I thought it would be fun to put together a little family guide of fun things to do in and near Los Angeles. We get asked quite a bit for places to visit and explore, so here's a list of this family's most favorite places. When I've posted about them on the blog before, I have linked to it for more pictures and info, and I've also linked to their sites for more details as well.
Annenberg Beach- if you want to go to a local beach, Annenberg is our favorite. It's in Santa Monica and it has a boardwalk almost straight down to the water, they also have a public pool as well you can use. There's a cafe and a little playground along with it's own easy to find parking lot. We have flown kites here, I've done photo shoots here, and it's just a really pretty classic SoCal beach to enjoy. A little further south we love El Porto Beach in Manhattan Beach. There are plenty of parking meters along the beach with credit card machines so you don't need quarters.
Strawberry Picking - Our most favorite place for picking our own strawberries is Tanaka Farms in Irvine. This is technically Orange County and not Los Angeles, but worth the drive. We go every single year during the kids' spring break. They have watermelon picking in summertime and in the fall a pumpkin patch. Insider tip: don't leave before buying the roasted salsa at their little farm stand, to die for.
Tidepools- We love Heisler Park in Laguna Beach. It's so beautiful and although it's about an hour drive from us, if you have time to eat at Las Brisas and then walk down to the beach, it's the perfect day trip.
Hiking- Temescal Canyon offers gorgeous trails with shade and scenery right amidst the city. We also like Runyon Canyon, but there is definitely less shade and so expect heat depending on the time of day you go. Whenever you see celebs hiking in magazines or reality shows, it's always at Runyon.
High Tea- We are fans of high tea at Hotel Bel Air, the grounds are just stunning so take your camera, or in the heart of Beverly Hills at Montage. They really cater to kids at Montage with little nutella sandwiches and hot chocolate.
El Capitan- If you want more than just a movie experience, get tickets for El Capitan. It's in the heart of Hollywood and you not only see a newly released movie, but you get a whole activity that is extremely memorable for the whole family.
Shopping- The Grove which is near a famous farmers market, or Century City Shopping Centre are my favorites. The Promenade in Santa Monica also has great shopping, but parking is a little tougher, but it's within walking distance to the pier and the beach. The Grove has the American Girl Store, so you can kill two birds with one stone if you want to do a lunch or tea there with your little girl.
Santa Monica Pier- If you love an old fashioned carousel, fun rides and an arcade, and a lot of tourists, SM Pier is great. They even half a mini aquarium below the pier which is perfect if you have an hour or two to spare. I've even rented out the carousel for a private kids party which was extremely fun.
Natural History Museum and Science Center- We are members at the NHM and love to visit it regularly. They have a butterfly and spider pavilion that rotate throughout the year that you don't want to miss. You can even take the metro to get there and there is a stop just a block from the museum. The California Science Center is next door and free, and they have awesome Imax movies there (for a fee). They also have the Endeavor Space Shuttle on display, but be sure to reserve tickets for that ahead of time.
Parks- There's a ton of parks, and I tend to go to those close to where I live, but trust me, there are parks dotting this city everywhere. A few of my favorites are Douglas Park in Santa Monica where there have ducks you can feed, a great play area with sand, and in summer a splash area. Aidan's Place in Westwood is great and sprawling. There's a huge baseball field, shaded sand area and a ton of play structures.
Apple Picking- This is the furthest spot I'm highlighting but it's also the closest apple picking to Los Angeles, so I'm cheating a bit. We are big fans of Riley's Farm in Glen Oak. It's a trek, but still doable for a day trip. We go every fall and make fresh apple cider, pick pears and apples from the orchard, pick raspberries if they are still in season, pack a picnic dinner, choose a few pumpkins and just enjoy spending the day on beautiful property.
Farmers' Markets- Each little city in L.A. seems to have their own farmers' market, which I love love love. But one great for kids is in Santa Monica on Main St., they have pony rides and fun family activities, usually live music as well on Sunday mornings.
Enjoy our favorite parts of Los Angeles! Of course this city is huge, and even though I'm born and raised here, there's new discoveries every day for me. If there's a place your family loves, please let me know in the comment section.
I've also tried my hand at creating a little sidebar button for this post. So if ever you need to come back to it for reference, it'll be in my sidebar, just click and it'll bring you back here to this post. And if you'd like to get your own button of the guide. Here's what it'll look like, just copy and paste the code beneath it and you'll have your own button linking to the guide.