Amy Tara Koch | Spring Break in L.A. … With Kids!
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Spring Break in L.A. … With Kids!

Four Seasons Blog
Spring Break in LA with Kids

For on- the -go families who seek that perfect mélange of top notch service and kid friendly ambiance, glory can be found in spending Spring Break at the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hill.

LA is known as an adult playground. But, it is also my go-to getaway for a family vacation. The sun shines. Heated pools and canyon hiking trails beckon. Museums abound. And one can magically move from the California Science Center to a dip in about forty-five minutes. Translation? Awesome Spring Break destination.

The Four Seasons LA at Beverly Hills has been my SOCAL home away from home for 15 years. At this property-conveniently located at the juncture between West Hollywood and Beverly Hills- guests are presented with a quandary: should I stay or should I go? Shopping, hiking and many of the best restaurants in LA are just moments away. But, once lounging amidst the cactus studded oasis of a pool area, the chill factor kicks in and the lure of the city often evaporates.

A MELTING POT
From fashion and food to art and architecture, Los Angeles is a melting pot. One thing I love about this city is way that that this sense of fusion extends to a family vacation. A style writer, I always want to try the latest restaurant and visit the newest shops. My children want to swim and visit museums. So, our days were expertly layered like a Reuben sandwich. Sample itinerary: Hike →breakfast at old school diner→Swim at hotel→ lunch by pool→. Museum.→Sugary- fab Snack. Detox juice for mommy-Minor shopping excursion for mommy (Robertson Blvd (Chanel, Kitson, Coffee Bean and Georgetown Cupcakes is an easy 4 block walk from the hotel )→hot tub. Dinner at trendy restaurant. Sound like heaven? I assure you, it is.

GOOD HOTEL, GREAT HOTEL
FACT: There are good hotels and there are great hotels. Great hotels pay mega attention to the most minor elements of a property: the vibrancy of the flowers, the crispness of the linens, the rapid fire response of the concierge, the availability of hypo allergenic pillows and blankets. To parents, a measure of a great hotel is the amount of attention paid to children. My kids felt special upon arrival. At check-in, they were offered a stuffed animal from a fabulous red wagon. In our room a personalized note welcomed the children along with a selection of cupcakes. At the hotel’s delightfully low key Italian restaurant Culina, the food and beverage director came over to chat with us. When the charming Matteo heard that we were going to Florence over the summer, he insisted that my daughters try an array of Italian desserts. The tortino, affogato and a selection of gelati promptly appeared with extra fluffy dollops of homemade cotton candy. The sweets (and my limoncello) sent us straight to the Italian version of cloud nine. A can-do concierge can make a huge impact on a family trip. Barbara helped us to organize activities (distinguishing true distance is challenging in LA because the traffic can be very heavy) and restaurant reservations. When I inquired about a special activity for my daughter Brette’s birthday, mani/pedis were organized poolside. This was the piece de resistance for my princesses. We nestled into a private cabana-smoothies in hand- and had our nails done together in the sunshine. As we relaxed, a chocolate ganache cake arrived (with Brette spelled in berry coulis) for us to enjoy. Perfection.

ACTIVITIES
Science and art buffs, my girls researched the museums and worked with me to create the itinerary. Downtown LA is the new IT destination. Twenty minutes from the hotel is Exposition Park which houses days’ worth of culture: the African American Museum, The California Science Center, the Natural History Museum, The Rose Garden and a super cool Imax Theater. Of significant interest is the Endeavor space shuttle which is now on view at The California Science Center. With just five days, we decided upon the California Science Center, LACMA, The La Brea Tar Pits/Page museum, the Griffith Observatory. Each of these museums have multiple interactive exhibits that take no more than one hour to visit. Tip: When visiting LACMA, sign your children up for the NexGen program. To boost kids’ interest in art, the museum offers a free membership to kids 17 and under which allows one adult to visit for free. So, two kids=two free adult passes. LACMA is next to the La Brea Tar pits on Wilshire Blvd; only ten minutes’ drive from the hotel. We also organized a day at Sea World in San Diego. Helpful hint: You can book a VIP experience at Sea World which gives you behind the scenes access to the animals, preferential seating at the shows and a fast track ticket for rides. For crowd averse people like me, this is a game changer. Once you remove the chaos and stress of long lines, all you have left is pure fun.

GET MOVING
An avid hiker, I convinced my children that hikes were, in fact, scientific in nature as one might encounter snakes and exotic birds in the canyons. From the hotel, it took us ten minutes to drive up to the Hollywood Hills to Runyon Canyon. Incredibly, the urban sprawl disappears as we hiked through the mountain. The sweat was worth it. The sweeping views of LA were great fun for the kids to experience. We also made a hike out of our visit to the Griffith Observatory in East LA. The 45 minute trail affords an excellent view of the iconic Hollywood sign. The Observatory is devoted to astrology. The kids loved learning how the moon impacts the ocean’s tide and how the movement of the sun and moon create the four seasons. On the hike down we realized that the canyon was also a bird sanctuary. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time for an extensive aviary investigation. Next time!

