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Ellen’s Stardust Diner, New York

Ellen's Stardust Diner

Ellen’s Stardust Diner is an iconic 1950s-themed diner with singing servers and a massive menu filled with American classics. Located in the heart of Times Square, your server at Ellen’s may be the next star on Broadway!

Ellen's Stardust Diner

While Ellen’s may be considered a bit of a tourist trap, it’s incredibly fun and we have been several times. The food is overpriced but adequate – it’s really the great singing and lively atmosphere that are the draw card here.

Our server, after introducing herself, hopped up on the tables to belt out a Broadway classic that left us speechless. The staff here truly have extraordinary talent.

Ellen's Stardust Diner

Ellen’s Stardust Diner serves up plenty of options with an absolutely massive menu. It’s an extremely popular spot, especially with tourists and tour groups, and there is usually a queue to get in that runs around the block. My advice is to come for breakfast since they open at 7am.

Ellen's Stardust Diner

Not only is this a great time to visit and get a table immediately, it will also save you a few dollars on your meal. While there is an all-day breakfast menu, their dedicated breakfast menu is a different menu entirely and is served between served from 7am to 11am. It features cheaper food choices, making this a great time to go for both crowds and cost saving.

Ellen's Stardust Diner

We ordered the plain Jane classic three egg omelette with tater tots ($13.50) and Joseph & The Technicolor Bagel (Yes! It’s a Rainbow Bagel, served w/ rainbow sprinkle cream cheese and tater tots, $10.50). The omelette was really flat whereas we prefer fluffy omelettes and the tater tots packed a bit of spice, which meant while I liked them, Cheese didn’t. She did however love her rainbow bagel.

Ellen's Stardust Diner

I do have to mention how excellent the service is from the singing waitstaff. Not only are they amazingly talented, they are also really great at their jobs. About 30 seconds after being given a massive glass of OJ, Cheese accidentally knocked it over. Our server dashed over, cleaned it up and replaced it with another in a spill proof cup, without being asked. Really great service.

Ellen's Stardust Diner

You can read about our previous experience at Ellen’s Starburst Diner here.

Ellen's Stardust Diner

Ellen's Stardust Diner

Ellen’s Stardust Diner
Hours: Daily, 7am-12am
(212) 956-5151
1650 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
ellensstardustdiner.com

National Museum of Mathematics, New York

National Museum of Mathematics New York

The National Museum of Mathematics or MoMath is the only hands-on science center in Manhattan. Dedicated to mathematics, the museum explores math through dynamic exhibits and fun activities. You’ll never look at math the same way again!

National Museum of Mathematics New York

MoMath does a wonderful job of showcasing how mathematics is all around us, shaping the world we live in. The two floors of hands-on exhibits show that math can be fun and exciting, particularly helpful in helping foster a love of mathematics in kids.

National Museum of Mathematics New York

The museum is spread over two floors. You could easily spend a whole day here working on each exhibit – many of them with levels of complexity that make them appealing to both kids and adults.

National Museum of Mathematics New York

The exhibits explore concepts such as patterns, formulas, statistics, geometry, velocity, acceleration, parabolas, mathematical rules, fractal patterns and number probability.

National Museum of Mathematics New York

Note: this is not just a museum for kids! Adults who love math will really enjoy it, too. In fact, the lower level has an area that features complex puzzles that are geared towards adults.

National Museum of Mathematics New York

There is no cafe in the museum, but there are plenty right outside, including Eatily, and the excellent Madison Square Park and playground.

National Museum of Mathematics New York

National Museum of Mathematics New York

National Museum of Mathematics New York

National Museum of Mathematics New York

National Museum of Mathematics New York

National Museum of Mathematics New York

National Museum of Mathematics New York

National Museum of Mathematics New York

National Museum of Mathematics New York

National Museum of Mathematics New York

National Museum of Mathematics New York

National Museum of Mathematics New York

National Museum of Mathematics New York

National Museum of Mathematics New York
Hours: Daily, 10am-5pm
MoMath closes early the first Wednesday of every month, at 2:30 pm.
11 E 26th St, New York, NY 10010
momath.org

National Museum of Mathematics New York

Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller Center, New York

Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller Center, New York

Top of the Rock Observatory sits at the top of the Rockefeller Center in the heart of New York City. From this incredible location, the Observatory offers breathtaking views of the city including the Empire State Building and Central Park.

