Vacation Photos: LA and Palm Springs

For the holidays, we went to visit friends and family in Los Angeles and Palm Springs. We were psyched and lucky to be there for a full ten days, since next year—with the new baby—we’ll probably be more homebound. Here are a few photos, if you’d like to see…

Vacation Photos: LA and Palm Springs

First, we flew to Palm Springs to visit our families. We rented this rad house as a home base. The great thing about Palm Springs is that there are tons of design-y rental homes that are actually cheaper per person than a budget hotel. This year, our house came with a pool, hot tub and fire pit looking up at the mountains. We were pinching ourselves!

Like everyone who visits Palm Springs, we spent lots of time at the Ace Hotel. My twin sister Lucy came down from San Francisco, which was a real treat, and she and Toby quickly became inseparable.

We love eating at Cheeky’s for lunch, but this year it was a mob scene every time we stopped by. Luckily, my sister discovered the Sandwich Spot, which, while lacking in ambiance, has mouthwateringly delicious sandwiches. My favorite was the veggie sandwich on sourdough, but the meatball sandwich on dutch crunch bread was a close runner-up.

The day after Christmas, we said goodbye to our families and went to LA for a few days. We were lucky enough to stay at our good friends’ house in Santa Monica, and we stopped by the Santa Monica Pier to play Skeeball, watch the rollercoaster and eat French fries.

One morning, Toby and I got up early and went on a breakfast date to Thyme Cafe for their killer breakfast burrito.

Another day, we went to Forage in Silver Lake for lunch. We had a solid plan to share a burger, until it arrived…and Toby realized it didn’t come with fries. Heartbreak!

Our final afternoon, we went to the Stanley Kubrick exhibit at LACMA. Shockingly, the security guard let Toby press the keys of Jack Nicholson’s typewriter from The Shining!
My favorite part was getting a behind-the-scenes peek at movie poster drafts, covered with scribbled critiques and edits. It reminds you how hard the process is.

While less impressed with the Kubrick exhibit, Toby did love this outdoor interactive sculpture with more than 2,000 yellow tubes that felt like cooked spaghetti.

Finally, we drove back to Palm Springs to meet friends for New Year’s Eve. We stayed together in this awesome house (seriously, the rental houses in Palm Springs are nuts), and spent lots of time relaxing at home, eating chips and olives, and playing Chinese Checkers.


At night, we’d hire a sitter and go to dinner: once to Norma’s and once to Melvyn’s, which felt straight out of Frank Sinatra’s 1960s. The waiters even sauteed the Steak Diane tableside!

The final morning of our trip, Toby and I made one last dash to the Ace Hotel. Crazily enough, we ran into my friend and photographer Anna Wolf, who busted out her camera. What a fun surprise to have an impromptu photo shoot! (The top two photos of this post, clearly, are hers:)

Overall, it was a wonderful trip. (Not pictured: early mornings, random tantrums, road-trip freak-outs, haha.) We miss you already, California!

(Top two photos by Anna Wolf; and rest by our family and friends.)

  1. Thanks for sharing – also, nice photos! This looks like a great place for a vacation. With the different family vacation spots, it’s hard to choose just one!

  2. Awe, tell Toby that’s exactly how I feel when the burger doesn’t come with fries.

  3. what a fun way to spend your holiday vacation! living in LA, Palm Springs is our regular spot for quick getaways and any time we travel with our family or friends we rent a house instead of staying at a hotel. every house we’ve rented has been outrageously gorgeous. so fun!

  4. 1. Thank you for the “Not pictured” part- I was starting to feel bad about our vacations (tantrums, etc)
    2. Toby’s reaction to no french fries! I looooove it. My sentiments exactly.
    3. Those houses! They are to die for!

  5. I think my friends stayed in that Palm Springs rental house for their girls’ weekend!

  6. I’m curious-how’d you find your sitter for the nights you went out to dinner? Just a referral from friends? A service?

  7. Love the house, love the Toby cry over the fries and everything about your blog!

  8. Question for you! The first PS house listing says no children allowed — not possible, is it?!?

  9. Great pictures! I have been all over SoCal, but still have to visit Palm Springs!

  10. He’s such a little boy now, not a baby anymore! It’s been fun seeing him grow :) And in just a few months you’ll have a brand new little face to share! Can’t wait.

