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Old 02-03-2014, 10:39 AM   #1
GreenLantern
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Hi. I am heading down to 'SoCal' with the wife for a week in October. We arrive Sunday, Oct 12th at around 9 PM local time, and fly out the next Sunday around noon.

We have a lot to cram in for that week, so I was hoping to bounce some ideas, get some feedback and generally just have people tell me stuff I am not currently thinking about. Flights are already booked thanks to the help of our local YYC junkie.. so now it is just filling in the details. The trip basically goes like this - 3 nights in Anaheim - 1 night at a resort spa - 3 nights in Hollywood/LA.

I am planning on renting a car, but it seems like you really get screwed if you return it at a different air port. We are flying into Anaheim and flying out from LAX.. I have rented a lot of vehicles in the past few years for work, and always dealt with Enterprise who I liked and wanted to use. But their air port return rate basically takes the car from 500 for the week to over 1000.. which just isn't plausible. Any recommendations for a company that doesn't hose you on the return?

Sunday is a straight to the hotel, go to bed day. Monday we are planning to hit an outlet mall and basically spend that entire day shopping. Tuesday we were going to hit Disneyland and cram as much as we possibly can into one day, I know you won't even get to experience half of the park, but we can't afford anymore than one day. I am not a big rides guy anyway, this is more for the wife. I do have a bone to pick with that Whale though, he scared the crap out of me the last time I was there as a child.

The hotel I am looking at for this area is:

http://www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/cal...HHH/index.html

I checked the convention center and there aren't any massive conventions yet planned for this time period. There is a 20k vegetable show on the following weekend, and a 5k person trade show ending the day we arrive. I picked this hotel because it appears to be nice, has a decent rate, and a lot of amenities inside like a bar, restaurant and starbucks/fast food places to grab a quick breakie in the morning. Anyone ever stay here or in this area? I wanted something close to Disney but not too close, as we are only actually spending 1 day there.

The other option was trying to book a hotel in the actual Disneyland resort. This would allow us to gain that extra 'magic hour' on the Tuesday we are planning to go. From what I have read, it is a huge advantage being in the park a hour before it opens. And it really sucks for us to make that our day to go, get in a hour after a bunch of people, and already have all the rides lined up. Kind of defeats the purpose of going there first thing. Anyone have experience dealing with an early entry day when you did not get early entry? And is there ANY way to get it without booking their $400 dollar a night hotels or having an annual pass?

Wednesday is a spa day, I tracked down what appears to be a nice winery/spa resort in Temecula valley:

http://wineresort.com/

Can get two birds with one stone, the Spa day for the wife and the wine tastings for both of us. Anyone have any experience with this area/ know of a better spot?

Thursday we are moving to LA, hoping to get in on a show taping/do the WB tour. The wife is a huge Friends fan and she really wants to sit on that couch, so I need to figure out how to make that happen. She also wants to try and get in to an Ellen taping. I know it is extremely popular but one thing that is good is it appears Ellen handles the tickets herself. So you can sort of plead your case I guess. Also what I have found on Thursdays she does two taping, which is good for us since it is about a 2 hour drive in from the wine resort.

I haven't yet locked down a hotel for this area, so any suggestions here would be great. I would like to be as close to Hollywood as possible, walking distance really to the main strip.

Friday I am going fishing for a half day, I have tracked down a few local guides already and I just need to figure out if I want to do trout or bass. The rest of that day will be spent touring Hollywood/surrounding area.

Saturday is a day dedicated to Venice beach, and I want to go work out at Golds and do some curls for the girls and hopefully bump into Arnold and become best friends.


So, who has done any or all of the above and can recommend a fresh point of view?

I have searched the forum and read the following threads:

http://forum.calgarypuck.com/showthr...ght=california

http://forum.calgarypuck.com/showthr...ght=california

http://forum.calgarypuck.com/showthr...ght=disneyland

http://forum.calgarypuck.com/showthr...ght=disneyland

http://forum.calgarypuck.com/showthr...ght=disneyland

http://forum.calgarypuck.com/showthr...ght=disneyland

I am including them in here for future reference for anyone who searches the California topic. A one stop shop if you will. Lots of great information, but it is always nice to get a personalized updated opinion from posters.

