Los Angeles beyond the Mouse (Part 1of 3)
After a harsh winter it is nice to head to warmer climates in California. So, we took a 7 day trip to Los Angeles for Spring Break last year. I’m not gonna lie, we visited Disneyland first. But all things Disney require a post of their own, so if that’s what you are looking for, you’re outta luck here.
The nice thing about the hotels close to Disneyland is that they are set up to put the maximum number of people in one room. So we got one standard room that fit our family of 5 at the Fairfield Inn by Marriott. (We stayed for free on points for 7 nights!! But that is for later post.) Although, it did mean that when we hit attractions beyond the mouse, we had to drive a little to get around. I let this be the only video game time during our trip, so we had little complaining during our commute on those days.
We picked a couple of things each day, and grouped them together by location. Therefore, Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, and Santa Monica Pier made up one of our days. Beverly Hills was not a huge interest for my boys, but we still decided to give it a shot. We parked the car in one of the lots at the far end of the street. For Beverly Hills, the small parking structure smelled horribly of urine. I guess fancy people have drivers and never experience the parking lot?
A leisurely stroll down the street peering in windows came to an abrupt halt when my boys spotted this Bogatti Veyron parked on the street. It’s a car. Just in case you didn’t know (like me). They took pictures with keys in their hand, making sure not to touch it!! I was clueless, but it was the highlight of their visit to Rodeo Drive. We visited the inside of the Nike Town just off Rodeo Drive and called it done.
Just off Rodeo Drive is the cupcake mecca know as Sprinkles. We drove and parked out front, although we could have walked from Rodeo Drive. Sprinkles started the cupcake craze all those years ago. So we sorta had to go, right? We went inside and ordered cupcakes and milk and then sat outside on a rickety table to eat. They were fantastic and it was fun to try a lot of flavors with 5 people’s choices to take a bite out of. However, out front is a cupcake ATM!! Yes, you read that right! It’s genius for when they get too busy inside! I still had to give it a whirl to take some back to the hotel for dessert later that night.
A relatively short car ride away is Santa Monica Pier. The boys had never seen the pacific ocean and certainly not a tiny amusement park on a pier!! Luckily, there is free parking really close to the pier. We got out and walked up and down the beach first. It was fun to check out the beach and show them the lifeguard stands. It was a slightly overcast day, but still fun to check everything out. It didn’t take long for sand to start flying, so we headed up to the Pier.
As luck would have it, they were filming a television show pilot on the Pier. The boys watched all of the chaos that went along with trying to film in a public place. They were surprised with all of the support staff that it takes to get one shot. Only in California, right? Our first stop on the pier was the Playland Arcade. It was pretty big and had a wide variety of games. We had an epic family battle in air hockey that we’ll never forget.
Our trip was in the middle of March, so the temperatures were still a little cool with the breeze off of the ocean. The boys were wearing hoodies. Our next stop was the end of the pier. We had to go out and see just how far the pier went! There were a few people fishing, and we gawked at all the barnacle looking things and lots of seagulls. The view back towards the shore was gorgeous.
The small amusement park on the pier is called Pacific Park. Being the value hunter that I am, I had scored a two for one groupon on ride wristbands for our visit. So, we hit the ticket booth, redeemed our vouchers for wristbands and had access to unlimited rides. All of the rides are pretty minor, and I don’t know that Hubby and I needed to ride any of them at the regular prices. Although, the view from the top of the ferris wheel is awesome. Luckily, there is no admission fee, so if you just want to chaperone the kids to their rides you can. We rode the ferris wheel, roller coaster, pacific plunge, the scrambler, sea dragon and a few others.
Other activities at the pier include an aquarium and a carousel. We didn’t make it to those parts of the enormous pier. We did stop and gawk at the people attending the trapeze school that day.
Both Beverly Hills and the Santa Monica Pier are definitely wandering tourists stops. It felt nice to just leisurely head from one cool thing to the next without being on a timetable. We had great conversations with the boys. Everything from wealth/materialism to the verdict on cream cheese icing to barnacles and ocean life were discussed that day. My type A personality even had fun eating cupcakes at lunch and having an early dinner at the pier. It was a nice change from the breakneck speed we seem to have at Disneyland.
Tomorrow we’ll head to Hollywood!!