Los Angeles with Kids

Los Angeles, the City of Angels, offers a plethora of family-friendly activities, attractions, and experiences that are sure to captivate both kids and adults. From world-renowned theme parks to interactive museums, vibrant outdoor spaces, and child-friendly eateries, LA is an ideal destination for families. This guide will provide an in-depth look at what to do, where to go, and how to make the most of your family vacation in Los Angeles.

Top Attractions for Kids in Los Angeles

Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure Park

Disneyland in Anaheim: No visit to Los Angeles with kids is complete without a trip to Disneyland. Located in Anaheim, Disneyland offers a magical experience filled with iconic rides, parades, and character meet-and-greets. Staying close to the park, within an 8-minute walk, can make your visit more convenient. The Genie+ pass is highly recommended to avoid long lines, especially with young children.

Disney’s California Adventure Park: Adjacent to Disneyland, this park offers a California-themed experience with carnival rides, redwood adventures, and Marvel superhero encounters. Highlights include spotting Spiderman at Avenger’s Campus and the emotional Pixar Pier evening light show.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

LACMA is not only one of the greatest art museums in the world but also extremely family-friendly. The museum offers free membership for kids, art classes, story times, and workshops. Located in the Miracle Mile cultural quarter, it is surrounded by other attractions like the La Brea Tar Pits Museum, the Petersen Automotive Museum, and the Academy Museum.

California Science Center

The California Science Center is a fantastic, free attraction featuring fighter planes, rocket rides, and the Endeavour space shuttle. Located next to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles and the upcoming Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, this area is perfect for a day of educational fun. The Metro E-Line (Expo Park/USC station) makes it easily accessible.

Griffith Observatory

The iconic Griffith Observatory offers stunning views of LA, interactive exhibits, and a free museum. Located in Griffith Park, it provides great hiking opportunities, including a trail to Mount Hollywood with fantastic views of the Hollywood Sign.

The Grove

The Grove is a picturesque outdoor mall featuring brand-name stores, a movie theater, and weekly Kids Club activities with puppet shows and story time. Adjacent to The Grove is the Original Farmers Market, a perfect spot for family-friendly dining.

Ballona Wetlands

The Ballona Wetlands, a marsh area south of Venice, is an important natural resource. Educational tours organized by the Friends of the Ballona Wetlands offer a unique glimpse into this fascinating ecosystem.

El Capitan Theatre and Bob Baker Marionette Theater

El Capitan Theatre: This historic theater offers a mix of live shows and movies, providing a cheaper alternative to Disneyland while still offering a dose of Disney magic.

Bob Baker Marionette Theater: Located in Highland Park, this theater offers enchanting puppet shows that captivate kids and adults alike. They also organize outdoor events throughout the year.

Magic Mountain and Knott’s Berry Farm

Magic Mountain: Located in Santa Clarita, this enormous adventure park offers a wide variety of rides and attractions. Planning ahead can secure discounted tickets.

Knott’s Berry Farm: This theme park in Orange County started as a berry stand and now offers thrill rides and attractions. It’s an affordable option with tickets starting at $48.

Best Time to Visit

Los Angeles enjoys mild weather year-round, but the best times to visit are during the spring (March to May) and fall (September to November) when temperatures are pleasant, and crowds are thinner. Summers can be hot, but the numerous indoor attractions provide a cool respite. Be prepared for “May Gray” and “June Gloom” with overcast mornings that clear up by the afternoon.

Family-Friendly Accommodations

  • Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City: Close to Universal Studios, this hotel offers a breakfast buffet and a pool, making it ideal for families.
  • Four Seasons Beverly Hills: Luxurious accommodations with child-friendly amenities like welcome gifts and kid-sized bathrobes.
  • Homewood Suites by Hilton (Anaheim): Offers spacious rooms, a breakfast buffet, an evening wine social, and a kitchen. It’s close to Disneyland.
  • Great Wolf Lodge (Anaheim): Features an indoor waterpark and other kid-friendly activities.
  • Courtyard Marriott and Howard Johnson (near Disneyland): Both hotels offer pools with mini waterpark features and are within walking distance to Disneyland.

Family-Friendly Restaurants

  • The Original Farmers Market: Offers a variety of dining options that cater to all tastes.
  • The Grove: Features several family-friendly eateries.
  • Downtown Disney District: Offers numerous dining options close to the theme parks.

Transportation Tips

Renting a Car

Renting a car is the most convenient way to navigate Los Angeles. Be aware of seatbelt and car seat laws: kids under 8 or shorter than 57 inches need car seats. LA’s extensive freeway system is the fastest way to travel despite the traffic.

Public Transportation

  • Metro Rail and Bus: Car seats are not required on public transport. The Metro Rail system connects with the Metro bus line and Metrolink commuter line.
  • FlyAway Bus: Offers affordable and consistent service between LAX and Union Station or Van Nuys.
  • Karmel Shuttle: Provides transportation from LAX or Orange County airports to popular destinations like Disneyland.

Suggested 5-Day Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival and Downtown Exploration

  • Morning: Arrive at LAX and check into your hotel.
  • Afternoon: Visit the California Science Center and Natural History Museum.
  • Evening: Dinner at a nearby family-friendly restaurant.

Day 2: Disneyland

  • Morning to Evening: Spend the day at Disneyland. Use the Genie+ pass to maximize your experience.
  • Night: Watch the fireworks show at Disneyland.

Day 3: Disney’s California Adventure Park

  • Morning to Evening: Explore Disney’s California Adventure Park.
  • Night: Enjoy the Pixar Pier light show.

Day 4: Museums and The Grove

  • Morning: Visit LACMA and nearby museums.
  • Afternoon: Lunch at the Original Farmers Market and shopping at The Grove.
  • Evening: Catch a show at El Capitan Theatre.

Day 5: Griffith Observatory and Departure

  • Morning: Hike in Griffith Park and visit the Griffith Observatory.
  • Afternoon: Lunch and last-minute shopping.
  • Evening: Head to the airport for your departure.

Tips for Tourists

  • Plan Ahead: Purchase tickets in advance for popular attractions to avoid long lines.
  • Pack Accordingly: Bring sunscreen, hats, and layers for cool evenings.
  • Use Public Transport: Consider the Metro Rail for convenient travel to certain attractions.
  • Stay Hydrated: Carry water bottles, especially during warmer months.
  • Take Breaks: Schedule downtime to avoid overwhelming young kids.

Los Angeles is a vibrant and diverse city with endless opportunities for family fun. With careful planning, your trip to LA with kids will be a memorable and enjoyable experience for the entire family.

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