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Los Angeles with Kids

With seemingly endless sunny days, Angeleno kids almost never have to play indoors. There are a few things to keep in mind, however, when navigating the City of Angeles with your pint-size angel: If possible, avoid the freeways by exploring no more than one neighborhood each day; and you can never have too much sunscreen (L.A. moms don't leave home without the stuff).

Aquarium of the Pacific

A huge tank with shimmering schools of fish and swaying kelp forest? Check. Shark lagoon featuring more than 150 varieties, including gray nurse, sand tiger, and whitetip? Check. Tropical reef habitat filled with zebra sharks, porcupine puffers, and a large blue Napoleon wrasse? Check. Head down to this Long Beach-based epicenter for all things aquatic and to learn tons of interesting facts about the Pacific Ocean.

California Science Center/Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Don't miss your chance to test ride a high-wire bicycle or catch a film on the seven-story IMAX theater. Then, just down the road is the Natural History Museum, where kids can explore everything from diamonds to its new dinosaur hall. In spring, don't miss the outdoor butterfly habitat, fittingly named the Pavilion of Wings, which makes way for the Spider Pavilion come fall.

The Disneyland Resort

Experience all the classic attractions that you may recall from your own childhood visit, such as the "It's a Small World" ride, a meet-and-greet with Tinkerbell, or a Mickey Mouse home tour, who, unlike less amenable celebrities, makes a daily appearance for fans.

Griffith Park

It's the largest municipal park and urban wilderness area in the United States, and the kids will go wild for the pony rides and the classic 1926 merry-go-round. But the pièce de résistance is the Griffith Park and Southern Railroad, a circa-1940s miniature train that travels through an old Western town and a Native American village. Other highlights are the Los Angeles Zoo and the Griffith Observatory, an L.A. icon in its own right.

Kidspace Children's Museum

Little ones can pan for gold in a small creek, play Spiderman on a weblike climber, or race around a trike track (helmets are provided). Indoor activities include a walk-through kaleidoscope, two climbing towers—one mimicking raindrops, the other modeled after a wisteria vine—a bug diner (think: banana worm bread and roasted cricket pizza), and a contraption that lets kids generate their very own earthquake.

Santa Monica Beach

The best way to check out Santa Monica's beachfront is by renting bikes or roller skates at any one of the shacks on the Strand (a stretch of concrete boardwalk that snakes along the beach toward Venice). Some must-sees along the way: The roller dancers of Venice Beach, the body builders of Muscle Beach, and the Santa Monica Pier, a 100-year-old structure that's home to a vintage 1920s carousel, an oversized Ferris wheel, and old-time amusement park games. After hitting the beach, drive over to the pedestrian-only Third Street Promenade to grab a bite and do some shopping.

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