With so many choices of amazing hotels in LA, it’s near impossible to pick a family-friendly, close-to-it-all, worthwhile boutique experience…until now
While it’s true that LA is full of covetable hotels and swoon-worthy spots to relax for a few days (whether you’re visiting as a tourist or love to take to staycation around LA), there aren’t many properties that compare to the storied Garland Hotel, located in Studio City (technically North Hollywood but the lines are blurry here) on seven, lush, explorable acres.
If you’re looking for fun things to do in Los Angeles or a close-to-home LA getaway, this hotel, first opened by actress Beverly Garland in 1972, delivers all the family-friendly amenities. From farm-fresh food that is worth reserving a table on any given night (even if you aren’t staying at the hotel), a large, splash-worthy pool that will keep the kids occupied for hours, an outdoor game and lounge area called The Courtyard, complete with corn hole and fire pits, and a secret Universal Studios Hollywood hack that will save you loads of time and money—there’s a reason why it keeps getting rated as one of LA’s top 20 hotels.
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7 Reasons to Stay at The Garland Hotel
1. The Garland Is a Vibe
The Garland has nailed the retro styling without being cliche, and the hotel looks fab for its age—having just celebrated its 50th birthday in 2022. The lobby is warm and welcoming (a floor-to-ceiling fireplace is an obvious draw) but there are various nooks and crannies located nearby that are perfect for tucking in with the family over mocktails and a good book (or portable digital devices if you’re so inclined).
The hotel feels like an intimate boutique and channels that quintessential LA vibe that even the kids will think is downright groovy.
2. The Pool
Believe it not, not everyone in LA has a pool (including hotels) and finding one large enough to splash around is also not a given—space is a premium in LA after all despite its urban sprawl. Except, at The Garland, the pool reigns supreme here and is large enough to host a slew of people, as well as host special dive-in movies, where kids of all ages can enjoy a classic flick starting at sundown (daily in the summer, and on weekends year-round).
Parents will love easy access to the snacks and drinks Lobby Bar (lean into the theme and order the Purple Power and The Garland), and as the temperature dips, everyone can cozy up to the fireplace—extending the day into those dreamy California nights.
3. The Hotel Is Close to All Things LA
Located conveniently on Vineland St., these are just some of our favorite hot spots in the Valley for nearby exploring and shopping:
- Tujunga Ave. is a 15-minute walk or 5-minute car ride and is an adorable street full of cute boutiques, cafes, and restaurants.
- Ventura Blvd. is a 7-minute walk from the hotel and Sportsman Lodge Shops are just 10-minutes away by car.
- The Brady Brunch House (the country’s 2nd most photographed home) is just a 10-minute walk, or a 2-minute drive away from the hotel.
- Universal Studios Hollywood is 5-minutes away via car (or trolley—see more on that below!).
- Travel Town, the spot in LA for train-loving kids, located inside Griffith Park, is less than 10-minutes away by car.
4. Entertaining Programming throughout the Week
This isn’t camp…or is it? There’s so much daily programming at The Garland that you could probably spend a week here with the family, and never repeat the same activity twice. Look, camps are expensive but here, at The Garland, the whole family can take advantage of all the fun things to do, most without an added fee. Some of our favorites? Urban and art walks through the neighborhood. And of course, don’t miss the yoga classes, live music, and happy hours sprinkled throughout the day.
5. The On-Site Gift Shop Is One of the Best Gift Shops We’ve Ever Seen
A stand-out gift shop that made our California-based heart swoon, you’ll find items that have been locally sourced and California-inspired that you (best part) won’t find anywhere else thanks to the shop-worthy eye of Carrington Goodman, Beverly Garland’s daughter. This means, The Shop, as it’s known, needs to be on your go-to local birthday/holiday gift shopping list. The only bummer is that it’s not online. But believe us when we say it is absolutely worth the stop. We’re still obsessing over the Backroad Beekeeping California Wildflower Honey, and the California-themed toys, mugs, journals, and incense cones.
