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4 night LA Stopover

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1. Posted by ajm (Budding Member 5 posts) 7y

My wife,myself and 2 kids (9&11) will be in LA for 4 nights in December 09 (on route to Orlando) and I need to know where the best place to base ourselves is. With kids we are not really interested in the night life (unfortunately) but would like some info on what area to stay, attractions to visit etc. We won't bother with a car so we will be at the mercy of public transport. I would love some help. Cheers

2. Posted by bgl (Full Member 167 posts) 7y

Any particular reason you don't want a rental car? I lived in southern California for 10 years (but not in LA itself), and I would never dream of spending 4 nights there, with 2 children, without a rental car. It's possible to get around with public transportation, but depending on where you want to go, could be very time consuming. I believe your stay in LA will be much more pleasant if you reconsider!

[ Edit: Edited on 20-May-2009, at 00:12 by bgl ]

3. Posted by james (Travel Guru 4136 posts) 7y

Why not just do the whole Anaheim thing and see the thme parks and more. There are plenty of tours into LA (Hollywood, etc) from there also.

4. Posted by ajm (Budding Member 5 posts) 7y

Yeah we might have to reconsider as it sounds like everything is spread out and public transport isn't that good. I guess I was thinking that we might be jetlagged for a day or two and a car might be a waste. We don't want to do any theme parks because we are on the way to Disney in Orlando (and we are from the gold coast) but as for other tours I would be interested in any ideas.

5. Posted by bgl (Full Member 167 posts) 7y

Except ajm is heading to Orlando, "the world capital of theme parks"!:) Maybe ajm had something different in mind for LA?More info probably helpful....

6. Posted by bgl (Full Member 167 posts) 7y

ajm posted while I was typing my response above.

Plenty of hotels right next to LAX. Convenient for arrival and departure at LAX airport, but zero ambience. Depending on what time of the day you arrive you may want to just check in at the hotel the first day and relax, and then rent a car the next 2-3 days?

7. Posted by ajm (Budding Member 5 posts) 7y

I've heard about the ambience of the airport hotels so we would prefer to find somewhere else to stay. With the kids in tow I think a day in downtown LA (exposition park) sounds OK and maybe a day doing the hollywood thing or perhaps Venice/Santa Barbara (although being December is it to cold?). Is it impossible to do these things if we stay somewhere in the middle?

8. Posted by bgl (Full Member 167 posts) 7y

I think you mean Santa Monica, not Santa Barbara? Santa Barbara is a very nice little town, but it's a good distance away from LA. Staying in the Venice/Santa Monica area would certainly provide more "ambience", but I don't believe there are any major hotels there. December might be on the cool side at night, but most days are likely to be very comfortable. Keep in mind, the winter (Nov-March) is when it may rain in SoCal, and if you get there when it's wet it could be cool during the daytime as well, but still certainly OK to walk around, assuming you're properly dressed. I.e. sweater weather.

The advantage with staying at a hotel close to LAX airport is that you don't have to mess with a rental car on arrival and departure. You simply catch the hotel limousine back and forth. And there are car rental places within walking distance of those hotels, plus the I-405 (Interstate) is just a few minutes away. But you could also just use surface streets, for instance when driving to Venice/Santa Monica, which is not far away.

You may not be interested in this, but personally I find San Diego a much more interesting city than LA, with many more places to visit. And easier to get around. If you were to spend just the first night at a LAX hotel, then rent a car and drive the 2 hours or so (a bit more of you pick rushhour!), and then spend a few nights in San Diego, I believe you and your family would find more things do to and places to visit - all within easy reach. If you consider this, let me know.

9. Posted by ajm (Budding Member 5 posts) 7y

Actually, we had considered San Diego. The Gaslamp area looks like a good place to base ourselves and I think we can catch a train from LA (this aversion to renting a car might seem annoying but if we can reduce costs on this leg then we can rent one from Boston and drive to Montreal later on). Any suggestions on San Diego would be much appreciated.

10. Posted by bgl (Full Member 167 posts) 7y

San Diego is a great place. I lived there for 10 years, but I'm trying to be objective!:) And yes, you can certainly take the train, and that's fairly quick and easy. Not sure how much you may save by not renting a car, though, since there are 4 of you. You may not save any money. Not knowing the cost of a rental car OR the train OR how much you will spend in getting to the train in LA, impossible for me to say. You can probably google the cost of the train, though.

About San Diego:
The Gaslamp Quarters is a good central location. Horton Plaza, which is a different kind of shopping mall is right there. A few blocks away at the most.
Seaport Village is a great little area out by San Diego Bay, with plenty of stores and restaurants and lots of people, especially on a weekend. Technically walking distance (from downtown, i.e. Gaslamp Quarters). About a mile.
Balboa Park, sort of in the opposite direction, also maybe a mile or so, at least to the closest part of Balboa Park. A few very interesting museums (including one aviation museum). Also the San Diego Zoo, which is world famous. The whole family will definitely enjoy this! Much more than a zoo.
Old Town is 3 miles, or so, north of downtown. Very historical area, and some of the best Mexican restaurants that I know of (and I'm not even that crazy about Mexican food, but that was one of our favorite places to go when we lived there).
Mission Beach/Pacific Beach (locally referred to as MB and PB) would be the closest beach from downtown. You could take a bus from downtown. I never took a bus while we lived there, but I know the bus system is pretty good, and distances aren't that great (nothing compared to LA, anyway!). Even if you're not interested in the beach itself (and the water will definitely be cold!), it's an interesting place to visit, and just walk along the boardwalk. Especially on a weekend.
Immediately inland from MB/PB is Mission Bay Park, a VERY large park. If you want to go for a run, this is the place!
A few miles north of MB/PB is La Jolla and La Jolla Cove. Very exclusive area with some great restaurants and shops.
Due west from downtown, across San Diego Bay is Point Loma, a peninsula that stretches about 4 miles south, and ends with Cabrillo National Monument, where you have a great view of the entire city of San Diego as well as North Island Naval Air Station.

You can probably get to all these places with the local bus system, but again I'm questioning the wisdom of this. My guess is that you'll be spending a fair amount of time just getting on and off buses, and if you look into all the various costs involved with public transportation it wouldn't surprise me if the rental car is the less expensive option!

[ Edit: Edited on 21-May-2009, at 00:44 by bgl ]