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Los Angeles travel tips

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by mackiecat, May 14, 2014.

  1. mackiecat

    mackiecat Well-Known Member

    Hello all. My DD will be attending a ballet summer intensive in long beach this summer, so my son and I are joining her at the end and spending a week in LA. We are going to do Disneyland for 3 days. I currently have reservations at the hilton in Anaheim but I am willing to move. We will be in long beach the first weekend, then disney then flying out on Sunday from lax. My kids are 15 and 11. Was thinking about a studio tour. Will want to hit the beach too. I would love suggestions, what to do, where to stay
  2. AxelAnnie

    AxelAnnie Well-Known Member

    My first reaction is don't go! Congrats to your daughter.
    3 days is a long time at Disneyland.
    I don't know where you are from so a little hard to say. I would make sure to
    Drive up the coast to Malibu and walk around and have a meal at the Country Mart.
    Drive around Beverly Hills and walk around Westwood. ..shop eat.
    Universal Studios is great.
    Venice Beach is trippy.....great people watching. And there are some ridiculously gorgeous houses as you weave through the canals. Santa Monica pier is very fun.

    The Queen Mary is docked in Long Beach.

    Did you want more glitz or glamor?
  3. manhn

    manhn Well-Known Member

    I was in Orange County for a couple days this past Xmas and these are the places I went:

    1. Crystal Cove State Park--really beautiful. Got coffee and beignets at the Beachcomber.
    2. Fashion Island--loved it!
    3. Sprinkles Cupcakes.
    4. Little Saigon
    5. Gen Korean BBQ
    6. Beverly Hills--honestly, the most disappointing part of my trip.
  4. Twizzler

    Twizzler Well-Known Member

    I would agree that 3 days at Disney is too long. Even if you did both parks, 2 days is more than enough.

    Universal is fantastic and the Santa Monica Pier is fun.
  5. quartz

    quartz Waiting for my egg to boil. Softly.

    Adding my agreements with Universal Studios, Venice Beach and Santa Monica.
    If you are at all into art, the Getty is absolutely stunning.
  6. Spareoom

    Spareoom Well-Known Member

    It depends on how you like to do parks and what your priorities are. You can do both parks in two days, but you'll be running around like crazy just to hit the top points. People forget that the California Disney parks are much more densely packed than the Florida parks and there is a LOT to fill your time. If you don't mind running around, you absolutely can do it in two days. But if you prefer to be a bit more relaxed and not worry about wearing the kids out, you could go much longer than 3 days and still feel like you had completely full, fun days.
  7. made_in_canada

    made_in_canada INTJ

    I don't think three days at Disney is too long at all. It gives you time to hit more than the highlights and I'd imagine it would be a busy time of year as well.

    If you're into roller coasters Knott's Berry Farm is totally worth it.
  8. mackiecat

    mackiecat Well-Known Member

    Thanks so much- please keep them coming-
    we are from Ontario so this will probaably be a once in a life time trip. We are definetly Disney freaks- been to WDW 5 times so we are looking forward to seeing the Original Park.
    My kids are into Art but we are emebers at teh AGO and have been to the Chicago Art Institte this year and My daughter visisted the Met..so I'm thinking different things will be good. Both kids are theatre type kids and do enjoy all the arts in General.
    Anyone have any idea where a good base for the end of our week would be? At first I though San diego before I found out how far away it is
  9. Garden Kitty

    Garden Kitty Tranquillo

    A word of caution about LA - things are really spread out! Plan your activities to group locations because you can spend a lot of time tied up in traffic or driving.

    I would think a trip to Universal would be more interesting than a third day at Disney. Santa Monica pier and promenade is also a nice trip that could appeal to teenagers. One of my favorite drives in LA was along Sunset Blvd - you'd pass through a lot of different neighborhoods and then end up in Santa Monica. But it sounds like you'd be best sticking to the Coast on this trip and avoiding more inland attractions.
  10. smurfy

    smurfy Well-Known Member

    Defintely plan for traffic/distances.
    In LA - La Brea Tarpits and LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art).
    Ditto on Santa Monica pier / drive up to Malibu - Gladstones for Fish - restaurant right on the beach or Malibu Inn for bar food.
    Past Malibu - check out Paradise Cove - nice restaurant on the water.
    One very silly thing to do - maps to the stars homes - and try to find them. I lived out there for over 8 years and did it once with my brothers - we laughed so hard - it is all 'former homes' but we did see the Beverly Hillbillies House..
  11. Megansmom

