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Uncovering the best family holidays

Southwest, USA

Thanksgiving On The Road – Home Away From Home in Los Angeles

I like Thanksgiving.

Heralding from Australia, I can’t say I’ve got heart-warming childhood memories of family get-togethers on Thanksgiving Day. It was just another normal day Down Under. But there’s something about the spirit of this holiday which transcends cultures and countries. A universal understanding that a grateful heart is a happy one. And this particular day is a perfect time to stop and reflect on the reasons we have to be grateful.

And eat a mountain of turkey.

I’m grateful FOR this turkey (and not having to cook it)


Squeezing In Thanksgiving Day

We only had 3 days in Los Angeles. It was sandwiched between a 2-week road trip in Florida and a 15-day cruise to Hawaii. There wouldn’t be any time to prepare a sumptuous banquet, let alone stuff a giant turkey. But we were determined to celebrate an extended Thanksgiving Day, Aussie style.

Fortunately, we found just the right spot to celebrate this occasion - Omni Los Angeles Hotel at California Plaza.


Thanksgiving Day Feast

Omni Los Angeles Hotel is conveniently located in downtown LA and each year hosts a unique Thanksgiving brunch. For just $48 per person ($25 for children 7-12 yrs) you can indulge in all-you-can-eat Thanksgiving dishes (yep, including roast turkey), seafood, salads, dessert and bottomless mimosas.

But my favourite part? No cleaning up afterwards!

The brunch was situated in Grand Café, with seating options inside and outside on the balcony. The dining area featured a TV with live coverage of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. This added to homey seasonal spirit and elicited plenty of oohs and aahs from the kids. We really enjoyed this quality family time and shared thoughts about what we were grateful for.

Whether you’re travelling through Los Angeles on Thanksgiving Day or just want a beautiful Thanksgiving feast without hours of preparation (or maybe just want to escape your family), this is a clever choice for both parents and kids alike.

Pancakes with Nutella and fresh raspberries? Sure, why not!


What To Do In Los Angeles For Thanksgiving

With full bellies, it was time to hit the city. With so many things to do around Los Angeles, we wanted to combine a few iconic sights with quality family time. Here’s my Thanksgiving recommendations:


1. Griffith Observatory

Address: 2800 E Observatory Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90027, USA

The drive out to Griffith Observatory only took about 25 minutes on the 101. I figured most locals would be at home gorging on roast Turkey with their families. The logic seemed sound. But once we got there it looked like half of LA had the same idea. Still, the views of the city and Hollywood sign were amazing.


2. Knott’s Berry Farm

Address: 8039 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90620, USA

45 minutes southeast on the 5, our next stop was one of California’s best known theme parks. Knott’s Berry Farm has so many rides we couldn’t fit them all in one visit. Mia (7 at the time) fearlessly took on any roller coaster – nothing was too big or too scary. Even I was too chicken to go on the Xcelerator, which reaches a speed of 82 miles/hr in 2.3 seconds! But Mia made it look like a walk in the park. See the video below for a taste. You can’t come to LA without experiencing Knott’s Berry Farm – the sky-high reputation is well deserved. 

Xcelerator at sunset


3. Queen Mary

Address: 1126 Queens Hwy, Long Beach, CA 90802, USA

Every year the Queen Mary in Long Beach puts on “Chill” – a winter wonderland filled with family fun. In addition to fair rides, our kids loved exploring the whimsical Alice In Winterland, ice tubing, ice skating and more.

The iconic cruise liner also offers year-round attractions like a fun 4D movie experience, miniature ship models, and historical re-created ship interiors. The self-guided tour brought to life the ship’s colourful history, offering plenty of time to explore the decks. Our kids favourite part was trying out 3rd class sleeping cots.

If you want to find out what it’s like staying on-board the Queen Mary, read this article.

Queen of Hearts in Alice in Winterland
Trying out what 3rd class used to be like


Getting Around

LA is definitely a driving city. We hired a Mazda CX-9 which provided plenty of room - enough to comfortably fit 7 passengers, but small and nimble enough to zip around narrow city streets. The interior feels like a class above, whilst the 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system kept the tunes rolling… California style.

(While I don’t have any photographic evidence, just imagine me wearing cool shades, windows rolled down, cruising the streets and Gangsta’s Paradise at max volume)


Where To Stay In Downtown Los Angeles

We stayed in a Club Room at Omni Los Angeles Hotel at California Plaza for 3 nights. Club Room perks included access to the exclusive Club Lounge, serving up a delicious continental breakfast, evening cocktails, desserts and snacks. Staff were always friendly and helpful.

The central location was a winner, walking distance to many attractions such as the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall and The Broad art museum. Less than 10 minutes’ walk southwest along S Olive St, brought us to the playground at Pershing Square where the kids burned off their Turkey brunch in delight.

Complimentary welcome goodies in room
City views at night from Club Lounge
Continental breakfast in Club Lounge
Hotel entrance
Walt Disney Concert Hall… just down the road

Tip: While the hotel’s Wi-Fi service is paid, if you join their loyalty program Select Guest® (free to register), you score free Wi-Fi.

The Verdict

This was our first Thanksgiving where all the preparations were “outsourced”, and I can confidently declare it as a winner. It’s true, I’ve got plenty to be grateful for in my life, and this experience in Los Angeles is definitely one of them.

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