Travel

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How to Do a Los Angeles Staycation
with the Kids

In partnership with our friends at Shutters on the Beach

The Westside of Los Angeles is Utopia to some, a bottleneck of traffic to others. But whichever side of the 405 you fall on, there’s a 100 percent chance that the children in your life will become their cutest, most agreeable selves once the beach hits their eyeline. So indulge your inner (and real) child, park yourselves at Shutters on the Beach—Santa Monica’s crown jewel—and settle in for a Pacific-adjacent weekend. Go to the skate park, be the first footprints on the sand, and eat your way through some of the best food in the city.

  1. DAY


    1
  2. shutters on the beach hotel
  3. Check In

  4. shutters restaurant, pool, room, gardens
  5. casa del mar pool
  6. shutters on the beach hotel
    shutters pool
    shutters room
    gardens
    casa del mar pool
  7. Shutters on the Beach

    There’s something about Shutters on the Beach. For a hotel, it’s impossibly romantic with its Cape Cod–inspired white shutters and oceanfront setting. The heavy-on-the-wood interiors, oriental rugs, and clubhouse vibe are a nod to old-Hollywood glamour, and the sheer prettiness of every antique-filled corner invites you to look and wander all day. Then there’s the location. The Westside traffic crawls like slow-moving lava across one-hundred-plus square miles of LA terrain, and Shutters is the beating heart of the best action. Straddling Venice to the south, Malibu to the north, and with Brentwood and the Palisades within an LA minute, it’s the perfect springboard for a Westside staycation that feels like an actual vacation.

    If you’re really committing to the vision of what we all think/hope/pray Westside life will be like, book the Santa Monica Suite. It’s all there: the eye-widening ocean view, the cozy living room space that somehow has that seamless blend of pattern, texture, and comfort you’re always trying to achieve at home, plus a coffee table wide enough to spread the scrabble board on with reckless abandon. The bathtub is almost big enough to convince the kids it’s a mini indoor pool where soap is allowed (make it G.Tox Glacial Marine Clay). The California king is made for family room service, and the balcony is exactly what you need to take in the fresh salty air.

    And we haven’t even gotten to the pool. Set on a high deck to maximize the views and capture the ocean air, the pool is ideal for snoozing on the loungers while the kids splash around (minus the sand). Plus, drinks taste better poolside.

  8. Hotel Casa del Mar

    A second option is the more intimate, Mediterranean-style Hotel Casa del Mar right next door. If your kids are on the older side and can entertain themselves, the cocoon-like spa here is tough to beat ( the Soothing Waves at Sea treatment uses lavender from Malibu and warm rose stones), and the candlelit terrace is especially mesmerizing for evening drinks. Guest rooms have a similar vibe to Shutters in that they’re light-soaked and stay-forever comfortable with massive beds and bathrooms the size of bungalows. Hotel Casa del Mar started as a palatial beach club back in the roaring ’20s, and there’s an old-world LA charm to the place that makes you want to drink champagne, dress for dinner, and pretend it’s 1929 again.

  1. Eat

  2. egg breakfast
  3. superba food + bread
  4. salad
  5. egg breakfast
    superba food + bread
    salad
  6. Breakfast

    On the Westside, weekends belong to the beach and boardwalk. Rouse the kids, entice them with sweet goodies, slather on the SPF (hello, Beautycounter), and scoot down the boardwalk to Venice. For out-of-towners, this slow seaside amble is a way to see Los Angeles’s beachy culture in full flow—surfers, skaters, volleyball players, swimmers, and people with long blonde hair—basically the full cross-section of LA meandering up and down.

    But this is not the time to dawdle. Head straight to the epicenter of Venice life: Gjusta. There is nowhere else in this city that does breakfast like it. Settle the children around one of the shady outdoor tables and overorder. Every possible variety of smoked fish and shmear, warm bagels, tangy buttered sourdough, and pickles galore. To start. Then there are the crispy, crunchy, doughy, warm-out-of-the-oven goods—dark-baked croissants, morning buns, slabs of pie, and strong espresso. There are no bad meals here, but breakfast blows it out the gate.

  7. Lunch

    For lunch, restaurants in Venice typically skew toward a more Australian palate of puréed fruit bowls, platters of rainbow vegetables, and dips. Superba Food + Bread fills that gap between outrageously good Italian food (Scopa, Felix) and the outrageously good non-Italian food you get at the Butcher’s Daughter or Great White. Order the fried chicken sandwich (doughy bun, crisp fried chicken, slaw, and jalapeño mayo) with a side of buttery grilled corn and a Japanese sweet potato instead of the fries.

  1. Do

  2. venice skate park
  3. salt and straw store
  4. salt and straw ice cream
  5. venice skate park
    salt and straw store
    salt and straw
  6. Skate Park

    Once you’re fed, Venice is your oyster. Start with a wander around the canals (dreamy real estate complete with pontoons, colorful personalities, and kayaks) and then make your way to the skate park.

