Away from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, there’s a vast array of exciting activities in and around the Los Angeles area for kids! While Tinseltown may feel more like an adult vacation destination, there is a staggering array of reasons to consider making your next family trek to sunny Los Angeles. Here are ten of the attractions you may find to be a surprising motivation for your decision to vacation in the City of Angels.
- Bob Baker Marionette Theater (Los Angeles, CA 90026) – Founded in 1963, the Bob Baker Marionette Theater is the longest-running children’s theater in Los Angeles. The productions are even more impressive when you realize that the marionettes, puppets, costumes and props are all produced on-site. Because kids can be so entranced with the art of puppetry, Bob Baker Marionettes are also available for purchase in the shop.
- Heritage Square Museum (Los Angeles, CA 90031) – Kids with an affection for period costumes, history and Victorian architecture will be wowed by this open-air museum, consisting of eight separate Victorian-era buildings rescued from demolition. Three houses, a railway depot, shop in the process of being renovated are among the offerings, which can be toured with a period-costumed guide at the helm. There are some living history programs available, and picnicking is allowed on the lawn.
- Boone Children’s Gallery (Los Angeles, CA 90036) – Located within the Los Angeles County Museum of Art West, the Boone Children’s Gallery is a fully-interactive attraction designed to foster an appreciation and understanding of art in young children. Budding artists will love the demonstrations on Korean brush painting techniques, along with the other special and seasonal offerings.
- The Getty Center (Los Angeles, CA 90049) – Atop the Santa Monica Mountains, a world-class collection of art is nestled within The Getty Center. Kids will love the monorail transportation from the parking lot to the museum, which features a Family Room and offers materials for kids to play games at the exhibits. There are also projects for making masks, sculptures and drawings for the smaller set.
- Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden (Arcadia, CA 91007) – One hundred and twenty-seven acres of plants, divided by their continent of origin, provide kids with an exciting and entertaining natural science lesson. Baldwin Lake is home to a variety of animal species, which will be almost as enthralling to little ones as the African-style grass hut replicas left behind after the filming of early Tarzan films.
- Discovery Science Center (Santa Ana, CA 92705) – Almost sixty-thousand square feet of interactive exhibits, hands-on learning opportunities and installations designed to spark kids’ curiosity are housed within the sprawling Discovery Science Center, which is also known as the Discovery Cube. Kid-favorite exhibits include the variety of velociraptors, a Tyrannosaurus and an argentinosaurus, the opportunity to walk through a tornado and experience a simulated earthquake.
- The Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits (Los Angeles, CA 90036) – After being trapped within the La Brea Tar Pits during the Pleistocene Epoch, a vast array of prehistoric animals were discovered by modern scientists. Thanks to the remarkable preservation power of the tar, the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits now houses more than one million fossils and bones. Kids love the tar-pulling exhibit and the life-sized robotic animal sculptures, which provide a realistic simulation of what various species looked and sounded like before their extinction.
- Griffith Observatory (Los Angeles, CA 90027) – After extensive renovations, the Griffith Park Observatory is once again open for business and boasting a top spot among Los Angeles tourist attractions. A seamless dome in the planetarium, a presentation theater with 200 seats and an extensive collection of meteorites are all awe-inspiring sights for kids with a curiosity about space.
- The Huntington (San Marino, CA 91108) – With art collections, botanical gardens and a library on-site, the Huntington is a great destination for families. Kids love the waterfalls, Japanese garden and the specially-designed Children’s Garden, while the paved pathways make it easy to navigate the one hundred and fifty acres with a stroller.
- Disneyland (Anaheim, CA 92802) – No list of family vacation destinations in the Los Angeles area would be complete without an appearance by the embodiment of childhood fantasy. Meeting real-life representations of their favorite animated characters, enjoying the themed rides and experiencing the enchantment of Disneyland are experiences that your little ones aren’t likely to ever forget, making it a perfect choice for a family vacation.
It’s important to keep in mind that some areas of Los Angeles can become a bit less than kid-friendly after dark, with an adults-only culture that shows up with the sun goes down. Be sure you do a bit of research about the area in which your hotel accommodations are located, and what to expect from the neighborhood during your stay to ensure that your little ones aren’t exposed to anything unsavory, and you’re not charged with answering awkward questions.