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simonriat
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Posts: 174
Joined: Wed Jul 14, 2010 8:03 pm

Visiting California

Fri May 15, 2015 6:19 pm

Hi all

Planning a trip to California and depending on what fellow a.netters advise, Las Vegas

The back ground to this, is that I have asked something similar before, but unfortunately the trip had to be cancelled due to my wife and youngest son being diagnosed with epilepsy.

I am asking way in advance, because it is going to take a huge amount of planning, due to the fact that I will be travelling with 2 epileptics, the youngest child being 5 at the time of the visit and also has autism, and my wife with possibly a shunt as well for another condition. Plus 2 other children.

This really will be a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I don't want to mess things up.

It will also be our first major long haul holiday since all the health issues, and I am also worried about support and assistance should I need it.

It will also be my 40th.

So what I have come up with so far:-
Visiting for 3 weeks

Would like to surprise my wife and ask her to renew our vows/ have a blessing. (she is going blind with one of her conditions and she has always wanted to get married with our family complete)
As I don't know anywhere or anything in California, I came up with Las Vegas for the Blessing, as I believe it is within driving distance. Could fellow a.netters suggest anywhere in California for such an event?
I have seen several rings that I like, but I am coming up against a brick wall when it comes ordering, due to not having a US address.

For the 3 boys

Can a.netters suggest number of days required and even if the places listed are worth visiting.

No Idea where to stay, have been looking at places in Anaheim.

Disneyland
Knotts Berry Farm
6 flags
Universal (really am unsure about this one as have done the 1 in Florida to death)

I personally would like to visit the set of MASH. Is it do able?

Would also like to have a walk where all the famous stars are in the sidewalk (Hollywood walk of fame)? and visit china town.

A few days at a nice beech.


Moving further down the coast.
LEGOLAND

And still further down, San Diego, staying at Humphreys Half Moon Inn & Suites
SeaWorld
The Zoo
USS Midway

I am an aviation fan (no surprise there and am currently studying for my PPL) so any aviation museums would be great.

Any help/ advice/ tips would be much appreciated.

Simon
 
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Tugger
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RE: Visiting California

Fri May 15, 2015 8:06 pm

Quoting simonriat (Thread starter):
As I don't know anywhere or anything in California, I came up with Las Vegas for the Blessing, as I believe it is within driving distance. Could fellow a.netters suggest anywhere in California for such an event?

Oh heck yeah! Lots of beautiful places that are relatively easy to get to (i say this as a SoCal resident who is very used to the region and getting around YMMV   ). From mountain to ocean views, and beautiful churches or building architecture or sites, and everything in between. I honestly would not think making a 6 hour drive to LV would be worth it just for a ceremony unless you also want the shows and the gambling and/or just to see LV.

What kind of view and/or venue are you seeking?

Quoting simonriat (Thread starter):
No Idea where to stay, have been looking at places in Anaheim.

Disneyland
Knotts Berry Farm
6 flags
Universal (really am unsure about this one as have done the 1 in Florida to death)

First thing to remember is that it is a city, a really big packed city area with "fantasy venues" packed within it. The places are fun and worth visiting but I don't know if you should plan on staying near by each for long. Yes it is easiest to stay near the parks to get to them early and in a timely manner and to get away if you need to during your trip to a park but don't plan to stay for your time in the LA area at the same hotel.

Each park will take at least one full day (I recommend two at minimum for Disneyland and California Adventure) and a day in between them probably. D-land and Knott's are close to each other and you could stay at the same hotel for both, Universal is 35 miles further north and Magic Mountain (what 6 Flags goes by here) another 30 miles north of that. I would also think you could stay at one hotel for those two but it depends of the time they open/you want to get there.

Also of course what you can afford will really impact suggestions of where you should stay.

Quoting simonriat (Thread starter):
I personally would like to visit the set of MASH. Is it do able?

Yep you can get there, it is not too hard... it is (again) 30 miles from Universal Studios. I would say there is not that much left to see there. The sets/bivouacs are gone with a few things recreated for tourists (such as the signpost). But the view is what you know from the show. With that said though, that view is similar to the views in a lot of the canyons of Southern California!

