Travel Memories: Los Angeles Family Birthday Trip


Family Travel

LA Family Travel Memories 

I’m grateful to be able to make travel memories with my little family. Birthdays are especially important to us and somehow I ended up with a family whose birthdays all fall within about 30 days of each other! The girl’s birthdays are in March (Diari is March 6th and Fatima is March 26th) and Hassan’s birthday is in April. So it’s always fun but also challenging thinking of ways to celebrate their birthdays.

This year, I decided to plan a surprise trip to Los Angeles [LA] for us to enjoy together as a family.  I wanted somewhere warm with activities that we could all enjoy as kids and parents. After a little research, LA seemed like a no-brainer. Not only would LA allow us to escape the winter weather we were still having in the Midwest, but there are so many fun things to do and it’s just beautiful overall. Whenever I do a travel post, I like to include information about what we did, where we stayed, but also how much it cost. I did a similar breakdown for our trip to Hawaii so I hope this one is helpful too!  


I first booked the Proper Hotel Downtown LA but after more research I decided to stay at the Santa Monica location. Best decision EVER! From the moment we arrived, we had an amazing experience. The hotel offers free yoga classes on some days and has a great spa. The staff is extremely friendly. While we waited for our room, they took our luggage, gave us water and got us a table at the rooftop restaurant for lunch. They also had toys for the kids and fast valet services. And the aesthetics were on another level. Everything was beautiful! 

ProTip – The Proper Hotel is very popular so if you arrive early, make sure you plan for something to do or that you’re open to enjoying the hotel amenities in the meantime. You may not be able to check in early but there is plenty to do!

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In terms of eating and things to do, I had a few things planned and the rest of the time, we just went with the flow. That’s how I usually travel because you learn really quickly that family travel requires flexibility lol. Here are some of the places we visited and things we enjoyed. 

Kid-Friendly places to eat: 

  • Calabra (rooftop restaurant of the Proper Hotel)
  • Palma (which is in the lobby of the Proper Hotel)
  • Grand Central Market (so many food options from different cultures)
  • Cara Cara (we didn’t get a chance to eat here but it was beautiful and we heard great things)
  • Socalo 

Things to do as a family: 

  • Visit Santa Monica Pier
  • Day trip to Disney 
  • Griffith Observatory 
  • Massila
  • Picnic at Venice Beach (I booked a full picnic set-up with Bliss Beach and it was beautiful)
  • Chill by the pool
  • Visit Dama Restaurant
  • Look for murals 
  • Drive down or shop at Rodeo drive

Trip Cost Beakdown: 

Okay, I always have to do a disclaimer when I breakdown cost. Personally, if it’s in my budget, I’m a luxury traveler. I will cut costs and save money everywhere else so that I can spend it on my trip. If it’s available, I only like to fly non-stop (this is partly because I have plane anxiety) and in comfort. I also value a really nice hotel experience. So as you’re looking at these prices, keep in mind that I went all out. Don’t be discouraged and think you can’t make this trip happen if it’s outside of your planned travel budget. Just decide which luxuries you could personally do without and save the money where you can.  

You will not believe what happened to me when it came to booking flights. In total, we initially spent $2232.8 for our non-stop round trip flights, which breaks down to about $558 per person. Side note: I miss the days when the girls could travel for free before they turned two lol. Anyway, I was happy and I thought we were all good. HOWEVER – it turns out that I had booked the wrong return date! Unfortunately, this was a big deal because of Diari’s school schedule. So I ended up having to book brand new flights to get us home the same day and guess how much that cost? $1600.  

Lucky for me, I had so many travel points accumulated on my Amex credit card that I was able to only pay $24!! Those points literally saved the trip. Side note #2: If you don’t have a card that accumulates travel points for you, I highly recommend getting one! Either that, or make sure you set up an account with the airlines you fly with so that every time you fly, your travel points are getting saved.

The rest of our budget was spent on hotel, food, and activities, of course. Some of the prices below might seem steep but if you break them down, they make more sense. For example, the total cost of food and hotel incidentals was about $1613. But when you break it down by our 5 day stay for 4 people, the total was about $80 a day per person. 

Total Trip Cost Estimate: 

Flights – $2257

Car – $450 with carseat rentals + gas

Hotel (5 days, 4 nights) – $2442 

Hotel Incidentals – $1113 for room service, hotel dining and valet 

Restaurants – $500 

Disney passes -$740 

Picnic set up – $280

Grand Total: $9382

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Travel with Family

If you are planning a family trip soon, I hope this helps you! If you’ve heard that it’s impossible to travel once you have kids, I hope this encourages you. I got married and had kids so young and it made me sad when people would say the fun part of your life is over. I’ve learned that traveling with my little family is so much fun and it makes for some of the best memories. Safe travels to you and yours!