    Megansmom Member

    We - myself, husband, daughter (13), and son (10) - were just in California for spring break. We spent 2 days in San Diego visiting family & friends, then spent 3 days at Disneyland, and then went back to San Diego for 2 more days before flying home. The 3 days we spent at Disney were a Monday afternoon at Disneyland, all day Tuesday (morning at Disneyland, back to hotel for a swim & evening at California Adventure), and Wednesday morning (at California Adventure). I wish we had 1 more day because the parks were very busy, I felt very rushed, and we didn't quite get everything in. Plus it would have been nice to have had a little more time to relax at the pool.

    We stayed at the Grand Californian and it was extremely convenient. It was nice because it has it's own entrance right from the hotel right into California Adventure and the line moved much quicker than the regular lines for everybody else. Another exit from the hotel puts you right in the middle of downtown Disney. And the Disneyland Park is a short walk from downtown Disney. And staying at the resort gives you early entrance to one of the parks each morning. I know we took advantage of the early entry to ride the Radiator Springs racers at California Adventure. The line was always super long and the fast passes were gone by late morning or early afternoon.

    One tip if you want to ride Radiator Springs is to split up and use the single rider line. We wanted to ride as a family first, so we went to the park early and waited 45 minutes to ride. (The wait was 90+ minutes later in the day and the fast passes ran out pretty early in the day.) They have a single rider line that they use to fill single empty seats in the cars. In the time we waited to ride as a family, the 2 single riders they used to fill our car had been on the ride 3 times. So we went back through the single rider line and rode a 2nd time after only a 15 minute wait.
  12. AxelAnnie

    AxelAnnie Well-Known Member

    Paradise Cove is in Malibu. There is a restaurant there, and you can have a meal and then spend the day on the beach. Crowded though.
    I would recommend the Mariott in Marina Del Rey for the last part of the trip. MDR has lots of restaurants and stuff. Short walk to Venice Beach, and you can walk / bike up to Santa Monica Pier.

    The Getty is fabulous, and I am not sure, but they used to do tours of the Getty Mansion which is perched along the coast on the way up to Malibu.

    You will for sure find movie stars at the Malibu Country Mart.......I hardly notice anyone, but I have seen lots.
    I can tell you how to get back to Barbara Streisand houses at Paradise Cove, if you like. (Saw her eating a hot dog at the Country Mart).

    Oh - rule: If you see a star don't geek out. Just stare casually :)

    And, things in LA are spread out, and there is traffic all the time. And, drivers there are not nice. They think they are in a life and death struggle to get somewhere. They will not let you over.

    UCLA in Westwood is lovely to walk around. I lived in Malibu for a gazillion years, and my daughter lives in Venice. If you want restaurant (trendy or simple) happy to ask them when you get things mapped out.

    Oh here is some information about the Venice CA Canals. Short walk from the Mariott, and really fun.

    Also in Venice - Abbot Kinney Street - shopping, (fancy and funky) restaurants (same) and pot shops, which really makes me laugh.
  13. Sylvia

    Sylvia Still recovering from Worlds...

  14. attyfan

    attyfan Well-Known Member

    You might also want to check out some of the day tours to various places (such as Universal Studios) that may be available; if you can catch one from your hotel, it will save you a long drive that day.
  15. all_empty

    all_empty Well-Known Member

    Angeleno here.

    If you love Disney, by all means go for the multi-day pass. I think they even give discounts for those.

    I actually like California Adventure more than Disneyland, and the World of Color is a must.

    The Getty is great (and free but you have to pay for parking), but I'm not sure a 11 and 15-year-old will enjoy it.

    Depending on what time you leave on Sunday, I'd go to the Farmer's Market on Main Street in Santa Monica and rent bikes and go down the boardwalk to Venice. Or, conversely, bike up to the 3rd Street Promenade. Or ride first and then go to the market. Either way you'll be on the Westside and closer to LAX.

    I love Abbott Kinney, but I'm not sure teens would. Also, the stores there change out every few months it seems.

    Ditto with Beverly Hills. Shopping is fun (whether window or real), and you can drive north of Santa Monica Boulevard to see all the celebrity mansions.

