Family photos by Marisa Vitale and some highlights from Los Angeles

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As I mentioned in an earlier post, we spent a week in LA back in September and stayed in the beautiful home owned by Peter James and Marisa Vitale. Marisa is a talented family photographer and offered to snap some photos of our family while we were in town. I jumped at the chance to get a rare photo of all six of us and to document the start of our family’s adventure, all of us so full of excitement… and admittedly a few jitters. We met Marisa at Temescal Gateway Park fresh from an afternoon at the beach (notice Ivy’s hair is still wet!), and went for a short walk under the big oak trees while she snapped photos.  I’m so happy to have these photos and thought I would share some favourites here with you. My kids, especially the boys, are getting so big. It’s funny how sometimes you don’t notice until you see it in photos.

Also, a few of you have asked for LA tips so I thought I would share some of the things we did while we were in LA (mostly Venice beach). We spent a lot of time with Michael’s family in Pasadena so we didn’t have as much time to explore the city as tourists, and we were also on a budget so we didn’t eat out as often as we wanted to. : )  But in any case, here are the highlights:

To See/Do:

  • Temescal Gateway Park (where photos above were taken): A pretty park with lots of paths to explore. Just off Sunset Blvd.
  • The beach! We spent a lot of time at nearby Venice Beach because it was within walking distance of our house. We also went to the beach near Temescal Canyon and Sunset Blvd which was less crowded.
  • Boogie Boarding: you can rent boards from the beach-front vendors on the boardwalk. My kids loved this!
  • Venice boardwalk: we spent an afternoon watching the skateboarders and street dancers. It was quite a scene with all the music and people!
  • We also walked down Abbott Kinney Blvd just to check out how much it’s changed since we last lived in LA. We have a policy of not taking our children into shops if we can avoid it, so we didn’t go into any of the shops, but it was fun to see so many great new shops there. (Burro looked really cute from the outside, and there’s even now an Aesop on Abbott Kinney!) Speaking of shopping, I kept hoping to have the opportunity to sneak into General Store for a little peak around but I never made it in. It looks SO cute (and oh my goodness, the website! dangerous!!).
  • We didn’t make it here, but Marisa suggested we check out Tonga Park in Santa Monica with cool native plants, water features, benches, etc. There’s also the nearby Santa Monica solar-panelled LED ferris wheel within walking distance.
  • While I was in LA for the ShopUp, Michael took the kids to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles (which they loved) and the Arboretum (which, despite the heat, they found very interesting to see all the different plants and trees).

To Eat:

  • Superba Food & Bread: This is located (dangerously) around the corner from the house we rented. Great for picking up bread and croissants (and coffee) in the morning, but they also have a wonderful menu for lunch and dinner.
  • Whole Foods Market on Lincoln Blvd: We did most of our grocery shopping here. Just behind the store is Ozone park with two different playgrounds (for big and little kids) on opposite sides.
  • Groundworks Coffee on Rose Ave: Great spot for coffee in a charming little spot.
  • Cafe Gratitude: Unfortunately we never made it to this restaurant but I had so many friends tell me to eat here. It’s a well-known restaurant amongst those seeking organic, vegan and locally-sourced foods. Looks so good!
  • We got a babysitter one evening and met Michael’s family downtown LA to celebrate his sister’s birthday at The Factory Kitchen for delicious Italian food.

That’s all I can remember, but please feel free to add more tips in the comments below. I’m sure families travelling to LA would appreciate all the recommendations!

Courtney x


Comments (9)

October 15, 2015

Cute pictures!
I live in OC and in the weekends we try to explore everything between LA and San Diego.
Our favorite by far in LA area is Huntington Library and Gardens. It’s a wonderful mix of art, library, the house of the Huntington family and acres of beautiful gardens (Japanese, Chinese, Desert, Rose…) We go quite often since we have membership and every time there is something new in bloom. Its our 8yo favorite place to visit, besides the beach.:)
Getty Museum (free, $10parking), LACMA, Griffith Observatory are all kids friendly.
Also The Broad Museum looks amazing. It’s brand new and ticket reservation is required few months ahead.

