West and I live in the Cahuenga Pass, so we often find ourselves heading toward Pasadena, Glendale, and other points in northeast Los Angeles (less traffic than heading into the city). For us, the Americana at Brand easily trumps the Grove in the Rick Caruso development grudge match (which I may have just invented in my own head). Americana is bigger and has a decent playground, plus they offer a lot of good dining deals for kids. And, of course, there’s the well loved trolley. They also have a semi-secret room behind the concierge lobby with chalkboards, building blocks and a TV playing kids movies like Ratatouille and Finding Nemo; this feels like air-conditioned heaven during the summer. Private nursing rooms, a bottle-warming station and dedicated family restroom are located in the same area – Caruso’s development team really though of everything.
Every Tuesday from 11am to 1pm, the mall hosts Kids Club. They set up a stage and canopy-shaded seating area on the spacious lawn and visitors can watch kids’ bands play for free. Earlier this week, we were lucky enough to catch Rhythm Child, a funky duo that hands out drums and shakers to the audience so everyone can join in the music-making. We picked up a coupon booklet at the Kids Club table set up nearby, which is loaded with pretty great discounts at Americana’s stores, restaurants and movie theater. After the performance, West played for a while on the playground, and then we had lunch together at Granville Cafe – it, like several other restaurants and food stands does a buy-one-adult-meal-get-a-kid’s-meal free offer on Tuesdays.
The Grove holds its Kids Club at the same time on Thursday mornings with the same kids’ bands rotating through the schedule. It’s a little more cramped than the Americana performances, however, and – at least as of this writing – they don’t have as many good dining offers on Kids Club days.