Santa Monica, CA / 2016-07-08

We intended to be better prepared today and spent some time in the morning doing research.  I had compiled a list of options for the next two days and we first chose to visit the Science Museum and Griffith Park.  But, we changed our minds and instead visited the beach.  So, we packed up our bathing suits, towels, beach toys, cooler and change of clothes and hit the road.  First stop was lunch (it had gotten pretty late in the day already).  We visited Dog Haus yelp_icon, a local chain restaurant that serves, you guessed it, hot dogs, hamburgers and brats.  After lunch, we headed back up to the Hollywood sign to get a family photo.

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Brooke and I at the Hollywood Sign
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The kids at the “Big White Letters”

Weston had missed this last time around because he was asleep and now was a good time to get them all in a picture.  We made the curvy road, past the signs that say “Local Traffic Only” (good thing Brooke was there to push me there, I would have stopped at the bottom and hiked up) and parked right next to the perfect vista.  As we approached, Weston asked what we were going to see and Lila bluntly described the well-known landmark as “Just some big white letters”!  It’s funny to see the perspective of a 5 year old, who hasn’t been indoctrinated with images of the sign for decades and have had it built up as something important.  Then at that point, yes, it is just a bunch of big white letters.

After the Hollywood sign, we battled the car GPS vs the phone GPS to make it out to Santa Monica and experienced some of that infamous LA traffic.

It took almost an hour to make the 20 mile trip and then we stressed over where to park to make it out to the Pier.  Lots of options, but all expensive.  We finally settled on the mall garage and it was the best choice for price.  We parked, and everyone was still awake!  A bit of a stroll later and we entered the famous Santa Monica Pier and headed for a few picture opportunities and then to Pacific Park to ride the Ferris Wheel.

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The kids at the famous End of Route 66 sign at Santa Monica Pier

Well, this is what we set out to do, but the single ticket price for this ride would have cost our family around $50.  So, we decided to splurge in a different direction and got the kids wristbands to ride all the rides and bought single ticket for just Brooke.  The kids loved the fair-type rides and without much of a line anywhere, they rode many of them multiple times in a row.  I think Lila enjoyed the rides the most because she didn’t want to leave and asked to go back later in the night.

It was getting later than we expected and we still wanted to spend some time at the beach today, so we contemplated staying near the pier to enjoy the beach, but it was a bit crowded on the water as far as we could see.

So, we stuck with our original plans and headed north to the Annenburg Community Beach House  yelp_icon.  What a great decision!

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The pool at the community beach house

This place was not crowded (we felt like we were on our own private beach), had a playground area, nice bathrooms and changing rooms, splash pad, upstairs game room and a pay to enter pool.  All we had to pay for was some cheap parking and we could use any of the facilities.  We spent time in the game room playing ping pong and an over-sized Connect 4 before changing into bathing suits and heading to the beach.  The beaches here are very wide, it was at least a ¼ mile walk from the start of the sand down to the ocean, which is very different from many beaches in Florida.  This wind was not as severe as Huntington Beach a few days earlier and the water slightly warmer.  While all the kids loved the time playing with the smaller waves and in the sand, Lila was most in her element, never stopping playing and running the entire two hours were we there.  We got some great photos of the sun setting over the Malibu mountains and then gathered up our belongings to head out.

The community beach house was hosting a 18+ party that night and it looked like the who’s who judging by the cars that drove in.

We changed again and loaded up into the car, and headed north to drive through Malibu.  There were some impressive houses and we cut through Malibu Canyon to the north before heading east again toward Studio City through Calabasas.  We had set out to get some additional dinner for Brooke and I, and some dessert for us all and landed on a place called Republic of Pie.  The menu looked great and they were open late.  However, when we pulled up, it was crowded and definitely not a place or area (North Hollywood / NOHO) that you would take 4 kids on a Friday night.  We just kept on driving to plan two, which was to visit the famous ice cream shop at McConnell’s.  No parking and a line snaking out the door made us to go to plan three – McDonald’s sundaes.  This didn’t satisfy anyone, so we ended up at plan five (plan four was Pinkberries, but no parking again), which was Trader Joe’s where everyone just picked out what they wanted and we would take it home.  Back at the townhouse, it was an ice cream, ice cream sandwich and nacho feeding fest!  A quick bath and directly to bed as everyone was tired and tomorrow was our last full day in LA.

This is day 18 on our California Road Trip Summer 2016.  Make sure to check out the entire trip!

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