Disneyland California and West Coast Trip Reports Trip Reports

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Old 23 May 22, 09:55 PM  
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Excited about Disney
Join Date: Jun 13
California April 2022 Family Road Trip Report

✈️ San Francisco 🚙 Monterey 🚙 Cambria 🚙 LA 🚙 San Diego 🚙 Disneyland 🚙 Gilroy 🚙 San Francisco ✈️ with 2 adults & 2 kids (10 & 7) - April 2022 (2 years later than planned)


18 days 🌁
17 nights 🌉
7 hotels 🏨
1250 miles 🛣️
300k steps 👣
3900 photos 📷

We have not long returned from our 17 night road trip which was delayed from April 2020 and thought it would be useful to share our itinerary and what we did as I got lots of tips, ideas and help from this forum. We were there from 6th - 23rd April then we flew home overnight getting home on the 24th. I was last in California way back in 2001 so I was looking forward to seeing San Francisco and San Diego again and the coastal drive.

Day 1: Travel Day, Edinburgh to San Francisco
We flew from Edinburgh to San Francisco via Dublin which meant we did pre-clearance there and didnít need to go through immigration in SFO. We got an uber to the hotel as we had brought the kids car seats with us then after we had checked in and had a rest, we had a walk to see the sea lions at Pier 39 and got a quick dinner at Applebees.

Kimpton Alton Hotel - 3 nights

Day 2: San Francisco
We borrowed the micro scooters for the kids from the hotel and then caught Muni bus no. 28 to the Golden Gate Bridge visitor center then walked back via the warming hut along Crissy Field then to the Presidio and visited the Walt Disney Family Museum. Afterwards we caught Muni bus no. 30 back to Fishermanís Wharf and went to Boudin for lunch. We had bought the one-day passport ($13) on the Minimobile app for all of us so we could also use the cable cars so we caught the Powell / Mason line at the turnaround and went all the way to Union Square then got the Powell / Hyde line back, got off at Lombard Street and walked back to the hotel from there. After enjoying a rest we got dinner at the sports bar in Pier 39, just something quick and easy as we were all pretty jet lagged and not really wanting to eat much.

Day 3: San Francisco
We walked round to Pier 33 to get the ferry to Alcatraz for our morning tour booking. We spent a few hours on the island then returned and took one of the street cars along the embarcadero to the ferry building to get lunch. Today we just bought the one-day pass for the muni without the cable cars ($5). We walked to the Salesforce Transit Center to visit Salesforce Park then into Chinatown via the Dragon Gate. The kids had a play in the Willie ĎWoo Wooí Wong playground then we visited the fortune cookie factory to watch them making the cookies and bought a couple of boxes. We caught a bus back to the hotel to catch the wine hour and have a rest before dinner. The plan was to try the food trucks at Fort Mason so we walked along there, taking the scooters for the kids again, but it was incredibly busy and each truck had massive queues so we just enjoyed the view and walked back via the Ghirardelli store before trying our first In-n-Out for dinner.

Day 4: San Francisco to Monterey
We picked up our hire car at 10am from the Avis / Budget office which is just across the street. It worked well as we could leave the cases at the hotel then were able to load it up outside the hotel once we had the car. The kids wanted to drive down Lombard Street so we did that then stopped at the painted ladies then the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps on our way out of the city. We took highway 1 all the way down the coast, stopping for fuel & McDonaldís on route at Pacifica, then went through the Devils Slide tunnel. We followed the coast then turned off at Davenport to get to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. We did the short Redwood Grove Loop Trail which was great to see the redwoods. From there we went down into Santa Cruz and when we eventually found parking we went to the boardwalk to have a go on some of the rides. We had to go on the Sky Glider and the Sea Swings then the kids had a go on some of the games. It was getting later by the time we left so we ate dinner at Pizza My Heart in Capitola before driving round to Monterey.

