Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum

 

 

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum pin

The Broad Museum in Los Angeles is a museum of modern art that all members of the family can enjoy. When we first heard of the museum, we thought it would not be the best destination for little kids since it wasn’t interactive. However, after visiting, we highly recommend it for all ages.
It seemed like every room was filled with whimsical elements that will fascinate visitors of all ages.

And as a trailblazer in its field, the Broad also has a fun smartphone app. This app features audio guides with talks from the artists and a kid-friendly guide narrated by LeVar Burton. Visitors can also look on the app’s map for specific pieces of art or nearby bathrooms as well as plan their next trip.

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum america

What You Will See

The escalator into the building carries passengers through an impressive tunnel. One of the first things we saw when we got to the top was a see through glass elevator from the ground to the second floor. While most elevators have the wires on top, this elevator had the wires on the bottom. Our son said it looked like it was straight out of the Willy Wonka movie.

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum tulip

The third floor displaying the art is built in a circular fashion, meaning guests will start and end at the same place no matter what direction they walk.

A huge theme of many of the exhibits here is that viewers have to take a second look. For example, one of the first sculptures guests see is a giant “balloon” sculpture. If one walks around the sculpture, they will see these “balloons” are giant metallic tulips.

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum color

On the wall in the entrance, room is a huge eighty-two-foot long painting, called In the Land of the Dead Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow by Takashi Murakami. This picture covers two walls and has lots of interesting details put together.

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum curve

The museum features plenty of abstract and political paintings. Several of the featured paintings are highly abstract, made up of only colored shapes. Some of the displays are collections of items that have no meaning individually, but in a group setting creates art.

Some areas show more political art, such as one art piece made up of several provocative essays displayed on the walls in different colors. Parents should be aware that a few of the art pieces are more macabre and adult, like Kara Walker’s African’t.

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum art

The building itself features lots of spacious rooms which let in natural light through a series of giant “honeycomb” windows. These windows ensure the rooms get a lot of light without actually reflecting directly into the chamber.

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum stairs

Kids will love the giant balloon animal in the Jeff Koons room. This entire place is lively and colorful, featuring such interesting art pieces as a metallic train set and Michael Jackson with his pet monkey Bubbles.

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum room

Another great art piece for kids is Robert Therrien’s Under the Table, a giant table with several large chairs that guests can walk under.

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum pink

Fans of the artist can visit the Andy Warhol Area with his depictions of Elvis and Jackie O. There’s also a Roy Liechtenstein area with several pieces, including Full Fishbowl.

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum warhol

Finally, when we went, we got to enjoy Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room temporary exhibit. This area is a fully mirrored room lit with several LED lights. It feels like walking in space among hundreds of stars. They only allow one person in for a minute at a time for safety reasons and since it was so popular..

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum stars

Location, Hours, and Cost

Visitors can find The Broad 221 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

Admission to The Broad is free. However, those wanting to see the Infinity Mirrored Room need to make a free separate same-day reservation after arriving at the museum.

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum dog

Visitors can park either in the garage under the museum for $12 for three hours or at the California Plaza Garage for $8 with validation from the museum.

The Broad is closed on Mondays. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the museum is open from 11 AM to 5 PM. Thursdays and Fridays, the museum is open from 11 AM to 8 PM. On Saturdays, the museum is open from 10 Am to 8 PM. And on Sundays, the museum is open from 10 AM to 6 PM. The Broad Museum is closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum chair

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents should talk to kids about not touching the art since many of the pieces are inviting to feel.
  • Visitors can always ask a volunteer to explain various pieces to them. The museum is well staffed with dozens of volunteers.
  • We recommend making a reservation to avoid a wait.
  • The museum has lots of areas to sit and observe pieces or take a selfie.
  • Some of the art in his museum is more adult oriented. Some of the pieces also display frightening images. Therefore, parents of younger kids should keep this in mind while exploring.

Exploring LA’s Grand Central Market with Family

 Exploring LA's Grand Central Market with Family pin

Los Angeles is a mixture of cultures, and one of the best places to highlight this fact is Grand Central Market. At Grand Central Market, visitors can enjoy all sorts of different cuisines in one location. There’s something for everyone in this busy marketplace.