6. Dining at The Front Yard, The Garland’s On-Site Restaurant Gets Two-Thumbs Up
One our favorite places to go with kids in LA (even when we aren’t staying over), as well as an epic spot for take-out, The Front Yard delivers kid-friendly food along with adult-pleasing bites. The atmosphere is peak California casual—with a heavy dose of that iconic golden Calfornia setting sunshine that makes everyone look and feel good. The Front Yard is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner—and the only problem is that everything sounds so good, it’s hard to narrow it down to just one choice (which is why it’s a such a good, regular go-to spot). Most recently, we had, and highly recommend: Mary’s Chicken—a shawarma spiced chicken with a kaleidoscope of vegetables and the Beeee Yourself mocktail—a drink made up of lavender, lemon, honey, and sparkling water.Andie Huber
7. The Garland’s Universal City Hack That’ll Save You Tons of Money
The Garland has a free trolley that will take you and your crew up to Universal Studios Hollywood for free. Yep, you read that right. This offer alone will save you $70 if you were to park in the Front Gate parking lot (not to mention the time it will take to park, and then walk all the way to the entrance of Universal Studios).
And that’s not all—The Trolley also stops at the Universal City metro station, which provides easy access to Hollywood and DTLA.
The Trolley departs the hotel every hour on the hour from the hotel, starting as early as 7:00 a.m. until 10 p.m.
The Garland Hotel
4222 Vineland Ave.
Your Cheat Sheet for Having the Best Time at Super Nintendo World Universal Studios Hollywood with Kids
Of course the big draw in the Valley (and LA!) is Universal Studios Hollywood and its newest attraction, Super Nintendo World. Opened in February 2023, this is where you’ll find the biggest crowds and the longest wait times. So here’s everything you need to know about visiting Super Nintendo World before you go to Universal Studios Hollywoods to maximize your time, money, and of course, fun.
1. Download the Universal Studios Hollywood Mobile App: This must-use tool shows all the wait times for various rides and show times allowing you to plan out your day, as well as allow you to quickly pivot if one of your must-do rides, suddenly drops in wait times. Thankfully the park is relatively easy to navigate, meaning, no ride or area is that far away.
2. If Super Nintendo World is a can’t-miss on your Universal Studios Hollywood list, you have to get to the park as early as possible. Here are the ways to make sure you experience the wonderful world of Mario and friends.
- Buy the Super Nintendo World Early Access Ticket, starting at $20. This will give you access to Super Nintendo World an hour before the park opens to the general public.
- If you forgo the Super Nintendo World Early Access Ticket, get to the park when it opens, and once you enter the park, join the ‘Virtual Line’ for entry to Super Nintendo World. Here, you’ll get an assigned time to enter Super Nintendo World to play and hang out—rather than get turned away if the area is too crowded. This does not mean you get to skip the line at the Mario Kart Bowser’s Challenge attraction.
- If you and your guests aren’t set on riding the ride together, we recommend joining the Single Rider Line as you’ll most likely be able to expedite your wait time.
- If you purchase a Universal Express Pass or VIP Pass (more on that below), you can gain entry into the land without a Virtual Line reservation, but this does not expedite any wait times for the Mario Kart Bowser’s Challenge attraction.
- If you aren’t willing to wait in line for two (plus) hours, your next best bet is to hang out at the park until late at night, and see if the queue time subsides. Most of rides dramatically decreased in wait times after 6 p.m. (although the park closes anytime between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m depending on the day, so it’s still a gamble to wait at night).
Splurge Alert: If you can afford it, splurge for the Universal Express Pass or the VIP Pass. These passes allow you into fast pass lanes (except Mario Kart) throughout the park (the Express Pass is a one-time use per ride) although both allow you entry into Super Nintendo World without reservations. The VIP Pass comes with even more perks—it allows you to go in the fast pass lane an unlimited amount of times (except Mario Kart), a private tour of the backlot, valet parking, a gourmet meal along with snacks and drinks, and more.photo: Andie Huber
Sweeten a Day at Universal Studios Hollywood with Chocolate
To cap off a fabulous day at Universal Studios Hollywood, make dinner reservations at The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen—a steampunk/factory-inspired restaurant located on the Universal Studios CityWalk. It’s an easy-going dinner experience that will help wind down everyone from a great day of fun in the sun.
The experiential concept restaurant is based around Penelope and and her sidekick-robot Jacques who created a chocolate emporium to help reunite her with her family. The menu is inspired by chocolate and infuses it everywhere it can—from savory dishes like the cocoa pork tenderloin to sweet escapes like milkshakes and order-worthy sundaes. The portion sizes are generous (keep that in mind if ordering appetizers, a main, and a dessert), and the food tasted delicious—even if the stars of the show are the desserts. Keep an eye out for Penelope and Jaques who are known to walk around and chat with the guests—the cheeky and charming duo can bring a smile to even the most smile resistant.
The Garland Hotel
4222 Vineland Ave.
Editor’s note: This trip was paid for by the Garland Hotel but all opinions belong to the writer.