Kids and surf and LA, oh my!
September 15, 2016 12:14 PM   Subscribe

We're going to LA for a wedding, and need help figuring out where to stay. Difficulty: turkey day weekend.

We're hoping to take the little macarons (ages 1, 3, and 5) to LA, and are hoping to find a rental house near a baby-friendly beach that also has intermediate/advanced surfing. Does such a place exist?

We would also like to do some sort of Thanksgiving feast, but definitely don't want to deal with cooking it in a strange kitchen. What's our best bet for ordering food? Will restaurants be open?

We are definitely prioritizing convenience and relaxation (ha!) over cost. Please help me not lose my mind!
posted by snickerdoodle to Travel & Transportation around Los Angeles, CA (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Where is the wedding? LA is huge.

There aren't really any baby friendly beaches in LA proper except maybe Paradise Cove in Malibu, which is private but is near surfing so that would be my suggestion, if the wedding is a reasonable distance. And your budget is generous.
posted by fshgrl at 12:38 PM on September 15, 2016

It will be baby-shockingly cold on the beach and in the water. It may not be especially warm in the air in general but it will be coldest at the water and slightly warmer as you come inland. There are surfing websites that can speak very specifically to your surfer's preference, but be aware that a lot of the hottest sites are fairly far outside of LA and Thanksgiving holiday traffic in and out of town for most of the weekend is astounding. You may want to choose your location based on the wedding or kid-friendly attractions, not the surfing. (There is surfing to be had at the more central beaches but I don't know how advanced those sites are - they are often packed.)

Near-beach airbnbs/vrbo/etc are a thing. They won't be houses, most likely, unless your budget is in the $3-5K range. I'm not even sure how much apartments get surge-priced for holidays, especially near the beach. There is not a lot of beachfront housing here, it is generally across the street from the beach and in the neighborhoods leading from there.

Some restaurants will be open, and some may be open in the morning for you to pick up catering orders - this is how we have done Thanksgivings most of our years in California. Honeybaked Ham is what we have done in LA, though we had a restaurant we preferred in San Diego when we lived there. But you will want to place your takeout order or make reservations by early November. Open Table generally will do a special Thanksgiving search, though you can just search for the 24th, but I'd keep a sharp eye that some places have not modified their listings to reflect actual holiday hours yet.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:41 PM on September 15, 2016

Restaurants will FOR SURE be open, although you will need a res. You can also get catering from basically any market, from Vons all the way up to Bristol Farms (which is our fancy $$$ market), and just pick it up and go. Where's the wedding?

Nthing that the water will be VERY CHILLY in November, even if we're in a heat wave, which is not unheard of over Thanksgiving weekend. Pack your wetsuits!
posted by Countess Sandwich at 12:57 PM on September 15, 2016

We definitely need more info from you re: wedding location(s).

And we need more feedback re: the beach as well. Most people associate "baby-friendly beach" with a place with low or zero tide -- like Mother's Beach in Marina del Rey. So if you're actually looking for waves -- which would be required for intermediate/advanced surfing -- what is it about the beach that you would consider to be baby-friendly?

Lastly, just be sure you realize that ocean temp in LA in November? You will be *lucky* if it's 60F. That would be on the warm side.
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:58 PM on September 15, 2016

Just a quick clarification: the wedding is inland, and we plan on staying at a hotel near the site and leaving the kids with family for the event itself. We don't expect the kids to swim at all; they just like playing in the sand and collecting shells, or visiting nearby playgrounds.
posted by snickerdoodle at 12:58 PM on September 15, 2016

There aren't really any baby friendly beaches in LA proper except maybe Paradise Cove in Malibu, which is private but is near surfing so that would be my suggestion

Please note: there are no private beaches in California. All beaches (up to the tide line) are owned by the citizens. Ritzy communities try to make it hard to access the beaches, even putting up gates, fake signs, or painting fake tow away zones, but we have a legal right to them since the California Costal Act of the 1970s. Paradise Cove is one of those communities who has played fast and loose with the law, but the California Costal Commission recently threatened them with fines of ~$11k per day over false signage. They can charge to use their bathrooms, their chairs, or access to their restaurant, but not for beach access. Be polite, don't trespass on private property when getting to the beach, and clean up your trash, but don't be intimidated by anyone claiming it's a private beach.
posted by bluecore at 1:10 PM on September 15, 2016 [6 favorites]

The beach will be cold at Thanksgiving. Probably colder than is comfortable for little kids even just playing in the sand. (YMMV on how into playing at the beach in socks and shoes, coats, etc your particular kids are.) The idea that SoCal is hot year round is a fiction.