The main entrance to Top of the Rock is on 50th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. There is a red carpet out the front of the entrance – and usually a queue. If there is indeed a queue when you go, try the second entrance, located on the Concourse level of 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

Entry to the Top of the Rock is timed. The best way to get in with minimal queuing is to buy your ticker online in advance and select the day and time of your choice. Unscheduled tickets are also available but you will have to line up to exchange these for timed tickets at the box office and you might not be able to get in for a period of time if it’s a busy day.

After buying a ticket, all visitors must pass through the security checkpoint so be prepared for the scanners. No food and beverages allowed, however my water bottle and snacks were not mentioned and we were able to take them with us inside.

Once through security the queue winds through the mezzanine level, which is filled with information about the Rockefeller Center, its founder, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and how the Top of the Rock began.

Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller Center, New York

Next is a photo-op against a green-screen to recreate the famous photo of construction workers eating lunch on a steel beam high above the city that was taken at the Rockefeller Center.

Before entering the Sky Shuttle to the Top, all visitors are ushered into a theatre to watch a short video presentation about the history of NBC and Rockefeller Center. We found the video interesting, particularly the parts featuring the annual Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.

The Sky Shuttle to the Top takes less than a minute to travel up to 850 feet (260 meters) above street level to the 67th floor. Look up when you’re in the elevator – you’ll be glad you did!

Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller Center, New York

The Sky Shuttle brings visitors to the first of three observation floors. The 67th floor is largely indoors with two outdoor areas protected by high glass panels.

Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller Center, New York

On this floor you’ll find the Radiance Room, which absolutely enchanted Cheese.

Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller Center, New York

The room has a wall made up of glass panels that was created by Swarovski and contains crystals, fiber-optic lighting and lots of blown glass. It’s sparkly and mesmerising.

Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller Center, New York

Head up to the 69th floor next which is completely open with glass panels. On this floor you will find the Breezeway Room, an interactive colour experience.

Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller Center, New York

The final floor is the 70th, which has no glass or metal enclosures, so it’s the perfect spot for photos with no reflections.

On each of the 67th, 69th and 70th floors are binoculars that give a close-up view of various points of interest.

Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller Center, New York

Tips for visiting with kids

Under 6 is free.

Arrive early! The Top of the Rock is quietest between 8am-10am.

Rug up on cold days: it can get extremely cold up there!

Buy tickets in advance to save lining up.

Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller Center, New York

Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller Center, New York

Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller Center, New York

Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller Center, New York

Top of the Rock
Hours: Daily, 8am-Midnight
Last elevator up at 11:00pm
30 Rockefeller Plaza,
New York, NY 10112
1-877-692-7625
topoftherocknyc.com

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/

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/

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/

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.

 

Read more about our most recent stay at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa here.

Read a full review of Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa here.

Read a full review of the Grand Californian Hotel here.

Get tips for Disneyland first-timers here.

Read about celebrating Halloween at Disneyland here.

Find out about celebrating the holidays at Disneyland here.

Read about saving money at Disney hotels by using the DVC Point Rental System here.

Thinking about a Disney cruise? Here’s why you should!

Get Disney Cruise planning tips & tricks here

Sail to Alaska aboard the Disney Wonder here.

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

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.

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

Spending time in LA afterwards? Check out the best things to do in LA with kids here.

Take the slow drive down the coast in a own motorhome. Get tips on motorhome rentals in California here. 

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!