  11. Lovely photos. Thanks for sharing. Makes me want to visit Palm Springs ASAP. I’ve lived in LA from NYC for the past 11 years and have only been to Palm Springs once! Shame on me.

  12. That photo of you and Toby sharing fries might be the cutest ever.

  13. I love that photo of you with our two boys! So so sweet! It was such fun to see them playing together again and to see how much has changed since Hudson was just a little blob at Toby’s feet!

  14. adorable.

  15. I woke up this morning and read your latest blog post, and I have been thinking all day that I should write you a comment and tell you how much I appreciate your blog! I have been reading for a while, and I just love how I always end up spending an hour browsing through old posts, seems like I always find something that I haven’t read. Keep up the good work. ;) And congarts on the new baby! Greetings from Copenhagen.

  16. great pics! the house you rented looks amazing by the way… and I loved the pic of your son crying because the burguer didn’t come with fried chips :) thanks for sharing such personal pics with us

  17. I love Palm Springs my little family also loves the Ace. We spent my birthday there this past year and had the room with the outside fireplace. So romantic and beautiful. So grateful it’s only a drive away from Los Angeles.

    Looks like you had a great Christmas holiday! I love that photo of Toby crying because he didn’t get fries. It’s so, so precious!!!


  18. I love your blog! I started reading it not long ago. I enjoy keeping up on the east coast happenings. I live in Santa Barbara, so it’s nice to see what’s going on out in that direction.

  19. thank you again for all these sweet comments:)

  20. stephanie, you are so sweet! thank you:) i’ve lived in nyc my whole adult life (i moved her six months after graduating from college, after saving up all my pennies). we sometimes daydream about living elsewhere: say, LA or San Francisco or even England since many of my relatives are there. but in the end, we just really love new york, as hard, expensive and noisy as it is! :)

  21. Candelaria, we always look on three sites: airbnb, homeaway and vrbo. palm springs is full of amazing places that are shockingly affordable; the only hard part is choosing your favorite:)

  22. gillian, haha, i noticed that too! i don’t remember him rolling around the suitcase, but that sounds about right!

  23. hannah, thank you!!! anna wolf is SO talented. it was totally amazing to have an impromptu shoot with her!!

  24. sarah, my jacket is from this french shop in the west village from a couple years ago. it’s not waterproof, but it’s perfect for those in-between fall days when not too cold, but you need something to cover you up. ill try to remember the name of the shop!

  25. ummm that rental house is ridiculous! and toby is getting so big :) looks like you guys had an AWESOME vacay!

    xx, kara

  26. soooo enjoyed this.

    what a house!!!

    so glad you all had the chance to visit loved ones, eat great food, relax, and just be.

    Hugs From My Heart

  27. The Kubrick exhibition looks good, Stanley is my favourite director!
    I would loved to have visited that!

  28. Wow, Toby and Alex have the exact same smile :)

    So cute!


  29. Lovely family, cool pictures and awesome photography. :)

    Virtual Games

  30. That photo of you and Toby in the pool is gorgeous. Blow it up and frame it!

  31. Where did you find the awesome rentals in Palm Springs? We go often enough with family, it would make more sense to rent a house than to get all the rooms we usually have to get. Thanks.

  32. the desert seems like such a serene place to spend the holidays, beautiful photos! :)

  33. I would cry too if I couldn’t have fries with my burger, hehe. My husband and I haven’t taken a “family vacation” since having our son, now 13 months. We want to but the whole process seems a bit daunting. These photos might make it happen sooner than later, thank you for sharing!

  34. What lovely photos and memories! I love that y’all want to an art museums. (I worked in them, and now I am art teacher in a classroom setting)… I take my kiddos all the time.

    Hilarious that he cried over fries – as much as we keep Max’s food healthy…he LOVES FRIES… what is up with that? (They are really good, I must admit).


  35. jm says...

    What a wonderful post and amazing vacation! Love the lack-of-fries freakout!

  36. So fun! Love seeing pictures of you on my side of town! Isn’t the ACE fun?! I’d love to own a schnazzy palm springs weekend home one day!

  37. looking through all of these photos i was thinking how well-behaved toby seems. and i was thinking, “i’m not so sure my little guy would be so well-behaved on such a long trip.” of course, photos are just snap shots, i get that. but i loved how, at the end, you pointed out the little things that all parents deal with when traveling with little ones. thank you for that :)

  38. So there’s also a Sandwich Shop (same logo; I assume same sandwiches) in Santa Monica just a bit east of Thyme on Ocean Park. Yum!