History

For almost a century, Grand Central Market has provided for Los Angeles. The market opened in 1917, supported by the popularity of Broadway and the residents of Bunker Hill. The market has evolved with the times and has always featured a wide variety of vendors. Developer Ira Yellin bought the market in 1984, and today his wife, Adele Yellin, continues his dream of a bustling, attractive downtown.

Exploring LA's Grand Central Market with Family red

What You Will See

The Market has lots of various vendors selling wares, mostly foods. We saw an ATM near the entrance, though all the vendors do take credit card. We also saw plenty of places to sit along the way.

The Market has lots of places to get a bite to each. One of our favorite places is Eggslut, where diners can get breakfast or lunch of egg on a brioche. There’s plenty of places to get a slice of pizza, and one of the best is Pizzaria, where they make the food fresh in front of guests and even offer fried bananas. Of course, there are plenty of places to get a good burger, like Bel Campo Burgers, a famous restaurant in LA.

Exploring LA's Grand Central Market with Family sign

While there are lots of restaurants, most people will recognize in the Market, the real draw of this location is the vendors featuring fantastic foods one can’t easily find elsewhere. There are lots of places featuring Mexican, Salvadorian, Jewish, Thai, and Japanese cuisines. Tacos Tomas, for example, was the most favorite restaurant at this location, and the only one with a sign for corralling the line. Ramen Hood featured vegan ramen and pho. At Sticky Rice, one could get pineapple fried rice and other Thai foods. Bento Ya served Japanese bento boxes for their diners. Roast to Go served Mexican-based roasts. One vendor was just called German Sausages and served what was expected.

Exploring LA's Grand Central Market with Family food

Another draw of the Market is the fact that one can buy groceries here as well as to go meals. Chiles Secos and Valeria’s both sell specialty spices and chilis for Mexican and Salvadorian dishes. Most people probably don’t know how many types of chilis there are, and there are so many different kinds sold at these two vendors. Many of the vendors also sell veggies, fruits, meats, fish, and cheeses. For example, Bombo, which sells fish dishes and refreshing flavored lemonade, sells many different types of fresh fish to take home and cook. Wexler’s Deli offers all sorts of various meats.

Exploring LA's Grand Central Market with Family mound

For sweeter foods, snacks, and drinks, this Market delivers. We passed by the PressBrother’s Juicery, which sells organic pressed fruits and vegetables. Valerie Confections sells different baked delicious baked goods and puddings right on the counter. Valeria’s offers Mexican candies and candied fruits along with their other Latin products. We also passed by a row of fridges with different cold drinks. Finally, we saw Courage and Craft, a vendor for spirits and alcoholic beverages selling some drinks by companies not available in most other places.

Exploring LA's Grand Central Market with Family chrome

When we went, we talked to some of the people working at Knead & Co. pasta bar. At Knead & Co., guests could buy unusually shaped pasta and fresh sauces. When we went, we got to watch them making the fresh pasta as they do every day.

Exploring LA's Grand Central Market with Family knead

Location, Hours, and Admission

The Grand Central Market is open from eight AM to ten PM for all seven days of the week. It is located in downtown LA near Port Street, on 317 Broadway. The nearest parking garage entrance is on 308 S Hill Street.

Exploring LA's Grand Central Market with Family pasta

Access to the market itself is free, but of course enjoying anything the vendors have to offer costs a variable amount of money.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • The market does play music which can be loud in parts. Also, areas of the market can also get noisy with people talking and vendors calling out orders. Parents of noise sensitive kids should be aware of this fact. This is an open space venue so smells from different cooking areas mix.Parents to smell sensitive kids should be aware of this.
  • It wasn’t incredibly crowded when we went. However, the market can become crowded and claustrophobic in the tighter halls.
  • Most of the vendors are indoors, and there are plenty of places to sit.
  • There are some small stairs to climb to get to some areas.
  • The Market does have their bathroom downstairs.

