City guide: Los Angeles

Your one-stop city guide, packed with information on family-friendly hotels, restaurants, and local and unique attractions.

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The City of Angels and its five-county metropolitan area offers countless options for a family getaway. The glitz and glamour of Hollywood and Beverly Hills are irresistible, but so are funkier enclaves like Koreatown and, of course, the breathtaking views along the shores of the Pacific. 


Homewood Suites by Hilton, Anaheim
12005 Harbor Boulevard, Garden Grove, CA
(714) 740-1800
Price: Rooms starting at $139/night

A terrific option if you’re planning an extended visit to Disneyland.  No need to cram sippy cups and snacks into a cramped mini-fridge as every suite includes a full-sized refrigerator, cook top, microwave, and dishwasher.  Feel free to use one of the hotel’s outdoor grills for a barbecue. The Target across the street offers Disneyland souvenirs at one-third the price.  (We won’t tell.)

Hotel Casa del Mar
1910 Ocean Way, Santa Monica, CA
(310) 581-5533
Prices: Rooms starting at $400/night

If you’re looking to stay on the water and you’re willing to splurge, this resort is for you.  One of only two beachfront resorts in Los Angeles, the Casa del Mar offers spacious rooms and a rooftop pool.  Sister hotel Shutters supplies beach chairs, umbrellas, and boogie boards in the summer, and out rents bicycles all year round. Think elegant, but low-key.  Babysitting services are also available.

Magic Castle
7025 Franklin Avenue, Hollywood, CA
(323) 851-0800
Price: Rooms starting at $175/night

The Magic Castle is a quirky and delightful inn with exceptional service and a great location.  As a guest of this hotel, you can enjoy exclusive access to the top-drawer shows at the Magic Castle, a performance space for the Academy of Magical Arts.  While not lavish, the rooms are spacious and clean, and offer full kitchens and pullout beds. There are no elevators, so if you’ve got lots of baggage, or if you’d prefer not to take the stairs, be sure to request a ground floor room.

Beverly Garland’s Holiday Inn at Universal Studios
4222 Vineland Avenue, North Hollywood, CA
(818) 980-8000
Prices: Rooms starting at $180/night

The folks at Beverly Garland know how to cater to families.  The KidSuite room option is a standard room equipped with bunk beds a flat screen TV, fridge microwave and game table.  At night, you can enjoy the outdoor Jacuzzi or play tennis, while the children watch a complimentary movie on a large screen by the pool.  

Le Park Suites
733 North West Knoll Drive, West Hollywood, CA
(310) 855-8888
Price: Rooms starting at $249/night

While hipsters might prefer the scene at The Montrose, the sister property of Le Parc, we feel this more laid-back sibling is the wiser choice.  Located on a quiet, residential street in chic West Hollywood, Le Parc is just a short drive from the hustle and bustle of downtown L.A. and the Sunset Strip.  Unwind at the rooftop pool and rev up at the tennis court; this mellow spot earned a Certificate of Excellence from


Paradise Cove Beach Cafe
28128 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA
(310) 457-2503
Hours: 8am-10pm (daily)
Price: $$
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

This is a great spot for breakfast, lunch and dinner while you’re doing some high-quality beachbumming.  The Café has an irresistible, laid-back SoCal vibe; linger over your favorite umbrella drink while the kids make sandcastles.  The fish tacos and the clam chowder are popular with the locales.

Pink's Hot Dogs


Pink’s Hot Dogs

Giggles N’ Hugs
10250 Santa Monica Boulevard #155, Los Angeles, CA
(310) 553-HUGS
Monday-Thursday: 10:30am-8pm
Friday: 10:30am-9pm
Saturday: 10am-9pm
Sunday: 10am-7pm
Price: $$
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

Not just a meal, but an event with dancing, face-painting, arts and crafts, and much more. Giggles N’ Hugs was born out of the owners’ frustration in finding a fun restaurant for kids with both healthy and yummy selections.  Everything here is certified organic whenver possible, and the adult selections are plentiful. Try the “make-your-own-pizza” and wash it down with a PB&J smoothie.

Taste at the Palisades
538 Palisades Drive, Pacific Palisades, CA
(310) 459-9108
Lunch: Tuesday-Friday: 11am-5pm
Dinner: Sunday-Thursday: 5pm-9pm
Brunch: Saturday-Sunday: 9:30am-3pm
Friday-Saturday: 5pm-10pm
Price: $$
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

Taste at the Palisades is an outpost of Taste on Melrose in funky West Hollywood, but calmer and much, much bigger.  Teach the kids about the virtues of “slow food” and eating locally by going on a Thursday, when a special menu carries ingredients exclusively from the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market. The white truffle oil and mushroom macaroni and cheese is a delicious version of the timeless standby.

