Best Stuff For Young Kids (5-8) In Los Angeles

August 28, 2010 10:17 AM

(credit: LA Zoo)

Los Angeles isn’t just an adult playground. In fact, there’s a mind-boggling array of things to do around L.A. that are much more fun if done with a kid in tow. Especially those kids in that curious age of 5-8. Here is a list of some of the best things to do in LA.
Petersen Automotive Museum

Petersen Automotive Museum (photo credit:

Petersen Auto Museum

6060 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 930-2277

My son’s first true love was cars. At the age of 3 he could identify car brands in parking lots by their logos, so – once discovered – the Petersen Auto Museum quickly became a home away from home. More than 150 cars, trucks, motorcycles and more are displayed across the four floors that encompass this 300,000 square-foot museum. The vehicles permanently exhibited range from the classic to the modern, and special exhibits like “What Were They Thinking? The Misfits of Motordom,” and “Encore! Cars & Guitars of Rock ‘n Roll II,” keep car fanatics coming back for more. And the permanent Hot Wheels exhibit brings joy to the heart of boys young and old. The May Family Discovery Center teaches children basic science principles via exhibits that explain the basic functioning of a car. After visiting the exhibits, you won’t want to miss the museum’s gift shop, which has car-related gifts and memorabilia for purchase at a wide range of prices – perfect for any budget. And the museum recently added Johnny Rockets – a drive-in themed family-friendly burger restaurant where families can eat and talk about what they saw at the museum. All in all, this museum makes for a perfect outing.

Kidspace Children's Museum

Kidspace Children's Museum (photo credit:

Kidspace Children’s Museum

480 N. Arroyo Boulevard
Pasadena, CA 91103
(626) 449-9144

The Kidspace Children’s museum is a great escape from the everyday games and arts & crafts you have at home. The museum includes exhibits and programs in the arts, sciences and humanities, as well as school and group programs, parent programs and birthday parties. The kids walk away in awe (and the parents always learn something new, too.) With a well-developed outdoor area, Kidspace also offers interactive and educational ways for wound-up kiddos to burn off some extra energy. And the award-winning café with fare designed by Wolfgang Puck himself, everyone can replenish.

Pacific Park

Pacific Park (photo credit:

Pacific Park

380 Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 260-8744

You can’t miss that iconic Ferris wheel – and neither should the kiddos. Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier is a fun and affordable family-friendly outing that also boasts a roller coaster, games, tyke-sized rides as well as all the cotton candy and funnel cakes you can eat. With a gorgeous view of the Pacific Ocean and steps from the beach, the park is a must-do for parents and kids. Added bonus: The restrooms on the Pier were recently voted among the top 10 in the nation.

The El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles, California

Interior view of the El Capitan Theatre from 2002 in Hollywood, Calif. (photo credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

El Capitan Theater

8838 Hollywood Boulevard
Los Angeles, Calif., 90028
(818) 845-3110

Originally established in 1926 as “Hollywood’s First Home of Spoken Drama,” El Capitan Theater was a center of activity for Hollywood’s live theater community in the 1920s and 1930s. In 1941, the theater hosted the world premiere of Orson Welles’ Academy Award-winning film “Citizen Kane,” and was then closed for remodeling to re-emerge as The Hollywood Paramount –- a modern movie theater. From 1989 – 1991 the theater was remodeled again –- restored to its original state via a partnership between the Walt Disney Company and Pacific Theaters. Today it is the exclusive first-run theater for Disney pictures. In addition families can enjoy live performances and showings of classic Disney pictures on the big screen. Situated across the street from the Hollywood & Highland entertainment complex, the El Capitan Theater’s Spanish Colonial exterior and East-Indian design interior are stunning.

Griffith Park

Griffith Park (photo credit:

The Griffith Park & Southern Railroad

4730 Crystal Springs Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 913 4688

Here’s a place where literally you could spend several days and truly not get bored. With 4,000-plus acres and 11 different attractions, this park has something for everyone. Its attractions include bicycle rentals, an equestrian center, a merry-go-round, the Greek Theater and the Griffith Observatory and more. But the two of the best things for kids ages 5-8 are:

Travel Town / Griffith Park Train Rides

Travel Town / Griffith Park Train Rides (photo credit:

Travel Town

5200 Zoo Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 662-5874

This outdoor museum characterizes itself as a “train petting zoo” — where children can imagine what it would be like to be a train engineer. Kids can climb locomotives, passenger cars, freight cars, cabooses, interurbans and motorcars and walk along (non-functioning) train tracks. They can also enjoy a ride around the perimeter of the park on a small train, and view (through glass) a massive, fully-functioning model train community. Families can picnic on the grounds, and trains and picnic areas are available for birthday parties.

Los Angeles Zoo

Los Angeles Zoo (photo credit:

Los Angeles Zoo

5333 Zoo Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90027

Open since 1666, the Los Angeles Zoo is home to more than 1,000 animals ranging from lions and tigers and bears to the more exotic Visayan warty pigs, Cape griffon vulture and Komodo dragons. More than 29 of the 250 represented species represented are endangered, and the museum is involved in the conservation of California condors (which are not displayed). The 133-acre zoo offers several show options, botanical gardens and an audio tour.

– Jennifer Vides blogs at

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