LA – I never imagined I’d ever wind up looking forward to weekends with anything but anticipation and relief. But once my kids were old enough to say “what are we going to do today?” weekends started to take on more pressure. I’ve always been a bit of a slave to structure, so now more than ever I have an appreciation for that weekday school schedule and all that it brings.
That being said, I began to take on the challenge of weekends as a time not only to bond with the kids but to try different activities that we can enjoy as a family. My husband, Don, and I aren’t huge sports fans (I know, shocker)… but we take the kids to their soccer games on Sundays and tennis lessons. I do the best I can to play basketball in the backyard with my tough-guy, athletic four year-old son, Jonah. But can easily shift gears and do my seven-year old daughter’s nails in a round of beauty parlor! Ahh, the joys of being a gay dad.
But beyond our home-spun weekend activities, Los Angeles is home to so many beautiful parks, playgrounds, museums and libraries. In fact, just this year, the opening of the beautifully renovated West Hollywood Library was the impetus for this West Hollywood family day which we’ve repeated several times.
1. We begin at the West Hollywood Library. The new, two-story structure has something for everyone – and in particular, a beautiful childrens’ wing including a story-time theater which features readings at least twice-a-week. In addition, the grown-ups can enjoy the architectural delight of this new structure with windows that reflect the Pacific Design Center on one side, the Hollywood Hills on the other. The Los Angeles Times said of the new landmark building:
“The new library across from the Pacific Design Center strikes an appealingly upbeat tone, borrowing from various architectural influences to become one of the most impressive public pieces in the region in a decade.”
We spend a good hour-and-a-half at the library, reading stories to ourselves and one another sitting in colorful, cushy chairs, which face impressive floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the street.
2. As we walk out the front entrance of the Library, we turn left and basically step right into the newly manicured front lawn that leads to West Hollywood Park. It’s one of my kids’ favorite playgrounds, as it features several climbing structures, monkey bars, and a giant, yellow, twisting, tubular slide in which I’ve thrown out my back at least a dozen times. Good times!
After a few hours in the playground, we head up to the rooftop, where tennis courts have been recently built and open to the public. Don and I each grab our rackets and then let our children teach us a few things.
After the library, the playground and tennis, the sun is beginning to set on West Hollywood and the colors reflected on the windows of the library are spectacular. We’ve worked up an appetite and are ready for an early dinner (or late lunch!)
3. Down Robertson Boulevard about three blocks, approaching Third, is a fairly new restaurant opened by chef Nicola Mastronardi, chef Giuseppe Gentile, and FOH John Tierney, Pizzeria il Fico. It’s a fabulously low-key, brick-oven pizza restaurant that features dozens of other home-made, authentically Italian pastas, salads and entrees. I love this place more than any other in Los Angeles, not just for it’s family-friendly vibe – but also because they are able to make all their thin-crust pizzas and pastas GLUTEN FREE!
The kids sit at their own table with two bowls of tomato soup and a thin crust pizza. Don and I sit at our own table with a shrimp and arrugala pizza and a bowl of gluten free fusilli with a spectacular lamb Bolognese. For more information, see the LA Times restaurant review here.
All in all, we had a great family day in West Hollywood, then headed home for bath, books and bed. And tomorrow is another day. Oh no. Its Sunday. Guess we can do it all again!
For more about Dan, click here.