Travel

Vacation Photos: Palm Springs and L.A.

Vacation Photos: Palm Springs and L.A.

Last night, we got back from our annual holiday trip to Palm Springs and L.A. We ate our weight in shrimp tacos, swam in the rain, and Toby did something he’s never done before:) Here are a few photos, if you’d like to see…

Vacation Photos: Palm Springs and L.A.

In Palm Springs, we rented the same cottage that we stayed in a couple years ago for Alex’s sister’s wedding.

Vacation Photos: Palm Springs and L.A.

On Christmas Eve, all the relatives came over for wine for adults, sparkling apple juice and Trader Joe’s appetizers. My sister gave the cousins matching pajamas, which basically made all the grandparents’ heads explode.

Vacation Photos: Palm Springs and L.A.

We had grand plans to hike and take the tram up the mountain, but we ended up spending most our days swimming and hanging by the pool. (I also took along this book, which was great.)

Vacation Photos: Palm Springs and L.A.

And the kids made s’mores around the fire pit!

Vacation Photos: Palm Springs and L.A.

After that, we went to L.A. for six days to visit friends. We decided to split our stay between Silver Lake and Venice, so we could explore different parts of the city. Our first rental was bohemian and relaxing. We spent 99% of our time in this chill-out room with a hammock swing and plush blankets…

Vacation Photos: Palm Springs and L.A.

…at night the light was golden!

Vacation Photos: Palm Springs and L.A.

We took the boys to The Huntington Gardens one morning — their children’s garden had a maze, a prism tunnel, musical pebbles and a treehouse.

Vacation Photos: Palm Springs and L.A.

We also ate the most delicious food — we went to Forage and out for tacos with the kids, and at night, we met friends for dinner at Little Dom’s and Alimento (that chocolate budino!).

Vacation Photos: Palm Springs and L.A.

In Venice, we stayed in a beautiful home through Kid & Coe, which came with legos and scooters.

Vacation Photos: Palm Springs and L.A.

One morning, I walked over to General Store, which was fun to look around, but mostly, we spent our time…

Vacation Photos: Palm Springs and L.A.

… at the Santa Monica Pier! The boys begged to go every single day, so we ended up there three afternoons in a row.

Vacation Photos: Palm Springs and L.A.

Vacation Photos: Palm Springs and L.A.

And Toby rode his first grown-up rollercoaster. He was nervous at first but then went five more times:)

Finally, this is so random, but have you seen this spoof about the Whole Foods parking lot in Venice? The boys are obsessed with the guy (I don’t think they realize it’s a spoof:), and they sing it all the time at home. Here, Alex taped them doing their version in L.A…

“You know the deal with the Whole Foods parking lot… You know the deal with those little shopping carts they got.” Makes me laugh every time.

Vacation Photos: Palm Springs and L.A.

Not pictured, as always: early mornings, long flights, colds and fevers, jet lag, kid squabbles and a fender bender. :) But overall, it was such a fun trip with a welcome blast of sunshine. Hope you had a wonderful vacation and are looking forward to a happy new year. xoxoxo

P.S. Past California vacations, and city guides to L.A.

  1. This is exactly the kind of photo-blog style I’d love to emulate one day. I like how real and honest you’ve made it. There’s not enough of that online these days.

  2. Thank you for sharing your real experience .It seems you enjoyed a lot.I love the whole food parking lot video and the matching concept.Overall a Perfect family vacation!!

  3. Oh my gosh, the boys singing DJ Dave’s Whole Foods Parking lot is the best thing I’ve ever seen. That video is a classic (I’m a native Angeleno). You’ll have to make sure they see his “Berkeley Enough” the next time you’re in the bay area! (I went to Cal). Glad you had such a robust and diverse experience in LA!

    For reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UysN1vMkmZE

  4. We spent time on the Santa Monica Pier for the break too!

  5. Shira says...

    I would love to hear more about the “not pictured”. What do they fight about and how do you handle it? What do you do for jet lag? Etc, etc!!

  6. DJDave says...

    Well hey, this is flattering!!! I’m so glad you guys dig that video! My wife Rebecca and all her best buddies are huge fans of your blog so you can imagine the points I’ve just scored. Thanks for sharing… The vid of your two little guys warms my heart. They get it. Nailed it. Give them a high five from me. Glad you enjoyed your trip to these parts and thanks again for the nod… this makes me very HAPPY!

