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Family-Friendly LA Weekend
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Family-Friendly LA Weekend

Children on Santa Monica Pier Ride

Photo by Rhonda Crone

By Rhonda Crone

Los Angeles hasn't always been deemed a family travel destination. These days, that's changed. LA is a place where celebrities and everyone in between stroll their kids through the streets of a fabulous city. It's become a great getaway that provides everything your family seeks on a long weekend trip: sun, beach, cuisine, scenery, and some of the most exciting activities in the country.

Whether you want to be steps from the beach or take in Hollywood's attractions, a three-day LA weekend will give you a fairly good taste of what the exciting city has to offer.

Day One
Paramount Studios (5555 Melrose Ave, Hollywood)
Take a guided tour through the studios where some of the most famous television shows and movies are made.

Hollywood Walk of Fame (Hollywood & Vine, Hollywood)
Walk along the famous street and find your favorite stars immortalized in the sidewalk.

Griffith Observatory (2800 E. Observatory Ave, LA)
Get a bird's eye view of the city, check out the night sky with the public Zeiss telescope, and visit the Planetarium. Free admission.

Day Two
Venice Boardwalk (Navy Street to Washington Blvd, Venice)
Also known as Ocean Front Walk, the Boardwalk runs parallel alongside the beach and is just south of the Santa Monica Pier . You don't go to Venice without walking the Boardwalk. Be prepared for a show, complete with performers, animated vendors, and even a man walking on stilts they call "The Treeman." Starting at the north end, it's a decent stroll all the way down to where it ends at Marina Del Rey. Don't forget to look for muscle beach on your right.

Venice Canals (Washington Blvd., Venice)
The famous and breathtakingly beautiful Venice Canals are located 2 blocks from the ocean and just east of Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice. There are several canals, along which are unique homes belonging to artists, musicians, and everything in between.

Day Three
Santa Monica Farmer's Markets (location varies)
Get the freshest produce at four different locations throughout Santa Monica on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays

Santa Monica Pier & Aquarium (200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica)
The Santa Monica Pier has been documented time and time again in films, and its roller coaster overlooking the Pacific is recognizable by almost anyone. It's a great (and inexpensive) amusement park for kids and offers many different kinds of fare, as well as the Marisol Restaurant overlooking the water. The Aquarium, located at the entrance to he pier, is also cheap and entertaining family outing. Check for specific hours daily.

Kid-Friendly Restaurants
Caffe Primo (8590 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood)
A great open-air internet café with gourmet coffees, smoothies and eclectic menu

Mel's Drive-In (8585 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood)
A must for your Hollywood experience, Mel's opened in 1997 and has since been movies since. The classic diner food takes a backseat to the people watching Sunset Boulevard experience.

Abbot's Pizza (1407 Abbot Kinney, Venice)
Famous for the best takeout pizza in all of LA.

Chaya (110 Navy Street, Venice)
Upscale sushi, but family friendly.

Figtree Café ( 429 Ocean Front Walk, Venice)
The most renowned dining on the Boardwalk. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, indoor and outdoor dining.

Groundwork Coffee (3 Westminster Ave, Venice)
This is the Venice Beach location, just off the Boardwalk, and the most entertaining. There is another Venice location on Rose Ave. and one in Santa Monica. Whichever you chose, find one because it's the best coffee to be found in LA, and possibly anywhere. Take a pound home with you.

James' Beach (60 N. Venice Blvd, Venice)
Seafood, meat and vegetarian dishes.

Sidewalk Café (1401 Ocean Front Walk, Venice)
A Venice tradition, with tons of seating, perfect for Boardwalk people-watching.

Marisol (Pier 401 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica)
Family friendly all-around great restaurant, fabulous view of the Pacific.

Family Friendly Hotels
The Grafton on Sunset (8462 W. Sunset, Hollywood)
Modern and sleek rooms, many overlooking pool. Family-friendly. Great rates, as low as $130. Walk out the door and you're on famous Sunset Boulevard, and within walking distance to a plethora of great places to eat and shop.

Saharan Motor Hotel (7212 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood)
A family-oriented lodge with rooms starting at $84.99 and family suites under $200. In the heart of Hollywood, the hotel is located at the foot of the Hollywood Hills and within walking distance to Universal Studios. Kids under 12 stay free with parents.

Su Casa (431 Ocean Front Walk, Venice)
Sleek and modern rooms and suites, some with ocean view, $200 and up.

Hotel Erwin (1697 Pacific Avenue, Venice)
Rooms range from $169-$189. High-rooftop bar overlooking the Boardwalk.

Venice on the Beach Hotel Venice on the Beach Hotel (2819 Ocean Front Walk, Venice)
Beachfront, suites available.

Shutters (One Pico Blvd., Santa Monica)
This member of The Leading Hotels of the World is right on the beach. Ocean front rooms from $300.

Ocean Lodge (1667 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica)
Family friendly, kids stay free. Rooms under $200.

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