LA is my current hometown and when girlfriends come to visit I have a routine down: Thai massages, Malibu hikes, swanky bars, groovy shops, trendy restaurants. All very fun activities, but not ideal for a family vacation.
Read Related: Fun Activities for Kids in San Francisco
So when a girlfriend recently came to town with her 6- and 8-year-old kids, I had to revamp the routine quite significantly. Bars and trendy restaurants were replaced by museums and In-n-Out burgers. And I had just as much fun doing the G-rated version of LA. Hey, any routine that involves In-n-Out burgers and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride counts as a vacation. You may want to consider it for your family’s next travel destination.
The Getty Center, a cultural campus founded by billionaire oilman J Paul Getty, is a favorite spot in LA for both tourists and locals. The views of the city, the lush gardens, and the impressive architecture are phenomenal. The exhibits are ever-changing and always inspiring. There are often special programs offered for children, which can be found on the Getty website. To know before you go: admission is free, parking is $15, and it is closed on Mondays.
This is more of a creative playground than a museum. There are indoor and outdoor spaces to explore, including a very cool water music station, a tricycle track, a bug tunnel, and lots of interactive craft and science exhibits. It’s $10 per person, but you can spend all day there without hearing “I’m bored” once. It tends to get crowded on weekends, so try to go during the week if possible.
This is admittedly, very very touristy, but kids will find it very very fun and entertaining. Walk down the Hollywood Walk of Fame and see all of the stars in the sidewalk. Then take pictures in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater with the many characters strolling along the street (Batman, Spiderman, Buzz Lightyear, etc).
My friend was a not too excited about doing Disneyland. She thought it was too expensive and too commercial. I reasoned that her children will never forgive her and end up in years of expensive therapy if they don’t see it at least once during their childhood. She relented, reluctantly. But once we passed through those gates, she was enamored. Really, who can resist Mickey Mouse and his posse? The great part about Disneyland is that it is much smaller than Disney World, therefore making it conquerable and less intimidating. Grab a map when you walk in and plot out your day depending on your children’s ages. Younger kids will love the rides in Fantasyland (the Teacups, It’s a Small World, Peter Pan are some favorites) and older kids will want to venture into the excitement of Tomorrowland (Space Mountain Rollercoaster) Adventureland (Indiana Jones Adventure) and beyond!
In-n-Out is a West Coast institution (currently only available in California, Nevada, Utah, and mostly recently Texas). Though it all began in Southern California, and I know some people who claim to have moved here after tasting their first “Double Double” (a burger with double meat, double cheese). The secret to In-n-Outs success is in the sauce. What’s in it, nobody knows. But it keeps loyal fans of all ages coming back time after time. No visit to California is complete without at least one trip to the legendary burger joint. Though we went three times in three days. Hey, the kids asked. And who was I to deny them those glorious Double-Double burgers they could not get back East?