Have a blast at top attractions, sunny beaches, and other must-see family destinations in San Diego, Los Angeles, and The OC.
Trip length: 7 days
Total distance: 186mi/299km
SAN DIEGO. See wildlife from Down Under at the new Conrad Prebys Australian Outback exhibit at the world-class San Diego Zoo , then swing through the trees on the new Jungle Ropes Safari at the San Diego Zoo. Then visit Aquatica , SeaWorld’s new waterpark. Come nightfall, enjoy “Shamu Rocks” at SeaWorld San Diego , a multimedia show starring the park’s famous orcas. Water-taxi back to spend the night at nearby Paradise Point Island Resort & Spa . INFO San Diego Tourism Authority ; 619/232-3101
SAN DIEGO (29mi/47km; 35min). Glide around in rental sailboats at the 44-acre Paradise Point Resort, then head to LEGOLAND California, with thrill rides, fabulous LEGO structures, and a chance for kids to build solar-powered LEGO cars. If you’re pining for a kid-free night out, consider one of Paradise Point’s onsite eateries, ranging from casual Mexican fare to fine dining (childcare available at the resort). INFO San Diego Tourism Authority ; 619/232-3101
ESCONDIDO (34mi/55km; 40min). Let the kids feed lorikeets at San Diego Zoo Safari Park , then climb like monkeys on the park’s new rope course. Keep an eye out for a black-and-yellow blur at the Cheetah Run, where the carnivorous big cats hit 70 mph in four seconds flat. Now head north to Anaheim for dinner (endless options at lively Downtown Disney ) and a good night’s sleep before the next big day. INFO Visit Escondido ; 760/745-2125
ANAHEIM (84mi/135km; 1hr 26min). Get the day rolling with a swerve-and-zoom ride with the Radiator Springs Racers, the star ride in the new Cars Land at Disney California Adventure Park . Fuel up on classic burgers and shakes at Flo’s V8 Café. Catch the daily free entertainment along Buena Vista Street, capturing the look and spirit of 1920s Los Angeles, when young Walt Disney first arrived. INFO Anaheim/Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau ; 714/765-8888
ANAHEIM. Fluff up your little girl’s poufy outfits for a visit to the all-new Fantasy Faire, where Disney’s favorite princesses give hugs to all. Catch the all-new extravaganza in Fantasyland, “Mickey and the Magical Map.” Say farewell to the Magic Kingdom and head north to Universal City, home to Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Citywalk, a three-block-long outdoor mall with live entertainment, big-name shops, and dining. Call it a night at the adjacent www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/california/hilton-los-angeles-universal-city-buruchf/index.html')">Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City . INFO Anaheim/Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau ; 714/765-8888
HOLLYWOOD (36mi/58km; 42min. Climb aboard the mega-energy mega-ride, Transformers: The Ride-3D at Universal Studios Hollywood , with state-of-the-art HD-3D and flight-simulation technology. Take the Studio Tour for an entertaining look at Hollywood’s most famous back lot, or consider an even more in depth VIP behind-the-scenes tour, then return to the www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/california/hilton-los-angeles-universal-city-buruchf/index.html')">Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City for the night. INFO Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board ; 213/689-8822
LOS ANGELES (3mi/5km; 9min). Ride the hop-on/hop-off Red Line Tour’s distinctive double decker bus to hot spots throughout the area. Check out prehistoric history at La Brea Tar Pits , walk the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and see stars’ footprints in the courtyard fronting TCL (formerly Grauman’s) Chinese Theatre . For lunch, browse hundreds of food shops and stands at the massive Original Farmers Market . Loteria Grill offers a sampler plate with a dozen signature tacos on freshly made mini tortillas. INFO Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board ; 213/689-8822
For special discounts at many of these and other attractions statewide, get a CityPass , which also includes great deals on local transportation.