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Los Angeles with teenagers

28 replies

Wildehorses · 25/04/2022 10:27

We have booked to go to LA this July with our teen sons aged 17 and 15. We plan to stay at a hotel beside Universal Studios, and take Ubers to Walk of Fame, Getty centre, Griffith Observatory etc - then stay beside Disney at Anaheim for 3 nights, 2 nights in Santa Monica, hire a car and drive up to San Francisco, stopping in Santa Barbara, Cambria and Monterey for a couple of nights each. For anyone who has holidayed in LA, does this itinerary sound workable and if you have visited/live there with teenagers, please let me know what they enjoyed most about LA (mine have no interest in surfing, they are more likely to laze by a pool on their phones!) Many thanks

OP posts:

zafferana · 25/04/2022 11:47

We went to LA with our DC last summer (who are a bit younger than yours). They liked Santa Monica, the view of LA from Griffith Park at night (we didn't manage to go in the Griffith Observatory, because it was packed the one time we tried), the Petersen Automotive Museum, In'n'Out Burger, the tour of stars' homes, views from the Hollywood Hills, and the shopping (The Grove is a nice shopping centre). We didn't do Disney or Universal, because we'd done them in FL and didn't feel the need to do them again. We did Warner Bros Studio Tour, which was okay, but they didn't particularly like it and I wouldn't recommend for UK teens.

Stuff they didn't like: Venice Beach, downtown LA and Hollywood Boulevard, all of which were filthy and full of homeless/drugged out people, some of them collapsed on the pavements. This includes the Walk of Fame (which quite honestly is just a street, it's grubby and dirty and at night a very seedy area of LA, although during the day it doesn't feel particularly unsafe).

We all loved Monterey and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It's just a lovely town and you can see seals, sea otters, pelicans, etc right from the lovely shoreline path. The aquarium is fab too - I think even older teens like yours would enjoy it. The sea otters alone are worth entry!

Cambria is just a little place - not terribly exciting - although you can see elephant seals on the beach near there. Santa Barbara is gorgeous, although again you'll see quite a lot of homeless and people who are suffering with drug/mental health issues all along the beach. It's a nice town though with a huge beach, nice places to eat and shop.


AttilaTheMeerkat · 25/04/2022 11:59

How long will you be on holiday for?. If this holiday is for a duration of two weeks then I would cut out SF altogether or fly between LA and SF. Are you flying back to the UK from SF?. SF too will be problematic with a car re parking. You also do not want to spend a lot of your precious holiday time just moving from one place to another without seeing anything other than the steering wheel. Remember too that CA is vast and is larger in total area than the UK.

I would second the comments made about Hollywood Blvd and Venice Beach; avoid the latter completely. The former is nicer during the day and there are some nice shops and restaurants next to the Dolby Theater.

No need to get an Uber from Universal to Hollywood Blvd, there is a metro train service that goes to Hollywood and Vine from the bottom of the hill at Universal Studios. Either the Hilton or Sheraton hotels near Universal are fine to stay in for a few days. Would also second the recommendation re the Petersen Car Museum; there is a decent Italian restaurant in there too.


gogohm · 25/04/2022 12:11

Sounds good - see what's on at the Hollywood bowl perhaps, we saw by chance Miriam Makeba


givethatbabyaname · 25/04/2022 12:38

I would ditch time in Santa Barbara and Cambria for a couple
of days somewhere along Big Sur proper: a coastal Airbnb right in the waterfront, your own beach etc. Just unforgettably beautiful. Also check out Carmel
on the way to Monterey. Agree Monterey is worth spending time in. SF is fine for a couple of days, not longer. Remember you get all four seasons in one day there, often, so take layers and an umbrella.


zafferana · 25/04/2022 12:53

Agreed - I wouldn't spend 2 nights in Cambria. We had lunch there and didn't feel the need to linger longer than an hour! I'd spend another night in SB (which I loved) or go further up the coast. I'm thinking though that this July Highway 1 hotels are all going to be fully booked around Big Sur, etc. There was no one there last summer, because of the Covid travel restrictions, this year there will be lots of visitors who have had to postpone their trips for two years.