Portola Hotel & Spa - 2 nights

Day 5: Monterey
We had brunch at Crepes of Brittany just near the hotel then walked to the Aquarium via the old town and Cannery Row. The aquarium was pretty busy so there was a long queue to get in, but it took around half an hour then we were inside for over 3.5 hours. We walked back to the hotel via old fishermanís wharf then we picked up the car. We drove to Lovers Point and stopped but it was very windy when we got out with the storm on its way, but the kids enjoyed seeing their first chipmunk. We carried on past Asilomar before joining 17 Mile Drive which we followed all the way round to Huckleberry Hill. We stopped at a couple of places on the drive then we headed back into Monterey, stopping at Islands for dinner. We had an early start for whale watching the next day and since the weather didnít look promising, we got some sickness tablets in the pharmacy to take.

Day 6: Monterey to Cambria
We were up early to get to Moss Landing for our whale watching at 8am with Sanctuary Cruises. There was a storm incoming, so it was pretty bumpy and rough ride and we all got very wet. However, Sanctuary were great and I would definitely recommend, we got much closer to the whales compared to the bigger company boats we could see and we saw a lot of humpbacks. Afterwards we picked up some food for lunch then got on our way south on route 1. We stopped at Bixby Bridge, Pfeiffer Beach, McWay Falls then at the Elephant Seals along with a few other stops to just take in the view as well. We were glad we knew where to turn off for the beach as its not signed but the purple sand was worth seeing. The kids especially liked the elephant seals as there were so many to see when we stopped. We went into Cambria for dinner at JJís Pizza then enjoyed the pool and hot tub at the inn.

Sea Otter Inn - 1 night

Day 7: Cambria to LA
After enjoying the breakfast basket from the inn we packed up while the kids used the pool again then went for a walk down to Moonstone Beach. I really wanted to see some sea otters as the weather hadnít been so good while we were in Monterey, so our first stop today was at Morro Bay to see them at the nursery near the ĎTí Pier. We saw loads of them which was great so we watched them for a while then got on our way via Albertsons for some snacks. We took the 101 south and made the next stop at Ostrichland where the kids enjoyed feeding all the Ostrichís and Emuís then stopped briefly in Solvang for a wander before heading on towards Santa Barbara. We stopped and walked to Stearns Wharf and got ice cream and the kids then had a play on the beach. This meant we were arriving in LA after rush hour which good but did mean we didnít see much of Malibu in passing. It was getting late by the time we got near the hotel so grabbed a quick dinner on route before we checked in.

Beverly Laurel Motor Hotel - 3 nights

Day 8: Los Angeles
Today was Universal Studios. We knew we had to be there for opening so we left early and arrived right at opening time of 9am. We headed straight for the new Life of Pets ride which the kids loved and then to Harry Potter as we knew it would be heaving later. We had an early lunch as the park was busy and it was the best decision as food queues from 12pm were crazy. We managed most of the rides during the day and met some of the characters including Bart and the transformers. Think the only things we didnít get on was Simpsons and the Mummy but we did see all the shows. We ate in at Jonny Rockets in City Walk on the way back to the car then straight to bed once we got back to the hotel.

Day 9: Los Angeles
Today we had a reservation for the California Science Centre at 10.30am so we headed there for then. We had a good few hours looking at everything and the kids really enjoyed all the exhibits and seeing the space shuttle. We grabbed lunch there then got back into the car and went towards downtown LA. We made a quick stop at the stadium so my son could take photos of the Lakers statues for his friends then parked at the Grand Central Market. We took the Angelís Flight Railway up the hill then went to the Broad for our 4pm reservation. I enjoyed this and we even managed to be the last ones in to see Yayoi Kusamaís Infinity Mirror room which I was delighted about as I hadnít managed to get online tickets when they were released. We walked to see the Walt Disney Concert Hall before heading back down on the railway and grabbing donuts at the market. We went back to the hotel via Hollywood just so we could have a quick stop. We parked in the shopping centre then just showed the kids a few stars and handprints then the sign from the centre. We had intended to walk to the farmers market for dinner once we got back to the hotel but we were all exhausted from all the walking the last couple of days so we went to Swingers Diner under the hotel which was great.

