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Goofy’s Kitchen Disneyland Hotel

Goofy's Kitchen, Disneyland Hotel, Disneyland, California

Enjoy dining with your fave Disney pals over breakfast or dinner at Goofy’s Kitchen, inside the Disneyland Hotel.

You do not need to be a guest of the hotel or have a park ticket to attend the dining, which is open daily for breakfast from 7am-12pm and dinner 5pm-9pm.

No matter which time you dine, you will enjoy a buffet with a huge variety of food. It was the most impressive array of food we had seen at any of the character dining experiences.

Goofy's Kitchen

Start the experience with a photo at the entrance with Chef Mickey, then enjoy getting food at your leisure while characters drop by. Every half an hour or so the characters all march around the restaurant and diners twirl their napkins in the air.

Goofy's Kitchen

We found the characters to be excellent at Goofy’s, with several of them dropping by on multiple occasions and sneaking up on us to make us laugh.

Goofy's Kitchen

I also liked that you could meet Chip and Dale here at the same time.

Goofy's Kitchen

The buffet features five food stations. At breakfast the food includes choices such as made-to-order omelettes, cheese blintzes, Mickey Mouse waffles, pancakes, French toast, sausage, bacon, eggs Benedict, yoghurt, frittata, glazed ham, smoked salmon, pastries and fresh fruit, chicken nuggets, mac and cheese and fresh vegetables.

Goofy's Kitchen

At dinner Goofy’s Kitchen serves up a carving station, pasta, salads, veggies, fruit, pizza, rice, hot dogs, Goofyroni and cheese, and more hot and cold dishes.

Goofy's Kitchen

At both breakfast and dinner the dessert station is open, featuring cookies, cakes and a soft-serve frozen yogurt sundae bar, as well as Goofy’s wacky pizza creations. Try Goofy’s special peanut butter and jelly pizza if you dare!

Cocktails can be ordered for an additional fee.

Diners at this character experience can expect to meet five or six characters. We met Mickey, Minnie, Chip, Dale, Goofy and Pluto.

Breakfast costs $39 for adults and $23 for kids. Dinner costs $43 for adults and $25 for kids.

Reservations for “Goofy’s Kitchen” are highly recommended and be may be made up to 60 days before your visit. A limited number of reservations may be available same-day, subject to availability.

Make your reservation online or call 0011 1 (714) 781-DINE or 0011 1 (714) 781-3463.

https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/au/disneyland/dining/goofys-kitchen/

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Minnie & Friends Breakfast in the Park at the Plaza Inn, Disneyland

Minnie & Friends Breakfast in the Park at the Plaza Inn, Disneyland

Start your Disneyland day the right way with Minnie & Friends Breakfast in the Park at the Plaza Inn.

Minnie & Friends Breakfast in the Park at the Plaza Inn, Disneyland

The Minnie & Friends breakfast is a favourite of ours due to the sheer number of characters that are available during the experience.

The Plaza In is located inside Disneyland, near the entrance to Tomorrowland. The restaurant opened in 1955 and was reportedly one of Walt Disney’s favourite places to dine inside the park.

Minnie & Friends Breakfast in the Park at the Plaza Inn, Disneyland

Walt’s wife, designer Lillian Disney, Walt’s wife, chose many of the restaurant’s authentic 19th-century interior furnishings.

Minnie & Friends Breakfast in the Park at the Plaza Inn, Disneyland

Minnie always greets guests at the entrance to the Plaza Inn for a photograph. The photographers will come around to your table later with a photo package to purchase, but if you have bought the Maxpass that day you can ask to add the digital photos to your Maxpass Photopass and it won’t cost anything extra.

There is inside and outside seating at the Plaza Inn. While the inside seating has a really cute atmosphere and is closer to the food, the tables are quite close together and if you’re seated in the back seating sections it can be hard to get out to meet the characters and get good photos. We prefer the outdoor seating for this reason.

Minnie & Friends Breakfast in the Park at the Plaza Inn, Disneyland

While you’re waiting to meet characters, head to the buffet for a hearty breakfast. Our fave is the made-to-order omelette station and Mickey waffles. This time they had Banana Foster sauce to add on top, which was so delicious. The buffet also featured food such as French toast, scrambled eggs, bacon, biscuits and gravy, breakfast potatoes, fresh-baked pastries and breads, fresh fruit, and hot and cold cereals.

Minnie & Friends Breakfast in the Park at the Plaza Inn, Disneyland

The characters have been the same the last three times we have dined at the Plaza Inn. Minnie Mouse, Chip, Dale, Rafiki, Tigger, Pooh, Eeyore, Pluto, Captain Hook, Fairy Godmother, Max and Perla, the mouse from Cinderella. Not all characters are available during each dining session however, so we’ve never met all of these characters in the one sitting.

We spent about 90 minutes at the Plaza Inn and didn’t feel rushed to finish up and leave, which is great because some of the characters take a long time to come around.

Minnie & Friends Breakfast in the Park at the Plaza Inn, Disneyland

Reservations for “Minnie & Friends – Breakfast in the Park” are highly recommended and be may be made up to 60 days before your visit. A limited number of reservations may be available same-day at the Plaza Inn, subject to availability

Minnie & Friends Breakfast in the Park at the Plaza Inn, Disneyland

Adult buffet meals are $34 and children are $19. Breakfast opens when the park opens and is open during Magic Morning and Extra Magic Hour. I highly recommend this option if you don’t have access to the MM or EMH as it means the dining won’t take away from your park time in the morning. There is a separate entrance open for character dining, but valid tickets for Disneyland are required to enter and access the restaurant.

Make your reservation online or call 0011 1 (714) 781-DINE or 0011 1 (714) 781-3463.

https://disneyland.disney.go.com/dining/disneyland/plaza-inn/

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast Buffet at Storytellers Cafe, Disneyland’s Grand Californian

Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast Buffet at Storytellers Cafe, Disneyland’s Grand Californian

Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast Buffet at Storytellers Cafe, Disneyland’s Grand Californian

Oh boy, it’s just not Disneyland without a character breakfast! The new Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Buffet is an incredibly fun dining experience at Storyteller’s Cafe inside the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.

Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast Buffet at Storytellers Cafe, Disneyland’s Grand Californian

The character dining experience is offered as breakfast or brunch. We are early birds so breakfast suited us perfectly. You do not need to be a guest of the hotel to enjoy this character experience.

Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast Buffet at Storytellers Cafe, Disneyland’s Grand Californian

A character dining experience lasts about 90 minutes and includes a full buffet and interactions with various characters. At Mickey’s Tales of Adventure the characters are Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Chip and Dale. We only met Dale as Chip was “foraging food from the buffer” according to Dale.

Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast Buffet at Storytellers Cafe, Disneyland’s Grand Californian

The characters are all dressed in fantastic adventure outfits. Mickey looks like Indiana Jones, while Minnie has cute hiking boots and a butterfly on her hat.

Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast Buffet at Storytellers Cafe, Disneyland’s Grand Californian

Pluto has a compass around his neck but he told us (through gestures, of course), that he actually uses his nose to find out where to go, so I assume the compass is decorative, only!

Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast Buffet at Storytellers Cafe, Disneyland’s Grand Californian

After we were seated the characters rotated their way around the dining room and visited our table. I was highly impressed at the amount of time each character spent with us and how much of an effort they made to engage us and make us all laugh.

Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast Buffet at Storytellers Cafe, Disneyland’s Grand Californian

The characters came past on multiple occasions as well, so I felt like the interactions we had made the whole experience extremely worth while.

Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast Buffet at Storytellers Cafe, Disneyland’s Grand Californian

Twice during our breakfast the whole cast of characters marched around the room, encouraging the kids to join them and handing them instruments to play. Even the older kids enjoyed being part of the march.

Generally the same characters are there all the time, however sometimes a character will take a break and will not be available for your dining period.

Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast Buffet at Storytellers Cafe, Disneyland’s Grand Californian

We thought the food was excellent. Selections include made-to-order omelettes, the best scrambled eggs we have ever eaten, Mickey waffles, bagels and cream cheese, various cereals and milk, juices, bagels and lox already loaded up with cream cheese, salmon, red onions, and parsley, quiche, breakfast nachos, pastries, French toast, fresh fruit, sliced cheese, sliced meat, yoghurt parfaits and muffins.

Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast Buffet at Storytellers Cafe, Disneyland’s Grand Californian

Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast Buffet at Storytellers Cafe, Disneyland’s Grand Californian

Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast Buffet at Storytellers Cafe, Disneyland’s Grand Californian

Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast Buffet at Storytellers Cafe, Disneyland’s Grand Californian

Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast Buffet at Storytellers Cafe, Disneyland’s Grand Californian

Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast Buffet at Storytellers Cafe, Disneyland’s Grand Californian

Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast Buffet at Storytellers Cafe, Disneyland’s Grand Californian

I thought the bags of cereal milk were adorable.

Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast Buffet at Storytellers Cafe, Disneyland’s Grand Californian

Brunch is held later in the day and includes breakfast items plus more lunch options. Breakfast is served from 7:00 AM – 11:25 AM and brunch 11:30 AM – 2:00 PM.

Make sure to collect one of the cute Mickey’s Tales of Adventure buttons on the way out.

When we dined the breakfast cost $15 per kid and $35 per adult.

Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast Buffet at Storytellers Cafe, Disneyland’s Grand Californian

Advance reservations for Storytellers Cafe are highly recommended. You may check availability and make your reservations online, or call (714) 781-DINE or (714) 781-3463 up to 60 days prior to your visit. Reservations can also be made in person on a limited basis, subject to availability.

disneyland.disney.go.com/dining/grand-californian-hotel/storytellers-cafe/

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Hotel Review: Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

This article really should be titled “How staying at the Grand Californian Hotel ruined us for all other hotels in Anaheim”, because that’s pretty much what happened when we stayed at this incredible hotel.

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California is the best-positioned hotel for visiting the parks in Anaheim. An upscale, 6-story, lodge-style hotel, the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is a tribute to the  “Arts & Crafts” style that was popular in the early 1900s. If you’re interested in learning more about this era and the design of the hotel, ask concierge about the “Art of the Craft Tour” offered to guests.

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

A stay at the Grand Californian is not just a regular hotel stay. It means being right inside the magic of Disneyland every minute of your stay. The design and detailing of the hotel is perfection. The location is incredible. The convenience alone is worth its weight in gold!

The Grand Californian is a vacation destination, not just a hotel to stay at when you’re visiting Disneyland. Staying at a hotel with such amazing amenities as well as being so conveniently positioned meant that our whole Disney trip was a different experience to any we had had before.

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

We spent less hours at the parks trying to squeeze everything in, and enjoyed relaxing at the hotel in the pools. Thanks to the Early Magic Hour we were given as guests of the hotel (more on this below) we were able to get on so many rides early in the morning that we felt finished in terms of rides we wanted to do earlier in the day than we ever had before.

It was so easy to get into the parks that we could come back to the hotel for a rest and then go back again for dinner easier than going to a restaurant outside of the parks. The parks were empty when we entered them.

We were the first guests in the parks and it was eye opening to see the parks this way – don’t even start me on how amazing the photos are as a result of there being no one around to photobomb us! (See below!)

Disneyland

Because we were able to get on all the rides we wanted to in the first two hours every morning, we were able to then spend the rest of our time enjoying things we hadn’t done before like collecting pressed coins, and didn’t feel overwhelmed at trying to squeeze everything in. We had more energy, were less tired, and enjoyed the parks more. I think we have found the perfect way for our family to do Disneyland.

Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

Accommodation

Grand Californian Hotel

The 948 guest rooms at the Grand Californian include 44 suites, 71 villas, two Presidential and two Vice-Presidential suites. Standard rooms are 356-380 sq. ft. and have either two queen beds, a king bed, or one queen bed with bunk beds/ pull-out sofa. Suites have an added living area and up to 3 bedrooms. Concierge-level rooms give access to a lounge serving free breakfast and snacks.

We had a deluxe pool view room with two queen beds.

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

Room amenities include iron/ironing board, mini-bars, in-room safes, hairdryers, Keurig coffeemaker, bathrobes, free WIFI and flat-screen TVs.

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

The rooms were renovated in 2017 and have a bright, elegant feeling to them, with touches of Disney in the small details.

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

The orange tree behind the beds reflects the history of Disneyland and features Chip ‘n Dale hiding in the branches.

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

Toiletries provided by the hotel are H2O+, packaged especially for Disney, and are extremely high quality. We loved that the soap had “Disney” stamped on it! We were very happy to ditch our own toiletries and use the hotel-provided ones.

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

The beds were some of the most comfortable we have ever slept in and at the end of each long day at the park we were so happy to return to our comfortable room for a perfect night of sleep.

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

Our room was located directly over the entrance to Disney California Adventure Park, making the early morning walk to the security gates extremely fast!

We bought groceries online from the local store Vons and had them delivered to the hotel. The hotel has a cold storage area so if your groceries are delivered while you are away from your room they will be kept cold for you until you are able to collect them.

Evening turndown service is a lovely added bonus. We loved being left little Disney Parks Ghirardelli chocolates and having fresh towels and the curtains drawn when we returned in the evening, helping us prepare for bed.

Access to parks

The Grand Californian Hotel as direct access to Disney California Adventure Park and the Downtown Disney District. You will need a valid park ticket to enter Disney California Adventure Park but can enter the Downtown Disney District whenever you choose.

Having access to both locations was even more convenient than I had thought it would be.

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

The entrance to Disney California Adventure Park is located inside Grizzly Peak (above), while the entrance to the Downtown Disney District is located near the restaurants and shops (below), only a short stroll from the Disneyland entrance.