7450 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA
(323) 930-9744
Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 8am-10pm, Friday-Saturday: 8am-11pm
Price: $$$
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

For a fairly sophisticated young palate, try this upscale bistro with a great central location.  While they don’t offer a separate kids menu, there are “platelettes,” smaller and less expensive options to entrees. Servers will bring over a bucket of crayons and happily accommodates requests for basic pastas, burgers, and grilled chicken.  Going to an outdoor concert or the beach?  BLD will pack you a generous picnic box of their most popular selections. Alert: Homemade donuts every Wednesday.

9609 South Santa Monica Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA
(310) 860-1606
Hours: 11am-11pm (daily)
Price: $
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

Not just another “make-your-own-frozen-yogurt” joint, Menchies is the winner of LA Parent’s 2011 award for “Best Place for a Treat.” The honeydew sorbet is addictive — so be warned. Go to their website and download their wallpaper, it’s adorable!


1313 North Harbor Boulevard, Anaheim, CA
(714) 781-4000
Hours: 8am-12am (daily)
Price: $119 per person
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

Splash Mountain!  Finding Nemo!   Peter Pan’s Flight!  The rides are legendary at Disneyland, the mother of all theme parks.  Entire books have been devoted to planning a visit here and navigating the park, but no worries, with some online research, and a game plan, it’s easy to focus on the fun!

La Brea Tarpits and Page Museum
5801 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA
(323) 934-PAGE
Hours: 9:30am-5pm (daily)
Prices: Children (ages 4 & under): $5, Juniors (ages 5-12): $8, Adults (ages 13-61): $10, Seniors (ages 62+): $8
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen
Visit the world of the Ice Age movies as you travel back 40,000 years to explore the world’s most famous fossil excavations.  Take a free tour and let your guide point out sabre-tooth tigers and dinosaurs.  At the Fishbowl Lab, you can watch paleontologists work on real fossils.  The kids will love the life-size replicas of extinct mammals that once roamed downtown Los Angeles. Dig it!

Santa Monica Pier
200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA
(310) 458-8901
Hours: Open daily
Price: Free
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

Santa Monica prides itself as the birthplace of the physical fitness boom; Jack La Lanne and Joe Gold (Gold’s Gym) sculpted their famous bods in the 1930s on Muscle Beach. Get into the spirit with a bike ride or fishing expedition before you let the kids gorge themselves on cotton candy and funnel cake. There’s a carousel, roller coaster and plenty of first-rate people-watching.

Rolling Robots
757 Americana Way, Glendale, CA
(818) 241-2308
Hours: By appointment
Price: Prices vary
Age Range: Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

Maybe you’ve got a budding engineer in the family? The folks at Rolling Robots will teach the kids of all levels how to design and build his or her very own radio-controlled robot. Rad!

Universal Studios Hollywood
100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, CA
(800) 864-8377
Hours: 8am-10pm (daily)
Prices: Under 48 inches tall: $72, General Admission: $80
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

The studio tour at the world’s most famous backlot is not to be missed. Get the scoop on how Jurassic Park was created and why the Transformers seem so real.  Special effects not your thing? Relive the horror of Psycho all over again at the actual set of the Bates Motel.  A visit to Universal Studios is an exciting journey through the history of the movies.  

Sunset Ranch Hollywood Stables
3400 North Beachwood Drive, Los Angeles, CA
(323) 469-5450
Hours: 9am-5pm (daily)
Price: One hour tour: $40 per person, Two hour tour: $60 per person
Age Range: (8 and older) Elementary, Tween, Teen

Located in Griffith Park, Sunset Ranch offers a novel way to experience some of the most breathtaking views of the Hollywood Hills.  First-time equestrians are more than welcome on the one-hour, two-hour or evening rides.  Riding lessons, parties, and an on-site restaurant are also available.  Grab your saddle and go! 

400 Main Street, Newport Beach, CA
(949) 675-8915
Hours: Call ahead for tour times
Price: Children (ages 12 & under): $26, Adults (ages 13-59): $32, Seniors (ages 60+): $26
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

ExplorOcean has been designed to educate visitors to the essential principles of ocean literacy through exciting hands-on activities. From mapping the ocean floor to manning an ROV, in the Ocean Literacy Center no one keeps their hands to themselves! So roll up your sleeves and dive in — an ocean of wonders awaits!  

