21st century road trip to Southern California

From museums to Mickey Mouse,theres something for the entire family on a road trip from San Diego to Los Angeles.


Got your seat belts fastened?

Got snacks, water bottles and most important, iPads to keep the kids amused?

The vast majority of us still vacation with our kids on road trips, AAA says.

And I can’t think of a better place for a road trip than Southern California—from San Diego to Los Angeles, with a few stops in between. 

 Why Southern California is a great road trip bet: The distance isn’t too great and  the trip has got everything you need for fun in the sun  from great eats—got to try a fish taco!-- beaches  to theme parks to museums.

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San Diego is home, of course to the World Famous San Diego Zoo, Sea World and in nearby Carlsbad, LEGOLAND  and the just-opened LEGOLAND Hotel that will be a hit for kids 10 and under who are LEGO lovers and Balboa Park  that is  home to 15 museums and performing arts venues  as well as the San Diego Zoo.  Here’s what I recently wrote about a visit there. (If you plan to hit major Southern California attractions, consider CityPASS that affords you discounted admission to four theme park, the San Diego Zoo and enables  you to bypass admission lines.)

Next stop:Anaheim with Disneyland and California Adventure. (Your little princesses will love the new Fantasy Faire where they can meet their favorite princesses while everyone who is a fan of the "Cars" movies will love visiting Radiator Springs at California Adventure’s Cars Land.)

After all those museums, attractions and theme parks, Santa Monica is a good bet for some R&R with its famous pier (ride the Ferris wheel or go fishing) miles of beach,  the chance to practice gymnastics right in the sand and shop till you drop on the pedestrian-only  3d  Street  Promenade where you might spy a celebrity or two. Visit The Getty Villa in Malibu(free)  with its ancient art and terrific kids programs.  ( I loved  the Loews Santa Monica for its beach front local a short walk from the Pier and its  Loews Loves Kids and Loews Loves Pets programs,  

Final Stop: Los Angeles and Hollywood. You might want to park and take public transportation cabs to avoid the maddening traffic!   Take your pick: Take in a baseball game, stroll down Rodeo Drive ( I recently stayed in the Montage Beverly Hills, where there’s a great view from where you’ll eat breakfast) compare your handprints to those of movie stars at  TCL Chinese Theatre  and then see how movie magic is made on the famous  Studio Tour at Universal Studios Hollywood,    Star gaze at different kinds of stars at the world-famous  Griffith Observatory and take in all of the art at LACMA, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  

You might see a celebrity or two at The Grove outdoor shopping mall because they may work nearby.  After you’re done gawking and shopping, stroll over to the famous Original Farmers Market  for lunch.

Have a taco for me.

Eileen Ogintz is the creator of the syndicated column and website Taking the Kids. She is also the author of the ten-book Kid’s Guide series to major American cities and the Great Smoky Mountains. The third-edition of the Kid’s Guide to NYC has just been released.