    -DJDave

  7. Jennifer says...

    I have a picture just like that of my son Wyatt on his first roller coaster ride at the Santa Monica Pier. Just pure joy on his face! Nothing better than that! It is my favorite picture of him. Looks like a fun trip!

  8. Martini says...

    Love Anton keeping darn good beat on that there steering wheel of his.

  9. “It’s getting real in the Whole Foods parking lot..” – I sing that every time I look for a parking spot in the Venice parking lot! It makes me laugh (because it’s so true – that parking lot is a nightmare) and as such calms me down.

  10. Barbara says...

    Joanna,

    Do you have people tell you that you look like Carly Simon? I’m dating myself but I think you resemble her so much in the lawn chair photo!

    I missed the blog but am so happy you get a break!
    Happy New Year!

  11. JK says...

    I also appreciate your ‘not pictured’ comment! I have three young boys (3.5, almost 2, & 5 weeks) and vacations, while wonderful, are a roller coaster whether we go to an amusement park or not. ;)

  12. Looking at your family photos always give me this warm fuzzy feeling. Glad you guys had a wonderful time!

  13. Chaya says...

    Looks like a wonderful family trip. I really appreciate your ‘real’ comment at the end. Too many bloggers/social media persons wouldn’t write that, and that’s the reason I keep coming back to your blog year after year. Thanks Joanna!

  14. Alice says...

    Go Toby! Love the matching pjs, doing it next Christmas, for sure!
    Happy new year to you too – hope it’s a happy healthy one x

  15. LA native here and Santa Monica is my worst nightmare (I’m obviously not a Westsider)–but I guess if you were staying in Venice it wouldn’t be so bad! And what’s a trip to LA without a fender bender? ;)

  16. Sandra says...

    Your boys are too cute! Love how into the song Anton is, with his hand gestures and drumming along! Thanks for sharing your pics and that video.

  17. These are really awesome photographs from Palm Springs and LA. I also loved the way you have featured the rental house. Hope you and your family have enjoyed the holidays a lot. Also, a very Happy New Year to you and your family.

  18. Reem says...

    i love this, and your comment at the end. so happy you all had a nice trip!

  19. Nadine says...

    That video is so good. We live in Saint Augustine, but I feel the pain at Publix near our condo & either Aldi’s. Even more random, my daughter can mimic accents & I’d beg her to do two bits: a “lady” in a Bugs Bunny cartoon who claims not to be a witch, but from Chicago & the lady on the news with bronchitis after having to leave her apartment due to smoke. Laugh out loud funny.

  20. I love the picture of the boys sitting on your lap. Reminds me of pictures you’ve shared with your mother. And I never noticed they both have the same shaped mouth…so cute! looks like a fun time! thanks for sharing. and Welcome Back, you were missed!

  21. Erin says...

    Thank you for your “not pictured” comment!! I was sitting here thinking, why don’t my vacations with small kids go this well! There are the great moments, but traveling with little guys isn’t always the “vacation” vacations used to be! When I travel with my kids (3 and 1), I say that I am on a trip (vs. vacation)!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahaha it’s definitely a trip vs a vacation with small kids! that made me lol.

  22. I’m glad you enjoyed my hometown, Palm Springs! Both the Tram and Indian Canyons are truly spectacular gems within our little desert, so next time you should definitely make it a priority! If you ever want restaurant recommendations, I’d be happy to steer you away from the typical fare and towards our best 😉

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you so much, hannah! i would love that!!

  23. I love your footnote “not pictured, as always…” It helps to bring the honesty! We went to Florida for a few days and while there was sunshine, swimming, reading books and Mai Tais, there was also broken glass, 6am flights, terrible sleep and hand-foot-mouth disease :-/

  24. Danielle says...

    Joanna, did you buy the Jesse Kamm pants?!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      awww, i couldn’t quite pull the trigger, although i really loved them!

  25. Wren says...

    I’ve always wanted to travel for the holidays, but I’m an only child and my family would NEVER be cool with it. I could still put it on the bucket list, though. :) Happy New Year! Can’t wait to see what new articles are coming forth!

  26. Hannah Avery says...

    So glad your back and you had a fun vacation. We just got back from visiting family up in Michigan over Christmas. We had all the fun and sickness too! I guess that’s how it goes! Such fun pictures!