 

Family Stay at the DoubleTree Los Angeles

Family Stay at the DoubleTree Los Angeles pin

For travelers around the world, Los Angeles is synonymous with Glamour, glitz, and the high life. Though the city is quite spread out, it is one of the more central places downtown area that is close to the major freeways providing quick and easy accessibility for visitors. For families looking for an affordable and convenient stay in the downtown area, the DoubleTree by Hilton in Los Angeles is a good choice, home to 434 suites and rooms. The hotel can be found at 120 South Los Angeles Street in Los Angeles, California.

Family Stay at the DoubleTree Los Angeles building

What Makes it Family Worthy?

Located off the 110, 101 and 5 California freeways, the DoubleTree Hotel is less than a mile from the Los Angeles major attractions. Families will appreciate the hotel’s central location near Little Tokyo, the perfect local place to introduce kids to Japanese food and culture. The hotel is also not far from the rail station, the Broad Museum, Olvera Street, and the L.A. Food Mart. Parents, especially those with two or more kids, will appreciate the hotel’s spacious rooms and the proximity to entertainment venues like L.A Live and Pershing Square.

Family Stay at the DoubleTree Los Angeles lobby

The DoubleTree Los Angeles caters mostly to business people,families will feel welcome too.

 

Our Welcome

We decided to book this hotel  this past May for a night before our son’s college graduation from the University of Southern California  which was a short minute drive away.As usual we called the property ahead to ask them for a quiet room with feather free bedding due to our son’s autism.When we arrived, we had to wait in a long line since it was almost 3 PM which was check-in time. Once we finally got to the counter, we were unhappy to hear that our room, with the requested feather free and quiet accommodations, was not ready. It did take several hours and a front desk manager to sort the snafu out.On the upside, our son with autism enjoyed several helpings of the famous warm chocolate chip cookies.

Family Stay at the DoubleTree Los Angeles cookie

 

Hotel Decor

The decor of this particular Double Tree hotel was simple and elegant. All Asian styled furnishings, wall hangings, and artifacts were done in hues of browns, blacks, and tans.We liked the fact there were not only plenty of comfortable seating areas but also a place to watch TV while waiting. Overall the feel of the hotel was inviting and well lit, giving guests a pleasurable welcome when they checked- into the hotel.

Family Stay at the DoubleTree Los Angeles carpet

Our Room

We stayed in a standard room 1601 on the 16th floor of the high rise hotel.
The first thing we saw after we closed the door  was the Emergency sign. This sign was great because it informed us of where exactly where to go in the event of an evacuation. There was also a double lock on the door, ideal for parents traveling with ‘escape artists’  kids.

Family Stay at the DoubleTree Los Angeles bed

The carpeting in the room was brown with dark furniture to match. The wallpaper of the room was  done in a light cream color that contrasted nicely with the brown patterned wallpaper overlooking the bed.

Upon entering the room, we came across the closet with its shutter doors. While the closet itself was roomy, there wasn’t a light which was a bit of an issue for visibility. There was plenty of room to store our luggage and hang clothes as well as an iron with ironing board. There was even an in-room safe with enough room to fit a large laptop.

The television stand in the central area had a coffee maker as well as a 50″ flat screen TV. It also had six built-in drawers, so there was additional storage space for items like clothes and personal things. Housed underneath the television stand was a mini fridge. The refrigerator did not come with any free bottled water, but there were bottles available in the room guests could pay for.

Thankfully our room boasted two queen beds. Situated between the two queen beds was a nightstand that doubled as a desk. We had never seen this layout before in any hotel and thought it was an interesting way to save space. The nightstand/desk  had several outlets for charging devices as well as a relaxing sound machine and room phone.

We had a small sitting area by the window for reading and resting. The chair, unfortunately, didn’t open or recline in any way. The table beside the chair was perfect for magazines or books, and the lamp overhead provided enough light for reading without disturbing any other familymemberss.

Family Stay at the DoubleTree Los Angeles chair

Double curtains covered the window overlooking the Los Angeles high-rises. The window could only open slightly, which was perfect for those wanting fresh air to circulate the room while ensuring the safety of younger family members. The   room had central A/C  with an adjustable thermostat and its vent was placed overhead so it  didn’t blow on any of the beds, which we greatly appreciated.

