I LOVE Los Angeles, but I grew up on the East Coast, and even with a sister living there for the past 4 years, the logistics of traveling alone with small children meant that I only made one previous trip to visit her. That first trip I really did it right: I had a sitter set up in advance so that each day my sister and I had time to go workout/eat/drink/play. Our Los Feliz Airbnb had a huge back yard and pool and the boys and I would play and swim every afternoon, before falling into our king size bed and cuddling up all night. I thought I really had the solo-parent-travel thing down pat.
This time around, a few things had changed, most notably the arrival of boy #3. Even though he had flown 15 times in his first 9 months, the 6.5 hour flight to California was daunting. I decided to take my own advice, count arriving-alive-and-together as a success, and just do it. (We could have waited a few days and flown with their dad, but I wanted the extra days to hang with my sis!)
Our week highlights
- The flight: all I could think was, “I’m never doing this again…except next week when I fly alone with kids to Europe…😱😝” But we made it. Together and alive…I’ll count it as a win.
- We stayed at the Kimpton Everly in Hollywood. It was in a great location and gorgeous, with a huge lobby to play in, with a cool bar and a pool table. It had an actual pool as well that was heated with comfy couches piled around it. The room was so nice and comfortable…for a last-minute pick off of my “hotel tonight” app it was a huge win.
- Griffith Observatory I was super jealous of all the runners going up on foot, but with kids we smartly drove to the top. We walked up the hill to the first set of picnic tables, the boys climbed on the fence, I snapped a few pics, and Van promptly announced that he had to poop. Back down to the public restrooms we went. I should write a book covering public restrooms around the world, because I’m pretty sure I’ve wiped little butts in all of them.
- Huntington Library Botanical Gardens This was amazing. Wander through forests and gardens from Japan, China, and Australia, explore desert gardens, and a tropical rainforest. If you have kids, plan to spend most of your time at the koi ponds petting turtles.
- We ate ALL the vegan food! Los Angeles is regularly listed as America’s top vegan destination, and for good reason. We ate at several Café Gratitude locations, Gracias Madre, Crossroads and The Butcher’s Daughter. They were SO good and I only wish we could have tried more places!
- Venice Beach We LOVE the boardwalk!!! This was our favorite part of LA, mixing the nitty gritty and the skater cool with upscale shopping, restaurants and bars. I took several hundred pictures this week of places I wished I could go if I didn’t have kids…I’d say 75% of those pictures were in the Venice/Santa Monica area.
- We drove up to Malibu on Mother’s Day, stopping first at Café Gratitude for a giant bag of vegan pastries. The boys were BEYOND excited, because Malibu features prominently in their favorite movie, the 1969 surf classic “Endless Summer” starring Robert August and Mike Hynsen. We stopped at Boardriders and got them some new suits and hats and they still have not stopped telling everyone they shopped where Robert August shops. We ate at Nobu Malibu for the gorgeous view of the Pacific Ocean. This is the most devotedly non-vegan-friendly sushi restaurant I’ve ever been to, with pork fat and chicken broth added to literally everything except the fruit plate. But it was beautiful, and I had my sweet bag of Café G waiting in the car!
- Santa Monica We actually added an extra night on to our trip, just so we could spend more time in Santa Monica. We took the kids to the pier arcade, ate amazing Mexican food and drank the best margaritas at Casa Martin. Everyone in instagram-world recommended Sugar Fish for sushi, but it was a little too serious of a sushi place for kids on the verge of mental breakdowns (yet another place added to my alternate-world-with-no-kids vacation itinerary), so we ended up at Sushi Roku and it was surprisingly delicious. We stayed at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, and put in the requisite time at their pool, overlooking the Pacific.
On our last day, we stopped in at Poseidon Paddle and Surf for coffee and left with a killer new Carver skateboard, our only souvenir from LA. We no longer have a reason to visit California, as my sister is moving to New York for her residency years. But we can watch Endless Summer and ride our new board and tell everyone that we know “where the girls are”.