I took my eldest daughter Faith on her dream Southern California adventure for her senior trip without doing any driving! Out of all the possibilities, she chose California because it was a place she had never been, and she is a lover of theme parks and theater; we both are!
Embassy Suites Anaheim South graciously discounted our hotel stay, and some of the attractions we visited provided us with complimentary media tickets. I received no monetary compensation, and paid for additional expenses myself. As always, all opinions are my own.
So easy to take a Southern California trip without driving!
As I began planning our trip, I knew I did not want to drive in the infamous Southern California traffic. If you are like me and fear driving in Los Angeles area traffic, then keep reading to see how easy it is to get around to the area’s most loved attractions without having to do any driving. We flew into California and made use of all the transportation available without having to even rent a car!
Where to stay?
While the first attraction on my daughter’s list was Universal Studios Hollywood, I soon saw that most of our days would be spent in an around Anaheim and decided this area must be the base for our adventure.
Embassy Suites Anaheim South!
My first choice for accommodations was Embassy Suites Anaheim South! I stay at Embassy Suites as often as I can when I travel. It’s always a wonderful experience. With two room suites, there is so much room to spread out and feel at home.
Waking up for breakfast is easiest at Embassy Suites. I always look forward to the made-to-order omelets, and extensive array of breakfast foods.
Faith and I loved our quiet breakfasts in the beautiful atmosphere of the Embassy Suites Anaheim South courtyard and left for our adventures each day feeling energized.
We always tried to make it back for the evening reception of complimentary appetizers and drinks. Then we would retire early over a little entertainment and get up and go again the next day. It was the life; I tell ya!
Location, location, location
The Embassy Suites Anaheim South is only 1 mile away from Disneyland Park, Disney California Adventure Park, and Downtown Disney! Now that’s walking distance! If you want to save your feet for the day at the park though, Embassy Suites Anaheim South offers shuttles to and from the Disneyland resort area for $6 per adult and $3 for kids ages 3-9 for a one day pass.
An Uber to the Disneyland Resort area from Embassy Suites Anaheim South ran about $6 each way, so if you are traveling with four people and don’t intend to go back and forth at all through the day, you might save a little that route. With just two of us, I loved having the included option to make trips back to the hotel if we wanted to, and the shuttle was so convenient!
What to do in Southern California?
It was our first time to visit the Disney parks in California. We were most excited to see “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge” that is now open at Disneyland. Arrive early! We were there about 45 minutes before the park opened and loved getting to experience the park opening ceremony. We walked on 5 attractions in the first hour and a half before the park was crowded. We were so glad we did, because even though we went on a weekday that was predicted to be low crowds, later in the day it was jam packed with people.
Disney California Adventure Park
Disney California Adventure Park was a surprise! We loved this unique Disney Park and rave about Cars Land! Radiator Springs Racers was one of our favorite attractions. Such a spectacular experience to immerse yourself in the movie “Cars!” We also loved Guardians of the Galaxy Mission Breakout and Frozen at Hyperion Theater! If you’re going to Disneyland, take the time to experience Disney California Adventure Park too. You won’t be disappointed!
Knott’s Berry Farm
I’ve wanted to visit Knott’s Berry Farm since I was a child, and it did not disappoint. Our day at Knott’s Berry Farm was wonderful start to finish. We loved the roller coasters, rides, shows, and of course the food! Read my full blog post here: Knott’s Berry Farm Theme Park
Knott’s Berry Farm was only about 10 miles from Embassy Suites Anaheim South. Our Uber over to Knott’s took 15 minutes and cost $14.46. The return trip took longer at 29 minutes but cost about the same at $14.66.
Universal Studios Hollywood
We arrived to Universal Studios Hollywood in the pouring rain, and guess what? I couldn’t have planned it this way, but it was the BEST day! We found out, that when it rains in California, people stay home. We walked on every attraction all day, and were even given free hot chocolate! If I had to do it again, I’d go back in the rain and do it all again. Huge fans of the Universal parks in Florida, we loved our time in California and especially enjoyed the Studio Tour and Walking Dead Attractions. Yes, I enjoy screaming and do it for fun!
As mentioned, the trip into Los Angeles for Universal Studios was our longest travel. In my research Uber/Lyft rides were about $50 in the morning, but doubled in the evenings. Instead, I reserved a round trip transfer for 2 to Universal Studios Hollywood from Viator for $76. We arrived at the park just after it opened and pick up was shortly after closing. The traffic there and back was scary, but I felt very safe with our driver, and I was so glad to be on this Southern California trip and not doing any driving! I was extremely pleased with Viator’s service! If you are traveling with 4, you might still save money in an Uber or Lyft that seats 4.
