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How Long in LA?

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How Long in LA?

We're planning a 3 week trip to cover LA, Vegas, Yosemite, San Fran and then driving the Pacific Coast.

We are a family of 6 (a fit 80 yo, 3 teens, me & dh).

The girls are really excited about Disney & universal plus they want to see Hollywood, Rodeo Drive and all the other touristy stuff.

We usually spend a full two weeks in Florida just doing all the parks but obviously we won't have all that time here.

As this will be their main priority, how much time do I need to do it justice?

Do you recommend that we stay close to Disney or in a more central location? I'm assuming we'll have a car (or would you recommend we ditch this for this leg of the trip?

At first I thought it would be good to end our holiday here as this will be the highlight of their trip but now I'm not so sure because they will be wishing time away and 'Are we going to Disney yet?' Being asked every hour from us landing will drive me to distraction. Is it feasible to split it - I.e do 3 days on arrival and 5 days at the end?

Would also love a good water park?

If I can work out how long we need to spend on this leg - I can then fit the rest of the trip around it (if that makes sense!)

Opinions and advice, as always, gratefully received :)


Edited: 8:46 pm, January 03, 2014
San Francisco...
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1. Re: How Long in LA?

First of all, given all that you want to see and do in CA, LA, SF, would need 3-4 full days. LA is huge and depending on what else you want to see and do, you may need to increase your time

Disneyland is not in LA but an hour or so south in Anaheim. Did you really want to do 8 days in two parks ? 8 of the 21 days when there is so much to see and do in CA unlike the Orlando area which is basically just theme parks ?

One should stay walking distance from Disneyland and the Anaheim forum has info on hotels and also stay in LA for the LA part please read the TQs

There are sample itineraries in the top questions on the CA forum about seeinf CA

Santa Monica...
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2. Re: How Long in LA?

Disneyland and Universal are an hour away from each other and you must have a car. Stay in Anaheim for the 2 or so days you plan to visit Disneyland and the water park. Stay in LA (Beverly Hills, Hollywood etc) for the days to sightsee LA, a minimum of 3 nights (1 day Universal, 1 day Beverly Hills and Hollywood, 1 day Santa Monica).

Please read our FAQs /Top Questions for itinerary ideas for Los Angeles, on the right side of your screen.

The drive between LA and SF is a minimum 2 nights, stopping overnight twice. San Francisco is a minimum 4 nights. Yosemite will depend on if you can get a reservation, you may have to plan around it. Las Vegas is a flight away, and keep the nights there minimal with kids.

Los Angeles
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3. Re: How Long in LA?

It really depends. Disney in LA is substantially smaller than in Florida - here we only have the two parks (Disneyland and California Adventure) whereas in Florida there are 4 main parks at Disneyworld. I would also suggest researching the differences online - many of the rides in the LA parks are duplicated in Florida - sometimes they are "duplicated" but still have variations vs. Florida, but are substantially the same or at least the same idea - so you may have already 'done' many of them in Florida. So, that being the case I would probably look at a 3-day park hopper but its really up to you. Disneyland itself is large enough to take at least 2 days to really cover thoroughly, and Cal. Adventure really needs a full day of its own, at least. But if you don't necessarily want to cover them that thoroughly, you can get by with less time.

For this leg of the trip, my advice is to stay in Anaheim for the nights before your days at Disney, but stay somewhere in central LA (Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, downtown, Westwood) for the other days, since Anaheim (south of central LA) and central LA are an hour apart by car and its not any fun driving back and forth constantly.

How much more time you'll need depends - Universal is going to be close to a full day, though you can usually combine Universal with the Hollywood sights on one day. Rodeo Drive and some of the other places can take at least another day but it depends what the other places are that you want to see. Do you have anything more specific in mind that you can share with us?

As for water parks, there are a few choices - Knotts Soak City is in Buena Park, not far from Disneyland in Buena Park, across from Knott's main theme park, Knott's Berry Farm. There's another Knott's Soak City in Palm Springs but that's a bit out of your way. Six Flags has its own water park in Valencia, called Hurricane Harbor - its next to Six Flag's Magic Mountain which is there main theme park in the area. There's also Raging Waters in San Dimas (made famous for its use in the movie Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure) and Lego has a waterpark in Carlsbad next to Legoland - this is about 60-90 minutes south of Anaheim.

By the way, check the calendars for the waterparks, as they are (of course) seasonal - since you didn't say what time of the year your trip is, can't tell you if they'll be open then, or not).

Edited: 9:33 pm, January 03, 2014
Las Vegas, Nevada
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4. Re: How Long in LA?

With basically 2 days of travel time comming and going, You could pretty easily split your time up with 3 days in each place you want to visit, 3 days or so traveling between LA and San Francisco ect, and spend the rest of the time at Disneyland. There are plenty of people who can spend much longer than 2 or 3 days, especially if you want to take things at a slower pace.

Knotts Berry Farm has a good water Park and is pretty close to Disneyland.

West Hollywood...
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5. Re: How Long in LA?

Here's the thing.

Los Angeles is like London

Anaheim is like Orlando -- a much smaller Orlando.

What I'm trying to say is that Anaheim is a resort area with theme parks, restaurants and, uh, uh. That's about it.

Los Angeles, like London is a massive, vibrant metropolitan center. It's the home of the American Movie Industry, the American Music Industry and is a melting pot of dozens of cultures -- our voting materials are published in 8 languages including Tagalog (Filipino) and Farsi (Persian). We have world class shopping, dining, beaches, mountains, hills, canyons, one of the largest urban parks in North America (Griffith Park), over 100 museums (from hilltop art museums to the California Science Center -- home of the Space Shuttle Endeavor -- to museums about cars, show business, ancient 'tar pits', prejudice, Western Heritage, dozens of cultures, etc, etc, etc).

