First family trip to Los Angeles

First family trip to Los Angeles

7 min read#Photoessays#California

Before the pandemic and having children, my wife and I visited Los Angeles at least once a year. Over time, we came to love the food and culture. Years later, in our first visit back, we experienced LA in a completely new way.

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It was our first trip as a family of four. My first child was coming up on his third birthday and my second was nearly six months old. Traveling with kids requires more planning and patience. As tiring as it can be, experiencing a place with a young person is also much more gratifying. They find delight in the smallest things, and literally see the world from a different vantage point.

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We packed all our things and drove down from the SF Bay Area to our Airbnb near Venice. Our preferred mode of travel around the neighborhood was by foot. The younger one sat in the stroller while the older stood on a skateboard-like attachment.

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When traveling, my wife and I tend to prefer quick meals. With kids in tow, it was no different. We enjoyed The Cow’s End Cafe. There was plenty of finger-friendly options for the kids and some inventive coffee drinks for the adults.

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As the whole family absolutely loves eggs (we buy five dozen every fortnight), we had to visit Eggslut’s Venice outpost. Back in 2015, it was the first standalone Eggslut location. Since then, the chain has expanded considerably, mostly in Asia.

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There really is nothing else like eating soft eggs in a warm bun.

The Beach

Though we aren’t a big swimming family, we enjoy the beach nonetheless. As the adults sat and soaked in the sun and sound of the water, the kids played in the sand. The pier also provided the perfect path to push the stroller around while the baby napped.

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Cayton Children’s Museum

Children’s museums have become must-visit destinations when visiting new places. The Cayton Children’s Museum is one of the best among the dozen or so we have visited. It’s located on the top floor of the Santa Monica Place shopping mall.

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The space features all the hallmarks of a good children’s museum — role-playing areas, space to walk and run, structures to climb, vehicles, and crafts activities. The quality of the interior architecture made it pleasant for both adults and kids.

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Tortoise General Store

I have long been aware of Tortoise General Store, but never made the time to visit. Justin Bramwell pointed out that Taku Shinomoto, one of Tortoise’s owners, designed the now popular line of Hasami Porcelain tableware.

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I instantly put Tortoise at the top of my list of places to visit in LA. They specialize in items made in Japan. Everything they carry is beautifully designed and crafted. The staff are not just friendly, but knowledgeable.

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Venice Canals

When I first moved to California, I used to get confused when people referred to Venice in conversation. What made me more confused is that Venice, like its Italian counterpart, has its own set of canals. It wasn’t until I found out they were referring to a neighborhood in Los Angeles that it all clicked.

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Developed by Abbot Kinney, the canals were part of an expansive project to replicate the waterways of Venice, Italy. They didn’t last long though and were filled and paved over as automobiles dominated Los Angeles.

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A small fraction of the canals survive to this day in a quiet, upscale neighborhood. While the kids were napping, I took my camera out for a photo walk. I wasn’t the only one with that idea as I bumped into several other photographers.

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The canals feel a bit like a compact version of Foster City in the SF Bay Area. Homes feature a variety of architectural styles. Arched bridges provide unique vantage points from which to take in the surroundings.

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Petersen Museum

The Petersen is Southern California automotive culture manifested in museum form. The building is beautiful, as are the cars within. There is an extensive vault, from which curators craft exhibits. The last time we visited, there was an exhibition dedicated to silver cars in addition to the normal collection. This time was forty vehicles dedicated to seventy-five years of Porsche.

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My older child and I brought our respective cameras as we admired the automotive art.

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Seeing through kids’ eyes

I viewed this trip as much through my kids’ eyes as through my own.

On the beach, I would have liked to walk and talk. The kids enjoyed the sand. The younger one crawled in it and felt the sensation of the grains between his fingers. The older one dug holes and drove his plastic drump truck over the mini dunes. Sitting there with them, I too got immersed in sand.

Before going to the Petersen, I assumed that my older child would have a blast. When I got there, the truth sunk in. He was disappointed. How could there be such a large collection of cars that we were forbidden from playing with? He’s right. Cars aren’t static works of art like paintings. They are meant to be driven. Next time, we’ll look for a museum with more cars we can touch.

And the end, I see the world a little bit more like a kid again.

Camera setup

Camera setup

Thanks to Q for reading drafts of this.

Font in cover is Outward by Raoul Audouin. Distributed by

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