Planning a LA, San diego trip? Here are some suggestions.

There are three big parks in and around LA: Universal Studios, Disneyland and Seaworld. Apart from these, there are many attractions worth paying a visit. Here are some suggestions:

  • Universal Studios: Its is a theme park with lots of roller coasters rides, thrill rides, a tram tour around the famous Hollywood movie sets and much more. In my opinion, its a must see attraction for people of all ages. Keep a full day reserved for universal studios and try to arrive there right on time when the studios open. If possible, plan to visit here on a weekday as its lot less crowded and the wait queues for rides are much shorter. It is about 30 minute drive from airport and renting a car would work out cheaper. You can buy their tickets online at their website beforehand. If you are visiting on a weekend (or a long weekend), expect a lot of rush and buying a ‘Front of the line’ pass is not a bad idea (costs a few $$ more). If you have friends in any of the big corporates (like Google, Qualcomm, Microsoft), they can get you discounted tickets for 20-30$ less.
  • Disneyland: If you have kids, you better not miss out on visiting Disneyland. It will be once in a lifetime experience for them and they will love you for that.
    • It has two parks – Disney park and adventure park. Each park will need 1 full day to cover all the rides and be able to watch the fountain show in the end that happens at 9 PM. Adventure park is covered if you buy park-hopper tickets.
    • is a very very good source for Disneyland information, tips, deals, discounts at hotels in and around disneyland. Check them out for sure.
    • I got the best 3-day park hopper ticket from – much cheaper than all other sources incl. Costco, Corporate discount and Disney’s best deals.
    • Strongly recommend using RideMax. It’s a software that you can purchase (download/install from that uses an algorithm that forecasts wait time for each ride. I think it was $20 for 9 months subscription and it was worth every penny. For rides that typically had 45 minutes wait, I’ve had to wait just 5-10 minutes. Some rides I had zero wait period. Tip is to strictly follow the itinerary that ridemax tells you and not be tempted to do your own thing. Have faith in it, you will have short queues. It also exposes one of the FastPass loop-hole so you can have 2 fast-passes for some rides. Downside of fastpass is that you cannot plan for shows, parades etc. but if you use the schedule on their website to take scheduled break on ridemax for that duration, it should just work. So basically use RideMax in conjunction to park schedule for shows. Also, have atleast 2-3 itineraries with different start/end times as backup just incase you reach the park late.
    • If your hotel is close to Disneyland but not walking distance, see if they have shuttles.  The Anaheim Resort Transit (ART) shuttles come at most hotels every 20 minutes, very convenient. $4 for adults $1 for kids for full day pass, so you can use it between hotel and park as many times as you want in a day (esp. if you want to come to your room for a afternoon nap).  If you plan to take your car to the park, its $12 at the park, but some hotels like Ramada opp. the Disneyland offer parking for $10 (you end up walking same distance from parking to main park – so might as well save $2 everyday).
    •  Food, Water etc. is very expensive at the parks.  Consider buying outside and taking along.  They have lockers outside every park.
    • One of the biggest misconceptions people have about Disneyland is that they’ve “been there, done that” if they’ve visited either Florida’s mammoth Walt Disney World or one of the Disney parks overseas. But Disneyland, which opened in 1955 and is the only one of the parks to have been overseen by Walt himself, has a genuine historic feel and occupies a unique place in the Disney legend.
  • Seaworld: Situated in San Diego (1.5 hours drive from LA), this is one of the world’s largest marine life amusement park. You will need one entire day to cover the park. Shamu Rocks, Sealion show, dolphin playtime, pets show are not to be missed.
  • Legoland: It is about 45 hours drive from San diego. If you have kids and they love legos, you will love this place.
  • Hollywood: Visit Kodak theatre, walk of fame, Beverly hills, Hollywood Sign on hills. There are 2-3 hour local tours starting from right outside Kodak theater (for $30-$50).
  • San Diego Zoo
  • Beaches in San Deigo: Coronado beach, Mission Bay beach, La Jolla (pronounced as La Hoya)
  • Beaches around LA: Santa Monica beach, Venice beach, Newport beach, Lagoona beach, Huntington beach.
  • Cantalina Island.
  • Balboa park.

Here are some tips that can come in handy:

  • The weather around LA is usually on the hotter side. Check out the weather and try to dress your coolest.
  • Taking a rental car is a good idea. You will save a lot of money.
  • If you are planning to visit Universal or Disney, note that there are many rides which cannot be covered with kids (esp under 3 yrs old)
  • For authentic desi food, visit Artesia which is about 30 mins drive from LA. Feels like little India.
  • You may also want to look at package bus tours. They are a great value, given that a 6 day tour that includes hotel stays, amusement park tickets, travel by bus, tour guide, etc costs around 700$ per person. Many a time, they have “3rd person free when you buy 2 tickets” deal.
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