So, if you're looking for a 'resort area' like Orlando, L.A. isn't it. (It would be like going to London if it had a Disneyland Park nearby). For the 'resort experience' stay in Anaheim and, perhaps explore or additionally stay in San Diego (San Diego Zoo, Sea World, etc).

I'm not sure that you can 'do L.A. justice' if your family's focus is on 'thrills and spills' at the theme parks. Hollywood is an old part of Los Angeles and except for the Chinese Theater and Walk of Fame, there's not much to it and these 2 features focus mostly on celebrities from 'the old days'. Are the kids going to marvel at the hand and footprints of Marilyn Monroe? Probably not.

Beverly Hills (at least the section of Rodeo Drive frequented by most visitors) looks like the upmarket retail areas that are common around the world. Again, I'm not sure you or your kids will be impressed that much if you've traveled extensively.

I would simply your holiday and just go to Orlando. Maybe return to L.A. with just your spouse and enjoy an enriching holiday here sans 'theme parks'. It sounds like you could use some 'me time'

Corona del Mar, CA
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6. Re: How Long in LA?

"Los Angeles" and Orlando are two very, very different animals as are the Disneyland Resort and WDW.

Loosely defined the Los Angeles area is huge, but when a local says "LA", he actually means the city or county of Los Angeles and doesn't consider Disneyland (Anaheim in Orange County). It would be a bit like calling Oxford, London.

I don't think you really need more than 3 full days to cover Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure well, but if you want to do the theme park thing for the kids I would do a full day at Knott's Berry Farm and a half day at Knott's water park, Soak City. So that would be about 5 days there. You could end with those five days.

I'd start off with 3 or 4 nights in Los Angeles. Depending on budget, Santa Monica or West Hollywood area would be my recommendations there. Then head up the coast on Highway 1 (101 Freeway for part), probably one night Santa Barbara, one night Monterey, head to Yosemite, then over to San Francisco before driving back down to Anaheim via the 101 Freeway.

I would really, really, really drop Las Vegas with an 80 year old and three kids in two. Look at the Google Map below.


As you can see, Las Vegas Nevada is really out of the way for the rest of the trip. It is almost a 1,000km detour.

Besides the fact that it is way out of the way from the rest of the trip, the walking distances inside the casinos is massive and casino to casino even bigger.

Las Vegas, Nevada
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7. Re: How Long in LA?

You have plenty of time for a visit, if you all want to see Las Vegas then you should do that, as long as you are aware of the detour. There are large loops of sorts that you would have time for if you were to do a large loop of sorts. The LA forum page top questions as well as the California forum has ideas for a trip that does a large loop around starting in either LA or SF or LV and then back around to the orginal point.

However, thats lots of driving, and with the ages of the people you are taking with you, you may just want to do a version of what Scott suggested, but I would leave in LV if you want to visit there, theres no more walking around there than Theme Parks ect.

And, I would really suggest doing a one way drive starting in say flying into SF and out of LV. A much nicer trip for all of you with much less travel time and time in the car ect. Well worth the extra it may cost.

Anaheim, California
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8. Re: How Long in LA?

OK, with a car and looking at the three teens.

3 days at the Disneyland Resort

1 day at Knott's Berry Farm

1 day at Knott's Soak City, and maybe some shopping and a dinner theater (Medieval Times or Pirate's Dinner Adventure)

So you have 5 days there, and plenty of other things in the nearby area, maybe some time at Huntington Beach, aka Surf City USA. Head to Long Beach and the Aquarium of the Pacific, take a boat cruise from Newport Beach or Long Beach.


The other two main parks are Universal Studios Hollywood and Six Flags Magic Mountain (located in Northern LA County) SFMM is sometimes known as the Thrill Capital of the World, since it has more Roller Coasters than any other Park in the world, so might be a big Yes from your kids and maybe not.

You can do Hollywood and Rodeo Drive in a day, drive to the Hollywood and Highland Shopping Center and park, and then spend the day walking around the popular tourist attractions

So that is 8 days, so 5 days in the Anaheim area, and then 3 days in the Hollywood area.

Not sure of your Hotel Budget, but in the Hollywood area, the Orchid Suites can handle 6 people with multiple rooms. Highly rated at TA.


Plenty of things to see and do in the area, including museums and fun Wax Museums.


The El Capitan is owned by Disney, and there is a great Soda Shop as part of the Theater (No need for a movie ticket).

For the Disneyland Area, Residence Inn Maingate is a good choice for 6 people. Walking distance to Disneyland, the Anaheim GardenWalk has lots of restaurants across the street from the RIM.


FYI, in the San Francisco Bay Area, there are 2 main Theme Parks, plus a couple of minor ones. Also you might like checking out the Winchester Mystery House and the Mystery Spot.


Los Angeles
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9. Re: How Long in LA?

Many visitors only visit the theme parks in Orange County (Disney and/or Knott's) and then move on. Extra days there for non-theme park activities are generally not required, unless there is something specific that you want to do in Orange County.

Huntington Beach is not actually "known as" Surf City, USA. It *wants* to be known as Surf City, USA, and the city has a promotional campaign designed to achieve that goal (hence the name of the web site), but most people do not associate the name "Surf City, USA" with Huntington Beach.

10. Re: How Long in LA?

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