13 hour layover at LAX -- Leaving on a jet plane
June 26, 2017 4:23 AM   Subscribe

I got 3 kids, one friend willing to pick us up at LAX and 13 hour layover to catch a flight to Australia at 2200 hours. What to do?

What to do with Kids (12, 10, and 7) for ~10 hours? Snowflakes: oldest is on the spectrum; we are moving to Australia; flight is 13+ hours and is the second flight that day for kids (flying out of MSP at the crack of dawn); friend is willing to pick us up at LAX for the day; flight leaves at 10:30 PM; Luggage is checked in and we will only have backpacks with us; activity time has already been calculated with getting back to LAX in time to catch flight; assume we have TSA pre-check.

I was advised that Universal Studios is a no go. Knottsberry Farms is a maybe. I totally had ideas if I was single and alone of what to do in SoCal but three kids and that layover time is flummoxing me. So:

* What to do with kids and friend for those hours
* tips on LAX
* tips for long international flights
posted by jadepearl to Travel & Transportation around Los Angeles, CA (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Maybe hang out at the Huntington Gardens in Pasadena? Huge collection of interesting gardens to explore, kids can stretch their legs and unwind between flights and won't get as overtired, you can chat with your friend.
posted by cogitron at 4:47 AM on June 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

Not sure why Universal is a no-go; it's about the same distance and Australian families often go there on a layover like yours. Heck, Fairfax Media just called it out as THE way to spend a long layover at LAX! The linked article there gives very specific instructions on how to get the most out of it if you're on a 12-hour layover, and they probably also apply to Knott's Berry Farm.

At the airport is the Flight Path Learning Center, a free hands-on museum dedicated to flight.

Marina del Rey has a small-boat harbor and stand-up paddleboarding among other outdoor activities. If you prefer the beach, Dockweiler State Beach is also a short distance away and Manhattan Beach is also close. Manhattan Beach has a pier and a free, small aquarium.
posted by rednikki at 5:39 AM on June 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

The Getty Villa has a lot of family friendly activities. It would be a drive up a beautiful coast to a restored Italian Villa overlooking the ocean, with a single parking fee and no admission. Lovely beaches to stop and walk along the way, and the Santa Monica Pier. Highway One to the Getty. The website: www.getty.edu.
posted by effluvia at 6:35 AM on June 26, 2017

Best answer: I don't know if I'd want to take kids to Knotts or a rides park before a 13 hour flight (even though I love Six Flags Magic Mountain / Hurricane Harbor). What if somebody gets queasy on a coaster or gets a little overheated? Going through LAX security and then sitting mostly still on a cramped flight would not be how I'd like to follow up.

You don't say what time of year this flight is so I'll assume it's this time of year. It's much easier and closer to go to the LA beaches, which could include the Santa Monica Pier if you'd like to ride a nice ferris wheel and a baby coaster. Then you can play on the beach or walk the Third Street Promenade for a nice meal, light shopping (like grabbing a comfy travel pillow before the long flight), and a host of musicians performing for free.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 8:16 AM on June 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm not sure that Universal is absolutely a no-go. I'd probably be more inclined to that than Knott's (which is only 5 miles farther away then Universal but you have more routes back and forth to Universal), and if you want to spend that much and think all your kids would be into it, Harry Potter World is a not thing you can do just any old place. Chances are good the kids'll sleep on the plane if you do that, though they may be exhausted to the point of bonelessness trying to get them through the airport and onto the plane.

8-10 hours is a long time to drag kids around, and I would probably prefer to do it in an environment totally designed for that. I think you'd be hard-pressed to keep them comfortable, fed and watered, rested, and shaded trying to kill time all day hanging around near the beach/beach shopping areas.

My alternate suggestion would actually be to find a hotel near the airport, with a pool. This Travelodge actually offers day rates, 9a-8p. There's apparently others, it had not occurred to me to ever look at that before! Way cheaper than Universal if you think your kids are going to be too road-weary to enjoy it by that point. You get TV, AC, bed and chairs, bathroom and showers. Get everyone good and worn out, bathed and in jammies, and then go to the airport. You could certainly do a jaunt, when you get picked up from the airport, to the SM pier, or go to Mother's Beach in Marina Del Rey (it's a little swimming beach in the marina, so no surf to deal with) and the Cheesecake Factory next door, before settling in for a few hours at the hotel.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:04 AM on June 26, 2017 [4 favorites]

My favorite thing in LA is Watts Towers. Yes, it's in Watts; you'll be fine. It's really cool, but won't take a bunch of time.

Given a long flight ahead, find a beach with showers, use sunscreen because sunburns suck and make people cranky. A day at the beach is a great way to sleep well, if you have a chance to shower off sand and salt. Local friend can likely supply towels.

Long flights - bring phone(s), chargers, extra earbuds, and load with videos, music, and games. I have some games where there are particles that move like water; you can adjust size, speed, gravity, etc. Really good for chilling out. One is Particle flow, I think. Possibly worth it to pick up cheap used android phone(s) with no plan, just so everybody can have one. A couple of pre-charged battery packs, too, maybe. Books, paper & colored pencils. An origami book and/or app, and paper cut into squares. When I took long trips with my kid, I had a bunch of very small treats that I'd dole out at intervals - 1/2 way there, each time we got to a new state, etc.

For a person w/ Asperger's symptoms, what are the needs? Planes are noisy, but it's a steady noise, space is very confined, movement is very limited. Foam earplugs are great, but may take time to get used to, so maybe practice, sleep mask too. All 4 of you may like these, some airlines used to give them out, who knows, these days.

Talk to your doctor; some parents use liquid benadryl as a sleep aid. For a long flight, it's something to consider for all 3 kids.
posted by theora55 at 9:32 AM on June 26, 2017

Driving from LAX to Universal is about an hour at 9:45 AM and about the same returning at 6:00 PM, so not terrible. I think that's doable. Otherwise, I'd bring swimsuits and take the kids to the beach in Santa Monica. By the time you get there, eat some breakfast/lunch, ride the ferris wheel, then send them out to the beach and eat before you get back on the plane, time will go by quicker than you think.
posted by cnc at 1:08 PM on June 26, 2017

Response by poster: Thanks all! We did the beach though the hotel was a contender. My friend, the driver thought traffic and amusement park scheduling was cutting it too fine so we went with the safe bet of beach.
posted by jadepearl at 1:13 AM on July 28, 2017

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