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

Extra Magic Hour

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

This was a huge perk for us. Guests of the three Disneyland Resorts are eligible for an Extra Magic Hour (EMH) at both parks. EMH is available at Disneyland Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and at Disney California Adventure on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, up to one hour prior to regular park opening.

Entering the park early made the world of difference to our stay. We were able to explore the parks and particularly jump on a lot of rides with no queues, long before the parks opened to everyone else.

Amenities

Lobby

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

The lobby is a particularly beautiful space to sit and relax, with beautiful stained glass doors, inviting sitting areas and a piano where live music (Disney tunes, of course) is frequently played.

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

A fireplace with comfortable chairs invites those wanting a rest, while kids gather around a TV playing Disney shows all day.

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

The lobby is decorated seasonally – during our stay it featured an amazing Halloween display made entirely out of cake.

Grand Californian Hotel

Pools

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

There are three pools to choose from. The Redwood Pool features a a 27-metre-long waterslide that curves around the stump of a giant redwood tree and a Children’s Pool.

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

Our fave was the Fountain Pool as it was a good depth for our swimmer to practice all of her tricks.

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

The third pool, the Mariposa Pool, has a hot tub plus four private cabanas that are available for hire.

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

Towels are available by the pool, as is free sunscreen and water to drink.

Spa

The Mandara Spa is the spot to relax and unwind with treatments, massages and facials. State-of-the-art fitness equipment is available for hotel guests.

Dining

White Water Snacks

While White Water Snacks was closed for renovation when we were there, it offers simple, self-serve breakfast, lunch and dinner in a casual setting.

Storyteller’s Cafe

The Storyteller’s Cafe is the place to enjoy Mickey’s Tales of Adventure character breakfast or brunch. At dinner time an American buffet is on offer, with selections including carved meats, salads, and filling sides, and kid-friendly selections for little ones.

We highly enjoyed the character breakfast, which featured an excellent buffet including an omelette station, Mickey waffles, fresh fruit, juices, cereals, and other hot and cold dishes.

Read more about our excellent experience dining at Mickey’s Tales of Adventure here.

Heathstone Lounge

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

A spacious lounge location inside the main building, Heathstone Lounge serves continental breakfast in the mornings and cocktails or coffee later on in the day. The lounge is lined in wood from a single redwood tree.

Napa Rose

Fine dining awaits at the award-winning Napa Rose Restaurant.

Disneyland purchases

When you buy merchandise at the parks you can have it sent back to the hotel to save you carrying it around all day! The items will appear at the concierge desk the following morning.

Guest Activities

A schedule of Guest Activities are available for guests of the Disneyland Resort hotels. All of the activities are free, unless otherwise noted on the schedule. When we stayed, the activities included:

Get Up & Go Power Walk – Walk while enjoying the sights and sounds of Disney California Adventure before opening.
Morning Stretch
Mat Pilates
Pin Trading
Movie Screenings
Art of the Craft Tour – A guided walking tour of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.

Final Thoughts On Staying At The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

Before we this trip we had only ever stayed at Good Neighbour hotels, thinking we would save the money “because we will be in the parks all day anyway”. This trip completely changed our minds and also the way in which we “do Disney”. The hotel was a refuge from the busy day and we wanted to return early to swim in the pools and unwind. We took more breaks from the days at the parks which gave us more energy on the following days.

Add in the entrance to Disney California Adventure and Downtown Disney, combined with the Early Magic Hour and we are sold, sold, sold and plan to never stay in another hotel other than the Grand Californian when we visit Disneyland in the future.

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

Grand Californian Hotel & Spa
1600 S. Disneyland Drive
Anaheim, CA 92802
Phone: 714-635-2300
Online: https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/au/disneyland/hotels/grand-californian-hotel/

A huge thank you to Disney for hosting our stay. All opinions are my own.

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa at Disneyland California

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

The spookiest time of year at the happiest place on Earth is the period between September 7 and October 31, when the Disneyland Parks receive a haunting makeover (check dates as they change annually). Celebrating Halloween at Disneyland is a must-do experience for young and old.

Visiting Disneyland at Halloween can be an incredible experience but also takes some planning and preparation. The tips in this guide will help you create a magical trip for your whole family.

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

Plan your dates wisely


By very careful planning, we were able to avoid the bulk of the crowds who head to Disneyland to celebrate the holiday season.

Check the following before booking your trip:

*US school holiday dates
*Australian school holiday dates (there are a lot of Australians who make the trek each year!)
*Annual Pass Blockout Dates (obviously it’s good to go when annual pass holders can’t!). Check them here.
*The busiest days according to the previous year on a calendar such as this. Weekends are always the busiest so I suggest avoiding them

Book a hotel near the park

Grand Californian Hotel

We always book a very budget hotel that is extremely close to the park. Our previous trips we stayed at the Grand Legacy At The Park, which is across the road from Disneyland and is extremely convenient, and the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa (pictured), which has an entrance inside the Disneyland California Adventure Park. If you can afford the splurge, the Grand Californian is our number 1 pick.

A full review of the Grand Legacy At The Park can be found here.

Pack wisely

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

My daughter is too big for a stroller, so I took a large shoulder bag to put in water, food and small purchases and keep my hands free. I have also used a backpack in the past. Clothes-wise, mornings and evenings can be cool at this time of year while the middle can be super warm.

We were comfortable in shorts and tees during the day and added a light jumper/sweater for the mornings/evenings. Shoes are so important at Disneyland when you’re walking 22K steps a day: go for comfort! My daughter and I wore extremely comfortable sneakers ever day.

If your kid fits into a stroller then by all means take one or hire one from the parks. I saw kids who were aged seven in them being pushed around, so there’s no shame in it if it’s what you need to do to get the kids through the long days without tears.

Download the Disneyland App

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

It’s invaluable for planning your day – character meet-and-greet times and locations, show times, ride wait times, view and make dining reservations, see your Disney PhotoPass pics, and even buy your park tickets app. Plus it’s a must-have if you’re planning on upgrading your ticket to include a Maxpass (more on the Maxpass below).

Get more info on the Disneyland App and download it here.

Purchase Maxpass

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California
Upgrading our passes with a Maxpass (they cost $10 per person, per day) was the best decision we made. Maxpass does two things:

1. Provides digital FASTPASS to rides (A FASTPASS lets you take a ticket with a specific time printed on it so you can return to the ride at a later time and skip the queue.)
2. Provides access to download all PhotoPass images taken by Disneyland photographers each day.

If you like to get lots of photos taken then the Maxpass is fantastic value for the photos alone. While you can still get FASTPASS without a Maxpass, it does require walking a lot more all over the park to get the paper ticket from the machine and then return again later. A Maxpass lets you book your FASTPASS selections on your phone from anywhere in the park. It was a game changer for us.

