Think it”s impossible to see Disneyland, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Grauman”s Chinese Theatre, Griffith Observatory, Disney Concert Hall, Rodeo Drive and, of course, all the celebrities” homes in three days without completely exhausting yourself? We”re not sure about the exhausting part, but we”ll help you try to avoid that as you enjoy the iconic attractions your family has always wanted to see. And believe it or not, two or three days will be just enough (though we know the kids will inevitably beg for a return visit to DisneylandÃ¢â‚¬¦). Follow this itinerary for a perfect family weekend getaway in Los Angeles with kids!
Written by Amanda Geronikos
Day One: Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous
Start your Los Angeles weekend getaway with a visit to the La Brea Tar Pits, where kids can see an actual fossil excavation site, as well as the Page Museum, which showcases more than one million Ice Age fossils. Ice Age Encounters, held on weekends, is a multi-media, 150-minute performance that brings the past to life, and kids will love getting to Ã¢â‚¬Å“meetÃ¢â‚¬Â the stars of Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ice AgeÃ¢â‚¬Â when they see wooly mammoth, sloth and a saber tooth tiger. The museum and tar pits open at 9:30 a.m., so you can get an early start.
The best (and easiest) way to see all of the city"s iconic landmarks is with the Legends of Hollywood Tour. Afternoon tours typically begin at 2 p.m. and take you to TCL Chinese Theatre, Hollywood Boulevard, Griffith Observatory, Rodeo Drive and a countless list of other attractions. You"ll also see celebrity homes and film locations, including Simon Cowell"s mansion and the house where Michael Jackson"s Ã¢â‚¬Å“ThrillerÃ¢â‚¬Â was filmed. The tour is led in the comfort of a Mercedes-Benz van, driven by Mark Morrow. He narrates with the help of video clips, and kindly offers to take your family"s picture (with your camera) whenever he stops at various locations. The bus picks up and drops off at the Los Angeles Farmers Market, but free pick-ups and drop-offs to and from your hotel can also be arranged.
Spend an evening at the Santa Monica Pier, which is west of Los Angeles, on the beach. It features a Ferris wheel, carousel, arcade and aquarium. Nearby, you"ll find the 3rd Street Promenade with retail stores, restaurants and street performers galore. For dinner, eat al fresco at one of the restaurants and enjoy a beautiful sunset over the Pacific Ocean.
Day Two: Universal Studios and the Stars
No weekend trip to Los Angeles would be complete without spending some time immersing yourself in the magic of Hollywood movies! You can easily spend an entire day at Universal Studios, where you can embark on a behind-the-scenes tour of television sets and hop on movie-inspired rides like Jurassic Park Ã¢â‚¬â€œ The Ride. To help avoid long lines and do it all -- fast! -- purchase a VIP ticket that allows you to go to the front of the line of every ride.
If you"ve seen and done it all at Universal and want to do something different in the evening, head to the Griffith Observatory in the Hollywood Hills. Yes, you will have visited the Hollywood Hills on your Legends of Hollywood Tour, but Griffith provides a unique experience, with free public telescopes to watch the stars above the City of Angels. Admission is also free. Griffith Observatory is open until 10 p.m. six nights a week (closed on Mondays). For a small fee, visit the Samuel Oschin Planetarium for a live presentation, offered every 60 to 90 minutes.
Day Three: Disney Magic
Where To Stay With Kids: Luxury Los Angeles Hotel
Where To Stay With Kids: Mid-Range Los Angeles Hotel
Where To Stay With Kids: Budget Los Angeles Hotel
Top 5 Los Angeles Restaurants Not to Miss
This hot dog vendor has several locations throughout the U.S., but Los Angeles is where it all began in 1939. Celebrities frequent this famous food truck, and several of the hot dogs are even named after stars. Other menu options include burgers, French fries and desserts.
2. Dinah"s Family Restaurant
This place is famous for its fried chicken and oven-baked pancakes, but it also serves one free kids meal per adult purchase, Monday through Wednesday. It has an older feel, with furniture that hasn"t been updated in decades and 50"s themed dÃƒÂ©corÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ but that"s part of its LA charm. Go early for breakfast to avoid wait times.
3. 94th Aero Squadron at the Van Nuys Airport
At this historic site, you"ll watch planes take off and land as you dine in a French-style home. There"s a Jr. Pilots menu, kid-friendly cups and paper airplane kits to assemble (if you"re not distracted by the planes whizzing by, that is). If you come for brunch on Sunday, kids eat at a discounted price. Be aware that it can get loud.
4. Lemon Tree Kids Restaurant
You"ll find American and Italian fare at this Koreatown restaurant, but the best part is the playground with slides, tunnels and ramps, as well as a mechanical train, toys, books and more. Better yet is the fact that you can monitor kids (who are also watched by staff members) while you enjoy your meal -- there are TV"s in the dining area. There"s a $9 fee for the playground.
Located in Hollywood, this colorful, unique eatery serves Ã¢â‚¬Å“California comfort foodÃ¢â‚¬Â for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Ã¢â‚¬Å“Wee GrubÃ¢â‚¬Â menu includes Fusilli pasta, macaroni and cheese or a quesadilla. For grown-ups, it"s mostly sandwiches and salads.
Planning & Tips
Celebrities keep Los Angeles on the map, but that"s not the only reason it"s in the spotlight. In June, the City of Angels plays host to the Kids Rock Free Concert and Nature Festival, a family-friendly event that supports the Children"s Nature Institute. In October, you can attend the Calabasas Pumpkin Festival, which features pumpkin carving and decorating, food, games, music and more. In December, there are a slew of holiday events, including the Light Up the Holiday Film Series (classic holiday flicks play on a large outdoor screen) and Tournament of Lights, a boat parade with fireworks. Of course, if you happen to visit in March, you"ll witness the excitement surrounding the Academy Awards, and maybe even see a celebrity!
Close enough to drive for a weekend in Los Angeles? Metered parking is easily found in Los Angeles, mainly in areas where there are retail stores. There are approximately 37,000 meters in the city, to be exact. Parking garages can also be found, but they"re obviously not cheap.
Bus and Train
LA"s public transportation system will take you directly (or close to it) to many of the city"s major attractions. One-way fares for buses and trains are $1.50. Two children under age 5 can travel free with each adult. Day passes are also a good good option. They"re $5 each, and if you know you"ll be getting on and off the bus or train at least 4 times, this is your best option.