    Afternoons at the skate park are a thing for Cali kids, and no half-pipes are more iconic than the ones on Venice beach, the birthplace of LA skater culture. Kids are welcomed by the older, experienced crowd and the combination of the cooling breeze and the mesmerizingly good skating makes it appealing to every member of the family.

  7. Salt & Straw

    After a full day, the fantastical cones from Salt & Straw (typical flavors include Meyer lemon and blueberry, cookies and cornflakes, and classics like chocolate) will tide everyone over until dinner. Given that you’re on staycation, you should do what you want. May we suggest room service, baths, and a board game?

  1. DAY


    2
  2. pier
  1. Do

  2. brentwood country mart
  3. brentwood country mart
    zuma beach
    getty villa
    getty villa
  4. Brentwood Country Mart

    The room is made for lazing in the four-poster bed, reading the paper, and enjoying your espresso (from your Nespresso) on repeat. But the kids have other plans. And waking up early has advantages. Because you’re going to Malibu. First a pit stop at the Brentwood Country Mart for the essentials (eat-with-your-fingers snacks, books from Diesel, a fresh tube of sunscreen from goop Lab, and Snickerdoodle cookies for the drive).

  5. zuma beach
  6. Zuma

    Pro tip: Don’t be seduced by those first glimpses of Zuma. Keep going right up to the beach’s end, skip the fees in the lot, and parallel park on the PCH. Trust us. This farthest stretch of the nearly three-mile-long Zuma is never as crowded as the rest. Grab a plot of sand and stretch out. Zuma has a major lifeguard presence on land and water, plus legions of regulars, which means there are always sets of eyes on the children. But the waves are enticing enough that you will want to be in the surf right along with them.

  7. getty villa
  8. Getty Villa

    Zuma starts to pack out with parasols, picnic tables, and a lot of people around midday. The sun gets too sunny, and it’s time to leave. Take advantage of the fact you’re already up the PCH and head to the Getty Villa. The views alone are worth it. Wandering the colonnaded terraces, stopping to admire the sculptures, and cooling off in the marble-and-art-packed rooms is a feast for the senses. The villa—opened by industrialist J. Paul Getty in 1974—is modeled after the Roman Villa dei Papiri and is an exhibition space for Getty’s 7,000-artifact-strong collection of

    antiquities. The kids’ program here is stellar, so check ahead and hope that the Getty is holding one of its mosaic-making or build-a-beast workshops—creative catnip for kids while the adults wander off for coffee with a view on that terrace.

    Zuma starts to pack out with parasols, picnic tables, and a lot of people around midday. The sun gets too sunny, and it’s time to leave. Take advantage of the fact you’re already up the PCH and head to the Getty Villa. The views alone are worth it. Wandering the colonnaded terraces, stopping to admire the sculptures, and cooling off in the marble-and-art-packed rooms is a feast for the senses. The villa—opened by industrialist J. Paul Getty in 1974—is modeled after the Roman Villa dei Papiri and is an exhibition space for Getty’s 7,000-artifact-strong collection of antiquities. The kids’ program here is stellar, so check ahead and hope that the Getty is holding one of its mosaic-making or build-a-beast workshops—creative catnip for kids while the adults wander off for coffee with a view on that terrace.

    Zuma starts to pack out with parasols, picnic tables, and a lot of people around midday. The sun gets too sunny, and it’s time to leave. Take advantage of the fact you’re already up the PCH and head to the Getty Villa. The views alone are worth it. Wandering the colonnaded terraces, stopping to admire the sculptures, and cooling off in the marble-and-art-packed rooms is a feast for the senses. The villa—opened by industrialist J. Paul Getty in 1974—is modeled after the Roman Villa dei Papiri and is an exhibition space for Getty’s 7,000-artifact-strong collection of antiquities. The kids’ program here is stellar, so check ahead and hope that the Getty is holding one of its mosaic-making or build-a-beast workshops—creative catnip for kids while the adults wander off for coffee with a view on that terrace.

  1. Eat

  2.  jon and vinny's
  3. Jon & Vinny’s

    You know what offsets the sadness of knowing the weekend is ending? Jon & Vinny’s in Brentwood. The hysteria-level popularity is entirely justified, mainly because every dish is mind-blowingly wonderful. The pizza is chewy and blistered and cheesy (Sonny’s Favorite—bacon, mozzarella, tomato, and Grana Padano—is a crowd-pleaser), and before you prepare to sigh at the pile of crust left over by your kids, order Jon & Vinny’s crust dips (hello, ranch) and watch them wipe their plates clean. The handmade plates of pasta are luscious and hearty and addictive (the cavatelli with fennel sausage and the ricotta ravioli top our list), and those little cones of soft-serve are a dose of nostalgia impossible to pass up.

    And finally, back to Santa Monica. A bath, a last few moments on the balcony, and check out. Sigh.

What to Pack

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