Only one member of your party needs to purchase the Maxpass if photos are your goal rather than digital FASTPASSES.

Plan your Disney days

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

I’m a big believer in schedules, particularly at Disneyland where timing is important. I created a spreadsheet in advance and researched the events that would be taking place each day, such as parades, fireworks, shows, character meet-and-greets, tree lightings and so forth, to slot them into the time we had at the parks.

I also booked in dining, especially character dining, 60 days in advance when the bookings opened. Spots are limited so I suggest setting a calendar alert 60 days out and booking in everything. You can always cancel it later if you change your mind.

Go early!

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

Not a morning person? Your experience at Disneyland will be vastly improved if you are! Mornings are the best for rides as it’s when the parks are quietest, so check the daily park opening hours (they cary day-to-day) and arrive each morning at least half an hour beforehand to be one of the first few people inside the park when it officially opens.

Being early means you will have a good few hours with basically no queues for rides as a result, and can then use the Maxpass to schedule the top rides for throughout the day to get them in several times.

Take a break for lunch in the middle of the day to early afternoon, and then enjoy the special Halloween entertainment.

Check out the Halloween decorations

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

Disneyland features hundreds of hand-carved pumpkins, plus a gigantic Mickey head pumpkin that’s a popular backdrop for photos. There is also a traditional Dia de los Muertos skeleton display near the Golden Horseshoe Saloon in Frontierland.

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

Disney California Adventure Park is haunted by Oogie Boogie’s oversized shadow looming over the Main Entrance, and the Headless Horseman Statue on Buena Vista Street.

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

Bats swarm the Carthay Circle Bell Tower, Disney Junior star Vampirina make her debut appearance and Coco fans can visit Plaza de la Familia at Paradise Gardens Park for free crafts, mask colouring, taking photos with the special angel wing photo walls and recording family memories. Learn about Dia de los Muertos and catch the free show “A Musical Celebration of Coco”.

Take a spooky ride

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

In Disneyland, stroll through New Orleans Square, where you can meet Jack Skellington and Sally, on your way to the Haunted Mansion Holiday, a ride overlay that runs from Halloween till the end of the Holiday period. The Haunted Mansion is taken over by the cast Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, including Jack Skellington.

Space Mountain has been given a terrifying makeover during this period to become Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy, where phantoms haunt the riders brave enough to take flight.

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

In Disney California Adventure Park, Cars Land has been given a fun facelift, including the characters in “car-tumes” and a Halloween-spin on Luigi’s Honkin’ Haul-O-Ween and Mater’s Graveyard JamBOOree.

Guardians of the Galaxy has been transformed into Guardians of the Galaxy – Monsters After Dark especially for the season, too.

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

If you get time, check out the lobby of the Grand Californian Hotel, which is decorated spookily for the holidays with a pumpkin patch built out of cereal treats, 200 pounds of icing, 100 pounds of chocolate and 300 pounds of fondant. In the centre of the delicious display sits an Oogie Boogie pumpkin that is over four feet tall.

Meet the characters

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

We love meeting the characters anyway, but they’re that little bit extra special when dressed in Halloween garb! We brought an autograph book with us (it’s a great ice breaker) and hunted down our faves throughout the day.

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

We especially loved Mickey and Minnie in their festive clothes (Minnie as a Candy Corn was our fave) and meeting Jack Skellington and Sally from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. You can locate the characters using the Disneyland app on your phone.

Eat all the food!

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California
The Disney Parks employ a wide variety of exceptional pastry chefs and confectioners, so I highly recommend trying some of their seasonal treats.

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

Both Disneyland parks features pumpkin spice Mickey Mouse beignets, festive candy apples, cookies, cake pops and more. Pick up a guide to the Halloween food available and where to find it when entering the park.

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

The popcorn is a fave of ours (for some reason, it tastes really amazing!) and we love to pick up a holiday-themed or limited-edition popcorn bucket to take home as a souvenir.

Attend Mickey’s Halloween Party

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

This special event requires a seperate ticket and only runs on certain days throughout the Halloween period. Mickey’s Halloween Party is a popular event and I suggest booking tickets fairly soon after they go on sale, as it does book out.

At the party guests can meet rare characters, wear costumes that they are not usually allowed to wear, enjoy special entertainment and follow trick-or-treating trails.

On the evenings of the party, the park closes early to all guests who have not purchased a ticket to the party. Party-goes may enter the park up to three hours before the party begins, which is at either 6pm or 7pm. Our party started at 6pm and we were surprised that we were able to enter even earlier than 3pm, so it’s worth trying to enter as early as possible to make the most of the ticket.

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

Guests can now enter either park for the duration of the party period, but we chose to stay at Disneyland as there are no special festivities at Disney California Adventure during this time period.

Included in the party ticket is all Disney PhotoPass photos taken during the event and unlimited PhotoPass downloads for party photos for up to 45 days. Ask photographers to take Halloween Magic Shots for a bit of extra fun. Once the regular park guests leave the park, ride lines tend to be shorter than usual, and if you download the Disneyland app you will be able to take advantage of Disney MaxPass in either park in the three hours before the party starts – note however that during the actual party, the FASTPASS system does not run.

Mickey’s Halloween Party 2018 Dates And Times

September 19, 21, 24, 26, 28

October 2, 5, 9, 12, 16, 19, 23, 26, 29, 31

For Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday dates, the party hours are 6pm to 11pm. Friday hours are 7pm to midnight.

Get more info on tickets here.

Kicking off Mickey’s Halloween Party

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

When lining up for park entry guests are given a coloured wristband with the date and number of the party and a treat bag. Trick-or-treating doesn’t begin until the party starts, so stash the bag for later. You may bring your own bag if you prefer.

Guests without wristbands are ushered out of the park once the regular park hours come to a close, and wristbands are checked frequently throughout the event.

Mickey’s ToonTown Pre-Party

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

Mickey’s Halloween Party kicks off at 5pm in ToonTown with three trick-or-treat stations and characters in costumes. I suggest lining up from 4:30pm to enter, hitting up one trick-or-treat trail if you absolutely must, then riding the rides with no lines and getting photos with the characters in special costumes.

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

This is where we found Minnie in her Candy Corn costume. A big mistake most people seemed to make was spending the whole pre-party lining up at the trick-or-treat stations for candy that can be bought at a supermarket. I think the value in the party is the rides with no queues, special entertainment and characters in costumes, so we didn’t worry much about the candy. Also – if you trick-or-treat too soon, you’ll have very heavy bags to carry for the rest of the night

Wearing Costumes to Mickey’s Halloween Party

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

Guest are allowed to wear costumes to the party that conform to their guidelines. We chose not to dress up and didn’t feel like we were in the minority, but it would have been fun to have a costume for the novelty of the occasion. Cheese decided to dress as Mulan for the party.

You can get the full list of guidelines here for wearing costumes at Disneyland.

