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Trip Report--a quick trip out to LA with my 5 year old son.

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Chicago
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Trip Report--a quick trip out to LA with my 5 year old son.

Had a great stay! Landed at LAX late on a Saturday evening so I stayed at the Renaissance Airport. I was with my 5 year old so he loved taking the shuttle to the hotel and then afterward, we went into the whirlpool. The hotel was very nice, as most Renaissance's are. I was going to cab to Santa Monica but then I found out that the bus station was in walking distance from the hotel that took me directly to Santa Monica. So I took the number 3 bus, which my son just loved. I was dropped off right near the Hostel I was staying at. Why a hostel? Well, first, this hostel was just a block from the SM Pier plus I was on a budget and I find hostels to be quite fun--it's easy to meet interesting people from all over the world. Of course, I did get a private room (would not stay otherwise of course with my son) and it had a nice TV and a desk and a closet and it included breakfast in the morning. I did meet a few nice people, including one 85 year old woman who was born in China, moved to South Africa as a child but eventually ended up in San Francisco. She was pretty fascinating. They also had a huge kitchen completely stocked with utensils and cups, glasses, cutting boards so it's easy to whip up a snack for my constantly hungry and thirsty child. Of course, Santa Monica was awesome, the board walk was terrific and my son, of course, loved the pier. I found the rides and games to be pretty expensive but at least there was no admission price to go on the pier so it can be free, if you just walk. We also went to the Aquarium, which was $3 to go in which I thought was an awesome deal except it is just one room. But a great one room and it's real hands on--you can touch the starfish--and some other fish. They had little sharks there that you could watch getting fed, again, my son loved it. The next day we walked over to Venice Beach. I did read some not great reviews about it so I thought I would go early on a Monday morning and I should be fine. Well, I was fine--but I was not that happy there. I did feel a bit uncomfortable. It was not my kind of place--seemed kind of drug oriented--even the T Shirt shops had all kinds of drug type Tshirts and there weren't any nice restaurants--I walked quite a bit waiting for it to get nice but it never really did. Then I saw a lady walking her dog and asked her where the canals were and she said she lived that way and walked me over to them. Those canals were very cool. It was tough getting my son's stroller over those bridges though but I loved that area. Definitely glad I made the trip to see that. I wonder how it is bug wise in the summer though living there? Anyway, each afternoon when I'm on vacation, I go to a fancy hotel and get a nice glass of wine and my son gets a dessert. So, I went to Lowe's and they had a nice area to sit and have a glass of wine. I also went to the Marriott the next day which had outstanding ocean views, great wine and gorgeous desserts. I also made it to the Fairmont but they didn't have ocean views to sip wine. They had a garden with a waterfall and pond with fish, which my son enjoyed. Next day, I rented a car and headed up to Malibu for the Getty hilltop museum. I really loved it there. Who wouldn't. A beautiful palace that was built to house the roman and greek art of J Paul Getty. The art was wonderful, the grounds amazing. Pools and gardens and portico's, oh my! Even my son loved it--anytime he got ancy looking at the art, I would take him out to a balcony or a pond and he would be satisfied. Of course, there was a lot of myth type art--like Zeus and Hermes so I thought my next stop for lunch would be Neptune's Net. Well, it wasn't my type of place really. It was sort of confusing and there were two places to order and one was battered food I guess and the other side was not battered I guess. We got a couple orders of ceviche and sat down on the porch but the sun was really hot so it wasn't great for my son. It was some tasty ceviche though. On to Santa Barbara and then Santa Ynez Mountain Marriott. I didn't see much of SB--just a drive through the wharf area--but it seemed nice. And well, I heard Oprah bought a place there to retire so if she can retire anywhere but chose this place, it's probably nice. Santa Ynez was ok--nothing spectacular. We went over to the Danish area--Salvang--cute little touristy town. Candy shops, restaurants, cute souvenir places, charming little hotels. The Marriott was older, but adequate. Nice whirpool and a really nice fire pit with sofas around it. It was nice to sit out in front of the fire talking to people and star gazing. Next day, back south and stopped in Malibu for lunch. This time, I gave Duke's a try and boy what a great place. Perfect for me. The staff was sensational, very accommodating (because I changed seats as I wasn't happy with the first table I received). My waiter was great and helped me with my food selections. The fish was delicious--I had a herb encrusted Mahi Mahi and also a crab and macadamia nut wonton. Hmmmm. Plus, the huge windows overlooking the Pacific made this a perfect spot for us. From here, back to the airport Renaissance where I can return the car, put my son in the whirlpool and the next morning, the shuttle bus dropped us at LAX. Great trip! Thanks everyone on TA for your help!

