Booked to travel with a family of 5 (3 kids) to LA . In mid December till mid Jan our thoughts are at the moment are
We will hire a car ( any good suggestions on car hire deals etc very welcome )
We arrive on a Thursday in LA, we have two options in our head at this moment
Based on possible availability of accomodation around Xmas
Arrive in LA on a Thursday
Drive to Las Vegas ( maybe stop in Prims one night)
4 days Vegas ( with 2 days at Grand Canyon )
A couple of days in Yosemite park
Looking to arrive in San Fran around 24 dec
Stay in San Fran till about 29 dec
Travel to Anaheim
Stay in Anaheim til 8 jan ( would use Anaheim as base to do the parks , knots berry etc)
I night two days in San Diego
Return To LA for last 3 days before flying out ( universal studios etc)
Option 2 is again based around possible accomodation
Is we go to San Fran before we go to Vegas and we will have Xmas in Vegas , thoughts ?
Then travel down from Vegas to Anaheim
With the two options what is the best way to travel or do we take the same roads
Anyone got any suggestions on the trip / route or places to stay having a car we don't necessarily need to stay in the centre of the cities
Is there anything we are missing on the trip
Any good advice on the roads to take etc
Any good tips for accomodation , needing room for 5 but with budget in mind
Any other tips or advice you have would be most welcome
Seeing as how you have a car, staying outside of San Francisco would be cheaper. It is easy enough to go into the city to tour. Las Vegas hotels can be cheaper when staying off the strip and away from downtown. There are many such reasonable and good hotels away from those areas. When staying in San Diego, you could get a place to stay on Hotel Circle with very reasonable rates for the area.
Traveling from LA and Las Vegas and then to San Francisco and Yosemite Park only to go back down to Anaheim and San Diego afterwards seems like you are driving back and forth (there is quite a distance between these cities). You might consider doing San Francisco and Yosemite Park first, then travel to Las Vegas, LA and then to Anaheim and San Diego. You could fly into San Francisco and fly out of San Diego. It might save a lot of driving.
Keep in mind that costs could be higher when traveling during the Christmas holiday season.
California is the beautiful place to visit in the holidays .Its amazing idea to spend holidays in California California quite literally has something for everyone.
Here is a thought for option 3. Drive to San Diego first, then over to Grand Canyon (GC). I would stay in Williams AZ first night. Old West town, has a railroad trip to the GC. Kids might like to see the train & station. GC is 1 hour from Williams. Cheaper rooms are just outside the park at Tusayan if you want 2 days inside GC. Then up to Vegas, 5 hours. Yosemite NP, SF, back to La area.
The week before Christmas in Vegas used to be pretty quiet. Not so much anymore. The hotels started marketing to those that don't celebrate the holiday. Christmas falls on a Friday this year. It will start to get busy by the 23rd. I suggest you hit Vegas Dec. 20-23 or after X-mas, say 27-29th. New Year is a madhouse and there are few bargains. Primm is one option for a cheaper room, Boulder Strip hotels, Boulder City are other options if you cannot find something in your price range on the Strip. Circus Circus usually has a decent room price. Again, it depends on day of the week and how full they are. The hotels jack up their prices when they know they will be full.
You have plenty of time to compare rental car companies. Do some online research and see what is best for your planned trip. Unlimited miles is common, check. All companies try to add insurance to your rental. Find out what your present insurance covers ie. rental cars. If you have adequate coverage, pass on the rental insurance. Make sure you are covered for uninsured motorists. Calif. is notorious for hit & run accidents. Many drivers in Calif do not have insurance and don't stick around if there is an accident.
Good luck with your planning.