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9 Nights In LA. Help Needed.

Sydney, Australia
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9 Nights In LA. Help Needed.

We are a family of 4. 2 adults and 2 kids (10 & 11).

We want to go to Disneyland, California Adventure Park, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica Beach, Universal Studios and San Diego Zoo.

What is the best way to do this?

Do we base ourselves in Anaheim for the entire 9 nights? Or do we split the trip up with a few nights in Hollywood, a night in San Diego and 3-4 nights in Anaheim.

We arrive at LAX on the 13th September 2012. Where should we go first?

After we are done here we will be heading off to Vegas and Grand Canyon.

Anaheim, California
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1. Re: 9 Nights In LA. Help Needed.

Hi Bill,

It really depends on how long you want to see each area. I always like to pick a spot and stay and then explore those areas from that one central spot.

If you just add up the time you don't need to check in and check out of each property, this really adds up.

I like Anaheim as a base because:

It's Clean

It's Safe - even walking around late at night

It's Central and there are many companies that can get you from one place to another.

I would choose a hotel that you really like in or around the Anaheim Resort Area and arrange day trips in between days at Disneyland and CA Adventure. You'll get a lot of suggestions, here.

Hollywood/Beverly Hills/Santa Monica Beach is a one day tour - many companies call it the Grand Tour. You can do this once at the beginning of your trip and, if you feel you want to see or explore more, can always arrange for a transfer to one or more of these places again later in your stay. You can even take public transportation to a couple of these spots although it's a little involved, it's doable and there are companies that offer flat rate transfers to places like Hollywood.

The San Diego Zoo is easy and inexpensive on a tour as is Universal.

Get ready for the posts that explain that you really don't want to go to the San Diego Zoo because there are equally nice Zoos in Australia and that you shouldn't take a tour but should drive instead because driving in Los Angeles is "easy".

If you like to drive, than driving is LA is "challenging" but not impossible - it's just a lot of roads and people. A tour I drive takes us on 9 different freeways in one day and some people don't like that from the drivers seat.

Just stick to what your goal was from your first post and sort through everything and you'll be fine.

I wish you a happy trip!

Tom - Owner

Anaheim Tour Company

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2. Re: 9 Nights In LA. Help Needed.

It depends if you mind or don't mind alot of checking in/out of hotels....

the way I've done it a couple times is to be based in Anaheim, the selection and price of hotels is generally better ( esp. for families ), and there are good tours that depart from those hotels to all the places you mentioned.

Before the experts reply.....are you planning on renting ( hiring ) a car?

that would make the trip to Hollywood/Santa Monica a little easier/flexible.

and how are y'all getting to Vegas/GC?

Las Vegas, Nevada
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for Anaheim, St. George
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3. Re: 9 Nights In LA. Help Needed.

Will you have a car?

The places are spread out that you want to visit. For example, the LA area where Universal Studios, is located is about a 45 min drive from Anaheim. San Diego is about a 90 min drive South from Anaheim.

Im sure your perfectly capable of deciding on your own whether you want to drive or take Tours so we cant really help you with that, just with giving you info on your choices.

Some people prefer to stay in Anaheim and then drive themselves or take tours to the various areas they want to visit as they dont want to change hotels, and for various other reasons. A few of the Major Tours Companies that offer Tours from Anaheim would be Grayline Anaheim Tours and Starline Tours.

However, if your planning more than a few trips to the LA area, it does make sense to consider staying a few days in that area as well.

San Diego is a wonderful city to visit imo and does deserve more than a day trip since there is plenty to do there to take up at least 3 days or so such as the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, Balboa Park, La Jolla Cove, Coronado Island, Midway Ship Museum, ect. However, you can just do a day trip for the Zoo from Anaheim of course if thats all you are interested in doing, its really up to you.

Edited: 15 June 2012, 00:58
Sydney, Australia
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4. Re: 9 Nights In LA. Help Needed.

Thanks all for the helpful suggestions. We are still undecided whether we will be hiring a car on this leg of the trip. I have driven around the Hopkinton Massachusetts area before a couple of times and that wasn't too bad. Not sure how that compares to LA though.

To get to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon we are thinking of maybe taking the Luxbus. I also read on one of these posts that there are 2 Grand Canyon rims and one is better than the other.

Is it ok to drive around LA at night with the kids?

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5. Re: 9 Nights In LA. Help Needed.

re: The Grand Canyon rims....yes, whatever you do, go SOUTH rim, NOT West rim.