    I love Malibu but it can great crazy crowded on the weekends. They have beautiful hiking up there, too.
  16. barbk

    barbk Well-Known Member

    The Anaheim Hilton is better for accessing the convention center than for accessing Disneyland, imo. Better choice might be Fairfield Inn by Marriott, Anaheim Camelot Inn and Suites, Carousel Inn and Suites, or Tropicana Inn and Suites
    each of which is on South Harbor across from the main entrance gate to Disneyland. Five minute walk and you're at the ticket plaza, no shuttles required. There is also a McDonald's right there, as well as several other restaurants on the block. When your hotel is a short walk it is a lot easier to get away, and sometimes people have to wait a while for the shuttles, especially at peak times. (And, I think an Egg McMuffin beats pretty much any breakfast concept sold in Disneyland, though the beignets at the window in Orleans Square are pretty good.)

    We're pretty big fans of doing Disney in the morning, leaving to do something else (nap, swim, visit) in the afternoon, and heading back to Disney later in the day, especially later in the evening since the park is open so late in the summer.Right after the big parade there is usually an exodus, though summer days are generally pretty crowded.

    The single rider trick works at lots of the attractions. Most of your time is going to be in line -- riding the ride together is the least of it. (However, if you do something like Soaring over California, be sure to have a designated meet-up place afterwards, since single riders might end up in different theaters with different ride starts.)

    I'll second the suggestion for Crystal Cove State Park down by Laguna Beach. It is right out of a Gidget movie. Just gorgeous.
  17. BrokenAnkle

    BrokenAnkle Active Member

    The Huntington Library and Gardens in Pasadena is my favorite thing (next to Disney) It has a newly remodeled exhibition hall, a number of galleries with art like "Blue Boy" and the gardens are fascinating and tranquil. The desert garden is one of my can't miss.

    Redondo Beach has a nice pier and beach, I prefer it to Santa Monica but it is more low key.

    It's fun to walk around Westwood, high end shopping and good restaurants

    I personally would skip Universal Studios, but lots of people love it.

    I don't think 3 days is too much for Disney. The lines in summer are 45 minutes minimum for most rides. Use the fast pass and single rider if getting on a lot of rides is important to you. A time saver is to eat your meals at odd times. I like to eat at 11 am and at 3:30 or so. California Adventure has a bunch of new attractions including Cars Land and WOrld of Color. It is much better than it was even a few years ago.

    Have fun!
  18. puglover

    puglover Well-Known Member

    I have been to LA several times - just recently in April when I went to Disneyland with my oldest son and his family. One of the real stand outs for me was the "Grand Central Market". It is just a great place to eat - lots of ethnic and interesting food choices and everyone can pick what they want and then just congregate up to eat together. My son has 4 boys, the youngest only 1 year old, so we bought a 3 day Disneyland pass. The first day we just went for the evening and stayed for the fireworks. The second day we started out mid morning and lasted until late afternoon - then hung out at the pool. The next day we went to the beaches. I have been to Santa Monica but this time we went to Huntington Beach. It doesn't have as many attractions but there were huge waves and the kids had a wonderful time just playing in them at the shoreline. Our three day pass entitled us to get in to Disneyland once before the gates opened for an hour to enjoy the smaller numbers and so we did that the next day. As that was an early morning with 4 little guys, we packed it in by early afternoon. The Cars land - especially the ride where they race around the track was a big hit (I stayed back with the baby). We also chose a few attractions where you just got in from the sun - not sure what they were called - but one had a great interactive talking turtle. There was also another one in the space area that explained the technology used in robots and then they acted out a little family scenario with a robot. Both had great appeal for all ages.
    Last edited: May 15, 2014
  19. puglover

    puglover Well-Known Member

    After a little research - the humanoid robot is called "ASIMO" by Honda and is in Tomorrowland (just amazing). The talking turtle is called "Crush" and he is inside at Adventure Park. The kids loved him and just laughed out loud at his antics. It was also nice to sit down in air conditioning.
  20. madm

    madm Well-Known Member

    The Farmer's Market at 3rd and Fairfax Aves. is a historic site and has fabulous food. It's next to the CBS studios if you want to catch a TV show taping, and is not far from the La Brea Tar Pits. You need to buy tickets in advance for any TV show audience seats. Just driving up the coast highway is a treat - you can go as far as you like, but up to Zuma Beach is a good day's run. If you want to head to Santa Barbara for the day, that's a very pretty town with a Spanish flair. The California Missions are always very interesting to visit. The closest one to Long Beach would be San Juan Capistrano. If you like wildlife, you can drive south to San Diego (about an hour to hour and a half) to see Sea World or the San Diego Zoo. A full day boat trip to Catalina Island is fabulous (26 miles offshore). And in Long Beach, the aquarium is first class and you can tour the Queen Mary ocean liner.
  21. Oreo

