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 with little ones: if possible, avoid the freeways by exploring no more than one neighborhood each day, and remember that you can never have too much sunscreen—L.A. parents don't leave home without the stuff.

Of course, the top reason many families come to the L.A. area is to visit Disneyland. 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. But there’s plenty more to see and do.

Head Under the Sea

Head down to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach to learn tons of interesting facts about the Pacific Ocean. On display are shimmering schools of fish, a swaying kelp forest, a shark lagoon featuring more than 150 varieties, and a tropical reef habitat filled with zebra sharks, porcupine puffers, and a large blue Napoleon wrasse.

Commune with Nature

Don't miss your chance to see the retired space shuttle Endeavour or catch a film at the seven-story IMAX theater at the California Science Center. Just down the road is the Natural History Museum, where kids can explore everything from diamonds to the vast dinosaur hall. In spring, there's the outdoor butterfly habitat, fittingly named the Pavilion of Wings, which makes way for the Spider Pavilion come fall.

Walk in the Park

Griffith Park is 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.

Learn by Doing

Little ones can pan for gold in a small creek, play Spider-Man on a weblike climber, or race around a trike track at the Kidspace Children’s Museum. 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.

Hit the Beach

The best way to check out Santa Monica Beach 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 bodybuilders of Muscle Beach, and the Santa Monica Pier, a 100-year-old structure that's home to a vintage 1920s carousel, an oversize 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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Fodor's Los Angeles: with Disneyland & Orange County

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