A one-week winter California holiday itinerary | including videos!

Can’t visit California properly in just one week? You’d be amazed at what you can do – and that includes a visit to a ski resort, Disneyland and so much more!

A California family holiday in one week



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One of the best things about California is just how much there is to do all in the one state. What you may not know, is that winter is a great time to visit!

One day you can be enjoying the rides at Disneyland in the warm sunshine of Anaheim, and the next you can be hitting the epic ski slopes of Mammoth Mountain! Add to that the advantage of less crowds, and you’ve got a fabulous holiday at a great price!

Here’s my 2020 day-by-day California family holiday diary of what we did, where we went & how to do it!

Our one week California family holiday diary

Looking for a one week California road trip instead? Watch our YouTube California Road Trip video playlist here.

Day 1 – January 29

Our Qantas flight arrived into LAX early in the morning, and we breezed through customs, easily locating our driver holding our name up at arrivals. We felt like movie stars! An easy 40 minute drive later we were checking into our Anaheim hotel.

The Anaheim Marriott Suites makes an excellent base for any Disneyland Resort holiday, as it is located close by. Our suite was large, with a separate bedroom allowing plenty of room to stretch out and be comfortable.
As we had already slept on the flight, we were ready for a relaxing day by the hotel pool and spa.

Watch our Anaheim Marriott Suites video

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In the evening we visited Downtown Disney, the popular restaurant and shopping precinct located between Disney California Adventure and Disneyland Park.
Downtown Disney is a great way to keep the Disney Magic flowing, with live music and lots of eatery options. There we enjoyed a delicious meal at Blacktap Anaheim followed by their famous shakes, decadently topped with lollipops, candy and cake.
Happy, full and tired we returned to the hotel to get a good night’s sleep, ready to hit Disney California Adventure Park the following morning.

Day 2 – January 30

After a delicious hot breakfast at the Anaheim Marriott Suites we headed off to Disneyland Resorts. It was our first time visiting, but with many new additions being added all the time there’s so much to keep returning families coming back too!
Today we would be exploring Disney California Adventure Park.
We headed in through the gates bursting with eagerness at the day ahead! We kicked off our Disney day with a very special Royal Welcome with Elsa from Frozen. It was a lovely opportunity to get some gorgeous family photos and autographs with Elsa, who was just as beautiful and gracious as you could hope she would be.
Next we took a fun class at the Animation Academy, where we learned how to draw Olaf from Frozen. By the end of the class we had some quite respectable looking artworks to take home as a truly unique souvenir.

Watch our Disney California Adventure Park video

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Then it was time to hit the Disneyland rides – as expected, they were amazing! There’s a great mix of charming Disney classics and super-thrill rides at Disney California Adventure Park to keep everyone in the family happy! Our favourites were the rocket-fast Incredicoaster, the Pixar Pal-A-Round Ferris Wheel and Cars Land Radiator Springs Racers – the most expensive theme ride ever built!
Our recommendation is to be sure to buy a Max Pass to skip the queues so you can do as many rides as possible – whilst squeezing all those delicious Disney Parks snacks such as pretzels, churros and popcorn in between, of course!
Another don’t-miss attraction there is Frozen Live at the Hyperion – a wonderful one-hour theatrical show.
Our wonderful day at Disney California Adventure Park ended with the spectacular World Of Colour show, where fire, light and water jets combine together to weave a story-telling delight.
We headed back to the Anaheim Marriott Suites, ready to collapse into bed – what a fabulously fun Disney-day it had been!

Day 3 – January 31

Our second day in Anaheim has been another incredible day of fun!
Today we started off the day visiting downtown Anaheim where we visited the Farmers Markets, with a delicious lunch at Okayama Kobo Bakery.
After lunch it we headed off to visit The Happiest Place On Earth – Disneyland!
Disneyland is the original theme park created by Walt Disney, and it’s an absolute must-see in California. One memory I’ll never forget is witnessing my girls faces as we walked through the gates – they just couldn’t believe we were there! As a parent, it was a very special moment.
We spent our day riding all the famous classics. It’s impossible to go past thrill rides such as Space Mountain, The Matterhorn and Splash Mountain – but make sure you don’t miss that Disney magic too, and be sure to see The Tiki Room, Jungle Cruise and It’s A Small World, just to name a few. Because we had the Max Pass we could spend our time enjoying as many rides as possible.
At the end of the day we grooved to the beat of to Mickey’s Mix Magic – a colourful celebration of projections, music and fireworks- what a wonderful second day we had at Disney Parks!

Day 4 – February 1

We started our day in the most Disney-way you could imagine – the Minnie and Friends Character Breakfast at The Plaza Inn, Disneyland. This is a must-do for any Disney fan. Be sure to take your autograph book along for a unique souvenir from your Disneyland experience. Each Disney character has their own special autograph style! Combine this with a great Mickey-themed breakfast buffet and you have breakfast-perfection. My favourite was the Mickey waffles – yum!
After breakfast it was time to try out the new Disney Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge rides. If you’ve visited Disneyland in the past – well, it’s time to go again – even if just to experience this incredible new Star Wars world!

Watch our Disneyland video

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First we got to experience the Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run which was simply amazing- half the fun of this ride is the lead-up to it! Then it was time for the Star Wars: Rise Of The Resistance ride.
You need to book a “Boarding Party” in advance for this incredible ride, but it’s well-worth it. These Star Wars rides take interaction and ride technology to a new level. Just – wow! Disneyland is constantly evolving and raising the bar on new attractions- it’s why millions from around the world keep coming back – and now I understand why!