  39. Fun! I hope you got to check out the “Metropolis II” exhibit (an awesome model of a city with toy cars and trains racing all through it) while at LACMA, when I went there were toddlers laying all over the floor gazing in wonder :)

  40. Toby is truly a heartbreaker. I showed my husband the fries pic, since it depicts exactly how we feel in the same situation. And you, pretty bikini!!!!

  41. that first photo of toby is just adorable. also – is that little toby practicing with his rolling suitcase in the nighttime house shot? also just adorable. :)

  42. thanks for all these lovely comments!!!

  43. christine, the duane house is actually owned by my friend’s dad, which is how we discovered it in the first place. (fun fact: his daughter is sharon montrose, who does those amazing animal photographs). so maybe he made an exception for us? or maybe if you ask him and tell him that your children are a certain age or well behaved or whatever, that he will be okay with it? good luck!!!

  44. SQC, for the time change, we actually just adjust him to “clock time” right away by serving him meals on California time, pushing him to stay away for a later nap and bedtime, starting the bedtime routine on California time, etc. i was really, really nervous about the time change the first year we went to california, but surprisingly he has always adjusted to the time in the first day or two. i think little kids’ bodies follow the sunlight pretty well. another thing we did is have the room be very very dark (but hanging blankets on the windows!) so that the morning light wouldn’t wake him up early. hope this helps!! ps. we loved the sleep book The SleepEasy Solution, and it talks about traveling to new time zones a little bit.

  45. jen, haha, it felt balmy to us compared to NYC!

  46. sara, good question, too! hmmm, i’m not sure if palm springs has any homes with fences around the pools (it’s kind of a pool-obsessed place:) but you might look on homeaway or vrbo and search for “kid-friendly” listings and see if you can find any. another option is that you could find a home that has the pool in the backyard, and a nice green front yard on a quiet street or cul-de-sac, so you can have them run around in the front yard and only take them by the pool when you’re both there. oh! another idea (depending on your twins’ age) is to get Puddle Jumpers (those arm bands) — they are awesome. we got them for toby at the end of our trip, and we felt soooo much more relaxed at the pool. they keep their heads above water, and let them swim around on their own. you can order from walmart, target, etc. hope this helps!!

    • Also, the VRBO listing for your rental say “children not allowed”…any tips on the exemption for Toby?

  47. Madeline, good question…I don’t think so…we look different enough, and i think babies know you by your smell and all of that:)

  48. Your trip look amazing! Glad you had so much fun =)

  49. I was just wondering if Toby ever confuses you and your sister? I’ve always been curious about that..

  50. we were looking into renting a house but were worried about finding one that had a pool but a fence for safety (we have young twins who are a handful to keep track of). Do you have any tips on finding a child safe rental?

  51. Ha ha I love how you mentioned what’s not pictured – it’s good sometimes to remind us that the bloggers don’t have a perfect life, they’re just like everyone else :) still, with a loving husband, beautiful child and a second one on the way – you’re living my dream life!
    all the best, xo

    • I second this! What a relief to read that you do experience
      Crying toddlers and tantrums. I love your blog but was beginning to Feel sick with jealously of your perfect life! Thankyou for keeping it real!

  52. Knowing how cold it was here in LA over the holidays, I am shocked to see you in bathing suits. We are so weak when it comes to “cold” here:) Bravo!

  53. My favorite childhood memories were of going to see my grandparents for Christmas every year…what lovely memories these will be for all of you!! :)

  54. oh my gosh, that last picture is so cute. love toby’s engineer stripe pants! he looks like a little man now!

  55. just curious- the duane house where you stayed says that no children are allowed. i would love to take my family there; how did you get around that? :X

  56. Good lord, that house! And that IS a stunningly good price for staying there. I’ll have to file it away for when I finally make my Palm Springs dreams come true.

  57. What a fun vacation! We are planning a family trip to Palm Springs in March, and I am really looking forward to it. You look amazing! And the fact that you were pregnant and rocking a white bikini?! Wow!