Santa Monica, CA
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1. Re: Trip Report--a quick trip out to LA with my 5 year old son.

What a great trip report. I admire your travel style, including that you stay in hostels! Thanks for taking the time to write it.

Your assessment is spot on about Venice Beach boardwalk. It is not for everyone, especially those with children.

I, too, love Duke's. It is my favorite place to get a Hawaii "fix"! Did you see the Hula Pie? Outrageously huge piece of ice cream pie.

Sometime, you should spend some time in Santa Barbara. It is beautiful and a favorite weekend get-away for Angelinos. By the way, Oprah owns homes pretty much everywhere! It's all anyone seems to talk about on Maui, too. I don't think she frequents it or the Montecito (the name of the community in Santa Barbara) one very often.

Santa Monica...
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2. Re: Trip Report--a quick trip out to LA with my 5 year old son.

Glad you had a great trip and got to see so much!

Note: we do not have a bug problem here, not even in the summer, and not at the canals.

Santa Clara...
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3. Re: Trip Report--a quick trip out to LA with my 5 year old son.

Great TR! Glad you enjoyed your stay at the hostel. It's not everyone's cup of tea but I agree it can be fun to meet people and it is not all party and booze and college kids. You are giving your son such a gift with not only travel to LA, but the experience of the hostel and meeting interesting people like that 85 yr old lady. I would love to talk to her too! Also kudos for showing all that you can have a great time in SoCal with a young child without stepping foot in one single wallet busting amusement park. Bravo!

I am glad I squinted through the long paragraph to the end. : ) No worries. I am guessing you wrote on Word and cut and pasted but the formatting didn't get carried through.

Edited: 5:43 pm, December 01, 2013
Chicago
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4. Re: Trip Report--a quick trip out to LA with my 5 year old son.

Chinita, sorry about the no paragraphs--I tried to edit but it timed out and published as is. I also forgot to give my opinion on Abott Kinney (meh). Yes hostels are not all young boozers--in fact, there is no alcohol allowed on the premises at most "HI" brand of hostels. Elle, stunned, but glad, that you don't have a bug problem in the canals. Plum, yes I imagine Oprah does have houses all over. Lucky Oprah. And she is lucky because I really don't think she's talented. I just saw Stedman last week in Chicago so she must be here-- If you believe those two are a couple, lol. No I didn't see the big pie at Duke's. Something to look forward to on my next visit!

San Francisco
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5. Re: Trip Report--a quick trip out to LA with my 5 year old son.

Great report (I admit I copied it into a WP and added a few paragraphs).

I commend your parenting style!! There is a whole lot more to childhood than going to Disney. Getting kids introduced to museums and "learning to look" at an early age is fabulous and is something he'll remember forever.

Glad you had a great time.

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6. Re: Trip Report--a quick trip out to LA with my 5 year old son.

Wow! Sounds like you had a very successful trip! :)

Manhattan Beach...
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7. Re: Trip Report--a quick trip out to LA with my 5 year old son.

Loved your trip report, and admire how brave you were to travel with your son and adventure out and mingle with people in a strange city.

I too would have liked to chat with the 85 year old lady. What an experience.

Yes, next time order Hula Pie at Duke's. Doesn't get much better!

Here is a photo of Oprah's home in Montecito.

www.edhat.com/site/tidbit.cfm?nid=47392

Thanks for taking the time to type out your experiences.

Sydney, Australia
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8. Re: Trip Report--a quick trip out to LA with my 5 year old son.

I just have a (silly) question.

What is a whirlpool? Is it a spa/jacuzzi or like little plunge pool?

Manhattan Beach...
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9. Re: Trip Report--a quick trip out to LA with my 5 year old son.

Jacuzzi is a brand name, though many of us just use that name for a whirlpool, hot tub or spa..

You are correct, it's the same thing.

10. Re: Trip Report--a quick trip out to LA with my 5 year old son.

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