Let’s forget about all the iconic locations for a minute and imagine that the sole purpose of a trip is to relax and enjoy some time together as a young family. What would you do? Well, it turns out that we still ended up in some pretty iconic locations throughout the Los Angeles area, but with a relaxed mindset we enjoyed them much more than ever before.
We decided to cross the San Ysidro Point of Entry International border and head north to Los Angeles, California. But there would be no Disneyland, no Walk of Fame, and no foodie meccas. For our family weekend in L.A. we wanted to concentrate on enjoying some beach time and educationally fun moments.
3:00pm- After picking up the little one from school we drove to the border, sat in line for over an hour, and began our drive north to L.A.
10:12pm- Arrived in Hermosa Beach, California, right outside of Los Angeles proper. Sleep.
8:19am- Waking up refreshed, we decide to call Ashley’s Deli and order three breakfast sandwiches: two Stubbies for the adults and a hot croissant with ham and cheese for the little one. By the time we get dressed and walk the two blocks to pick them up, they are hot and ready. They are delicious and for $5.49 each they fill you up and start the day off right.
9:03am- Staying two blocks from the beach means that it’s always beach time! Hermosa beach has a more local feel than Santa Monica or Venice (for us anyway) and we always enjoy our time there. The lifeguards are attentive and the Hermosa Beach Pier allows us to get farther out into the ocean and catch a glimpse of the local dolphins. Yes, we have seen the dolphins up close from the pier.
12:17pm- Jumping waves, building sandcastles, and learning to surf build up an appetite pretty fast and by noon we are read for some grub. This is a vacation so we head over to Paisano’s Pizza for some thin pizza slices on the go. We’re a very boring pizza family: cheese for the kiddo, pepperoni for the adults. Always. But at Paisano’s I saw some huge pizza’s with all types of toppings. One of these days I’ll get myself one of those slices!
12:43pm- Mackenzie loves to ride on The Strand and so we head over to Hermosa Cyclery to rent bikes for an hour ride. We’ve been patrons of this little establishment for years and they always make sure that Mackenzie’s bike fits her needs and provide the proper helmets. An hour ride goes by fast but there’s nothing like the ocean breeze on a bike. It’s really a family tradition at this point.
After the bike ride we took some quick showers and its off to the Griffith Observatory. But first, L.A. traffic. I mention this because you really do have to keep it in mind when making plans. Andy and I have both lived with long commutes throughout our lives and so an hour and a half drive for a 30.5 mile distance doesn’t really bother us, but I can see how it’s something others would want to know about. I can tell you this: it is worth it!
4:02pm- We’ve arrived at the Griffith Observatory! Set at the top of a hill, the Griffith is a free science museum/ observatory worth a visit. You can spend hours inside learning about space, the planets, and looking at the exhibits. Our favorite part: we get to weigh ourselves on different planets! Due to the differing gravitational pulls on each of our solar system’s planets, each individual weighs differently on every planet. If you weigh 150 pounds on earth, for example, on the scale for the planet Jupiter you will weigh 351 lbs, and 57 lbs on the Martian scale, and 9 lbs on Pluto’s. Mackenzie has been on these scales several times in her young life and always loves to compare the differences. From a mommy/ educators point of view, I love that this is a kinesthetic and intrapersonal way to demonstrate gravity and its effects on children and adults alike. Don’t be fooled, it may be the kids oohing and ahhing but the adults are just a impressed.
The Griffith certainly offers it’s visitors a great deal within its walls, but the hills and canyons that surround it offer plenty of vistas and photo opportunities. As you walk towards the Griffith from the parking lot, you have a beautiful view of downtown Los Angeles to the right, the Hollywood sign behind you and the walking trails underneath. If you’re feeling adventurous you can go for a hike or you can pay .50 cents (bring plenty of quarters) to turn one of the telescopes on and look out into downtown and the Hollywood sign. There really is something for everyone.
6:41pm- our tummies are grumbling and we’ve decided on Italian.
8:12pm- A quick drive back to Hermosa Beach (of course I’m joking, there’s no such thing as a quick drive in Los Angeles, it takes us an hour and a half) and we arrive at Fritto Misto. A local Italian eatery, we walk in and order the Jumbo Ravioli (we’re very hungry). It’s green (don’t say I didn’t warn you, for the kids sake), topped with a creamy sauce and yummy bacon. A big serving on a typical evening but tonight we devoured it all. For under $40 dlls we are happy, stuffed, and close to home.
Our morning routine of breakfast, showers and getting in the car works wonders and before you know it we are on our way to the Santa Monica Pier. Of course, between breakfast and showers we got sidetracked with a “quick” walk to the beach. That’s the beauty of a calm family vacation, anything goes. Mackenzie and Andy jumped some more waves and ran around the shore. A few hours later they were happy as pie.
11:26am- everyone’s in the car and ready to go. GPS says 19.1 miles and 47 minutes.
12:39pm- The drive went faster than expected and we’ve arrived at the Pier. There’s a parking area about two blocks away, across from the beach, that charges $12 per day. But today we’ve decided to park right on the pier for $3 an hour. We find a spot serendipitously in front of the The Albright, our chosen lunch spot. So we went in and had ourselves a yummy lunch.
1:31pm- Time to walk around the pier! There’s shops, games and rides for the whole family to enjoy. Mackenzie is keen to get on the rides and we make a beeline the ticket booth. Individual rides cost $8 for anyone over 9 years old and we opt for the $28.95 unlimited ride wristbands. You can usually find a 15% off coupon online and it pays for itself in three rides! It’s a no brainer if you plan on spending some time on the pier. Our visit coincides with a pretty calm Sunday and Mackenzie is able to enjoy more than her fair share of rides.
We always like to walk around and head to the end of the pier and on this occasion we are rewarded with a curious seal swimming by the pier! It was amazing to see this beautiful creature out in the wild, just swimming along and playing. The truth is that he looked as curious about us and we were of him.
Eventually we realized that the day was winding down and decided it was time to head home.It was a jammed packed weekend, but we took it calmly and with a relaxed mentality. Sometimes I feel like we achieve more if we don’t carry a to do list. It was two days in the Los Angeles area and a family fun-filled weekend we won’t soon forget.