A Local’s Love – The Low-Down on Vacationing With Young Children in Los Angeles
When it comes to the Shangri-La of baby vacations you’d be hard-pressed to find another location that stacks up to Los Angeles, California. With its near permanent sunshine, comfy weather, incredible natural play places – parks, beaches, and walking trails – and obviously amazing attractions like world-famous Disneyland, Universal Studios, and Adventure City kid’s theme park, you’ll have more than enough material to keep your kids busy and bubbling. When you top it all off with top-notch educational experiences like the Children’s Discovery Cube, LA Zoo, and the La Brea Tar Pits (dinosaurs!), stupendous sports stadiums, and much more, LA is the place to be if you want to enjoy yourself and show your little ones the time of their young lives!
LA Is a Massive City With Incredible Views and Weather!
Access by Air
Los Angeles’ main airport, LAX, is a huge international airport, so be prepared for lengthy security lines. Bag checks will take some time too so if you can avoid having to check your luggage your stress levels will be much lower – renting from a baby equipment company that can deliver gear to the airport will help make this possible.
LAX is a High-Tech Airport With Beautiful Design and Architecture
Unfortunately getting from terminal to terminal can be tedious, and the airport’s rental car agencies are all located outside of the actual airport so you’ll have to take a shuttle to reach each individual counter. On the bright side, LAX has been rated one of the nicest airports in the country, and it has plenty of food and shopping to keep you and your children occupied during unexpected waits. Make sure to allow a lot more time for traffic, lines, car returns, etc. when heading out of LA.
Quick tip: Booking a flight in or out of LA from Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport will reduce the stress of navigating the daunting size of LAX. This airport is smaller, lesser known, and a little bit further from central LA than LAX with its northern location, but it may provide easier arrival and departure depending on where you are staying in LA.
Bob Hope Airport is Smaller and More Manageable than LAX
Los Angeles is very unpredictable as far as traffic goes. Sometimes the freeways that you think will be packed are completely empty and sometimes there is a traffic jam on a Sunday morning. Always expect that travel to the beach will take a while, so plan to leave early and be prepared for some hassle. Going through downtown during a concert or sporting event at Staples Center can be really tricky. Fortunately, in LA there are secret routes to avoid the freeways almost everywhere. Ask a local, hotel concierge, or host for secret routes.
Paying a little extra for priority parking or valet is almost always worth it, especially if you’re bringing along the little ones – less walking, less waiting, more playing! Everywhere in LA has valet, even the beach! The area also has a new Metro train that goes straight to the sand, which is fun and fast.
The LA Metro is New and Can Take You All Over the City
The greater Los Angeles area is practically guaranteed to provide great weather to traveling families – it is always sunny down here! The average annual lows hover around a moderate 66 degrees fahrenheit while the highs average a warm 84 degrees. Rain has been lacking in LA as of late, but if it does rain, be prepared for crazy drivers.
It’s a no-brainer to visit one of southern California’s beautiful beaches and the Leo Carillo State Park is a top-notch choice. Much less busy than Santa Monica and many of LA’s more classically known beaches, Leo Carillo beach has a lot to offer young children like a tunnel that goes under the Pacific Coast Highway to get to the beach, tide pools, sea caves, and surfers galore. Plus there’s a nearby seafood restaurant called Neptune’s Net that is a local hangout with awesome motorcycles almost always parked out front. If you’re up for it, your family can even camp near the beach!
Leo Carillo State Park is a Little Piece of Heaven
If your squad is looking for a chance to get away from the concrete jungle but don’t want to take the journey to the beach, Griffith Park is the place to go. Founded in 1896, Griffith Park is the biggest public park in LA, boasting 4,310 acres, and has an observatory, restaurants, an old train park, and a merry-go-round. There are all kinds of trails in this park like the Charlie Turner Trail, which is a 3-mile round-trip trail that takes you up Mt. Hollywood to see views of the San Fernando Valley, Glendale, and other parts of LA. An easier route is the Fern Canyon hike that will provide views of Glendale and Pasadena at the top, and many chances to see gophers, squirrels, woodpeckers, and other small animals on the way up.
Just One View of the Griffith Park and its Trails and Observatory
Eating in LA can be both amazing and painful at the same time. As a culinary paradise with access to the freshest ingredients in the country and drawing incredible creativity from the city’s character, LA will “wow” your tastebuds, but the wait is what can drive you and your kids crazy. Luckily there is an easy solution to this: SNACKS. Bring snacks wherever you go – chips, apples, carrots, granola bars – this way when you find the perfect restaurant for your family, the wait doesn’t push you towards a less busy spot to satisfy hungry bellies. Here are some of those spots that might be that perfect spot for your group:
It’s always smart to have an all-American diner in your back pocket when the kids just want something simple – a hamburger, french fries, some pasta with marinara sauce. Nickel Diner is more than the average eatery providing a down-home atmosphere and homemade delectables like brioche cinnamon toast and jam, sophisticated scrambles for breakfast, and for dinner hearty courses like ”smac and cheese” and “mama’s spaghetti and meatballs.”