Obviously there is no way to know yet, but I imagine that at least one of the nights we are there LA or Anaheim will play a game and I will want to go to that or both. This is why I am keeping as many nights open as possible for now. Also, if the Dodgers repeat last years performance, we have a shot at getting into a playoff game.. major odds but still a chance.
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Old 02-03-2014, 10:56 AM   #2
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I have stayed at that Hilton a couple times. It is massive and always fairly busy, but always a good price and a top quality hotel in all the important areas. About a 10 minute walk to Disneyland. A decent inner courtyard pool if you're interested in that.

I am guessing you are just renting the car the day you leave Anaheim? Don't really need a car their otherwise- I think the outlet is a little too far to walk, but you could easily catch a cab. I would also recommend stopping at the Crystal Cathedral for 15 minutes on your way to the Outlet. Pretty cool to check out.
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Old 02-03-2014, 11:08 AM   #3
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I have stayed at that Hilton a couple times. It is massive and always fairly busy, but always a good price and a top quality hotel in all the important areas. About a 10 minute walk to Disneyland. A decent inner courtyard pool if you're interested in that.

I am guessing you are just renting the car the day you leave Anaheim? Don't really need a car their otherwise- I think the outlet is a little too far to walk, but you could easily catch a cab. I would also recommend stopping at the Crystal Cathedral for 15 minutes on your way to the Outlet. Pretty cool to check out.
Awesome thanks, good to hear that about the hotel. I expect it to be busy no matter what as the convention center and Disneyland are its neighbors, but as long as it is still a nice clean hotel that is ok. We are wanting to rent the car the night we arrive in Anaheim and keep it for the week.

The outlet mall I was looking at is:

http://www.premiumoutlets.com/outlets/outlet.asp?id=20

It is about a 2 hour drive from Anaheim along the coast, or a bit under 1.5 if we go directly through LA.. haven't decided that yet, would like to see as much of the coast as possible.

Seems far, but from my research it appears to be the best with the most amount of stores we want to hit compared to the others, again I would love any feedback here for people that have shopped the area. I was originally planning to stay in LA the first night and cut half our of the drive out.. but I don't like having all of our luggage/personal belongings on us and left in the car all day while we travel around.
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Old 02-03-2014, 11:09 AM   #4
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I am planning on renting a car, but it seems like you really get screwed if you return it at a different air port.
Not always true in the LA area..... you might want to check it out.
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Old 02-03-2014, 11:17 AM   #5
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We took the train from LA to San Diego and back and I know it stops in Anaheim. It's cheap and they have beer on board.
From the train station in LA it was about $30 cab ride to Holywood. Looks like you are doing spa inbetween Anaheim and LA/Hollywood but if you were going direct I'd definitely take the train.
Also once you are in Hollywood, you can probably get anywhere just by taking tour buses.
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Old 02-03-2014, 11:22 AM   #6
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Awesome thanks, good to hear that about the hotel. I expect it to be busy no matter what as the convention center and Disneyland are its neighbors, but as long as it is still a nice clean hotel that is ok. We are wanting to rent the car the night we arrive in Anaheim and keep it for the week.

The outlet mall I was looking at is:

http://www.premiumoutlets.com/outlets/outlet.asp?id=20

It is about a 2 hour drive from Anaheim along the coast, or a bit under 1.5 if we go directly through LA.. haven't decided that yet, would like to see as much of the coast as possible.

Seems far, but from my research it appears to be the best with the most amount of stores we want to hit compared to the others, again I would love any feedback here for people that have shopped the area. I was originally planning to stay in LA the first night and cut half our of the drive out.. but I don't like having all of our luggage/personal belongings on us and left in the car all day while we travel around.
Ok, I was thinking of The Outlets at Orange in Garden Grove. After looking at the store list though, it doesn't look that great.

Premium Outlets are always decent though- the north location in Las Vegas is anyway.
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Old 02-03-2014, 11:26 AM   #7
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Not always true in the LA area..... you might want to check it out.
So far Fox, Avis and Hertz all seem to be ok with me dropping it off at LAX, but I am unfamiliar with any of these companies... have you used any of them or can you recommend a company you have used that didn't penalize a different drop off location?

