Our 8-day family adventures in California include a quick tour of Los Angeles, 2 days at Disneyland, a visit to Yosemite National Park and a day and a half in San Francisco. The kids were 7 and 2.
This was our itinerary. Click on the links for more details.
Upon arrival at LA, we drove around Hollywood, Santa Monica Beach, and Beverly Hills.
At the Universal Studios, We went behind-the scene on the Studio tour, experience Earthquake, flooding, shark attack and more.
Visited the “Happiest Place on Earth”, enjoy numerous rides, meet Disney characters, and watch the Disney Parades.
Visited a California-themed park with Los Angeles’ Buena Vista Street, Hollywood land, Cars land and many more.
Find bargains at the Ontario Mills Premium Outlet.
Explored the giant Sequoia trees and the toured around the scenic Yosemite National Park.
Traveled to San Francisco and enjoyed fresh giant crabs at the Fishermen’s Wharf.
Cruised around the San Francisco Bay, under the Golden Gate Bridge and passed by Alcatraz. Drove around the 49-mile drive, stopping at various attractions like the Japanese Garden and Palace of the Fine Arts.
DAY 8: DEPART SAN FRANCISCO
Planning a trip to California
California is a big state. You will find Los Angeles and San Diego in Southern California, Yosemite and Santa Barbara in Central California and San Francisco in Northern California. To see most of the popular sights, you need to spend at least a couple of days in each city. To get highlights of each city, you can combine a few cities together. For the trip with my kids, I’ve considered several combinations including LA and San Francisco, LA and San Diego, LA and Las Vegas. Finally, I decided on LA, Yosemite and San Francisco.
For places to visit in Los Angeles, read Los Angeles City Guide.
For a family of 4-5, after comparing the cost of car rental, joining tours and taking public transportation, I found that the most economical and convenient way to travel is by car. My second option would be to take the shuttle from LA airport to Anaheim and stay at a hotel that provides shuttle service to Disneyland and Universal Studios.
For a smaller group, getting around Los Angeles and San Francisco by public transportation may be cheaper. There are also full escorted tours as well as hop-on-hop-off bus tours in each city. Disneyland is in Anaheim and it is about an hour from Los Angeles. There is a shuttle bus from the airport to Disneyland.
An important thing to note about driving to Yosemite National Park is that there is no petrol kiosk within the park. You need to fill up your petrol before entering the park. Also, you need to take note that tire chains are required when travelling between Oct and Mar.
If you are driving in San Francisco, consider following the 49-mile scenic drive. There are signboards to indicate the scenic driving route. Alternatively, join the hop-on-hop-off bus tour, or try the famous San Francisco cable car.
View San Francisco in a larger map
- Anaheim – As we planned to go to the two Disneyland parks, we decided to stay in Anaheim, near Disneyland Park. We were very happy with our hotel choice in Anaheim i.e. Anaheim Desert Inn and Suites, thanks to a recommendation from a friend. Not only was it conveniently located within walking distance to the entrance of Disneyland Park, we could also see the fireworks from the roof top deck! The hotel room was big enough to sleep 5-6 people with two big beds and a sofa bed. There were also other hotels near the entrance. Click here to see listings for accommodations near Disneyland.
2. Yosemite – There are several lodging options in Yosemite National Park to suit different budgets. We stayed at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls. Click accommodations at Yosemite National Park for listings. If you are looking for Family rooms with 2 bunk beds, go to the Yosemite Park website.
3. San Francisco – Once, on an earlier trip to San Francisco, I booked accommodations in the central business district in San Francisco. I thought it was a good location with lots of eateries, shopping and entertainment. I was wrong. It was busy during office hours, but in the evening, it was dead quiet. There were hardly any shops or eateries opened. I wonder if things have changed over the years. Nevertheless, I would not take the chances and would not book accommodations in that district again in the future. Good accommodations in San Francisco can be a bit pricey. If you have credit card or corporate discounts, use it. Click accommodations in San Francisco for listings.