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Trip List by MrsMac2000

First trip to california from UK travellers!

15 Oct 2006  First time trip to California, our advice for first-timers!!!
3.5 of 5 stars based on 9 votes

LA, Vegas, San Francisco, drive down pacific coast back to LA, stopping at Santa Cruz, Carmel, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Manhattan Beach

  • 1. Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown Hotel

    First hotel in California. Good location for getting the metro, great hotel, great room, Queen size bed, comfiest bed ever!!!

  • 2. Universal Studios, Hollywood
    http://themeparks.universalstudios.com/hollywood/website/tickets.html

    Great day out, don't get there too early for breakfast as only Starbucks will be open! If we went again we would come out of the park to City Walk and have a nice lunch rather than grabbing a hot dog inside the park. Highlights; Movie tour was good, the guys on the Special effects section were very entertaining! enjoyed the Shrek 4D, Backdraft tour was interesting, the Back to the Future Ride was quite scary for a softie like me - don't go on this if you've just had your lunch!

  • 3. Rodeo Drive
    http://www.seeing-stars.com/Shop/RodeoDrive.shtml

    Great street for people and car watching!! Some serious money spending going on!
    Two Rodeo drive is a lovely little street just at the end of Rodeo Drive. Stop and grab a coffee and watch the world go by. Have lunch outside at the Beverley Wiltshire hotel, fab food and not too expensive considering the location. We shared a burger and it was plenty for two for lunch. Walk upto the beverley hills Hotel afterwards and look at all the fab houses on the way. You can catch a bus from there back along Sunset Strip into downtown.

  • 4. EL Capitan Theatre, Hollywood
    http://disney.go.com/disneypictures/el_capitan/

    If you can try and watch a film at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, fabulous theatre, we were really lucky when we went and we watched The Guardian with Kevin Costner. They had all the movie props on show in the basement. Be warned the film starts ON TIME!! this might be standard for the US but back in the UK films never start until at least 20 minutes after the start time!

  • 5. Grauman's Chinese Theatre

    The Chinese Theatre is beautiful, we didn't get chance to go inside but it's worth a visit just to look at the stars foot and hand prints in the entrance.

  • 6. Micel's Restaurant, Hollywood
    http://www.micelisrestaurant.com/

    we stumbled across this little Italian after a very busy first day in Hollywood, what a delight! The decor was warming and cosy, empty bottles of Chianti hung from the ceilings with quotes from visitors, food was fantastic - we both had pasta - HUGE portions (welcome to the USA!!) the waiters\waitresses were all singing opera which came as a bit of a surprise but a nice one nonetheless!!

  • 7. New York - New York Hotel and Casino
    New York - New York Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada
    CHECK RATES!
    Avg price: $186

    Fab hotel! First time in Vegas and we were not disappointed! Really enjoyed our stay at this hotel, our room was in the Century building. Not that big but clean and modern and we couldn't hear the ride from inside the room (don't let other reports put you off!)
    The hotel itself is great fantastic inside, with it's scaled down version of the Big Apple, Greenwich Village, restaurants, bars, we ate in Chin Chin which was lovely but service was a little too quick (still eating starters when the mains arrived!)
    you must have a drink in the Times Square Bar with the duelling Pianos - great fun and sing-a-long!
    Perfect location on the strip, we would definitely stay there again.

  • 8. Vegas - first time travellers advice.

    Here's a little advice from a first-time traveller's visit to Las vegas!

    The place is wild - loved every second of it!!
    AIRPORT - we jumped on one of the shuttle buses - big mistake - we were the last but one to be dropped off so we went via every hotel (now we didn't mind it too much as we got to see a little tour of the strip but if you've been before just get a taxi!!)

    STAYED: We stayed at the New York, New York hotel - wonderful location. great hotel, very cosy feel to it, we went in quite a lot of the other hotels and this to us really did have everything, great atmosphere, bars, restaurants, coffee shops and a pool.

    Other Hotels:
    Breakfast at the Rainforest Cafe at the MGM.
    Mamma Mia - at the Mandalay - don't worry about getting seats in the higher bit of the theatre - you can see really well and the tickets are much cheaper (we got our tickets from the 'cheap tickets' office half way up the strip - worth looking around as these were only $40 each (approx) - half price than normal.
    Bellagio - go in just to see the reception - beautiful flowers, pool looked amazing too.
    Ceasars Palace - looked fabulous - the pool looked out of this world - would consider staying there for the pool alone! Also the Forum shops were pretty good.

    Aladdin - shops and theme was great - can't believe these hotels have so many shops with them!
    Paris - loved the outside - we ate at Mon Ami Gabi (BOOK - we had to wait so went up the tower while we were waiting!) by the way - go and watch the Bellagio fountains from up there at night - you get some great views and it's worth the queing!

