Booking a Family Holiday to LA Tips

by Katrina - The Organised Housewife

I’m soooo excited, this time next week I will have our bags packed and ready to travel on our big family holiday to America.  We are flying into Vegas, then Lake Taho, San Fransisco, LA then Hawaii before heading home a few days before Christmas. It has been my dream to go to Disneyland since I was little and I am so excited that I will finally be ticking it off my bucket list!  I’ve wanted to take the kids, but our preference was to take them when they were a little older so they can remember it.  They are looking forward to Universal Studio’s more than Disneyland, but I am sure both will be magical!  When I was planning our holiday I asked the Facebook community if they had travelled to LA and what were some of their best tips for booking a family holiday there. So, here are our reader’s top tips for booking a family holiday to LA. If you have any more tips, please leave them below I’d love to read them before we go away.

As you may know, my family and I will be travelling to America this year! Here are some tips my readers suggested when booking a family holiday to LA.

Places To Go

  • Highly recommend the hop on hop off buses to get around and a must do is Santa Monica, it is beautiful. – Chantelle
  • The grove and farmers markets are great. Get on the hop on and off bus tour on Hollywood Blvd right outside Gruman’s Chinese theatre. – Melanie
  • Check out La Brea Tar Pits. AMAZING archaeological site in the middle of LA = you can see them actively digging out mammoth bones etc. Look it up, it’s a hidden treasure. – Sarah
  • If u get a chance to drive to vegas the drive is amazing and the outlets in Primm are a must. – Angie
  • Personally, I wouldn’t stay at Disneyland. Any of the properties opposite the main gate on South Harbour Blvd are great and much cheaper.

Accommodation

  • Do your research. Look at websites like TripAdvisor to check out hotels and places to visit. Look at what people have said (good and bad). – Judy
  • We booked accommodation in New York, LA and San Francisco but mostly we just drove along and found places just off the highways. We asked the prices first in most places. They are so generally cheap compared to Australia. Wifi and breakfasts are usually included. For a family it might be different though!! – Wilma
  • Hollywood Orchid Suites was best value family accommodation when we travelled years ago. Good location to Kodak theatre and Walk of Fame and as a base to do day trips to Hollywood sign, Santa Monica, Universal Studios. We had planned to stay at Anaheim the whole time but found it too far and so split accommodation for Disney party and then more Hollywood stuff. – Kimberley
  • Rodeway Inn on West Hollywood Blvd – cheap, safe, close to Kodak theatre and stars on the side walk- a bonus for US hotels – a fridge in the room! Mels Diner, I hop and others within walking distance. – Kelly
  • We stayed at Homewood suites in Anaheim. Food is included and it’s about 2 minutes from Disneyland. You can get a self service apartment with separate bedroom for two weeks for the same price as two nights at a Disney hotel  – Misty
  • Stay at Magic Castle. It’s the best for families!!! – Samantha
  • We did 2 nights at Disneyland hotel although quite expensive it was an unforgettable experience but any hotel round Anaheim should be fine depending on budget. We did 3 nights at W Hollywood hotel, the hotel was gorgeous but personally I’d stay in Santa Monica next trip and 3 nights were plenty for us. – Angie
  • Stay at the Howard Johnson hotel. Cheaper, has a water park. You can see the fireworks and is in walking distance to Disneyland – Michelle
  • We have also stayed at Beverley Garland Holiday Inn near Universal Studios which is family friendly and has free transfers up to Universal Studios. – Loryn

Disneyland/Universal Studios Tips

  • Make sure you allow time to visit Disneyland and California Adventure park. They are both Disney but right next to each other. Both are awesome. And also visit them at night as well. – Kelly
  • Universal studios was amazing. We did a vip tour which is a private group. Exxy, but well worth it, we saw all the park and got straight onto rides as you get first dibs on the ride. Also you get a buffet lunch instead of just the fast food options. And you get to do a studio tour there as well. – Kristy
  • You need at least 4 days for Disneyland. – Chantelle
  • We haven’t been but are planning to go in the next couple of years. I have been doing research and Howard Johnson right next to Disneyland is apparently great! Also found if you are planning to go to a few places, the city pass can save you $. – Crystal
  • We loved eating at Denny’s and IHOP. I would recommend more than one day at both parks. They are very busy no matter what time of the year you visit. Tax isn’t included in any of the prices and tipping is expected. – Michelle
  • Get a 5 day hopper pass so you can come and go from both parks anytime you like. – Misty
  • Do the photo pass wristband – great value. – Loryn

Travel Tips

  • Get a US Sim Card (I have always used AT & T, last one I bought on ebay before I left) with data google maps will get you everywhere. Or install a GPS (Like CoPilot) on the iPad or iPhone with the data loaded then no roaming fees and cheaper than hiring one. The iPad needs to be a sim capable of iPad to do GPS, but need not have the sim card in it. Then there are no nasty roaming charges.  – Jillian
  • Just remember you need to add taxes and tip on everything. – Jo
  • Keep lots of $1 and $5 notes handy for tipping. I put these notes in a separate part of the wallet so as not the mix them with the higher denominations which are all the same size. – Rachel
  • Small notes for tipping (tipping is not required at Disneyland & not much at Universal Studios) if buying meals almost anywhere, they are huge, we fed our family with 1 adult meal for us and 1 kids meal for our 2 girls. Lots of ideas around for research. For international travel I highly recommend as good travel agent just to make sure your have all necessary documents etc. Travel light if possible. – Loyrn
  • Sixth car rental was great and by far the cheapest we found when we hired a car for a month while we were there. – Michelle
  • Front of line pass for universal studio was fabulous. No need to spend the ridiculous price tag for VIP. Organise a personal driver while over there rather than taxi as it is much cheaper. – Angie

What is your top travel tip?