PronounssheRa · 25/04/2022 13:00

Stuff they didn't like: Venice Beach, downtown LA and Hollywood Boulevard, all of which were filthy and full of homeless/drugged out people, some of them collapsed on the pavements. This includes the Walk of Fame (which quite honestly is just a street, it's grubby and dirty and at night a very seedy area of LA, although during the day it doesn't feel particularly unsafe).

Agree with all of this. Santa Monica also had a big homelessness problem last time I was there.


zafferana · 25/04/2022 13:04

In all honesty, there is a huge homelessness problem throughout CA, which is particularly visible by beaches in urban areas. Yes, there were homeless people down by the beach in Santa Monica, but I didn't see lots of homeless people in the town itself, on the beach or on the pier. The amusements on the pier, btw, are ridiculously expensive. The town itself though was clean, the streets weren't covered in filth like many parts of LA and the beaches were lovely.


anon2022anon · 25/04/2022 14:41

To be honest, I think you've planned too much in. We went for 10 days and did:

Warner Bros/ the skyscraper place in downtown
The grove
Santa monica pier and then walked down to Venice beach
Griffith's observatory
Hired a car and drove to Palm springs to a shopping outlet
Rodeo drive/ Beverley hills

She enjoyed the skyscraper, universal, the observatory, the beach walk and grove shopping the best (15 at the time) but she could have had a day or two of taking it easier.


Wildehorses · 25/04/2022 15:52

Thanks, will take all advice on board!

OP posts:

Sweetpea1532 · 25/04/2022 16:43

Hi, I'm a California resident and I highly recommend the Peterson Automotive Museum...especially if your DSs enjoy James Bond films...they have an exhibit of all the vehicles from the films..very cool! From there you can walk to the LaBrea Tarpits...please Google it! This is most fascinating place I've ever been!

When I moved here, I was very disappointed at the touristy things you hear about! The walk of fame is fun though especially if your DCs have a favourite actor or music artist who has a star embedded in the sidewalk. I would highly recommend taking an organised tour of some stars homes, places around town where certain events took place, etc. LA is a gigantic city spread out over many, many miles and its hard to get around to see everything because of the traffic. You can walk to the Grove from the Tarpits as its only about a mile. There is a huge permanent Farmers Market attached to the Grove...there are many food stalls with food from all over the world so you can grab supper there after a day of sight seeing.
The Holocaust Museum is right by the Grove also.

Unfortunately, we are overrun with homeless people like PP have mentioned, especially at the southern Beaches and in the inner cities... Even I was shocked....tents are the latest thing now for homeless people so it is common to see them pitched up on a sidewalk somewhere like they are on a camping trip!
San Francisco is overrun with homeless people also...Google areas that are safe and you should be OK. If you've ever seen the film The Rock with Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage DCs might enjoy the Alkatraz prison tour where it was filmed.

Do your DC enjoy scenic drives?
That's what the tour up the Coast will be if your family enjoys this kind of thing..the views are spectacular!...not much to do except look and wait until you get to Santa Barbara to have a nice meal and a look is a University town, so they might enjoy looking around.
Please feel free to PM me if you have any questions.Flowers


Sweetpea1532 · 25/04/2022 16:53

Don't know if your DCs are interested in all things tech wise, but they might enjoy tours around Silicon Valley where Apple, Google, Tesla started I believe...this is the place where Elon Musk dreamt of going to start his business...I'd imagine the tours are over the top for tech lovers.
Have fun!
Also the Giant Sequoias are fasinating!


Soffit · 25/04/2022 16:57

Knotts Berry Farm where they have the famous old rollercosters and massive chicken dinners with blueberry pie. I second La Brea Tar Pits and the Petersen Automobile Museum. They may enjoy the hike up to the Hollywood Sign.


Soffit · 25/04/2022 16:59

Carmel/Pebble Beach golf course, Santa Barbara are a bit dull for teenage boys (and some parents too).
They may enjoy Catalina Island.