Our Bathroom

The door to the bathroom was across from the closet. The first thing we noticed when stepping into the bathroom was that the ceiling was  rather low, which was a little odd. The room was rather small, yet functional and convenient.

Family Stay at the DoubleTree Los Angeles bathroom

The vanity had a speckled marble countertop and boasted an amenity kit that included soap, shampoo, and conditioner. Meanwhile, the storage spaces below the countertop held several towels. The commode was a basic model with a push button flush on top.

The shower pleasantly surprised us. Not only did it have a grab bar, which we always like to see, but it also had a no-slip mat which is rare these days. The shower head was, unfortunately,n ot a handheld  model which might present a problem for those traveling with small children.

Family Stay at the DoubleTree Los Angeles towel

Amenities

The DoubleTree brand often has some quality amenities to offer for guests, and the Los Angeles location was no different.
Guests seeking total relaxation could try out the complimentary yoga classes held on the beautiful rooftop Kyoto Gardens on Thursday mornings. Any other day, guests could go up to the roof just to enjoy the zen gardens at their own pace.For guests wanting to travel the nearby area without their own car, the hotel provided a complimentary shuttle that covered a three-mile radius.

Family Stay at the DoubleTree Los Angeles street

Travelers who love to exercise could use the 24-hour fitness center with all the essential exercise equipment like stairsteps, treadmills, and weights.Finally, visitors who forgot anything back at home, or who just wanted to find a fun souvenir, could go check out the hotel’s gift shop.

Family Stay at the DoubleTree Los Angeles garden

Dining

The hotel featured two restaurants on the property: the Justice Urban Tavern, and the Rendezvous Lounge.

The Justice Urban Tavern with its hip atmosphere  boasted delicious meals prepared by chefs Gerry Leskody and Gabe Colunga. Diners could get nice classic dishes like beef brisket, blue crab cake sandwiches, Irish oatmeal, or beer battered fish and chips. We enjoyed their happy hour Tuna Tartare Tacos along with thier unique avocado cocktails..

Family Stay at the DoubleTree Los Angeles

Travelers looking for snacks and cocktails could go to the Rendezvous Lounge in the hotel’s lobby. Here, diners sat in nice chairs watching sports on HDTVs, enjoying things like oysters, New England clam chowder, and grilled salmon.There was also a Starbucks at the hotel for those wanting their favorite cup of java or a quick breakfast sandwich.

Family Stay at the DoubleTree Los Angeles stair

Cost

Prices start at $199 per room. Internet access is $9.95 per day for basic, $11.95 per day for high speed. There is on-site parking for $35 self and $40 valet which sounds steep but is the norm for downtown L.A prices.

Family Stay at the DoubleTree Los Angeles sky

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Even when we requested a quiet room, we could still hear some noise from the nearby trains exiting Union Station. Families with noise sensitive children should take this into consideration.
  • When checking in, guests get warm chocolate chip cookies, which kids are sure to love. However, families with children who have diet restrictions such as gluten intolerance should be aware of this ahead of time so they can  avoid disappointment.
  • As mentioned above, the window in the room does not open all the way. This fact should give some peace of mind to parents who might worry about their child falling out of the window otherwise.

 

 

Family Stay at the JW Marriot Downtown LA

 

Last month, we had a unique opportunity to stay at the luxurious JW Marriott Hotel in downtown LA while attending the BlogHer 2016 conference. This hotel is situated right next to the Staples Center and is part of the LA live complex that includes the Ritz-Carlton hotel – another Marriott property.

Family Stay at the JW Marriot Downtown LA bar

The Hotel

Located at 900 West Olympic Boulevard Los Angeles, California, the 21 story, 805-roomed premises is a smoke-free, pet-free zone within walking distance to the L.A. Convention Center. It is close to many tourist attractions, stores and museums in the newly revived Downtown area.
The hotel is in a central location within the LA Live complex, with its multiple food venues and movie theaters. The JW Marriott also boasts a well-run executive lounge and a  luxurious pool with kids’ toys.
It is within walking distance of some grocery stores and is not far from the city’s larger malls. All of these factors make this hotel a great attraction for many families visiting LA.

