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California

Incredible Places To Stop On A San Francisco To Los Angeles Road Trip

Incredible Places To Stop On A San Francisco To Los Angeles Road Trip, USA

Incredible Places To Stop On A San Francisco To Los Angeles Road Trip

The San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip down Highway 1 is an iconic drive through some of the most beautiful parts of California. Stretching 442 miles / 711 kms and taking around 8 to 9 hours non-stop to drive, the San Francisco to Los Angeles drive down Route 1 is scenic beyond belief. Voted as one of the Best American Road Trips by National Geographic, this is one of the most memorable road trips you can make.

Big Sur, California

While the fastest route to take between San Francisco and Los Angeles is the Interstate 5 Freeway (382 miles / 615 kms from Downtown LA to Downtown SF, taking approx 5.5 hours to 6 hours), if you have time to spend, I highly recommend taking the scenic LA to San Francisco road trip down Route 1 instead.

Please be aware that after the 2017 landslide there have been road closures on Highway 1 south of Big Sur / North of Piedras Blancas Lighthouse / San Simeon. The road is hopefully reopening in July 2018. Check here for updates and here for info on the detour.

Spending time in San Francisco? Check out things to do in San Francisco with kids here.

Have a few days sightseeing in LA? Check out things to do in Los Angeles with kids here.

Monterey

Monterey, California

This seaside town is famous for Cannery Row, the the waterfront street with now-defunct sardine canning factories, Fisherman’s Wharf, the fantastic Monterey Bay Aquarium and world-renowned PGA Golf Course at Pebble Beach.

We also enjoyed spotting sea lions basking on Del Monte Beach. If you have kids in tow, head to Dennis The Menace Playground, which features a maze and rock climbing wall.

Monterey, California

The scenic 17-Mile Drive to Pebble Beach is a great detour, with dramatic cliffs, the iconic Lone Cyprus and wildlife to see.

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California, USA

Get more info on Monterey Bay Aquarium here.

Get more info on the 17-Mile Drive here.

Find and compare hotels in Monterey here.

Carmel-by-the-Sea

Carmel-by-the-Sea

One of our favourite little towns, Carmel-by-the-Sea is a must-visit on the San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip. Often called Carmel, the town was founded in 1902 and is known for it’s artistic history and beautiful scenery. I would say it’s also known for it’s storybook houses that I would love to retire to one day.

Carmel is very dog-friendly, and you’ll see dogs literally everywhere – on the beach in hotels, restaurants and shops.

Carmel-by-the-Sea

We also enjoyed a visit to the Mission San Carlos Borroméo del río Carmelo, also called the Carmel Mission. Built in 1797, the Mission is one o the best examples of Roman Catholic mission churches in California.

Carmel-by-the-Sea

Take kids to the Cottage of Sweets, a traditional British-style sweets shop with homemade fudge and imported candies, and locally-owned Thinker Toys.

Carmel-by-the-Sea

Sunset on the beach is a must in Carmel. It gets chilly, even in summer, so rug up.

Where to stay in Carmel

Carmel-by-the-Sea

We stayed at the Best Western Carmel’s Town House Lodge for the night, which had all the basics we needed.

Find and compare hotels in Carmel here.

Where to eat in Carmel

Carmel-by-the-Sea

We enjoyed a hearty breakfast at bustling Katy’s Place, delicious brunch and lunch at Carmel Belle, great coffee from Carmel Coffee House, upmarket dinner at Casanova (with kid-friendly options!), homestyle Italian food at Il Grillo and baked treats at Carmel Bakery (photo above).

Big Sur

Big Sur, California

The 90-mile stretch of redwood-trimmed coast between Carmel-by-the-Sea and San Simeon is where you’ll find Big Sur. The name Big Sur comes from the Spanish ““el sur grande” or Big South. The name refers to Big Sur’s location, 25 miles south of Monterey.

Big Sur, California

Bixby Bridge

Big Sur, California

The most instagrammable spot on the Big Sur coast, Bixby Bridge was built in 1932, 260 feet/79 metres above a canyon.

Pfieffer Beach and Keyhole Rock

Pfieffer Beach, Big Sur

A detour off the beaten path, but well-worth it, particularly at sunset. Pfieffer Beach is south of Big Sur Station, where Sycamore Canyon Creek meets the Pacific Ocean, framed by rocks at either end.

Keyhole Rock, Big Sur

While tidal pools can be fin to explore at low tide, and the north end of the beach has unique purple sand, the beach is renowned for Keyhole Rock, an incredible natural rock arch formation that waves and the last light of sunset pass through. It’s an incredible place to watch the sunset.