  27. Emily says...

    If you like the Whole Foods Parking Lot video, check out my next fave: Daddy Skills. A bunch of us had major crushes on these Berkeley Jazz High guys back in the day (we over there in the slightly less cool Marin scene, Megan might remember…! also, hi Megan, sending you Sleepy Hollow nostalgia love). I like the line about the “tricked out Maclaren.”
    https://youtu.be/cvMvp7QbLUk

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahah thank you, emily!

  28. It seems that you have a great family trip. Nice pictures!

  29. Clari Hughes says...

    Anton & Toby are my new (and only) favorite rappers

  30. Amy says...

    Sand and Fog has many a clever tune!! love me some ‘Yoga Girl’ too! looks like a stellar trip! Happy New Year!

  31. It looks like you all had a wonderful trip! Selfishly, I’m glad you’re back and posting so I can browse with my coffee :)

    My favorite picture? The adults taking photos of the kiddos in their PJs. It kind of sums it all up, doesn’t it?
    Thank you for sharing!

  32. Holly says...

    Hello Joanna (or anyone on the team that has insight):

    How do you do “santa” when traveling? Does he arrive at the home base while gone or visit where you are (if so how do you lug his loot home?)

    We have a child too young to ‘get’ Santa but he will soon and we always visit family (via air travel) for the holidays.

    Thanks!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      my mother-in-law does the stockings with very small gifts (like a flashlight, an orange, etc), so she brings them to palm springs from orange county. we just tell the kids that santa knows they’re traveling and will find them! and for family gifts, we just leave room in our suitcases:)

      for our gifts to the boys (from alex and me), which are usually a few books and a toy, we’ll give them those things the day before we leave for our trip.

      hope this helps!

    • We have Santa visit where we are staying. Usually we order the gifts via Amazon and have them shipped to our destination (usually my parents’ house), wrap the gifts there, and then ship anything that won’t fit in our suitcase home. We make the grandparents ship the gifts they buy in an effort to encourage them to buy less (spoiler alert: it doesn’t work). I’m not going to lie, it’s a HUGE pain.

      Lately we’ve been considering doing Christmas Eve and morning at our house and then traveling Christmas day or the next day to visit family. That’s what we did as kids and it was great!

    • t says...

      We write a note and leave it for santa with explicit information on where to deliver our gifts. The kids have fun decorating the note and when the kids are in the car ready to go we ‘forget’ something and run back in the house and leave a quick response note from santa so that upon our return at the end of our trip there is evidence he was there.

  33. margaux says...

    thank you for that last graf. makes my family trips feel a bit more normal. ( :

  34. If you are looking for a fun idea for the next time you go to LA, you can take the boys to go see the Space Shuttle Endeavor there now! https://californiasciencecenter.org/exhibits/air-space/space-shuttle-endeavour?gclid=CPeQ7sjZqNECFQpMDQod5FME7w
    As a former space shuttle engineer (I used to work on the tiles on the outside of the orbiters), I love the opportunity to expose children to the absolute wonder of these amazing pieces of machinery. I took my cousin’s little girls to see Atlantis at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s center over the holidays too and their little minds were just blown that it had actually been to space! (And for anyone keeping count, the 3rd orbiter, Discovery, is located in D.C.).

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      wow, this is amazing! thank you, rachel!

    • Plus, the Science Center is free! You do pay $12 for parking, but the regular museum is free (iMax movies, special exhibits extra). We went with my boyfriend’s son on Monday.

  35. Welcome back!! LOVED the Whole Foods video spoof (especially the annoying guy with cayenne).
    Agree on how great it is to stay in a house/airbnb. Did that in Austin with my twin and our friend and had a great time!

    http://www.mangotomato.com

  36. It must have been wonderful to spend time with family in that way. Where you stayed in Venice looks great! And of course, Santa Monica Pier is always a good time :D

  37. HJM says...

    I think that I sing “It’s getting REAL in the Whole Foods Parking Lot” every time I pull into Whole Foods!
    Joanna, I love how your family photos always look like they could have been taken in another decade. And I mean that in a good way. So timeless and chic.

