The 48-Hour Guide to Family Friendly Los Angeles

Redwood tree at Clifton’s | Photo by Wonho Frank Lee, courtesy of Los Angeles Conservancy

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 48-hour guide to Family Friendly Los Angeles.

Omni Los Angeles Hotel at California Plaza

The youngest guests of the Omni Los Angeles Hotel at California Plaza, located in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles, are welcomed with their very own backpacks that contain activity books and other goodies (part of the Omni Sensational Kids program). All families enjoy house-baked chocolate chip cookies and ice cold milk on check-in. The fourth floor pool is a hit with kids and parents alike. So is the hotel’s car service (maximum of three passengers) that serves the immediate area. Check out the bed and breakfast package - the hotel’s most popular - which includes the breakfast buffet for each registered guest in the Grand Café as well as valet parking.

Jeff Koons, “Balloon Dog (Blue)” (1994-2000) | Photo courtesy of The Broad, Facebook

11 a.m. - The Broad

Even the spaceship-like entrance gets high marks from kids at The Broad, L.A.’s newest art museum. Though admission is free, it’s best to make advance reservations. Otherwise you can attempt the walk-in route, if you don’t mind waiting in line. Robert Therrien’s piece Under the Table is a crowd pleaser: a dining room set fit for a giant that visitors stroll under. Kids also respond to the whimsical and wonderful work of Jeff Koons, such as the massive blue Balloon Dog and the colorful bouquet of enormous steel tulips. (Note: some artwork at The Broad is for mature audiences.)


Day One: Lunch - Clifton's Cafeteria

There’s just one restaurant in Los Angeles that has a giant redwood tree, a five-billion year old meteorite and an enormous stuffed Catalina Bison, and that is Clifton’s Cafeteria in Downtown L.A. Located in the historic Broadway District, the landmark restaurant and event venue emerged from a multi-million dollar makeover in 2015. To eat, Thanksgiving dinner is served all year round, and kids of all ages will love getting Jello for dessert. Afterwards, walk three blocks north to Grand Central Market, where some 40 independent businesses sell everything from mole paste to gourmet chocolates. It’s a great place to pick up gifts for any foodies back home.

Exposition Park

Day One: 2 p.m. - Exposition Park (CA Science Center & Natural History Museum)

If your children are more interested in science than sport, check out the California Science Center in Exposition Park. Admission to attractions such as the Earthquake Experience and Rot Room are free. However, if you want to visit the Space Shuttle Endeavour, advance online reservations are highly recommended. Young dinosaur fans will flip for the fossils in Dinosaur Hall at the neighboring Natural History Museum, including the nearly 34-foot long "Thomas the T. rex." In the spring and summertime, the museum opens its popular butterfly pavilion. (Special tickets are required.)

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Day One: Sports Option - STAPLES Center

The Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers play October through April at STAPLES Center in Downtown L.A. The world-famous venue is also home to L.A.’s pro women’s basketball team, the Los Angeles Sparks, who do their thing May through September, as well as the Los Angeles Kings (hockey) who play in the fall and winter.

DignityHealth Meeting space

Day One: Sports Option - StubHub Center

The Los Angeles Galaxy (soccer) play February through October at StubHub Center in Carson, located about 10 miles south of Downtown Los Angeles.

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Day Two: 10 a.m. - Ocean Seafood

The roving carts offering all manner of dumplings and noodles equal terrific fun during dim sum service at Ocean Seafood Restaurant in historic Chinatown. Kids also enjoy watching the fish and lobsters in the giant tanks. Dim sum, which is akin to Chinese brunch, is served Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Afterwards, browse some of the nearby shops, where you can score everything from lucky bamboo to jade bracelets and Party Snaps, a.k.a. poppers.

Day Two: noon - Perry’s Beach Cafe & Rentals

A well maintained bike path runs along the beach in Santa Monica and Venice. Perry’s Beach Cafe & Rentals, with multiple locations conveniently dotting this coastal stretch, can hook up your entire family with bikes. They have bikes with training wheels, as well as three-wheel, low rider choppers that are popular with big kids. And not to worry, they have helmets too. If you prefer something less strenuous, consider their beach butler service that's available at two locations, including the shop just south of the Santa Monica Pier. Your butler will transport and set up for you a sizable canvas beach umbrella, table and chairs. For an additional fee, they will deliver lunch.

Day Two: 2 p.m. - Santa Monica Pier Aquarium

If there’s an animal lover in your group, make sure to carve out some time to visit the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, located below the pier’s historic carousel. Kids (and curious adults) can pet sea stars and sea cucumbers, among other creatures, in the touch tank. Sunday afternoons are especially popular, because at 3:30 p.m. the public is invited to watch the resident sharks and stingrays being fed.

Santa Monica Pier

Day Two: 4 p.m. - Santa Monica Pier & Pacific Park

Before you take off your shoes and hit the sand - 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 Santa Monica Pier. The little ones will love the vintage carousel. (Note it is closed Tuesdays and some Wednesdays.) For those wanting something a bit more adrenaline inducing, the pier’s Pacific Park is home to a roller coaster, Ferris wheel and 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 the Playland Arcade.

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Day Two: Dinner - 800 Degrees

Everyone likes pizza, and at 800 Degrees - with multiple locations, including one less than a mile from the hotel - you can customize your own. There is even a gluten free option. Topping choices range from the usual (pepperoni, mushrooms) to the unusual (shrimp, pine nuts, and peppadews, which are pickled peppers). By the time you get to the cash register, your pizza is cooked to perfection.