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We took the train from LA to San Diego and back and I know it stops in Anaheim. It's cheap and they have beer on board.
From the train station in LA it was about $30 cab ride to Holywood. Looks like you are doing spa inbetween Anaheim and LA/Hollywood but if you were going direct I'd definitely take the train.
Also once you are in Hollywood, you can probably get anywhere just by taking tour buses.
The train is a good idea, I like beer, and I like the tour bus idea as well. I won't be actively seeking opportunities to drive, as little as I can do the better. The reason I don't mind paying more for a hotel that is closer to Hollywood. However, given the amount of ground we want to cover, particularly the outlet mall and the spa, I think it would be hard for us to get away with not renting a car.
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Old 02-03-2014, 11:33 AM   #8
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So far Fox, Avis and Hertz all seem to be ok with me dropping it off at LAX, but I am unfamiliar with any of these companies... have you used any of them or can you recommend a company you have used that didn't penalize a different drop off location?
Yeah, I'm sure you know about Avis/Hertz..... honestly I just book with whatever is cheapest on orbitz or kayak.

The only caution I have for you is, Fox is sometimes a little bit farther then the rest to try and cut costs. So getting to the airport is a bit more of a pain.
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Old 02-03-2014, 11:34 AM   #9
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Have you checked out renting a car from Alamo? Last year I rented from the Fort Lauder-dale Airport and returned to the Orlando Airport and I didn't get any extra fee's. I'm not sure if States have different taxes for returning. Also, with renting a car, I always keep checking back on the companies website every few days for pricing. I cannot recall what days I found cheaper, but its kind of like airfare they keep adjusting. The nice thing with car rentals, you don't have to pay up front. I would find a price, make a reservation, than if I found it cheaper, cancel the one reservation and book at the lower price. Also check out coupon code sites, there is usually a code for a free vehicle upgrade or something like that.
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Old 02-03-2014, 12:13 PM   #10
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Oh, and we took an airport shuttle bus from the hotel in HW to LAX, worked out pretty good.
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Old 02-03-2014, 12:15 PM   #11
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This is quite helpful a thread. We are also planning a trip to California. We are heading there in June/July. 3 days in Lake Tahoe, 3 days in San Francisco, 1 day in Monterey/Cambria while driving to LA, 2nights in LA and then 2 nights in San Diego.

We are a few families together. Basically 22/23 year olds going to California with their parents.

I will be keeping a close eye on this thread. If I come across something great, will definitely add.
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Old 02-03-2014, 12:38 PM   #12
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I've been to L.A. a hell of a lot PLUS I have a few friends that live there, so if anyone has specific questions, feel free to ask.

Just off the top of my head:

Disneyland in a day - doable.
There are line jumper things you can get (go to a ride, grab a ticket that has a hour on it, then you come back at that time and you can skip the line). It's the best way to do it, so hit a few of those tickets first, then wait in line for a ride or two, then at that point you can hit 3 or 4 rides in pretty quick succession. Disneyland is fine in a day, especially if you're not crazy about rides. It's not actually THAT big.

Where to stay - avoid the strip.
If it were me personally, I'd chill near Anaheim and drive up to Hollywood or Venice. It's about 20-30 minutes without traffic, an hour in rush hour. Don't stay near the strip, it's just more run down than anything. It's nice to visit, but find somewhere else if you don't want to drive that far. Or as Duffman said, take the train. Anaheim is SO cheap to stay in, so I'd make it home base and travel from there.

Venice in October - don't expect much.
At this point you're getting into the "off season". The beach is still nice, but certainly not as nice as the touristy season. Lots of sketchy people and a little vacant at times, but still worth seeing. If it's the actual BEACH you're after, I recommend hitting Santa Monica instead. A little better, but still got that iconic SoCal vibe. That said, Venice never bothers me personally in the off season, but I find it to be a little concerning for some people.
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Old 02-03-2014, 12:46 PM   #13
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This is quite helpful a thread. We are also planning a trip to California. We are heading there in June/July. 3 days in Lake Tahoe, 3 days in San Francisco, 1 day in Monterey/Cambria while driving to LA, 2nights in LA and then 2 nights in San Diego.
CA-1 / PCH ? Driving from SF-LA over 2 days actually is a bit short... unless you take the 101. Be careful of long weekend traffic, could double your time if you time it wrong.

CA-1 is nicer then 101, stop by 17-mile drive in Carmel and Big Sur. (Also Santa Cruz too) Also you pass by Santa Barbara on the way (worth a day), then Santa Monica (worth a day, might be worth staying here since it will be a lot cooler).

WRT the post above... Santa Monica beach is still pretty packed, but the pier is kind of neat. Santa Barbara see's a lot less traffic. Not sure what you do at the beach, but if you want to go surfing and you are a n00b like me, UCSB has some good beginner waves.
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Old 02-03-2014, 12:47 PM   #14
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Interesting, thanks for the reply. I did not know that about Hollywood, I just assumed it would be nice to be close. Have you ever done the WB tour or attempted to get in on an Ellen taping?

