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I need your LA tips!

(58 Posts)

We're heading to Los Angeles on holiday at half term. DH has been before with work, but I haven't. We'll be taking the DC (11 and 8). Can you give me any tips and/or recommendations for things to do/avoid? Also, any fantastic food finds?

bagelmonkey Sun 18-Sep-11 18:37:50

It's a pretty spread out city, so seriously consider hiring a car.
I'd recommend a studio tour. If they're into Harry Potter then whichever studio that was.
Disney would be great at that age.

Earlybird Sun 18-Sep-11 18:42:23

You'll definitely need to rent a car. LA is very spread out, and motorway traffic is horrendous.

You need to give us more of an idea of what your family likes to do....and the sorts of things that interest you all.

DH really doesn't want to drive, so we'll be relying on cabs. We've booked tickets for Universal and Disneyland, so the DC are happy. I like strolling about and discovering things, so I'm thinking that Santa Monica and Venice Beach will interest me. DH wants to visit some museums I think. Is the transport system totally shit?

Earlybird Sun 18-Sep-11 19:06:37

Well - I have never tried to use the transportation system in LA....not sure there is much of one. Things there really are very spread out. Distances from LAX (airport) to Disney is over an hour. Would think you'd spend a fortune on cabs.

eekamouse2 Sun 18-Sep-11 19:08:31

There isn't really a proper transportations system as we'd recognise it in London, Paris NYC etc.

You will need a car, so if your dh doesn't fancy it, you'll have to remember your driving licence.

omnishambles Sun 18-Sep-11 19:08:58

Chickens how long are you there for? the buses can take a while but its easy to get down to Santa Monica on them - where are you staying? we stayed last at the Farmers Daughter opposite the Grove - fab for walkers like us and then a hotel directly opposite the disneyland gate as its a long way from central LA.

If you can drive I would - I cant so it wasnt an option but I would really stress that it is important.

San Diego is amazing if you have the time to head down there.

We're staying next to Universal Studios, if that helps orientate at all? <clueless> We could have stayed near Disneyland, but then everything else was miles away. We have transfers from LAX to the hotel, so it's just the general getting about that's going to be a ball ache.

I don't drive, so not an option. We're there for a week.

omnishambles Sun 18-Sep-11 19:11:42

Universal Studios is miles from disneyland on the other side of LA - and in rush hour it will be appalling. can you split stay it for just one night next to disneyland for that evening before? it would be well worth it.

Ooh, now there's an idea. So, there's no shuttle buses from LA to Disney? Bugger.

Earlybird Sun 18-Sep-11 19:15:44

You REALLY need a car if at all possible. It will make your lives so much easier.

For instance - when at Disneyland, there are some good restaurants a short drive away from the park. But, they really are too far to walk. If you stay right around the park, you are doomed to various chain/fast food restaurants.

omnishambles Sun 18-Sep-11 19:18:58

I think only straight from the airport if you are staying on site in a disney resort hotel. Some other hotels may do it as well from the airport but I'm not sure from central LA.

Most people tend to stay in Anaheim - that means that you can do both Disneyland Parks and pop back to the hotel before the evening fireworks/parades if needed as well.

omnishambles Sun 18-Sep-11 19:21:05

We stayed here nothing to shout about but cheap and only a few mins walk from the park.

MrsCog Sun 18-Sep-11 19:22:37

I'd pursuade your DH to hire a car - I really would. We went to California for the first time this year (it was AMAZING so I'm v envy) I was soooo nervous about the driving but it was a breeze - just hire a car with Sat Nav - the Sat Nav worked perfectly and they are generally 'pre programmed' for all the tourist spots. Otherwise I think you will seriously spend a lot - like in excess of £500 on cabs - no where is in walking distance, so you need to think about eating out in the evening and stuff as well, unless you're happy to eat in your hotel every night.

Bunbaker Sun 18-Sep-11 19:26:51

I agree about splitting your stay. We stayed at the Sheraton in Anaheim which is near Disneyland. They had a free shuttle bus service to Disneyland. Although we had a hire car we found driving around LA a little scary and took a Grayline coach tour to Hollywood and Universal Studios, and felt that it was very much worth the money. No hassle and no getting lost.

