Early trip really falling into place - Legoland CA - so excited I had to share

The nice part of this happened on accident, mostly.

This summer we are going to a convention that is in Reno. We normally vacation in the area of the convention but Reno is unappealing to us. Right before the convention starts we’ll be in Lake Tahoe.

For my original Disney World plans I’d bought three nights at a Hilton timeshare, but post-lockdown I didn’t want to use that for DW. So, I looked at other locations, and they don’t have many but they do have one in Carlsbad, CA. I thought, well, since we are driving that is close enough to Lake Tahoe. We’ll hang out at the beach. So, I made the reservation. We always start vacations with a rest day. DD hasn’t seen that ocean yet.

Then I noticed that there is a Legoland in Carlsbad and I told my Brickhead DH. Mucho excitement.

Then I noticed that the hotel was next to Legoland and there was a special backside entrance for the hotel. Even better.

Then the problem was logistics of driving. 22 hours drive. We like to drive at night and hotels aren’t keen on people checking in at 8am and out at 8pm. At least without two nights price. So, I tried to add a day to the front of the CA hotel so that our room would be available whenever we arrived, probably very early in the morning. Plan being to drive straight through and take power naps at rest stations if required. No availability. Darn.

But while looking at the hotel site I saw that they had first-come-first-served Pool Cabanas that are even free. Score! Current plan is to arrive early morning and be there when the pool opens and snag a cabana. DH will sleep in there until our room is available or Legoland calls to us. I feel like a Super Mom Vacation Planner even though this was mostly on accident.
ETA: I even talked to the hotel and they said that plan would work. We’ll arrive do paperwork and our keys will open the pool even without a room.

I told DH that since the hotel is so close we could easily take mid-day breaks like at DW. He said, “Like I’ll want to leave Legoland. You can take naps and bring me back a sandwich” I said, “Deal”


This sounds fab! I’m glad it all fell into place.

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When are you going? My niece and her family have invited me on a San Diego trip next November and I’m wondering if I should suggest Legoland.


Carlsbad is a phenomenal place to watch sunsets on the beach, one of my all time favorite spots to do just that. :heart_eyes: :heart_eyes: :heart_eyes:

Legoland is super close too (comparatively speaking for CA traffic).

It’s a great park and a fun hotel. Make sure you ride the elevator at least once!

22 hour drive is tough. I drive in from Vegas and it’s a lot, just from there. A lot of desert. A lot of nothing. There are a few fun spots (from Vegas taking 15 down) to stop and give people a stretching break. But it’s still a lot.

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We will be there late June. So, pretty much the height of the summer crowds. But, we don’t have much choice on timing.

The middle part of the trip is shaping up too. When we leave Legoland we’ll drive 2.5 hours to a hotel near the Reagan Library. We are Reagan fans and DD’s middle name is Reagan. In the morning, we’ll visit that and probably the beach. Then drive 3.5 hours to near the Hearst Castle so that we can do that the next day.

I am so excited the Hearst castle is opening. You could have knocked me over with a feather when the construction was done on time. I remember that place from our last family vacation (eta: when I was a kid) and I want to show it to my family.

The middle of the trip is still a bit fuzzy. Thinking Winchester House and maybe Sequoia National Park before settling into the Lake Tahoe for a few days.

ETA: I get that about the drive. A few years ago it was in Arizona and the boring drive was what convinced us to fly. We hated it and wished we drove. Of course this is an even longer, more boring drive. But then if we flew to CA, any rental car would be a torture device compared to my car. Worst case we have to find a hotel to take a sleep and we arrive closer to check-in time at the hotel. One advantage of waiting until we need a hotel is that we’d get early check-in since we’d only reserve someplace with availability then.


This sounds so fun!

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If you have time, you might also visit the Nixon Library. I haven’t been to the Reagan Library, but DD22 and I just visited the Nixon in November. I think whether you’re a fan or not it’s always a good experience visiting a presidential library!

:astonished: You thought driving through Arizona was boring? Or maybe driving to Arizona was boring. :joy:

Winchester House - highly recommend.

Sequoia/Kings Canyon - very highly recommend!