After a week on the Left Coast both parents and kids were all relaxed and inspired.

We Heart LA!
MOM TIP: When planning a trip, always tap into concierge’s vast wisdom. They understand how far apart your planned activities are and can often make VIP reservations for special exhibitions and restaurants.

A GUIDE TO MY LOS ANGELES

GRIFFITH OBSERVATORY
The Griffith Observatory is both a great hike and an astrology museum located just above the Los Feliz neighborhood. The best way to get to the observatory is to hike it. Park your car at the base of the park and enjoy the beautiful 45 minute hike up the hill. It is 1,134 feet above sea level and is visible from many parts of the Los Angeles basin.

Weekdays (Wednesday – Friday) Open Noon – 10:00 p.m.
Weekends (Saturday – Sunday) Open 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Closed Mondays and most Tuesdays

Price: Free

LA BREA TAR PITS at Page Museum
World’s most famous Ice Age Fossil Excavation Site–The extinct animals discovered at Rancho La Brea were trapped in the asphalt between 11,000 to 50,000 years ago. They may have lived in the Los Angeles region for much of the last 100,000 years. Before that time the Los Angeles Basin was covered by the Pacific Ocean.

Open 9:30 am to 5 pm every day of the year (Except Christmas, New Years Day, Fourth of July and Thanksgiving)

Children 2 Free
Children 3-12: $5.00
Youths 13-17, Seniors 62+, and college students with I.D.: $9.00
Adults: $12.00

Free general admission on the first Tuesday of every month except July and August.

THE CALIFORNIA SCIENCE CENTER
Outdoor science plaza? Check. In- depth exploration of ecosystems? Check. In interactive kelp wall featuring extreme underwater zones? Check. And a “rot room” detailing decomposition to charm the most gross out loving kids. The California Science Center is a thrilling place to stimulate budding science lovers. The best part? Everything except the special exhibitions is free to visit. Also on site is the Space Shuttle Endeavor and La’s largest IMAX theater.

Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

EXPOSITION PARK
Check out the other activities around the area also.

FAVORITE RESTAURANTS:

The Little Next Door
8164 W 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048
323.951.1210
Like a welcoming French brasserie, the ambiance is low key and warm and the food is delightful for lunch and dinner. Think Steak Frites and French onion soup.

Cecconi’s
8764 Melrose Avenue
West Hollywood, CA 90069
310.432.2000
Yes, it is chic. But, this Italian hotspot is family friendly and perfect for dinner with kids. And, hey, don’t be surprised to see some elite members of young Hollywood waltz in for the restos prized truffle scented pasta.

Culina
300 South Doheny Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90048
310.860.4000
Deemed one of the A List “power dining” spots, a mom wouldn’t think that this celebby eatery would be kid friendly. Think again. They restaurant offers kid menus, quick service and the perfect mélangeof flavorful dishes for kids and parents.I am a fan of the crudo bar, sushi and almond crusted lamb chops. My kids, of course, favor pizza and pasta

Pizzeria Mozza
641 North Highland Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036
323.297.0101

This pizza spot helmed by Nancy Silverton and Mario Batali is not your typical pie. The pizzas are sublime layered with obscure Italian meats and other strange toppings. The line is always out the door so definitely have the concierge book a reservation
Open from 8:00 a.m. ’til dusk.

The Standard 24/7 Restaurant
8300 Sunset Blvd
323-650-9090
If you love retro ambiance, head over to The Standard hotel for excellent comfort food with a side of groovy LA attitude.. Seemingly frozen in 1973, the uber styled Standard hotel is one of my favorite post hike casual breakfast spots.

Mel’s Drive In
8585 W. Sunset Blvd
310-854-7201

Another time warp, Mel’s is like Happy Days gone Hollywood: waitresses in aprons, coin operated jukeboxes at every table, old fashioned soda fountain. Serving up eggs, burgers, fries, grilled cheese and super thick milkshakes, this 24 hour diner is an excellent choice for any meal.

SEAWORLD VIP TOURS
1-800-25-SHAMU,

VIP tours must be booked in advanced to guarantee a private tour guide and the best experience for your group.
$1,200 for a group of up to 15 people
VIP Expedition includes:

  • A privately guided three hour walking tour.
  • (Additional time is available at an hourly rate.)
  • Animal encounters such as:
    1. A poolside interaction with our bottlenose dolphins.
    2. The opportunity to touch a shark behind-the-scenes of the Shark Encounter.
    3. Feeding endangered sea turtles, Caribbean flamingos, California moray eels, bat rays, California sea lions, or harbor seals.
    4. Visiting Humboldt penguins in their behind-the-scenes habitat. The best seats in the house for two animal shows.
  • Front-of-the-line privileges for select rides.
  • A behind-the-scenes look at how we care for animals, including a visit to our state-of-the-art Animal Care Center.
  • Animal experts sharing their knowledge and experiences of caring for these unique animals.
  • Learning how you can help save these animals from the challenges they face in the wild.