Fun pit stops? Little girl birthday surprise?


DIS Veteran
Aug 29, 2013
For the first time we will be out of town for my daughter’s birthday. My husband has a work conference in Palm Springs in September so we are tagging along. I had planned out a great surprise stop at DL with BBB and F! package at BB that I was excited to surprise her with on our way down. We just found out that my husband will have another conference in OC in October so budget wise it makes a lot more sense to scrap my surprise trip and buy our multi day PH for that trip since the 1 day is so expensive. I know I could add some sort of note on her birthday to do BBB on our next trip but that would be a long way away for her and not the immediate surprise I was going for. I’m trying to come up with something else instead. I’d love to do something great on her birthday but I don’t think Palm Springs really caters to a 6 year old!

We are driving from Monterey so it’s a very long drive that we wanted to break up. We will be coming down 5 so there would a ton of options for stopping. She loves American Girl so I was thinking of stopping there to eat at The Grove. We need pit stops at both ends of our trip and we were thinking of stopping and spending the night somewhere or just stopping and breaking up the drive. Any reasonably priced places that would be fun to stay? What else would be fun to do special for her? We did Universal last fall so her brother could do all things Harry Potter and she really wants to but that’s out until she’s tall enough. She really wants to do a real tea party but I cannot find a reasonably priced fun kids one. Unfortunately the DL one has a very short window that would be too hard for us to do on a travel day. She loves to swim, any fun hotels with great pools for kids? A lazy river? We’ve never done Wolf Lodge and I’m not sure about that. I’m worried about all the chlorine I’ve read about. She wears goggles on her swim team but if there’s too much chlorine she gets red eyes pretty quickly and complains. What else am I missing that would be the perfect thing to do if DL is out?


DIS Veteran
Mar 10, 2015
My son was just asking today about going back to Great Wolf Lodge. We went 2 years ago when he was 7 (and DD was 4). They loved it. We didn't have any problems with the chlorine. If budget allows, the Kid Cabin and Wolf Den suites are really cute with special effects that are activated with the MagiQuest wand. I have a trip report (link in my signature) with lots of pictures.


DIS Veteran
May 22, 2014
We've had lunch at the AG store and that was a lot of fun for DD. They do lunch, dinner, and afternoon tea daily I think. Does she already have an AG? They set up a spot for the doll - it's really cute. If not, I've heard you can borrow a doll to share your meal, but you might want to double check that.

The DL hotel does afternoon tea - that would definitely be kid friendly, though pricey. I've taken DD to a few different tea places in different cities, and they always have been kid friendly, even offering a kids menu. I haven't been to one along your route, but maybe check reviews or the website for ones nearby - they might be more kid friendly than you think.

In LA there's the Natural History museum, California Science Center, the zoo, and more. In Pasadena we love to go to the Huntington Library - they have gorgeous gardens. Our favorites are the Japanese and Chinese. They also have an English tea room with a children's menu.

We've also done GW Lodge a few times and LOVE it! We even added on the birthday package once for DD. No problems with the chlorine for us, either.

If you hop over to the 99 and come down that way, we like to stop at Bravo Farms in Traver. They have a little store, some farm animals, and a really cool seven story tree house. Great place to stretch the legs and get a treat.


DIS Veteran
Jan 19, 2017
Afternoon tea at American Girl sounds perfect! I haven't done it as I have boys but my neighbors took their girls and loved it. My boys love the Grove as well, lots of fun things to see and eat at the Farmer's Market. They also love Great Wolf Lodge and we didn't have a problem with the chlorine. They loved the water park and the wizard game, and just exploring the hotel.


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