Friday, July 19, 2013

Hollywood with Kids - a Day Trip

It all started at the beginning of summer while watching a movie, and my 7 year old daughter pointed out the Hollywood sign. She asked me if Hollywood really existed. The look on her face when I started to explain the origin behind the wooden sign was priceless. Her mind filled with wonder she said, “Can we go there?”

Currently we live in Imperial Beach, California. Hollywood is a great day trip. Granted you can stomach the rush hour traffic, and battle the endless “Are we there yet?”s. Luckily the husband lets me drive since I have enough patience for the both of us, and our 2 children are practically intermediate level travelers. Therefore, we have hit a rather sweet spot in our travel procedures. Armed with their day packs (I will have to write a whole other post on what we pack on trips to keep them happy & satisfied), a loose run down of the day, and a vivid imagination we hit the road.

We cut to the chase and made our first stop the Hollywood sign. I wanted to find a place to view the sign that was not too busy or crowded. Plus we could stretch our legs after the long 3 hour car ride (due to rush hour traffic). I chose Hollywood Lake Park. It has a perfect view of the sign (great for pictures), and if you want to walk up the hill a bit you get even more views of the city and the lake. There are swings and a play structure. As well as picnic tables, and a wide open field. Pets are allowed, but unfortunately no bathrooms (or at least any my husband could find).

After taking a few candid shots we headed over to the Walk of Fame. Which is just over the hill at Hollywood & Highland. There were plenty of $10 all day parking lots. The rumbles in our bellies were getting loud, so we started this venture by eating at Mel’s Drive-in. Your classic diner fair, but with a little spin like turkey burger sliders with goat cheese or watermelon and beet salad. The French fries were amazing (although I wish I could have tried the yam fries, but didn’t see them on the menu with all the excited commotion upon arrival). The kids enjoyed their milkshakes, and their food arrived in classic red paper Ford Mustangs. The Juke box in the booth kept them busy picking tunes, and singing along while we waited for our food to arrive. The cost was pretty affordable too.

Unfortunately the Hollywood museum was closed, which is connected to Mel’s. Right on the corner though was Ripley’s Believe it or Not. We let the kids look at the interesting things they had displayed in the lobby before actually deciding whether or not to pay admission. Since they enjoyed the weirdness we decided to take the plunge. Once inside both of them explored with oohs and ahhs. There was a good mix of history, bizarre, and hands on displays. (I do think I enjoy the Ripley’s in Buena Park better though, although it has been a few years since I’ve been to that one.)

Back on the Walk of Fame we fallowed the stars seeking out a few of our favorite fiction characters (there are lists on the web that you can find that have the exact address of the stars). Since it was so crowed and there was some construction going on I opted to just wing it and point out what we saw on our way to Grauman's Chinese Theater (Now known as TCL Chinese Theater). In the courtyard of the theater there are the foot and handprints of many actors. Some are from the early days of Hollywood and some are more recent. We spotted some stairs off to the right and decided to see where they would take us. Little did we know that we stumbled upon a piano staircase! With each step it played a note. We took a few minutes and composed a couple of songs with the kids, even though all the people on the escalator looked at us like we were crazy (they had no idea what fun they were missing! Be healthy and take the stairs J). At the top we realized we were in the Hollywood & Highland Center. Sweet! Candy shop seemed to occupy most of this floor. We didn’t go in, but both of the kids pointed out the window displays which happened to be Willy Wonka inspired. Each window was a different setting and imaginative landscape with an excerpt describing it. Since Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory is one of their favorite movies it was awesome to watch their faces light up at each window. We stumbled upon a splash fountain on the bottom floor. It was a Hot day so the cool water was welcomed. To help us cool down more we got a minty mojito from D’lush. They had quite an assortment of yummy blended drinks, all virgin of course. After our cool down it was time to load up and head to our dinner date in Buena Park, Medieval Times. Which I will have to share in a whole other post.

My final tip is to make sure you visit when you have lots of patience, and everyone is well rested. Hollywood is crowded, and can be overwhelming. It was worth it to see how the kids’ faces lit up as they were star struck.

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