Los Angeles is a sprawling city full of low strip malls, palmed avenues, film studios and over-crowded attractions, BUT that SoCal living is still so sweet. The city's full of beautiful parks, kid-friendly hikes, beaches (oh so many beaches!) and hip vegan restaurants with high chairs. A great destination to profile in our city series for the adventuring family.
Here is a custom 48-hour itinerary for young families visiting L.A.
Old-School: remember the Beverly Hills you grew up on? Brenda and Brandon's BevHills? Well, checking into the Beverly Hills Hotel is like watching an old episode of 90210. Posh, sophisticated and entertaining! They take wonderful care of their littlest guests with adorable VIP cards (access to complimentary beverages and treats on property), teddy bears and mini in-room amenities. The 24-hour concierge is on-call for any child-centric requests, be it bottle warming or babysitting.
New-School: A stay at Mr. C is a chic holiday in and of itself. The warm but masculine Italian interiors do their best to transport you to another era. The refreshing bellini served on arrival certainly helps take the edge off a full day of travel. And the best part? The hotel has recently launched Little C, a tailored welcome to families traveling with tots. Freshly baked cookies and a glass of milk sent to the room on arrival, Honest Company bath products, complimentary cribs and an adorable euro-inspired children's menu all set the tone for a luxurious and pampered getaway for the whole clan.
Home-away-from-home: Book a luxury home or apartment rental via Kid & Coe, the clever booking engine for smart family travel. All properties are displayed on their website with photos and detailed information about child-friendly amenities like cribs, highchairs, potties and proximity to parks.
Because a visit to SoCal wouldn't be complete without a trip to the beach, spend your first day along the coast.
Break-your-fast: In Venice Beach at Superba Food + Bread -- beautiful, local and inspired cuisine, plus high chairs and change tables for the minis. You won't want to miss the pastry that is part croissant and part cinnamon roll. You're welcome.
Play date | Morning activity: Plan a walk along the paved oceanfront boardwalk, starting at the epic pirate-inspired playground on Venice Beach and meandering along to Santa Monica. Make stops at the skateboard park (our kids could have watched these skater boys for hours) as well as the multiple playgrounds along the way.
Lunching: Malibu Farm -- an old vacant pier has been transformed into a fetching farm-to-table dining experience. Head straight to the end of the boardwalk for the more casual counter service. For sit-down-style dining, be sure to book a table at their restaurant by the entrance to the pier.
Play date | Afternoon activity: Spend a couple hours at the beach. Family friendly Paradise Cove is full of kids and has a restaurant offering basic sustenance (don't waste a meal here, but cold beverages served beachside are always a plus). We also love Point Dume -- especially if you visit between December and April when you can whale watch from shore.
Snack time | coffee break: Joan's on Third has just opened a Santa Monica outpost. Great coffee and oh, you must try their coconut cupcakes for a treat.
Early dinner with your tots: Gjusta is Gjelina's bakery outpost however, they excel in more than just pies and pastries (though these are divine). The salads, rotisserie, sandwiches and fish are all on point! It closes early by L.A. standards, but this jives well with the littles' bedtime.
Get a sitter | Night out for mom & dad: If you fancy a fancy cocktail amidst hushed conversations, tinkling crystal bar ware and a piano man, the Tower Bar at the Sunset Tower Hotel should do the trick. Make a dinner reservation at nearby Crossroads Kitchen for tasty, high-end vegan cuisine.
Break-your-fast: at the Fountain Coffee Room for a quintessential Beverly Hills experience. Diner-style grub like flapjacks (in the shape of Mickey Mouse for the tots), eggs your way and bottomless coffee. We were sitting across from George Hamilton on a recent visit -- it doesn't get more Old Hollywood than that!
Play date | Morning activity: Strap on your baby carrier, oil up the stroller -- whatever mode of transport suits you best -- and head to Runyon Canyon to work off that breakfast. The fresh air and killer views will do the whole family good.
Lunch: at the fabulous Hotel Bel-Air with chef Wolfgang Puck is always a highlight. Families are welcome -- request a private booth so when the littles get restless, you won't disturb the Hollywood royalty in residence. And be sure to stroll the grounds and visit the swans before you go.
Play date | Afternoon activity: Love the LACMA? Be sure to add a visit to The Broad Contemporary Art Museum (BCAM). We were suitably impressed with the Pritzker Prize-winning building designed by architect Renzo Piano in addition to the works on display.
OR visit the Arts District, Downtown L.A. for cool coffee cafes, well-curated shops, delicious juice bars and healthy eats. It's not a huge footprint which makes it easy to stroll with or without a stroller.
Snack time | coffee break: Coffee Commissary makes a great cup of Joe after a museum visit and don't miss Blacktop to fuel your Arts District exploration. While wandering, don't miss their neighbours, Poketo for gifts, and for cool but casual men's gear at Apolis Common (all ethically made and sourced goods).
Early dinner with the tots: Gracias Madre for tasty vegan Mexican cuisine. It's big and loud so you won't feel like you're children are being disruptive if they get rowdy. Be sure to sample a cocktail (or two) and order the tostadas de ceviche!
If you just can't muster the energy to leave your hotel or home rental and crave a night in with no cooking (don't blame you), we love the L.A.-based app Postmates, which allows you to instantly order food from any restaurant within a specific radius delivered to your door in under an hour. The Uber-like premise means you can dine (as we did) on Cafe Gratitude cuisine without having to sit in traffic, secure a sitter, or risk restaurant meltdowns.