Day 10: LA to San Diego (Good Friday)
We checked out the hotel this morning and went to the Eames House where we were booked on the 10.30am tour. I am an architect so had always wanted to see it and it was lovely to get to look around, even though its still just the exterior. We started the journey to San Diego and stopped at Westfield Mall in Culver City to get lunch and my son got himself a personalised LA Lakers hat from Lids. As soon as we got back on the road the kids fell asleep and slept most of the way towards San Diego. The trip was definitely catching up with everyone. I was navigating and intended to maybe stop in Laguna but I fell asleep too so we just kept driving. The road was very busy, we assume because it was Good Friday and a holiday weekend, so it did us a while to get to San Diego. We got dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings before we got to the hotel then the kids wanted some time in the pool.

Best Western Yacht Harbor Hotel - 3 nights

Day 11: San Diego
This was the only hotel that included breakfast so we grabbed something quick this morning then drove round to the parking lot at the USS Midway which was our plan today. We had bought the Go City 2 Choice Explorer as the zoo was planned for tomorrow and it made it cheaper this way. My husband used to be in the RAF so enjoyed all of the exhibits on the Midway as well as speaking to all of the volunteers that used to fly or work on similar carriers. We spent quite a few hours here and the kids completed the kids search and got their wings. We walked past Seaport Village as I had read the Easter Bunny would be there but the queue was massive, so we carried on to Kansas City BBQ for lunch, just simply for its connection to Top Gun but the food was quick and nice too. We walked back to Seaport Village and the bunny was still there so the kids got some pics then we had a shot on the carousel before walking back past Tuna Harbor park and the kiss statue. The kids wanted another turn in the pool so they did that before we went across the road from the hotel to have dinner at Pizza Nova, which was delicious.

Day 12: San Diego (Easter Sunday)
Today was zoo day. We got there for opening and really enjoyed our day and were still there at closing! We had read tips about the new childrenís area with the splash park so took the kids swimming stuff and did that last. We noticed on the app since it was a weekend they were doing rhino and giraffe feeding so we got tickets for them as soon as they were on sale. Each ticket is for 3 people so my husband the kids fed the rhino and I fed the giraffe with the kids. We had a go on the skyline but didnít use the buses round the zoo. I think we managed to see almost all the animals then the kids enjoyed the splash park later on. They have big toilets for changing after in the area which is good. We stopped on the way home at the Corvette Diner as we had seen it and thought the kids would enjoy it then it was home to bed after a lot of steps today!

Day 13: San Diego to Anaheim
This morning we didnít bother with the breakfast in the hotel so once we had checked out we went to Ihop for a pancake brunch. Then we went up to La Jolla and found parking on the main Coast Boulevard eventually which suited as we had only planned to be a couple of hours here. We walked as far as the cave store stopping at the childrenís pool to see all the seals then the cove with all the sea lions then we did also go down into Sunny Jimís cave. There were plenty of pelicans and cormorants to see too as well as lots of chipmunks. They were clearly used to people so kept coming up to us. We just made it back to the car in the 2 hours but wish we had had longer. We all said if we returned it would be nice to stay in La Jolla. Our journey to Anaheim didnít take long at all today and were at the hotel before 4pm. We had a booking in the kids pool area for 5.30 so once we had checked in we just took some time to relax. Tried to get an early ish night as tomorrow was our first day at Disneyland and the plan was to arrive for rope drop!

Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel & Water Playground Ė 4 nights

Day 14: Anahaim Ė Disneyland
We had a great first day at Disneyland. I was the only one who had been to this park before so it was all new for everyone else. The hotel is less than 10 minutes to the park which was perfect and made it easy to get there early. We managed 20 rides during the day, starting at rope drop to get to Rise of the Resistance and using Genie+ during the day which worked really well for us. We had drinks at Ogaís Cantina before lunch as itís the only reservation we could get then lunch later on at Alien Pizza Planet. We got some photopass photos in front of the statue then the castle since we had the Genie+ and got all of the ride photos as well. We got drenched on Splash Mountain later on so we had to go back to the hotel to get changed and have a rest before we got dinner at Dennyís then came park to the park to go back on Smugglers Run and a few other rides. We saw all the characters waving goodbye as we left the park.

Day 15: Anaheim Ė DCA / Disneyland
Day two and we were headed for California Adventure, a park none of us visited before. We werenít quite as early this morning but still managed rope drop and headed straight for Radiator Springs Racers. We loved it so much we went straight back on using the single rider line as both kids are old enough. Today we managed 18 rides and watched 5 shows including the Jamminí Chefs as part of the food & wine festival. We were able to use child swap for the Incredicoaster and Guardians as my daughter didnít fancy either of them. We tried a few snacks including churros and the bacon mac & cheese cones and got some angry dogs for lunch. We took an earlier break today back at the hotel to get changed and rest, ready for the evening. After a few more rides and meeting Mickey, we hopped over to Disneyland and ran into a surprise showing of the electrical parade which wasnít due to start until the Friday. It was pretty busy but we saw a few of the floats then did some of the rides we had missed yesterday. While waiting for Dumbo we got another surprise when the Disneyland Forever fireworks were also shown then it was home to bed via McDonalds.

Day 16: Anaheim Ė Disneyland / DCA / Disneyland
Last day in the parks today but we didnít rush for rope drop this morning. The plan for today was to do any rides we still wanted to do and meet some characters as my daughter felt we hadnít found enough yet and maybe also some shopping. We did a mobile order for the Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe from the hotel before we left and by the time we had got some photos taken at the entrance we were just in time. I got the raspberry macaron to try which was delicious. We only did 6 rides today but met 11 characters and saw loads more and fitted in some shopping including the droids the kids built. We started in Disneyland, hopped to DCA then back to Disneyland to pick up their droids from daycare! We managed to catch Mirabel, Miguel, Rabbit, Aurora, Donald in Disneyland then Daisy, Horace, Anna & Elsa, Raya and Lightning McQueen in DCA. We caught some of the night projections when we came back to Disneyland. We were checking out the next morning so did some packing tonight to make sure we didnít have much to do in the morning.

Day 17: Anaheim to Gilroy
Once we had finished packing and checked out, we drove round to the Grand Californian Hotel for our character breakfast. You can valet park as part of your reservation for 3 hours which was great as we didnít plan to be any longer. We were at Storytellers Cafe for the Mickeyís Tales of Adventure Breakfast Buffet. We really enjoyed it and had Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Chip & Dale. My daughter was so happy as we hadnít managed to get an autograph from Chip or Pluto or Minnie in the parks the last few days. Our server was lovely and kept checking on us, and they made sure we saw all the characters at our table. Every so often the characters danced round the room. We used up most of the cash we had left to pay then had a quick wander round some of the shops in Downtown Disney, we wanted to get our dog a gift and something for the neighbours children for looking after our gerbils. We bought a few things in the main store and a toy in the home store for the dog. We got the car back then got on the road. Our first stop was at Lake Hollywood Park so we could get a proper view of the sign and the kids had a play in the park. We left there about 1.45pm and got back to I5 and started the drive north. We made a stop for fuel, drinks and some dunkinís donuts near Tejon then drove most of the way up to Gilroy. My daughter wasnít that well as we got closer to Gilroy so once we arrived we went to the outlet mall to get some dinner for the rest of us first before checking in. We had dinner at Applebees which was fitting as our first dinner in California had been the same. The kids just relaxed while we packed before we went to bed.