Family Stay at the JW Marriot Downtown LA outside

 

Our Welcome

As Marriott members, we had already requested a feather-free and quiet room noted in our file. However, I did call the front desk manager to check and reiterate that all would be ready before our arrival.
Even though on the day we checked-in, there were hundreds of guests there for the conference waiting in line, the process went smoothly. Within fifteen minutes I had the key to our room in my hand, and I was on my way to my room on the 20th floor.

 

Family Stay at the JW Marriot Downtown LA decor
The Decor

The hotel had magnificent decorations with modern-looking hanging crystal lamps and chandeliers spread along their lobby areas.
The hotel atmosphere was hip, vibrant and ‘very LA.’
Apart from the conference goers (the hotel is a favorite for conventions and symposiums attendees), one can expect to rub elbows with families, solo travelers and even a few celebrities – this is LA after all!
The surprise factor was without a doubt the Adele wax statue with which we could take a selfie and pretend we had just attended the Grammy awards.

Family Stay at the JW Marriot Downtown LA flower

The Room

Our room was decorated in warm hues of oranges and creams, along with green accents in the carpeting.
It was a surprisingly large room with a convenient layout for a family of four. We received complimentary bottled water because of our Marriott Platinum status. Our room featured two double beds that were comfortable and could easily fit a family with young kids.

Taking the kids to (1)

One of the first things we noticed was all the storage space. The sizable closet was well-lit and contained an iron, ironing board, a safe that could easily fit a 17’’ laptop, and complimentary robes.

Conveniently placed mirrors added to the functionality of the room. As in most hotels, the room had a chest of drawers that served as a stand for the 42 inch TV. These were deep drawers in which we could comfortably place our belongings.

Family Stay at the JW Marriot Downtown LA room

 

The room also had a mini-bar fridge and a stocked coffee center. There was also a writing desk with a slide out shelf that had a  built phone and electrical sockets for plugging in electronic devices.

The fun element in the room was the swiveling chairs that our son with sensory issues enjoyed the most

The large windows, boasting a city view, had both thin and block out light curtains. We appreciated that the A/C vents were situated away from the beds, so the cold air did not blow directly on us as we slept. We also enjoyed the fact that there was a central control panel to adjust the temperature settings.

Family Stay at the JW Marriot Downtown LA adele

The Bathroom

A stylish sliding door lead to the bathroom. The room, spacious with sleek and decorative tiling, had a shower with a vibrant colored curtain. The mirror added to the spacious feeling of the room. The amenity kit on the granite counter-top consisted of shampoos, body wash, and lotions as well as a hairdryer under the basin.

Apparently, the hotel is quite eco-friendly with the flush button on the commode offering a half or full flush. Keeping with the eco-friendly theme, there is a night light feature which glows a faint green light in the dark to help guests see their way at night.

Family Stay at the JW Marriot Downtown LA bathroom

It would have been better if the bathroom had a lock to allow a nice touch of privacy. We also would have appreciated a grab bar in the bathtub as well as a clothesline for drying towels or bathing suits.

Executive Lounge

The lounge was large and comfortable with plush seating both indoors and outdoors which for LA was a bonus. The evening spread was adequate for a snack, but more hot dishes would have been an excellent addition.
Wines and beers were complimentary, but be advised that hard liquor beverages were not. We loved the fact that unlike many other properties we’ve frequented, this place welcomed kids of all ages, and was the only one to date, it had high chairs handy.

Family Stay at the JW Marriot Downtown LA cage

Restaurants

The hotel offers a few dining options to consider.

For drinks and dining, there’s The Mixing Room, open seven days a week. This restaurant specializes in mixology of customized cocktails.
The WP24 By Wolfgang Puck offers spectacular panoramic views while serving a modern Chinese cuisine while at Ford’s Filling Station, guests can enjoy  Californian Cuisine dishes with a Southern influence.For a quick lunch or killer cocktail, stop by the Glance Lobby Bar.Java addicts should try the Illy Espressamente Coffee House.

