Five Fun, Family Friendly Places to Visit in Los Angeles

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Mother and father with young son posing at the LACMA museum in Los Angeles

Living in Los Angeles, I know how lucky I am to be a mom in a city with great weather 95% of the time. And with great weather come lots of cool places to visit that are mostly outdoors. So here are my five favorite family friendly places to visit in Los Angeles.

1. LACMA & The La Brea Tar Pits. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is a great spot to visit for way more than art. Since it is in our neighborhood we've really gotten the chance to experience its full potential. You can visit the children's art room and let your kiddos paint, then move on to the "yellow noodles" art installation for hands-on play. You can grab a yummy latte or pastry at Coffee & Milk to drink while you watch your kids run around in the noodles. Then walk over to see Levitated Mass (or as my son calls it, "the big rock"). To get the true tourist experience, pretend to hold up the rock and get your picture taken. (You won't be the only one, trust me.) End your visit by walking over to see the Urban Lights installation (another great photo spot). If you're hungry I recommend the LACMA cafe, or there are food trucks across the street from the Urban Lights. If you have the time, walk around the tar pits (the park area east of LACMA) to see prehistoric sculptures and genuine tar pits—the big one with the mammoths is always a hit with kids. (Note: LACMA is closed Wednesdays and is open from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. during the week.)

A young family is pictured hiding behind long skinny yellow reeds

2. The Original Farmer's Market & The Grove. I recommend that anyone visiting LA go to the Original LA Farmer's Market. (It is over 75 years old!) You will find every kind of food represented. (Our favorites are Loteria and The French Crepe Company, but there are so many great spots.) It's loud enough that your kids won't bother anyone, and everyone can order food from wherever they want and then sit cafeteria style at one of the outdoor tables. There are also souvenir shops, coffee spots, and great people watching. Oh, and two beer & wine bars. Then walk next door to The Grove. The kids will love the Dylan's Candy and the American Girl store, and if you go to the third floor of Barnes & Noble there is a children's play area with lots of toys and books perfect for younger kids. Another huge hit with the kiddos—the koi fish pond with dancing fountains. There's also a movie theater if you want to catch a movie.

a little blonde boy smiles and runs along the train track

3. Travel Town Museum. Both girls and boys will love the Travel Town Museum. See retired train cars and engines, and you can even climb on a couple. There is a train ride and a museum. Oh, and it's free (you can make entrance donations). 

4. Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round. Griffith Park is great in general. You can hike, visit the Griffith Observatory, picnic, and play. But if you have kids, the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round is a must-visit if you're in the area. It was built in 1926, and Walt Disney used to visit with his daughters and was inspired to build Disneyland. 

A little boy with his father rides the merry go round

5. Santa Monica Pier. My last pick is a hard choice because there are a few great beach locations with piers (Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, etc.), but I choose the Santa Monica Pier because overall it offers the most bang for your buck. Plus, it is the closest to the other locations in Los Angeles, and if you want to make it a day, its proximity to the Annenberg Beach House is perfect (another great spot on a warm beach day). There are fun rides, good food, and beautiful views. Fun for all ages.

We also frequently visit and love the LA Zoo, but if you're visiting from a city that has its own zoo, you can skip it. (It isn't the most impressive zoo I've ever been to.) But if you'd like to visit a zoo it is a fun place to spend an afternoon—and it's very close to the Travel Town Museum & Griffith Park.

What are your favorite places to visit in Los Angeles?

(photo credits: top three photos by Jennifer Roper, all property of Chandra Fredrick)

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