San Simeon

San Simeon, California

The town itself doesn’t offer much, with the main draw cards to the area being Hearst Castle and the elephant seals at Piedras Blancas.

Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle

A  National Historic Landmark, Hearst Castle was the private residence of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst in the 1920s. The lavish mansion is accessible by tour only. Advance bookings are highly recommended.

Get more info on visiting Hearst Castle here.

Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash.

Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery

San Simeon, California

Piedras Blancas is an excellent spot to observe the magnificent northern elephant seal. Spread over 6 miles of shoreline, the viewing areas provide access to the elephant seals as they bask on the shore at their land-based rookery. We saw literally hundreds of elephant seals when we visited. The elephant seal rookery was one of our favourite stops on the San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip.

There is a free car park at the view area, which is open daily and is wheelchair / stroller accessible.

Where to stay in San Simeon

We stayed at the Days Inn San Simeon, which was basic but catered for all of our needs.

Find and compare hotels in San Simeon here.

Madonna Inn San Luis Obispo

Madonna Inn, California

We stopped at the family-owned Madonna Inn for lunch, but it’s an incredible spot to stay the night. The unique resort has been welcoming guests since 1958. The incredible interiors must be seen to be believed. We recommend dining at the Copper Cafe.

Get more info on the Madonna Inn here.

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara

Visit the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History to see the 73-foot long blue whale skeleton, one of only five complete blue whale skeletons in the USA, or the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center for an interactive marine experience. Mission Santa Barbara, also known as Santa Barbara Mission, is also worth a visit. Walk down to Stearns Wharf and enjoy the seaside atmosphere.

Get more info on Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center here.

Get more info on Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History here.

Find and compare hotels in Santa Barbara here.

Photo by OC Gonzalez on Unsplash

Malibu

The Getty Villa, Los Angeles, USA

While there are some beaches (and celebrities) in Malibu, I would suggest visiting the incredible Getty Villa art museum that is located in the area.

Get info on visiting the Getty Villa here.

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier, LA

The iconic Santa Monica Pier was built in 1909, the first concrete pier on the USA West Coast. Ride the Santa Monica Pier Carousel built in 1939, take a spin on the world’s only solar-powered ferris wheel, challenge each other to a game at Playland Arcade and don’t miss the gorgeous sunset.

Photo by Matthew LeJune on Unsplash

Get more info on visiting Santa Monica Pier here.

Incredible Places To Stop On A San Francisco To Los Angeles Road Trip, USA

 

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Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

LA Family Attractions: 16 Things To Do In Los Angeles With Kids

LA Family Attractions: Where To Take The Kids In Los Angeles

LA Family Attractions: 16 Things To Do In Los Angeles With Kids

Griffith Observatory, LA, USA

Los Angeles is an incredible destination for a family holiday. We discovered world-class museums, theme parks and gardens during our stay that left us extremely impressed with that the city has to offer visitors of all ages and interests. Scroll down to find out our favourite LA family attractions, plus where to stay and eat with kids, and how to get around the city without losing your sanity.

Things to do in LA

J. Paul Getty Museum

Getty Center LA, USA

This is a must when visiting LA with kids. The J. Paul Getty Museum, usually just called “the Getty”, is one of the world’s largest art organisations. In Los Angeles, you can visit their two locations and collections: the Getty Center and Getty Villa. Both are incredible and I would suggest setting aside a day to explore each.

Getty Center

Getty Center LA, USA

Perched atop a hill with a stunning view over LA, the Getty Center is worth visiting to see it’s incredible architecture and gardens as well as their art collection.

Visit the Family Room with kids to explore art with hands-on activities such as mask-making, playing with camera lenses, creating a tube sculpture and decorating a giant illuminated manuscript.  .

Getty Center LA, USA

Or, use the Art Detective Cards to engage kids in art around the galleries and garden. There is even a free multimedia GettyGuide® Family Tour with stories, music, and sounds inspired by art available at the GettyGuide Desk in the Museum Entrance Hall.

Read more about our visit to the Getty Center here.

Entry into the Getty Center is free!

Getty Center
1200 Getty Center Dr, Los Angeles
getty.edu

Getty Villa

The Getty Villa, Los Angeles, USA

Another must-visit in LA, the Getty Villa is a recreation of an ancient Roman country house, built in the 1970s and modelled after the Villa dei Papiri in Herculaneum, Italy, which was buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79. The villa is filled with artefacts and art works from the end of the Stone Age to the fall of the Roman Empire, while the garden design reflects those found in ancient Roman homes including a herb garden, decorative fountains, arbors and reflecting ponds.