Nickel Diner is a Quaint Stop and Makes Delicious Food
Another spectacular spot is Carney’s Sunset Strip where the hot dogs and hamburgers are lodged in LA lore. Boasting some of the best chili sauce in the nation, you and your kids will find all kinds of great meals here but the chili dog and chili burger are what reign supreme. This super cheap spot also has great options like Chicago Polish dogs, cheeseburgers, veggie burgers, and sweet potato fries. Ah, and we almost forgot to mention – Carney’s is located INSIDE A TRAIN CAR. Yes, this food experience means sitting inside a train and using hundreds of napkins to keep your kids’ faces at least a little bit tidy.
Carney’s Guests Eat in this Yellow Train Car!
Other great options are the Genwa Korean BBQ spot with $3 valet parking and an interactive cooking experience the kids will love. We also crave Gracie’s Pizza on the daily – this spot on Melrose Ave has very creative pizza options, great drinks, garlic bread knots, and chicken wings, plus they can deliver! This is THE place to get pizza in the City of Angels (and incredible eats).
Families absolutely love the Los Angeles Zoo where children under 2 get in for free and everyone else is $20 or less. In the summer, the zoo is open one night a month so you can see all the nocturnal animals awake. Housing every animal you can think of from elephants, giraffes, tigers, chimpanzees, orangutans, and much more, the zoo also has 15 collections of botanical gardens and a “Dinosaurs: Un-extinct” exhibit where guests can check out 17 different animatronic dinosaurs.
The Zoo has the Closest Thing to Real Dinos!
The Santa Monica Pier is a beautiful, energetic location where families can ride the world-famous Ferris wheel that towers above the Pacific, or enjoy the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. A great way to spend a summer night in LA is to sit on the beach and enjoy music during the annual summer concert series.
The Santa Monica Park is a Great Stop on a Sunny Day
There is a movie night every Saturday during the summer in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery where many of LA’s most influential figures are buried. But this isn’t as creepy as you might think – 40 acres of the cemetery now belongs to Paramount studios, and this is where movie nights take place. These events are great for children as they usually show classics. You can bring food and beverages, spread out blankets, and watch movies under the stars. As with everything in Los Angeles, arrive early.
Even LA Locals Gather for Hollywood Forever Movie Nights
The Zimmerman Museum is a go-to for fun family entertainment that many different ages can enjoy. This museum is dedicated to multiculturalism and showing children and families the importance and unifying potential of artistic expression. Some of the many incredible exhibits include “Rhythms of the World” where kids can play many different instruments they’ve never heard of before, they can try flying a plane at the “Discovery Airport,” and run around and learn about environmental conservation at the “Community Park.”
Of course, the majority of families who come to Los Angeles are here for one thing: DISNEYLAND. Ticket prices hover around $100 a day for anyone over the age of 3, but those ages 2 and under get in for free. Anyone who has been to Disneyland will tell you that it is an absolutely wonderful experience with so much to do and see, so make sure to provide at least one whole day to exploring the park and get there early in the morning before it opens at 9am. This will give you time to see all the regions of the park and try out all the rides, since lines can be very long on busy days.
Disneyland is Gorgeous Year-Round!
Aside from the big Disneyland, don’t forget to check out Adventure City, Knotts Berry Farm, and Six Flags Magic Mountain. Each of these parks if almost always out of strollers, especially double strollers, so make sure to book early or rent a stroller from a local rental company to avoid the hassle.
When it comes to Los Angeles you’re going to need a lot of energy to keep up with the excitement your kids will have being so close to Disneyland and in a place where the sun is shining and everyone is having a great time. It’s important to note that full-size cribs are almost never available at hotels, and car seats offered through rental car companies are very expensive and often neglected. Double strollers are even harder to come by, so if you know you need one, book it early! A much smarter, cheaper, easier option that will take a load off your shoulders and allow you to keep up with the kiddos is to rent all your baby gear from a local baby gear rental company. The best ones will deliver to you at your hotel or airport car rental agency and pick-up from either spot as well.
Sarah Huff is a Babierge Independent Trusted Partner, renting baby gear to traveling families out of Los Angeles. She has all the tips on how to enjoy every moment in Los Angeles. Find her at: http://www.babierge.com/LA or follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/babiergeLA.