One way or another, this museum of science and technology has been in operation since 1912, when it began as the State Exposition Building. It was remodeled in 1951 and rechristened the California Museum of Science and Industry, then it was finally completely revamped in 1998 and became the California Science Center. Admission is always free and the four permanent exhibitions are Creative World; Ecosystems; World of Life; and Air and Space, which has housed the Endeavour space shuttle since 2012. Many of the exhibits are hands-on, which means both children and adults really get the chance to understand the basic principles of science and technology.
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is the largest art museum in the Western United States. Its large complex houses a permanent collection that spans the globe covers every historical era and features everything from European to Asian and Islamic art. Don't miss the impressive Latin American collection, which showcases pre-Columbian masterpieces, as well as works by modern and contemporary artists like Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and Jose Clemente Orozco. Regularly rotating temporary exhibits, constantly changing film programs, lectures, courses and special events mean that there is always something new and fascinating going on at this top-notch museum. Kids will especially love the Boone Children's Gallery at LACMA, where they can try their hand at painting. It's open every day except Wednesday.
From April to October, the Hollywood Bowl is the place in SoCal to see concerts and performances of every kind. The summer home of the L.A. Philharmonic, it's also the spot where the Beatles and the Doors played back in the day and the venue that hosts the Playboy Jazz Festival weekend every June. There's sometimes ballet on the beautiful bandshell stage, sometimes a classic movie musical unspools with the whole audience singing along, and other times rock, country, Latin or pop musicians belt out their tunes. Bring your own picnic, book tickets for a show that features singalongs with classic kids' movies like "The Sound of Music," "Star Wars" and "Annie," and the whole family is sure to have a blast at the Bowl.
Situated on 4200-plus acres in the Santa Monica Mountains, Griffith Park is home to a number of museums and outdoor attractions. Inside the park you'll find the Los Angeles Zoo, the Autry National Center (a museum dedicated to the American West) and the Griffith Observatory, as well as the famous merry-go-round, the L.A. Equestrian Center, Travel Town Museum (all about transportation) and the venerable Greek Theatre outdoor performance space. Plus, there are plenty of hiking trails and bridle paths, miniature railroad rides and bike rentals, a swimming pool, tennis courts and golf courses. In other words, there's something for everyone in Griffith Park!
Roller-coaster lovers know that Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia is one of the world's best amusement parks, boasting more hair-raising rides than any other on the planet. Fearless adventurers will find record-breaking rides like the Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom, the X2, Viper, Tatsu, Goliath and the Riddler's Revenge, the fastest stand-up coaster in the world. Plus, there are family and kids' rides, too; nighttime shows featuring laser lights and live music; and the Looney Tunes characters can be found throughout the park. But anyone with motion sickness might prefer hitting Hurricane Harbor, the 22-acre water park that is right next door. It's much easier on the stomach.
Dinosaurs, insects, African mammals, cool rocks and more - what kid wouldn't be entranced? The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles has some great exhibits. In Dinosaur Hall, you can visit one of the ten most completed Tyrannosaurus Rex skeletons in the world. Another exhibit popular with families is the Insect Zoo, which serves to educate visitors about the many different types of insect species in the world - with many live ones on display, some which kids can even touch. You can also learn about gems and minerals, endangered species and California history while visiting the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles.
If you believe, like Colonel Griffith J. Griffith, in the transformative power of observation, then the Griffith Observatory is the L.A. museum for you and your children. Located in the park that also bears that philanthropist's name, the observatory was recently renovated completely (it originally opened in 1935), but it still offers free public telescope viewing on every clear night in the city. Look up into the universe with the historic Zeiss telescope, the famed coelostat (solar telescope) or the portable telescopes on the lawn and a whole new perspective opens up in the sky. Be sure to visit the Samuel Oschin Planetarium for one of the in-depth shows, but note that there is an admission fee for those. Everything else, including parking, is free at the Griffith Observatory.
The Santa Monica Pier is the most iconic spot in Santa Monica, the place that first comes to most people's minds when they think of Santa Monica. It's a long, wide pier that is packed with fun things to do. A roller coaster, Ferris wheel and other rides await, colorfully curling against the skyline and providing a lit-up atmosphere at night. Carnival-style games also line the pier along with carnival foods and other eateries. There are plenty of souvenir shops, too, at this great family spot. And be sure to bring bathing suits, towels and sand toys as well, since the beach and ocean beckon right below the famous pier. Spend the whole day here and we guarantee that your kids will sleep like babies by the time you arrive back home.
Universal Studios is the real thing, a working movie studio that also happens to have a theme park attached to it. Which means visitors get the chance to go right onto the lot to see where some of their favorite movies and television shows are made â" think the "Psycho" house, the "Desperate Housewives" neighborhood, the "Back to the Future" town square and much more. Take the Studio Tour for unique insights into how Hollywood really works. Stay for the rest of the rides there too, including the Fast and Furious â" Supercharged, Transformers The Ride 3D, WaterWorld, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, and be sure to allow lots of time to see everything The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has to offer, too. Summer 2019 brings Jurassic World: The Ride into the mix, for dinosaur lovers of all ages.
Disneyland is Walt Disney's original vision for "the happiest place on earth," and more than 60 years later it remains just that. Begin with a walk down Main Street and end with the fireworks-filled parade and laser light shows that happen every evening. In between, take in all the big rides â" the Matterhorn Bobsleds, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, Indiana Jones and the Haunted House â" and make sure to meet Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and all their friends, too. Don't miss Mr. Toad's Wild Ride and spend another day next door at Disney's California Adventure Park, where Pixar characters rule. And as of May 2019, the Force will be with the Mouse, as the much-anticipated Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge section of Disneyland opens. For a behind-the-scenes look at both the parks, book an Adventures by Disney trip and you'll get lots of insider experiences.