Los Angeles is an ideal place to vacation with children, because the weather is often pleasant and there are a million places–both natural and man-made–to visit. The only downside is traffic, and it is almost guaranteed that you will need to spend a good amount of time driving to get from sight to sight. Plan accordingly by visiting sights by neighborhood and avoiding driving during rush hour. Rather than pop back to the hotel at 3pm, take a lemonade break at shady cafe or go into a neighborhood library or bookstore for a spell. Remember to wear comfortable walking shoes and to stay hydrated while exploring this fascinating city.
No guide to the region is complete without a nod to Disneyland, which is actually in Anaheim. However, Disneyland requires a day’s commitment, because the lines are long in high season. There are many other theme parks as well, such as the adjoining Disney’s California Adventure, the thrill rides at Six Flags Magic Mountain, Knott’s Berry Farm, the tropical-themed Six Flags Hurricane Harbor and Universal Studios Hollywood. Smaller children appreciate the boardwalk amusements at Santa Monica’s Pacific Park. A bit further away are LEGOLAND and Sea World.
You could spend a week at this massive green space and not hit every attraction. Griffith Park is an uncultivated tangle of wilderness which you can navigate through miles of walking, cycling and horseback riding trails. The Griffith Observatory houses a planetarium and discovery museum. On the park’s east side is The Los Angeles Zoo and the Autry Museum of Western Heritage. Preschoolers and young children love Travel Town Transportation Museum with interactive exhibits and models of transportation. The younger set also enjoys the Griffith Park Pony and Wagon Rides and the Griffith Park & Southern Railroad.
To visit California and skip going to the beach would seem criminal but take heed that water quality is not pristine. For walking, head to Manhattan Beach. For playing in the sand and a pier full of entertainment, go to Redondo Beach. For the funky bohemian vibe, Venice Beach is tops. Marina Beach, with the nickname Mother’s, boasts no surf and a pirate ship for climbing. The coastside Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is a great way to learn more about the surrounding beach habitat. Exhibits here show the marine biodiversity of the kelp forest, the mudflats, tide pools and the open ocean.
Get your camera ready to shoot the great sights of Los Angeles. Walk the Hollywood Walk of Fame or take a movie star tour. Children will find interesting art and objects at the Los Angeles Country Museum of Art, The Norton Simon Museum, The Huntington and The Getty Center for art. Playgrounds, green spaces and gardens abound, among them Descanso Gardens, Temescal Gateway Park and Pasadena’s Eaton Canyon. One of the more fun neighborhoods to tour is Olvera Street, dedicated to Los Angeles’ Latino heritage and featuring Chicano murals, Aztec dancing in the public square and excellent souvenir shopping.