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Well, we didn’t actually do the drive. But I’ve lived in Texas a long time and I’m not a fan of the desert. We did drive around in AZ a lot. Borrrring.

But, then miles and miles and miles of boring pine trees are mind-numbing to me too. I remember as a kid in MN driving to the lake place. Those pine trees were telling me, “You aren’t there yet”.

Another good reason to prefer to drive at night.

Winchester House is someplace I’ve been often. I was a traveling engineer in the semiconductor industry so spent lots of time in San Jose. The family has never been.

DH has been to a great many national parks, but Sequoia is still on his to-do list. Before the AZ trip, I’d been to precisely one.

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There are lots of areas of Arizona that are not desert or are high desert. But if you’re driving through on I-10, it probably is pretty boring.

We love going to National Parks! Probably not as many as your DH, but we’re trying to hit as many as we can. My DD22 has accomplished more than me because she did all of the Utah parks last spring with her college friends.


DH and I married when we were 39. He had never once been on a non-camping vacation. He didn’t even understand the concept. He thought people booked expensive hotels and spent all their time inside the hotel. His family was poor when he was a kid, so that was all they could afford. I think some previous girlfriends had tried to talk him into the B&B idea. I had to explain to him that it is possible to stay in a hotel and just use it to sleep and shower without needing to setup a tent. Then I used the wifely mandate and booked our first vacation in a hotel. He’s said every vacation has been better than the last. It helps that camping was his baseline :slight_smile:


Hearst/Winchester/Sequoias are very high on my must-do list and has been since I was a kid. Convincing my family to do it has been an epic fail so far. I might be able to convince DH to do it if we do Reagan museum too.

In other words, you are doing my unicorn non Disney CA trip!

You are going to have the best time!


I have a couple of minor updates. When I laid out the schedule I’d forgotten about the Sequoias. I don’t know how I did that. So, we had a family meeting. I thought they’d want to drop either Winchester or Hearst. My sweet family of Brickheads was willing to cut a day from Legoland instead. The hotel is booked solid the day before our arrival, but I’m going to try to see if I can add a day to the front of the trip. It is already a full 15 days, but (shrugs).

Not so good news. I’d bought the passes on their Black Friday sale. The start date is the purchase date! I didn’t even think to check that. If DH and DD don’t want to go back that is fine but I’d been holding out that option as a way of keeping this vacation from becoming a Legoland only one. I guess they can go again as long as it is before Dec. But that was a shock. Our annual passes will really be 5-month passes. I also hadn’t noticed just how close our hotel is. Walking to our room from within the park will probably be shorter than walking to our car in the Lego parking lot. That is good news. But, I’d bought one more expensive pass for the free parking. My only excuse is that I was mainly focused on planning our Disney trip.

I looked into the Nixon library. If we had more time we’d do that. We’re meh on Nixon.

Hearst is supposed to open ‘any day’. Of course over a month ago they said it would open in a month.

One other tiny disappointment. The crystal caves in Sequoia are closed for all of 2022. I love caves and was looking forward to that. My love of caves has only a little to do with being sun-phobic.


Yeah, I wouldn’t cut something out or short in order to visit the Nixon Library. I enjoyed it and can honestly say I’m not one of his fans. :joy: But it was still really interesting. They did not shy away from Watergate and scandal! But the best part was the love story between him and Pat. He wrote some really romantic letters to her while serving in WWII.

Your trip sounds great overall! There is so much to see and do in California!


Another happy accident that will make me look brilliant to my family.

I got a hotel, Beach Retreat and Lodge at Tahoe, through hotwire on the beach in South Lake Tahoe. Reviews seem to indicate that it is an amazing location but a bit run down. This was a couple of months ago.

I was investigating July 4th fireworks in the area. It was looking grim. The first event, Kings Beach, will switch over to a Drone Light Show. That just seems wrong to me. The second on West End Beach is limited to residents (I like to get really close) The third event, South Lake Tahoe — Lights on the Lake, seems to be super-close to our hotel. Beaches on either side of our hotel are listed as excellent places to watch the fireworks. Woo Hooo! Accidentally brilliant.


We have annual passes to legoland and have stayed at the Marriott that is next door to the Hilton a couple times. Let me know if you have any questions!

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