Updated: Aug 14, 2019
Looking for some things to do this summer with the kids. Below is a list of some popular places to visit. These places are more common than our last list and many of them are on the must-see list for tourist to the Los Angeles area. While these places are a lot of fun, they also have an educational component to them. Tours, classes, seminars may be available at certain times of the year.
First stop: Downtown Los Angeles
Central Library, - 630 W. 5th Street - Los Angeles, CA 90071. The library is FREE. One of the largest public libraries in the area it displays like a museum and often has art exhibits throughout the space. The library offers a host of free programs; ESL, GED and Mandarin just to name a few. They also have tours. https://www.lapl.org/branches/central-library
Olvera Street - N Alameda St & N Los Angeles St, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Known as “The birthplace of Los Angeles”, it is where the first Mexicans settled in Los Angeles. A festive marketplace with lots of delicious food and great shopping, there is also guided tours that provide a wealth of information about Los Angeles. https://www.olvera-street.com/
Japanese American National Museum - 100 North Central Avenue - Los Angeles, California 90012. The museum has showcased more than 130 years of Japanese American history. Running now thru July 7th is Kaiju vs Heroes: Mark Nagata's Journey through the World of Japanese Toys, a display of vintage and contemporary Japanese vinyl toys. Theirs is always something fascinating to see at this museum.]
Adults $12, Seniors (62 and over) $6, Students (with ID) and Youth (6–17) $6, Children 5 and under and JANM Members, Free. *Free general admission every Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and all day every third Thursday of the month. http://www.janm.org/
A little South of Downtown:
Exposition Park, Adjacent USC, sits the California Science Center, the Natural History Museum, the California African American Museum and the space shuttle Endeavour. There is a lot to see here and each venue (apart from the shuttle) deserves a dedicated day. A visit to Endeavour requires a timed reservation every day! http://expositionpark.ca.gov/
California Science Center - 700 Exposition Park Drive - Los Angeles, CA 90037. Free admission. The Science Center is an interactive venue where all can discover the phenomena of science through interactive activities, demonstrations, innovative programs and amazing films. https://californiasciencecenter.org/
Natural History Museum – 900 Exposition Blvd - Los Angeles, CA 90007 There is so much to see here; everything from dinosaurs, butterflies and other insects, minerals and gems, dioramas, rose gardens to Latin American treasures. Pricing is based on exhibits, call or visit the website for pricing. https://nhm.org/
California African American Museum – CAAM is the first fully state funded African American museum in America. The museum celebrates art of African Americans connected to California but also has noteworthy works of contemporary art from others who are part of the African diaspora. There is also a research library that houses over 6000 books and historical artifacts. https://caamuseum.org/
Going West of Exposition Park in the center of the city is Museum Row in the Miracle Mile on Wilshire Blvd., is the Craft and Folk-Art Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Page Museum, the Petersen Automotive Museum, and the La Brea Tar Pits.
Craft and Folk-Art Museum - 5814 Wilshire Blvd. - Los Angeles, CA 90036. Recently renamed Craft Contemporary this museum is special because it allows the visitors to not only look at art but to make art. This museum offers creative opportunities to participate in workshops with professional artists. Admission is FREE for members and children under 10, General: $9, Students, teachers, seniors (65+): $7, Every Sunday is donation-based admissions. http://www.cafam.org/
Los Angeles County Museum of Art - 5905 Wilshire Blvd. - Los Angeles, CA 90036. With close to 140,000 items that span over 6000 years, LACMA is the largest art museum on the West Coast. Urban lights is an outdoor installation of 202 restored cast iron antique street lamps that makes for a great photo op. Admission is free for members, children 17 and under and after 3pm Monday thru Friday. Call for other prices and exhibits. https://www.lacma.org/
Page Museum is a one of a kind museum that has the rare architectural distinction of housing and exhibiting paleontological discoveries from the very site on which it sits--the La Brea Tar Pits. The building is nestled in the center of an artificial mound that replicates the ruins of a Mayan temple, and an entrance ramp takes visitors well below the grounds surface to enter. There is a fossil lab, a lake pit of tar and an observation pit. https://tarpits.org/
Petersen Automotive Museum celebrates the entirety of automotive history, industry, culture and artistry in Los Angeles. The venue itself is an architectural dream. The Discovery Center on the 2nd floor delivers opportunities for museumgoers to design a virtual racecar and work/play on the LEGO Build tables. Admissions range from $16-11. https://www.petersen.org/
A few other notable places on the Westside of town include the Museum of Tolerance which focuses on the Holocaust and examines racism, prejudice and discrimination in the world. Can be an emotional experience (may not be appropriate for younger kids). A public marine-education center, the Santa Monica Aquarium at the Pier is operated by Heal the Bay and has more than 100 species of marine animals and plants from around the Santa Monica area.
A couple of our favorite museums that the kids will enjoy are:
Los Angeles Police Museum in Eagle Rock which features the history of the police department in Los Angeles, classic police cars and exciting exhibits. http://laphs.org
Los Angeles County Fire Department Museum in Bellflower which showcases over 60 antique fire engines along with the history of the renowned fire department. https://www.lacountyfiremuseum.com/
Before visiting any of these venues it is advised that you call or visit their website for pricing and special exhibits. It’s always a good idea to ask when the slow hours are and are there any discounts for Southern California residents. I would advise if taken younger kids bring snacks and water. Many of the venues have space for eating outside lunch, this may be something else you want to inquire about.
This article was written by Dr. James Gray as a public service announcement. Dr. James Gray is the School Services Director at Limai Academy and has been in education for over 15 years.