Goal: Santa Monica Pier and dipping toes in the Pacific Ocean
Isn’t it fitting that we made it to the end of our journey on Route 66 on day 6? And what an epic day it was.
After fueling up on breakfast at our motel, we headed out on the road for a very quick drive to Los Angeles and, finally, Santa Monica Pier – the end of the road. What a monumental day this was for us. An epic statement that we, as a family, can accomplish a whole lot if we work together, keep our minds open, and just shut up and enjoy the ride. (In fact wouldn’t we all be better off in every day life if we followed those 3 simple tasks?)
Anyway, we reserved a parking spot at a hotel garage across the street from Santa Monica Pier, and when we got there, all we had to do was show the attendant our phone reservation and the car was valet parked for us. We even were welcome to use the hotel restroom for a little potty break before we embarked on our very busy day.
Where do you start, you may ask, when you only have one day to spend in LA with two little kids? Well, I took some advice from one of our family’s favorite travel shows, Travel with Kids, and sought out one of the hop-on hop-off buses. These buses seem to be a fixture in many major cities. And taking one of these bus tours is a great way to get a lay of the land in an unfamiliar city. After perusing the bus map, we decided to take the route that would bring us by the La Brea Tar Pits, the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, and around Beverly Hills.
Our first stop was the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum. The tar pits themselves are free to visit and absolutely fascinating, especially for the little ones. We had not planned on visiting the museum, but the kids had so many questions that I could not answer, we decided that it would be an invaluable learning experience to spend a bit of time there. Be advised, however, that there is no food in the museum, no cafe, no nothing, so eat before you go in. It’s easy to find food on Wilshire Boulevard, though. There was even a line of food trucks there to amuse an adventurous palate.
As we thought, the museum was well-worth the stop. The kids learned a lot about the Ice Age(s) and how animals got stuck in and were found and excavated from the tar pits. In fact, the excavations are continuing to this day. Fascinating stuff.
Our next stop was Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I have to say, this was way less exciting than it sounds… and it really doesn’t sound that exciting. We got off the bus, pushed our way through throngs of tourists, snapped a few pictures, then got back on the bus.
The most interesting thing about this particular stop was finding out that my children had no idea what a celebrity was and why all these people were hovering about looking down at people’s names on the sidewalk. I love the minds of these children and hope they never lose their sense of puzzlement or incredulity (neither of those words is the word I want to use – maybe I’ll come back and edit this post later) at the insanity of celebrity culture.
After taking in the sites around LA from the comfort of the top tier of the hop-on hop-off bus, we found ourselves back at Santa Monica Pier, the end of the road. The sun was setting and we seem to have brought a cool Chicago breeze with us to California. In other words, we were freezing by the time we made it onto the pier. But what a great opportunity to purchase sweatshirts to not only keep us warm, but also to commemorate our epic and amazing journey.
With our nice, warm sweatshirts on, we explored the pier and then made our way down to the beach to dip our toes into the cold Pacific Ocean.
We made it!
Relishing in the success of our journey, we ended the night with pizza and craft beer at the Pizza Press in Pasadena.
Route 66 Goal: Accomplished (now we just have to make our way back home)