Anyone who knows LA / California well?(16 Posts)
DH & I want to price up a trip to LA, to do all the usual touristy things like stars homes & the walk of fame... But also Disneyland and Universal studios.
A friend has just told me that these things are absolutely nowhere near each other and that we'd be better off booking separate hotels for a couple of nights each because it's so vast?
We're hoping to combine it with San Francisco and perhaps another place so splitting the days there seems like a lot of hassle... What's your experience of this?
Thank you 😀
Your friend is correct; the greater LA area is a vast sprall spreading for seemingly hundreds of miles in all directions.
We did a similar trip to the one you are proposing and it worked out ok. We stayed in the city of Anaheim for Disney and at Universal City in order to visit Universal Studios (its easily walkable from there). Universal City is also only a couple of stops away from Hollywood Blvd on the metro train service.
The walk of fame is on Hollywood Blvd; parts of this street are very seedy indeed even during the day but the immediate area around Manns Chinese Theater is ok (there is also a largish shopping centre near the Metro station) if somewhat mobbed by the sheer number of people visiting this area.
Best time of year to visit SF is September. Weather is better then in that you do not generally get so many foggy or wet days.
On the stars homes tours itself you won't actually see all that much apart from high walls, staff and well manicured front lawns.
We stayed it Santa Monica and it was amazing. The day trips we had (all drivable about half hour ish) were
Universal studios (we had a 2 day pass and went 2 days in a row)
Spent 3 days exploring santa Monica and spending time on the beach
Dinner in malibu .
We drove from San Francisco but it took 2 weeks as we stopped off at lots of different places including palm springs and Vegas.
Agree with Santa Monica, we really enjoyed it. We stayed in a reasonable motel/hotel overlooking the beach a short walk from the pier. The beach, Pier, commercial area behind the beach, walking along to Venice Beach was all fun.
One thing we did I loved was drive to Beverly Hills and parked. Walked to Rodea Drive (where Julia Roberts went shopping) and had breakfast at a really lovely chic (but reasonable priced) bistro right next to Tiffanys and opposite the Beverly Hills Wiltshire (again from Pretty Woman). Was just a lot of fun sitting on the terrace eating breakfast.
As someone said, Anaheim is where you need to stay for Disney. We've been a couple of times and taken the airport shuttle straight from LAX to Anaheim and haven't needed a car for that part of the holiday as there're loads of hotels within easy walking distance of Disney. After a few days there we've hired cars, driven up to Hollywood and stayed there. Universal is pretty close by and you can get to Santa Monica, Beverly Hills etc with ease.
San Francisco is driveable, if you're pushed for time we did it in around 5 hours but you can be more leisurely about it and stop off en route. We found that once we were in SF we didn't need a car to get around. We were there at the start of April and saw hardly any fog. If you do go there and want to visit Alcatraz then be sure to prebook tickets before leaving home as it's a popular attraction and can sell out days and weeks in advance at certain times of the year. We went off season and thought we'd be okay to just walk along and buy tickets but it was sold out for the next three days, we did manage to get over to it before we left though.
If you go to SF, we hired bikes at pier 39 and cycled over the Golden Gate Bridge to Saucilito and had a lovely lunch before catching the ferry back with the bikes (it goes past Alcatraz) which was good as we couldn't get tickets just as the pp said.
I have lived here all my life. Disney and Universal are an hour apart with zero traffic, and there is never zero traffic.
Depending on how many days you want to spend in Disney, have a look on VRBO for house rentals! Most around the park have a 3 night minimum but are well under the price of the hotels... In July (the height of the season) we snagged a 4 bedroom house with a pool for $375/night, 1/4 mile from the main gate. The Disneyland hotel properties had the cheapest 2 bedroom suite available at $949/night. There were smaller & cheaper places available but we went as 2 families totaling 4 adults & 4 DC...
Traffic in LA can honestly bring you to tears at times, I'd definitely not want to plan on having to drive far each day.
If you're thinking of adding SF to the trip & don't mind doubling the driving time, it's an amazing drive up the coast on the 1, through Big Sur...
They aren't so far apart; the traffic is hellish and who wants to spend a precious holiday in jams? You're fine if you go very early (plan to arrive about 7:30am) and leave late (after 9pm hopefully).
I live in LA.....Think London traffic on steroids with 10 times the distances to travel.
Lots of great advice here.
If you are more into shopping than beaches you could also stay in Beverly Hills rather than Santa Monica.
You can't rely on public transport to get you anywhere, BUT you can use Uber. However, renting a car is super cheap (especially if you get the insurance covered by your UK car insurance, or by your travel insurance.) Allow one full day for Disneyland and one full day for Universal with at least one recovery/beach day in between.
Another thing that's super fun and is off the beaten track is shopping in the fashion district downtown. Cheap clothes and accessories and atmosphere like a third world market, but you can drink the water and eat the street food.
Ill price it up and put it to DH 😄
If you need a break, my favourite thing un LA is http://www.beverlyhotsprings.com
we stayed near the Chinese Theatre and did trips out to Disneyland and Universal on coaches - no problem at all.
If we could have afforded it, we'd have stayed in Beverly Hills.
we were also told that everything was a mare to get to without a car - not really true. We split our visit into that bit of LA near the Chinese Theatre, then a few more days in Santa Monica, then a few in San Fran.
but from your post i got the impression that your friend was saying that Disney and Universal were too far from LA - no, they aren't, it's all good.
oh, and we were also told by others that it would be hard to get cabs going to nice restaurants and bars at night - not true either. Not sure why we heard so much of this. hotel sorted out the cabs, had to hail one a few times, no problem.
loved the whole trip - enjoy yours!
PS Uber wasn't happening then, probably even easier now!
Yy to Santa Monica. Posh with lovely shops and the beach to escape to after the city. It's under an hour by car to Hollywood (through Beverly Hills) and then another 10 to Universal.
We got 5 day Go LA passes which allowed up to 2 Universal visits plus the Movie Star Homes Tour, Hollywood walking tour, Madame Tussaud etc. Top for us was the Warner Bros Studio Tour (also inc) where we sat on the friends sofa and got a wave from Penny from Big Bang Theory.
Not sure what others think but Universal was very sad and tired looking in 2014. We were disappointed but it was pre Harry Potter stuff.
Friends who also went to Disney then moved on to Anaheim for a couple of nights for convenience really.
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