010, 07:47 AM
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 25,571
I agree with the others that you're trying to cram in too much (and I'm on "on-the-go" traveler, but this looks impossible, especially with two little kids). Here's what I'd do:

17: arrive Laguna
18: all day in the Laguna Beach area (or any of the beaches with a good town). Make your way to San Diego at dinnertime or bedtime.
19: Zoo or SeaWorld
20: San Diego
21: Disneyland
22: Leave

That at least gives you a day in between "parks" to do other stuff and chill.
sf7307 is offline  
Aug 10th, 2010, 10:01 AM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 3,496
Long Beach is a great little airport. Because it's small, it's easy to get in and out of and the it's right next to the 405 freeway.

Looking at your new itinerary, it does seem that you have decided to go to Disneyland. Kids, of course, love Disney. What I don't quite get is that you are coming all the way to So. CA during one of the most beautiful months we have and you have no beach time for your kids. Even on the 18th, you have evening in downtown San Diego. Not a lot for a 3 and 6 yr old to do there.

I will recommend what others have said, go to the beach instead of the Water Park. Get a few buckets, shovels and the kids could play all day. If you are set on a waterpark, then there is Wild Rivers in Irvine and Knots Soak City in Buena Park.

I noticed you don't have Legoland on your list. Your kids are the perfect age for that park and you can get discount tickets through Costco (some locations and their website). If you have AAA, they have discounts too.

If you are really set on going to a waterpark, then I wouldn't go to San Diego although you could go to Legoland.
This might work. You could stay in Laguna the whole time which is in the middle between Legoland and the Orange County attractions.
Sept 17 Arrive
Sept 18 Legoland
Sept 19 Orange County Waterpark (waterparks are only open on weekends after Labor Day)
Sept 20 Beach in the morning Disneyland pm
Sept 21 Disneyland
Sept 22 Return home

Even this itinerary seems exhausting for small children. Lots of theme parks and no down time. If you don't want to go to Legoland, then I would stay closer to Disneyland and go to Knotts Soak City. You could still have a beach day in Newport or Huntington Beach.
paula1470 is offline  
Aug 10th, 2010, 10:05 AM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 3,496
sf7307's itinerary looks good if you want to go to San Diego but of course she has taken out the waterpark which is what I would do. I just put that in my itinerary because you seem set on going there.
paula1470 is offline  
Aug 11th, 2010, 11:37 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 206
Thanks for the all suggestions. I hope I am not underestimating commute time between San Diego and OC. From Laguna Beach, San Diego is about a little over 1 hr drive which is why I am including both San Diego and OC.

Here is a revised itinerary to reduce the number of hotel changes:

Sept 17: Arrive, stay in Laguna Beach for the night
Sept 18: Stay in Laguna Beach until about 2.00PM. Drive to La Jolla, get there by 3.00PM. Spend a couple of hours at La Jolla, then drive to San Diego downtown for dinner and a quick drive-by. Return to Laguna Beach hotel
Sept 19: Leave Laguna Beach for an OC waterpark, stay in Anaheim
Sept 20: Spend all day at Disney, stay in Anaheim
Sept 21: Spend all day at Disney, stay in Anaheim
Sept 22: Return to Long Beach airport

This would give us two nights in Laguna Beach and 3 nights in Anaheim. Sept 18 might seem hectic because details are a bit verbose but an hour drive between Laguna Beach and San Diego with a stop in La Jolla doesnt seem much. This would also give us several hours at the beaches that day.

How is the drive from Anahiem to Long Beach airport on a week day? We would need to get there by 10.30AM.
qzseattle is offline  
Aug 12th, 2010, 08:41 AM
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 25,571
It's not that Sept. 18th's description is verbose, it's that driving from LaJolla to downtown San Diego for a "drive-by" is an incredible waste. If you want to see something in San Diego, by all means go and spend a day there (there's certainly plenty to see). But San Diego isn't like Manhattan or Paris -- there's no Statue of Liberty or Eiffel Tower -- what do you think you're going to see in a drive-by?
sf7307 is offline  
Aug 12th, 2010, 09:25 AM
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 455
Did yu leave out Legoland? ? It's th absolute best park to go to if you've got a 3 and a 6 year old. Waterpark instead? Please, NO! I think Legoland is even better for the 3 year old than the assault-on-the-senses that is Disney, but I won't start that what-age-is-proper-for-Disney debate again.
divineMissM is offline  
Aug 12th, 2010, 10:55 AM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 3,496
DivineMissM-I keep trying to tell them Legoland is the best for kids their age.

