We are from Australian and we are currently planning a family holiday to the US next September/October and would like some feedback on what we have planned so far. I have been reading the varuious posts on the forum and come up with this itinerary.
San Francisco for 4 days.
Things to do - Alcatraz, Fishermans Wharf, Golden Gate Bridge, Columbus Avenue, City Tour?
San Francisco - Los Angeles Take 4 days
Visit Yosemite and then track west and travel the Pacific Highway. Overnight at Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara. Anywhere else?
Los Angeles 2-3 days
Things to do - Universal Studios, Hollywood Boulivard. Any other suggestions?
Accommodation - Venice, Santa Monica or West Hollywood. Not Hollywood or downtown.
Los Angeles to Las Vegas
Drive to Las Vegas (but fly back?) Spend 3 -4 days in Las Vegas
Things to do - Visit Grand Canyon & Hoover Dam (helicopter appears highly recommended) What else?
Las Vegas to Disneyland
Possibly fly back rather than drive.
Spend 3-4 days in the Anaheim region? How long should we allow to do Disneyland?
Los Angeles to Honoloulou
Spend 4-5 days in Hawaii to relax a little before returning to OZ.
Things to do - Visit Pearl Harbour. What else?
Please feel free to suggest any amendments or things we should include. Your thoughts are appreciated.
Regarding Disneyland Anaheim resort, start with this resource:
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I went to the US with my family (4 girls and mum and dad) in 2005 and we did a very similar trip to you.
Being a family, we didn't enjoy Las Vegas as much as we would have thought. they have some ok things there but it wears off quite quickly!
When we were in san francisco, we did all the things you have mentioned...and we had a blast.
The grand canyon takes your breath away! we didnt do a helicopter tour but instead we took a small plane and did the same thing, it wasnt as expensive, and if it is only your family you learn so much.
Disneyland - take 2 days for disney, one for disney and one for california adventure. there is also knotts berry farm, i never went there but i heard its really good.
i hope that helps alittle bit...
Sounds like a great trip.
Let me add a couple of ideas for the Hawaii portion of your trip. I suggest you definitely go to a luau while in Hawaii. There are ones sponsored by large hotels and there are ones where you take a bus and go out to the western portion of the island and spend the evening. Either is good and both have their own advantages (needing to travel versus actually getting outside of town and seeing the real Hawaiian countryside).
At the north end of the island of Oahu is the Polynesian Cultural Center, which is a bit expensive, but very good and definitely worth going to at least once. Up here is where the large surfing waves are and where they hold the surfing contests. The Sunset "pipeline" beach here is quite famous.
There is a large pineapple plantation in the middle of the island worth visiting and a good snorkling beach and a "blowhole"--both just a little ways east of Waikiki--the main beach with all the hotels on the south end of the island. Also, there is a free hula show at the stadium just east of Waikiki and a small aquarium within walking distance.
I am doing the same trip from OZ in a months time.
Although I have been there and done that numerous times, this time I am doing it with a young family and here is what I suggest:
Sept/Oct is the end of the US summer and as such, it will still be great weather and somewhat crowded.
San Fran - hire a car and head north to the Redwood ational Park and do Sausalito (on the north side as well). This gives you a great view back to the city and those redwood trees are the biggest in the world. Wait till you see them. Maybe walk from your hotel (if you are staying at Fishermans Wharf) across the GG bridge to Sausalito for a coffee and get the ferry back. Alcatraz is good but the website gives you as much as the tour itself but not the atmosphere. Hit Union Square and try and get to the markets along the pier area at end of Market Street. Do Lombard Street (crooked street) and check out Ghiradelli Square and try their chocolate WOW / YUM even for a non chocky lover.
Sounds like you got the right idea to do Yosemite and back along the coast highway to LA. There are various things along the way and enjoy them all including Monterey & Carmel (near Santa Cruz) Hearst Castle, Solvang, Big Sur....you'll see the signs.
LA - stay at Santa Monica but not the holiday Inn - try and stay on the beach if your budget permits.
Vegas is over-rated but its good for a while. Although kid friendly a few years back, they are changing their philosophy towards families though you will still have fun along the way. Hoover / Grand Canyon / Red Rock Canyon a must.
Disneyland - enjoy it - but at that time of year, allow 3 full days to do both parks.
Hawaii - now this is my best knowledge of all. The blow hole is at Hanauma Bay and worth seeing if the swell is up. Hanuama Bay is a snorkelling paradise but not as good as it was 20 years ago.
Hire a car and do the North Shore incl Sunset Beach and Pipeline and the Waimea Park Falls Park.
Dole Plantation is the pineapple place and worth seeing just for the maze (you'll get lost for sure but the kids will love it).
Also, there is a tour in that area that does Kualoa Ranch which is where all those movies (Jurassic Park adn LOST) are filmed. WOW factor.
Numerous beaches worth seeing that are better than Waikiki and they are Kailua and MakaPuu.
Sandy Beach is another (ie From Here to Eternity movie)....you might know the scene on the beach.
Depending on age of children, do Pearl Harbour though young kids dont get it. Worth it though. Its actually free to see but may charge a fee these days. A tour will cost you the $$$$ to do it.
The markets at the arena are good.
Food is plentiful in Waikiki and with the family (or without them) I would recommend a meal at Moose McGillicuddys and Yard House (both in Lewers Street) and a great feed and cocktails at Mooses are great and 200 beers on tap at the yard house but very kid friendly.
Go to the luau mentioned but at the polynesian cultural centre on the north side (tours are available from your hotel).
Probably the most fun I have had in Hawaii (all 20 times) is riding in an outrigger (on the beach out front of the pink hotel on waikiki beach). All age fun and just awesome.
If you are yet to book a hotel, steer clear of Lewers Street as they are building the Trump Tower Apartments and teh work is almost every day from 7am to 4pm and will continue into 2009. Maybe stay where I do and that is the Outrigger Waikiki in a beachfront room. Worth the dollars and position is the best.
Thats where I'll be in 4 weeks time.
Look up their website www.outrigger.com
If you would like a nice restaurant for lunch or dinner with the family, try the Halekulani Hotel (House without a Key restaurant) or The Hanohano Room (On top of the Sheraton Waikiki hotel). Both are great but expect to pay for it but not that bad given the strength of our dollar at present.
I could go on about Hawaii......but just soak it up and enjoy the sun the surf and the cocktails.
But dont forget to have a beer too.