Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Ups and Downs of LA

Griffith Park in LA. No idea who the guy is - he wandered in and posed as I took it!

I have been to LA twice in my life and it's one city that leaves me with very mixed feelings. For me, it is a stressful city to visit, and a large part of that stress is caused by the traffic. I have a rule that I do not drive in Los Angeles. Not gonna do it.
That leaves Nic to deal with those hassles while I navigate.

Our recent trip to LA had the added stress of involving family. My parents, my sister, her husband, and their kids flew to California, spent a week at Disney and Palm Springs, and then drove up to LA where we met them for the second week.

Now don't get me wrong. It was great to see them. In fact, with just 5 real days for doing stuff, it wasn't long enough. But a group of 8 people, ranging in age from 7 to 64, with vastly different likes and dislikes, not to mention two vehicles and GPS that became decidedly squiffy for the last few days... it adds up to a certain amount of stress.

Long Beach is a beautiful spot to spend a summer evening
Here I am going to share my favorite spots to spend some time in and around LA.

1. Long Beach.

Visit the Aquarium, dine, shop, and enjoy a stroll with some beautiful scenery. Gorgeous area.

2. Toi on Sunset. Great place to eat. We ate here the first time I visited LA and made sure to come back this time. Best of all, it had a great array of vegetarian options for my niece. (We were surprised what poor veggie options many restaurants had). Go for the vibe. Go for the food.


Santa Monica. When the city gets me stressed, I need to be by the sea. Santa Monica pier had plenty of attractions for the kids, the beach was clean. We came back a few days later to meet a friend at one of the nearby restaurants in the 3rd St area. I love Santa Monica.

Incidentally, we also visited Venice Beach. Interesting for people watching and the sight of my 7 year old niece busting through the bodybuilders at Muscle Beach to play on their equipment was awesome. However, my other niece felt distinctly uncomfortable and the area doesn't have anything like the family friendly feel of Santa Monica.

Santa Monica Beach
4. Carousels. Santa Monica Pier, LA Zoo, Long Beach, Ventura County Fair... I lost track of the number of carousels my niece rode on. She loved them all.

5. Yes, I mentioned the Ventura County Fair. By the end of the week, I needed out of city space so we drove up to Oxnard for the fair. Tons of fun. Plenty of fresh air. Pig racing. Deep fried Oreos. And of course a drive back to LA via the...

6. Pacific Coast Highway. Perfect for breathtaking views of the ocean.

Stop off at the Reel Inn in Malibu to soak up the atmosphere while enjoying a beer and some seafood.

7. Go whale-watching. We took a two-hour trip with LA Waterfront. While we didn't see any whales, we did find ourselves in a large pod of dolphins. Again, the 7 year old had a (pardon the pun) whale of a time.

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