*All photos taken by Amanda Blakley; Kid & Coe home photographs provided by Kid & Coe. The authour received press rates at the hotels featured in this blog.MORE ON HUFFPOST:
Dubai has the glitz and the glamor – the Las Vegas factor – but in Oman you’ll find a more authentic vacation experience. The Arab world’s oldest independent state has a clutch of influences – Arabian of course but Indian and African too. This former trading empire has a vast desert landscape, towering mountains and a stunning 1,240-mile stretch of Indian Ocean coastline that glimmers with marine life. Turtles lay their eggs on the beaches at Ras al Hadd, Ras Al Junayz and Masirah Island. Dolphin-watching (from Fahal Island) and dhow cruises through Musandam’s fjords are very popular with families. Search and compare cheap flights to Oman.
The Mayan Peninsula guarantees sun and fun but Costa Rica – “rich coast” in Spanish – has plenty of treasures of its own. This diverse country – in nature, culture and scenery – is a peaceful slice of heaven and Costa Ricans are determined to keep it that way. Among the jewels of the Pacific Coast are surfing and diving spot Tamarindo, world-famous Witch’s Rock and Ollie’s Point within Parque Nacional Santa Rosa. Corcovado National Park, on the Osa Peninsula in the southwest, is the jewel in Costa Rica’s crown. Considered “the most biologically intense place on Earth in terms of biodiversity” by “National Geographic,” it’s home to some of the rarest animals in the world. Search and compare cheap flights to Costa Rica.
Brazil is on everyone’s radar these days. It will host the World Cup in 2014 and Rio de Janeiro will host the Olympics in 2016. It does have the Amazon Rainforest of course but so do nine other countries. Bolivia also boasts Potosí, the world’s highest city at 13,420 feet and Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest lake at 12,467 feet, Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve, the most visited protected area in the country and the stunning Salar de Uyuni (salt flats). And it’s one of the cheapest destinations in South America so visiting the Amazon will not be as pricey as if you visited in Brazil. Search and compare cheap flights to Bolivia.
Bavaria is the land of fairytale castles, show-stopping beer festivals and heart-stopping food, swooping forests, towering mountains and roiling rivers. Precisely what draws hundreds of thousands of international visitors each year. However, in the north of the country, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania has the World Heritage towns, fairytale castles and white-sandy beaches. Don’t let the words “North Sea” put you off. The Baltic is calmer, expansive and empty. Family-friendly spots include Rügen, Germany’s biggest island, Juist (you need to take a ferry, or a seven-minute plane ride to get there) and Warnemünde, part of Rostock. Search and compare cheap flights to Germany.
We’ve been going to Corfu for a long time; it’s one of the original package-holiday destinations. This green little island has some very popular tourist resorts that are thronged between Easter and October. If you want the sun and sea and fewer people to share it with, go to Korcula. This Croatian island (legend has it that Marco Polo, the explorer, was born here) is a sleepy place of pine forests and secluded small beaches. Plus, there’s a stunning walled town to explore, much less busy than cruise-ship favorite Dubrovnik. It’s also cheaper than Eurozone countries right now (Croatia will join the European Union on July 1). Search and compare cheap flights to Croatia.
The Canary Islands are hugely popular year round with the sun-starved and wind-chilled, but fly a little farther – just 90 minutes from the U.K. – and find guaranteed sun and sandy beaches in Gambia. The resorts of Kololi, Kotu, Fajara and Bakau on the Atlantic Coast are most popular with visitors. The wildlife in Bijilo Forest Park and the Abuko Nature Reserve is amazing too for those who want to do a little more than laze on the beach. Finally, it’s a cheaper option ($1.50 buys around 50 Dalasi) than the Canaries where $1.50 will buy you a little more than one euro. Search and compare cheap flights to Gambia.
Ölü Deniz on the Turquoise Coast boasts one of Turkey’s most popular beaches and it’s packed during the season with happy families on all-inclusive vacations. If you want to bask on a beach where the beach umbrellas are more than inches apart, Patara – about a 90-minute drive from Ölü Deniz and a few miles from Kalkan (a popular, small resort) – has a stretch of sand that is quiet and unspoiled. So unspoiled is this beach that the endangered loggerhead turtle nests here. No high-rise hotels crowd this beach — it’s backed by dunes and marshland and accommodations veer toward low-rise hotels and pensions. Search and compare cheap flights to Turkey.
It’s a showstopper; there’s no denying that, but, unbelievable as it sounds, the Grand Canyon gets busy! Canyonlands in Utah has been carved into a labyrinth of canyons, buttes and mesas by the architect of the Grand Canyon, the Colorado River, as well as the Green River and their tributaries. There are more trails and accessible places to explore here and the views are breathtaking. Search and compare cheap flights to Utah.
Budapest is already nicknamed the Paris of the East and, if you’re looking for the glamor and stateliness of Paris and Vienna without the hefty Euro price tag (Hungary uses the forint), this is the place. The Hungarian capital is divided into two by the River Danube. Most visitors go to Buda, the ancient, wooded and hilly district, and Pest is home to the Inner City, the Hungarian Parliament, Heroes’ Square and Andrássy Avenue. One of the great pleasures of Budapest is relaxing in the thermal baths such as Szechenyi or Kiraly Bath, which dates from the 16th century. Search and compare cheap flights to Budapest.
The power of Inner Earth in Middle Earth, Rotorua is one of New Zealand’s most popular destinations, attracting visitors for more than a century. If you want a thermal wonderland with fewer visitors, the Hidden Valley – you can only get there by boat – might just be a better bet. Orakei Korako is situated 45 minutes south of Rotorua (and 25 minutes North of Taupo) and its geysers gush, springs soar into the sky and mud pools bubble tirelessly. The silica terraces are beautiful with romantic names such as Emerald (the largest of its kind in New Zealand), Rainbow, Cascade and Golden Fleece. Travel bible “Lonely Planet” proclaimed Orakei Korako “possibly the best thermal area left in New Zealand.” Search and compare cheap flights to New Zealand.
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