Trick-Or-Treating

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

We only did one trick-or-treating trail while in Toon Town because we were so busy doing everything else, but that one trail gave us more candy than we could eat. There is a mix of healthy treats like carrots, pretzels, apples and dried fruit as well as lots and lots of sugary candy. If you really want a lot of loot, trick-or-treat last thing at night when the lines are shortest.

Characters at Mickey’s Halloween Party

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

Special characters come out for the Halloween party, including villains, who can be found at the Town Square. We spotted the Queen of Hearts, Cruella de Ville, Maleficent, Hades and Gaston.

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

Around other parts of Town Square, Adventureland, Fantasy Faire, Critter Country, Pirate Wharf and Rancho del Zocalo you’ll also find characters such as Donald Duck, Daisy, Goofy, Chip and Dale, Minnie Mouse, Mickey Mouse and rare Disney princesses. Rare jungle characters come out in Adventureland and you might find pirates like Captain Jack Sparrow on the Frontierland dock.

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

In Tomorrowland, Pixar characters can be found at the dance party in Tomorrowland Terrace, and Star Wars characters are located in near a trick-or-treat trail.

What about the rides?

Wait times for rides are much shorter during the party and we jumped on several favourite rides a few times in a row with no queue at all. FASTPASS does not operate during the party however MaxPass works in the three hours before the party begins.

Entertainment at Mickey’s Halloween Party

The entertainment is a big part of what makes the party so special. Each party, the entertainment includes the Headless Horseman Rides Again Pre-Parade (10 mins before the parade starts), the Frightfully Fun Parade at 9pm and 10:35pm and Halloween Screams – A Villainous Surprise in the Skies Fireworks at 9:35pm. Each of these is only shown during the special Mickey’s Halloween Party event.

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

We also loved the Cadaver Dans who sing Halloween-themed songs while floating on the ghostly river on party nights, and there is a Pixar Pals Halloween Dance Party on during the party, too.

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

We watched the first parade from near the Partner Statue. In order to get a decent spot to see the parade we had to secure a spot and stay there from about 7:30pm. The first parade runs from It’s a Small World to the park entrance, then reverses the route for the second parade.

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

Those who were planning to see the second parade set themselves up directly in front of the castle for the best fireworks views and projections on the castle – however from this position it’s difficult to see the parade.

Since we had a little one with us, seeing the second parade wasn’t an option so we had to find a spot where we could see both parade and fireworks. We chose a prime spot for the parade and then moved a few steps down to in front of the partner statue on the street, directly in front of the castle.

Both the parade and fireworks are incredible and well worth staying up late for!

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

A guide to celebrating Halloween at Disneyland California

We received Disneyland Park tickets courtesy of Disney. All opinions our own. We are life-long lovers of Disney.

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Incredible Places To Stop On A San Francisco To Los Angeles Road Trip

Incredible Places To Stop On A San Francisco To Los Angeles Road Trip, USA

Incredible Places To Stop On A San Francisco To Los Angeles Road Trip

The San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip down Highway 1 is an iconic drive through some of the most beautiful parts of California. Stretching 442 miles / 711 kms and taking around 8 to 9 hours non-stop to drive, the San Francisco to Los Angeles drive down Route 1 is scenic beyond belief. Voted as one of the Best American Road Trips by National Geographic, this is one of the most memorable road trips you can make.

Big Sur, California

While the fastest route to take between San Francisco and Los Angeles is the Interstate 5 Freeway (382 miles / 615 kms from Downtown LA to Downtown SF, taking approx 5.5 hours to 6 hours), if you have time to spend, I highly recommend taking the scenic LA to San Francisco road trip down Route 1 instead.

Please be aware that after the 2017 landslide there have been road closures on Highway 1 south of Big Sur / North of Piedras Blancas Lighthouse / San Simeon. The road is hopefully reopening in July 2018. Check here for updates and here for info on the detour.

Spending time in San Francisco? Check out things to do in San Francisco with kids here.

Have a few days sightseeing in LA? Check out things to do in Los Angeles with kids here.

Monterey

Monterey, California

This seaside town is famous for Cannery Row, the the waterfront street with now-defunct sardine canning factories, Fisherman’s Wharf, the fantastic Monterey Bay Aquarium and world-renowned PGA Golf Course at Pebble Beach.

We also enjoyed spotting sea lions basking on Del Monte Beach. If you have kids in tow, head to Dennis The Menace Playground, which features a maze and rock climbing wall.

Monterey, California

The scenic 17-Mile Drive to Pebble Beach is a great detour, with dramatic cliffs, the iconic Lone Cyprus and wildlife to see.

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA

Get more info on Monterey Bay Aquarium here.

Get more info on the 17-Mile Drive here.

Find and compare hotels in Monterey here.

Carmel-by-the-Sea

Carmel-by-the-Sea

One of our favourite little towns, Carmel-by-the-Sea is a must-visit on the San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip. Often called Carmel, the town was founded in 1902 and is known for it’s artistic history and beautiful scenery. I would say it’s also known for it’s storybook houses that I would love to retire to one day.

Carmel is very dog-friendly, and you’ll see dogs literally everywhere – on the beach in hotels, restaurants and shops.

Carmel-by-the-Sea

We also enjoyed a visit to the Mission San Carlos Borroméo del río Carmelo, also called the Carmel Mission. Built in 1797, the Mission is one o the best examples of Roman Catholic mission churches in California.

Carmel-by-the-Sea

Take kids to the Cottage of Sweets, a traditional British-style sweets shop with homemade fudge and imported candies, and locally-owned Thinker Toys.

Carmel-by-the-Sea

Sunset on the beach is a must in Carmel. It gets chilly, even in summer, so rug up.

Where to stay in Carmel

Carmel-by-the-Sea

We stayed at the Best Western Carmel’s Town House Lodge for the night, which had all the basics we needed.

Find and compare hotels in Carmel here.

Where to eat in Carmel

Carmel-by-the-Sea

We enjoyed a hearty breakfast at bustling Katy’s Place, delicious brunch and lunch at Carmel Belle, great coffee from Carmel Coffee House, upmarket dinner at Casanova (with kid-friendly options!), homestyle Italian food at Il Grillo and baked treats at Carmel Bakery (photo above).

Big Sur

Big Sur, California

The 90-mile stretch of redwood-trimmed coast between Carmel-by-the-Sea and San Simeon is where you’ll find Big Sur. The name Big Sur comes from the Spanish ““el sur grande” or Big South. The name refers to Big Sur’s location, 25 miles south of Monterey.

Big Sur, California

Bixby Bridge

Big Sur, California

The most instagrammable spot on the Big Sur coast, Bixby Bridge was built in 1932, 260 feet/79 metres above a canyon.

Pfieffer Beach and Keyhole Rock

Pfieffer Beach, Big Sur

A detour off the beaten path, but well-worth it, particularly at sunset. Pfieffer Beach is south of Big Sur Station, where Sycamore Canyon Creek meets the Pacific Ocean, framed by rocks at either end.

