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Los Angeles Weekend Guide | Family Vacation Critic

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All Ages

Los Angeles Weekend Guide


Think it”s impossible to see Disneyland, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Grauman”s Chinese Theatre, Griffith Observatory, Disney Concert Hall, Rodeo Drive and, of course, all the celebrities” homes in three days without completely exhausting yourself? We”re not sure about the exhausting part, but we”ll help you try to avoid that as you enjoy the iconic attractions your family has always wanted to see. And believe it or not, two or three days will be just enough (though we know the kids will inevitably beg for a return visit to Disneyland…). Follow this itinerary for a perfect family weekend getaway in Los Angeles with kids!

Written by Amanda Geronikos


Day One: Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

Start your Los Angeles weekend getaway with a visit to the La Brea Tar Pits, where kids can see an actual fossil excavation site, as well as the Page Museum, which showcases more than one million Ice Age fossils. Ice Age Encounters, held on weekends, is a multi-media, 150-minute performance that brings the past to life, and kids will love getting to “meet” the stars of “Ice Age” when they see wooly mammoth, sloth and a saber tooth tiger. The museum and tar pits open at 9:30 a.m., so you can get an early start.

The best (and easiest) way to see all of the city"s iconic landmarks is with the Legends of Hollywood Tour. Afternoon tours typically begin at 2 p.m. and take you to TCL Chinese Theatre, Hollywood Boulevard, Griffith Observatory, Rodeo Drive and a countless list of other attractions. You"ll also see celebrity homes and film locations, including Simon Cowell"s mansion and the house where Michael Jackson"s “Thriller” was filmed. The tour is led in the comfort of a Mercedes-Benz van, driven by Mark Morrow. He narrates with the help of video clips, and kindly offers to take your family"s picture (with your camera) whenever he stops at various locations. The bus picks up and drops off at the Los Angeles Farmers Market, but free pick-ups and drop-offs to and from your hotel can also be arranged.

Spend an evening at the Santa Monica Pier, which is west of Los Angeles, on the beach. It features a Ferris wheel, carousel, arcade and aquarium. Nearby, you"ll find the 3rd Street Promenade with retail stores, restaurants and street performers galore. For dinner, eat al fresco at one of the restaurants and enjoy a beautiful sunset over the Pacific Ocean.

Day Two: Universal Studios and the Stars

Morning and Afternoon
No weekend trip to Los Angeles would be complete without spending some time immersing yourself in the magic of Hollywood movies! You can easily spend an entire day at Universal Studios, where you can embark on a behind-the-scenes tour of television sets and hop on movie-inspired rides like Jurassic Park – The Ride. To help avoid long lines and do it all -- fast! -- purchase a VIP ticket that allows you to go to the front of the line of every ride.

If you"ve seen and done it all at Universal and want to do something different in the evening, head to the Griffith Observatory in the Hollywood Hills. Yes, you will have visited the Hollywood Hills on your Legends of Hollywood Tour, but Griffith provides a unique experience, with free public telescopes to watch the stars above the City of Angels. Admission is also free. Griffith Observatory is open until 10 p.m. six nights a week (closed on Mondays). For a small fee, visit the Samuel Oschin Planetarium for a live presentation, offered every 60 to 90 minutes.

Day Three: Disney Magic

If you"re going to make a weekend trip to Los Angeles, you might as well spend a day at Disneyland and/or Disney"s California Adventure in nearby Anaheim. (Splurge on the combo ticket that allows you to do both and go back and forth; they are directly across a pedestrian walkway from each other.) Highlights include Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Cars Land and the Matterhorn. After a day at Disney, the kids will definitely deem your family weekend in Los Angeles a success.

Where To Stay With Kids: Luxury Los Angeles Hotel

If you"re going to visit the hometown of celebrities, you might as well spend your Los Angeles weekend getaway feeling like a celebrity yourself, right? You certainly will with a stay at the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills. Surrounded by gorgeous gardens and waterfalls, the hotel features an outdoor pool with private cabanas and towel and food service. It caters to kids with welcome amenities at check-in, child-size bathrobes, children"s menus in the onsite restaurants, cribs and rollaway beds, coloring books and crayons and childproof amenities. Babysitting services are also available. Rooms feature DVD players and complimentary iPad"s; many suites have spacious balconies.

