We decided to take the kids to the land of electric scooters, personal sound systems, roller blades, bikes, art and famous piers. That’s right, we took them to Santa Monica and Venice Beach for one gorgeously beachy day!
Here are some ideas of what you can do for the day with little ones, and some helpful tips to make your day a little easier to plan.
You can park on the beachfront of Santa Monica Beach from $12-$14 dollars for the day.
If you park next to the pier it’s $3 an hour or you can park down on Venice Beach for $9 a day.
It might be tempting to park by the pier as it will probably be the most obvious car park, but I would keep going till you find the all day car parks.
National Flags of Peace
If you visit on a Sunday morning you will be able to see a rather impressive installation of the worlds national flags, assembled to highlight peace and tolerance around the world.
It is all set out on the beach just to the right of Santa Monica Pier and they also include a display of the different flags for each state in America.
It really is something to see. The meaning behind this simple yet time consuming gesture is really quite beautiful. It’s also such an interesting and eye-catching vehicle to talk about something so important and relevant to all of us.
The flags also offered up a good old fashioned game of hide-and-seek for the Little One (although she was more interested in burying herself in the sand about a minute later) and my husband used the moment as a unique teaching opportunity: to find our national flag!
Santa Monica Pier
Take a stroll all the way along Santa Monica Pier and peruse all the trinket stalls, food stalls, shops and the various entertainment as you go.
You can also have a nosey in the arcade, although I was a little disappointed with the quality of games and things to do in there, and go on some rides at the fair like the iconic big wheel.
There are so many good photo opportunities as you wander along, such as the end of Route 66 sign.
Although we didn’t drive Route 66 it has become a bit of a national treasure so it’s only fair to recognise it for what it is: a little bit of American history, and in our book that deserves a photo!
At the end of the pier you can take a moment to gaze out into the great expansiveness of the Pacific Ocean and have a little look into the buckets of the people fishing for their super!
Hire a Bike
There are a few places to do this, but this is the shop I hired one from nine years ago, when I first came here on my own.
We didn’t hire a bike on this trip as the kids were too young, but you can hire by the hour for around $7 or for the day for about $20.
It’s funny to think of how much I have gained in the nine years since my last visit, namely two wonderful children and one gorgeous husband.
It’s lovely to reminisce with my children about what I did all those years ago, but it also shows me how incredibly lucky I am to be able to do it all again with the people I love most in the world!
You see, the beneficial effects of travelling with children are sometimes totally unexpected, completely random and utterly boundless!
There is food everywhere on the pier including a food stall called Japadog, which looked and smelled so incredibly yummy!
Unfortunately, we didn’t get one as it was 10.30 in the morning and we couldn’t bring ourselves to eat after two helpings of waffles at our complimentary hotel continental breakfast!
Instead we opted for a Perry’s burger and a California Beach Bowl, sitting at a table on the edge of the beach, feeling the sand between our toes and looking out at the ocean while we ate.
It was perfect for the kids too as they could play on the beach while they were waiting for the food to arrive. There was no road in the way and nothing to separate them off from us. It was just our table, on the beach, with our kids. Pretty good lunch time!
You don’t need me to tell you how to spend time on the beach, but I can tell you that there are good toilets all the way along the beach, which is always helpful when you have kids.
Also, instead of collecting shells with your kids on Santa Monica beach, you could go one better and look for Sand Dollars! Now, you know you’re going up in the world if your combing the beach for Sand Dollars!
We were all pretty excited when we found one of these bad boys!
It is probably worth mentioning that the water was pretty cold, and none of us were that keen to get in.
Lots of kids were getting in with their bodyboards, but they also had wetsuits on. If you are going to spend time in the sea, it might be something to think about.
Walk to Venice Beach
To walk from Santa Monica Pier to the start of Venice beach with our Little One on her scooter and the Baby Bum in the buggy took us about 40 minutes, but we were in no rush.
A helpful hint one of the life guards gave us was once you get to life guard tower 28 you will be at the start of Venice Beach. This gave us something to aim for while we were walking, just in case little feet got tired all of a sudden.
I did wonder if it was worth taking the kids to Venice Beach as I was worried there wouldn’t be anything there for them – boy was I wrong!
Our Little One loved it and was totally enthralled with all of the art! It was such a sweet surprise to learn this about her and I felt so proud watching her navigate all these new experiences and seeing all these new things.
Given the opportunity she’s always up for a spot of painting at home, however I had never seen her drawn to art and colour like she was here.
Her favourite, by far, were the collection of paintings at Wikid Canvas. She spent ages looking at the pictures and even picked out a favourite print, which was a portrait of a woman in a kaleidoscope of colours on a wooden block. The artist, Chris Ouk, was so good with our daughter and asked her questions about why she liked the picture and where she was from.
We ended up buying the print and Chris signed it for us with a special note for our Little One on the back! She was so taken with the whole experience she now refers to it as the day she bought her first piece of art!
What a great memory for us all to look back on!