HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >


Suggestions for day in LA with 3 year old

We will be traveling from Disneyland to a hotel near LAX on a Friday in May. Does anyone have any suggestions for nice places to eat with a three year old for lunch and dinner. Also, suggestions about things to do between lunch and dinner with a 3 year old in those areas are welcome.

One of the places that we were thinking about was Spago for lunch. My wife and I ate there for dinner about 6 years ago and really enjoyed it. However, we are open to suggestions.

Also, any nice place that is in or near a high end mall would be a plus.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. While suggestions of things to do with your 3 year old are usually outside the mandate of this site I would suggest you look to a stop in downtown LA for the offerings at lunch at the newly revamping Grand Central Market (GCM) http://www.grandcentralmarket.com/ or perhaps at the permanent Original Farmers Market http://www.farmersmarketla.com/ near West Hollywood.

    Burgers at Belcampo http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/970281 if you do the GCM would be a good idea or take a look at eggslut http://www.eggslut.com/ and if you do the Farmers Market you will be near Son of a Gun http://sonofagunrestaurant.com/ along with many other possibilities.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Servorg

      The Farmer's Market and Grand Central Market are the perfect places.

    2. A perfect match to your last sentence would be Marche Moderne in South Coast Plaza.

      1. Spago was revamped (both the physical location and the menu), and I don't know if it'd as kid-accessible now as it might've been 6 yrs ago.

        Don't know if things that aren't as upscale as the old Spago will qualify has "nice," but here goes....

        Clementine's in Century City for lunch? It's very casual, though. Parking can be painful, but the food is quite tasty. And then you could walk across the street to the Westfield mall. You could simply eat at the Century City mall, too (food court and independent restaurants abound there).

        The Santa Monica mall might also be a good option (they have multiple restaurants there + outdoor seating + 3rd Street Promenade close by).

        1. Somewhere at the beach? I don't know much about the food on Venice Beach, but it's fun people watching. And Paradise Cove Malibu may not be a culinary destination, but it's fun to be able to have a table looking at the ocean with your feet, quite literally, in the sand. Duke's in Malibu, a bit closer to town, offers a similar experience in the Barefoot Bar. Or....if you want a higher end food experience....Nobu may be open for lunch on weekends. Not sure about that.

          1 Reply
          1. re: perk

            Nobu Malibu serves a brunch on weekends.

          2. 3YO, 7MO, same principle more or less:

            Beverly Center has Obika and Capitale Grill.

            Fig/7th (come May 17) has blah blah blah stores, City Tavern (beer on the patio, while the todds munch on Pazzo Gelato -- thank you jesus), Mendocino, Loteria,

            1. Cross Creek, Malibu, for lunch at Tra di Noi. not oceanside but you can sit outside right next to grassy area with small playground and then browse expensive boutiques.
              skip Marina del Rey and Venice: Abbot Kinney is too hipster for small kids and the boardwalk is horrible.
              Santa Monica is kid-central—3rd St. Promenade (Loteria Grill) or SM Pier (the Albright) or Montana Ave. (R+D Kitchen)
              Spago always treated our daughter royally but I find the new revamp cold plus there are plenty of newer places to try.
              for a mall: Westside Pavilion has a kids play area on one side of mall and Westside Tavern on the other.

              1. Seems a lot of responses have you traveling quite a ways from Anaheim and LAX..... Not sure what times you are traveling, but be aware the 405, which you most likely will take as it leads right to LAX, is quite busy and crowded at rush hours, typically starting around 3 PM, and if on a Friday night, not letting up before 7 PM. So not sure I would steer you toward downtown, where Grand Central Market is, mid city, where the Farmers Market is, or Malibu, which is, at least at rush hour, about two hours north of your hotel. And two hours in traffic with a hungry, cranky 3 y.o. is no picnic, been there done that.

                I would stick to Santa Monica third street promenade, as far north as you should go before you hit miles of traffic. The promenade is itself a walking mall with lots of, albeit, non CHOWish places to eat, but you'll definitely find something for the child. Also the Santa Monica Place mall has a few decent places like Zengo, Sonoma Wine Garden, Curious Palate...you should be able to find something for your little one to eat, plus keep him or her busy with lots of walking around and exploring.

