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It all started when I promised my little boy that we will go to Disneyland this month. I was planning a trip to Florida and Disneyland Orlando was one of the attractions on our list. But the plans changed and it seemed that I would not be able to keep my promise. Until one afternoon when Adrian came back from work and said that he bought a voucher for a family trip to Los Angeles. 🙂 We only had 5 days for our trip and we wanted to enjoy the most of it!
Day 1: Sunnyvale (Bay Area) – Santa Barbara
We started our trip on Thursday afternoon after Bogdan finished his day at preschool. The drive lasted 4:30 hours and the traffic was a little crowded, so we arrived in Santa Barbara when it was already dark. Santa Barbara is a very beautiful city with wonderful beaches, so we planned to enjoy it more during our return trip. We spent our night at Sandpiper Lodge, a 3-star hotel that was clean and comfortable.
Day 2: Santa Barbara – Los Angeles
We left Santa Barbara early in the morning because we wanted to get to Disneyland quickly. The traffic was really chaotic, especially near Disneyland. We spent more than an hour just around Disneyland, looking for their parking lot. After we finally parked the car, we took the shuttle and we finally got to the park.
We spent the whole day at Disneyland at it was an amazing experience! I wrote more about it here: Our trip to Disneyland Park California: A little bit of magic in 21 photos.
In the evening we had dinner at a Mexican restaurant near the parks (El Torito). We were really tired when we arrived at the hotel. But just before we entered to check-in, we saw the fireworks starting at Disneyland. The hotel is really close to the park so we enjoyed the show in the parking lot. It was a magical end of the day. 🙂
Day 3: Los Angeles
We stayed at the Majestic Garden Hotel in Anaheim. The hotel was really nice and I would recommend it to you, especially if you want to stay close to the theme parks. After the first day in Los Angeles, that was fully dedicated to Minnie and Mickey, we wanted to use the second day to explore the city.
We started our day with a breakfast at IHOP and then we went to the California Science Center. The museum is fascinating for kids and adults too, so we spend a couple of hours there. The admission was free, we only paid to see the Endeavour exhibit. Our favorite experiences were the hands-on activities for kids, the hurricane simulator, and most of all the spaceship simulator.
After having fun and learning new things at the science museum, we headed to Descanso Gardens to have some relaxing time. I was sad that we missed the Enchanted Railroad trips but we enjoyed a nice walk through the gardens.
The last objective on our list for day 2 was the Griffith Observatory.
But there was a big festival taking place near the observatory so we couldn’t find any parking spot and we needed to postpone our visit. Instead, we went for a drive through Beverly Hills and we admired the stunning houses. Then we went to see the Hollywood Boulevard. Although this is a very famous place, I wasn’t really impressed by it. Maybe because it was very crowded and loud!
In the evening we went to Santa Monica Pier and we were so happy to see the ocean and the beach! Santa Monica is a vibrant place and it was full of tourists. We booked a table at the Blue Plate Taco (right near the pier) and we had dinner there. The food was not totally to my taste but the Sangria was good! And the fact that we got a table near the street allowed us to really enjoy the atmosphere.
Day 4: Los Angeles
Because the day before we missed our visit to the observatory, we started this new day with a new attempt. This time the place was a little bit less crowded. We found a parking lot far away from the entrance but the walk to the museum had some wonderful views. We saw the whole city from above and we also saw the Hollywood sign up on the hill.
Griffith Observatory is a fascinating place and not only because of the views. The exhibits were very interesting and we enjoyed our visit there! Next, I wanted to take Bogdan to a nice children museum. I studied some alternatives and, in the end, the best choice seemed to be the Children’s Museum at La Habra. This is a small museum but it is great for young kids! Bogdan liked it a lot and we were happy that it wasn’t crowded. We spent the whole afternoon there! We took dinner again at the El Torito Restaurant and then we went to the hotel.
Day 5: Los Angeles – Paso Robles
We woke up early in the morning and after breakfast, we left Los Angeles and headed north to our home. We planned to make the return trip in two days to be able to stop several times along the coast. Our first stop was Malibu Beach. I heard so many nice things about it and I was a little disappointed when I saw it. On the other hand, Bogdan was very enthusiastic! As soon as he got on the beach he ran into the ocean and played there for an hour. The weather was windy and the water was cold, so he was the only one in the water, except for the surfers. He didn’t seem to mind the weather conditions and had a lot of fun in the water!
When we returned to the car, we decided to take the coastline road and enjoy the views. We saw the Zuma Beach, where Baywatch was filmed, and it looked so great! We stopped at a Starbucks near the beach, took some coffee, and then we enjoyed the coffee and the drive! 🙂 The Pacific Coast Highway offers one of the most scenic landscapes of the ocean. If you have the chance to drive along this highway, don’t miss it!
The next stop was in Santa Barbara.
We went to the Natural History Museum and we had a wonderful time there! They have a curiosity room for kids and we spent a lot of time exploring it. They even had a camping site and a fort for kids to play with. Bogdan totally liked this!
After the visit to the museum, we had a late lunch at Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach. The restaurant is right on the beach and it has amazing views! We ever saw dolphins playing very near the shore.
After the meal, we decided to drive to Paso Robles and spend the night there. We booked a room at the Farmhouse Motel. It was the first time when we ever slept at a motel but the conditions were very decent.
The next day we woke up at 5 am because we wanted to get to San Jose early. Despite the traffic, we got there on time for Bogdan to go to preschool and Adrian to go to work. 🙂
Our family trip to Los Angeles was a wonderful experience!
It was tiring sometimes but it was totally worthwhile! If you plan to do a road trip with kids from North California to Los Angeles, I hope that our itinerary will inspire you!
photo credit featured image: Unsplash.com