I am planning a vacation over Christmas break for my family. DH, 3 DD (ages 18, 9, & 8) and myself. I plan extensively for our family vacations because I thoroughly enjoy doing so and I have learned everything goes better when I am very familiar with the location before we go. I regularly use tripadvisor and have already spent a substantial amount of time reading through forum posts and reviews regarding LA.
I have booked a suite at Orchid Suites due to the size of the rooms, price, and convenient location to a metro stop. I prefer to use public transportation when possible because it is an experience my children do not get at home. (We live in rural Nebraska.) We are not opposed to renting a car in Hollywood if it would be more convenient for a particular day trip. We are used to spending a lot of time in a car but are not excited about spending our vacation in traffic jams.
We will be spending a week in LA, but are not planning to do any amusement parks. The crowds are just too big over the holidays. (We learned that the hard way during a vacation to Disneyland several years ago.) We typically like to sleep in and then head out for 5-6 hours of sightseeing. We prefer to finish up our day with an evening meal at a sit-down restaurant within walking distance of our hotel.
That gives you a little background. Here are my questions:
**Some ideas of activities "off-the-beaten-path" where we can get away from crowds when we have had enough of the regular tourist things.
**A suggestion of a concise resource that lists nearest metro stops for specific attractions.
**Suggested age-appropriate tv shows, movies or books that show LA attractions. (I have learned from experience that my children enjoy recognizing/knowing a little about what they are seeing.)
**Particular tours that are especially interesting for kids.
My children are probably a little unusual in that they enjoy historical kinds of things (as long as we have done the applicable "pre-teaching"). One of our best family vacations was to Washington DC, but they also love a laid-back beach environment. The activities I am definitely planning on right now are the Walk of Fame, evening movies at the Hollywood theaters, Warner Brothers Studio, the Grammy Museum, and a day at Long Beach. Santa Monica is definitely a possibility but I am wondering if a beach-day at a less crowded location would be better.
Any and all suggestions are appreciated. Thanks so much!