March 25, 2008

DTQ: Road Trip Tips? We're Coming To Los Angeles

So my wife's got an astrophysics conference next week in downtown Los Angeles, and we all decided to tag along.

I think I know my art world Los Angeles, and I know my way around some of Sunset's scene-ier, but not so family-friendly hotels. But it occurs to me that I have never been to Los Angeles [& vicinity] with kids.

So while taking the kid[s] to the beach and the Getty and Schindler's Kings Rd House are all no-brainers, and the kid may get her first taste of Matsuhisa [hold the jalapenos], I'd love to hear suggestions of cool, kid-compatible places to go, things to do, studios to crash, and shops to scout.

And if you don't want to leave the name of your secret Silverlake source for mint-in-box Creative Playthings toys in the comments, you can always email. Thanks!


this was free and fun :

there is always the carousel at the santa monica pier.

if you are in silverlake, stop in YOLK

if you are in venice, stop by Modern Child. (although i heard a rumor that they moved.)

have fun!

If you're up for a little freeway work, try the Gamble house in Pasadena. A great example of Arts and Crafts. But then I don't know how well that flies with your little ones.

You'll be in my hood. Some fun places to take a toddler:
Huntington Library (San Marino)
Kidspace (Pasadena)
Aquarium of the Pacific (Long Beach)
Baby Loves Disco (Currently at the Social)
Legoland (Carlsbad)
Storyopolis (Valley - on Ventura)
The Grove/Farmers Market (Fairfax/Beverly)
LA Zoon/Traveltown/Merry Go Round (Griffith Park)
Skirball Center (405/ Sepulveda)
Union Station/Olivera Street

What Creative said.

El Capitan Theater in Hollywood is kid-friendly and fun.

Knott's Berry Farm

Griffith Park

Ikea has a great ball-crawl.

Actually, I am a former Los Angeles resident, now residing in NY, and I recently made the trip out with my 18 month old. Here are a few good options:
For hotels, The Farmer's Daughter Hotel across from the Farmer's Market is a good (relatively affordable option) and you could get a large room/suite with a kitchenette for under $300. A bonus is that it is right across from Whole Foods and the revamped Farmer's Market (I am not a fan of the behemoth called The Grove).

The following are good spots to take children.

Skirball Center - They have a Noah's Ark installation that is interactive and made for children

MOCA at the Geffen - Currently showing the Murakami retrospective (I think)

Hiking in Griffith Park and Griffith Observatory

LA Zoo

Santa Monica Farmer's Market on Wednesdays

Beaches in Malibu (if you are willing to drive)

LA public parks have nothing on NY city parks, but there are a few good ones around.


Alegria on Sunset has good to great Mexican food and they are kid friendly

Alcove on Hyperion is good alfresco dining and kid friendly as well


Paulina Quintana on Sunset in Silverlake

Wee Soles on Sunset in SIlverlake has good kids shoes

and that is all I could think of right now

Definitely do Noah's Ark at the Skirball. Grand Central Market for tortas and tacos, then across the street to the Bradbury building interior. Do a night excursion to the "Urban Light" installation at LACMA; it will yield the best black and white photos of your kids, ever. Hollywood farmer's market on Sunday morning, or 3rd street market any time (Singapore's Banana Leaf for Malaysian curries that kids seem to dig, Loteria Grill for the third best mole in town). Design walk on beverly blvd. in between san vicente and doheny (this is my main stroller stroll, as it allows me to furnish my imaginary home and plan the window display in my imaginary nursery furniture store located in the original Eames/Hermann-Miller gallery building).

Check out this kid-friendly gallery statement:

And go here, because I'd like to hear about it:

What about the La Brea Tar pits? There's a museum there too.

I saw a store that was selling these in Santa Monica:

Man, I was hoping to leech some good tips for my own kids, but most of this is familiar already. I agree with Kidspace and The Huntingdon, which has just opened phase one of a huge Chinese Garden.

The South Pasadena farmer's market is very kid friendly. More of a place to get food and crash with the kids on the train station lawn than do major grocery shopping. It's Thursday afternoons at the So. Pas. Gold Line stop.

La La Ling on Vermont in Los Feliz sells chic trendy kid gear, as does the Rockin' Baby Shop in Eagle Rock.

You'll probably want to check out the BCAM, the newest anagram to scourge the L.A. art landscape. They were requiring ordering tickets online, so you might what to look into it before coming out.

You probably have enough suggestions for things to do. My only advice is that if you are staying in Downtown, which few would recommend, plan the timing and routes of your daytrips well. The 101, the way to and from the Valley, is comparable to the Belt Parkway. The 110 north out of Downtown, to Pasadena (Kidspace, Huntington Library [which has a huge fantastic kids interactive area]) reminds me of the FDR with narrow curvy lanes and on and off-ramps of 20 feet tops and some of the worst traffic you can imagine. With two kids you qualify for the carpool lane south on the 110, take advantage of it. Also, the best quality air is in Palo Verde and the South Bay, it makes a real difference if it's above 75 in Downtown.

The Sunday Farmer's Market on Main Street in Santa Monica is small and packed with families :) The kids line up for the pony rides, and the parents love all the food booths from the local restaurants. And it's just a block to the beach.

First off, the astrophysics conference is downtown? Not at Cal-tech?

Okay, you will be in my neck of the woods, so here goes.

Wee Soles is lovely. Awesome gelato place next door, eat at Casbah Cafe across the street (which also has beautiful clothes for all)

You can walk to Paulina Quintana from here.

About a half mile east on Sunset is Naya's Garden, a very pleasant indoor kids playground with bouncer and slide/ball pit. Across the street from Naya's is a great hipster vietnamese place called Pho We often get take out from Pho and take the kid to Naya's.

The Huntington is great, besides the new Chinese Garden, there is the kids garden, the cactus garden, the japanese garden, and lots of room to run. Across from the kids garden is a cool glass house with interactive displays.

The 110 North from Downtown to Pasadena is easy if you are going against traffic, so go North in the morning and South in the afternoon.

The South Pasadena farmer's market is quaint, small, lovely and massively kid friendly. From downtown you can take the gold line metro and get off right there.

How much modern architecture do you want to see?

A nice view of the Hollywood sign is from Beachwood Canyon Drive.

A nice view of the city lights is from Yamashiro restaurant.

Kidspace is fun. Bring two changes of clothes and a swim suit. There is a lot of water play. Afterwards, it is fun to pack a small picnic and drive north on the 2 above La Canada to Mount Wilson. Watch the sun set over the city and the lights come up. An added benefit is seeing all the radio towers on the mountain top.

Other tips:

If you are going to do a beach, don't go in the water at Santa Monica Pier. It is filthy and your kids can get sick.

The MOCA murakami thang is over.

You can check out Orange Cat for other activities:

[we're missing the opening of Murakami in Brooklyn; we'll be in LA -ed.]

Kidspace is wonderful! I really can't overstate it. And the beach at Paradise Cove in Malibu is clean, not terribly crowded, and has bathrooms and a (not too bad) restaurant). I hope you have a fantastic time!

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