                If you find yourself exploring our city between meal times, and wind up in Mid city, I'd suggest La Brea Tar pits, no three year old can resist dinosaurs, and it's a very kid friendly museum, and not very big so totally doable in two hours. Then right up the road you could visit the original Farmers Market and find suitable places to feed the kid. Be warned, it's very touristy and overpriced so be prepared. Ad about the only places I would recommend to eat at would be Short Order, Fritzi's or Moishe's.... I'm sure other hounds will chime in with more suggestions.

                Enjoy LA!

                4 Replies
                1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                  My thought was, since the OP talked about perhaps going to Spago for lunch, was that they would come up the 5 freeway from Disneyland and then on to the 10, so would be passing downtown on the way to the Beverly Hills area.

                  1. re: Servorg

                    True enough, but no mention of time of day, and they could be sitting in a LOT of traffic if it's anywhere near rush hour, or on a Friday night. Not a good impression of our fair city ;)

                    And who only spends a morning at D-land?? It doesn't open before 8 or 9 am. And to get your $85 worth, most people stay til mid afternoon. So hello, rush hour.....

                    Plus, Spago is no place for a three year old....seriously.

                    1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                      They said they were planning a possible lunch at Spago, so that meant they were probably done with the park the day before and were checking out of the hotel and heading north for lunch somewhere in the LA area.

                      1. re: Servorg

                        Well, sure, that's totally possible ;)

                2. Wow. This has now become an episode of "The Californians" on Saturday Night Live!

                  4 Replies
                    1. re: perk

                      that's because "The Californians" is an accurate description of how many of us actually plan our lives.

                        1. re: perk

                          For those unfamiliar with The Californian's on SNL Throughout the melodramatic plot developments, much of the dialogue consists of descriptions of highway routes taken from place to place with freeways referred to with the definite article, as in "the 10, 405, 110," a usage characteristic of Southern California English. The characters are often seen with white wine or hors d'oeuvres such as nachos and avocado.

                    2. Assuming the 10 Frwy: Eat at Farmer's Market and play at the adjacent Pan Pacific Park (running; sand park on the side; large train play structure to the North); the Grove mall is part of this complex

                      Beverly Hills has a park to the South and a large grassy are to the North for running around.

                      Assuming 405: drive up to Santa Monica, head to Pier or nearby Santa Monica streets Loteria has beans and rice beloved by most kids; Santa Monica has an unusually nice natural toy store (Acorn) if you need a goodie for the plane; Pico has a fabulous children's book store (Children's Book World) that is mérite un détour"

                      LACMA, which is also very close to Farmer's Market and has a large grassy area for exploring and also has a small "dinosaur" museum (mammoths) has tasty pizzas at the restaurant and a great, very kid-friendly Calder show right now; tons of great dinner choices in this area and as long as you go early enough, pretty much everything is okay with a three year old (Lucques, Son of a Gun, Jinya Robata)

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: JudiAU

                        No dinosaurs at La Brea Tar Pits which is next door to LACMA.

                        It's Cenozoic and they're mammals but children do love it…lots of room to run around outside and definitely a destination for people from all over the world.
                        There's a great tapas place (Blue Stone??) at Nordstrom at the Santa Monica Place Mall.
                        We thought the food was great and there were lots of little kids in there enjoying the food. Very kid friendly mall too.
                        The Grove on Fairfax is definitely inland and the traffic could end up being a nightmare from where you're suggesting but it is high end, kids love the fountain in the middle and Joan's on 3rd is a couple of blocks away. Very kid friendly with wonderful food.

                        1. re: latindancer

                          Note quotation marks around "dinosaurs." Most three year olds walking into the Page say "ooh dinosaurs" while their parents blather on about mastodons. My kids still call it the "little dinosaur museum" which is distinct from the Natural History Museum which is of course the "big dinosaur museum."

                      2. Farmers market has outdoor mall plus pan pacific park w 2 big kids areas including a pirate ship and train jungle Jim areas. Could easily get nice stuff in market area and picnic and play outside.

                        1. The Cafe at The Getty would also work it you'd like a visit there.