Last summer, we spent three weeks as a family in California. It took a lot of debating in our house, mainly because my husband thought the flight and jet lag were too much to handle with young children. I will admit these are the two major cons of this destination when flying from Europe. Also, if you don’t like driving that could be a major issue, considering a car is mandatory there. But the positive totally outweighs the negative.
The weather was gorgeous every day and there were a lot of great things to do, for both adults and children. We rented a house in Beverly Hills so most of my recommendations will be located there or less than an hour away.
Here are my picks for things to do with children in Los Angeles
– COLDWATER CANYON PARK: This was the closest park to our house and we spent a countless number of hours there. It is a rather small park but there is a nice playground with the usual slides, swings, picnic area and sandpit. To me, the greatest feature was the little stream that is perfect for splashing. My daughter would put her swimming suit on and play in the water for hours. Parking is easy and free for two hours around the park.
– KIDVILLE BRENTWOOD: I bought a voucher on Groupon USA and tried a couple of classes. The voucher was actually for 3 classes and a few free play sessions but we decided it made more sense to prioritize outdoor activities and enjoy the weather while we were there. However, it is a very nice studio with lots of fun classes and an open gym.
– ANNENBERG COMMUNITY BEACH HOUSE (SANTA MONICA) : This was definitely my favourite! What an amazing place for families! There is a pool, a playground on the beach, a restaurant, an open picnic area and a splash pool. On weekends the swimming pool is extremely busy and there is a waiting list but it moves fairly quickly. There are lots of things to do while waiting. My advice: book a parking space in advance! You can do so online up to 24 hours before going and that will save you a lot of time and headaches.
– AU FUDGE: If you know your celebrities, Jessica Biel is a name you will have heard before. She is an actress and happens to be married to Justin Timberlake. She is also an entrepreneur and recently opened a lovely child-friendly restaurant called Au Fudge in West Hollywood. The food is organic and delicious with lots of yummy options for children. There is also a creative space where children can play before their food is served or after. A couple of au pairs are there to supervise them while parents enjoy their lunch.
– BEVERLY HILLS FIRE DEPARTMENT: We had a lovely time at the Beverly Hills Fire Department. The firemen were extremely welcoming and were very happy to show us around. The Beverly Hills Fire Department is very well equipped so you will get to see huge fire engines, hear lots of valuable information and take pictures. It almost felt like being in a movie. I highly recommend this one!
– SIXTY BEVERLY HILLS HOTEL ROOFTOP POOL: A lovely pool with no entry fee and a lovely view where you can have a nice lunch. It is worth adding that the pool is not deep at all and rather small so if you are looking for a workout it might not be the right place. It is a nice spot with children though. We always went in the morning and left after lunch so the crowd might be less family friendly in the afternoon.
– THE GROVE: my favourite shopping centre in the world! It is a great place to eat, shop, go to the movies or just walk around. What makes it special is that it is all outdoor and beautifully designed. There is a nice family room where you can breastfeed, change a nappy or just get away from the heat if you need to. On the weekend they usually have nice attractions like a mini concert or food tasting.
– THIRD STREET PROMENADE IN SANTA MONICA: Third Street Promenade is a pedestrian-only street with lots of stores and restaurants. What makes it special are its street performers.
– SANTA MONICA PIER: a very popular and busy attraction with a mix of amusement rides and games, restaurants and a small aquarium underneath the Carousel building. Our daughter loved touching the starfishes!
– THE BEVERLY HILLS PUBLIC LIBRARY: We took our daughter to the Beverly Hills library a couple of times and it is a beautiful space with lots of colourful books, comfortable seats, a nice small playroom and another larger room where they offer story times frequently during the week.
We briefly considered going to Disneyland and Universal Studio but ended up deciding against it since we felt our 2.5 years old daughter at the time was still too young to fully enjoy her time there. We will definitely go next time. As highlighted before it is a long trip but absolutely worth it. I cannot wait to go back!