Travel Back in TimeI had no idea when I ventured out on my Connected Family Fun, LA: Topanga Canyon adventure, that I would be traveling back in time. This trip is a real time warp when it comes to revisiting the 60's and 70's. I anticipated the beautiful scenery, the windy mountainous road, and the desert coastal vegetation, but the retro feel of the canyon was a darling surprise. Flowers in your hair are optional, but as my car meandered towards the ocean, I felt convinced I would land at the doorstep of The Monkee's beach house. My research actually revealed that The Monkees did live in the canyon during its heyday. I knew it! I still like to wear flowers in my hair.
Entering Topanga CanyonTopanga Cayon is located in western Los Angels County, in the Santa Monica Mountains. Families can enter the canyon from Pacific Coast Highway, just south of Malibu or off the Ventura Freeway (101), exiting Topanga Canyon Boulevard. Make sure you have a full tank of gas. There are no gas stations in the canyon and local food is a delicious option since there are no fast food joints to be found. This all evokes feelings of a time gone by. No matter from what direction you enter Topanga Canyon, however, the road is windy. So, for those of you who have little ones, and maybe even for some of the older "kids" along for the ride, consider taking the curves a bit slower. You want to be prepared for....well, you know. I want your Connected Family Fun, LA: Topanga Canyon adventure to be connecting and comfortable.
History of Topanga CanyonTopanga Canyon was named for the original peoples who inhabited the area, the Tongva tribe (a place above). Topanga Canyon began to lure, up and coming artists to its steep, shady slopes, providing much-appreciated privacy. Since the canyon is so close to the heart of the music industry, many musicians made Topanga Canyon their home. The Topanga Corral nightclub was the hottest spot in town for years but sadly did not survive two canyon fires. As you wander through the various hang-outs in Topanga Canyon, it is easy to imagine you are sharing the same watering holes where stars of yesterday gathered. Who knows, you may even run into ghosts from residents past like Jim Morrison, Bob Denver or Woodie Guthrie. More recently, the canyon has been home to performers including Alice Cooper, Neil Diamond, Mick Fleetwood and Marvin Gaye. Rumor has it that Linda Ronstadt has been spotted hiking through the canyon. I'm not so sure about the barefoot with her guitar part. There is a more insidious side to canyon lore. For further details regarding the famous and infamous history of Topanga Canyon, feel free to visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Topanga,_California.
Topanga Canyon Culture
It was advantageous that I coincidentally took my Connected Family Fun, LA: Topanga Canyon adventure on the same weekend as the annual Reggae on the Mountain Music Festival. The festival Goers gave Topanga Canyon even more of a cool, hippy feeling. I heard the music was fabulous and the festival might be something to check out in the future. Numerous other festivals are celebrated in Topanga Canyon, including the Topanga Days Country Fair, the Topanga Earth Day Festival, and the Topanga Film Festival.
Connected Famly Fun, LA: Topanga Canyon-What to do?
Topanga Canyon BoutiquesI wish that I had more time to spend in Topanga Canyon. There is much more to do there than meets the eye. Of course, there is loads of shopping. It is fun to stop along your path at various shops and boutiques. I had the most fun at Topanga Pine Tree Circle Village. I spent most of my time in the Hidden Treasure Vintage Shop. My pictures speak more than words about the good kind of shenanigans entered into here. This is a must see! There are so many more fun things for families to do in Topanga Canyon. Here is a list of 13 more activities to help plan your adventure: http://www.welikela.com/fun-things-to-do-topanga-canyon/.
Topanga State ParkTopanga State Park sounds marvelous. I am sorry that I did not have time to visit this park on my Connected Family Fun, LA: Topanga Canyon adventure. This is a must-see for next time. Topanga State Park offers beautiful hiking trails including wondrous views of the Pacific Ocean, boulder-lined paths, cliff gardens, beautiful waterfalls, sandstone formations, marine fossils, volcanic intrusions, earthquake faults and California's beautiful live oak and sycamore trees. Visit http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=629, to gather more detailed information about planning your visit to Topanga State Park.
Listening to Your Children:As parents, we often believe that we know what is best for our children. Surprisingly, this may not always be the case. As human beings, we all have our own lens through which we see the world, including assumptions we make about our kids. One of the best ways to connect with children is to listen to them with new-found ears; ears that don't jump to conclusions. On this Connected Family Fun, LA: Topanga Canyon adventure, you can create opportunities to move your listening skills from good to amazing. Take some time as you travel through the canyon in the car or as you walk through the vintage shopping areas to ask your kids questions. What do they think about everything they are seeing on this voyage back in time? When they answer, really listen with the goal of getting to know more about how your kids think. Greater understanding brings families closer together. Dr. Laura Markman, the author of "Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids," gives some great ideas about how to use your listening skills to focus on strengthening family bonds.
- After asking open-ended questions, stay silent. Let your child talk as you give nudges for them to continue like, "hmmm" or "what happened next?"
- Look into your child's eyes (if you are not driving). Kneel down to eye-level if necessary. When kids really feel seen, they are more likely to attach.
- Notice the little openings in starting a conversation. They are there more often than you think.
- Be fully present. This is not the time to educate or to share your own wealth of knowledge, which can actually make kids feel less confident and disconnected.
- Consciously acknowledge and reflect your child's feelings. This is also known as active listening. Encourage them by saying, "It seems like you are feeling....."
- Don't jump in with solutions and advice. This is a time to absorb the essence of who your child is at this moment in time. Enjoy them.
- Keep the conversation safe. If your child starts to get agitated about something, back up and reconnect.
- Manage your own emotions. Should your child tell share something that upsets you, keep calm. They need to know you can handle it. This will make you more of an askable parent when trouble hits in the future.