  38. Kerri says...

    We just got back from the same trip! I kept thinking I’d spot you guys running around Palm Springs (weirdly I did see two other random pseudo-celebs I follow on Instagram while we were there!). We also intended to go to Joshua tree and up the tram but once we saw it was 15 degrees up there we changed our minds pretty quickly (mostly for the sake of our 3 month old and lack of warm stuff for him and us!). Looks like you had a blast. We got married there 3 years ago and it was such a trip to sit in the garden behind Koffee with our baby (we had our morning-after breakfast there!)

  39. This is the absolute sweetest! I’m from SoCal and am so happy to see what an incredible time you had here. <3

  40. Sarah says...

    Oh my gosh Anton chiming in at the end with “the little shopping carts they got.” So great.

  41. Amy says...

    Chuckling at the “not pictured” comment at the end – we’re planning a trip to see family next month (four families staying in one house!) and I’m equally excited and tired already, haha! Glad to hear it wasn’t a serious car accident!

  42. I hope you’re framing the photo of you and the boys on the lounge chair! And I cracked up at the row of grandparents taking photos of the cousins, such a great capture.

  43. Emma says...

    These are great photos. I love reading about your vacations. Thanks for sharing with us! I also love the list of not-so-perfect parts at the end. Thanks for keeping it real :)

  44. Ramona says...

    I love the pj’s photo shoot! ;)

  45. Thank you SO much for the end of this post- I love that you always keep it real. I’ve been struggling with blogging lately, because it’s shifted so much to “perfection” all the time, so thank you.

  46. heather says...

    cracking up at that video! looked like an awesome trip – thanks for sharing!

  47. Not pictured comment is pure gold. Thanks for keeping it real. So glad you had an amazing vacation.

  48. Jessica says...

    Joanna,
    Really great to have you back posting your holiday photos. I missed reading your posts over Xmas. I look forward to reading your work this year!
    Happy New Year.

  49. Rae says...

    Love the post! I hope you watched La La Land while you were in LA, or have plans to on your next date night. <3 So good, so quintessentially "LA." You'll be transported back to the sun (yay) and traffic (boo).

    Glad you had a great vacay!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Yes!!! LOVED that movie. (Ryan gosling, sigh…;)

  50. I really appreciate the “not pictured” section.

    • Bianca says...

      I was just going to comment the same. My little family was sick over the holidays and although I told most people about the crappy, sick part, I should have mentioned the snuggling, the endless movies, the chocolate fondue desserts and all the other stuff we did at home, not rushing and just resting!

    • Katie says...

      I was completely thinking the same thing! It’s so refreshing to hear moms being honest and upfront about ALL sides of parenting, traveling, and just life in general. Thanks!

  51. The photo of you and the boys by the pool looks like something they’ll have framed in their homes when they are older – I just love the timelessness of it! :)

    • Lauren E. says...

      I had the same thought! Just gorgeous. And it could’ve been taken in the 70s, 80s, 90s, etc…

  52. Alexia says...

    Ahhh so cute!
    Just wondering, how did Toby get to sit in the cockpit? I used to do that when I was little (my dad’s a pilot) but I thought after 9/11 they got stricter with it. It’s such a fun experience for kids though, I’m glad he enjoyed!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      We walked onto the plane and the pilots just called him over! They were so sweet and gave both boys wings. (Anton was too shy to go into the cockpit:)

    • I was surprised they still allow kids into the cockpit too, but apparently as long as the plane is on the ground they’re happy to do it. It’s only when the plane is in the air that it’s a no-go. My 2 year-old got to sit in the cockpit as we boarded a Southwest flight and loved it.

  53. Claire says...

    Love the “not pictured” comment so, so much.

    • Stephanie says...

      Right?! Love that “keeping it real” moment. : )

  54. Angela says...

    The photo of you, at the top, with the boys on your lap…You look beautiful, so happy and content.

  55. Kimberley says...

    My favorite part of this whole post (outside of the adorable video of the boys) is your list of things not pictured. Having just returned from a Southern CA trip with three destinations and a 4 year old and 9 month old I can totally relate to the other stressful things that go along with all of the fun times (schlepping a pack and play, 5,000 diapers and managing naps). Looks like a great holiday trip!

  56. Sara says...

    Amazing pics! Your family is so beautiful and you all look so happy :) Thanks for the disclaimer on fevers, squabbles, fender bender and the such. I thought we were the only ones with vacations like that ;)

  57. Lee says...

    I love how you keep it real with the “Not pictured” section. Social media has made vacation – no LIFE – envy a dangerous and slippery slope. One of the many reasons I love this blog is that it isn’t always picture perfect. Thanks for being the real deal and seeing the value in it all, even the messy bits.