Fremont, California
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6. Re: 9 Nights In LA. Help Needed.

Is it ok to drive around LA at night with kids? Yes - there are areas you don't want to drive (but they are not tourist areas). You do need to know where you are going and how to get there before you start out. Ask your hotel for detailed directions and how to get from one place to another. Get a car with a good GPS system (but always good to ask a local how to get from one place to another as they know the best routes).

If you do not rent a car, you will want to plan on staying overnight at:

1) Santa Monica - best to stay there after landing in LAX as so close to the airport. Enjoy the beach areas while there.

2) Then locate in Hollywood. Stay somewhere close to Hollywood and Highland center as metro is there. You can easily get around by walking and taking metro to see Hollywood and Universal Studios (Do not stay at a Universal Studio Park Hotel however - its better to stay in Hollywood).

3) Disneyland Hotel or Disney good neighbor hotel in Anaheim

4) Take Amtrak from Anaheim to San Diego. Stay in Gaslamp District of San Diego (versus staying in La Jolla, or others). You can get around San Diego by trolley and other public transportation.

5) Fly from San Diego to Las Vegas. (note: Southwest is an airline locals fly).

6) Do a guided one day tour to Grand Canyon when you stay in Las Vegas.

7) When you pick a hotel in Las Vegas, be sure to pick a hotel that has access to the Las Vegas Monorail.


I would stay open to renting a car for part of your LA trip as will make it easier.

Melbourne, Australia
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for Melbourne, Victoria, Road Trips
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7. Re: 9 Nights In LA. Help Needed.

I usually base myself in Santa Monica when I visit Hollywood, Santa Monica etc, then relocate to Anaheim for Disneyland. I am in Anaheim now & this trip I am doing it a bit differently. I am based here for the week & have done day trips to Santa Monica, Los Feliz/Griffith Park & Manhattan Beach down to Newport Beach. It has been a lot of driving, but for this trip I didn't want to relocate. I went to Disneyland Monday when I arrived & will spend the next 4 days there.

I personally feel comfortable driving in LA, as long as I know where I'm going. I find the drivers more considerate than in Melbourne! I highly recommend getting GPS as well as studying a map before you leave.

Port Macquarie...
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8. Re: 9 Nights In LA. Help Needed.

We did a similar trip in March. Flew into LAX and on to Las Vegas 5 nights(no kids ) then flew to San Francisco. From there we hired a car and drove down the PCH to San Diego 6nights in all.Then we drove up to Anaheim for 3 nights and handed the car in. We then hired another car and drove up to Universal 2 nights then drove over to Santa Monica, from there we enjoyed day trips into Malibu again,Mullholland Drive, Griffith Park, Hollywood, Beverly Hills incl. Rodeo Drive and La Brea Tar pits. Last day we left Santa Monica and handed the car back in at LAX and got a shuttle to the airport. Sounds hectic now that Ive written it up but it was awesome, we had a great time. The roads are easy to navigate with a GPS and I really dont know why more Aussies dont give it go. Good Luck car hire is so much cheaper in the US.

Corona del Mar...
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9. Re: 9 Nights In LA. Help Needed.

Nine nights in the LA area, or really So Cal, I'd split time in three place and rent a car. Driving is a lot easier than you imagine and lets you control the agenda and not waste time on public transit, which is much slower.

I'd start in Los Angeles with 3 night there, staying in the Hollywood area. I'd choose Hollywood because it is more central to the sights you want to see and cheaper than the beach area (Santa Monica, Manhattan Beach, etc).

Then I would move to Anaheim for 4 nights. That gives you time to see Disneyland, Disney's California Adventure, maybe Knott's Berry Farm and a beach area like Newport Beach/Balboa Island or Laguna Beach.

From there head to San Diego for 2 nights, maybe visit the USS Midway as well as the Zoo, but it also kind of depends on what the ages of your kids are.

Drive from San Diego to the Grand Canyon, South Rim for at least two nights, and then move on to Las Vegas.

Here is a Google Map of the trip.


Google Maps is an amazing tool and I'd learn how to use it before your trip if you haven't used it before. Not only can you plot trips but it can help you locate businesses near any address, like a pizza place near your hotel, and you can use its Street View function to look at areas on the ground, like the area around a hotel, etc.

10. Re: 9 Nights In LA. Help Needed.

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