Keyhole Rock, Big Sur

While tidal pools can be fin to explore at low tide, and the north end of the beach has unique purple sand, the beach is renowned for Keyhole Rock, an incredible natural rock arch formation that waves and the last light of sunset pass through. It’s an incredible place to watch the sunset.

San Simeon

San Simeon, California

The town itself doesn’t offer much, with the main draw cards to the area being Hearst Castle and the elephant seals at Piedras Blancas.

Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle

A  National Historic Landmark, Hearst Castle was the private residence of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst in the 1920s. The lavish mansion is accessible by tour only. Advance bookings are highly recommended.

Get more info on visiting Hearst Castle here.

Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash.

Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery

San Simeon, California

Piedras Blancas is an excellent spot to observe the magnificent northern elephant seal. Spread over 6 miles of shoreline, the viewing areas provide access to the elephant seals as they bask on the shore at their land-based rookery. We saw literally hundreds of elephant seals when we visited. The elephant seal rookery was one of our favourite stops on the San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip.

There is a free car park at the view area, which is open daily and is wheelchair / stroller accessible.

Where to stay in San Simeon

We stayed at the Days Inn San Simeon, which was basic but catered for all of our needs.

Find and compare hotels in San Simeon here.

Madonna Inn San Luis Obispo

Madonna Inn, California

We stopped at the family-owned Madonna Inn for lunch, but it’s an incredible spot to stay the night. The unique resort has been welcoming guests since 1958. The incredible interiors must be seen to be believed. We recommend dining at the Copper Cafe.

Get more info on the Madonna Inn here.

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara

Visit the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History to see the 73-foot long blue whale skeleton, one of only five complete blue whale skeletons in the USA, or the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center for an interactive marine experience. Mission Santa Barbara, also known as Santa Barbara Mission, is also worth a visit. Walk down to Stearns Wharf and enjoy the seaside atmosphere.

Get more info on Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center here.

Get more info on Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History here.

Find and compare hotels in Santa Barbara here.

Photo by OC Gonzalez on Unsplash

Malibu

The Getty Villa, Los Angeles, USA

While there are some beaches (and celebrities) in Malibu, I would suggest visiting the incredible Getty Villa art museum that is located in the area.

Get info on visiting the Getty Villa here.

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier, LA

The iconic Santa Monica Pier was built in 1909, the first concrete pier on the USA West Coast. Ride the Santa Monica Pier Carousel built in 1939, take a spin on the world’s only solar-powered ferris wheel, challenge each other to a game at Playland Arcade and don’t miss the gorgeous sunset.

Photo by Matthew LeJune on Unsplash

Get more info on visiting Santa Monica Pier here.

Incredible Places To Stop On A San Francisco To Los Angeles Road Trip, USA

 

This blog post contains affiliate links. This means if you book a hotel through a link on this page, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Thank you for supporting me and my site!

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

LA Family Attractions: 16 Things To Do In Los Angeles With Kids

LA Family Attractions: Where To Take The Kids In Los Angeles

LA Family Attractions: 16 Things To Do In Los Angeles With Kids

Griffith Observatory, LA, USA

Los Angeles is an incredible destination for a family holiday. We discovered world-class museums, theme parks and gardens during our stay that left us extremely impressed with that the city has to offer visitors of all ages and interests. Scroll down to find out our favourite LA family attractions, plus where to stay and eat with kids, and how to get around the city without losing your sanity.

Things to do in LA

J. Paul Getty Museum

Getty Center LA, USA

This is a must when visiting LA with kids. The J. Paul Getty Museum, usually just called “the Getty”, is one of the world’s largest art organisations. In Los Angeles, you can visit their two locations and collections: the Getty Center and Getty Villa. Both are incredible and I would suggest setting aside a day to explore each.

Getty Center

Getty Center LA, USA

Perched atop a hill with a stunning view over LA, the Getty Center is worth visiting to see it’s incredible architecture and gardens as well as their art collection.

Visit the Family Room with kids to explore art with hands-on activities such as mask-making, playing with camera lenses, creating a tube sculpture and decorating a giant illuminated manuscript.  .

Getty Center LA, USA

Or, use the Art Detective Cards to engage kids in art around the galleries and garden. There is even a free multimedia GettyGuide® Family Tour with stories, music, and sounds inspired by art available at the GettyGuide Desk in the Museum Entrance Hall.

Read more about our visit to the Getty Center here.

Entry into the Getty Center is free!

Getty Center
1200 Getty Center Dr, Los Angeles
getty.edu

Getty Villa

The Getty Villa, Los Angeles, USA

Another must-visit in LA, the Getty Villa is a recreation of an ancient Roman country house, built in the 1970s and modelled after the Villa dei Papiri in Herculaneum, Italy, which was buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79. The villa is filled with artefacts and art works from the end of the Stone Age to the fall of the Roman Empire, while the garden design reflects those found in ancient Roman homes including a herb garden, decorative fountains, arbors and reflecting ponds.

The Getty Villa, Los Angeles, USA

We spent a peaceful few hours walking through the gardens and villa following the Art Detective Cards, which direct families to find art and solve a mystery while exploring the galleries, garden, and architecture.

The Getty Villa, Los Angeles, USA

The interactive Family Forum room is a highlight of a visit to the Getty Villa with kids, as is the GettyGuide® Family Favorites multimedia tour designed especially for families.

Read more about our visit to the Getty Villa here.

Entry into the Getty Villa is free, but ticket reservations are required.

Getty Villa
17985 Pacific Coast Hwy, Pacific Palisades
getty.edu

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

LACMA, LA, USA

The iconic Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in the Miracle Mile area of Los Angeles is a must-visit for any lover of art and design. Kids will love the two outdoor, large-scale installations, Urban Light and Levitated Mass, the Boone’s Children’s Gallery, free story time and family Sunday activities.

LACMA, LA, USA

Read more about our visit to LACMA here.

LACMA
5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles
lacma.org

La Brea Tar Pits and Museum

La Brea Tar Pits, LA, USA

The La Brea Tar Pits and museum will educate and engage the whole family. Science-lovers of all ages will get a real kick out of visiting this incredible time capsule, where active tar pits are still being excavated and Ice Age fossils of long-extinct animals being still being discovered today.

We absolutely loved our visit to the La Brea Tar Pits and highly recommend it as one of the top LA family attractions.

La Brea Tar Pits, LA, USA

Read more about our visit to the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum here.

La Brea Tar Pits
5801 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles
tarpits.org

Universal Studios Hollywood

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood is a film studio and theme park in the San Fernando Valley area of LA. It’s the original Universal Studios! The park is split into an upper and lower lot with rides and attractions, plus the original Back Lot Studio tour that is unique to Hollywood. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a stand out.

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

Get our tips on visiting Universal Studios Hollywood here.

