UK Family need help - California or Florida ?

Old Jun 24th, 2004, 11:37 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,379
I live in California and love Florida, even in the summer. In fact, I'm going to South Beach for my 40th. But for sheer variety of experience and things to do, California wins, hands down. On the weather question alone, well, I think once past our June gloom, CA summers are much nicer.

The beaches of Florida are lovely by themselves. But they cannot match the drama of California's coastlines (La Jolla, Laguna Beach, and all those gorgeous coastal vistas up north!). And once you're off the beach, you've got so much to see and do in CA.

You say Disneyworld is better than Disneyland (the original-- most of Orlando is rendered in improved imitations of California theme parks). Granted. But once you're done at Disneyworld, what in Orlando is comparable to, say, wine and music under the stars at the Hollywood Bowl? Or the stunning tableaux vivants at the Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach? Or sunset dinner at the Getty Center? How about concerts at the Disney Concert Hall? Exhibits at the Norton Simon or LACMA? Live theatre (more playhouses than NYC)? The Groundlings?

The San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park are two of the finest zoos in the world. Even the LA Zoo is good. The Monterey Aquarium is arguably the best in the US. The more narrowly-focused Aquarium of the Pacific is also a fine institution.

San Francisco may be cool in the summer, but its charm and unique quirkiness is something that has to be experienced. Just a great city.

Fine dining? Florida's got some great restaurants indeed (concentrated in Miami), and I love Cuban and Floribbean cuisines. However, do any of them equal the legendary Chez Panisse or Michael's or French Laundry (well, when it reopens)? San Francisco is famous for great eateries, and LA has always been on the cutting edge in food.

Shopping? Miami has Bal Harbour Shops. We have Rodeo Drive, Melrose Avenue, Montana Avenue (home to the purported first "shabby chic" boutique in the US) Fashion Island, South Coast Plaza, Beverly Center, Santana Row.... Have Amex, will shop, that's our motto.

However, in late fall and winter, Florida shines, and if you were planning a trip then, by all means go to Florida, hands down. Maybe there's less to do, but so what? Gorgeous state. I do love it there.
rjw_lgb_ca is offline  
Old Jun 26th, 2004, 01:56 PM
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Thanks to all the fab replies.......It looks like Southern California for my family next year although I still have a yearning for crashing out on one of Sanibels beaches.
If we base ourselves in the San Diego area will we comfortably be able to travel to the Disneyland and Universal Studios or would it be better to maybe have a week in one hotel and move south another one ?
I believe you call them 'resort'hotels in America so are there any you would recommend in either San Diego or the Los Angeles area ? Must have a lovely pool for my hubby and daughter as it sounds like it is too cold to swim in the sea ??

Thanks again for the replies - my husband is 'made up' that you have nearly all chosen California.

He does like to keep me happy mind so it may be Florida after all !!(only joking!)
annaellieb is offline  
Old Jun 26th, 2004, 05:11 PM
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Sounds like the majority of the postings recommend California. But when I saw that you mentioned Sanibel, I decided to respond. We love to visit Sanibel in the summer time despite the hot weather, partly because it is less crowded then. (The accommodations are also much cheaper since it is the off-season.) If your primary goals were relaxing on a beautiful beach and visiting a theme park, I'd suggest dividing your time between Sanibel Island and Disney World.

If you go to California, I would agree with the advice to focus on one part of the state unless you are willing to spend a fair amount of time in the car!

Sapphire is offline  
Old Jun 26th, 2004, 07:54 PM
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I have to cast my vote for Florida, too! I'm from neither Florida, nor California (from Ohio), but am a beach lover. We go to Florida almost every year during the first two weeks of June, heading straight to Disneyworld to beat the summer rush. Believe it or not, our daughter has gone to Disney every year since she was one year old (is now 16) and STILL wants to go! We've been on cruises, to Grand Cayman (my favorite), and other islands, but the variety of amusement parks in Florida is her favorite. Yes, it's warm, but not unbearable as it is in July and August. I love the fact that we can drive from Disney to the beautiful beaches of Sarasota and Longboat Key in 2 hours, or to Fort Lauderdale from Disney in 4 hours. It seems that California, though it has more diverse and beautiful land features, would involve a lot of driving to see it all. It depends on how agreeable to travel your child is whether this would be a problem or not. If you want to do a lot of swimming at the beach, the water at Sarasota is extremely clear.
(Not crystal like the Caribbean, but still very nice.) Also, there are many nice condos and villas on Longboat Key, which is a beautiful community. You can also easily fly from Miami to a nearby island for a few days. Whatever you decide, I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time in either Florida or California.
Also, have a great time in Crete- it
sounds fantastic!
islandguy50 is offline  
Old Jun 26th, 2004, 08:10 PM
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Another Floridian casting his vote for California. We're not even into July yet and the heat index today here in Miami was 110F or 43C.

I've stood in line at the theme parks in the middle of summer with my two kids. Want to see a child get grumpy real fast? Stick them in a Disney line in wicked heat and try to keep them entertained for an hour while you wait for the ride. We don't go anymore unless it's before October or after April.

Do I sound grumpy? Must be the heat...
JohnInMiami is offline  
Old Jun 27th, 2004, 03:18 AM
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Anna, it sounds like you have pretty much made your mind up (I am from the UK and have been too both, they are very different but in your situation I would choose Southern California, unless you can get up to San Francisco in the same trip).

One thought that came to mind was that I was in San Diego in October and remember swimming in the sea. If you go in July/August, I would have thought it would be warm enough to swim in the sea then. Perhaps the locals can advise better?
Dave_ is offline  
Old Jun 27th, 2004, 04:09 AM
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I'd cast my vote for California. The weather in Florida, even in May, is unbearable with the highs being in the mid-90s. The only plus is that the water will be bathwater warm in S. FL. If you do decide to go to FL for the shorter trip (which is wise too), I'd suggest going to Disneyworld, Cocoa Beach and even traveling up to St. Augustine. I wouldn't venture to Ft. L or Miami.
Stephanie is offline  
Old Jun 28th, 2004, 08:28 AM
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RE: Seeing Disneyland/Universal Studios hollywood from a San Diego base.... Disneyland, maybe. Universal (forty busy highway miles away from Disneyland)? No. If you're planning on a two-week holiday here, I would indeed fly into LAX, spend at least a week here, then drive down to San Diego, spend several days there, then back to LAX for the return trip home.

The "resorts" in southern California are not cheap. One of the very best I can think of, the Montage Resort in south Laguna Beach, has rack rates starting in the $400-500 range. Ritz-Carlton has some lovely resorts in the area (Pasadena and Dana Point especially), and there are some legendary hotels in the greater LA area (the Beverly Hills Hotel is a piece of Hollywood history and still the luxury digs of out-of-town stars).

Some of the more unique southern California attractions, like the Hollywood Bowl, Walt Disney Concert Hall, and the Laguna Beach Festival of the Arts (and the Pageant of the Masters), have limited seasons, starting either late June or early July, and the PotM sells out incredibly early (this year's shows are essentially sold out, and have been since April). So you may want to consult a travel agent with good connections if you want to do anything like that.
rjw_lgb_ca is offline  
Old Jun 28th, 2004, 09:02 AM
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rjw, I don't recommend it for annaellieb, but San Diego people do day trips to Disneyland, Universal and Magic Mountain all the time. You leave very early and get back late.
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