Pirate Dinner Adventure
Ahoy mates! Pirate Dinner Adventure is a blast and should definitely make your SoCal to-do list. It began with delicious appetizers as we waited, than preshow with pirates even zooming over our heads, and finally a wonderful night of food, fun, and laughter as we interacted with the show–great experience!
Pirate Dinner Adventure is located only 9 miles away from Embassy Suites Anaheim South. We took an Uber over and back for about $26.
The Outlets at Orange
During our week of theme parks, we planned a day to shop, and The Outlets at Orange was the perfect hang out for our day of rest. We strolled shops, went to a movie at the AMC, and snacked on our favorite foods. It was grand!
Only two miles from Embassy Suites Anaheim South, The Outlets at Orange was so convenient. We paid an nominal $10 round trip with Uber.
The above attractions made up my daughter’s dream trip, but there is so much more to see and do in Southern California! Tour Hollywood, spend days at the beach, go for sight seeing tours, see the San Diego Zoo or experience Sea World San Diego. All of these options are easily available through tours or transfers from Viator or StarLine Tours which happens to be located…just across the street from Embassy Suites Anaheim South. It’s so convenient!
If you are staying in Anaheim, John Wayne Airport is close. It is much smaller and easy to navigate than LAX and only about 22 miles away. I was able to find a great deal on our arrival tickets, and I was so glad I did. Our flight from Houston ended up being delayed, and we arrived much later in the evening than I had anticipated. It was so easy to request an Uber. I paid $25.91 for an easy transfer to my hotel in Anaheim.
Just to make things interesting, I booked our flight home through LAX! An afternoon Uber trip from Anaheim to LAX cost me $52.42 and took 48 minutes. If you plan an evening Uber to LA, plan to spend more time and money!
We had a blast on this epic southern California trip staying at Embassy Suites Anaheim South, especially since I didn’t have to do any driving! It was so easy, and I even saved money! My total cost for Ubers, shuttles, and transfers was $250 for the week! A rental car alone in the area would have been over $300. That doesn’t include the cost of gas that was double the price in Texas. Also keep in mind that most attractions, hotels, and even restaurants charge parking frees in southern California. I estimated I would have had to pay about $300 in parking fees alone! No more worries! Plan your Southern California adventure today!
robin rue says
I will have to keep this in mind. I love So Cal and would love to get back there some day.
melissa chapman says
That trip looks so amazing, and such a great idea to stay in that central location. I have never been to Disney but getting there early makes so much sense.
What a fun adventure. We’re heading to California next summer and I am so excited to be coming back!
Amber Myers says
So fun! I want to get here with my daughter! We want to do Disneyland, Universal, and the Warner Bros lot tour so we can see the Gilmore Girls set. One day, I hope!
The place looks so fun to experience! I bet my kids will enjoy a weekend exploring here. Soon, maybe!
Awwww Knott’s Berry Farm! We love it there! Can’t wait until we all get back out there for another family trip!
That looks like an amazing experience. I would love to go there sometime. Looks like such a great hotel too. It’s always nice getting a beautiful hotel.
Looks like a lot of fun! I’ve never thought about going to California, I live in H on the East coast and never ventured beyond here, but your post makes me think that I Must add this to my bucket list.
Terri Steffes says
I love So Cal but haven’t done any of the theme parks since the late 80s. I need to do them again! We hit Palm Springs as often as we can now, so this shouldn’t be too hard to do!
Its been so many years since I’ve been to Disneyland when we lived in California for a while after my dad left the Navy. I would love to go back and thanks for the suggestions.
I have been wanting to go to Cali with my friend for a girls trip. I will save this for when we start really planning it out!
We’ve been talking about making a trip to DisneyLand. We have even discussed going without the kiddos. My husband most looks forward to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Mama Maggie's Kitchen says
Oh wow! This sounds really fun and enjoying! I would love to have this kind of trip, too! Hope you had a wonderful time.
Yes visiting southern California with friends will be fun . It has been while I visited there. I would love go some time again.
Looks like you had an awesome trip. It is so nice to be able to find a place you can stay and do day trips. Sounds like there was no shortage of things to do.
I love the idea of doing Southern Cal I was out driving. I’m not a fan of City traffic