LOS ANGELES WITH THE FAMILY | Amy Tara Koch
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LOS ANGELES WITH THE FAMILY

LA is known as an adult playground. But, it is also my go-to getaway for a family vacation. The sun shines. Heated pools and hiking trails beckon. Museums abound. And one can magically move from the California Science Center to a dip in your hotel pool in about forty-five minutes.

ACTIVITIES

Science and art buffs, my girls researched the museums and worked with me to create the itinerary. With just five days, we decided upon the California Science Center, LACMA, The La Brea Tar Pits/Page museum, the Griffith Observatory. Each of these museums (except Exposition Park) have multiple interactive exhibits that take no more than one hour to visit. LACMA is next to the La Brea Tar pits on Wilshire Blvd in Hollywood. As you enter you will notice food trucks parked on Wilshire. This is the perfect pick-me-up after the museum visit. Do not miss downtown LA. Exposition Park houses days’ worth of culture: the African American Museum, The California Science Center, the Natural History Museum, The Rose Garden and a super cool Imax Theater.

Hiking was a highlight of this trip, especially Runyon Canyon above the Hollywood Hills where the sweeping views of LA were tremendous. We also made a hike out of our visit to the Griffith Observatory in East LA. The 45 minute trail affords an excellent view of the iconic Hollywood sign. The Observatory is devoted to astrology. The kids loved learning how the moon impacts the ocean’s tide and how the movement of the sun and moon create the four seasons. On the hike down we realized that the canyon was also a bird sanctuary. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time for an extensive aviary investigation. Next time!

Tip: When visiting LACMA, sign your children up for the NexGen program. To boost kids’ interest in art, the museum offers a free membership to kids 17 and under which allows one adult to visit for free. So, two kids=two free adult passes.

A GUIDE TO MY LOS ANGELES

GRIFFITH OBSERVATORY
The Griffith Observatory is an astrology museum located just above the Los Feliz neighborhood.  The best way to get to the observatory is to hike it. Park your car at the base of the park and enjoy the beautiful 45 minute hike up the hill. It is 1,134 feet above sea level and is visible from many parts of the Los Angeles basin.

LA BREA TAR PITS at Page Museum

World’s most famous Ice Age Fossil Excavation Site–The extinct animals discovered at Rancho La Brea were trapped in the asphalt between 11,000 to 50,000 years ago. They may have lived in the Los Angeles region for much of the last 100,000 years. Before that time the Los Angeles Basin was covered by the Pacific Ocean.

THE CALIFORNIA SCIENCE CENTER

Outdoor science plaza? Check. In- depth exploration of ecosystems? Check. Interactive kelp wall featuring extreme underwater zones? Check. And a “rot room” detailing decomposition to charm the most gross out loving kids. The California Science Center is a thrilling place to stimulate budding science lovers. The best part? Everything except the special exhibitions is free to visit. 

EXPOSITION PARK

Here you will find the African American Museum, The California Science Center, the Natural History Museum, The Rose Garden and a super cool Imax Theater.

FAVORITE RESTAURANTS:

The Little Next Door

Like a welcoming French brasserie, the ambiance is low key and warm and the food is delightful for lunch and dinner. Think Steak Frites and French onion soup.

Cecconi’s

Yes, it is chic. But, this Italian hotspot is family friendly and perfect for dinner with kids. And, hey, don’t be surprised to see some elite members of young Hollywood waltz in for the restos prized truffle scented pasta.

Pizzeria Mozza

This pizza spot helmed by Nancy Silverton and Mario Batali is not your typical pie. The pizzas are sublime layered with obscure Italian meats and other strange toppings. The line is always out the door so definitely have the concierge book a reservation

The Standard 24/7 Restaurant

If you love retro ambiance, head over to The Standard hotel for excellent comfort food with a side of groovy LA attitude.. Seemingly frozen in 1973, the uber styled Standard hotel is one of my favorite post hike casual breakfast spots.

Mel’s Drive In

Another time warp, Mel’s is like Happy Days gone Hollywood: waitresses in aprons, coin operated jukeboxes at every table, old fashioned soda fountain. Serving up eggs, burgers, fries, grilled cheese and super thick milkshakes, this 24 hour diner is an excellent choice for any meal.