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What to do and where to stay w/ 11 year old?

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Boston, MA
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What to do and where to stay w/ 11 year old?

We'll be in LA at the end of June as part of a 9 night West Coast trip starting with 3 nights in SD and ending with 2 nights in SF. I could really use some help trying to figure out how to plan the 4 days and nights in between.

I think I want to include a night in Santa Barbara and one in Monterey to bracket our drive up the coast. We don't mind hotel hopping as we travel light and will be out and about most of each day. That leaves 2 nights/3 days in the LA area - it will be a Fri - Sun if that makes a difference. As we'll still be on East Coast time, I expect most of our activities to be during the day and we like to get an early start.

On our list of things we are interested in (in order of importance as I doubt we'll fit it all in): time at the Santa Monica pier (my daughter's #1), Getty Museum (my #1), a studio tour, Universal Studios, Griffith Observatory, Rodeo Drive (my daughter thinks there will be celebrities just hanging out waving to her). We are not interested in shopping.

We'll be using points for our hotel stays so nightly budget is not really something I can pinpoint. We are wanting to stay somewhere "nice" but it doesn't have to be extravagant. For LA we prefer to use Starwood (Sheraton/Westin) or Hyatt. Our hotel requirements are #1 family friendly (ie not the Holywood W), #2 convenient location, #3 easy parking (doesn't have to be free but not outrageous).

So, I ask the experts for advice on an itinerary and some suggestions on where to stay.

Corona del Mar, CA
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1. Re: What to do and where to stay w/ 11 year old?

For some reason Starwoods and Hyatts are thin in the LA tourist areas.

Downtown has some options with a Hyatt, Westin and Sheraton, but then parking costs in Downtown are outrageous. The W Westwood is probably worth looking at, that is a decent location for hitting both the Santa Monica side and then Beverly Hills as well.

Santa Monica...
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2. Re: What to do and where to stay w/ 11 year old?

W Westwood is ideal for you. Centrally located, close to the Getty and also Rodeo. Not a major party hotel like the W in Hollywood.

Santa Monica, CA
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3. Re: What to do and where to stay w/ 11 year old?

Westwood would be a good place to stay.

You may have more opportunity to see celebrities in Santa Monica, especially if you stroll the shops and restaurants on Montana Ave.

If you find you have some spare time (I know, not likely when planning a road trip), you may want to visit the California Science Center and/or Natural History Museum. They are located in the same area, near USC, and are excellent museums. Visit the pretty rose garden at Exposition Park afterwards.

I like the idea of stopping in Santa Barbara and Monterey along your drive.

Nashville, Tennessee
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4. Re: What to do and where to stay w/ 11 year old?

Also, if it's in your point use range, check out the Le Meridian Delfina in Santa Monica, as it's also a Starwood property.

starwoodhotels.com/lemeridien/…

Boston, MA
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5. Re: What to do and where to stay w/ 11 year old?

Thanks for the advice, I'll look into the W Westwood although I'm not sure how family friendly a W would be I think my daughter would be thrilled with the trendiness of it. We are actually considering the W in San Fran (but that's another thread in another forum).

As for the Science Center and Natural History Museum - we have been to many of those in various other cities (Boston, NY, DC etc.). and because our time is limited, we are looking to do things that are somewhat unique to the LA area.

I'd love to stay in Santa Monica but the only points option that I'm aware of is the Delfina and not sure if that is worth the points since it's a few blocks from the beach.

Any input on the Andaz West Hollywood? What about the Sheraton Universal? Westin Bonaventure?

TIA

Corona del Mar, CA
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6. Re: What to do and where to stay w/ 11 year old?

>>>Any input on the Andaz West Hollywood? What about the Sheraton Universal? Westin Bonaventure? <<<

I think the Andaz West Hollywood would be a lot less kid friendly then the W Westwood. The Andaz WeHo is on the Sunset Strip in the middle of party central because of the clubs on Sunset.

The Sheraton Universal is a very nice hotel, but I'd still chose Westwood. The Sheraton Universal is really only good for visiting Universal Studios. It is isolated on top of the hill at USH and you'd have to get in the car to go anyplace other than CityWalk or USH.

The Westin Bonaventure has greatly improved according to our Downtown LA Expert, FitzLA, but last time I was there (2009?) valet parking was $42 and they lost my car......

Nashville, Tennessee
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7. Re: What to do and where to stay w/ 11 year old?

Scott is correct, Westin Bonaventure is a great hotel, but not sure it's the greatest area for what you're looking for, and the parking is indeed expensive, I believe up to $45 a night now.

Boston, MA
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8. Re: What to do and where to stay w/ 11 year old?

Eek! I would prefer to pay less for parking than for dinner, lol.

Looks like the W and the Delfina are not available for points if you need 2 beds according to the websites. We have 2 adults plus my daughter so having 2 beds is essential for us. I'll call them directly to be sure but I guess it's the Sheraton Universal by default unless I can find something else. I have some time yet...

How would the drive be on a Saturday morning from Universal to Santa Monica? Is that a swimmable beach? I have seen so many pictures of the pier but not sure I've ever seen anyone in the water!

Also, re surfing in the Pacific... my daughter discovered what she calls a "hidden talent" for surfing while we were at Waikiki Beach last year. I felt like Waikiki was a very safe beach to learns since the waves are long lasting and not very high plus she had an instructor nearby. I'm sure the subject of renting a surf board will come up while we are in CA. My instinct is to say no way based solely on what I've seen in movies and on tv. In reality, how safe is the surfing for amateurs?

Corona del Mar, CA
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9. Re: What to do and where to stay w/ 11 year old?

When is the trip? Surfing is really only possible late July to early October without a wetsuit.

There are places that will rent wetsuits, but you need to choose where to surf carefully because few places have the gentle, forgiving waves of Waikiki and remember that the boards they use in Waikiki are so big they have to wave off airplanes to keep them from landing on them. The standard board you rent in CA will be considerably smaller.

Pasadena, California
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10. Re: What to do and where to stay w/ 11 year old?

Do you have Marriott points? There are a decently located Courtyard and Residence Inn (Beverly Hills-adjacent: Century City area).

Ask about rollaways for your child, if you can only get a one bedded room in the hotels you mentioned. My kids could (and did) sleep on anything at that age...including a sleeping bag on the floor, at least once. If the hotel will allow 3 in the room.

Regarding the drive up the coast: I dearly love Santa Barbara, but it isn't ideally located to launch you on the Big Sur drive. It is too far south. I'd recommend spending much of the day in Santa Barbara, but spending the night further north, at Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo or Cambria. You could even drive up in the evening, after a full day of sightseeing in SB, as 101 is easy freeway driving.