On the 15th Day of the PapiBlogger Family Road Trip, the Ruiz clan took a decidedly girl centric path with visits to the American Girl store and cafe in The Grove, the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a tour of famous Hollywood homes.
DOLLS FOR MY DOLLS
Our lone full day of star-studded “studdedeness” in L.A. began at the chic American Girl store located at The Grove, one of L.A.’s premier shopping meccas.
The thought of walking into a doll store on steroids made my son and I cringe at first but once you’re safely inside you realize why your wife and daughters go crazy here.
To start things off, American Girl treated us to a full course meal at their American Girl Cafe. Before dining, Elena and our toddler Briani were allowed to pick from a selection of dolls that they can eat with. The dolls were seated in doll booster chairs at the table with us. Our waitress brought everybody, including the dolls, cups and saucers. At first Jonathan was rolling his eyes and refusing to sit still but in no time even he accepted the invitation to play with a boy doll himself, at least to be a good sport. (We’re keeping those pictures for blackmail).
After a wonderful lunch it was time to visit the store’s two floors of doll galleries. What makes American Girl dolls distinct are their unique looks and attention to detail. Two types of American Girl dolls got our attention. The first one was the Historical Character dolls that are directly connected to certain types of historical periods and cultures such as the Roaring 20s or the Civil War. (In the future we will be reviewing a Latina doll called Josefina, that we actually referenced during our visit to Las Golondrinas because we visited the historical New Mexico ranch where she originated). Each of the Historical Character dolls has a wide selection of period-type clothing, accessories, books and even DVDs to pick from.
My daughter Elena selected a doll from the Just Like You collection. As the name implies, these are dolls that are made to resemble a wide range of little girls that might buy them. After Elena purchased her doll, who she calls Rebecca, we shopped for matching outfits for the doll and my daughter. We topped everything off with a salon hairstyle session for Rebecca at the American Girl hair salon. (No, I’m not joking).
HOORAY FOR HOLLYWOOD
After a couple hours of doll-shopping, we headed to the Kodak Theater area for a good-ol’ fashioned Hollywood stars tour. In most cities, these two hour tours can often seem like a drag but that’s not the case in L.A. and especially when you only have one day like we did to introduce the kids to a best of L.A. tour.
Our Armenian tour guide took us to a vantage point view of the famous Hollywood sign, the barely visible walled homes of Samuel Jackson, Eddie Murphy, Orlando Bloom, Tom Cruise, Jennifer Aniston, Nicole Ritchie and even the rented house where Michael Jackson died (a shrine outside).
What was most interesting to me was observing the neighborhoods themselves where the celebrities live and learning about such things as the distinction between Hollywood Hills and Beverly Hills (Beverly Hills is way more expensive).
The tour guide from Super Star Celebrity Home Tours (tel. 323.272.5940) also took us to three homes in one block that were the movie homes for Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Father of the Bride. Even though it’s summer, be sure to take a hoodie or wind jacket because the tour vehicle is an open air van and L.A. nights can be mildly cold.
The kids capped their star-gazing ride with a visit to the hand and foot prints of Hollywood stars in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater. The hand and foot prints are much more interesting than the plain stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame because here you can actually see, touch and compare your hand and front prints with those of many other stars of yesteryear. Jonathan and Elena compared themselves to then seven year old Shirley Temple.
DINING AT SANTA MONICA’S BUDDHA’S BELLY
Dinner at my favorite Los Angeles Asian restaurant Buddha’s Belly in Santa Monica capped our night. What makes this restaurant stand out is not only that the food is fresh, healthy and flavorful but that it is reasonably priced and kid friendly. The restaurant gives kids a Fisher Price magnet drawing board that is clean, practical and fun for the kids.
SPRINT NEXTEL ROAD TRIP TRAVEL TIP OF THE DAY
Even though Jonathan has a cellphone to communicate with us we still think it’s important to put our phone numbers and full contact information in his, Elena and Briani’s pockets every day. We do that as a precaution against the phone battery draining or as a redundancy in case they lose the cell phone. In event they need the card, all they have to do is give it to another adult and they can contact us.