Tag Archives: Los Angeles

Where to Go for Thanksgiving Break in California

Yosemite is a fun place to visit for Thanksgiving.
Yosemite is a fun place to visit for Thanksgiving. Photo courtesy of Guy Francis.

In Southern California, Thanksgiving is usually too early for powder skiing but too late for swimming at the beach, so where does one go for a local Thanksgiving break? Of course, I aksed my very opinionated kids – Disneyland. “But it’s crowded,” I said. “We will only go on one ride,” they answered. “Ya, right,” I thought.

I love Disneyland, and I love the magic in my kids’ eyes when they go there. It is, after all, the penultimate weekend getaway for families with kids in Southern California. In fact, fall is one of my favorite times to visit Disneyland. But if Disneyland isn’t in the cards or you want to avoid crowded amusement parks, here are a few magical alternatives.


While the falls might not be raging, Yosemite can still be an awesome place to visit in November. It’s ideal for families looking for smaller crowds and more isolated hiking paths. Especially if you are a California native, a weekend in Yosemite during Thanksgiving break can offer the brood a brisk adventure – and if you live in the San Fernando Valley, like me, it can offer some much-needed chillier weather. That being said, the weather is somewhat unpredictable – it could be snowy or it could be fairly dry – so be prepared for any type of adventure.

And for those who don’t plan on cooking at home, there are several options for Thanksgiving meals at The Awahnee, Yosemite Lodge and the Wawona Dining Room.

Tenaya Lodge, located just outside the park, also offers Thanksgiving dining as well as holiday activities such as gingerbread house decorating, a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony and sleigh rides, weather permitting.

www.yosemitepark.com; www.tenayalodge.com

San Luis Obispo

I love the historic charm of downtown San Luis Obispo and nothing gets me in the holiday spirit more than the cozy weather of California’s Central Coast (obviously, I must be a Cali native). So, heading to SLO for a few days to escape the L.A. smog and bask in the crisp coastal air is my idea of heaven. It also doesn’t hurt that there are some cool local events nearby to go along with the visit such as the Holiday Craft Bazaar in downtown Paso Robles on Nov. 28 as well as a tree-lighing ceremony with Mrs. Claus herself at the bandstand at 5:30 p.m.


Mammoth Mountain

With the drought in California, who knows if Thanksgiving will be a banner year an Mammoth Mountain for skiers. But it’s never a bad idea to beat the holiday heat in L.A. with a trip to the Eastern Sierra. And who knows, maybe those desperate to hit the slopes can get in some turns before Black Friday and also take advantage of early-season booking rates.


Retreat of the Week: Loews Hollywood Hotel

This week’s escape is a bit of a staycation. The kids are still in school, and it’s that awkward time between spring break and summer vacation where you want to get away but you don’t want to go to far. The recently renovated Loews Hollywood Hotel is the perfect place for some glitz, glamour and nearby escapism.

A staycation at the Loews Hollywood Hotel // (c) Loews
A staycation at the Loews Hollywood Hotel // (c) Loews

Loews Hollywood Hotel offers 628 luxurious guestrooms, including 113 suites, which underwent a redesign completed in October 2013. Towering above the intersection of Hollywood & Highland, and drawing upon the neighborhood’s vitality, the new rooms feature custom-designed furniture and textured fabrics that strike a balance between urban glamour and tranquil sophistication. Completed in March of this year, the vibrant new lobby presents a grand sense of arrival with a new dramatic outdoor curving staircase and sleek, modern materials such as white marble floors, gray agate front desk and marbled-mirrored columns. The new lobby design offers a lobby lounge, a concierge desk, a bell desk, retail space, a Hertz Rental Car office and new bathrooms. The centerpiece of the hotel’s renovation, H2 Kitchen & Bar, opened in February and offers a social and relaxing space to plug in, conduct meetings or grab a cocktail. The innovative small plates from Executive Chef Mark Ching include signature Egg2 dish, Bulgogi Joe’s Sliders and Apple Pie Taco. H2 also boasts an impressive wine list and fresh hand-crafted cocktails from Matt Biancaniello, such as the Blackberry Basil Mojito. The hotel is directly connected to Hollywood & Highland shopping and dining, as well as the Dolby Theatre next door. However, if you are into a more relaxing, energizing escape, the 7,000-square-foot Exhale Spa awaits. The spa therapies and services leverage ancient and new spa practices alike, with signature treatments including the “Illuminate Facial” and “Flow Massage.” What’s not to miss you ask? If you still are looking for a reason to visit Loews Hollywood Hotel, just check out their rooftop yoga…

Rooftop yoga at the Loews Hollywood Hotel is for the adventurous. // (c) 2014 Loews Hollywood Hotel
Rooftop yoga at the Loews Hollywood Hotel is for the adventurous. // (c) 2014 Loews Hollywood Hotel

Despicable Me Ride Opens at Universal Studios Hollywood

Fans of the movie “Despicable Me” can now head to Universal Studios Hollywood to get up close and personal with their favorite minions and hang out with Gru and the crew. “Despicable Me Minion Mayhem” officially opens to the public at Universal Studios Hollywood on Saturday, April 12.

