Four years ago I came up with a "Top Ten" list of things our family enjoyed doing in Los Angeles. Now that my kids are older, I decided to update that list - asking them what they'd put on it.
Whether you've lived in L.A. all your life, or are just visiting for a few days, hopefully this list of things we've done as a family will give you some ideas as well. We tried to steer clear of things that cost a lot of money - most everything here is free, or fairly inexpensive.
Each of these ten things is linked to a previous post to provide more information. I also tried to mention additional places close by.
This is by no way an exaustive list: if we missed anything, feel free to leave a comment.
10 - THE BEACH There's really no bad time to visit. Parking can be tricky if you show up after 12:00 noon on a summer weekend. Best beaches with kids are either Manhattan Beach (south of LAX) or - pictured above - Ocean Park beach, south of the Santa Monica Pier.
9 - THE SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS The Santa Monicas are a large mountain range that literally cut through the heart of the city of Los Angeles, dividing the city from the San Fernando Valley. Good places to go with kids include Malibu Creek State Park, or Topanga State Park. Above are my kids playing along the creek in Santa Ynez Canyon, in Topanga State Park.
8 - CALIFORNIA SCIENCE CENTER The California Science Center, located next to USC, just south of downtown Los Angels is totally free. Above, my neice in the fantastic new eco systems section. Next door is the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History.
7 - THE GETTY CENTER The Getty actually has two locations: the larger Getty Center, located in Brentwood just off the 405, and the original Getty Villa, located about 10 miles beyond that in Pacific Palisades. Both are amazing, have special areas of kids, and worth a visit.
6 - THE SANTA MONICA PIER While a visit to the pier is free, there small Pacific Park amusement zone does cost. But if you purchase an unlimited ride wrist band on-line, it's a good value. My daughter celebrated her 9th birthday with family and friends here - great time.
5 - NOAH'S ARK AT THE SKIRBALL CENTER Reservations are highly recommended at the ever popular Noah's Ark exhibit at the Skirball Jewish Cultural Center, located just north of the Getty Center off the the 405. Every Thursday is free - which is great. This is a MUST SEE for anyone with kids 10 and under.
4 - TIDE POOLS If the conditions are right, you can see a bit of God's handiwork normally hidden from sight. There are tidepools in San Pedro, Palos Verdes, Pacific Palisades, and Malibu. The saying, "take only photographs, leave only memories" is a good one.
3 - THE AUTRY CENTER The Gene Autry Western Heritage Center is fantastic. Our kids and their cousins love it, especially Chinese restaurant kids section downstairs. The Autry Center is located across the street from the Los Angeles Zoo. Nearby you'll also find Travel Town, the Los Angeles Live Steamers, and the Griffith Observatory.
2 - ICE SKATING DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES Our favorite time to go downtown is for the annual "Downtown on Ice" around Christmastime. During the rest of the year, we've taken our kids to the downtown library, in and around the Bonaventure Hotel (amazing elevators), Olvera Street, and Philippe's in Chinatown.
1 - TOURNAMENT OF ROSES You'll have to wait until January 1st (or 2nd if it's a Sunday) but it's worth it. The Rose Parade is one of best things to see and so in Southern California. I've you've never been, by all means GO. And you don't need to get there at the crack of dawn. We found a great place to watch just north of the 210 Freeway underpass.
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