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Thursday, September 5, 2019

Why Los Angeles is the perfect place to take your teen

Southern California, home to surfers, palm trees, perfect weather and Hollywood stars galore. Los Angeles is the epitome of cool. Which makes it the perfect place to take your teenager to help earn you some "cool mom" points.  (My kid is cringing even as I write those words.  Consider my "cool mom" card to be revoked). 

In trying to carve out special one on one time with our kids, we decided to start a new family tradition : taking a short trip with each of our kids before they start high school. They get to pick the place as long as it's within continental North America (sorry kid - no Maui for you!). So Los Angeles it was!

Our requirements for this trip were that our teen had to come up with a general itinerary, or at least a list of places she would like to see and what she wanted to do in LA.  While Universal Studios made that list, it didn't make our itinerary as we had 3 short days to discover all we could in la-la land.

Where we stayed:

For starters we contemplated where to stay, should it be in glamorous Beverly Hills or ocean side in Santa Monica. We ended up opting for the Fairmont Miramar. You can find out why we chose this property and other thoughts on a full blog post that I wrote here.

The Fairmont and location in Santa Monica made for a pretty good choice for our teen.

Other hotels that we had considered were Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica, which is directly on the beach and the ultimate in luxury. Except that the rooms couldn't accommodate the three of us in one room and upgrading to a suite was $$$$. We also considered the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills where good friends of ours recently had the most exceptional stay.

What we ate:

A major part of our travels always revolves around eating good food! Luckily for us our teen loves to try new foods. I usually do my research before hand (this time we had recommendations by a friend who lives in LA and we also used LA Eater to give us suggestions). 
Breakfasts were in the hotel at the Fairmont's Fig restaurant where the teen may have gotten a selfie with The Terminator himself! (gimme back my cool mom points). 

Lunches were out and about, but dinners were researched and booked. 
We ate at:
Rustic Canyon in Santa Monica - a Michelin starred farm to table concept restaurant that was delicious and with great service.
Gjelina - a hot and happening restaurant in Venice,  which has good food and a cool vibe but personally we found the 20% automatic gratuity to be excessive (especially since the service didn't match)
Osteria Mozza - a Michelin starred Italian restaurant in Melrose, which was good.

Other notable restaurants that were recommended to us:
Nobu Malibu (tip - you can try a walk in since reservations are super hard to get)

What we did:

While the Los Angeles area is known for theme parks, in our short 3 day itinerary we opted to not do Universal Studios and Disneyland (after all we couldn't make the other kids at home too jealous!)

Instead we did:

Surf Lessons - this was high on the list of requests by the teen.  She's a natural water baby and loves the ocean, so her and dad got private surf lessons with the Santa Monica Surf School. Their instructor Adam was amazing and this kid is now ready to become a full time surfer!
    Surfer Girl

Beach Life: The L.A are beaches are perfect with huge stretches of soft sand.  We did the Venice beach and boardwalk, Santa Monica Beach and Pier, and the Malibu Pier and Surfrider Beach.  We didn't spend a lot of time at the famous Santa Monica Pier because it was busy and what not things this time around, but it is a vibrant and fun place.

Santa Monica

Warner Bros. Studio Tour: We opted for a studio tour since we were in Hollywood after all. We did the 3 hour tour. We bought our tickets when we got to the studios but you can buy your tickets online ahead of time.  The tours run every 30 mins and are $69/pp.  We had a great time on the sets of Friends, exploring all things Harry Potter, seeing the props from Marvel movies and keeping our eyes peeled for any celebrity sightings (there were none though).

Warner Bros. Studio Hollywood

Rodeo Drive and Beverly Hills: We had to make a stop here even though we weren't planning on doing any shopping (boo!).  There was a free Louis Vuitton exhibit that we went into and we have to say it was the highlights of our stroll along the famous street.

Inside the LV exhibit

Griffith Observatory and Park: This was a pleasant surprise, because it was a part of L.A that I didn't expect - the hills and the views of the city were beautiful.   The Observatory is free except for parking (ahhhh the L.A parking!). It is a great spot for some educational angles but also just for some beautiful views of the city and of the famous Hollywood sign.  Bring water and comfy shoes as well and place for a hike up there. The Observatory does have a little cafe to purchase food or you can bring a picnic and enjoy the grounds.

Hollywood Walk of Fame and Chinese TCL Theater: one of the most famous parts of Hollywood. It is crowded, busy and touristy but we found it was worth it - for the 45 minutes we spent there. Especially for the teen who enjoyed looking for the different stars on the walk of fame.

Malibu: ah Malibu, beautiful but expensive and busy on a weekend. We paid $8 USD for ice cream (each!) on the Malibu Pier.   Some cute shops and restaurants and some laid back casual style but also some dressed to impress stylish people. 

Other things we did:

We drove down the famous Sunset Blvd, during sunset through Beverly Hills and then Bel Air.  We didn't check out any celebrity homes because I didn't have an information on any of that, so we just took in the sights.

Abbot Kinny Blvd in Venice is a great place to stroll and take in the shops and restaurants, we spent a little time there before our dinner out at Gjelina.

The Santa Monica 3rd Street promenade was walking distance from our hotel so we decided to check it out. The street is closed off to cars and is pedestrian friendly with street artists and performers, street art and lots of shops and cafes.

The 3rd street Promenade in Santa Monica

Other Tips & resources 


Give yourself LOTS of time in traffic, especially for the airport. L.A traffic is a real thing ya'll!

LA isn't an inexpensive city as one may have guessed, be warned. Also be prepared to pay for parking everyyyywhhherrreee!

What are you not to be missed spots in LA? Share in the comments!


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