To Live and Play in L.A. on a Kid-Friendly VacationBy Kate Donnelly
Looking for family fun in Los Angeles? Thanks to a range of activities like leafy parks, sandy beaches, IMAX theaters, marionettes, famed cars and indie-flared bookstores, there’s something to entertain all ages.
Below, take in our sampling of indoor and outdoor kid-friendly venues in the City of Angels.
Books and Cookies
In Santa Monica keep your nose in good literature at the bright, cheery Books and Cookies. Like its name suggests, there’s a fun blend of interactive readings, dress-up clothing, learning toys, dolls and, of course, books (classic titles like “Goodnight Moon” and “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”).
For something sweet, snack on the fresh chocolate chip cookies. Outside, take refuge inside a shady tepee, build with blocks, dance with bubbles or splash on a water table. Then repeat.
Bob Baker Marionette Theater
In downtown L.A., the legendary Bob Baker Marionette Theater hosts Los Angeles’ longest-running marionette theater with live, cabaret-style performances set to fairy-tale music.
Named after famed puppet master Bob Baker (who once consulted for Disney and produced sequences for “Star Trek”), the beloved venue now ranks as a cultural landmark and also hosts “make-your-own” workshops and screenings from Cinefamily.
Annenberg Community Beach House
Originally developed in the 1920s for Hollywood royalty, the famed nonprofit Annenberg Foundation reopened the Annenberg Community Beach House (and with no membership required).
Lounge by the historic pool, dip your toes in the sand, and later, snack on tacos and hamburgers at the beach café. Kids rally around the splash pad, and the play area has swings. For the older set, there’s also beach volleyball and soccer.
For a spot of nature, the 160-acre Descanso Gardens offers ample respite. With a wealth of California redwoods, junipers and live oak trees, there are also lily ponds and a lovely rosarium containing thousands of varieties of modern and antique roses.
After running around, kids hop the Enchanted Railroad train (a gift from big Hollywood producers Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy). Afterward, the casual onsite Maple restaurant serves a glorious kids brunch menu of fluffy, made-to-order waffles and crispy chicken tenders.
California Science Center
Filled with boundless interactive exhibits, California Science Center lets you peek inside different science “worlds.”
Design your own earthquake-proof buildings, ride a bike across a three-story-high trapeze wire or drop by the large-format IMAX theater to discover the latest in radical science. Then take a peek at the famed space shuttle Endeavour that flew from 1992 to 2011.
Petersen Automotive Museum
Zoom, zoom. It’s no secret L.A. is for car lovers. Along Wilshire Boulevard on Museum Row, Petersen Automotive Museum showcases a slice of Hollywood road culture, including the Batmobile, and educates visitors on the rise of cars (about 150 are on display) in Southern California.
Young kids love the iPad tour by Pixar, where characters from “Cars” narrate while an Xbox gallery with gaming simulators gives older kids a chance to race the tracks of Le Mans, France (obviously, no keys required).