The Hollywood Walk of Fame and Hollywood Sign
7018 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, CA
(323) 469-8311
Hours: Open daily
Price: Free
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

The kids will love to find out how many names they recognize on this international tourist attraction.  Because the Walk of Fame is a public sidewalk, the hours of operation are unrestricted and there is no price of admission.  If anyone approaches you to purchase a ticket, take a moment to report it to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce at

The Farmer’s Market
333 West 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA
(323) 933-9211
Monday-Friday: 9am-9pm
Saturday: 9am-8pm
Sunday: 10am-7pm
Price: Free
Age Range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

So much more than a spot for fresh produce, the Farmer’s Market is the ultimate  gastronomic emporium. The kids will love the Sticker Place; nobody can top their selection.  Take home a container of Magee’s freshly-ground peanut butter!

California Science Center
700 State Drive, Los Angeles, CA
(213) 744-2019
Hours: 10am-5pm (daily)

Home to over 100 exhibits, this is the west coast’s largest hands on science museum. Learning is fully interactive and experiential as children learn about physics by riding a bike, and learn about earthquakes by testing whether or not structures will fall on impact.  The exhibits change frequently, so be sure to check the website for the most up-to-date information.

Local uniques:

Zimmer Children’s Museum
6505 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA
(323) 761-8984
Monday, Saturday: Closed
Tuesday-Friday: 10am-5pm
Sunday: 12:30pm-5pm
Price: Children (ages 1-17): $5, Adults (ages 18+): $8
Age range: Baby, Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary

Located on Museum Row, the Zimmer Exhibits, (some of which have Jewish themes), focus on what the Zimmer calls “Big Ideas” — Community, responsibility and global citizenship.  There you’ll find an actual boat used during Hurricane Katrina and the world’s largest pinball machine. This is about fun with a social-justice twist.

Noah’s Ark at the Skirball Cultural Center
270 North Sepulveda Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA
(310) 440-4500
Monday: Closed
Tuesday-Friday: 12pm-5pm
Saturday-Sunday: 10am-5pm
Price: Children (ages 2-12): $5, Adults (ages 13-64): $10, Seniors (ages 65+): $7
Age Range: Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

This permanent, award-winning installation is unlike anything else.  For the past five years, designers, artists, educators, and architects have collaborated to bring this timeless story about building a future to audiences of all generations.  Play, climb and explore the Ark and the animals. Don’t miss the Rainbow Mist in the Noah’s Ark outdoor park, an uplifting and inspiring message brought to you in a unique setting.

Summer Sounds at the Hollywood Bowl
2301 North Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA
(323) 850-2000
Hours: Call ahead for show times
Price: $7 per person
Age Range: Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween

The kids probably won’t know that the Beatles played here in 1965, but no matter.  This annual festival of world music, dance and art is first-rate fun.  Help them appreciate diverse genres of reggae, mariachi, and Filipino music, to name a few.   Winner of Los Angeles magazine’s “Best of LA award” for “concerts for tots.”

Geffen Playhouse at UCLA
10920 Kinross Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 
(310) 208-2028
Hours: Call ahead for show times
Price: $15 per person
Age Range: Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween

The Playhouse has moved to the forefront of regional theatre over the past 15 years.  Founded by legendary producer Gil Cates, the company consistently draws top-drawer playwrights, directors and actors.  This innovative troupe turns children into authors.  Here’s how it works: send in a short story and Story Pirates will turn it onto a full-length sketch comedy musical! The Geffen’s pitch is: “Monty Python meets Schoolhouse Rock.”

Martial Arts History Museum
2319 West Magnolia Boulevard, Burbank, CA
(818) 478-1722
Hours: Monday-Wednesday: Closed, Thursday-Sunday: 11am-6pm
Price: By donation
Age Range: Toddler, Preschooler, Elementary, Tween, Teen

A very cool place, as well as a fascinating educational and cultural experience.  The Museum moved to LA from Santa Clarita in 2008, so it’s a relatively recent addition to the scene.  Befitting its new locale, the Museum was designed by artists from Disney and the Simpsons, so the space itself is sure to wow.  According to the website, the museum is less about “punch and kick” and “who’s who” then it is a celebration of the positive impact this ancient Asian art has had on the West.  Not to be missed!