Los Angeles
Park La Brea - Museums
La Brea Tar Pits and Museum - If there's one museum you should see with your kids, it's the La Brea Tar Pits. Here you are in the middle of Los Angeles, standing in the bright sunshine staring at these bubbling, blurpy pools of oozing black asphalt. 40,000 to 10,000 years ago, the local inhabitants, which included woolly mammoths, saber tooth cats, wolves, ground sloths, got stuck in the goo. The result was Ice Age fossils perfectly preserved in the tar.
Before you go inside the museum, check out the tar pits. Endlessly fascinating. You can't miss them. There are several replicas of Ice Age animals, thoughtfully stuck in the pits to give you an idea of what happened thousands of years ago. Picnic tables are situated with a good view of the tar pits, kids can climb on the ground sloth and short nosed bear.
The Museum is a treasure trove, filled with skeletons of saber tooth tigers, bison, ground sloths, mastodons, eagles, California condors and over 400 Dire wolf skulls. An animatronic woolly mammoth roars realistically, another animatronic saber tooth tiger attacks a ground sloth. In the Paleontology lab, watch researchers patiently cleaning fossils.
Little kids will enjoy the Ice Age Encounter, a live presentation with background about the tar pits, and a big saber tooth tiger in costumer.
On our blog, more details about what to see at the museum: " Saber-toothed cats in Los Angeles "
Tip: Page Museum is free with Go Los Angeles Card
Los Angeles County Museum - Next to the Tar Pits is the Los Angeles County Museum. In the American Art galleries, look for Mary Cassatt's homey painting of a Mother About to Wash Her Sleepy Child , and John Singer Sargent's portrait of an elegant mom, one hand on her hip, the other casually clasping her son's hand. For the fashion-minded, check out the Venetian silks, French dresses, Chinese capes, and chic clothing for kids 18th - 20th centuries. Outside the museum, there are sturdy Rodin bronze sculptures.
Petersen Automotive Museum - Los Angeles is the capital of cars, and the new Petersen car museum is fun for everyone in the family. It's not just the exceptional collection of cars on display, but video and hands-on experiences make kids feel they're behind the wheel.
Start at the 3rd floor to see cars used in movies, not just favorites such as the Batmobile, but cars in the most recent James Bond movies. Also, sit behind the behind the wheel of a 1910 Ford Model T for photos.
Plan on spending lots of time on the 2nd floor at the Pixar Cars Mechanical Institute . With hands-on exhibits, kids learn how cars work, from engines to brakes. For little kids, play with cars, color and paint their own car creations. Be sure to check out the Carspad Experience, an interactive iPad app where families can explore the second floor galleries like a treasure hunt.
Also on the 2nd floor are racing cars (with video for the real experience), classic motorcycles, hot rods and custom cars, Forza racing simulator (perfect for teens) and Art Center Design Studio to watch students sketching car designs.
Explore the 1st floor for cars as art, where kids will see some of the most beautiful (and expensive) "rolling sculptures." The BMW art cars with bright colors are especially appealing for kids.
Tip: Photos of the cars in the museum and read our blog post " Cars, Cars, Cars: Petersen Automotive Museum ."
Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust - Older kids will get a great deal out of this museum that focuses on the Jewish experience in concentration camps. In the first exhibits are poignant mementos of Jewish life in Europe before World War II, black and white photos of families and religious treasures. Walk through a life-size replica of a railroad transport car and take a close look at a detailed model of the Sobidor concentration camp.
Fun food
Close to the museums, stop into the Farmers Market (at 3rd and Fairfax), popular with local families since the 1930's. There's a wide variety of restaurants and casual eats for breakfast, lunch or dinner - hot dogs, crepes, burritos, Chinese, barbeque, hamburgers, sushi, sandwiches, fish and chips, pizza, pastries, pies, doughnuts, ice cream, smoothies, local root beer and lemonade.