Legoland does have a waterpark now. I don't know much about it but it seems you can only access it by Legoland admission. So you could do both on one day.

sf7307 is absolutely right about driving to San Diego for the afternoon. Makes absolutely no sense. Not sure what you want to see but driving through isn't the way to see it. First of all at 2pm it will probably take more than an hour to get to La Jolla if you are going to downtown La Jolla. This is without any traffic. Traffic heading south between 2-3 shouldn't be too bad. But getting out of downtown La Jolla around 5pm is a slow process and then you may encounter rush hour traffic. In downtown La Jolla, the kids will like the tide pools and the seals but other than that it's a lot of shops. Then when you get to downtown San Diego, more of the same. Doesn't sound like a fun afternoon for a 3 and 6 yr old.

Maybe if you let us know what you want to see in San Diego, we can let know it it's possible.
paula1470 is offline  
Aug 12th, 2010, 04:27 PM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 561
Looking at your current itinerary, here is my suggested changes:
Sept 17: Arrive, stay in Laguna Beach for the night
Sept 18: Stay in Laguna Beach until about 2.00PM. Drive to La Jolla, get there by 3.00PM. Spend a couple of hours at La Jolla. Return to Laguna Beach hotel
Sept 19: Spend day at Legoland and waterpark at Legoland, stay in Anaheim
Sept 20: Spend all day at Disney, stay in Anaheim
Sept 21: Spend all day at Disney, stay in Anaheim
Sept 22: Return to Long Beach airport

My kids love Legoland. There is also an attached kids aquarium that is worth a walkthrough, and they have a new waterpark. Should be a fun day.

The above gives you the beach and strolling/shopping in La Jolla, Legoland, waterpark and Disneyland. With only 2 hotels and easy driving.

We've stayed in La Jolla (at the La Jolla Beachclub and Torrey Pines), and in Carlsbad (at West Inn and Suites and also at the Four Seasons Aviara). Though these hotels are at very different price points, they each worked well for us on our various trips to Northern San Diego/La Jolla area.
POlson is offline  
Aug 13th, 2010, 11:35 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 206
Hello again and thanks for more feedback.

I agree, a quick drive-by wouldnt do justice to any city, not even New York or Paris. By drive-by, I didnt mean litterly driving by, just a quick trip to get the feel of the city. For example, if someone had a layover at San Diego airport with a few hours to spare and wanted to go see the city, what would you suggest?

I would have liked to spend more time in San Diego if I could fit that in our schedule. Returning from La Jolla is one option though if I went so close to the city, why not check it out? I think I would leave it to that day. If we are too tired by the time we get to La Jolla, we wouldnt go further.

Note that the day we are planning to drive between Laguna Beach and La Jolla/San Diego is Saturday so I guess traffic would a bit lighter?

I am checking out Legoland on their web site.
qzseattle is offline  
Aug 13th, 2010, 11:42 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 206
Could you please also suggest a family-friendly, ocean-facing hotel in Laguna Beach and also La Jolla (just in case we end up skipping Laguna Beach altogether and go straight to La Jolla and stay two nights there before returning to Anahaiem for 2 days in Disney? How is that for being undecided If we stay in Laguna Beach, I had Marriott Laguna Cliffs Resort and Spa in mind.
qzseattle is offline  
Aug 14th, 2010, 10:23 AM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 3,496
I like Polson's itinerary but I would suggest that you just skip staying in Laguna Beach. At this point there is no reason to stay there if all you are going to do is drive back and forth to San Diego.

Are you arriving from Seattle on the 7:55 pm flight into Long Beach? As I said before luggage and car rental is pretty quick in Long Beach so you should be out of there by 8:30-8:40. Then I would just drive straight to San Diego County and at that time of night you won't have to deal with traffic. Since you are looking at Legoland, I would stay in Carlsbad instead of La Jolla. Without traffic you'd get from Long Beach to Carlsbad in about an 1 hour 15 min to an 1.5 hours.