San Diego is much mellower and easier to get around than LA, Seeing the sites and parks here should not be a problem if your stay at least a week and even a couple days more than that would make it really nice. Humphrey's is a great place to stay, just a bit tough to get in an out of and you will hear Lindbergh Field planes (which as you are part of this site probably isn't an issue for you  Wink ) Since I live here in SAN I can go more into that later depending on the time you have (most people seem to spend more time up in the LA area due to all the stuff they must do up there).

When you said visiting California I was thinking you were also wanting to see San Francisco/NoCal area as well but that would probably be way too much running around. It is a big state and focusing on one region is the best region to see it. Even then you are doing a lot. The great thing is that each region is easy to get to and direct flights to/from London if desired.

I am sure many others will have a lot more advice to offer as well .

Good luck!

Tugg

[Edited 2015-05-15 13:16:18]
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B747forever
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RE: Visiting California

Fri May 15, 2015 8:16 pm

Whenever I hear about people going to LA, I always tell them to get a rental car and get out of the city and the usual tourist traps for a few days. Take a drive through Angeles Crest Highway, drive on the vast, empty roads on the other side of the mountains. Visit Death Valley, or some gosth towns. It is an amazing feeling to be just alone on those roads.
Work Hard, Fly Right
 
desertjets
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RE: Visiting California

Fri May 15, 2015 8:41 pm

While 3 weeks seems like plenty of time to do all that I can't help wonder if you are being too ambitious -- especially with your wife's health and having a few children with special needs. I feel that having fewer places that you plan to visit and more time in general to see what you want to see may work better. Bear in mind I am not a huge fan of theme parks, unless there is plenty of roller coaster riding to be had.

Right off the bat I would be inclined to cross off Six Flags Magic Mountain -- unless most of the kids are old enough to ride the coasters I wouldn't go. The place has pretty much the best collection of roller coasters of any park in the world, but if you can't really spend all day riding them I'd pass. I may pass on Universal as well since you've been to Universal Orlando. I would also pass on Sea World for other reasons. For me the must see places, especially with younger kids would be Disney Land, Legoland, and the San Diego Zoo. With maybe some beach time spread between them.

Depending on the time of year Las Vegas can be a great bargin for lodging and entertainment that is still family friendly. But I would be inclined to pass on that. If you are going to venture beyond LA/SD and head east how about visiting the Grand Canyon instead -- that may be the perfect place to have the blessing as well.
Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
 
Mike89406
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RE: Visiting California

Sat May 16, 2015 7:04 am

Coronado in San Diego would also be a great place for the the renewal of the vows IMO. The promenade has a great view of the SD skyline or you can do Coronado Beach as well. LA and San Diego are close in driving distance like 2-3 hrs depending on traffic.

One thing about driving to Vegas is Interstate 15 funnels traffic from both LA and San Diego. While I've never driven it I've heard from many co workers that the traffic can be pretty bad towards the weekend so timing is everything. Victorville is on the way to Vegas where the famous aircaft boneyard is located,

Most of you're attractions in San Diego are closely located between downtown and the beaches. The Zoo and San Diego Air and Space Museum are both located in Balboa Park which you should also check out. Inside the park you have different museums, shakepeares old globe theater, and the International cultural cottages etc... Old Town is close to downtown as well.

Keep in mind California is a big state so anything outside the SoCal area is a good distance. Some people take a short flight to LAS to avoid traffic. One of my favorite places is Yosemite National Park or Lake Tahoe but that's only if you have 2-3 days to drive around.
 
vikkyvik
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RE: Visiting California

Sat May 16, 2015 6:36 pm

For a vow-renewal venue, I don't have many ideas. But there is the chapel on the south side of Palos Verdes. I just completely forgot the name......No idea how booked it would be or how expensive it is. Great view, though.

Quoting Mike89406 (Reply 4):
Some people take a short flight to LAS to avoid traffic.

      

I never drive to Vegas anymore. Flying is so much easier.

Quoting simonriat (Thread starter):
Disneyland
Knotts Berry Farm
6 flags
Universal (really am unsure about this one as have done the 1 in Florida to death)

Honestly, I probably wouldn't go out of my way to visit all four of those. I would do Disneyland and Universal, personally.

