Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Road Trip- Santa Monica and Beyond !

I've been meaning to write a little post about the rest of our trip to Southern California. Sorry it has taken me a bit to get to this. I am still in vacation mode. Re-entry is tough!

Our trip was a quick jaunt to Santa Monica, which is a beautiful and quite cosmopolitan beach town. It's very upscale and not at all similar to beach towns in Northern Cal, which are pretty earthy. We were able to get a great deal at the Loews  hotel on the beach there. It was a great spot to stay with pretty rooms, great pool, restaurants, and very family friendly. It's also right on a beautiful beach and next to the boardwalk. If you are in Los Angeles, you might check it out. It's close to so much. This was our view from our bargain room!

We also checked out the Getty, above, while we were there.  We had never been there and have heard so much about it.  It's absolutely gorgeous and a lovely way to spend the day. There are actually two Getty museums. One is the Getty Villa, in Malibu, which has ancient art. There is also the Getty Center which has Western art from the middle ages to present. Admission is free and you get a fun ride up the hill in a monorail type train. On the ride up, below. Those rascals! It's actually very sedate.

 The day we visited, they had a Herb Ritts photography exhibition going on. The photos were provocative for sure. We couldn't see it all with the kids.  We also took the highlights tour and saw some famous paintings and learned a lot. The decorative arts area is really interesting too. The Getty was designed by Richard Meier and is composed of 1.2 million square feet of travertine. It's absolutely stunning and is a great backdrop for the surrounding beauty of the ocean and Los Angeles.

 There are three restaurants on site and about two cafes to have a cappuccino and enjoy the views. We ate in the cafeteria. They have organic choices and we thought the food was one of the best meals we had on the trip! One of the restaurants below.

 Check out this upholstered 18th century bed from the decorative arts area. My flash less photo doesn't do it justice. According to our tour guide they had to recover these things every three months because people rarely bathed in those days and they got quite grubby! We are talking years without baths! They thought water wasn't healthy...The things you learn. Guess I may not want to time travel back to Versailles.

More Getty views...
 and the city of angels in the background.

Loved this portrait. Sorry I forgot the artist. The art collection is really amazing and I would love to go back and also visit the Getty Villa.

The Getty has so many beautiful areas to relax.

We also chilled by the pool and checked out the famous Santa Monica muscle beach in the front of the hotel. It was filled with man-size swing sets and climbing ropes. The boys (my husband included), loved it.  The boardwalk is so nice and has some fun rides and restaurants on it. There's a fabulous path that runs for miles down to Venice Beach a bit South of where we were. You can rent bikes or skates in front of the hotel.

Messing around and enjoying the beach at night.

Not more than a block or two away is the Promenade which is a closed street that goes for blocks and is shopping heaven. We checked out some of the cooler shops we don't have up in Northern Cal, like Kitson, purveyor of all things cool.  Here's my youngest, Griffin trying on some shades and checking out the reading material...

 On another night we hit a Tratasvere, on the Promenade. I felt like I was back in Italy. The food is so simple and fresh. Fantastic and a fun crowd. Dressed in collars for dinner, my boys below.

 What my boys liked best about this trip was the tour of  Warner Brother's Studio. It's a two and a half hour tour with a guide of the studio, museum and sound stages. Below one of the streets where so many things were and still are filmed. Props make each scene look unique added to the existing streets. When you are watching a film or show and you think they are on the street, they most likely are on a lot like this, not location. Friends had it's exteriors shot here as does The Mentalist and a ton of films made by Warner Brothers. You get to see how movies are made, go on a real sound stage and see it all.

On the tour.

In front of the studios with Bugs Bunny! Below is another of the neighborhoods on the WB lot. They have about 5 or 6 that they use. The houses look one way on the front and are a different house on the back. This house on the square was used in a ton of movies like Rebel without a Cause, The Music Man and Pollyanna, which the tour guide highly recommended. We had never seen Pollyanna with Haley Mills, so we just did with the kids to spy all the sets we saw. I have to say all four of us thought it was a really good film, boys included. Check it out if you want an uplifting family film.