The Best Things To Do In New Orleans With Kids

 

The Best Things To Do In New Orleans With Kids, USA

The Louisiana city of New Orleans, nicknamed “The Big Easy”, is known as a decadent party town for adults. For families, on the surface New Orleans can seem pretty un-kid-friendly. While there aren’t playgrounds on every corner, there are, however a lot of fun and creative ways to entertain kids of all ages. We’ve found the best things to do in New Orleans with kids so you can take it easy and enjoy!

Places to Play in NOLA via brunchwithmybaby.com

The Best Things To Do In New Orleans With Kids

Jackson Square

Places to Play in NOLA via brunchwithmybaby.com

This square is located in the French Quarter, with gorgeous architecture on all sides. It’s ideally located near the famous Cafe Du Monde (for beignets) and the waterfront for strolling. It’s an oasis in the city with grassed areas for kids to run around, and musicians and artists edged around the square for additional entertainment. St Louis Cathedral looms over the square, creating a picturesque photo op.

New Orleans

Kids will also love wandering past (and even inside!) the many art galleries in the streets surrounding the square, particularly the Rodrigue Studio with his famous dogs.
700 Decatur St, New Orleans

The French Quarter

New Orleans
The stunning New Orleans architecture might not hold much interest for kids, but they will love the doors of many hues and will want to knock on them all!

New Orleans

There are lots of little speciality stores in the French Quarter that kids will love, including Sucre and Laura’s Candies, as well as stores where masks and mardi gras dress-ups can be purchased.

New Orleans

Audubon Nature Institute

New Orleans, USA

The Audubon Institute is home to numerous nature attractions in New Orleans. The best value is to buy an all inclusive experience ticket.
Online: auduboninstitute.org

All images courtesy of Audubon Nature Institute

Audubon Zoo

New Orleans, USA

As well as being home to animals from all around the world, the zoo houses a unique Louisiana Swamp Exhibit to give visitors a taste of local wildlife. Audubon Zoo is also home to cavies, a near-threatened species of rodent.
6500 Magazine Street, New Orleans
Online: audubonnatureinstitute.org

Audubon Aquarium of the Americas

New Orleans Aquarium, USA

See endangered African Blackfoot penguins, touch a stingray, feed a parakeet and watch giant sharks, tarpon and rays at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. The aquarium also prepares rescued sea turtles for release in the wild – watch out for the turtles throughout the aquarium.
1 Canal St, New Orleans
Online: audubonnatureinstitute.org/aquarium

Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium

New Orleans, USA

The largest museum in North America devoted to inspects and butterflies, the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, teaches kids everything they could possibly want to know about creepy crawlies and winged beauties. Watch a live show, wander through a Louisiana swamp, be “shrunk” to bug size and watch thousands of butterflies dance around
423 Canal St, New Orleans
Online: audubonnatureinstitute.org/insectarium

Louisiana Children’s Museum

Places to Play in NOLA via brunchwithmybaby.com

Enjoy the museum’s interactive exhibits like a room devoted to blowing bubbles.The trains and transport areas were also a hit for us. With 30,000 square feet of exhibits and programs kids of all ages will enjoy themselves.

420 Julia Street, New Orleans.
Online: lcm.org

New Orleans City Park

Places to Play in NOLA via brunchwithmybaby.com
This 1,300 acre public park in New Orleans, Louisiana, is a short tram ride from the center of NOLA (which is a fun activity to do in itself). It’s the 6th-largest and 7th-most-visited urban public park in the United States, and jam-packed with fun for kids and adults. A visit to City Park is, without a doubt, one of the best things to do in New Orleans with kids.
1 Palm Dr, New Orleans
Online: neworleanscitypark.com

 

New Orleans Museum of Art and Sculpture Gardens

Places to Play in NOLA via brunchwithmybaby.com

The five-acre Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden holds more than 60 sculptures and is free to enter and wander around. The sculptures lie nestled among winding paths and a scenic lagoon inside New Orleans City Park.
Online: neworleanscitypark.com/in-the-park/new-orleans-museum-of-art-and-sculpture-garden