Quoting simonriat (Thread starter):
Would also like to have a walk where all the famous stars are in the sidewalk (Hollywood walk of fame)?

Yes, the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Here are some of the things I might want to do if I were visiting (and actually, it's stuff I've done while living here too):

In the LA County area:
California Science Center, specifically to see Endeavour
Universal Studios
USS Iowa battleship
Planes of Fame museum
Harbor Cruise (out of San Pedro or Long Beach)
Aquarium of the Pacific
Griffith Park and the Observatory
Palos Verdes (there are some nice cliff walks and such)
Huntington Library and Museum
Getty Museum

In Orange County:
Disneyland (Anaheim)
Laguna Beach (nice place to spend a day or two)
Mission San Juan Capistrano
I'd probably go to the beach in Orange County somewhere....Laguna or thereabouts.

In San Diego:
San Diego Zoo and whatever else is in Balboa Park
Wild Animal Park
USS Midway

There's plenty more.

Don't know if your kids would like this, but you can take one of those bus tours that shows you the homes of the movie stars. It's terribly cliche, but kind of fun.
I'm watching Jeopardy. The category is worst Madonna songs. "This one from 1987 is terrible".
 
mdsh00
Posts: 4052
Joined: Mon May 17, 2004 11:28 am

RE: Visiting California

Sat May 16, 2015 11:06 pm

Quoting simonriat (Thread starter):

I agree with others that Las Vegas for the renewal is not worth it unless you are really itching to see Vegas. If that's the case, then I would go but do your vows somewhere else that is more picturesque. If you go to Vegas, fly or drive there mid-week when the hotels are cheaper and traffic is much less.

Whatever you do, do NOT plan to drive back to SoCal from Vegas on a Sunday, you will regret it like no other.

Nice places to see and maybe do the vows are some of the beaches south of LA. South Orange County and San Diego county have wonderful beaches. You could do something along one of the smaller beach towns like Encinitas or Del Mar. Another nice place could be the old Mission San Juan Capistrano. Another place north of LA which is peaceful and beautiful is the Ojai Valley. The views from the Krishnamurti Foundation's Pepper Tree Retreat or the Overlook from CA-150 is stunning.

I also wouldn't waste much time seeing the tourist traps in LA. Griffith Park Observatory is fantastic though. Best to go in the afternoon around sunset so you can see the city lights after dark.

Theme park wise: Disneyland and California adventure do need a day each. Keep in mind both Disney parks are expensive. I am a fan of Knott's because it's smaller and cheaper. You should skip Six flags unless your older children are fans of large coasters. As far as Universal Studios, I've been to both and the one here in California is a lot smaller but IMO has more charm as the backlot tour is of a real functioning studio.

Other places worth seeing in SoCal are the Santa Monica area or a drive up to Santa Barbara and a little further up to Solvang. I also like driving down the Interstate-5 to the La Jolla Cove and see the marine life on the beaches. The Sea lions and Seals in their natural habitat are a hit with Children.

Other nice places are in the mountains like Arrowhead and Big Bear Lake. Equally fun is driving near Palm Springs and taking the aerial tram up Mt. San Jacinto and hiking around the area (which could be done with kids).

Hope this helps. PM me if you have more questions.
 
simonriat
Topic Author
Posts: 174
Joined: Wed Jul 14, 2010 8:03 pm

RE: Visiting California

Sun May 17, 2015 9:19 am

Thank you all so much for your input.

Just had a look at some images for Coronado and Big Bear Lake, I have to say they look stunning. Exactly the type of thing I am after. Views.

To put it into context, my wife and I got married on the beach in Clearwater Fl and views couldn't have been more beautiful.

After reading, I really am thinking of forgetting Las Vegas (and maybe using at as an excuse for another trip).

Right now for the blessing, am looking at somewhere in Santa Monica, looking into Big Bear Lake, and Coronado.

I guess Im becoming an old romantic, in that it may be one of the last things (blessing that is, and don't how to put it) that my wife and I see together. (that sounds awful as I type it).

Once again thanks so much for the input.
 