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8 comments

Janette November 24, 2017 - 6:17 AM

There is a target near D Land go and get snacks
To save on some money eating at D Land
Is pricy. Vegas try not to eat at the hotels cheaper
To eat on the strip. If you want to go to any shows
go to the tix office on strip for cheaper tickets.
Have fun.

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Charmaine November 24, 2017 - 10:08 AM

USE travel cells or packs you can pick them up at Daiso in different sizes. Helps to keep organised in a suitcase!!

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Joanne November 24, 2017 - 10:44 AM

I love packing cubes, too. They keep everything much neater and more organised. I would love to hear your ideas for packing tips, Katrina!

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Tracey November 24, 2017 - 11:03 AM

With three kids it is best to get a two bedroom apartment. Howard Johnson and other hotels only allow 4 per room. On our first trip we tried to save money by staying in a hotel opposite the entrance to Disneyland. It was one room with two queen beds so our three kids (ages 4 , 6 and 7) shared one bed. With our suitcases open and things we bought everywhere there was just no space. We only had three days to do Disneyland and California Adventure Park which just wasn’t enough. We would go in at 8am and not leave till after the night shows. We were all exhausted and not sleeping well. It was a nightmare. If you are going to go all that way just spend a little extra to be comfortable. We went again and got a 10 day Disneyland pass, stayed a 10 min walk from the gate in a two bedroom apartment with its own kitchen. We took our time, went on every ride, saw every show and got photos with every Princess and character (My daughters autograph book is one of her most cherished possessions) . We often went in the morning to Disneyland, came back for a swim and rest in the afternoon and went back in for the night shows. So much better not being rushed. During our 10 days in Anaheim we also hired a car and went to Universal Studios, Venice Beach, Hollywood Boulevard, Santa Monica and the Outlet Shopping Center (Great shopping). We booked a lot of our trip through Expedia.

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Susie November 24, 2017 - 11:48 AM

There’s a restaurant in Santa Monica called True Food Kitchen – which has ‘real’ food. We ate there twice it was so good. ‘Fast passes’ at Disneyland are the go. Send hubby to the machine to get Fast Passes while you go on other quick rides. The Fast Passes get you in a quicker queue (within a certain time). Sounds complicated but you soon get the hang of it. We went in their winter and there were still queues, but it wasn’t too bad. Have a ‘Charades’ game on your phone to play in the queues. The Cars ride, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Hollywood Tower of Terror were our faves… The Hollywood area (in my opinion) was grungy, dirty, drug addicts (scary with kids) and so not worth it (Although I did locate Hugh Jackman’s star and lay on the footpath to have my photo taken with it!). Santa Monica much nicer.

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Tracy November 25, 2017 - 6:40 PM

We desperately want to go back and finish Disneyland…8 years after being there we still all pine for going back!
We stayed at Howard Johnson, and ate at Mimi’s Cafe across the street for dinner – we only needed 3 meals between 5 of us. They have bottomless drinks and free bread on the table. We bought cereal in single serves and milk at the hotel’s little store (they don’t have a dining room at HJ) for breakfast. We had a room with 2 queen beds and had them provide us with a foldaway bed and the room was plenty big enough for that.

We did an LA City Bus Tour, and then the ticket price included a half day at Universal Studios. It was a great tour. We learnt so much about LA.

If I had my time over I would arrange for early check in at the hotel and have the family take a two-hour nap on arrival. We really didn’t sleep that much on the plane on the way over, and we arrived at 8am LA time. Having a two hour nap would have kept us going. I was a bit of a Nazi about getting our bodies onto local time. If we needed a nap in that first 24 hours I allowed every two hours and then I MADE them all get up. We got over our jet lag pretty quick, but we did sleep very solidly at night LOL. We had to put the “do not disturb” sign on our hotel door so they would let us sleep without waking us up!

Have the BEST time. I am so excited for you and your family, and can’t wait to hear all about it when you get back.

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Julie November 25, 2017 - 7:23 PM

Excellent ideas everyone, would have been better 2 months ago! Only just got back from 2 weeks in those places. There is always another time. Best tip from me is get the prepaid visa card that is on the reverse of a Velocity frequent flyers card, it’s free and no cost to upload if using the transfer choice.

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Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid November 26, 2017 - 10:38 AM

Packing cubes, a US Sim and always carry a portable mobile charger! I’ve put all my favourite Disneyland and San Francisco tips on the blog (The Annoyed Thyroid) Have the best time! PS Download the Disneyland app, it’s ace!

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