ApolloandDaphne · 25/04/2022 17:03

We did a holiday travelling all the way down the California coast. We hated LA. It was like a big, hot, run down car park. Everywhere else north and south we loved.


zafferana · 25/04/2022 17:14

Yes, we liked the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum too. Older teens might enjoy it if they are into natural history, prehistoric animals, etc, but it's pretty cool anyway and the amount and variety of bones recovered from the tar pits is quite astounding. If you go to the museum, make sure you also wander around the park and visit the pits where they are still excavating bones from.


Wildehorses · 26/04/2022 01:38

Huge thanks to everyone and @Sweetpea1532 .... Great to get insights!

OP posts:

Sweetpea1532 · 26/04/2022 16:40

You're welcome! Have a great trip🙂


PatriciaHolm · 26/04/2022 16:48

PronounssheRa · 25/04/2022 13:00

Stuff they didn't like: Venice Beach, downtown LA and Hollywood Boulevard, all of which were filthy and full of homeless/drugged out people, some of them collapsed on the pavements. This includes the Walk of Fame (which quite honestly is just a street, it's grubby and dirty and at night a very seedy area of LA, although during the day it doesn't feel particularly unsafe).

Agree with all of this. Santa Monica also had a big homelessness problem last time I was there.

Agree here too. We were very disappointed in walk of fame and the surrounds, we couldn't get away quick enough. Mine enjoyed SF - trams, tour, chinatown, sourdough, chocolate, walking the bridge - more than LA. We did enjoy the motor museum, and the Six Flags waterpark in San Jose. We didn't do Universal or Disney as we did Universal in Florida and didn't have much interest in Disney.


TizerorFizz · 26/04/2022 17:59

The museum in the former Max Factor factory is the best thing in downtown LA. The walk of fame is awful.

I don’t have teenage boys but if they don’t like anything other than pools and a phone, I’m tempted to ask why you are going? Yes Pasadena is great and the car museum. I guess they are not really interested in the Huntington Gallery and Gardens there which is a pity. I cannot see them being interested in the Getty Centre either. It’s one of the best buildings in LA and I suggest you do go.

Santa Monica is great and go along to Malibu too. I don’t get the amount of time you are spending around theme parks. We preferred Santa Barbara and the mission there. The trip up the coast is spectacular and Carmel has a wonderful beach. Monterey might have whale watching tours. If it does, take one. SF is great. There’s plenty to see and do if DC can drag themselves away from a pool.

We had lunch at Pebble Beach Golf Club. It is lovely. I would just suss out hotels/condos with pools. Problem solved.


snowgirl1 · 01/05/2022 22:14

We did a trip to the US at Easter - we did two nights near Universal (stayed in The Garland hotel, which was the hotel we liked most out of nine hotels we stayed in). DD liked a walk and chance to get photos below the Hollywood sign ( walked a path from Canyon Lake Drive. An alternative - but you're further from the sign - is to take photos from Lake Hollywood Park.

We stayed in Anaheim for 2 nights, there's food court (for want of a better description) of great independent restaurants, bars, snack places, coffee shops called Anaheim Packing District which we thought was good, although the food places shut quite early (9pm?).


TizerorFizz · 02/05/2022 19:35

Mulholland Drive ends with a great view of the Hollywood sign.


actiongirl1978 · 02/05/2022 19:40

Ditch santa Monica it's a mess. Dirty full of vagrants and the pier smells.

We did it with almost teens and hits were Warner bros tour in LA ( proper movie sets,saw spiderman set, Annie, Jurassic Park etc)

Stayed at Hotel Roosevelt opposite Chinese theatre, the pool was fabulous.

We then drove to SF via Paso De Robles which is a gorgeous town with vineyards everywhere, Stayed in a stunning hotel straight out of toscana with a massive pool.

In SF Stayed at the Grand Hotel where the pool was used for filming in 50 shades of grey 😁

Have fun OP


FinallyHere · 02/05/2022 20:12

Another vote for the tar pits


EwwSprouts · 02/05/2022 21:19

DS loved Alcatraz, sea lions and liquid nitrogen ice-cream shop in SF.


Wildehorses · 03/05/2022 14:32

Thanks for all the advice ... now we just have to hope we test negative before we fly😳

OP posts:
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