Families on the East Coast are often intrigued by a trip to California but often the thought of dragging kids across the country, dealing with the time change and trying to see it all often wins out and they don’t make the journey. Recently, we headed out west to try and find some ways to make the trip easier. It is a trip worth making and we have some insight on making it easier for you and the kids.
Don’t try and do it all, as a matter of fact some of it you can do half way and the kids will still love it! We went to Los Angeles and San Diego, we decided to skip visiting amusement parks, our time was limited (6 days) and we had family to see so we decided to hit things that were not available on the East Coast.
That being said, if you are an amusement park person California offers some killer stops you can check out
Los Angeles, where to go what to do
The tar pits themselves are a little underwhelming to be honest but the Page Museum is great; the grounds are beautiful and the fact that there is this prehistoric pit sitting in the middle of LA is just cool.
The ultimate California beach town, the Santa Monica Pier is a great place to let the kids run, have lunch and check the old school amusement park rides.
My advice, don’t get out of the car, if you have younger kids driving in front of Mann’s Chinese Theater, El Capitan and pointing out the stars on the sidewalk will give them all the taste of Hollywood that they need. Make sure you pass by the Magic Castle while you are there, kids will think it’s super cool
A little taste of Mexico in Los Angeles, plan to have lunch there, stroll the street and check out all the goodies for sale. From worry dolls to beautiful terra cotta suns, the kids will have a blast feeling like they have left the US for an afternoon.
Park at Philippes, they get so crazy busy at lunch you will be glad you already have a spot (we will get back to this delish eatery). Walk two blocks to the first Chinatown in America. Chinatown in LA is blocks and blocks of shops and sights like you have never seen. The shop owners are so warm and friendly you won’t want to leave. After you have worked up an appetite for lunch, eat at Philippe’s, this iconic LA spot was opened in 1908 and little has changed. Philippe’s claims to have created the French dip and the sandwich is worth the trip. The menu is not large, the line is long and moves fast. Be ready to order when you get to the counter, this is a well-oiled machine and there is no room or time for deciding at the counter. Whatever you decide on, don’t miss the slaw, it is so delish and put their special mustard on your sammy, it is super spicy so be warned but it is so worth it!
You can’t head to LA without a stop at Dodger Stadium, this doesn’t have to be a long stop but it’s a great photo opp and the kids will love the giant bobble head players out front
This is a must do your kids will love the crazy street performers, the people watching is worth the trip! My daughter even was pulled into one of the shows and had a blast. You will see Jimi Hendrix on skates, guys walking on glass and more. A word to the wise, there are a lot of homeless folks at Venice, a local came up to us where my kids were playing at the handball courts and told us to make sure they washed their hands well, the homeless folks tend to use the potty on the courts and playground, a harsh reality but I appreciated the heads up. Don’t let that deter you from going to Venice, it is a great place to stop while you are in LA and it actually gave us a great chance to talk to our kids about people who are less fortunate than they are!
There is tons more to do in LA, from the Hollywood Sign (just do a drive by) to Beverly Hills, In and Out Burgers (YUM, my FAVE place in LA) and more this is just a start.