Hopped on a Plane to LAX
I love Chicago and seasons and the snow and cute boots, but I just try my hardest to escape it a few times a winter. This year, we scheduled two. A trip to Orlando with extended family that ended up being 29 degrees (not a winter escape and story later) and thankfully, a second trip where we hopped on a plane to LAX with a dream and my cardigan…
One of my kids is a huge Clippers fan and it turns out, people in Los Angeles love the Lakers but Clippers v Bulls tix are like $7. I found insanely cheap flights on one of those discount airlines where you can only bring whatever you can shove under the seat in front of you and a VRBO above someone’s garage in Santa Monica. All in, the 4 of us got to LA with the rental car for $1100. Not a person. Combined. So that is what we got the kids for Christmas– a scavenger hunt that ended with plane tix.
We had a great time. We toured UCLA, the Getty, Hollywood Blvd, Griffith Observatory, Downtown LA, Staples Center, LA Botanical Gardens, Santa Monica College, and Venice Beach. I walked 40 miles in 3 days. Literally a half marathon of walking each day. You may rightly question how my family handles these “forced death marches”. Well, my husband knew what he was marrying. I didn’t spring these on him, we did them all the time when we were dating, and then I would proceed to fall asleep on the car ride home as he listened the White Sox game on the radio. The kids know full well that either they march with a smile, or we don’t bring them with next time.
So with that said, I’ll do a post for each of our days in LA, but for the purposes of this intro post, here is general LA info from my perspective:
The Scoop on LA:
The Good: LA has paradise like weather. It was 75 every single day. In the sun it was warm and in the shade it was a perfect breeze. The nights cool off so I wore a cute dress but brought leggings and a light cardigan in the car with me. There is so much to do that it is hard to narrow things down. I could stay for months and feel like I’ve still got places to see. The drivers in LA are REALLY good. They just have it down. They are aggressive but conscious of everyone around them. We honestly didn’t see one accident on our trip.
The Less than Good: Public trans isn’t great. Apparently from UCLA you can get buses to the beach and to downtown for a reasonable price but there isn’t rail service and it isn’t a great option from the airport especially, which leads to my next point. The traffic is pretty crazy. I can’t imagine a tourist attempting to navigate without a really engaged co-pilot. Parking is expensive. Nearly everywhere we went, I felt like I was plopping down $10 – $20. Most took credit cards so I didn’t need all that cash, but parking wasn’t cheap. You’d think with Cali’s crowding, limited land, and environmental concerns, it would be a top priority to figure out quality public trans. Which also segues nicely to my next point. The smog is pretty weird. It makes for amazing sunsets but it is a little more than disconcerting to see this haze just covering the whole area.
Miscellaneous Planning Advice, Tips, Randomness, and Minutia:
- I felt like staying near UCLA or Brentwood was pretty central to everything we wanted to see
- LA is awesome! I’d worry less about how nice the accommodations are and more about location
- When budgeting, add $100 – $200 for parking and bump your dining budget by at least 25%
- Grocery stores don’t give free disposable bags. Either bring your own or expect to purchase bags
- Restaurants were good but small and most required reservations, especially on weekends
- In and Out Burger is just crowded. I like it, but don’t expect to find the place without a line
- My vegetarian kid ate a cheeseburger sans burger and a chocolate shake. She enjoyed her lunch
- For whatever reason, I always feel really safe in LA. I generally feel safe, but for some reason, especially in LA
- I’d avoid driving anywhere without checking traffic first and plan to avoid weekday rush hours entirely
- Get ready for conversations about weed with your kids. It is Cali legal now and aware kids will notice (not obnoxious but very apparent). We discussed how in moderation as responsible adults, it is more like alcohol but that other drugs really are dangerous