We were so fortunate to visit my brother-in-law in Los Angeles last week. He was a terrific host and we had so much fun together! It was special to see Josephine making memories with her uncle in his “home town.”
Of course, I was a bit nervous about the long flight and the time difference with a small toddler. My best tip is to fake it til you make it. Pretend like all will go as smoothly as possible, and be prepared for any small hiccups along the way. We had a backpack ready with fun little toys and new snacks which kept her entertained for hours. We busted out the headphones near the end, because when all else fails it’s fun to watch videos of yourself on mama’s phone.
And while we were there, yes, she did still wake up at 4:30 in the morning. We “cuddled” in bed til 6am, which I deemed the earliest acceptable hour to wake her uncle. She napped on the road (the only reason I was grateful for all the traffic–you crazy Los Angelians!) everyday, sometimes twice a day. And my brother was super gracious about being home for a ridiculously early bedtime.
We were able to squeeze so many fun adventures into our long weekend. There are tons of ideas out there for things to do with kids in L.A., and these were our favorites:
1. Santa Monica
We walked the pier early in the day. Josephine was head over heels for all the pigeons, and the rest of us were amazed by the views. With the mountains in the background and the gorgeous blue-green water, it was beautiful! (the small aquarium on the pier was closed while we were there, but that would be a fun thing to see)
We walked over to Tongva Park, which was quiet and pretty and had a small play area (with splashpad if you’re so inclined). We took the beach path down to the Annenberg Community Beachhouse, and ate lunch on the beach! The pool was closed, but the beach play area was open. We checked out the Marion Davies’ house; the history: fascinating, the tour: unimpressive. The best part of the day by far was the beach! The sand and shells were lovely and the water wasn’t too frigid (i’m sure it was cold to Californians, but it felt as warm as Lake Michigan in August).
These gardens were absolutely lovely! The winding trails through the park led through various gardens and past ponds of water. Our favorites were the roses and the Japanese garden.
Josephine enjoyed the small children’s maze and wanted to bring this little guy home. (anyone know where to buy a giant cement squirrel?) They also had a bird observation deck over the pond, with a friendly volunteer and bird books and nests to check out.
I saw my first redwood tree! Now I want to go back again and find one I can stand inside! Descanso Gardens was mentioned by several people as a great place to visit. I can see why–it is peaceful, beautiful, and uncrowded. It felt like a nature center and welcoming for young children.
We actually didn’t visit the observatory while it was open (i know that seems silly, but you may remember we’d been awake since 4:30 and wanted to visit two spots that day). The hike up the hills to the observatory is fantastic! (you can drive to the top if hiking is not your thing)
The views were amazing and the hike was fairly easy. We took turns carrying Josephine and letting her walk now and then. Great views of the Hollywood sign and the whole city of L.A.! (maybe we’ll return one day to see the inside)
This place has a really long name because it has everything! (art and books and gorgeous gardens) This was by far my favorite place we visited and when we go back I want to spend an entire day here (and if i lived in L.A. this is where i’d want a membership). We barely scratched the surface of the art and library part of The Huntington and mostly focused on the gardens.
The gardens were out of this world. We spent the majority of the time in the children’s garden: they had water and sand and tunnels and stairs and a little blue door! (needless to say, Josephine was in heaven) Our other favorite gardens were the Japanese and Chinese–truly incredible! And the desert garden looked like something from a Dr. Seuss book. Magical!
I love many things about traveling. My favorites are seeing and experiencing new and amazing things. To learn about how people live in other places. When I watch other people in new places I love to see their differences…and their similarities. This is especially true when it comes to parenting. Sometimes parenting gets such an individualistic stamp we forget our similarities.
I was happy to find that parenting looks much the same in L.A. Yes, we did see the mom, dad, and nanny taking one small child to the playground. And yes, I saw strollers that cost more than two months of our mortgage payments. But most parents seemed the same. They were making fun memories with their kids and teaching them how to be kind and polite to other kids. My one celebrity sighting was a mom (with the same stroller I have) letting her small daughter crawl in the dirt. We’re all just trying to figure it out wherever we live!
So grateful for this trip! For learning and exploring with my family, and finding all sorts of beautiful places and people in L.A. (and i haven’t even mentioned any food! we ate amazing food while we were there, so quick shout out to sushi, ramen, and burgers! you must try if you’re in the area)!
P.S. Our prayers are with all of the people in L.A. as they fight the fires that started shortly after we left. Praying that you are all safe, and that your beautiful city is preserved.