We took quite an impromptu trip to Los Angeles mid July and it was everything our family needed and didn’t know it. We enjoyed a little bit of sun, a whole lot of sand, some time with friends who planted a church there and had the sweetest time as just us four. O and I had just been to L.A in May so we wanted to make this trip really centered around fun activities and exploring for the kids. Turns out, they love what we love. Who knew?
Our flight was phenomenal. A travel series is coming up this month but one tip I want to share right now is to always take the first flight of the day with littles on your way there. We’ve flown dozens of times with the kids and have made many mistakes along the way for your benefit, friends. Sure, when kids are babies it’s pretty wonderful to book that mid-day nap flight so they sleep. That’s ideal and always a good thought. Here’s the thing: those afternoon flights get delayed and canceled all.the.time. That nap window comes and goes and you end up flying during their witching hour instead. Now that the kids are a little bit older we almost always book a 7am flight for the trip there and can always count on 1. it being on time 2. them being so excited 3. breakfast on the plane passing time 4. arriving early enough to not waste a day.
We landed at 8:30 California time and our room was actually ready (never happens!) so we dropped the luggage, changed out of our plane layers, packed some snacks and a beach bag and hit the road. I knew I wanted to start the day at Sweet Laurel for my cinnamon collagen latte and a slice of cake. I bake cakes and recipes from the cookbook all time time but there’s something magical about sitting down with a piece of cake you know is clean and safe and you didn’t have to make it. Pure joy, I tell you. We ate our cake, went next door to Erewhon to make some salads and coconut waters and goodies for the room and made our way to Santa Monica Pier.
For whatever reason a dark cloud and cold wind came over the beach as soon as we pulled up but you couldn’t tell our kids NOTHING. They frolicked and splashed and ran and laughed and laughed and laughed. If you can plan an activity for right when you land that allows kids to get their energy out-a park, a children’s museum, a beach- do that. Trust me. It’ll kick off the trip with such an excitement for them and get ensure a wonderful night of sleep which is crucial if you’re sharing a hotel room with your babes like we were the first two days.
We needed to be near LAX for the first part of our trip because of work, but we were able to have more freedom for the second part of our stay. Ever since O and I stayed at 1 Hotel Brooklyn (read more about that trip here) we’ve wanted to stay at another one of their hotels. The 1 Hotel philosophy is very much in line with our way of living and it’s the hotel that pays more attention to detail than any other. Lucky for us, they opened just before we booked so we were able to stay for 30% off! And we used points! It’s nice to be able to save some pennies when booking because its a luxury hotel for sure, but this allowed us to book adjoining rooms and be free from the #hotelroomprison of sharing a double-bed room with our kids. We hadn’t stayed in hotels with our kids since they were bitty babies because with our dietary restrictions its just much easier to have a kitchen which makes AirBnB’s take the cake for this season of life. L.A, however, is the one place in the world we can eat something pretty much everywhere and it was the perfect opportunity to enjoy a hotel stay with the babes.
Before transferring to our next hotel we figured we’d make the most of Saturday morning knowing our room wouldn’t be ready yet and some of our brunch spots are Saturday exclusive. We started off at Erin McKenna bakery (100% gluten and dairy free with no cross contamination whatsoever) and it was as delicious as ever. I walked next door to grab a latte from Go Get Em Tiger and my goodness, it was lovely. This was my favorite morning of the trip because we walked up and down the block walking in and out of toy shops and children’s stores and we strolled into a bookstore just as story time started and we stayed for five whole books. After we had our fill of strolling and smiling we went to true brunch at Crossroads Kitchen-a completely vegan brunch spot with O’s favorite vegan breakfast ever. He got the ‘egg and sausage’ sandwich and the pancakes while the kids shared a french toast with jam.
It was finally time for me to experience the hotel and, just as we expected, it was breathtaking. The rooftop pool has a stunning view of the city, there are healthy food options throughout the hotel, Just Water water bottles are complimentary and scattered all throughout the hotel, there’s a ‘Farmers Market’ of fruits available for you to grab on your way up to your room or on your way out the door and so many wonderful details everywhere you look.
