Plan Your Best Legoland California Vacation!
It is possible that you are just now starting to consider a day or two in Carlsbad, or maybe a trip to Legoland is the main reason you’re coming to Southern California (it’s probably closer than the other 3 parks of the same name by, say, 5,000 miles). The question is how it should fit into the big SoCal vacation picture, and where should you stay?
If you are parents of small children (and you have no older siblings to entertain), then Legoland should perhaps be a fairly major part of your trip. Other theme park destinations you should probably consider are Disneyland, of course, and also Knott’s Berry Farm. Six Flags Magic Mountain and Universal Studios will not be as obvious for small children. Conveniently, Disney and Knott’s are closer to San Diego County, home of the Danish theme park.
The rides and attractions are more tame in Carlsbad, and that’s worth keeping in mind as you decide the order in which you’ll visit the theme parks. This is especially true if older kids are joining the little ones; a day on the strenuous Knott’s or Six Flags roller coasters may make Legoland coasters seem boring. So try and visit the wilder destination last.
Similarly, the magic of Disneyland could diminish the attitude of kids when subsequently going to Legoland (which is very nice, clean and visually striking–but it ain’t Disneyland with its charm, characters and budget). So visit the Magic Kingdom after Legoland if possible. This is not hard and fast, however, and may not be an issue for you. Just think about how your family will react.
You could make a great trip for younger kids (that parents would also enjoy) with trips to Disneyland, Knott’s, Legoland and some of the other San Diego attractions. If you bought a 2-day Parkhopper ticket for Legoland and the Sea Life Aquarium you could spread those two activities out over two days; in a pinch you could squeeze them both into a day.
One thing to consider is how much your family is into marine life. If that is something that y’all really love, then don’t rush–spend some time in the Sea Life Aquarium. Also, you will want to spend at least a full day at Sea World; put those two parks at the top of the priority list. That may be enough animal interactivity for you, or you might want to hit the terrific San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park. (You could build an entire vacation around critters!)
If you are not big fans of the animal and/or marine world (not to be confused with the Marine world, as Camp Pendleton is next door) you might spend part of a day at the Sea Life Aquarium in Carlsbad and give yourself permission to miss Sea World. Sea World is by far the cooler park but requires a full day. So lose it only if time is an issue and you won’t feel cheated by missing out on the great shows and attractions down on Mission Bay.
It’s an hour or so up to Anaheim, and Knott’s Berry Farm is within minutes of Disneyland. But you can’t reasonably do those in less than three days; two at the Mouse House and one good day at Knott’s. So you might stay a couple of nights up in Orange County or just make the drive. Depends on what else you have going on and whether you don’t mind staying in multiple hotels during the course of a week.
Now, if there are older kids on the trip, you’ll want to limit your time at Legoland to a day. There are enough fun things for older kids to keep them reasonably occupied for awhile, but you probably won’t want to spend multiple days there. If this is a San Diego vacation, then perhaps you should stay down closer to downtown San Diego and drive up for a day at Legoland/Sea Life Aquarium.
If you are going to hit O.C. or L.A. in this trip, you could consider Carlsbad an interim place to hang your hat. But you aren’t really close to either San Diego or the L.A/O.C. area and will be driving a lot. Might be better to decide how many days you need in San Diego and stay there for those nights (suggest you make the drive up I-5 mid-morning to early afternoon, or after dinner to avoid rush hour.
By the way, if you plan to visit Los Angeles theme parks and/or beaches or Hollywood along with Orange County and San Diego destinations, you better block out enough time and plan hotels in both areas (you’ll wear yourself out making multiple trips between these areas over a week or more). A home base elsewhere and a day trip to Carlsbad might be the way to go.