Family Stay at the JW Marriot Downtown LA food

Conveniently, the hotel also offers a 24/7 Room service, perfect for those who might get hungry at the wee hours of the night and don’t feel like leaving their comfortable room.

The above are just a few of many options for travelers in the hotel itself, but be aware that plenty of eateries are just around the corner in the LA Live complex.

Amenities

The outdoor pool on the third floor is large, with chaise lounges spread around it and a few private cabanas one can rent. They have an unlimited supply of complimentary fluffy clean towels. Like many other hotels, there were no lifeguards in attendance.
The day we stayed we saw numerous guests relaxing by the water, and yet it didn’t feel crowded in any way. In fact, it was a quiet place to unwind after visiting the City of Angels.

We were pleasantly surprised to see kids’ pool toys available at no extra charge and commented how it was a nice touch by the hotel management to make families feel welcome.

Family Stay at the JW Marriot Downtown LA gym

The gym, included in the stay, faces the bustling Olympic Boulevard. Rather modest in size, the facility had plenty of cardiovascular equipment and free weights. The gym offered free chilled bottled water and clean fluffy towels to use after the workout, a much-appreciated feature.

The hotel was connected via a set of corridors to the Ritz-Carlton hotel so guests could use the spa facilities there. Patrons could get excellent, albeit pricey, body scrubs, wraps, massages, facials and manicures/pedicures in the Ritz-Carlton Spa, as well as use their fabulous steam room.

Family Stay at the JW Marriot Downtown LA pool

Service

We found the service at the hotel to be excellent. The housekeeping staff not only responded quickly to any request we had, but they also made a point of introducing themselves and asking us every day if we needed anything for them to supply.

Family Stay at the JW Marriot Downtown LA chair

Cost

As mentioned before, the hotel in downtown LA was not particularly budget-friendly. However, as they say, you get what you pay for, and the JW Marriot is a superb choice for travelers that come to the city.

Room prices start in the low $300s and go up from there according to season and demand.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Ask for a high floor to minimize the noise since this hotel is located in a busy area of downtown LA.
  • Bring your bath anti slip mat, since the hotel doesn’t supply one.

 

Family Stay at the JW Marriot Downtown LA tv

 

The ‘Hollywood Sites & Bites’ Tour

 

It is no secret that my son with autism has two favorite past times: movies and food.
So when I found the Goldstar.com deal for the Hollywood Sites and Bites Tour with Trish, I hurried to book it for his birthday.

Review of our ‘Hollywood Sites & Bites’ Tour stairs

The Tour

Our six-person tour started at the iconic Roosevelt Hotel that was built in 1927 and according to our guide, Trish hosted the first ever Oscars in its Blossom Room.
She told us how the late Marilyn Monroe had her first ad gig at the pool at the age of eighteen and that the hotel even has a suite named after her.
We looked around the hotel lobby to discover where scenes of ‘Catch me if you can ’ were filmed, and our son got quite the kick out of hopping up and down the very same staircase Shirley Temple practiced her dance moves on.

As we crossed the street, we stopped by the newly renovated TCL Theater for a glance at the sidewalk in front covered in celebrity hand and footprint before making our first stop at ‘Crumbs’ the famous cupcake store to enjoy a mini cupcake.

Fortified by the sugar rush, we continued to our next stop, the Dolby Theater, of Academy Awards fame with its outstanding Babylon Court based on Griffiths’  famous movie ‘Intolerance’.
I have to admit I had passed by the theater on numerous occasions but never actually stopped to see what was inside.
Trish filled us in on informational tidbits we found interesting: the nominee staircase was built to resemble a woman’s silhouette while the rotunda is supposed to look like a camera lens (I still didn’t see it after staring at it for five minutes, but never mind).

While the rest of our group got a good gawk at the iconic Hollywood sign as seen from the second story balcony my son (the Wizard of Oz aficionado) traced the movie quotes on the court’s bottom.
By then everyone in the group was tired from the walking in the hot LA sun and thrilled to be escorted to the well-chilled minivan waiting to take us to our next destination.
Review of our ‘Hollywood Sites & Bites’ Tour theater
Having been on many tours before I was impressed that Trish’s took the time to explain where the van exit doors and seat belts were while her driver AJ handed out cold bottled water.

