Sweet Sixteen days (in the USA)

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1. Posted by Glenno (Budding Member 5 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!


First post! Where to start? Well my wife, 2 year old boy and I are heading to the USA in early December for a grand total of 16 days before heading the the U.K for Christmas with friends.

This country is a bit of an addiction and we have visited before a total of three times and been to Florida every time. Love the warm weather, the easy lifestyle and love the theme parks as well. Have always rented a vacation house and loved living in the burbs and just being part of it all.

Every minute in the USA is a weird whacked out feeling of "something new, but strangely seen or heard it before". Like it or not (we do) the USA is very much of our "down under" culture with TV, music and food influences being very much part of our everyday life.

Our last trip saw us fly into LA, down to Florida and out of San Francisco. This time we are flying into San Francisco and out of LA with a short 16 days to get a a better taste of Californian and nearby states life. The last time we saw the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and did a city tour of both LA and San Francisco. Rode the cable cars, did Hollywood and came back home with a taste for more.

I'd like your help to get the best out of our time and am keen to hear your feedback on what we can do, where to stay and where to go.

I want to maximise that weird whacked out feeling as much as possible!

Things we are already keen on.
Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Monterey Bay Boardwalk (Famous from the Lost Boys 1980's movie!)
Disneyland (I know it's not as big but have to do it!)
Knots Berry Farm (Maybe)

Saw some fantastic scenery on our last flight to Orlando and am keen to check out some of the natural beauty of some of the following places.

Grand Canyon
Death Valley

Want to spend one night in Vegas just to visit my favourite store in the entire country. No, not Walmart.. Outdoor World. This place blows my mind and we would like to spend a night at the Silverton right next door.

So what have you got for us? We already have that churned up belly feeling that I'm sure some of you recognise in anticipation of a fantastic trip.

We have never spent a Christmas away from Australia and would love to get some tips on what places really bring out the best of the season in lights, decorations and just general good time feeling.

Waiting anxiously! Oh yes we have a car and can drive somewhat on the wrong side of the road :)

2. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3580 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

I am biased to be sure, but 1 nite in Vegas? Not enough to be sure. If you drive to the Grand Canyon, you can hit Vegas twice. Or stay in LV and fly down on Scenic Air for the day. All the hotels do it up for Christmas. The conservatory at the Bellagio is always special, but every hotel puts out plenty of decorations. The Ethel M Chocolate Factory also strings up thousands of lights in the cactus garden, worth a visit, free of course.

I don't blame you for getting excited about the Pro Bass Shop attached to the Silverton. I take visiting friends/relatives out there for the buffet, aquarium and the sports shop. Everything you ever want relating to sports is there. You can even try out that new fishing rod on premises. That store can really put a dent in your credit card!

3. Posted by Glenno (Budding Member 5 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Thanks Mike,
Didn't think that here would be that much in Vegas for us to do from a family point of view. Many forums on the web seem to think parents who take kids to Vegas are delinquent! I'm not big into gambling and get bored pretty quickly (probably because I don't win). Really just want to see the lights, the sights and get out before I put a dent in the credit card. By the way things are MUCH cheaper in Bass Pro for the same item than here. I bought a Daiwa reel last time in Orlando for $45 USD and saw it two weeks later in a local store for $160 AUD. The Aussie dollar is currently at 75 US cents so it is still a MASSIVE difference. Do you know it is quite concievable to save the cost of your airfare on the savings made on clothing alone. Of course there are still hotels and hire car but hey it's a holiday not a shopping trip (tell my wife this!)
Thanks for your tips on the chrissy decorations, this trip is going to be magical. We are actually travelling on my 40th birthday. Leave here on the morning, travel for 14 hours and get into SFO still on the morning of my birthday. Hey what a way to celebrate with an extra long day! We also have our 5th wedding anniversary while there and want to do something special (maybe renew our vows with Elvis) Only kidding! Thanks for the advice and keep it coming.:)

4. Posted by I'mNative (Budding Member 7 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Glenn, I am a brand new member and ran across your post... glad I did. I live in Orange county (Irvine 15 min from D-land). Disneyland is definitely worth a trip especially with a 2-year old. I have been to Vegas plenty and think it's a bit overrated especially since you don't like to gamble and you're going to be with a 2-year old. I would plan for one night, although that may even be too much. Also, don't bother with Death Valley. Yosemite may just be the best place you go on your trip. It's unbelievable! My all time favorite place in California. You have to spend at least two days and one night there. My favorite spot in Southern California is Laguna Beach. No crowds in December and beautiful beaches, sand, sun and a great low-key little town located in south OC. Check out the Montage Hotel... not a good idea if you are trying to save money. Of course every one is biased to their own experience but being from Irvine, these are my suggestions. Good luck and have a great time... feel free to ask more questions if you have them.

5. Posted by Glenno (Budding Member 5 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Change of plans! Thought I'd try the impossible and try and squeeze a few tickets on Frequent Flyer points down to Orlando in December and much to my delight I have. Now have 2 nights in San Fran, nine in Orlando and returning to San Fran with 4 days to make our way down PCH to LA for departure.

Thought about doing the Californian 16 day road trip but figured it would be too much with an energetic two year old. At least this way he gets to sleep in one bed for more than a single night. We have rented a huge house in the Kissimmee area that costs less than $100 US a night and plan on kicking back with a mix of easy days with late starts and taking in a few select theme parks, (Magic Kingdom & Sea World).

Really think that this is the best way to do it with the little guy as it is a holiday for all of us. Sadly we will not get to Yosemite or Vegas but they can wait until he gets a little older.

6. Posted by friscokid (Full Member 122 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

in san francisco, wake up early and head to powell and market street at the cable car turn around and by a 3 day bus pass for you and your lady. wait on market and catch the 71 outbound -- get off at divisedaro. walk up divisedero to 531 divisedero and have breakfast at 'herbivore' they open at 9, but i would wait for 10 for more of a crowd to arrive -- who wants to eat in an empty restuarant?

when your done walk down fell street to masonic, and down masonic to haight and up haight street -- try do arrive closer to noon so their are more people about. meander about haight street. catch a movie at the red vic (google for show times).

you'll notice the 71 runs on haight so after about 2 hours of sight seeing on haight jump back on the 71 outband to linclon and 7th ave -- get off and walk away from the park to irving street and meander up irving street -- find a place for lunch -- but be sure to browse all the menus before choosing a restuarant.

if it is sunny, make your way to twin peaks check www.sfmuni.com for bus routes. after twin peaks make your way to castro and walk down market from castro towards the ferry building (the ferry building if you are looking down market is a steeple rising from the center of market street horizon). notice the side streets usually have shops/restuarants up to 1 block south of market -- meander about until your ready to eat.

head down market to 4th street, walk south of market on 4th st to the metreon -- catch a movie if you skipped the red vic.

day 2, coit tower, chinatown, museum of modern art, the ferry building, north beach

day 3 the sf zoo, and ocean beach