LA – Disneyland 16th to 18th August
The stop the kids were most excited about was of course Disney! We stayed in a motel in Anaheim (Eden Roc Suites) and it was the perfect base, walking distance to the park with a pool! There are two separate parks, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. We booked our tickets from the UK and spent one full day in each, which for us was more than enough time to go on all the rides.
- Make sure you look at the fast pass system. There is an app you can download for Disney where you can book a time slot for most rides, this saves sooo much time! You can only book one ride per hour but some of the more popular attractions can have nearly a 2 hour queue!
- For Disney California Adventure Park you have to make sure you buy the ticket initially which includes the Max Pass feature otherwise you will have to purchase this from guest services when you get to the park. Max Pass costs $15 each but is definately worth it, we managed to go on our favourite ride 3 times but would have only managed it once without this!
- If you want to watch the parade or fireworks make sure you pitch a spot early as it fills up quickly. If you decide against watching this then it is a great time to go on your favourite rides with shorter queues!
- We ate inside the park once and to be honest, the price wasn’t any different to the restaurants outside!
- If you have little ones, you can hire pushchairs at guest services. I would recommend this as you will do a lot of steps. Also it’s a great bag hanger!
- You can leave the park and return which is advisable with little ones who want to stay up for the fireworks, that nap or dip in the pool could be a game changer.
- I’m afraid I don’t have any info on meet and greets with characters other than the ones that were around the park, they always had a queue which moves quickly. My boys are passed that age now but if any had short queues we encouraged a photo! ha
LA – 18th to 22nd August
The drive from Disney to LA is a short one (1 hour), but takes around 2 hours due to traffic (which is a given in LA whatever time you head out, the traffic is just horrendous!) We passed through Orange County and decided to make the day of it, we stopped for lunch in Huntingdon Beach then on to Laguna for a sleep on the sand. I wish I could have spent more time in beautiful Laguna, I knew I would love it as my friend Emma (@_.S.A.S.H._) got married here and is always reminiscing about how much she is in love with this part of the world. It has a very bohemian and arty vibe and it is much safer than inner LA. We booked an Airbnb for our stay in LA as we were here for a longer period and it cuts the food cost being able to cook for yourself. We were based just outside the city in a cabin in the grounds of a beautiful family home. The owners were just wonderful and couldn’t do enough for us, they had super sweet kids to who made friends with my boys. We made a point of introducing ourselves and chatting but if you would rather be left alone then they will leave you to it. The back garden is yours for the stay which felt like a little sanctuary after the busy and crazy city. LA Airbnb
My recommendation for staying in LA is decide what you want to see and stay nearby. It’s a big place and the traffic is a nightmare. It can take an hour to drive a couple of blocks! I would spend a couple of nights in Hollywood staying near Melrose then if you want to see the beach then book somewhere in Santa Monica or Venice. We did get to see everything we had hoped to but spent more time in the car than planned!
Have you even been to Venice beach if you don’t get a photo of the Venice sign
- For a fun day out head to Venice Beach, my boys loved it and I could sit and people watch all day. Its an area of two halves, the uber trendy Abbott Kinney Boulevard with cool shops, bars and cafes to the crazy and vibrant Broadwalk. We ate on Abbott Kinney at The Butchers Daughter which serves delicious vegan food, I bought a dress from one of the many boutiques before walking a couple of blocks to the beach. There is so much to look at you won’t get bored. Alfie decided that he wanted to try out a cool looking barber shop and have his haircut (as you do!) The beach itself is huge and surrounded by basketball courts, outdoor gyms, football pitches, skateparks, performers, and cycle paths.
- Get a photo near the Hollywood Sign – This time we dove up Mulholland and then walked just 5 minutes to get our photos (you’ll need google maps for this) it was hot in August and the kids didn’t fancy a hike. I was here in April on a trip with Nissan and we cycled to the point behind the sign on electric bikes, this was soooo much fun, I would definitely recommend it. You can find the details in my previous blog post, here
- Universal Studios – We booked our tickets before leaving the UK, its a great day out even just for the studio tour alone, there is so much Hollywood history here. The rides are good but totally different to Disney, most are 4g indoor experiences. Still fun and the kids loved it. The tickets are quite expensive but I’m pleased we went.
- If your kids are into Trainers and Surpreme like mine are then you have to head to Fairfax Avenue. It’s one for the boys, sneaker store upon sneaker store, it’s a pretty cool area. The Peterson Automotive Museum is at the end of the street, you won’t miss it as the building is a work of art in itselRodeo Drive – This is a must if you have watched Pretty Woman as many times as I have! It does make you want to pop into a store and say “Big mistake…huge mistake” before a cocktail at the Waldorf Astoria.
- Hollywood Boulevard – This is tourist central, the Hollywood stars (walk of fame) line the pavements, I lost count at how many there were and to be truthful I didn’t recognise half of them. This area is always busy, full of souvenir shops and also home to the Chinese Theatre.
- Melrose Avenue was my favourite shopping streets. A mix of one off boutiques and high end stores including the “Insta Famous” pink Paul Smith shop.
- Santa Monica – We ran out of time to head down there this time but wasn’t too upset about it. I was here in April and enjoyed it but it is a little rough around the edges and unless you want to shop or go on the Pier rides you’re not really missing out. With out multiple theme park visits we gave it a miss. I mention this area in my previous LA post
- If you manage a date night (we did!! Our only one in 30 nights) and fancy some where fancy, then start at Beauty & Essex for food and cocktails then a livelier drink at Teddy’s at the Roosevelt (It’s kind of a Hollywood institution and you’re bound to spot a star here)
- Hike Runyan Canyon and also visit the Griffith Observatory
Food in LA
- Jon & Vinny’s (Fairfax) Italian with a twist
- Sweet Chick (Fairfax) owned by rapper NAS
- Carrera Cafe (Melrose, Opposite Paul Smith Store) Coffee shop which well put any photo on your cappuccino foam
- Here’s Looking at You (Koreatown)
- Jones (West Hollywood) Italian
- Norah (West Hollywood) Great Brunch menu
- Bludso’s Bar & Que (Compton) Not the area I’d usually recommend but this place is an institution. So good it usually sells out
- Pink’s hotdogs (Melrose) Just because it’s famous, the hotdogs are fully loaded to be prepared to get in a mess!
Malibu and Calabasas 22nd to 23rd August
We accidentally left a night spare and had to fill it so we headed to Calabasas for a night as a base to see a bit of Malibu. The place we stayed in was The Goodnight Inn which was very well priced and had a pool (think it was £80 a night) but unfortunately it was damaged in the recent wildfires and may not be taking bookings yet. This area is much more chilled than LA and doesn’t have the traffic problems, it’s more of an affluent residential area (think Kardashian’s) After hearing so much about it we headed to The Malibu Cafe for lunch, it was so sweet and I would love to go back. The food was fresh and healthy, they sold Whispering Angel and they had a ton of games to keep the kids entertained! Lunch polished off we just had to go and take in the scenery of Malibu’s Paradise Cove, its such a pretty beach with a cafe and a pier. If you have drinks/food in the cafe and spend $30 which is easy to do here you get your parking free otherwise it is $35 no matter how much time you are there for. Lots of photo’s featured on this previous post
As much as I would love to keep writing I don’t want to overload you so I will save the rest for part 4. The Pacific Coast Highway to (Ojai, Santa Barbara, Morro Bay, Big Sur, Monetary, Carmel and Santa Cruz)
Hope this has helped with your travel plans but if you have any questions, please do add a comment below and I’ll be happy to answer anything.