California Travel Tips?

I am in need of some ideas for inexpensive but fun ideas for a family of 5. My husband, kids (girls 5, 8 and 13) and I are trying to make a once in a lifetime trip to California. We will fly into Orange County, go to San Diego and try to drive back up the coast to San Francisco. I would appreciate any ideas for inexpensive hotels, entertainment or things of interest. Our budget is pretty limited, but we want it to be one they can remember.


Dee from NE

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By Kara (Guest Post)
March 5, 20060 found this helpful

I live in LA and would recommend that you try to stay in the Little Italy section of San Diego. It is within walking distance of the bay and the trolley line. Also, it's close to the San Diego Zoo which is a world class zoo. My husband and I have stayed at La Pensione in Little Italy on a few occasions- under $100 a night and clean. Motel 8 can be a good deal as well in CA. I would recommend taking the kids to the Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz on your way to San Fran. It's a place in the redwoods that seems to defy the laws of gravity. Good Luck and have fun.

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By holly (Guest Post)
March 5, 20060 found this helpful

My Mother and I went to california in 2002.
I had The time of my life, wanted to go to disney land.
Well, Never went.
But we did go up into the Los Angeles Mountains.


It was beautifull!!
They have some Huge pine cones there!! About 1 to 2 Foot. It was Great. By the way I was 40, My mom, 80.
We also went to Capistrano to see the barn Swallows come in. Like you say, It was once in a life time.
Take a good map, and take your time driving. and have fun. We sure did! : )
P.s In Los Angeles there is a place called the tar pit's, where dinosaurs were caught in the muck. didn't go ran out of time.
Have fun.

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By Tedebear (Guest Post)
March 6, 20060 found this helpful

Hi Dee,
You will want to take the "coast" road North to San Francisco. Just past Hearst Castle the elephant seals are on the beach. Your children will love the antics. Between Christmas and Valentine's Day the babies are born. Be sure to pack a picnic lunch! There are few places to purchase between Hearst Castle and Monterey.

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Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 174 Feedbacks
March 6, 20060 found this helpful

Go to the local AAA for their tour book and materials on California. Escondido is a place for low cost hotels, and a short drive to San Diego. In LA, there is a childrens museum downtown, the Mexican Pueblo de las Reines de Angeles, Japanese town, China town. In Hollywood is the Chinese Theater and Walk of Stars and weird shops. Pink's hot dogs is at Melrose and ???. Feed them all.


The Marina del Rey has boats and a park. Next, walk up anddown Venice Beach. Long Beach Harbor is an international harbor. Go north to the 118 and Laurel Canyon to see where the old cowboy TV shows (gunfights around rocks) were filmed.

San Diego Harbor for real warships and carriers. Stop to see the many missions along the way from San Diego to San Francisco. The priest's name was Juniperro Serra.

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By ElizaThorn (Guest Post)
March 6, 20060 found this helpful

As you drive up the coast from So. Cal, stop at one of the many beaches (my favorite is Pescadero) for tidepooling! Free fun that will keep the kids entertained for a while. You could even check out a tidepool animal guide from the library and have them find as many animals as they can.

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By Julia from UK (Guest Post)
March 7, 20060 found this helpful

If you only drive up the coast road, it will be worth the trip. I will never forget that drive (made in 1992). Enjoy the journey.

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By P. (Guest Post)
March 7, 20060 found this helpful

The Gene Autry Museum of the American West is a really neat place to visit. It is located in Griffith Park in LA. It has lots of different favorites included costumes from old Western movies, including some from Gunsmoke and the movie True Grit. A modest admission is charged, but you can get in for free on the second Tuesday of each month.


Griffith Park is a cool place to visit also. There is an observatory/planetarium, Travel Town train museum (free admission), the LA Zoo, two different trains that go through parts of the park, and numerous other attractions, many of them free.

Balboa Park in San Diego is also a neat place. It is near the San Diego Zoo and has lots of old Spanish-style buildings that were built for a World's Fair in the early 1900's. There are many museums, gardens, and lots of activities to do there...check out their website

Also in San Diego is the Cabrillo National Monument ($5/car) and has attractions, including an old lighthouse that can be toured. A statue of the explorer Cabrillo is located on a point of land where you can get a spectacular view of the ocean, San Diego city and all of the other sights.


A drive up the coast on the Pacific Coast Highway will lead you through many small coastal towns, some of which have not changed much since the 1950s.

Enjoy your trip!

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By (Guest Post)
March 8, 20060 found this helpful

San Diego has one of the greatest zoo and wildlife animal parks in the country, special discounts are sometimes available through AAA, AARP, etc. Also, there are several missions, museums, beautiful parks, beaches, SeaWorld, USS Midway museum. Write the Chamber of Commerce for more helpful info. Orange County has lots of interesting places to visit as well. Enjoy your trip!!

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Silver Post Medal for All Time! 364 Posts
March 14, 20060 found this helpful

When I was a kid, my parents would stay in a less expensive motel for 2 nights and a nicer one for the third night.
Have since come to discover that some of the nicer ones are the same price as those that you might suppose to be less expensive.


If you have memberships in AARP or AAA, always ask if there are discounts wherever you go.
I recently made a reservation at the Hampton Inn on the phone and was told no discounts available, but when we checked in, the clerk told me that AARP was accepted.
Also, contact the local Chamber of Commerce and ask if any discounts available in advance.

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By Dee (Guest Post)
March 15, 20060 found this helpful

Thank you all for your good information. I appreciate it!

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By elaine (Guest Post)
July 18, 20060 found this helpful

Whatever you do do not fail to visit the Nethercutt Museum in Sylmar (Los Angeles county) Admission if free but reservations are required. The telephone # is available from information. Rather than try to describe it, I urge to go there.
You wll not be disappointed.

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December 5, 20070 found this helpful

If you are really on a budget, I would consider camping. Some of my best memories of childhood were when my parents took me camping. Also, nature is pretty much free--enjoy the beaches, national parks, and other great natural resources California has to offer.

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