As promised, dontwearsweats is starting a travel section. We will have great suggestions for destinations and secrets to how to make your kids less annoying on family trips.
The best tip I can share with you about family travelling is this. Know your family. Every family is different. Just peruse your holiday cards to see my point, if you didn’t chuck them the minute you received them. Each family has its own groove and likes to do certain things on a trip. Some love adventure trips, some take the chillin on the beach path, and some enjoy a little of both. So with any trip, make sure you are planning a destination and activities that suit your family…or they will kill you, with their whining and complaints the whole time you are away.
My family tries to take a trip every summer together. It’s perfect family bonding time, we see something new, and we get a photo book out of it to boot.
When we were growing up, our parents didn’t have the advantages the internet provides. You jumped in your station wagon and headed to Wally World. Ooops sorry, that was a movie. But I feel like I lived it. Now, we have a million sites that can help us plan our trips. I love TripAdvisor.com, and I read all of the reviews for hotels. And once you have decided on your destination, go to that locale’s tourism website. It gives you great direction on the not to miss sites.
As you know, I have a special place in my heart for California. It offers so many great places to see and experience. Having just come back from Los Angeles, that will be our first vacation spot.
Now some might think that Los Angeles doesn’t seem like a kid friendly trip, but there is actually a ton to do there. Here are some things that my family experienced and loved.
Although it is a crazy touristy area, we chose to stay on the beach in Santa Monica. The Santa Monica Pier was right next to our hotel, and we were able to rent bikes on the beach and bike to Venice Beach, a famous spot for people who don’t realize the 60s ended, and for movie locations. The Pier also has carnival, games and rides. It’s a pretty old school carnival, but the kids still like it. Santa Monica is also centrally located, with Malibu right up the coast.
There are great restaurants in Santa Monica as well. The Lobster, right there at the pier, touristy, yes, but delicious and gives you great views of the Pacific Ocean. The Ivy on the Shore is great too, as well as numerous Italian restaurants and steakhouses. I rely heavily on hotels to make my reservations, and I always research the restaurant before I go to make sure everyone in the family can enjoy something.
Another great reason to enjoy staying at the beach is the surfing. If you kids are open to the idea, get them surfing lessons. There are different providers, so I like to use the companies the hotel recommends rather than going up to random blond guys and asking them if they can teach my kids to surf.
Hiking: What’s amazing about Los Angeles is that in the middle of town, you can take a gorgeous hike. The mountains are beautiful and there a tons of different hikes to enjoy. You can admire the scenery and get exercise too. There is also horse back riding through the mountains that the kids would love as well.
TV Show tapings: Seeing a live taping of a TV show is pretty cool. Years ago, we took our kids to see the now cancelled Suite Life on Deck. A Show with those Sprouse twins. Now, one of them had a naked pic “accidentally” leaked on the internet. We saw everyone clothed and it was an interesting experience. A word of warning. Prepare your kids that the taping a show is a looong process. They start, they stop, and then do it again. A TV show taping would go in the category of, you should do it if you can, it just might not live up to your expectations. Like Prom.
Along those lines, I have experienced both the Universal Studios Tour as well as the Warner Bros. Tour. Universal has rides as well, while Warner Bros. is just TV and movie based. Both are great. Just depends on what you want to do. Both offer VIP tours, where for a little bit more money than a regular ticket, you are in smaller groups and gain access to more experiences and places. At Universal, the backlot tour lines can get crazy, and the VIP pass really helps with that. You also get to skip all of the ride lines. The kids will love seeing where some of their shows are filmed, and understanding how a show gets made. Julia and I toured the street where Pretty Little Liars is filmed. Now, when I ignore my children to watch it, I can say, “I was there!”
A Tour of Los Angeles: All first timers should take a tour of LA. Whether it’s a double decker bus tour, or one of those Star Maps you buy on the side of the road, it’s great to drive around and explore. If you and your kids are really into gossip and pop culture, maybe try the TMZ tour. They will drive you around and point out special places, like, “This is the jewelry store Lindsay stole from.” Or, if you want the more traditional tour, you can find a ton of tour guide companies. I just used Tour Du Jour, and the guide was wonderful, and actually guest starred in some kid shows my daughter watches. We hit all of the important LA landmarks, like the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Hollywood Sign, Mann’s Chinese Theater, the Hollywood Bowl, and… David Schwimmer’s house.
Depending on how long you want to stay in the Los Angeles area, there are a ton of side trips you can take. Laguna Beach is a little over an hour from Los Angeles and it is gorgeous. Known for their gorgeous beaches, small town, and art galleries, it is a great spot. Catalina Island is another spot. Although I have not been yet, I have only heard great things about it. You can take a ferry to the island. Once there, your family can kayak, zipline, and enjoy your more adventurous part of the trip.
I could go on and on, but I have to plan my family trip. But think about LA for yours. Los Angeles offers a little touring, a little fun in the sun, the weather is fantastic, beaches are beautiful, and mom can get her lips plumped up while the kids are horse back riding.
And everywhere you go you can meet an actor or actress. They will be asking you if you would like flat or sparkling with your dinner.
Los Angeles Tours:
Things to Do in Los Angeles:
If you have questions or suggestions, please leave in comments section and we will be sure to respond.