I have to agree with the others that the US is geared around the motor car. There aren't many areas of LA where you can wander around on foot. If I recall correctly LA is about 60 miles from one end to the other.

californiaburrito Sun 18-Sep-11 19:30:37

Car, car, car, car, car! Universal Studios to Disneyland is easily an hour away and you definitely don't want the taxi ride to be the most expensive part of THAT day.

Try looking at Sunset Magazine for things to do and places to eat.

This might have some food suggestions. It's NY centric, so search Los Angeles.

Flowerista Sun 18-Sep-11 19:31:15

You will need a car. Public transport is non existent and the parks are really spread out.

Use it to your advantage. The PCH north out of LA is fantastic. Malibu has great beaches and restaurants, which will be out of reach without a car. Also head up to Big Bear if you can, it's fabulous.

Santa Monica is a great place to stay and eat. Great shopping. You can hire bikes and roller blades and go all the way along the beachfront path. There's a pier with a funfair. There's a Cheesecake Factory in Marina del Ray, and a great restaurant in SM called the Red Lobster right by the pier and a restaurant in Malibu called the Pier.

Point Doom is a great beach.

The Universal studio is a great family day out.

Have a great time it's a great place to visit. I've been there 4 times!

Ok, DH adament that he will not drive, so we'll be cabbing it. We have booked a nights stay in anaheim so that we can get up early and get a full day at the park. We're only doing one day at Disney, but have a weeks pass to Universal (same price as a day pass). Shit, I'm worried now that we won't be able to get about easily.

omnishambles Sun 18-Sep-11 19:38:47

You'll be alright Chickens dont worry - so universal and disney are ticked off - does your Universal area hotel have LAX pick-up?

You then only need to worry about getting down to Santa Monica which is easyish on the bus and then you can do a whole city bus tour or celebrity house bus tour which are car less - you're only there a week after all - it will be cracking grin

omnishambles Sun 18-Sep-11 19:40:49

Have a look at this

ssd Sun 18-Sep-11 19:45:26

op are you staying at the hilton universal? looks absoluyely amazing envy

No, we're at the Sheraton Universal. I might love you, omnishambles <looks soulfully in to omni's eyes>

omnishambles Sun 18-Sep-11 20:02:20

aww Chickens grin

laraeo Mon 19-Sep-11 01:51:28

You should really check out tripadvisor - especially the forums section for LA public transportation advice. Santa Monica is great - I stay there most of the time with DS (3 years). Third Street Promenade is a pedestrian only area with tons of great shops, restaurants and street performers. There's a very, very small aquarium at the base of the pier, there's an amusement park on the pier with a solar powered ferris wheel IIRC, and just a lot going on. You can easily spend a day in the area. Definitely rent bikes or roller blades and head down to Venice on the boardwalk - it's not that far.

I know you said you're not getting a car but I'd spend some time on tripadvisor to get some realistic thoughts about public transportation in LA. It is very slim pickings. If your DH is really dead set against getting a rental car (and I'm not sure why - if you have a GPS, road map and plan a bit beforehand the freeways are not bad at all) then be prepared to spend big $ on transportation and make sure you've got cab company phone numbers and a mobile phone that works without breaking the bank.

The distances don't seem too bad but are very time consuming. I just did a quick google directions search from Universal Studios to Disney and they estimate 45 minutes. I'd allow almost twice that. Frankly, I can't imagine taking a cab from Universal to Disney. I hate taking the shuttle bus from LAX just to my rental car place.

Having said all that, Cheesecake Factory is a chain. Not horrible but nothing to write home about. Red Lobster ditto. I'd use tripadvisor again - they'll be able to help with kid friendly places that are more local. One I've been waiting to try is Hostaria del Piccolo in Santa Monica. Definitely go to In-n-Out - it's a SoCal (now West Coast) burger chain and all they do are burgers, fries and shakes. Google their "secret" menu.

The Grove is good for shopping, Griffith Park, the Natural History Museum, LACMA (you might convince the DCs about going there because they've got the Tim Burton exhibit through 31 October - not sure when you're break is), Getty Center, La Brea Tar Pits, there's a ton of stuff to do depending on your interests and how much time you have. You might also check out latimes.com - the LA Times website.

Good luck and enjoy!

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