La Brea district is fun to explore and the Sycamore Kitchen is good for a quick bite and coffee.

October 15, 2015

Thanks for sharing your highlights. We stayed in the same neighborhood just a couple of weeks ago and we LOVED LOVED Gjelina’s new spot called Gjusta. Amazing breakfast & lunch in a stunning location with gorgeous backyard. We did all our shopping at Whole Foods too and there is a delicious coconut based ice cream place called Kip’s ice cream (a tiny store front across from Whole Foods). The Farmers Market in Santa Monica are a visit worth as well. And we rented bikes with a kids seat which was great for cruising around and exploring more spots. We had take out several times from Cafe Gratitude and used Postmates.com delivery service which was excellent. A real gem is the backyard at Plant Food & Wine, Matthew Kenney’s new spot right on Abbot Kinney for healthy and delicious food. BAZAR is a beautiful store on Abbot Kinney, selling well curated and thoughtfully choosen pieces from vintage Indigo-dyed textiles, clothing, furniture, jewelry and other antiques. Even typical basket woven by Indian here in Panama were on display which was great to discover in the middle of Venice.

Isadora g
October 15, 2015

So fun to see pictures of Courtney in my home town. I love all the places mentioned above. I think my family’s favorite thing to do here is rent paddle boards and go paddle boarding or bike riding. I’ve been doing both with my daughter since she was 3 years old and it’s very inexpensive. As far as museums weekends at the Getty are great in the summer. They have live music and open picnic time in the garden. Another that no one mentions and is a popular one with locals who have children under 6 years old is Noah’s Arc at the skirbal center, it’s for children of all ages but I find those under 6 like it most.

October 16, 2015

Ivy is such a little beauty!

Emma Shaw
October 16, 2015

So cool. Please don’t take your beautiful pics down from your instagram account. Don’t let rude jealous people win. Your pics are the best and inspire me as a women and a mum. You have a beautiful family I love the way Marlow is holding Michael’s feet in the top pic, so genuine so natural. You can’t fake a beautiful kid being beautiful. Don’t give in to nasty people.

Amazing hotel rooms are the business on any trip when away from home comforts. Re-post inspire us and be proud! X

October 20, 2015

I love those family pics! They look so natural not staged ♡
I really admire your decision on going on a gap year and would love to do so myself!! Would you share a few thoughts and tips about that?! A few insights would be fab. We moved to Ireland 3 years ago and it has been an adventure. But going abroad and around the world is something different I would really love that. I imagine all those wonderful experiences to be had and all those memories to be treasued from such a once-in-a-lifetime trip!

October 20, 2015

Great tips!
Few years back I discovered the luxury of traveling only with carry on. The benefits of that are renting smaller car, smaller hotel rooms, using public transportation on the days of the flight, never have to worry about lost bags and spending money on necessities while waiting and hoping the airlines find my luggage.
We have the tendency to travel quite a bit within the countries we visit so we alternate cheaper and nicer hotels. If it’s only for a night we get a basic hotel. For longer stay we always look for something with kitchen and if possible washing machine, and good location.
We also plan extra money in the budget for unexpected. Last year in NZ we ended up with broken car one day and the next we found ourselves stuck in Queenstown because there was an accident on the only road to our next destination and it was closed for the
night (they didn’t know how long is gonna take them to clean it). So we had to pay extra for whatever hotel had availability that night. Still it’s our favorite vacation. 🙂

nina justin
October 21, 2015

I love Cafe Gratitude and Abbott Kinney too! The concept stores and small boutiques are great! I miss LA when I read this entry! p.s Don’t you think the canal area on Venice Beach is beautiful?

November 9, 2015

I love the idea of not taking your children into shoppes, unless you can’t avoid it. I want to be more intentional this way!

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