We've been going to LA for many years, but this was a first with baby. It was a quick stopover on our trip to see friends get married in Lake Tahoe. However, we did manage to pack a lot in to the three days that we were there. Thankfully, we stayed with a dear friend (the best strategy for minimizing costs) but we have enough experience with the city to offer some baby-friendly hotel recommendations. Next trip we will stay in one of them to confirm our assumptions.
The first day we were here we tried to only use Ubers. Words of wisdom: DO NOT DO THIS. Cars are reasonably inexpensive to rent and you need them to go everywhere.
Where to stay
Fairmont Hotel Santa Monica
We were fortunate to have a friend staying there, so pool access was not a problem. The setup of this hotel was great. The gym has a huge balcony that overlooks the pool, so I could observe my wife and baby as I got a quick workout in. If baby got fussy I would be able to hear it and run down to assist. Here's a pro tip: always make time for a workout when traveling. It may have to be short, but coordinate and take turns with your partner. Traveling while fit is the easiest way to travel.
I strolled baby around the entire pool area and hotel lobby and felt very welcomed. I also saw a lot of other families, so you won't be the only person with a kid.
Where to Eat
Strand House - Manhattan Beach
We had to wait an hour for this place, but it afforded my wife the time to nurse Karina in the spacious and comfortable waiting lobby. The food here is good, but the real draw is the amazing view of Manhattan Beach pier and sparkling blue water. I've actually forgotten what we ordered, but will never forget the view.
Estate - Santa Monica
I walked Karina while AnaLiza and a few of our friends ordered appetizers. When I had succeeded in getting the baby to fall asleep, I had no problem strolling into this place. Door was held open for me and I was escorted to our table, which had ample room to situate the stroller alongside.
The food here is innovative and tasty. I recommend ordering the Tuna Crispy Wonton Tacos, The BBQ Prok Short Rib and the Pad Thai.
What to Do
Paradise Cove Malibu
We discovered this place through a friend's recommendation. We wanted a family beach day, but we also faced the reality that Karina can only be at the beach for less than an hour before getting fussy. This little gem of a place solved all of our problems. Parking is abundant if you grab lunch, and you can rent cabanas on the beach for 30 bucks. I highly recommend getting a cabana. Baby can play in the shade on the cushions, and you can take turns taking naps in the sun.
If you tip the cabana boys well, you can get more than the two allotted beach towels, and they will also shift umbrellas around so baby gets shade while you get sun.
If your child is a bit older, definitely check out Point Dume state park. Easy to park for a small fee and within walking distance of some great restaurants and shops. We drove into the lot but realized Karina was still too young for this beach - looked great though.
Take a half day trip out to this beach community for an epic stroller walk. Start your journey at The Strand and walk towards the beach where you will find a smooth walking path that sits between the beach and some incredible beachfront houses. We loved looking at the houses while Karina snoozed away in the stroller. Grab some excellent coffee at Two Guns Espresso on the end of the pier.