NAV30
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RE: Visiting California

Sun May 17, 2015 11:58 am

Quoting simonriat (Thread starter):
Planning a trip to California and depending on what fellow a.netters advise, Las Vegas

I have family in Los Angeles, who would 'cut me off' if they heard me say this. But my own view is that the ONE city no-one visiting California should miss is San Francisco.

It is genuinely beautiful, and also full of 'character.' In a word, 'unforgettable'.......... hope this link works.

http://www.fodors.com/news/photos/sa...-franciscos-15-best-views#!1-intro

[Edited 2015-05-17 05:44:13]
 
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mad99
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Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2012 10:33 am

RE: Visiting California

Mon May 18, 2015 5:11 am

Quoting simonriat (Thread starter):
Anaheim

A lot of the neighbourhoods near Disneyland are bad, we saw people walking to 'discount' hotels after a day at dland with fear in their eyes lol!

Quoting simonriat (Thread starter):
Disneyland

Two years ago we paid about 400 usd for a family of 4 plus all the rest, it aint cheep. Also, be prepared to queue in the hot sun for hours.

Quoting simonriat (Thread starter):
(Hollywood walk of fame)

crap

Quoting simonriat (Thread starter):
A few days at a nice beech.

easy to do, loads of great beaches. We spent several days at the beach during the week and we had the place to ourselves.

Quoting simonriat (Thread starter):
LEGOLAND

I haven't been but heard good comments

Quoting simonriat (Thread starter):
SeaWorld

Our kids loved it. Far better value than dland and with very little planing we saw it all and were entertained the whole day. Its right on the pacific so during the day the weather was perfect and in the late afternoon it cools enough to require a jacket

Quoting simonriat (Thread starter):
The Zoo

Again,, excellent


Driving... Big distances and traffic so be careful, a guy in the office spent 4 weeks in California last year and spent half the time driving, big mistake.

Good luck
 
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seb146
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RE: Visiting California

Mon May 18, 2015 5:35 am

Quoting mad99 (Reply 9):
Quoting simonriat (Thread starter):
(Hollywood walk of fame)

crap

I didn't think it was that bad. Having the life I have lived, I knew not to get my hopes up. We went to the Chinese Theater and went to McDonalds across the street. Sure, it was full of tourists and homeless, but typical American city.

Quoting mad99 (Reply 9):
we saw people walking to 'discount' hotels after a day at dland with fear in their eyes lol!

We saw many hotel shuttles at one of the park entrances.

The last time we went to Disneyland, we stayed at a hotel in Brea. Lower cost than hotels near Disneyland and we got to be near normal people.
You bet I'm pumped!!! I just had a green tea!!!
 
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mad99
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RE: Visiting California

Mon May 18, 2015 9:01 am

Quoting seb146 (Reply 10):
I didn't think it was that bad

not bad but i wouldn't go out of my way to see it

Quoting seb146 (Reply 10):
we got to be near normal people.

nice one! From what i remember, the area around dland is more pitbull and white tee shirts than Beach Boys
 
L0VE2FLY
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RE: Visiting California

Mon May 18, 2015 11:51 pm

Quoting simonriat (Thread starter):
And still further down, San Diego, staying at Humphreys Half Moon Inn & Suites
SeaWorld
The Zoo
USS Midway

In San Diego Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma is a must see, it's much more serene than your typical tourist attraction, offers the most beautiful views of San Diego, you have to be on an airplane to enjoy a better view! There's also a historic lighthouse and tide pools. The admission fee is only $5 per car, good for 7 days.
 
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seb146
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RE: Visiting California

Tue May 19, 2015 5:18 am

Quoting L0VE2FLY (Reply 12):
In San Diego Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma is a must see, it's much more serene than your typical tourist attraction, offers the most beautiful views of San Diego,

One time we were in SAN and people made a huge deal of Star of India. It was interesting to see, but I thought people made too much of a big deal of it. Another time, my cousin drove us around and pointed out various settings for the movie Top Gun. I was not a huge fan of the movie. Anthony Edwards, yes but the movie, not so much.
You bet I'm pumped!!! I just had a green tea!!!
 
