If you’re planning a trip to Los Angeles with your kids, they may be clamoring to visit Disneyland, Legoland and Sea World. While those are definitely popular Southern California attractions, you’ll need more than theme parks to keep your family occupied. Fend off boredom, expend excess kid energy and keep the kids (and yourself) completely engaged in the City of Angeles. In no particular order, let your imagination be your guide to the great places listed below.
Here are my family’s 10 favorite activities to do in our hometown:
1. Star Eco Station: An environmental science museum and wildlife rescue facility. Named “Best Place To See Animals” by LA Parent Magazine, “Best of LA” by LA Magazine and “Best Teaching Zoo” by L.A. Family Magazine. Tours for adults ($8) and children ($6), infants in strollers are free. 10101 Jefferson Blvd. Culver City, CA 90232.
2. Culver Ice Arena: Baby, it’s cold in there! This old-school ice rink, with a retro vibe is high-energy fun for the whole family. Admission: kids 12 and under ($9), Adults ($10), Skate Rental ($3). 4545 Sepulveda Blvd. Culver City.
3. West Hollywood Park: This wonderful park offers a completely gated, shaded toddler area, a separate big kids play area and basketball court. You can check out handballs, basketballs and other equipment for free. 647 N. San Vicente/Melrose, West Hollywood. Free.
4. Tree People: The most stunning, kid-friendly hiking trails, a picnic area and the Center For Community Forestry atop Coldwater Canyon are run by the environmental non-profit, Tree People.
5. The Bead Boutique: This hip but cozy bead store has a cool, well-edited selection of beads with staff on hand to help you and your little one (best for ages 6 and up) make jewelry. Price depends on bead selection. 8313 W. 3rd St. Los Angeles. (323) 966-5880
6. Peterson Auto Museum: A truly delightful car museum. The second floor displays racecars, classic cars, vintage motorcycles, concept cars, celebrity and movie cars. On the third floor, kids play in a 6,500 square-foot “hands-on” learning center with all kinds of car-themed play equipment. Adults ($10), Kids 5-12 ($3), Kids under 5 (FREE). Mid-Wilshire.
7. The Zimmer Children’s Museum is dedicated to teaching people about global citizenship, community responsibility, and cultural sensitivity. Unique hands on play and exhibits for kids ages 0-8. Mid-Wilshire.
8. Griffith Observatory is an “icon of Los Angeles, a national leader in public astronomy and one of LA’s most popular family attractions” according to the website. Located in Griffith Park Free. Small charge to see Planetarium shows.
9. Noah’s Ark At The Skirball Museum: Truly spectacular! The Skirball says, “Imagine yourself immersed in a favorite childhood tale-Noah’s Ark. Five years in the making and occupying an 8,000-square-foot gallery, Noah’s Ark at the Skirball welcomes children and families to take this journey together. Inside a floor-to-ceiling wooden ark you and your family will play, build, climb, explore, make music, make friends, and more. Conduct a storm, help construct the ark, and bask in the glow of a beautiful rainbow. Puppets, animals constructed from recycled material and more!” A favorite for Angelenos who go back again and again (at their kids’ request).
Noah’s Ark Prices: $10 General; $7 Seniors 65+ and Full-Time Students; $5 Children 2-12, FREE to Children under 2 and Skirball Members. All exhibitions are FREE to the public on Thursdays. Advance reservations required for Noah’s Ark. Sepulveda Blvd. Near Mulholland Drive.
10.Coldwater Canyon Park: This clean and gorgeous park is a favorite for celebrity moms like Heidi Klum. The park also has two play areas, a water feature, and shaded arbor. The water creek is a hit with kids! Picnic areas may be reserved for use seasonally. 1100 North Beverly Drive/Coldwater Canyon in Beverly Hills.
Christina Simon, 46, is the co-author of “Beyond The Brochure: An Insider’s Guide To Private Elementary Schools In Los Angeles”. She also writes the blog, www.beyondthebrochure.blogspot.com about applying to private elementary schools in Los Angeles and life as a private school mom. Christina is a former vice president at Fleishman-Hillard, a global public relations firm. She has a 7-year-old son and a 10-year-old daughter. A Los Angeles native, Christina lives in Hancock Park, Los Angeles with her husband and children. She has a BA from UC Berkeley and an MA from UCLA.