Leave the screaming for the rollercoasters and head to Los Angeles for a squabble-free holiday with something for everyone.
Everyday life is busy, busy, busy. Between school drop-offs, office meetings, homework, swimming and soccer, healthy dinners, birthday parties and late night conference calls, quality family bonding moments seem few and far between. I imagined a vacation with the whole crew to be a time out together to just hang. But traveling with youngsters conjured up a “National Lampoon’s Vacation” style nightmare. Would it be little whiny, rolling eyes as we traipsed the town, or excitement in venturing out with the tribe?
The trip started with the swelling sun peeking from the horizon, bronzed surfers ambled to the shore, waves lapped at the sand and joggers filed out to greet the early morning hours at Santa Monica Beach. I gripped my coffee and braced myself to kick off with some tandem bike riding. After a giggly, wobbly start, cycling on the flat, meandering beachside track at sunrise was a gentle introduction to the city. We leaned our bikes down at the famed Santa Monica Pier and drew in the fresh air and crystal skies from the solar-powered ferris wheel.
Back at The Shore Hotel we were introduced to our new, shiny steed; a Black & White Porsche Cayenne. If ever there was a town to rent your pimped up, dream ride this is it. Los Angeles is the city of famous stars and fast cars. Watching the beachside palm trees whiz by from the stunner SUV was a handsome change from our own “bump around the ‘burbs” station wagon.
Piling out of the carriage at Universal Studios feeling like movie stars, we then jammed in the impressive backlot tour and a dizzying array of super sensory rides. The I-Fly indoor sky diving at Universal Citywalk was an exhilarating rush of adrenalin. My son delighted in the thrill of the ultimate Superman moment as he swooped, hovered and grinned ear to ear with every gush of air.
Culture and education were next on the itinerary with a panoramic mountain tram ride to The Getty Center. The Getty is architect Richard Meier’s modernist masterpiece perched atop a hill, and hushed by meditative pavilions and sculptural gardens. With a kid-friendly iPod commentary and a family activity wing that breaks the exhibits into bite-sized craft activities, this scholarly experience proved a whine-free winner.
The La Brea Tarpits boasts one of the largest and most diverse collections of extinct flora and fauna dating back to the last Ice Age. Sticky, gunky ponds of oily, bubbling asphalt surround the museum. Thousands of years ago animals such as bison and mammoths inadvertently stepped into the asphalt and became stuck, leaving complete fossils. 5.5 million fossils have been discovered in the complex including the remains of one human being, the 10,000-year-old “La Brea woman”. My wide eyed little museum visitors loved gazing into the Fishbowl Lab, a glass-walled laboratory where white coated archaeologists fastidiously brushed and sorted little bones and teeth, preparing the fossils for exhibit.
Examining the life-sized animatronic exhibit of a saber tooth tiger attacking a giant ground sloth reminded the gang that we hadn’t had lunch yet, so we set out to find some all-American soul food. At Roscoes Chicken and Waffles we shuffled past the hipsters licking their gravy covered finger tats with sky-high piles of crispy wings and settled into our booth. As the plates were set down the kids let out a unanimous sigh, pulses quickened and frantic grabbing ensued. The fatty saltiness of the chicken was tempered by the oozy maple syrup and the crispy waffle. Suddenly there was only one greasy drumstick left leading to the lone squabble of the entire vacation.