The 24-Hour Guide to Family Friendly Los Angeles

Photo courtesy of Sunset Ranch Hollywood

No matter your family’s interests - sports, theme parks, art, science, outdoor play, shopping - Los Angeles delivers in a big way. And with nearly 300 days of sun a year, nothing is going to stop your family from fully partaking of the city’s seemingly infinite attractions. Read on for our 24-hour guide to Family Friendly Los Angeles.

Loews Hollywood Hotel

You can’t stay any more in the heart of Hollywood than the Loews Hollywood Hotel. Kids and parents alike love the fifth floor pool, where there’s often a ping pong table set up poolside. Dazzling views from the top floors also get high marks. The front desk has Wii and Xbox game systems to rent as well as complimentary coloring books for the youngest travelers. Even the pickiest eaters will find something at Preston’s Power Breakfast buffet - choices include eggs to order, pancakes, and French toast. Located a half-block away, Mel’s Diner is right out of the 1950s and a popular breakfast destination.

10 a.m. - Hollywood & Highland / Hollywood Sign

For the mandatory Hollywood Sign photo, head to the fourth level of Hollywood & Highland. You’ll be able to get a postcard quality shot of the family with the iconic sign in the background. Before you leave the center, pop into Sweet! on the second level, a sprawling candy emporium where you can even create your own chocolate bar.

TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX in Hollywood
TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX | Photo: TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX

10:30 a.m. - TCL Chinese Theatre

Located off the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the landmark TCL Chinese Theatre welcomes street performers and costumed actors (superheroes and Star Wars characters are regulars) who are happy to snap photos for a few dollars. Explore the famed Forecourt to the Stars and challenge the kids to find a celebrity they recognize. Hint: Katy Perry is there. Kermit the Frog and Big Bird also have stars nearby.

11 a.m. - Madame Tussaud's

Take selfies with Barack Obama and Taylor Swift, two of the 125-plus luminaries you'll encounter at Madame Tussaud's Hollywood. The younger set can sidle up to Shrek or shoot hoops with Kobe Bryant. There’s an interesting exhibit that shows the painstaking process of making the figures as well as a fun 4-D Marvel Superheroes short film. Be sure to check the website for discounts.

Sunset Ranch 1

noon - Sunset Ranch

A one-hour guided trail ride with Sunset Ranch Hollywood in the Hollywood Hills (minimum age to ride is 8 years old) is the perfect family escape. You don’t need special riding gear, just pants and closed toe shoes. The ranch provides helmets. Nor do you need to be an experienced equestrian, the horses are gentle and sure-footed and the views are unforgettable. Advance reservations are recommended.


Lunch: The Apple Pan

Since 1947, Angelenos have flocked to this lively counter for the iconic hickory burgers and homemade pie. You can also get an excellent tuna or egg salad sandwich. There is often a wait, but the non-stop action behind the counter and retro cone paper cups in metal holders hold an odd thrill for children. Banana cream pie lovers need look no further. Note the eatery is closed Mondays and it’s cash only.

Primary image for Au Fudge

Lunch Option: Au Fudge

At Jessica Biel and Estee Stanley’s much anticipated new family restaurant Au Fudge (opening for lunch March 4, 2016), you can grab sandwiches or gourmet coffee in the front marketplace. But if you want something a bit more leisurely, the charming American eatery also offers full table service. Among the draws for the little ones is an actual tree house accessed by a spiral staircase.

Santa Monica Pier

2 p.m. - Santa Monica Pier & Pacific Park

Before you take off your shoes and hit the sand, and maybe test your upper body strength on the rings just south of the pier, indulge the kids with a few rides and games at the historic Santa Monica Pier. The little ones will love the vintage carousel, but note it is closed Tuesdays and some Wednesdays.

For those who want something a bit more adrenaline inducing, the pier’s Pacific Park is home to a roller coaster and Ferris wheel as well as several other rides. If you plan to do more than three or four rides, it’s worth buying an unlimited ride wristband. Finish with a family Skee-Ball competition at Playland Arcade.

Venice Beach

4 p.m. - Venice Beach Boardwalk

Before dinner, shop for souvenirs like bargain price sunglasses and T-shirts on the world-famous Venice Beach Boardwalk. You can also watch the bodybuilders pumping iron at the famed Muscle Beach Venice. (Arnold Schwarzenegger trained there.) Most days, the boardwalk plays host to multiple street performers, including tumblers, musicians, and dancers - there’s even a resident glass walker.

Primary image for C&O Trattoria

Dinner: C&O Trattoria

Addictive garlic knots and an extensive menu of crowd pleasing Italian favorites, including a sizable kids menu, make this lively restaurant a dependable choice. The kids will be enchanted by the raucous, nightly sing-along between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. of “That’s Amore” when the whole place transforms into a party. If the weather is fair (and it usually is), request a table on the patio.