Where To Stay With Kids: Mid-Range Los Angeles Hotel

What used to be an apartment complex is now the Magic Castle Hotel, a family-friendly hotel with complimentary Wi-Fi, free gym access, a swimming pool, complimentary snacks and free laundry services provided by the staff. Since the units are former apartments, they provide one or two separate bedrooms, living rooms and full kitchens, so you'll enjoy some independence and won't have to eat out three meals a day during your entire weekend in Los Angeles. Seven smaller, standard rooms are also available.

Where To Stay With Kids: Budget Los Angeles Hotel

Not only is the Comfort Inn and Suites Near Universal Studios easy on the wallet, but it"s also conveniently located near Universal Studios, the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, so you'll be close to all the activities you need to make a great Los Angeles weekend getaway. Rates include free breakfast, free Wi-Fi and an outdoor swimming pool. Rooms with two queen beds are perfect for families, and many units have refrigerators.

Top 5 Los Angeles Restaurants Not to Miss

1. Pink"s Hot Dogs
This hot dog vendor has several locations throughout the U.S., but Los Angeles is where it all began in 1939. Celebrities frequent this famous food truck, and several of the hot dogs are even named after stars. Other menu options include burgers, French fries and desserts.

2. Dinah"s Family Restaurant
This place is famous for its fried chicken and oven-baked pancakes, but it also serves one free kids meal per adult purchase, Monday through Wednesday. It has an older feel, with furniture that hasn"t been updated in decades and 50"s themed décor… but that"s part of its LA charm. Go early for breakfast to avoid wait times.

3. 94th Aero Squadron at the Van Nuys Airport
At this historic site, you"ll watch planes take off and land as you dine in a French-style home. There"s a Jr. Pilots menu, kid-friendly cups and paper airplane kits to assemble (if you"re not distracted by the planes whizzing by, that is). If you come for brunch on Sunday, kids eat at a discounted price. Be aware that it can get loud.

4. Lemon Tree Kids Restaurant
You"ll find American and Italian fare at this Koreatown restaurant, but the best part is the playground with slides, tunnels and ramps, as well as a mechanical train, toys, books and more. Better yet is the fact that you can monitor kids (who are also watched by staff members) while you enjoy your meal -- there are TV"s in the dining area. There"s a $9 fee for the playground.

5. Grub
Located in Hollywood, this colorful, unique eatery serves “California comfort food” for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The “Wee Grub” menu includes Fusilli pasta, macaroni and cheese or a quesadilla. For grown-ups, it"s mostly sandwiches and salads.

Planning & Tips

Seasonal Events and Attractions
Celebrities keep Los Angeles on the map, but that"s not the only reason it"s in the spotlight. In June, the City of Angels plays host to the Kids Rock Free Concert and Nature Festival, a family-friendly event that supports the Children"s Nature Institute. In October, you can attend the Calabasas Pumpkin Festival, which features pumpkin carving and decorating, food, games, music and more. In December, there are a slew of holiday events, including the Light Up the Holiday Film Series (classic holiday flicks play on a large outdoor screen) and Tournament of Lights, a boat parade with fireworks. Of course, if you happen to visit in March, you"ll witness the excitement surrounding the Academy Awards, and maybe even see a celebrity!

Getting Around

Close enough to drive for a weekend in Los Angeles? Metered parking is easily found in Los Angeles, mainly in areas where there are retail stores. There are approximately 37,000 meters in the city, to be exact. Parking garages can also be found, but they"re obviously not cheap.

Bus and Train
LA"s public transportation system will take you directly (or close to it) to many of the city"s major attractions. One-way fares for buses and trains are $1.50. Two children under age 5 can travel free with each adult. Day passes are also a good good option. They"re $5 each, and if you know you"ll be getting on and off the bus or train at least 4 times, this is your best option.

Our team of parents and travel experts chooses each product and service we recommend. Anything you purchase through links on our site may earn us a commission.

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