    Oreo Active Member

    I've worked as an Orange County/LA tour guide for nearly 20 years. All of the above suggestions are pretty much in there. My bit of input about Universal Studios is if you like another theme park with rides and lines, then fine. If you want more of an experience on how movies and TV shows are made then go to Warner Brothers Studios. It's far more interesting. Best piece of advice from above is don't spread yourself all over Orange and LA Counties. The traffic is nuts. Aside from Disney, the Orange County experiences that people really like are Crystal Cove, Laguna Beach, and Captain Dave's Dolphin Safari out of the Dana Point harbor. The gray whale season has pretty much finished up, but the blue whales should be coming in. If you get in a dolphin megapod, he opens up the hatches on the catamaran's twin hulls (they're clear), and you go down in them, lie on your belly, and watch the dolphins play with the boat just beneath the surface of the water. It's very fun!
  22. madm

    madm Well-Known Member

    I grew up in L.A. and visited Disneyland a lot, although not in recent years. One major thing that's different about Disneyland than Disney World is the Matterhorn bobsled ride, so do that early in the day. It gets very crowded. If you stay until closing, there is the Electric Light Parade down main street.
  23. barbk

    barbk Well-Known Member

    We were there in March, and got tapped for some Disney "Magic" -- a cast member stopped us as we were walking and asked if we'd like to go straight on to the Matternhorn -- and about a minute and a half later, we were strapped in and off we went. It was pretty cool.
  24. all_empty

    all_empty Well-Known Member

    This is probably the only Farmer's Market that you have to pay to get into.

    The one on Main Street in Santa Monica is healthier and free.

    It's more like a flea market, and I don't think the poster is going to take a shabby chic dresser or African statue home.

    You really can get great ethnic food anywhere in Los Angeles -- tell me what you like and I'll give you recommendations.
  25. mackiecat

    mackiecat Well-Known Member

    These are all great the state park looks amazing. I have a car rental but now in thinking I might ditch the car....I like the tour ideas from my hotel...for some reason the hilton was a better price than the closer 2,3 star hotels and we don't mind a bit of a walk. I found a beach tour and a warner studio tour that will pick us up at the hotel that might save me from driving.
  26. Spareoom

    Spareoom Well-Known Member

    Just a FYI, public transportation is about nil in Southern CA so you may find it very difficult to get around without a car.
  27. mackiecat

    mackiecat Well-Known Member

    I was thinking- keep the car while in Long beach- do some stuff there (sunday might be a good day to check out that state park- Monday night check in hotel in Anaheim which is walking distance (although a good walk) to Disney- get rid of car- do Disney Tues, wed, thursday. Friday do a studio bus tour, Sat do a beach bus tour- sunday get the LAX disney shuttle.

    I am finding the pulic trnasit thing so strange when you are used to Toronto, Chicago and NYC

    Does anyone know of a good LAX limo shuttle- my DD is 15 and is flying in alone- I want a very trust worthy limo sevice to pick her up and deliver her to Cal state?
  28. OliviaPug

    OliviaPug Well-Known Member

    I never paid to get into the Farmer's Market on 3rd and Fairfax, and there's 2 hours free parking with validation. Don't know what you mean there. It IS massively crowded on the weekends. The reason lots of folks like to go to the Farmer's Market is because the Grove shopping center is next door. And, it's a pretty amazing shopping center.



    ETA: Links
  29. OliviaPug

    OliviaPug Well-Known Member

    If you have a credit card, do Uber! No exchange of money, no tip service, and extremely cheap!


  30. all_empty

    all_empty Well-Known Member

    Oh sorry I was talking about the one on Melrose and Fairfax a few blocks up.

    Yeah the Farmer's Market at The Grove is cool.

    The Grove has some good stores -- Vince and a very well-stocked Nordstrom and Crate and Barrel.

    Uber is very reliable in L.A. but if your daughter is a teen you might want to go with a limo service.

    I like this company: http://aeworldwidelimo.com/