There are a fair amount of hotels in Carlsbad that face the ocean but they also face the coast highway which can have traffic noise. The Beach Terrace Inn is right on the beach. For years family and friends stayed there but the hotel was really in need of a make-over. Looks like they have now renovated the rooms.

The West Inn and Suites that Polson mentioned look like the perfect place to stay. They have a Legoland package with shuttle, breakfast included and the rooms like awesome with 2 king beds. It doesn't face the ocean but is a five minute or less drive. Check it out on tripadvisor, people rave about it. Never stayed there since I live in the area but sounds good.

If you stay in Carlsbad, it's an easy drive to La Jolla or you can head to downtown San Diego.

If you want to drive a little further when you come in, then I would suggest La Jolla Shores hotel. It's right on the beach. My aunt and uncle have stayed there many times and really like it. The beach by this hotel is really the only beach in La Jolla where the kids can play in the sand, etc.

As far as Laguna Beach, the Marriott Laguna Cliffs is not really in Laguna Beach but in Dana Point. Also it's up on a bluff so you'd have to drive down the hill to get to the beach especially with young children. It's a nice resort and it does have quick freeway access which you won't find if you stay closer to downtown Laguna Beach.

As far as traffic into San Diego on a Saturday, it's hard to tell. San Diego in the summer is a very popular destination and on the weekends it can often take double the time to get from Orange County into the San Diego area. Sept is usually one of the warmest months at the beach. We haven't had a warm summer yet, so if that Sept weekend turns out to be beautiful, you could run into lots of traffic as people head south. The problem with traffic coming into San Diego is that you have to drive through Camp Pendleton for about 20 miles. If traffic is crawling, you have no place to get off the freeway as you aren't allowed on Camp Pendleton. So I think heading down to San Diego County upon arrival is the way to go.

Also, you need to make a decision and book a room somewhere pretty soon. You will have a better chance getting the room you want for the best price.
paula1470 is offline  
Aug 14th, 2010, 10:55 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 65,774
"if I went so close to the city, why not check it out?"

Few CA cities (other than San Francisco a bit) are set up for a quick 'look-see' and San Diego is no exception. You can't just pop into town and get a feel - it is a big place. The Wild Animal park, zoo/Balboa Park, beaches, Gas Lamp, whatever are spread over approx 350 square miles. (the county as a whole is over 4000 sq miles)
janisj is offline  
Aug 15th, 2010, 12:19 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 206
paula1470, thanks for suggesting the hotels. I did some online research and found Hilton La Jolla, La Valencia and Estancia to be pretty nice. They arent right at the beach but close enough, and hotel look very nice.

By the way, looking at the photos, beaches between Dana Point and Laguna Beach seemed prettier than those near La Jolla though I would admit photos dont always tell the whole story.
qzseattle is offline  
Aug 15th, 2010, 01:19 PM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 3,496
Of the three hotels you mentioned the La Valencia is the only one I would stay at. The other two, the Hilton and Estancia are not near the village of La Jolla and are in fact in an area of industrial buildings. You would need a car to go everywhere. You said you did research but don't know if you read the reviews on tripadvisor. The Hilton's reviews weren't good overall and people didn't like the isolated location of the Estancia.

The beach between Dana Point and Laguna Beach is very beautiful. Some of the top 5 star resorts in Southern California are located on that strip of beach including The Ritz Carlton, Regis at Monarch Beach and The Montage. La Jolla is also beautiful in a different way with cliffs and rocks but also a nice beach at La Jolla Shores.

Again your hotel selection really depends on what you are going to do. If you are intent of seeing part of San Diego and La Jolla, stay in La Jolla, visit San Diego and Legoland and go the beach with your kids. Then move on Anaheim. If you want to do the beach in OC, then stay there. Your visit is too short to be driving up and down the coast, fighting weekend traffic if the weather is nice. I would suggest you book something soon.
paula1470 is offline  
Aug 15th, 2010, 01:22 PM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 3,496
When I mentioned about needing a car for the Hilton or Estancia, I know you will have a car so that wasn't my point. If you stay at La Valencia, you can get up in the morning, walk somewhere for breakfast and look at the shops. You can walk over to the coves where the kids can see the seals. You would have to drive to La Jolla Shores for the beach but it's a quick drive. Even by La Jolla Shores there are a few small restaurants so you can get a quick lunch when you are there.
paula1470 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 01:31 AM.