Los Angeles with Tweens: A Perfect Family Day
It's Los Angeles, and the possibilities are endless. Sure, you could drive over to Rodeo Drive or head to Melrose and spend time gasping at the $78 price tags attached to plain cotton tanks. But we suggest spending the day investigating the down-to-earth charms afforded by the city's western edge. From Hermosa Beach to Malibu, the Los Angeles coastline provides the ideal setting for exploring with tweens in tow.
Start your morning in Santa Monica with a relaxed, filling breakfast at neighborhood favorite Bread and Porridge (2315 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90403 310-453-4941). Open daily from 7am - 9pm, Bread and Porridge serves simple, unpretentious food at a fairly reasonable price (ranging from $7.25 to $17 a plate). The menu is varied but features family favorites sure to please -- like seven varieties of pancakes, thick slabs of French toast, and egg dishes brimming with farm-fresh ingredients. You may need to wait a short while for a table (15 minutes perhaps), but waiting is made more enjoyable by the comfortable plush leather couches that dot the waiting room, and Mom and dad can enjoy luscious cups of coffee or creamy lattes from the coffee bar.
After breakfast, it's time to enjoy the salt air and broad sandy beaches with a bike ride along the path that stretches from Santa Monica south to the bustling beach communities of Manhattan, Hermosa and Redondo, and north up into the riches of Malibu. From Bread and Porridge, head straight down Wilshire Blvd. toward the water and, at Ocean Ave., turn just one block north to reach the California incline. At its base, you'll spot Perry's Café & Rentals (930 Pacific Coast Highway, Santa Monica, CA 90403 310-260-1114), which offers snacks, drinks and bike rentals. For $7 you can park in the lot for the day. As far as the bikes are concerned, you can rent any manner of bike -- mountain, kids, tandems, beach cruisers and more -- for $10 per hour. Plan to get bike locks if you're looking to take a break to eat along your journey.
Once the family is geared up, it's time to get moving. First head south, as the path stretches on for miles and miles, offering endless people-watching and entertainment. Along the way, stop to enjoy the skate parks, street performers and all-around oddities of Venice Beach, take a dip in the ocean, rest up on the sand, play some beach volleyball, or enjoy a bite to eat at one of the numerous cafes that line the path. The path is flat and easy; just be sure to wear sunscreen and drink plenty of water to stay cool and hydrated in the dry Southern California heat. You could easily ride for the entire day -- but you'll want to see more before the sun sets. Head back and return your bikes whenever you're ready to trade your wheels back in for feet.
Enjoy the rest of the afternoon in Los Angeles with your tweens by exploring one or both of Santa Monica's other popular destinations for relaxation and entertainment: The Santa Monica Pier and the Third Street Promenade. The Santa Monica Pier (200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA 90401 310-458-8900) is just a few blocks from the California Incline (so you can walk down), located near the intersection of Colorado Ave. and Ocean Ave. A throwback to simpler times, your tweens will love the classic amusement park scene. Cotton candy, ice cream and other sinfully delightful snacks are ready to be eaten while a bevy of rides and games will keep the kids smiling. Definitely hit up the solar-powered Ferris wheel, as the sparkling ocean views below are not to be missed.
The Third Street Promenade is bound by Wilshire Blvd. and Broadway and offers a dazzling array of more than 200 shops and restaurants. Fountains, benches and immaculately groomed landscaping span the length of this outdoor pedestrian mall. Your kids can play in the Apple store and everyone can enjoy some casual strolling and window-shopping (or real shopping!). On the south end, at Santa Monica Blvd. and 4th Street, is the Santa Monica Place indoor mall (395 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90401 310-394-5451), which recently reopened after an extensive renovation project.
When hunger strikes, continue your coastal Los Angeles excursion with a trip into Malibu to the Reel Inn (18661 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265 310-456-8221). Open from 11am - 9pm, this quaint seaside restaurant is the last thing you'd associate with celeb-bastion Malibu. Fish tanks and rustic decor greet you as you take your place in line to order. The seafood here is the freshest available -- a chalkboard displays what's been "reeled" in that day. Pick your fish and tell them how you'd like it prepared, select your sides and grab a spot at one of the outdoor benches out back. Enjoy your meal with a beer while the kids sip their sodas. All of you can take in the atmosphere as you listen to the sound of the waves crash against the shoreline just across the street, ending your perfect day in Los Angeles with your tummies full of seaside goodness.
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