After driving down Hollywood Boulevard (caught a glimpse of Capitol records and Raleigh Studios ), we stopped at Grub restaurant located on Melrose Boulevard.
We got to try their tomato bisque soup and crack bacon quesadillas (both excellent) along with their homemade berry lemonade (a bit too sweet for me.)

In less than 20 minutes we were out the door and on the way to Mozza2Go where we were treated to a slice of Mario Batali’s thick crust pizza (choice of Margherita or Garlic–Oil).
The pizza was top notch but a bit hard to enjoy while standing up especially for my special needs son.

With the third spot down we raced to the fourth up on Sunset Boulevard where we stopped to sample Greenblatt’s Deli’s pastrami sandwich accompanied by the obligatory coleslaw and pickle spears.
My son looked distraught, as he abhors pastrami.
Here again, I was impressed with Trish’s professionalism and autism awareness when she immediately suggested substituting Jeff’s sandwich portion for a potato pancake complete with sour cream & applesauce!Review of our ‘Hollywood Sites & Bites’ Tour grub

We were all starting to move a bit slower from the excess of calories we had just ingested and debating whether we still had any place left for dessert when we reached our next spot –John Kelly Chocolates.
Here, the owner took us for a quick tour of is the facility to showed us how his chocolates were made and treated us to slices of their famous truffle fudge.

Our last stop, almost four hours later, was Mashti Malone the friendliest and most sample generous of all the venues we visited.
Jeff asked to try most of the Middle Eastern flavors displayed, and the girls serving were only too happy to oblige. He enjoyed their ice cream so much we ended up ordering two full sized cones to eat there as well as and two containers of cucumber ice cream for home.

All in all, we both had a good time!

Between Trish’s entertaining stories and the introduction we got to food venues we hadn’t known about before the tour, it was a fun way to spend a summer morning and bond with each other.

 

Autism travel tips

Bear in mind, though the actual tour doesn’t involve much walking, it can include some periods of standing and it can get hot in LA especially during the summer

If your child is a picky eater or on a special diet, you should contact Trish in advance and hear her suggestions since she is quite flexible and accommodating to special needs clients.

Family Weekend Cruise on the Golden Princess

Family Weekend Cruise on the Golden Princess pin

Owned by the Princess Cruise Lines, this vessel is a Grand-class cruise ship that entered service in 2001. Sister ship of Grand Princess and Star Princess she can carry more than 3,600  passengers and crew.
Last month while the ship was traveling between L.A and the Mexican Riviera we decided to book a weekend cruise and enjoy the outstanding Princess amenities provided onboard.

Family Weekend Cruise on the Golden Princess movies

What Makes it Family Worthy?

As we mentioned before we are huge fans of cruising since it is a way to enjoy a great vacation at a reasonable price, visit several ports yet unpack only once.
Though this particular ship offers less family friendly activities than its counterparts on competing cruise lines, it still had multiple venues to engage passengers of all age groups.

Family Weekend Cruise on the Golden Princess blue

Fellow Travelers

Depending on its itinerary this vessel attracts more retirees and couples. However, families still make a decent sized segment of onboard guests.

 

Family Weekend Cruise on the Golden Princess piano

Décor

The ship decor was modern using vibrant colors with wood accents throughout the vessel. The dining spaces were designed in hues of tans and browns while the entertainment areas looked more glitzy dressed in pinks, purples, and golds.

Neutral colors like cream and silver were prevalent in our bathroom, but the floor consisted of blue and white tiles arranged in a checkerboard pattern. The bedroom area was mostly decorated in white and other neutrals with lightly hued wood paneling throughout. There was also red patterned carpeting and a blue chair in our cabin blending some color to the overall design scheme.

Family Weekend Cruise on the Golden Princess muster

Family Entertainment


As mentioned before, this particular ship had fewer entertainment options than other ships we had previously vacationed on.
With that said our son with autism enjoyed some of the ‘grown up’ activities that he had never tried before.