Best Western Plus Forest Park Inn Ė 1 night

Day 18: Gilroy to SFO
We finished off the packing, then I wanted to have a look at the outlet mall before we left. I just went to a few stores as wanted to stock up on some bath and body works then have a look for a new wallet and bag. I got a wallet in Kate Spade and a new Coach bag which was able to be used as my second bit of hand luggage, mostly to carry one of the new candles I had just got and snacks. We took the 101 all the way to the car rental centre at the airport. We made a stop to fill up the car with fuel and got the kids McDonaldís as we werenít sure they would eat much on the plane. I also had a run around Target picking up some supplies to take home, like Pretzel M&Mís. We dropped the car off at 2.20pm and had to do a quick reshuffle of things as had accumulated 4 more bits of hand luggage (both of the kids droids, my new bag and a bag of things I had bought including Christmas decorations, magnets etc.) but we got everything sorted and got to check in. However, check in took forever and once we had gone through security we just went straight to the gate and it wasnít long until we got on the plane.

Day 19: Travel Day, Dublin then Edinburgh
The flight was an uneventful as you can imagine, we all got some sleep, but the food wasnít great. Once we arrived in Dublin, we had almost 6 hours until our connection, so we found a lounge with space and paid the Ä50 which was worth every penny. It meant we could find some seats and not worry about leaving the hand luggage, we got some food and drinks and think we all had a bit of a snooze too. Our flight back to Edinburgh was quick and as it was an internal flight it was quick to get to the baggage area and it wasnít long until we were on the bus to the car parking, our holiday well and truly over.


Flights Ė £2,521.64
Hotels Ė £2,511.39
Car Hire Ė £568.04
Tickets Ė £2,275.92
(Walt Disney Family Museum £61.15, Alcatraz £97.20, Whale Watching £219.28, Monterey Aquarium £127.69, Universal Studios 1 Day £383.52, California Science Center £8.79, Eames House £53.20, 2 Pass San Diego Ė Zoo & USS Midway £167.02, & Disneyland 3 Day Park Hopper £1,158.07)
Credit Card Ė £1,907.29
Total - £9784.28

Cash Ė $845
Revolut Cash Card 1 Ė $1,010
Revolut Cash Card 2 Ė $570
Total - $2,425
Disneyland {3}: July 91, Sept 01 & April 22
DLP {7}: April 93; May 96; March 04; Feb 14, Feb 16, March 17 & Feb 19
WDW {8}: July 94; July 96; July 97; Nov/Dec 06; Dec 09; Dec 10; Dec 13 & Nov/Dec 15
Hong Kong Disneyland {1}: May 2017

Edited at 09:06 PM.
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Old 23 May 22, 11:08 PM  
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Great trip! You packed loads in! Sounds like it was worth waiting for
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Old 24 May 22, 12:03 AM  
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Looks like you had a fabulous time, thanks for sharing.

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Old 24 May 22, 01:36 AM  
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Sounds like a fabulous trip. You managed to pack so much in.
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Old 24 May 22, 11:15 AM  
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Lovely photos
Kids look so happy in Disney 🤩
Love SF
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Old 24 May 22, 12:28 PM  
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Brilliant trip, thanks for sharing!
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Old 24 May 22, 12:38 PM  
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Originally Posted by kateb78 View Post
Great trip! You packed loads in! Sounds like it was worth waiting for
Thank you, yes I think it was definitely worth it and the kids being older was an advantage for sure!
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Old 24 May 22, 12:38 PM  
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Originally Posted by Andi View Post
Looks like you had a fabulous time, thanks for sharing.
We did thank you, would definitely recommend!
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Old 24 May 22, 12:39 PM  
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Originally Posted by disneypars View Post
Sounds like a fabulous trip. You managed to pack so much in.
Thank you, yes the 3 year time to plan meant i was able to keep changing things and think it all worked out!
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Old 24 May 22, 12:40 PM  
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Originally Posted by ClaireNJ View Post
Lovely photos
Kids look so happy in Disney 🤩
Love SF
Thank you, they loved it, and doing it at the end was good as was a great ending to come!
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