  58. That video is priceless! So stinkin’ cute :) Your pictures looked so fun. I really enjoy the idea of experiences over things, getting to explore some awesome places on the West Coast will be so fun to look back on. Happy New Year!

  59. Katie says...

    Oh my gosh, I love their version of the Whole Foods parking lot song!

  60. Lillie McPherson says...

    Thanks for keepin it real. ;)

  61. Michelle says...

    I love the ‘Whole Foods parking lot’! Hilarious! Especially since we live in West LA and that’s our Whole Foods. And I’m not kidding but I have a photo of my 6 year old son
    Sitting in the cockpit of a plane with the pilot that flew us over the holidays…and I think it’s same pilot! My son was awe…it was such a cool treat.

  62. Anna says...

    Love the picture of you and your gorgeous boys on the deck chair, so serene. Fender bender, what happened?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh man it was barely a bump in a parking lot (not the whole foods one:) but they still are making us call their insurance company, etc. just one of those vacation shenanigans! :)

    • Anna says...

      Argh! How irritating! What is it with vacations and car accidents? Our one and only time – touch wood – happened on vacation.

  63. Eliza says...

    Thank you for sharing the highlights of your trip! I, for one, would LOVE to see all of your “keeping it real” moments, though! :-)

  64. Amy says...

    Love the matching pjs!! Great idea!!

  65. Angela says...

    Hey there! What was the name of the place you stayed in Palm Springs? I went back on old posts but I cant seem to find it!

    I think I may go there for my weekend honeymoon :)

    Thank you!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      here it is! :) it’s funny because the rest of palm springs is mid century modern and this place bills itself as an english cottage, complete with wooden beams and fox hunting paintings :)

      https://www.vrbo.com/488101

  66. amy says...

    Welcome back. Looks like a great trip. I love the picture of Toby on the roller coaster!

  67. The “not posted” list is almost as entertaining as the pics! Love the beautiful homes you stayed in and the matching jammies, so so cute! Methinks Toby and Anton are going to have a band in a few years too…

  68. Bridget says...

    Looks like so much fun. And I loved your second to last sentence. Thanks for making it real!

  69. omg that video of the boys is TOO HILARIOUS!
    welcome back!

  70. THAT. WHOLE. FOODS. PARKING. LOT. RAP. IS. EVERYTHING.

  71. Sonja says...

    I love the aside at the end. Family vacations, perfectly imperfect. Our otherwise lovely trip to CA was plagued with teething and very early mornings. But vitamin D the old fashioned way so we’ll take it.

  72. I always enjoy hearing about your trips to my neck of the woods :) The Santa Monica pier is still magical for me. My dad and I would go every Saturday morning as a kid. We’d walk along the boardwalk, play at the beach, enjoy the pier. Some of my fondest memories!

    • Monica says...

      Shannon! I’m a Schnurr too! :) good to see more of us out there!

  73. Monica says...

    What a great family vacation! You guys are too cute.
    1. Um, tell Alex he’s not too cool to stick out his tongue in a selfie. :P
    2. In that lawn chair picture, Joanna, you look a lot like your 70’s mom pics! :)
    Happy New Year!!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahaha i’ll tell him! (and thank you!)

    • Agreed – total 70s vibe going on – in the ride picture with Anton too!

  74. Heidi says...

    Looks like a great trip! Joanna, your hair looks effortlessly gorgeous in these photos – is it the haircut, or are you using some magical products to get that Bardot look?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      you are so sweet, heidi!

      actually i do have an answer — i got this Dry Bar blow dryer at a press event and it crazily makes my hair so much fuller. it’s really nuts, even before i put in product. i never used to think blow dryers made a real difference (despite hair stylists insisting they did) but this changed my mind: http://bit.ly/2iFPT4O

    • aW says...

      joanna, could you post a picture of the haircut or the pictures you gave your hairdresser? it looks simple to do daily, the length is versatile, and i have similar hair texture.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I actually just go in and let her do what she wants — she is so amazing. Cody at Little Axe in Williamsburg. She’s a bit of a splurge but I went to someone else this summer to try to save money and my haircut was a mess that I could never get to look good, so now I’m sticking with her forever :)