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Travel to: Los Angeles

We had a pretty perfect trip to Los Angeles a few months ago. We had bought Disneyland tickets as part of a fundraiser and finally made a reason to use them. It was a great trip because we saw lots of new places we’d never been before and every meal was spot on and I thought I would share our itinerary here. A few years ago we took the train from Seattle back to San Francisco and we’d been wanting to try the train down to Los Angeles so we decided to do it.

Travel to: Los Angeles | Oh Happy Day! Travel to: Los Angeles | Oh Happy Day!

DAY 1: The Train Ride | We hopped on the train at Emeryville (near Oakland) at the Amtrak Station early in the morning. Train travel is nice for a lot of reasons: the slow pace, you can walk around, tons of leg room, and my personal favorite: NO SECURITY! I vaguely remember going through a metal detector in Seattle but in Emeryville we just hopped on the train. Compared to the hectic craziness of getting a whole family to the airport it is downright dreamy. The ride is LOOOONG. Like 12 hours long (compared to a 50 minute flight!) If you are looking to optimize your time the flight is the clear winner but we had a really good experience. First off, the scenery is amazing. Going through the Central Coast the train tracks go right near the water. We watched the sun go down over the ocean from our seats! The pace of the train feels slower and more relaxed. No one was in a hurry to get anywhere (it’s literally the complete opposite of everyone’s wound up travel stress on an airplane.) There is a Dining Car to have meals at and an Observation Car that is floor to ceiling windows.  When the kids would get bored we would take some cards and walk over to play in the Observation Car. There is a feeling of wasting time that is hard to find anymore. I read two books, took a nap, planned our Holiday season and spent several hours drawing, and playing games with my family. I really enjoyed it. By hour 9 we were cracking half-serious jokes about “Why didn’t we take the plane?” And by the end of the train ride we were definitely happy to be at our destination. We took a 10 minute taxi ride from the LA Train Station to the Ace Hotel in Downtown LA where we checked in and were asleep less than 30 minutes after our train got in.

Travel to: Los Angeles | Oh Happy Day! Travel to: Los Angeles | Oh Happy Day! Travel to: Los Angeles | Oh Happy Day!

DAY 2: Downtown LA and Venice | The Ace Hotel opened in January last year and I’d heard great things about it. The rates seemed really reasonable (similar to Marriott-type prices) so we booked it. We loved staying there. The design is so great and the food at the restaurant and room service were excellent. They have a really cool rooftop pool that we had to ourselves every morning that was perfect for the kids. (Later in the day it was in full use by cool-looking people with drinks in their hands.) My friend had recommended Sqirl for breakfast so after Paul rented a car we headed over for Saturday breakfast. We tried to arrive early so we wouldn’t have to wait too long in line. When we arrived I got out of the car and we had our first celebrity sighting! Jake Gyllenhall was having breakfast! Breakfast was excellent. I loved it so much. After breakfast we headed over to the MOCA to see the Andy Warhol exhibit and then stopped by some shops like Poketo and all the street art. My friend also made us drive up the LA river which was actually really fun! We met some friends in Venice that afternoon. We strolled Abbot Kinney and went to all the cute shops then our friends generously offered to babysit our kids while we ate at Gjelina. It’s my favorite meal in LA. We usually just show up right when it opens and we can get in.

Travel to: Los Angeles | Oh Happy Day! Travel to: Los Angeles | Oh Happy Day! Travel to: Los Angeles | Oh Happy Day! Travel to: Los Angeles | Oh Happy Day!

DAY 3: Downtown LA | We had brunch at Bottega Louie. It was perfect (the Portobello Mushroom fries!) We spent an hour or so at the rooftop pool before heading over to the Getty Museum. It is a great free museum and they have great stuff for kids for kids as well as stunning views of the city. Afterwards we stopped in Beverly Hills to try out the Cupcake ATM (very clever!) before we went to Santa Monica to hang out on the beach , check out the boardwalk, and watch the sunset.  We went in early that night and got room service to get ready for our big day at Disneyland.

Travel to: Los Angeles | Oh Happy Day! Travel to: Los Angeles | Oh Happy Day!

DAY 4: Disneyland | I love Disneyland but only for one day. We’ve done several-day trips and it just ends up being expensive and we get bored, plus it’s exhausting! So for us we are a one-day-at-Disneyland-family. We go, do as many rides as we can, eat Dole Whips, and get exhausted! We leave pajamas in the car, where we can change the kids at the end of the day. Then we get out of there and the kids fall asleep in the car. We’ve done it like this three times now and it’s my favorite. We left the hotel really early to make sure we missed traffic and we were able to arrive when the gates opened.

