Once upon a time, before I moved to Los Angeles, I never thought of it as a kid-friendly city. Four years later, I now know that LA offers myriad opportunities for young families. From the weather to the activities, reasons not to visit Los Angeles with toddler simply do not exist. You can add a larger tour of the city to any amusement park stay, spend a few days at one of the beaches in Malibu or Orange County, then drive northeast to the mountains. You can eat amazing tacos and innovative cuisine 24 hours a day, ideal when your toddler has jet lag. Need more convincing? Here are my top 5 reasons to visit Los Angeles with toddlers.
Have you seen La La Land? There really is always another day of sun. Last winter notwithstanding, generally the winters are mild (it is a little disconcerting to see people wearing full fur-lined parkas when it is 55 degrees in February) and the greenest of the year. Summers can be scorching but without a lot of the humidity and mosquitos. Bring lots of sunscreen. Keep in mind that when it does rain, the city goes into panic-mode. It may temporarily take you a little longer to get where you want to go.
Have you ever had a spicy pork taco with kimchi? Follow the Kogi truck. Prefer innovative cuisine, good wine, and a toddler-friendly menu. Los Angeles offers a ton of very kid-friendly more upscale restaurants. Check out the brunch at Red Herring in Eagle Rock, Georgie in Beverly Hills, and Little Beast in Eagle Rock. You cannot miss with the taquerias in Highland Park, or the pho on Valley Boulevard. Introduce your toddler to the soup dumplings at Din Tai Fung in Arcadia or Glendale. Basically, you can take your toddler on a culinary journey just by riding the freeways. Make sure you stop in at strip malls. The food there tends to be pretty good, cheaper, and the local places love kids. In the mood for a beer tasting? Take your family to Golden Road Brewery. Have the pretzel mac and cheese and the Wolf Pup IPA. Many places, even take out restaurants, offer well-curated beer and wine lists. Brunch is an institution, and one of the best times to try the more upscale restaurants in Los Angeles with toddlers.
Diversity. Getting your kids to meet people of different socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds will teach them a little more tolerance and compassion. At least that’s what I tell myself. The Santa Anita mall in Arcadia proudly displays the heavy Asian influence in the San Gabriel Valley, bilingual billboards proliferate. From the historic Olvera Street that celebrates Mexican heritage in Los Angeles to the K-pop blaring in Koreatown kids can learn about other cultures and their influence on the city. Though the California African American Museum has more activities for older kids and adults, toddlers love the Autry Museum of the American West. They can play dress-up, climb into a saddle, pretend to ride like Gene Autry, and ogle the stagecoaches.
Have you seen that commercial for vacations in California where 80% of the commercial takes place on or near a beach? Though the vast majority of the state lives further than 2 hours from the beach, it is a critical draw for any Los Angeles trip. The Traveling Teacher blog has a pretty comprehensive list of local beaches with parking information, etc. Our favorite is the Marina Beach in Marina del Rey. A giant sandy playground, calm water where you can relax while your two year old toddles into the shallow water, and plenty of nearby restaurants and parking. A visit to Los Angeles with toddlers is not complete without at least a stroll along one of the beaches or piers.
Did you know Los Angeles has several children’s museums? Discovery Cube, SoCal Children’s Museum, Kidspace Children’s Museum all offer infant and toddler-friendly activities. The Natural History Museum and La Brea Tar Pits satisfy every kid’s seemingly innate love of dinosaurs. Hike Griffith Park to the Observatory for the people-watching, or drive into Malibu for a little more shade and some incredible views. Do not miss the LA Zoo, especially around Christmas and Halloween for the special events. If you have some more time, check out the very fun (and messy) children’s garden at Huntington Gardens, or stroller-walk through Descanso Gardens. Train enthusiasts cannot miss the (free admission!) Travel Town. Los Angeles also has several outdoor malls, including the Grove and the Americana. Both have open spaces for toddlers to burn off some energy before trying a slice of pie from the Pie Hole. Studio tours with toddlers can be challenging; probably your best bet is the Warner Brothers Tour. Oh, and by the way we have Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm.
You cannot beat a visit to Los Angeles with toddlers. Whether for just a long weekend or a full week, you can easily find kid-friendly accommodations, food, and lots of activities. You do need to rent a car. Though the Metro system has recently been extended, several of the best places are still best car or bus-accessible.
Have you been to Los Angeles? Where do you like to take your little ones when you are here?