Planning a California holiday advice

(28 Posts)
duckdodgers Sun 02-Oct-11 09:28:41

Hi, we are planning a dream holiday to California as my DH and I have always wanted to go. It wont be for 2 years yet so plenty of time to save up and plan, I need some tips from people who have been before re booking everything. My boys would be 20, 11, and 5 by then.

We always wanted a multi centre holiday to take in both San Francisco and Los Angeles and San Diego. Things that are top of our list - all the things in San Francisco such as Alcatraz etc, a few days at Disney in Anaheim, def a beach for a few days, Hollywood sights as DH is a huge film fan, Universal Studios to. Anything else would be a bonus.

Its how to book I need help with - never have been to America before so nervous of booking things independently but realise a travel agent would be more expensive. We usually drive to France for a holiday so am used to booking villas etc and hotels myself but it just seems a bit daunting because there would be flights involved and worried about timings etc.

So for the people who have done this type of holiday what did you do? And what do you think iis best?

Go to a travel agent and get them to book flights from the UK and internal flights, deal with hotels and car hire etc?

Or book flights, hotels etc myself. Ideally I would stay at a hotel in San Francisco but would love a villa in the LA area with a pool for that part - nothing too extravagant, basic would be ok.

And how do you go about car hire as this will be essential.

Thanks for any tips you can come up with for this complete novice!! smile

thirtysomething Thu 13-Oct-11 19:49:44

Las Vegas is a must! We flew from San Fran to Vegas (v. cheap - around £55 per person) and drove back via death valley. Was just fabulous. Yosemite unbelievable too.

It's all fantastic envy

ragged Thu 13-Oct-11 20:14:59

Gosh, I'm sad, this thread is making me homesick (sniff sad).
OP does not sound like a Death Valley person (my OH cares little for the desert, too).

Grand Canyon is at least 6+ hours drive from SD or LA.
Hotels in SD are hideously expensive, even if you are happy to go with Motel 6 (OP does not sound like someone who would be happy with Motel 6). So I won't try to answer hotel booking Qs.
Responses to OP's other questions.

My dad (from SoCal), in your shoes OP, would get his travel agent to do the bookings for him.
You may need to book Hearst Castle tickets in advance.
Weather wise any time is good to go, but April/May is persistantly cloudy in coastal SoCal. You will not be guaranteed any hot weather at all (what I think of as "hot", anyway) unless you go to the desert in the summer months.
Storm (rainy) season=Nov-March. And when it rains at all, it rains A LOT, over several days. I find English rain quite wimpy.

You want to visit the amusement parks (like Sea World, Disneyland) in the school time, so late Sept-early Dec, avoiding Turkey Weekend, or mid Jan until about 2 weeks before Easter, and 2 weeks after Easter until early June. I consider it insane to visit these places during school vacation times (although we had a very quiet New Year's day at Sea World, once).

September still very hot to visit Death Valley, but you said you like heat? Winter is too cold to visit Grand Canyon, roads sometimes closed for snow up there, too. October-Nov okay, but flowers better in the desert in about March. I am planning a big trip to SoCal in May 2015(?).

Everyone in my family would drive SF to LA/SD because the flights are hideously expensive and the security so tedious.

One way car hire no problem as long as you go with a major chain & big cities pickup/drop off.
hth

Pitmountainpony Fri 11-Jan-13 05:40:21

Feel free to message me.....we know California well and have done all those places from LA. It is amazing and that will be the best 3 week holiday.
Easy to book here but do car before you come.

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