There are so many reasons to visit California!
There are the sunny skies, relaxed and friendly people, and then, of course, there is the legendary entertainment. Thank you to Visit Burbank for sponsoring this post.
We all want to experience a taste of the entertainment world and there is no better place to experience that than Burbank! We spent a cool 48 hours in Burbank last week and packed in more family fun than I thought possible. You won't believe all there is to see, and of course eat in Burbank for families! Burbank is the ideal place to stay when visiting Los Angeles, it offers the quintessential SoCal vacation.
Before I get into all of that, I first need to share how easy it is to get here. Since we are located in SoCal, we just drove up, but those of you that are located farther away will be interested to know that Hollywood Burbank Airport is located right in the middle of everything you could possibly want to do in the area and is a very easy airport to navigate. There are even non-stop flights from many airports across the country. When traveling with kids, we know how important getting to your vacation spot is, and Burbank makes it easy to get here from both plane and car! While it is the Media Capitol of the World, it is about more than entertainment. There is so much to do in the city from dining, shopping, and even hiking, plus is close to LA’s top attractions!
Back to our adventure. As soon as we arrived in Burbank, we went exploring and learned that there are four distinct neighborhoods districts in Burbank including Magnolia Park, Media District, Downtown Burbank and the Airport District that all offer unique experiences.
We stayed in the Airport District at the Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport which is perfect for families like ours with spacious rooms and amenities like a swimming pool, restaurants, coffee bar and more. It is also right next to the airport and close to everything we wanted to do. It just underwent a huge update! Burbank features other hotels options to fit every taste and budget.
After we took the quick drive to explore the area, we were deep into vacation mode and it didn't take Emmy long at all to find the pool and really, no So Cal vacation is complete without a dip in the water, right?!
We also enjoyed a couple meals in our hotel restaurant so that we were fueled up before each day's adventure!
It was great to have a good home base to explore from and we discovered, not too far from our hotel, and also in the Airport District, is West Coast Customs. Yes, it is the real one from the TV show! When we were there, they weren't filming but it was still a thrill to see some pretty amazing cars up front. You can look through the windows into where they customize the cars. I've even heard that it isn't uncommon to run into a celebrity or two here. It is free to enter so be sure to add this to your list.
Another part of Burbank we enjoyed that became one of our favorite places was the Downtown District.
This is where we enjoyed the majority of our meals over our quick vacation. There are over 100 different places to eat in this area alone and it was paradise! We loved walking up and down the safe, clean streets. Burbank is so walkable!
We couldn't decide between tacos, sandwiches, pizza, sushi and about 50 other options. We weren't alone, and everyone was having the same issue. Where do you eat when everything looks so good?!
Pizza and salad ended up winning the first day.
Then we had ice cream right after. We saw a lot of gluten free and vegan options too!
After pizza and ice cream, we headed to Ikea. This is totally not a traditional vacation activity, but this one is the BIGGEST in the USA, so we had to see it. They weren't kidding, it was huge. Em loved leading the way. You have to see it for yourself though. I can't even describe all the twists and turns it took for us to get out. We stopped for loganberry juice and then kept on going!
The next day we were back to the Downtown District again….this time for sandwiches at Ike's. I am still thinking about the food there. It was so good and like the day before, it was shockingly affordable.
Which brings us to another culinary delight, this time in the Magnolia District.
On our second day, we stopped in The Magnolia District of Burbank which has a collection like I've never seen before of unique shopping and dining options.
Including Porto's. We were told we couldn't visit Burbank without eating at Porto's, and the advice was sound! In Yelp’s guide to food greatness for 2016, Porto’s Bakery in Burbank ranks as the #1 place to eat in the US!
The desserts alone thrilled us, and they also had strong coffee, pastry and cafe options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Really though, it doesn't matter what time of day it is, you need to eat here when you visit. Trust me!
Em was pretty impressed with the croissant the size of her head! She got a few more to go and they didn't last long. Nobody could stop eating them!
We didn't have as much time as we would have liked to enjoy the shopping in the Magnolia District because we needed to keep moving to enjoy more of Burbank. Even with the limited time that we did have, we loved the wide variety of shops, ranging from vintage to hip and everything in between. Quite a few stores sold clothes that were worn in movie and shows, along with some pretty amazing shops with world class makeup too. But, the big hit of the day was the year-round Halloween stores. Maddie had this one in particular on her list to see for years. We checked this big guy off our travel list with huge smiles.
I would recommend parking by Porto's and then cruising up and down the streets surrounding it in this district on foot when you visit. Stop and shop as you like and enjoy some coffee and food as you please. This area opens a bit later, around 10 or 11 am and doesn't stay open too late, so it is perfect for a day of fun before you head elsewhere for the evening. You could easily spend the whole day here, or maybe even two!
Not to be forgotten is the Media District and our next stop in our Burbank adventure!
It is home to entertainment giants like Warner Bros. Studio and Disney. This is probably what Burbank is famous for, but that is changing because there is so much to offer for visitors. I still think no trip to the area is complete without some entertainment magic, so we took a tour of the backlot by going on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood! If we had even one more day to spend in the area we would have also sat down for a live, free TV show taping. There are a lot of shows that tape here and you can claim tickets for a number of the shows online and then go to the lot and watch the shows tape live. We are definitely coming back to do that too soon!
The Warner Bros. Studio Tour we took lasted about two hours, but we stayed longer at the end to explore more. It is best to buy your tickets for this ahead of time and be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes because you get to actually walk the lots at different spots on the tour. There are also a lot of photo opportunities so bring your camera!
On the tour, you are carted around to each spot to see more areas!
There were a lot of really cool moments and it was fascinating to see how the whole lot is camera ready. They film on pretty much every piece of the lot depending on their needs!
Another really cool thing on the tour is getting to go into the prop rooms to see everything they can pull from!
We even got to tour the Ellen stage!
Maddie and Em were so excited to see all the Harry Potter memorabilia!
But the biggest thrill was being able to sit and have their pictures taken on the Friends couch. Friends is still one of Maddie's absolute favorite shows!
I was pretty captivated by the special effects and we found that there was something that each one of us loved about the tour.
If you find yourself short on time during your stay in the area it is good to know that the official tour lasts 2 hours, but if you are like us and can spare a few more moments, plan for double. After the formal tour is over you are given the opportunity to learn more and explore. We spent almost another 2 hours in this section before going back to the main area where our car was. Parking is also really easy in a pay lot across the way.
After 48 hours in Burbank, we knew that wasn't nearly enough time.
We really needed at least double that amount, if not more. There were a lot of other things we wanted to do, including outdoor activities like hiking, golfing, and horseback riding. Especially the horseback riding. I would never have imagined that you could do that in Burbank. I guess that just means we need to go back again soon!
Are you planning a summer vacation?