    Grand Canyon - you must go and visit the canyon, we went with Sundance helicopter tours and it was worth every penny - the helicopter trip to the canyon takes 1.5 hours each way, half an hour when you get there, take lots of pictureds and try and sit in the front of the helicopter if you can for the best views. The canyon is awesome - I really was dumbstruck - and that's saying something!

  • 9. San Francisco
    San Francisco, California

    First time to San Francisco...we stayed in union Square at the Chancellor Hotel (OK, needed updating!!) but perfect location. Advice - buy a one day pass if getting on the cable car - $11 (as opposed to a single trip of $5) but allows you to use unlimited cable cars, trains (Bart) and buses all day.

    The best way to actually view San Francisco is to take the cable car from Union Square which goes past Lombard Street (crookedest Street) finishing at Fishermans Wharf.

    Walking - HA HA, San Francisco - is NOT for the faint-hearted!! There are some serious hills there so take sensible walking shoes if you plan on doing a lot of walking.

    Fishermans Wharf - don't be put off by the tacky shops - there are some great restaurants (there are two Italians right at the beginning of the stretch which were fabulous) and Pier 39 is well worth a visit. Lots of shops, restaurants and SEALS! There were tons of them at the end of the pier which is a great sight to see.

    Hop on a ferry to Sausalito for great views of the bridge. Sausalito is a beautiful, small town, located on the Bay. great views on the way back of Alcatraz.

    One great bar we stopped in was the Belden Taverna (52 Belden Place) the bartender was superb, we only went in for one drink but he kept us entertained and we ended up staying for quite a few!! Lovely atmosphere.

    Golden gate Park is BIG!! You really do need a car to get around it, the Japanese gardens were beautiful and the Butterfly conservatory was worth a visit, we also found Hippie Hill (where they had concerts in the 70's ...apparently!!)

    I would be tempted to hire a car so that you can get around a little bit easier although it really depends on your itinery.

    For Breakfast you must go to Loris Diner - we went to two, one on powell Street and one in Ghirardelli Square, staff were wonderful and the food was prett good too! Certainly set us up for the day! Advice to brits - don't bother with tea - always get the coffee!!

  • 10. Lori's Diner at Powell St and Girardelli Square

    For Breakfast you must go to Loris Diner - we went to two, one on powell Street and one in Ghirardelli Square, staff were wonderful and the food was pretty good too! Certainly set us up for the day! Advice to brits - don't bother with tea - always get the coffee!!

  • 11. Santa Cruz
    http://www.bestwesterncalifornia.com/hotels/best-western-all-suite-inn...

    we stayed at the Best Western All Suite Inn on Ocean Street. from the outside not so nice, from the inside the room was great, we had a really large room with a full size TV and sofa and a separate bedroom. Avoid the breakfast though - not nice!!! Stick to the toast.

  • 12. Santa Cruz

    Santa Cruz itself is a strange old place, the beach is really lovely and the Boardwalk is worth a trip to - however it has quite a tacky feel to it with all the rides. great if you had kids and nice to wander round for an hour. A short walk to the pier though is worth it. Go right to the end and look down one of the platforms - you will see loads of seals.
    Santa Cruz town is really nice, quite hippy and studenty - some great shops and lovely little coffee bars. well worth a visit

  • 13. Wayside Inn
    Wayside Inn, Carmel, Monterey Peninsula
    CHECK RATES!
    Avg price: $309

    Fantastic Inn. very charming, our room was on the second floor which had a really nice balcony. The room was decorated very nicely and breakfast was delivered in a picnic basket which was a nice touch. The staff were very pleasant and helpful. There were lots of shops and restaurants within walking distance. Carmel is a beautiful town and we will definitely visit again. The beach is beautiful - if you can stay for the sunset - there were lots of people doing the same thing. We were disappointed that we had only booked one night here as would liked to have stayed another day.

  • 14. Madonna Inn
    Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo, San Luis Obispo County
    CHECK RATES!
    Avg price: $228

    This is a mad hotel - it is like something out of a movie!! I would highly recommend a stay here. The rooms are really over the top but we had a great room (182 - the Long & short) lovely view from windows... The restaurant is something else - the food was excellent and it was overall a great experience

  • 15. Best Western Pepper Tree Inn
    BEST WESTERN PLUS Pepper Tree Inn, Santa Barbara, California
    CHECK RATES!
    Avg price: $211

    Lovely hotel - great area in the courtyard with swimming pool and sun loungers. Nice large room with 2 beds. Clean, tidy comfortable, easy to park.