Looking to travel with a family of 5 (3 kids) to LA etc . In mid December our thoughts are at the moment are
Arrive in LA , drive to San F , spend 3-5 days , go to Las Vegas by plane or car , spend 2-3 days with a possible Grand Canton visit
Travel back to LA spend maybe a day or two in LA or go straight to Aanaheim for 10 -12 days
We are looking at spending about 3-4 weeks on the trip
I have questions such as
Do we hire a car , what's the best way to do that
Do we fly to Vegas from San Fran
Any recommendations to stay in all areas ( safe for a family )
What's the best way to visit the Grand Canyon
Any other tips or advice you have would be most welcome
Rent a car in LA, then drive to Vegas and the Grand Canyon. The trip will take about five hours. Parking is free at many of the Las Vegas casinos. Then you can return to LA to visit Anaheim and Disneyland. Unless you have family or friends in Anaheim, it's difficult to understand why you would want to spend 10 days there. Multi-day passes to Disneyland are top dollar. One to two days is enough. Los Angeles is worth a visit. The kids will enjoy the Universal Studios tour. There's Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, the beaches, etc. From LA, take the Pacific Coast Highway (Route 1) to Monterey (the aquarium is worth a visit) and San Francisco. Stop by Muir Woods and its giant redwood trees. Take the ferry to Sausalito. The airfare from LA to SF, or vice versa, or to Las Vegas, could be budget-busting, particularly during the peak holiday travel season, which begins in mid-December. So driving will be your least-expensive option. If you want to extend your time in southern California, consider San Diego. Your kids will love the zoo there.
I agree with berner256 that you should rent a car in LA and drive to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. You can then also drive to Anaheim to see Disneyland. The Grand Canyon should take your breath away. Seeing as how you will be visiting in December, you will find it to be cold in Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. The desert gets cold at night in the winter time, but it is not extreme. 10 - 12 days for Disneyland is a lot. There is another park right next to Disneyland called California Adventure which is also run by Disney. The kids would probably love that. Seeing as how you have kids, there is another place near Anaheim (Buena Park, CA) called Medieval Times. It is a place that has a medieval jousting tournament while you have dinner in the style of medieval times. This is actually a show. If you have time and go to San Diego, there are places like the San Diego Zoo, Wild Animal Park, and Sea World which your family may enjoy.
Thank you robmer and Berber 256 really appreaciate the feedback
Taking on board everything you have both said and further research
We will look to fly into LA and then hire a car and drive up to Vegas and the Grand Canyon , we will either stop at San Francisco on the way up or on the way back down
Looking at what you both said about stopping in Anaheim for so long , our thought was that it was a good base to go to the parks,LA and even San Diego , we have been advised not to stay in LA ( this was based on their own experience) but is it something we should consider ?
Any thought on the best car hire place ?
Or any great tips on accomodation
Take a look at a map of California. You'll find that if you take the scenic route up to Monterey and San Francisco you can return fairly quickly via the inland route on I-5.
The Los Angeles metropolitan area is a collection of communities, besides the city itself. It would be better if you'd stay closer to the city than Anaheim. I recommend Santa Monica and the West Side, where I used to live. There are many hotels in the area. There are several hotel review sites that can guide you as to places to stay. If staying at chain hotels/motels, be advised that many charge "resort" fees in addition to the room rate. Some of these "resort" fees are mandatory. But sometimes you can talk your way out. Resort fees include such things as use of the swimming pool, Internet use, etc. Not all hotels/motels assess this surcharge, so check around.
Too many people are frightened of traveling in urban areas. You just have to be selective. You don't want to wander alone in blighted areas known for high crime. But you'll find that in most cities, including Los Angeles, it's perfectly OK to explore. Just ask locals where to go; and use common sense. Don't be deterred.
Since you're driving, do not leave valuables in the car, or at least not in the open where thieves can look in and see something they want. With five of you, you should consider renting a minivan. There are lots of car rental companies. Go online and check them out. It's usually cheaper to rent in-town than at the airport. But there are exceptions. I like to rent from a larger company like Enterprise, which has offices in a lot of places, just in case of a breakdown. Know that most car rental companies will want to sell you their own insurance coverage, which can be expensive. Check with your insurance company or your credit-card company to see if you're covered for rental cars. Read the fine print before renting.
If you have Skype, you can make toll-free calls to U.S. toll-free numbers. That way, you can talk to the car rental companies directly. You also can do this with hotels and motels.
Hope this helps. I'm now in Budapest preparing to fly to Asia later this morning. Have fun!
Berner256 has some great suggestions. I did not know that you could contact car rental companies, hotels, and motels with Skype. I will have to keep that in mind.
Whereas I live in San Diego, I can suggest that there are many good hotels in an area called Hotel Circle. They are reasonably priced and convenient to areas that you may be visiting without being in the downtown area, thereby making driving easier. As far as safety in San Diego, it is known as one of the safest major cities in the United States. It may have crime as every city does, but it is not major. Just use common sense and you and your family will be safe and have a good time.
I use prepaid Skype minutes to make mostly international calls while traveling. On one trip, I had to contact a hotel reservation company with a toll-free number in London. I had assumed that I would have to pay for that call. To my surprise, that call was free. I don't know if you have to have a Skype account to make those toll-free calls. But if you do, it's well worth it to open an account and fund it with the minimum amount. I've used Skype to call my bank as well as credit-card companies. I also used it to call my Cape Town travel agent's toll-free number when a problem developed while traveling in Africa.
As for paid calls, I use my prepaid Skype minutes to telephone family and friends when I want to let them know I'm ready to begin a free Skype-to-Skype video session. So it's very useful. The per-minute cost is reasonable.