  58. Love the rental house – looks like it was an amazing place to stay!

  59. What do you do about the time difference for Toby’s naps and bedtime while on the West Coast? We have lots of friends and my two sister-in-laws on the West Coast, but also have an 18 month old and one on the way so I am freaked out about visiting with the time difference. I don’t want to screw up our daughter’s sleep schedule. Thanks in advance for any advice!

  60. My favorite part is the crying over french fries. SOO a toddler reaction…which is part of why I love ’em so. Adults would be disappointed, children let the emotions flow. Looks like a great trip.

  61. LK says...

    I grew up in Los Angeles and my parents still live there (my sisters and I have since dispersed) and this was the first Christmas we didn’t spend there. My parents took us to London, which was amazing, but it was really weird not to be in LA for the holiday. It looks like you had a wonderful time!!!

  62. I recognize that baby! Hudson!! Sounds like a lovely trip.

  63. Wonderful to see! I must rent a house there. It´s perfect since we have three kids…Great idea! Caroline

  64. I am only a hop, skip and a jump away from palm springs. I need to get down there with my sister asap!

  65. hats off to you for your perfectly pale skin! like you, I’m quite fair and always love to see other delicate maidens being true. winter white rules!

    ~ d.

    post script: photo 1: those CHEEKS! to die.

  66. Great tip on the rentals! Thanks! I must admit I have stayed in Santa Monica for 4 years but missed Thyme, I must try it when I am visiting LA next.

  67. Awesome that you checked out Forage! Hopefully Toby wasn’t too bummed and hates it forever now. It’s owned and run by the family of a dear friend of ours, but we’ve still been meaning to go check it out when we visit LA!

  68. who is your jacket by? Is it rainproof?
    also your family looks lovely!

  69. Love the photos! I’m taking notes on places to eat… I’m going to be there for three weeks in early March!

  70. I LOVE the Toby french fry one. I think that’s how we all feel Toby!

  71. Looks glorious! Thanks for sharing.

  72. Love the photos, love Palm Springs. We got married there in 2011. Couldn’t imagine a more relaxing getaway!

  73. That pic of Toby is priceless…:) Poor thing! Love the pics! xoxo

  74. The photo of Toby crying over the french fries made me laugh. I have a three year old and we live on the coast. It always amazes me how you can be in a beautiful setting, eating delicious food and something like their macaroni touching their sliced apples will send them over the edge. Ahh motherhood–if we didn’t laugh at it, we wouldn’t survive. Thanks for sharing your vacation!

  75. It doesn’t get much worse than ordering a burger and not getting fries! I feel ya, Toby!

  76. I want to pack my bags and go there right away!!! =) I’m so jealous of Toby getting to press the keys!! So Cool!! =)

    Ergo – Blog

  77. mm says...

    what are your glasses again? 8)

  78. I’d cry if my burger didn’t come with fries too!

  79. i want to live your life. your family is beautiful.

  80. Fun!! I live in LA, and I’ve been meaning to go to Palm Springs, but still haven’t done it…this year’s the year! Great pics (that house you were in for NYE is INSANE!)

  81. Reading this post makes me realize how little I take advantage of living close to both the locations you visited. I think a day trip to Palm Springs is going to be in my near future! Thank you for sharing! :)

  82. So funny, my boyfriend and I had pretty much the EXACT itinerary over the holidays, down to the rental house with the firepit, and eating at Norma’s, and going back and forth to LA, and the photo booth at the Ace. We beat the Cheeky’s scene by getting there at 8 on the nose one morning- and the entire inside of the restaurant was already full!! So we sat outside with the heat lamps. But it was worth it. Surprised I didn’t run into you! All my blog recaps of our Palm Springs/LA trips are here Great recap and the picture of your oh-so-slightly pregnant belly in the bathing suit is too cute! xoxo happy new year

  83. What a great trip to have with your family of three before you become four! I always admire how much travelling you guys do with Toby, I am not as brave with our two little ones (yet!).

  84. Awwww!!! Toby crying at the lack of chips reminds me of my little one. Looks amazing, my brother may be going out to Palm Springs (from England) with his young family to work, I will forward this on to them… Am sure they will be pleased to hear the news about the rental houses!! Lovely post, Thanks!

  85. Joanna…what if you have twins??? :) Also, I hope this isn’t mean, but I have to say the shot of Toby bawling over absence of fries made me laugh. The horror!