The WB car museum. I loved this, "shaguar" from Austin Powers! 

Jackson liked all the Batman cars and the Batman motorcycle. This Batman car cost a million dollars to make. They also have a WB museum that is filled with movie costumes and props. There are dresses that were worn by people like Doris Day, The Matrix costumes, and so many other cool items. Sadly, no photos were allowed. The top floor is all wardrobe and props used in the Harry Potter films and the boys loved that a ton.

Back at the pool fire pits. The sunsets were so nice. Cocktails too.

Another view of the beach.

 The boys dug all the movie posters all over Los Angeles, like this Avengers one. Some of them even are animated. We also checked out Griffith Park, where the Hollywood sign is. It's a got an incredible view and great spots to hike. Funny it's the middle of Hollywood surrounded by gorgeous homes, but we even saw a coyote there.

I loved Santa Monica though. It's so fun and just really pretty. The neighborhoods are so cute and retro. I liked this beach cottage below with white shingles. One of many like it. Their car looks cute with it too.  Can you imagine the lifestyle? Sorry the palm trees would not fit in the frame!

Well all good things have to end, and on this trip we had to drive back up the boring highway 5 to home. On the way to the Bay Area, there is practically nothing for 4+ hours. One bright stop was a little place I hadn't been for a very long time, Casa de Fruita.  Don't you love the beautiful artichokes? You know you are back in Northern Cal when you see them.

This roadside complex sells all things fruit and nuts. They carry so many kinds of jams, chutneys, candies and more. Because of it's proximity to the fields, it is all really fresh. The truck of honey had a mind-boggling amount to chose from. I bought some local sage honey. I also got strawberries that were picked that morning- so good! Of course we came away with chocolate covered items too. Don't miss this stop if you are find yourself on Interstate 5 between L.A. and the Bay Area! They also have a great kids park and a coffee bar. It just has some charm about it and something for everyone.

These guys seem to be the official greeters in the Casa de Fruita parking lot. 

Hope you got to get away for Spring too.



  1. Loews is a really handy base for Santa Monica and Venice and right opposite one of my favourite 'dive' bars, Chez Jay. My trip seems too long away now, we're reading back for a month next January.

  2. Fantastic post Kim! We are so alike - Hubs booked us tickets to see the Getty Villa and we're going on the Paramount Tour! :) Great suggestions for things to do!

    p.s. I want to get that book. ha ha

  3. Kim!

    Love all this and having grown up there (born in L.A. believe it or not .. 50 yrs ago it wasn't so bad Lol!) I've walked along the boardwalk in Santa Monica/Venice many times. Great pics of the museum and Fm is adorable :)


  4. What a fantastic trip! I haven't been to southern California in ages. And it's only a 7 hour drive, tops. Your post makes me want to plan a trip!

  5. I found you through Tabitha, you have a real zest for travel with your family which I so admire. We've never been to California, we live near Toronto so it's quite far away for us. I am looking forward to planning a trip there someday. Thanks for sharing your vacation!

  6. Thanks Kim! Oh we always go to the Ivy too, it's so lovely, even with all the paps outside.
    Yes, Dani is my best blog bud!

    I would honestly sell a kidney to live in SoCal.

  7. Fabulous report! I've known for years if I ever won the lottery I'd get a penthouse apt on Ocean Blvd in Santa Monica stat. Thanks for sharing - I felt I was there with you all -

  8. Kim - Your trip down this way has been fun for me too! That may be the best view from a bargain room ever. I have yet to see The Getty ... darn (really that word which is similar). Very happy to hear that the food is so good!
    I am looking forward to going even more now. :-)

  9. Hi Kim, what a great and fun family vacation you had! You have a beautiful family! The Loews Hotel is so beautiful. I wish to stay there one day! I would also love to visit the Getty when we visit L.A. Thanks for sharing.