Duke loves airplanes. It’s how [my husband, Bill Rancic, and I] decorated his nursery in Chicago. Santa Monica Airport has a little viewing deck where you can watch private planes fly in and out and hear the air traffic controllers telling planes how to land. There’s an airplane museum where Duke goes into an actual cockpit. There’s even an expert who talks him through everything while Duke pushes buttons, and they turn it on so you can hear noises. It’s really cool!
I’m not vegan, but my coworkers played a trick on me! The woman who brought us there didn’t tell us it was vegan, but I thought it was delicious. They have meatballs and chicken parmesan! We realized halfway through the meal that it was vegan. I’m like, do I tell Bill it’s vegan? I don’t think he’d want to go if I did, so I’ll trick him. The crab cakes are also excellent, and the lasagna is really, really good.
I love the ambiance. It’s a beautiful room. It’s great for a date night or business dinner, and it has good people watching. What’s nice is that you don’t feel like you’re on top of the table next to you, but there’s still energy. And it’s not loud; you can still hear each other perfectly. I have a wine called XO, G, and I had a little launch party there in their Wine Cave. The place is great to have private parties and and dinners.
It’s an indoor trampoline park, and it’s a fabulous, different activity for kids to do. We love going on the weekends. We’re the first ones there when they open. At first I thought, am I really going to bring my kid to a place where they’re jumping all over each other and hurting each other? But they have people constantly watching, and no more than one person per square in the grid. It works out.
Griffith Park Train Rides is another thing we like to do with Duke, with cousins, or with friends. You go and you’re looking at old trains and railroad tracks, and the kids can get on and ride. It’s really, really cute.
We love to go and sit outside of the Italian restaurant or to sit by the railing while Duke watches the fountain and all of the action. We’ll go to the Barnes & Noble and head upstairs to the great section of toys. We sit on the ground, open and read books, and play with toys. It kind of reminds me of my own childhood, going to libraries.
I know this sounds morbid, and I hate anything to do with death and dying, but you know that cemetery where Marilyn Monroe is buried? I love that cemetery. I take Duke strolling there sometimes, and it’s beautiful. I like reading the passages or poems on headstones, and sometimes I’ll say a little prayer. It’s a very peaceful part of the city. That lot, the way the sun hits it and the way the breeze passes through it, there’s something very magical about it.
It’s fabulous. Maybe even the best kept secret in Hollywood. They have the best food; We get these amazing burgers—I think it’s a truffle burger. It has bacon on it, and it’s so good. The fact that you can recline a chair into an almost-bed, enjoy the burger, order the hummus and pita dip, have glass of wine—we’ll put the baby to bed and we’ll walk to the movie theatre and it’s great.
Duke goes there and he runs around in his little bathing suits and splashes around in the water while fountains squirt up. They have these gorgeous slides, too. It’s a very clean, nice, well-kept park, and nice people go there. It’s great if you’re down on the West Side and want to bring your kid to a good park.
All of their baked goods are excellent. There’s a bar area in the back, and they’re so sweet: we’ll bring Duke back there and they’ll let him make a pizza. They’ll give him the dough and ask him what kind he wants to make. I love finding things in L.A. that make it feel like the Midwest. That whole homey approach makes it feel like family. Their pizzas are incredible. The one I had the other day was bacon and butternut squash. And then there’s the cookies, which we always get to-go. Let me tell you, the cookies are where it’s at. Try the salty one. And Bill always gets their English muffins. They’re the size of your head. Forget grocery store English muffins—once you try these, you’ll never eat the grocery store ones again.
Photographs courtesy (in order): (7) wikipedia.org; (9) tongvapark.squarespace.com. All other photographs courtesy facebook.com.