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Postcard from Los Angeles

Elana Schachter plays like a local in La-La-Land.

By Elana Schachter
Postcard from Los Angeles

Postcard from Los Angeles

Postcard from Los Angeles

My sister-in-law and her family live in Los Angeles, so every couple of years we pack up our daughters (ages five and three) for a trip. Visiting LA is fun — the weather is beautiful and it’s surprisingly family-friendly. Long stays in hotels are expensive, so we often rent an apartment in the Valley (try airbnb.com or vrbo.com). Spending time with our nephews (a.k.a. “the cousins”) is a priority, so we avoid the more touristy spots and try to fit in with the locals. Though we’ve done our share of big theme parks and wax museums, our favourite memories are those that are a bit more off the beaten path.

A version of this article appeared in our December 2012 issue with the headline "Los Angeles", p. 26.

Postcard from Los AngelesMia (left) and friend at Manhattan Beach. Photo: Elana Schachter.

The best... milkshakes

At kid-friendly diner chain The Counter. Big enough to share!

Postcard from Los AngelesPhoto: iStockphoto.com

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The best... place to shop

The Grove. This large outdoor mall is set up to resemble a village. When your kids get tired, take them for a free ride on the cute electric trolley. Arrive hungry — their food court has awesome multiculti options.

Postcard from Los AngelesPhoto: Creative Commons

The best... beach town escape

Manhattan Beach. Beautiful, and not too crowded. Visit the small (and free) aquarium at the end of Pier 3 where kids can touch starfish.

Postcard from Los AngelesPhoto: iStockphoto.com

The best... play space

The Noah’s Ark exhibit at The Skirball. Always full of LA hipsters and their trendy kids, choose stuffed animals to join Noah on the ship, turn a giant wheel and watch as the ark rises amongst heavy rains, and use a giant rope ladder to climb up and run around the ark.

Postcard from Los AngelesPhoto: Grant Mudford

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What to do

Go hiking in Franklin Canyon. Kids will love the turtle pond and you’ll love this idyllic escape from all the concrete hidden in the hills. We spotted ducks and giant koi, and more than 10 turtles sunning themselves by the pond. Later, tire the kids out by taking a quick visit to nearby Sooky Goldman Nature Center. (My girls particularly loved looking at the fake poop and real skulls from animals that inhabit the area.)

Afterward, tuck your kids into the car for a long nap while you cruise down the famous Mulholland Drive and admire amazing Hollywood mansions.

Postcard from Los AngelesPhoto: Elana Schachter

Did you know...

Most people think it never rains in LA. We were surprised to learn that in late spring, California beach towns are prone to grey foggy mornings that often lift later in the day to reveal a hazy, sunshiny afternoon. Referred to as May Grey or June Gloom, this phenomenon can make for drizzly mornings along the coastline.

Postcard from Los AngelesMulholland Drive. Photo: Robert Harding Images

More family travel ideas...

Postcard from Los Angeles
This article was originally published on Nov 14, 2012

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