Universal Studios Hollywood - Despicable Me Ride
Universal Studios Hollywood – Despicable Me Ride

As if lifted from the world of “Despicable Me” and placed within Universal Studios Hollywood, the “Despicable Me” ride welcomes guests to ‘Minion Mayhem’ via Gru and the girls’ idyllic suburban neighborhood, re-created with precision to mirror their ominous house and Miss Hattie’s Home for Girls. Whimsically themed queues, clever preshow videos and comedic dialogue set up Gru’s nefarious plot: to create an army of Minions from guest recruits.

As guests enter Gru’s living room, they will encounter many memorable artifacts from the series, including his notorious SR6 Shrink Ray and rhinoceros chair, and then make their way into Gru’s super-villain laboratory. The exciting journey will send guests, who wear wearing specially-designed 3D “Minion Goggles,” on an excursion through the humorous Minion training mission. Soon, guests will actually become Minions themselves. A post-show Minion dance party invites everyone to join in the impromptu fun and celebrate the anniversary of Gru and the girls becoming a family.

“Super Silly Fun Land,” an all-new elaborate carnival setting and play zone unique to Universal Studios Hollywood, is just adjacent to “Despicable Me Minion Mayhem”. Who doesn’t remember when Gru took the girls to the seaside resort in the first film and “won” Agnes the iconic fluffy unicorn? Now, guests can win a unicorn of their own and roam this uniquely stylized environment, which until now could only be enjoyed on the big screen.

The cast of "Despicable Me" and Universal Studios executives attended the opening. // (c) Universal Studios
The cast of “Despicable Me” and Universal Studios executives attended the opening. // (c) Universal Studios

The world premiere was attended by many Minions parading along the yellow carpet, who were joined by Chris Meledandri, founder and CEO of Illumination Entertainment; Ron Meyer, Vice Chairman of NBCUniversal; Tom Williams, Chairman & CEO of Universal Parks & Resorts; and Larry Kurzweil, President of Universal Studios Hollywood. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti made a special guest appearance to show support for the theme park’s newest addition, speaking to an enthusiastic crowd about Universal Studios Hollywood’s long-term impact on tourism in the region.

Also in attendance were “Despicable Me” series stars, including Miranda Cosgrove (Margo), Dana Gaier (Edith) and Elsie Fisher (Agnes), who were joined by versatile entertainer and host of EXTRA, Mario Lopez; the cast from NBC’s “Crisis,” including Stevie Lynn Jones, Lance Gross, Joshua Erenberg, Max Martini and Max Schneider; TGT recording artist, Tank; HBO’s “Band of Brothers” star Neal McDonough; Syfy’s “Face Off” host, McKenzie Westmore; and Ultimate Fighting Champion Chuck Lidell.


On the Blog: All About Los Angeles

Los Angeles // @latravelmom
Los Angeles // @latravelmom

These hilarious links depict life in Los Angeles. After living here for most of my life, I think they are pretty accurate. Some may disagree but I love that so many find the humor (or is it the snark) in surviving this urban jungle.

Judgemental Map of Los Angeles
Judgemental Map of Los Angeles

Neighborhoods (as you will discover) are important in L.A. Learn where to live with this highly offensive map of Los Angeles from Judgmental Maps.


Family vacation savings at Paradise Island Harbour Resort
Endless Summer

No seasons, expensive juice and a parking jungle…communicating with Angelenos has its own rhyme and reason. Phrases you need to know in L.A. according to BuzzFeed are pretty spot on.

Nobody walks in L.A.
Nobody walks in L.A.

And nobody uses public transportation in L.A., but if you do, there’s some advice you should heed.

Los Angeles // @latravelmom
Los Angeles // @latravelmom

But when you leave, there are some awesome things about Los Angeles that you will miss.



Take Up a New Sport in the New Year

Why not learn a new sport in the New Year? // Lee Stockwell / Big Bear Mountian Resorts
Why not learn a new sport in the New Year? // Lee Stockwell / Big Bear Mountian Resorts

It’s a new year and so that means it’s time to try new things. So, why not take up a new sport. While many people think that Southern California is just about sun and surf, it’s also got some fantastic mountain resorts. Head up to Big Bear Lake, Calif., for some of the area’s best snow sport opportunities.

To kick off the New Year, Big Bear Mountain Resorts is inviting  beginner skiers and snowboarders to come up and enjoy the snow during the month of January with free rental equipment for anyone who purchases a beginner lesson package. The offer is valid any day during the month of January, excluding holiday periods. Packages must be reserved at least one day in advance online at www.bigbearmountainresorts.com or by phone at 909-866-5841.

For the little tykes there is Little Bear Camp and Little Bear School at Snow Summit, where kids as young as 3 years old can get started on the bunny slopes. At Bear Mountain there is Riglet Park, where kids from 3 to 6 years old are introduced to snowboarding on miniature park features, using Burton’s innovative Learn-to-Ride Technology.

And why not make it a family affair. The ski resorts offer adult classes too. The classes are for persons age 13 and older. Some adults that have skied before but who want to want to learn how to snowboard can do so through the adult lessons. Big Bear’s qualified instructors will show anyone who wants to learn the ropes of having fun on the slopes. One of the great things about learning a new snow sport is it is never too late to learn.