Watch our Disney Star Wars rides video

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We managed to squeeze in a few more rides before it was time to head off to the airport for a one-hour flight to our next California winter holiday destination- Mammoth Mountain!
In no time at we had landed at Mammoth Lakes Airport and were spirited off to The Village, a stunning resort with huge, luxurious apartments and its own little village – complete with bars, boutique shops and restaurants. Here we had a fantastic pizza dinner at Campo Mammoth, just steps away from our apartment.
Our appetites sated, we headed off to bed, brimming with excitement for the snow-fun to come the next morning at Mammoth!

Day 5 – February 2

We woke up to find ourselves surrounded by the spectacular snowy mountains of Mammoth. Were we really just at Disneyland yesterday?!
Mammoth Lakes is the bustling little town that services Mammoth Mountain, and it was here we had breakfast at Toomey’s, a great little sports-styled restaurant. Then it was time to head off for a day full of Mammoth fun!
For this trip we decided to just bring our ski clothes, goggles and gloves with us. This saved us having to carry our heavy skis and boots around California with us. Hiring our skis and boots at Main Lodge was convenient, and then we just headed outside and climbed aboard the gondola!

Watch our Skiing Mammoth Mountain video

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We found that Mammoth Mountain offers some really great skiing for all levels. The snow cover was brilliant, and later we learned Mammoth enjoys extended ski seasons of good snow quality. There’s an excellent network of lifts to keep it all moving with minimal queues, too.
We skied all day, only stopping for a scrumptious lunch at The Yodler restaurant, located at the base of the ski resort.
Skiing isn’t all there is to do at Mammoth Mountain of course – there’s so much snow fun on offer! Snowmobiling, tubing and many more non-skiing options. If that isn’t enough activities for you, Mammoth Lakes even has its own bowling alley! We had some delicious finger food alley-side for dinner whilst (trying to) hit some pins!

Watch our Village Lodge at Mammoth Mountain video

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After bowling we headed back to The Village for some Apres-ski fun. Whatever you do, don’t miss the outdoor fire pits, where we learned how to toast s’mores! You can buy a full s’more kit at The Village reception desk, so there’s really nothing to putting one together, and they are scrumptious! If s’mores aren’t your thing, you can always enjoy a drink from the bar whilst you warm your hands and have a cosy chat around the fire. What a fun way to end the day!

Day 6 – February 3

There’s nothing quite like starting your day with a swim in an outdoor heated pool and a soak in a hot tub – surrounded by snow!
Follow that with a super-cosy breakfast at The Warming Hut in Mammoth Lakes, and you have snowy-morning perfection!
With high winds forecast we opted to road-trip it back to our next amazing California destination, Santa Monica! Our day was spent kicking back in a black SUV complete with cinematic TV, watching movies and enjoying the scenery out of the windows – there are no boring road trips in California!
We travelled through the magical Mojave’ Desert landscape, and had a rest stop at Lone Pine, an iconic country town used as a backdrop for several movies.

Watch our Santa Monica Shore Hotel video

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It was very exciting to see the colourful lights of the famous Santa Monica Pier Ferris Wheel come into view. We arrived to a welcoming glass of champagne at the gloriously decadent Santa Monica Shore Hotel, our accommodation in Santa Monica. This elegant hotel is located right at the entrance to the Santa Monica Pier – hotel locations just don’t get any better than that!
With the colourful lights beckoning us, we went for a beautiful stroll along the Pier before dinner and bed.

Day 7 – February 4

It’s amazing how fast we went from snow to beach holiday in California. It really is the best of both worlds!
There are so many things to do in Santa Monica, we were really spoilt for choice. I decided a bike ride would be a great way to take a look around Santa Monica. We went on a really fun tour of the city streets and elite residential areas with The Bike Center. This guided tour included a a stop-off at the scrumptious Sidecar Doughnuts coffee shop – yum!
For a tour of a different kind with no roads involved at all, we also hired bikes right off the Santa Monica Pier at Blazing Saddles Beach Rentals and Tours. We loved riding along the wide bike paths to Venice Beach to check out its eclectic shops, murals and skate park.
After we rode back we visited Heal The Bay, a wonderful little aquarium located beneath the Santa Monica Pier. There we spent a fun hour exploring and learning all about the diverse local marine life – and even fed baby sharks! Then we had a delicious lunch at Seaside On The Pier – the pasta is especially good!
Of course we couldn’t leave the Pier without spending some time at Pacific Park, the famous fun fair. We had so much fun riding the roller coaster, pirate ship, bumper cars and many more. For the best view in Santa Monica, you can’t go past the iconic big wheel at Pacific Park – which also happens to be the only solar powered Ferris Wheel in the world!

Watch our things to do in Santa Monica with kids video

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Soon after we headed off for dinner at The Gallery Food Hall on Third Street Promenade, where there’s a huge range of yummy food bars and an epic sweet shop – complete with pink chandlers!
After dinner it was time for some more fun and we headed just a little further up Third Street to try out some virtual reality experiences at The Void. We donned the special back packs and head-gear, and stepped into the virtual worlds of both the Jumanji and Star Wars experiences. We were blown away with how real they seemed!
Finally we headed back to the Shore Hotel where we spent some time on our balcony, taking in the fabulous views over the colourful night lights of the Santa Monica Pier.
What a fantastic California winter holiday we had – we’ll be back!
Disclaimer: The Let’s Go Mum family were brought out to California and hosted by Visit California and their partners
Find out more about visiting California at the Visit California official website here
This page contains affiliate links. If you book a stay or activity through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for your support! The Letsgomum Family partnered with Jetstar Australia for this trip to Singapore and LEGOLAND Malaysia.


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About LetsGoMum

Hi, I'm Barbara, mum of the Let's Go Mum blog. We'd love to hear from you! You can contact me anytime with ideas on where you think we should go or what you think we should try...just drop me a line at barbara@letsgomum.com.au!