Universal Studios Hollywood
100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City
universalstudioshollywood.com

Griffith Park

Griffith Park, LA, USA

One of the largest municipal parks with urban wilderness areas in the United States, Griffith Park sprawls over 4,210 acres featuring both natural terrain and landscaped parklands. There are plenty of walking trails in the park, as well as some prime attractions.

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory, LA, USA

A must for lovers of astronomy and space, the Griffith Observatory is perched high up in Griffith Park, offering visitors an excellent view of Los Angeles as well as the famous Hollywood Sign.

Griffith Observatory, LA, USA

Inside the Observatory you’ll find a wide variety of space and science-related displays. Look through telescopes, explore the hands-on exhibits (most feature dense text and aren’t overly suitable to younger kids), and be sure to catch a live show in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium.

Read more about our visit to the Griffith Observatory here.

Griffith Observatory
2800 E Observatory Rd, Los Angeles
griffithobservatory.org

Griffith Merry-Go-Round

Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round, LA, USA

It might not look like much, a dilapidated merry-go-round that’s a a bit neglected and worse for wear, but the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round is a special place for Disneyphiles. This carousel with peeling paint, in need of some serious restoration, was actually the inspiration behind Disneyland.

Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round, LA, USA

Read more about visiting the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round here.

Hollywood sign

Griffith Observatory, LA, USA

One of the most famous symbols in the world, the Hollywood sign was erected in 1923. While it’s visible from many places in Los Angeles, you can actually hike right up to it.

Get tips on hiking up close to the Hollywood sign here.

Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens

Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens

A 133-acre zoo located inside Griffith park, the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens was founded in 1966. Inside the zoo you’ll find animals such as Bornean orangutans, Asian elephants, hippos, gorillas and chimpanzees. Kids will love petting farm animals in the Winnick Family Children’s Zoo and running wild at the Neil Papiano Play Park that features animal-themed climbing sculptures, large play structures, a toddler area and water misters.  The play park was designed to be accessible to all children, including those with medical and physical challenges. If your kids want to see animals, then the zoo is an excellent choice of LA family attractions.

Photo by Matteo Ferrero on Unsplash

Los Angeles Zoo
5333 Zoo Dr, Los Angeles
lazoo.org

Venice Beach

Venice Beach, Los Angeles

The people watching at Venice Beach makes it worth the visit alone! There is a boho vibe at Venice Beach, with a boardwalk full of funky shops, street performers and murals. We found a playground and skate park for kids to enjoy, and the Muscle Beach outdoor gym for us to watch the locals training to be musclemen like Arnie!

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier, LA

The iconic Santa Monica Pier was built in 1909, the first concrete pier on the USA West Coast. Ride the Santa Monica Pier Carousel built in 1939, take a spin on the world’s only solar-powered ferris wheel, challenge each other to a game at Playland Arcade and don’t miss the gorgeous sunset.

Photo by Matthew LeJune on Unsplash

Santa Monica Pier
200 Santa Monica Pier A, Santa Monica
santamonicapier.org

The Original Farmers Market

LA Original Farmers Markets, USA

Enjoy food from over 100 gourmet grocers and restaurants at the Original Farmers Markets, an LA institution since 1934. We loved the open-air setting which made for low-key dining in a vibey atmosphere.

The Original Farmers Market
6333 W 3rd St, Los Angeles
farmersmarketla.com

The Grove

The Grove, LA, USA

This famous outdoor mall is a must if you love to shop! The grove is packed with world-class shops, restaurants and entertainment, plus offering a bit of fun with old-fashioned trolley rides and dancing fountains.

The Grove, LA, USA

The American Girl Doll store was a fave for us. Our doll had her hair done and ears pierced in the salon.

The Grove
189 The Grove Dr, Los Angeles
thegrovela.com

Hollywood Boulevard

Hollywood, LA, USA

Movie buffs will want to visit the iconic Hollywood Boulevard, the famous strip lined with museums, theatres and 2,500 stars on the 18-block Hollywood Walk of Fame. The Hollywood Wax Museum and Madame Tussauds Hollywood are both a fun way to spend a few hours “meeting” the stars, or you can see if your hands and feet match up with famous celebs’ in the TCL Chinese Theatre’s Forecourt to the Stars.

Hollywood, LA, USA

Catch a movie while you’re there! The TCL Chinese Theatre is home to one of the largest IMAX© auditoriums in the world, and the Dolby Theatre, where the Academy Awards are held every year, plays live shows year-round.

El Capitan Theatre Soda Shop, Hollywood, LA, USA

Since we are Disney fans, we had to visit the El Capitan Theatre. Owned by the Walt Disney Company, the theatre shows Disney movies, often with great movie-themed exhibits. Attached to the theatre is the Disney Studio Store & Ghirardelli Soda Fountain, where you can try an incredible sundae and buy exclusive Disney pins and merchandise.

Hollywood, LA, USA

When we visited we were lucky enough to see the new Star Wars premiering, including a life-sized AT-AT Walker in the street.

Hollywood, LA, USA

The Hollywood & Highland Center is a great spot on the strip to eat and shop, and has fountains in the forecourt for kids to play in. There is also a great view of the Hollywood sign inside.

Hollywood, LA, USA

We found the strip to be quite seedy and filled with people who would try to give you something like a “free CD” and then ask for money for it, so keep your wits around you and your valuables close.

Hollywood, LA, USA

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHMLA)

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, USA

The largest natural and historical museum in the western USA, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County’s collections include nearly 35 million specimens and artefacts from across 4.5 billion years of history.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, USA

There is plenty for kids to do at the NHMLA, from multi-media stations where they can “excavate” their own fossils, to the Discovery Center featuring a fossil dig pit, live bugs and a daily dinosaur puppet show.

We were extremely impressed with the NHMLA and rate it as one of our fave LA family attractions.

Read more about our visit to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County here.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
900 W Exposition Blvd, Los Angeles
nhm.org

Disneyland and California Adventure Park

Disneyland California

An hours drive south of Los Angeles will bring you to Anaheim, and the original Disneyland theme park. Disneyland park opened in 1955 and still retains many of the original rides and much of the charm that it had upon opening. California Adventure Park opened across from Disneyland in 2001.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

I’m a massive Disney fan and my daughter is the same. It goes without saying that if you visit LA and even kind of like Disney, then you must, must, must visit Disneyland. It’s my number one choice of LA family attractions and the one that we re-visit over and over and over again.

We visited during last December, which was absolutely magical. Read about visiting Disneyland during the holidays here.

Get lots of tips on visiting both parks here.

How to get around LA

Hollywood, LA, USA

Driving is the easiest! If you hire a car and can put up with exhorbitant parking fees at the hotels, then I would advise driving as it’s simplly the easiest way to get everywhere.

LA does have a metro system so if you’re planning on using it, I would advise staying near one of the train stations. Get more info on the metro system here.

