Coming to Los Angeles with my husband, 6 year old daughter and 3 year old son this summer! We have 1 week. We want to see Disneyland, Universal and the beach, but it looks really spread out. Ideally we don’t want to spend the whole trip in the car. Where’s the best area to stay?
I would recommend staying at multiple hotels since Disneyland is quiet a distance (especially with traffic and if you would like to go to the park for more than one day). The Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is so lovely and would be good just for a night (if you really wanted to experience Disneyland and California adventure its probably going to take 2 days with kids). For the beaches and Universal studios you can stay somewhere like Santa Monica (um Shutters On the Beach is soooo nice) which is relatively close to Universal (again, considering traffic conditions) and is right on the beach. The best times to drive in LA - even though theres really no prime time - would be anywhere from 10am - 3:30pm (and thats pushing it) so no matter what you are probably going to spend more time in the car than you wish. But don't worry, you can take the side streets if the freeways are jammed and really see LA culture that way! Oh and if you don't stay in Santa Monica, you must stay at another beach (like Malibu or Manhattan) for at least a couple nights to get the real California vibe going!
Good luck :)
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Hey Lori. I'll follow along with what Kristina said.
If you're going to do Disneyland, stay down there. Nothing worse than two exhausted little ones in the car for an hour driving back to LA. Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is really nice (from the lobby at least) and the location is perfect for Disneyland and California Adventure (it's a walk to both parks). Btw, you'll need a day in each park to see them properly. It's a waste of money to split time as well because you have to buy separate tickets for each park.
If you go to Universal Studios Hollywood i wouldn't recommend staying up there. I'd stay at the beach and make the drive up and back for the day.
Santa Monica is a central place to stay with a bunch of touristy things to see. But if you want to have a smaller town beach experience, come down to my hometown, Manhattan Beach. Best spot to stay is Shade Hotel since it's in the center of town and walkable to everything including the beach and Roundhouse Aquarium which the kids will like. Be warned, the hotel itself isn't a "family hotel" like Disney, in fact it's on the hip/cool side of things, but the location can't be beat. If you want to go a little further south and stay right on the beach, there is Beach House Hotel Hermosa Beach, but keep in mind that Hermosa is more of a party scene than Manhattan and might not be ideal for the little ones.
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