Morning Call

Places to Play in NOLA via brunchwithmybaby.com

This little cafe serving beignets and chocolate milk (plus cafe au lait for adults) is right next to a large playground and open 24 hours. How adorable is the free hat they give kids? Cash only.
Online: neworleanscitypark.com/in-the-park/morning-call

Playgrounds

PLaces to Play in NOLA via brunchwithmybaby.comCity Park features three playgrounds for kid of all ages.
Online: neworleanscitypark.com/in-the-park/playgrounds

Carousel Gardens Amusement Park

PLaces to Play in NOLA via brunchwithmybaby.com

The amusement park features 16 rides including the park’s 100-year-old namesake wooden carousel. The Carousel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Check website for seasonal opening days and times.
Online: neworleanscitypark.com/in-the-park/carousel-gardens

City Putt

City Putt is a 36-hole mini golf complex that’s open all year-round.
Online: neworleanscitypark.com/in-the-park/city-putt

Storyland

PLaces to Play in NOLA via brunchwithmybaby.com

Featuring 25 larger-than-life characters right out of popular children’s fairytales such as Peter Pan, Snow White and Cinderella. Kids can climb aboard Captain Hook’s pirate ship or Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage.
Online: neworleanscitypark.com/in-the-park/storyland

Train Garden

Kids and adults alike will marvel at the model of New Orleans in the early 19th Century  with replicas of streetcars and trains winding around it. 1300 feet of track carrying streetcars and trains like those that traveled the city in the late 1800s to the early 1900s, at 1/22 of their actual size.
Online: neworleanscitypark.com/in-the-park/train-garden

Coming soon to City Park: Splash Park

Louis Armstrong Park

Louis Armstrong Park, New Orleans
This 32-acre park in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans, is just a few steps from the French Quarter. Louis Armstong Park honors the great jazz legend Louis Armstrong and features sculptures, duck ponds and plenty of green space for running around.
701 N Rampart St, New Orleans

Louis Armstrong Park, New Orleans

Where to eat in New Orleans with kids

The Ruby Slipper

New Orleans
An award-winning cafe with three locations in New Orleans, The Ruby Slipper serves southern breakfast, brunch and lunch with New Orleans flair. We found them to be incredibly kid-friendly, as well as serving delicious food.
Online: therubyslippercafe.net

Mr. B’s Bistro

New Orleans
Serving up Louisiana food inspired by Creole and Cajun dishes, Mr. B’s Bistro is an iconic restaurant in the heart of New Orlean’s French Quarter. Proving that fine food and kids can sometimes mix, Br. B’s Bistro is incredibly kid-friendly, handing out colouring sheets and crayons and balloons to the junior diners.
201 Royal St, New Orleans
Online: mrbsbistro.com

Cafe Du Monde

Cafe Du Monde, New Orleans

It’s just not a trip to New Orleans without a beignet from the famous Cafe Du Monde! Opened in 1862 as a coffee stand, Cafe Du Monde is a New Orleans institution serving up fresh beignets 24 hours a day, seven days week. A beignet is a French-style donut, covered in powdered sugar.
800 Decatur St, New Orleans
Online: cafedumonde.com

Getting around New Orleans with kids

Staying on the border of the French Quarter, we had an easy time getting around the historic area of New Orleans on foot. To reach City Park we took the tram, which left from right outside our hotel.

Where to stay in New Orleans with Kids

Ritz-Carlton New Orleans

Ritz-Carlton New Orleans

We enjoyed a fantastic stay at the Ritz-Carlton. The staff at this upmarket hotel could not have been more welcoming to us and the small one, even welcoming her with a gift of a plush Ritz-Carlton lion mascot. The hotel’s location was also superb. We were able to walk to every attraction in the city with the exception of City Park. We would absolutely stay here again.

921 Canal St, New Orleans
Online: ritzcarlton.com

The Best Things To Do In New Orleans With Kids, USA