Uber is also very easy to use in LA. If you require a car seat, see here for info. We always travel with our own car booster seat.

Best Place To Stay In LA For Families

We stayed in two hotels:

The Hollywood Orchid Suites, directly behind Hollywood Boulevard, has a fantastic location and is excellent value. We had an apartment-sized suites featuring a full kitchen. We also received complimentary breakfast every day. A few steps outside of the hotel took us to the Highland Mall with plenty of restaurants and shops, and Hollywood Boulevard on the street parallel. The hotel staff were extremely warm and welcoming and we would happily stay again.

Hollywood Orchid Suites, LA, USA

Get more info on the Hollywood Orchid Suites here.

Beverly Laurel Motor Hotel is a budget hotel with a cool retro vibe and a nice-sized pool. The location is excellent for the Grove shopping center, Original Farmers Markets – both are within walking distance. We also walked to LACMA and La Brea Tar Pits from here. The Beverly Laurel was an adequate hotel but lacked the warmth and attention to detail of our other hotel and we wouldn’t stay again.

Beverly Laurel, Los Angeles

Get more info on the Beverly Laurel Motor Hotel here.

Kid-Friendly Restaurants Los Angeles

The Original Farmers Market

LA Original Farmers Markets, USA
A popular spot for locals and tourists alike since 1934, even the fussiest eater will find something they like from the 100 gourmet grocers and restaurants inside.
farmersmarketla.com

Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop

El Capitan Theatre Soda Shop, Hollywood, LA, USA

Pricey but delicious old-fashioned sodas, ice cream sundaes and chocolate inside the Disney Studio Store. Located on Hollywood Boulevard inside the El Capitan Theatre, the soda fountain is a welcome haven from the busy boulevard outside.

Mel’s Drive In

Mel's Drive In, LA, USA
A retro-style diner featuring a wide menu of standard diner fare and jukeboxes at the tables. Mel’s has plenty of options for kids and adults.
melsdrive-in.com

California Pizza Kitchen

Hollywood, LA, USA
Who doesn’t love pizza? We frequented the CPK brand inside Highland Mall in Hollywood multiple times. They also do pasta and salad.
cpk.com

LA Family Attractions: Where To take The Kids In Los Angeles LA Family Attractions: Where To take The Kids In Los Angeles LA Family Attractions: Where To take The Kids In Los Angeles

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHMLA)

The largest natural and historical museum in the western USA, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County’s collections include nearly 35 million specimens and artefacts from across 4.5 billion years of history.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, USA

The NHMLA’s new dinosaur hall is incredible. Featuring more than 300 real fossils, 20 complete dinosaurs and ancient sea creatures, it’s an impressive collection – particularly the centrepiece exhibit of three T. rex skeletons shown at different ages. It’s the display of such in the world. Kids will enjoy the multi-media stations where they can “excavate” their own fossils and watch footage of a real dinosaur hunting expedition.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, USA

 

Many of the dinosaurs were discovered by the Museum’s own in-house Dinosaur Institute.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, USA

We also highly enjoyed the Hall of Gems and Minerals, which we looked at three times during our one visit. The diamonds are dazzling and gold nuggets entrancing!

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, USA

While we also enjoyed the other sections of the Museum, including the Insect Zoo, North American mammals, African mammals and The Story of P-22, LA’s famous mountain lion who roams Griffith Park, the other big hit for us was the Discovery Center.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, USA

The Discovery Center allows kids to get hands-on with science through various stations around the center. The Paleo Play Zone with its fossil dig pit was a particular favourite, as were the fossils in rocks, binoculars pointed outside and bug displays. The Museums also puts on a dinosaur show featuring large puppets.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, USA

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, USA

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, USA

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, USA

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, USA

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, USA

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, USA

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, USA

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, USA

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
900 W Exposition Blvd, Los Angeles
nhm.org

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Griffith Observatory, Griffith Park, Los Angeles

Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles, USA

Griffith Observatory

A must for lovers of astronomy and space, the Griffith Observatory is perched high up in Griffith Park, offering visitors an excellent view of Los Angeles as well as the famous Hollywood Sign.

Griffith Observatory, LA, USA

Griffith Observatory opened in May 1935, the third planetarium in the USA.

While admission to the Observatory and grounds is free, entry to the planetarium attracts a fee.

Griffith Observatory, LA, USA

Inside the Observatory you’ll find a wide variety of space and science-related displays. Look through telescopes, explore the hands-on exhibits (most feature dense text and aren’t overly suitable to younger kids), and be sure to catch a live show in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium.

Griffith Observatory, LA, USA

We particularly enjoyed the lower level with plenty of information on the planets and scales to show us how much we would weigh if we were on the surface.

Griffith Observatory, LA, USA Griffith Observatory, LA, USA Griffith Observatory, LA, USA Griffith Observatory, LA, USA Griffith Observatory, LA, USA Griffith Observatory, LA, USA Griffith Observatory, LA, USA Griffith Observatory, LA, USA

 

Parking at the observatory can be tricky. Read up on how to get there and plan accordingly.

Griffith Observatory
2800 E Observatory Rd, Los Angeles
griffithobservatory.org

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

The Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round That Inspired Disneyland

The Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round That Inspired Disneyland, LA, USA

The Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round That Inspired Disneyland

It might not look like much, a dilapidated merry-go-round that’s a a bit neglected and worse for wear, but the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round is a special place for Disneyphiles. This carousel with peeling paint, in need of some serious restoration, was actually the inspiration behind Disneyland.

You can find this old fashioned children’s ride is located in Griffith Park, in the Park Center between the Los Angeles Zoo and the Los Feliz park entrance. It’s been enjoyed by over five generations of Los Angleans, including the Walt Disney family.

Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round, LA, USA

Local Los Feliz resident, Walt Disney, regularly brought his young children to the merry-go-round on weekends, while he would sit on the nearby benches and watch his kids enjoy the ride.

Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round, LA, USA

It was while sitting on a bench watching the enjoyment had by families on the merry-go-round that Disney had the idea for Disneyland – a place for families to go and enjoy time together (the bench has been since been removed and placed behind a fence for preservation at the rear of the carousel). Disney’s dream came true on July 17, 1955, the day that Disneyland opened to the public.

Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round, LA, USA

The Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round was built in 1926 by the Spillman Engineering Company and brought to Griffith Park in 1937. It features 68 horses, carved with bridles and blankets. It is accompanied by a Stinson 165 Military Band Organ, playing over 1500 selections of marches and waltz music.

Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round, LA, USA

The small carousel, which is tucked away into a quiet corner of the park, served as Walt Disney’s inspiration for Disneyland. When his children were young, Walt, a Los Feliz denizen, took them to the merry-go-round on weekends. During one visit, while sitting on a bench watching his kids circle round and round, he was inspired to create a large scale gathering site that the whole family could enjoy. His dream was realized on July 17, 1955, when Disneyland opened to the public.

Read more about Griffith Park here.

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!