Family Weekend Cruise on the Golden Princess pool

We all tried the outdoor activities like the pools, water slides, mini golf, giant chess, shuffleboard, virtual bowling (WII) and ping pong games. He discovered Bingo which though a bit of a money pit helped him practice, his social interactions with staff and fellow passengers. Also, he found the cupcake decorating class fun so he went back the next day to do it again.

Family Weekend Cruise on the Golden Princess chess

For evening entertainment, we did sit through a Broadway review of the British 60’s invasion songs which was mediocre, and we were disappointed the movie under the stars was canceled due to high winds.
Family Weekend Cruise on the Golden Princess show

What was surprisingly good was an acrobatic show in the lobby area that we watched mesmerized, and the pretend New Year’s countdown party, a Princess tradition.

Family Weekend Cruise on the Golden Princess cake

The ship featured several spots to dine throughout the cruise.
Apart from the Horizon Court  Buffet and regular dining restaurants it had pay for purchase restaurants like  Sabatini’s, serving Italian fare, and the Crown Grill, offering steakhouse style grub.
We dined at Sabatini for 25$ Prix fix menu per person and had an overall enjoyable experience.

Family Weekend Cruise on the Golden Princess bar


Our Cabin

Our family stayed in the P303  cabin on Plaza Deck Five.
We were greeted by balloons and a celebratory poster tacked to our cabin door in honor of our son’s birthday, which was a nice touch.

Our cabin had a  porthole window providing an excellent view of the outside. The safety information found on the back of the door was clearly marked to let us know where our muster station was in the event of an emergency.

 

Family Weekend Cruise on the Golden Princess curtain

Upon entering our cabin, the bathroom area was on the left. Just across the small entryway, there was a closet that contained all the lifejackets in the case of any unforeseen emergency. It had ample amount of storage space and could easily hold lots of our luggage.

The cabin itself had two beds with nightstands in between them. There was also a pull out bunk bed that could be opened at night and closed during the day for our son. It contained a safety bar that helps keep sleepers from falling out.

Family Weekend Cruise on the Golden Princess tv

Our cabin’s television was placed over the desk, as was a large mirror. The latter feature allowed the space to function as a vanity. A hairdryer was attached to the wall nearby to further facilitate this usage. More in keeping with the desk’s traditional purpose as a workspace were the additional shelves and drawers that were included in its design.

There was a phone and some beverage glasses on the desktop for our use, and one of the cabinets beneath it contained a mini fridge. There were also a fair number of outlets provided, but travelers who find that they need more may want to bring their electric strips.A visible thermostat helped complete the picture as it allowed the room temperature to be quickly adjusted to our liking.
Family Weekend Cruise on the Golden Princess safe

Our Bathroom

The bathroom was incredibly well organized with several hooks for hanging towels and wet clothing. There were two fully stocked towel racks above the commode. Extra toilet paper could be found under the sink just in case it was needed. There was a sizeable open cabinet at one end of the sink counter that was capable of holding even more personal belongings.

Under the sink was a shelf that held the waste bin but it could also be used to store supplies. The shower itself was fairly ordinary in design.

Family Weekend Cruise on the Golden Princess towels
However, it had excellent water pressure and featured raised up edges along the bottom so that water didn’t get splashed all over the floor. The shower was separated from the toilet area with a curtain.

The cabin also contained a full-length mirror near the bathroom area so that we could check our outfits before departing their room to go anywhere.
Overall, though the room was not large, it turned out to be functional and well organized.

 

Family Weekend Cruise on the Golden Princess glasses

Autism Travel Tips

  • The shower in the cabin has a safety handle so that those who need to do so can use it.
  • We discovered that walkie-talkies were useful devices on cruises and recommend that other families bring along their own sets to communicate with each other.
  • Gluten free and other diet observing passengers should let the cruise line know ahead of time whether they plan to stay on the ship while in port so they could be accommodated.
  • Parents to kids with autism should ask guest services for  restaurants and show seating arrangements .t
  • Word of caution about the coffee shop on the ship; the hot beverages are served at a very high temperature so parents should remind their kids to take extra precautions to avoid scalding themselves,
  • Parents should pack a set of noise canceling headphones or earplugs if their kid wishes to attend the ultra-noisy new year’s or sail away parties.

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