“Did you change your tickets?” asked the check-in agent.
“Er, no,” I replied.
“Only I can’t find you on the system.”
I’m not going to lie. Our summer trip began with me trying to do calm breathing (in for five, out for seven) and not have a heart attack.
It took 90 minutes for BA to discover that someone in the airline’s Indian call centre had changed our tickets. They still existed, but were now in the account of a Mr and Mrs Patel, travelling to Mauritius. BIT stressful.
Sixteen hours later, we were in Venice – the sun was setting, the sand was warm between my toes, and… relax.
Venice Beach is the perfect place to base yourself for a trip to LA with kids. I never quite understand the appeal of sitting in downtown traffic when you could be on the beach.
Our apartment was about 10 blocks from Venice Beach Boardwalk, with all the craziness that offers. Flea loves to watch the riders at the skate park, and I enjoyed the Venice Beach Bookstore, before we grabbed dinner at the attached cafe and bar.
If you’re feeling energetic, then you and the kids can rent bikes here for $20 a day, and it’s about a 15 minute ride down the front to Santa Monica. Here, you can check out the famous Santa Monica Pier, and pose for cheesy photos at the end of Route 66.
Don’t bother eating here, though – head across the street to the 3rd St Promenade which is lined with restaurants. My favourite is the Jamaican Cha Cha Chicken shack, which is cheap and very cheerful.
Our first day in LA would usually be spent on the beach, catching up on jetlag, but I’m travelling with an almost 12-year-old so it was off to the shops!
We kicked off with breakfast at the LA Farmers Market on 3rd and Fairfax. Dupars has been on the same site since 1938 and is famous for its pancakes. I can confirm they are indeed amazing, especially paired with a fresh fruit bowl, and some blue skies.
The Farmers Market has lots of food stalls, with every sort of food you can imagine, along with crafts, souvenirs and more. At lunchtime in the summer there are often live bands, and dancing among the chairs and vegetables. It’s a lot of fun.
After browsing through the market, we walked to The Grove shopping area. Flea shopped up a storm in Sephora and had a mini make-up tutorial (free!) then we hit up Barnes & Noble, Pottery Barn, Nordstrom, Gap and Pink.
The Grove also has a cinema so we took refuge from the heat and watched a movie, coming back outside as it was starting to cool down. At this time of day, there’s often a live band in The Grove, and blankets on the grass so you can grab a dairy-free frozen fruit press and take a seat in the shade. It’s lovely.
We grabbed dinner at Whole Foods on the way back to our Air BnB. I love Whole Foods here, you can pick up fresh hot mealsfor under $10. Flea got some sushi and some tofu chow mein, and I got tacos. Because clearly, MY body is not a temple.
The next day, we decided to hit the tourist trail and Hollywood Boulevard. It was absolutely packed because of a movie premier that night, but it’s still exciting to go and see the stars on the pavement and all the weird dressed-up characters on the boulevard.
We took our low-brow day to a new level by booking on a TMZ Celebrity Tour. This turned out to be a hilarious 2-hour jaunt around Hollywood with a distinctly low-brow feel. We saw the chicken restaurant where Brad Pitt handed out flyers, the corner where Hugh Grant was arrested, the Kardashian’s fashion shop. Definitely recommended.
We finished off with lunch at Hollywood Hard Rock Cafe which is cheesy and touristy, but that’s the sort of day we were having, and I make no apologies. But do order with care, everything here is HUGE.
Honestly, it takes about two days to get used to the time change in LA – you’re eight hours behind the UK so it’s hard to stay awake past 8pm, and then you’ll be wide awake at 5am. So we waited until day three to deal with anything taxing. Like Disneyland.
Wish me luck! I’ll share how we got on in our next post!