Mike89406
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RE: Visiting California

Tue May 19, 2015 7:54 pm

Here's the San Diego Air and Space Museum. Coincidentally my college graduation was at the museum.
http://www.sandiegoairandspace.org/

There is usually decent spotting opportunities for SAN Airport. There is the JAL 787 flight that comes in around noon and the BA 777 flight between 6:30-7:00 pm on average.
 
L0VE2FLY
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RE: Visiting California

Tue May 19, 2015 8:49 pm

Quoting seb146 (Reply 13):

.
Cabrillo National Monument appeals to a wide range of tourists, unlike a museum ship or a movie set.

The Star of India is well worth a visit if you're a history buff, I remember when I went there with my brothers, they wanted to leave after 15 minutes while yours truly was trying to carefully check out every little detail of the ship!

As for the shooting locations of Top Gun I couldn't care less about them, I'm not much of a movie fan.

Quoting Mike89406 (Reply 14):
There is usually decent spotting opportunities for SAN Airport. There is the JAL 787 flight that comes in around noon and the BA 777 flight between 6:30-7:00 pm on average.

One of those spotting opportunities is right next to the San Diego Air and Space Museum, you can enjoy a nice view of the birds on short finals into SAN.
 
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KaiGywer
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RE: Visiting California

Tue May 19, 2015 9:08 pm

Quoting seb146 (Reply 13):
One time we were in SAN and people made a huge deal of Star of India. It was interesting to see, but I thought people made too much of a big deal of it. Another time, my cousin drove us around and pointed out various settings for the movie Top Gun. I was not a huge fan of the movie. Anthony Edwards, yes but the movie, not so much.

Speaking of Top Gun. I didn't know this, but the famous bar scene was filmed at the Lafayette Hotel in the basement. I loved that hotel. http://www.lafayettehotelsd.com/
“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, an
 
YVRLTN
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RE: Visiting California

Wed May 20, 2015 2:42 am

Hardly an expert on CA, but its a place I enjoy. In the actual LA area, Santa Monica is a pretty nice place with a long beach. Redondo Beach is quite nice too.

Head out to Palm Springs and the Joshua tree Park - take the scenic detour from LA to SAN. Theres a good air museum at PSP too http://palmspringsairmuseum.org/

You must reserve some time for spotting at LAX, see if you can drop the family on the beach at Santa Monica or something and get an afternoon up on W Imperial Hill.

Also do a day trip to Catalina Island. I also really enjoyed Long Beach, down by the Pike, expensive to stay in the hotels right there though. However, the Queen Mary sounds pretty interesting, never stayed there myself though, last time I found a great B&B in the old town, kind of between the Pike and LGB airport (which is kind of cool if you like C17's, Gulfstream's & DC3's).

Quoting mad99 (Reply 9):
Quoting simonriat (Thread starter):
(Hollywood walk of fame)

crap

   Very underwhelming but kind of one of those "have to do things" I guess. Also if you want to get the obligatory photo of the Hollywood sign, look up the spots where to shoot it from as I found it is near impossible otherwise just driving around and I wasted a bunch of time.

Quoting Mike89406 (Reply 14):
the BA 777 flight between 6:30-7:00 pm on average.

LOL, he is from England, a BA 777 will be the last thing he wants to spot  
Follow me on twitter for YVR movements @vernonYVR
 
Mike89406
Posts: 1425
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 12:05 pm

RE: Visiting California

Wed May 20, 2015 9:27 am

Quoting YVRLTN (Reply 17):

Lol silly me.

I second the Catalina Island recommendation as well. Sometimes Groupon has a all inclusive deal 2 night stay including ferry tickets. The Hermosa Hotel in Catalina has a similar deal. Me and my wife plan on going back soon.

Here's some pics from our Catalina trip
Catalina Island Trip (by Mike89406 Apr 26 2014 in Non Aviation)
 
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DocLightning
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RE: Visiting California

Sat May 23, 2015 5:31 am

I'll leave it to the other members.

Don't come to San Francisco unless you'll be in California for a month. Then two weeks for SoCal and two weeks for NorCal is enough. Stick in Socal. Between Vegas, LA, and San Diego, you'll have your hands full.

But...make sure to go to the top of the parking structure at SAN!
-Doc Lightning-

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