Considering that there's a strong chance you'll step foot on the beach and realize "brrrrrr!" and not go back, I'd suggest a place in Santa Monica or Venice Beach, which both have lots of fun and kid-friendly things to do besides play in the sand. Santa Monica is probably more kid-oriented than Venice, which is traditionally a hippie/stoner paradise. Though it is definitely gentrified these days and caters to a more bourgie family oriented crowd. There are lots of great restaurants in both areas, and I'm sure there'll be something open and serving a Thanksgiving-geared menu.

Surf culture in Southern California is VERY territorial. Are you looking to surf or just watch surfers? If the latter, I'd head to Surfrider beach in Malibu. It's a few minutes' drive north of either Venice or Santa Monica. If the former, you may need to wait a week and ask a separate question just about how to surf as a tourist in Los Angeles. Or maybe someone who's done it will happen along and give you the lowdown?
posted by Sara C. at 1:23 PM on September 15, 2016

You can get Whole Foods to make your Thanksgiving dinner.
posted by freezer cake at 2:05 PM on September 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Your best bet for thanksgiving will be hotel restaurants.

Will rogers beach was my family's go-to when I was a kid; I found more beach glass than shells. I remember a playground area with swings.
posted by brujita at 3:57 PM on September 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

I would say if you're with very young kids, avoid Venice Beach. There's a big meth scene there and it can get pretty rough near the Boardwalk.

Santa Monica beach is quite family-friendly but is also constantly packed, especially on holiday weekends (even when it's November and the water is freezing.)

As Sara C said, you should be on the lookout for localism. It sounds silly and melodramatic but it's 100 percent a real problem. Def check if the beach has a reputation for aggro surf locals who'll slash your tires for clogging up "their" waves.

Malibu is a further drive but it's worth it to not deal with the crowds in SM. Zuma Beach is nice, and AFAIK it's cool for beginners to surf there. If you want to just watch, Leo Carillo has some amazing surfer regulars (or has whenever I've been.) It's a rocky beach but also pretty and very secluded.
posted by joechip at 4:59 PM on September 15, 2016

Outside of a couple of notorious spots (i.e., Lunada Bay in Palos Verdes), localism in LA is not nearly as bad as folks above are making it out to be. Come with a good attitude and show some respect in the line-up and you should be fine. El Porto is a decent bet for winter, although like the rest of the area beach breaks it tends to close out on larger swells. Malibu faces south so is mostly a summer spot. There are some point breaks in north LA county that do pick up winter swells, but can't think of any that have kid-friendly beaches. Plenty more beach break in Santa Monica/Venice, with the occasional pier/jetty to add better sandbars/waves.
posted by doctord at 6:44 PM on September 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

Look up Manhattan Beach
posted by soakimbo at 8:33 PM on September 15, 2016

Re: the weather and temperature at the beach, my parents started taking me to the California beach on Thanksgiving when I was maybe 2 years old. It's not exactly warm and sunny in November but provided the kids have jackets and you bring some towels/blankets in case it's really windy, they can definitely play in the sand and be fine. Also bring snacks and extra towels for the trip back to where you're staying.
posted by Red Desk at 10:31 PM on September 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Manhattan Beach (and its "beach cities" brethren Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Long Beach/San Pedro) are pretty far from a lot of the rest of the city. They might be great options if the wedding is in Torrance or Gardena, but assuming that by "inland" you mean central Los Angeles, somewhere like Manhattan Beach is pretty far to go to play in some sand, and without a lot else to do when you tire of that.
posted by Sara C. at 11:36 PM on September 15, 2016

Sorry but you can forget about collecting shells on LA beaches, there aren't any. Bunches of kelp, yes; fragments of styrofoam, some rounded pebbles; but for whatever reason, no seashells.
posted by Rash at 9:47 PM on September 16, 2016

Seconding Whole Foods for a precooked and awesome Thanksgiving dinner. As far as beaches… where exactly inland is the wedding?
posted by culfinglin at 7:54 PM on September 17, 2016

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