We also try to head to Renew Church L.A. if our trip lines up properly because some of our dear friends moved from Grace Covenant Church in VA to plant Renew 5 years ago. Our boys are the same age but our daughters hadn’t met (the mean struggle of adult friendship) since last time we came to visit we left the kids with their grandparents. We enjoyed church, headed back to the hotel for a nap and set a family date Pressed Juicery date at the Grove that afternoon. It was the stuff of dreams and I’ll never take for granted the moments we get, even if it’s just a few hours here and there, with friends across the world.
The rest of our trip was spent visiting some of our favorite restaurants and exposing the kids to more of the city. Some days we shut everything down, turned their room into a cave and forced a mid-day nap but mostly we had long full days and sweet nights. It can definitely be daunting to travel with kids, especially two toddlers, but it is just the most “worth it” thing you can do in my opinion. These experiences stick with them and have a bonding quality that just isn’t replicated any other way. If you’re feeling overwhelmed about traveling with your littles, the right amount of planning will set you up for success and while there will definitely be tantrums, pivoting plans and extra mess, there will also be moments to remember forever.
Meals we enjoyed In Restaurant this trip:
The Butchers Daughter in Venice- O and I always do a liquid vitality shot, the kids and I get a juice, I get the kale caeser salad (It’s completely vegan) and O gets the vegan crab cakes and a dairy free pizza. The kids loved the gluten-free, dairy-free pizza too.
Salt & Straw- this ice cream is world famous for a reason. It’s a block or two walk from the Butchers Daughter while the line is long, it moves quickly so do.not.give.up. They always have vegan flavors on hand and the kids and O loved this so much! I got a sample and it was goooooooooooood.
Pressed Juicery- we always, always head out for Freeze at Pressed at least once while we’re in California. We went to the Grove to meet up with friends and you can grab a blanket to lay on the lawn, let your kids dance to live music and play with tons of other kids and work off that freeze. If you’ve never heard of Freeze before, it’s blended dates, almonds, cocao (in my flavor of choice, chocolate) vanilla beans and sea salt. It’s PHENOMENAL and it’s coming to Dallas this year and I’m overwhelmed with joy and anticipation.
Urth Cafe on Melrose- I get an egg white omelette with peppers and onions, a side of potatoes and bacon with a decaf coconut milk honey latte. Important side note: we love the Beverly Hills location MUCH, MUCH more. Plus, we learned this trip only the Beverly Hills location has O’s gluten free corn pancakes and vegan sausage. The Melrose location was a bit of a bummer.
Crossroads Kitchen- Fully vegan restaurant and the brunch is one NOT to miss. I mean it. O make’s sure we’re there for weekends just for this reason.
Erin McKenna Bakery- we’ve had the pleasure of indulging in these exclusively gluten and dairy free treats many times in the past but this was the first time we actually stepped foot in the shop as well as the first time the kids got to taste an Erin McKenna treat. Oh my. There is just nothing better than a doughnut from this shop and while it is made with rice flour blends (I don’t eat rice) I did have one this trip because my nutritionist gave me the green light. So worth it.
Go Get Em Tiger Coffee- I grabbed a decaf Macadamia Nut and Almond latte and it was spectacular.
Alfred Coffee- known for its iconic “But First Coffee” signage at every location, this is a favorite of mine along with everyone in L.A. ever.
Meals we enjoyed To-Go this trip:
Gracias Madre- this is certainly much more enjoyable to eat in-restaurant because it’s stunning there and the ambiance is incredible, especially if you sit outside by the fireplace in the early evening, but with kids it was just as lovely to eat this fabulous meal on our hotel floor together. The kids shared an order of Sopes con Mango and devoured it, O loves the Flautas de Camote and finished off the kids sopes, and I love the cashew nacho cheese (I dip Siete cassave chips in it rather than the corn chips they offer) and the kale salad. The menu isn’t super friendly if you don’t eat corn like me, but man did my people enjoy it. So worth it.
Erewhon Market– Man do we miss this place. I wish I could move in. We got the dinner plate and the kids shared a plate with salmon, green beans and cauliflower rice. I made a giant salad a few times and grabbed UnBuns and a delicious Probiotic Soda. O ate approx. one million things.
Cafe Gratitude- I was sad to see the menu switched over meaning my go-to Kelp Noodle Pad Thai and Butternut Squash Risotto were no longer available, but it ended up being a gift because the Kelp Noodle Pesto is somehow even better! Highly Recommend-I had it twice.