Travel to: Los Angeles | Oh Happy Day! Travel to: Los Angeles | Oh Happy Day! Travel to: Los Angeles | Oh Happy Day!

DAY 5: Downtown LA | The last morning we checked out of our hotel and went to Grand Central Market in LA. It is this incredible building filled with the most amazing food vendors. We went around trying several different things until we were full. After that we met a friend at Guisados for Tacos, we got the taco sampler (delicious!) then said goodbye, dropped off the rental car and then headed to the airport for quick flight home.

All photos from my Instagram

  1. brittney

    April 13, 2015

    Thank you so so much for posting all these details! It is so fun (and super helpful) to see what other families actually had time to do. I really appreciate this.

  2. Hannah S

    April 13, 2015

    Sounds magical! You got a lot done in such a small amount of time 🙂

  3. Kelly Golightly

    April 13, 2015

    What a great trip! I live in LA and still haven’t been to Grand Central Market. Need to get out of my neighborhood more!

  4. gina

    April 13, 2015

    You had me at Taco Sampler – OMG!!! yum

  5. Ashley

    April 13, 2015

    This trip sounds so dreamy! I’ll be honest, I follow your blog via Bloglovin, but I only read the posts you write. I’ve been a long time reader- I loved your advice when Moses was little about being out of the house by 11am. Your post about putting your head down and working after your medical bills really resonated with me. So thank you for having these personal posts now and then, they are my favorite!

  6. Ally & Woozle

    April 13, 2015

    Nice pictures! Lucky me my son is sleeping…

  7. Krissy

    April 13, 2015

    I agree with Ashley. I love your personal posts! This is a great guide.

  8. maggie

    April 13, 2015

    I always love seeing travel posts about LA – sometimes it gives me good tips/places to visit when I already live here! I actually went to Disneyland with the boyfriend yesterday and had a blast. Seems like you all had a great time!


  9. Kristie

    April 13, 2015

    I enjoy reading travel itineraries with what was the most fun and what to avoid. Sounds like you had a wonderful time. I’m looking to plan a train trip with my family but on the east coast. Thank you for posts like this.

  10. 'Becca'lise

    April 13, 2015

    Disneyland! I practically grew up there (my parents worked there and I got in for free) and I love it so much.

  11. Happy Hazel

    April 13, 2015

    I live in LA but your travel looks so fresh and fun! 🙂

  12. kim

    April 13, 2015

    love posts like this. 🙂

  13. Jessica

    April 13, 2015

    Oooh I wish I had that much time in LA! Alas, I had a mere 36 hours:

  14. Kailey | The Blonde Travelista

    April 13, 2015

    Where is your brown bag from in the first picture? It is GORGEOUS!

      • jordan
      • April 14, 2015

      Yes! It’s the transport tote from Madewell that everyone I know has.

  15. audrey

    April 13, 2015

    So fun to see you guys!

  16. Noelle

    April 14, 2015

    It looks like the Madewell Transport tote, Kailey. It is lovely!

  17. Kelly

    April 14, 2015

    Ok, I LIVE in LA and I’ll probably follow this itinerary one weekend for a mini staycation. You really packed it all in! Downtown to Malibu to Beverly Hills to Santa Monica to Downtown in one day sounds exhausting!

  18. Aysha

    April 14, 2015

    I love your trip , because I don’t like to spend long time outside my country, waiting your next trip.

  19. Angela

    April 14, 2015

    It is so nice to see so many other options than just Disneyland for LA, I took notes for our next trip there. Great idea to ride the train one way and fly the other.

  20. Gris

    April 14, 2015

    Looking forward to visiting LA! Thanks for sharing some suggestions.

    Do you think you will share a similar post of your trip to Mexico? I’d love to hear about it!



  21. Marina

    April 18, 2015

    what an awesome trip to LA! We live here and I still haven’t taken our kids to some of my favorite places around the city. Need to get on it!

  22. Marina

    April 18, 2015

    As I was thinking about this it would be fun to do a train ride up to the Bay Area (when my 2yo grows a little more). Do you have any posts about your favorite Bay Area spots? Thanks! (Found your site through Elise’s weekend links)

  23. Anne B

    April 24, 2015

    Love it! We live in LA – a couple of blocks from the Sprinkles ATM 😉 and last weekend for the first time, we went to the Central Market 😉
    Longtime follower, I never comment but this time I had to…

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