If you wouldn't stay in Hollywood, and don't want to do the Anaheim commute, where else would you stay in LA?
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Old 02-03-2014, 12:51 PM   #15
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Interesting, thanks for the reply. I did not know that about Hollywood, I just assumed it would be nice to be close. Have you ever done the WB tour or attempted to get in on an Ellen taping?

If you wouldn't stay in Hollywood, and don't want to do the Anaheim commute, where else would you stay in LA?
Perhaps Westwood / UCLA? Just me personally, but its kind of nice being around campus as there is more of a young culture feel. Some of my favourite places to eat are around UCLA. Temperature is better (esp summer) around UCLA/Santa Monica.... if you are in the valley, temperatures sky rocket I believe.
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Old 02-03-2014, 12:52 PM   #16
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A few years ago, the wife and I flew to San Fran, rented a car and drove down the coast to LA and then up to Vegas. Flew home from there. It was a fantastic trip, but ended up costing a fortune. I believe we stayed in san fran for 3 nights, Monterey for 2, LA for 3, and Vegas for 3.

I was also just in San Fran for work for a few weeks. Love that city.
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Old 02-03-2014, 12:59 PM   #17
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CA-1 / PCH ? Driving from SF-LA over 2 days actually is a bit short... unless you take the 101. Be careful of long weekend traffic, could double your time if you time it wrong.

CA-1 is nicer then 101, stop by 17-mile drive in Carmel and Big Sur. (Also Santa Cruz too) Also you pass by Santa Barbara on the way (worth a day), then Santa Monica (worth a day, might be worth staying here since it will be a lot cooler.
Yes the plan is to take CA-1 for most of the way. Good call on the long weekend traffic. Will need to be good about our timings. If we do two nights, 1 night in Carmel/Monterey and 1 night in Santa Barbara is what you would recommend?

Our concern is we want to give time to the drive but don't want to eat too much into our stay time in the cities.
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Old 02-03-2014, 01:05 PM   #18
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Interesting, thanks for the reply. I did not know that about Hollywood, I just assumed it would be nice to be close. Have you ever done the WB tour or attempted to get in on an Ellen taping?

If you wouldn't stay in Hollywood, and don't want to do the Anaheim commute, where else would you stay in LA?

Never done the WB tour, not much into that so I can't help you there but most of those tours run pretty often with enough space to fit you in. Ellen will likely be tough to get into, but I believe there are usually tickets at the door, so if you don't get them in advance just line up super early.

As for where to stay, what's the general budget per night if you don't mind me asking?
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Old 02-03-2014, 01:08 PM   #19
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My wife and I just went to Anaheim for our honeymoon in the same week this last October.

We got lucky and had a Flames game be scheduled in the Honda Center while we were there. Don't count that out, especially with Anaheim/LA in the same division as Calgary now.

Also, this may seem like a weird recommendation but if you only have one day to spend in the Disneyland resort area, I would recommend California Adventure over Disneyland proper. It's smaller (as in closer together, comparable amount of things to do/see), the rides are much better and more exciting, and the shows are excellent. We would typically be tired of the crowds, huge amounts of walking, and mostly kid-oriented rides in Disneyland by about 3 or 4pm.

Our day in California Adventure was excellent though. The rides are awesome (a full rollercoaster, long and very well done rapids ride, tower of terror) and the shows were fantastic. We saw an hour long Aladdin musical that was terrific and the World of Color show they do every evening is a must see.

It would pain me to miss out on Splash Mountain but California Adventure was a better experience for us.

EDIT: Forgot to mention that the food in California Adventure is way better too! Plus, you can get beer.
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Old 02-03-2014, 01:09 PM   #20
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Yes the plan is to take CA-1 for most of the way. Good call on the long weekend traffic. Will need to be good about our timings. If we do two nights, 1 night in Carmel/Monterey and 1 night in Santa Barbara is what you would recommend?

Our concern is we want to give time to the drive but don't want to eat too much into our stay time in the cities.
Yeah that sounds about right. Santa Barbara is probably worth a good half day, lets you spend a bit of time in Santa Monica on your way to LA downtown? (though its only like a hour drive from LA to Santa Monica anyways, depending on time of day of coarse)

Check out groupon/living social/travelzoo/etc for deals on hotels.... tons of stuff there.
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