At the tail end of summer, we decided to fly down to Los Angeles for a week and take a road trip down the coast. We hadn’t planned any major traveling this summer so it was nice to getaway and plan some summer fun! And I’m finally sharing the trip with you guys – I know a bunch of you wanted to know our itinerary and where we visited!
Road Trip Itinerary
Day 1 | Santa Monica
We few into LAX and picked up our GetAround car, which if you haven’t heard of it, is a peer-to-peer car share/renting service. I love using Get Around when traveling because you can ALWAYS find much more car for your money. For example they let us use some really fun wheels for our SoCal trip, this Jeep Rubicon, that the kids lovingly nicknamed “Beep Beep”.
We picked it up a few miles away from the airport and then dropped it off at the same place before flying back home. We just made sure to fill up the gas to the same level it was when we picked it up. Another really cool part of GetAround is you can lock/unlock the car with the GetAround app! How cool is that? So when you go to pick it up, you just unlock the car with the app and the keys are stored inside. Then when you drop it off you just leave the keys inside and lock it up tight. And you’re good to go!
Day 2 | Universal Studios Hollywood
I hadn’t been to Universal Studios Hollywood since I was in high school. I had definitely been missing out! I was pretty ecstatic when we were gifted some Universal Studio passes to use! We had SO. MUCH. FUN. I think we timed our trip perfectly, as the kids were old enough AND big enough to ride all of the rides. Conrad is kind of a daredevil and he wanted to go on pretty much ALL thrill rides all of the time. We even did the Walking Dead Attraction!!! He just hit the 48″ mark, so he took full advantage. His favorite rides were Revenge of the Mummy, the Simpsons Ride and Transformers. Arden’s favorites were Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem and Jurassic Park. I was all about Olivander’s Wand Shop and Butter Beer (I had THREE of them in one day and I’m still craving them! The frozen butter beer is everything!) and pretty much anything in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Ryan was pretty excited about having a Duff at Moe’s Tavern 😉
Unfortunately, we saved the best for last: The Studio Tour but we had to leave early that day and we didn’t time it well. Which meant we DIDN’T get to do the Studio Tour, I was super bummed out, because it’s supposed to be AMAZING and pretty much the one thing recommended as a “MUST-DO“. So, needless to say, we’ll be back soon to go on it. Actually the fall season, is a really great time to to Universal. The crowds aren’t as big AND they have Halloween Horror Nights going on. I love anything and everything Halloween, so we might just have to take a quick trip in the next couple weeks!
I also recommend getting the Universal Express passes if you’re planning on doing Universal Studios in 1 Day. Now that I’ve seen the difference between having the Express pass and not, I’m not sure I’d do Universal Studios any other way. And the other item I’d recommend splurging a bit on, is the parking. We paid $50 to park at the front gate. I’m not exactly sure where the other parking tiers were located, but Front Gate Parking was exactly that, literally right outside the Front Gate. $50 totally well spent in my opinion!
Before we went, I was wondering if everyone dressed up like at other theme parks, but didn’t get a definitive answers. So what we did was pack a couple of Harry Potter glasses and Gryffindor ties to throw on and be festive. They were small and light-weight and easy to pack away when not needed. Most people that were dressed up, were wearing Harry Potter-themed accessories. Didn’t see many other character-inspiration, although personally, I think it would be fun to channel Marge Simpson…maybe next time 😉
Here’s our crowd-optimized itinerary for you guys to follow in case you’re interested! I did a ton of research on the best order to ride the rides to minimize wait times and this itinerary worked perfectly for us!
Universal Studios 1 Day Itinerary
Arrive at 7:30 – 8:00 for an 8:30am opening. Attraction visiting order:
- Ollivander’s Wand Shop
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
- Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem
- The Simpsons Ride
- Head down to the lower lot
- Transformers: The Ride 3D
- Jurassic Park – The Ride
- Revenge of the Mummy – The Ride
- Head back up the escalators
- Lunch – three broomsticks
- The Walking Dead
- Other Shows
- Studio Tour
- Revisit your favorites!
Day 3 | Disneyland
I talked about our recent day at Disneyland in this post! I was a little worried we wouldn’t be able to fit much in, but it ended up working out perfectly!
Day 4 | Laguna Beach
The quintessential California Beach town. Take some time to browse the boutiques and eats. Lots of fun to be had here. And of course, the beach is beautiful too!
Day 5 | San Diego Zoo
This was my first time at the SD Zoo and it was a great time! This is a huge zoo, so we didn’t get to see as much of it as I would have liked, but we all really enjoyed our time there. The Zoo is large, so wear comfy walking shoes. And I highly recommend doing the bus tour first thing!
Day 6 | Coronado Island
I booked our hotel on Priceline and just inputed the destination as Coronado Island. We ended up getting a hotel in Imperial Beach…which is definitely not in Coronado. It was a nice hotel and had a great pier and beach right in front of it with a couple of cute spots to eat nearby, but overall I wouldn’t recommend staying in Imperial Beach.
Day 7 | Del Mar
Great beach to hang out at and soak up some sun and surf! Also a perfect spot to get the kids some surf lessons. The Del Mar Race Track is also nearby and has lots of fun events going on.