The Getty Villa, Los Angeles, USA

We spent a peaceful few hours walking through the gardens and villa following the Art Detective Cards, which direct families to find art and solve a mystery while exploring the galleries, garden, and architecture.

The Getty Villa, Los Angeles, USA

The interactive Family Forum room is a highlight of a visit to the Getty Villa with kids, as is the GettyGuide® Family Favorites multimedia tour designed especially for families.

Read more about our visit to the Getty Villa here.

Entry into the Getty Villa is free, but ticket reservations are required.

Getty Villa
17985 Pacific Coast Hwy, Pacific Palisades
getty.edu

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

LACMA, LA, USA

The iconic Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in the Miracle Mile area of Los Angeles is a must-visit for any lover of art and design. Kids will love the two outdoor, large-scale installations, Urban Light and Levitated Mass, the Boone’s Children’s Gallery, free story time and family Sunday activities.

LACMA, LA, USA

Read more about our visit to LACMA here.

LACMA
5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles
lacma.org

La Brea Tar Pits and Museum

La Brea Tar Pits, LA, USA

The La Brea Tar Pits and museum will educate and engage the whole family. Science-lovers of all ages will get a real kick out of visiting this incredible time capsule, where active tar pits are still being excavated and Ice Age fossils of long-extinct animals being still being discovered today.

We absolutely loved our visit to the La Brea Tar Pits and highly recommend it as one of the top LA family attractions.

La Brea Tar Pits, LA, USA

Read more about our visit to the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum here.

La Brea Tar Pits
5801 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles
tarpits.org

Universal Studios Hollywood

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood is a film studio and theme park in the San Fernando Valley area of LA. It’s the original Universal Studios! The park is split into an upper and lower lot with rides and attractions, plus the original Back Lot Studio tour that is unique to Hollywood. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a stand out.

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

Get our tips on visiting Universal Studios Hollywood here.

Universal Studios Hollywood
100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City
universalstudioshollywood.com

Griffith Park

Griffith Park, LA, USA

One of the largest municipal parks with urban wilderness areas in the United States, Griffith Park sprawls over 4,210 acres featuring both natural terrain and landscaped parklands. There are plenty of walking trails in the park, as well as some prime attractions.

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory, LA, USA

A must for lovers of astronomy and space, the Griffith Observatory is perched high up in Griffith Park, offering visitors an excellent view of Los Angeles as well as the famous Hollywood Sign.

Griffith Observatory, LA, USA

Inside the Observatory you’ll find a wide variety of space and science-related displays. Look through telescopes, explore the hands-on exhibits (most feature dense text and aren’t overly suitable to younger kids), and be sure to catch a live show in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium.

Read more about our visit to the Griffith Observatory here.

Griffith Observatory
2800 E Observatory Rd, Los Angeles
griffithobservatory.org

Griffith Merry-Go-Round

Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round, LA, USA

It might not look like much, a dilapidated merry-go-round that’s a a bit neglected and worse for wear, but the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round is a special place for Disneyphiles. This carousel with peeling paint, in need of some serious restoration, was actually the inspiration behind Disneyland.

Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round, LA, USA

Read more about visiting the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round here.

Hollywood sign

Griffith Observatory, LA, USA

One of the most famous symbols in the world, the Hollywood sign was erected in 1923. While it’s visible from many places in Los Angeles, you can actually hike right up to it.

Get tips on hiking up close to the Hollywood sign here.

Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens

Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens

A 133-acre zoo located inside Griffith park, the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens was founded in 1966. Inside the zoo you’ll find animals such as Bornean orangutans, Asian elephants, hippos, gorillas and chimpanzees. Kids will love petting farm animals in the Winnick Family Children’s Zoo and running wild at the Neil Papiano Play Park that features animal-themed climbing sculptures, large play structures, a toddler area and water misters.  The play park was designed to be accessible to all children, including those with medical and physical challenges. If your kids want to see animals, then the zoo is an excellent choice of LA family attractions.

Photo by Matteo Ferrero on Unsplash

Los Angeles Zoo
5333 Zoo Dr, Los Angeles
lazoo.org

Venice Beach

Venice Beach, Los Angeles

The people watching at Venice Beach makes it worth the visit alone! There is a boho vibe at Venice Beach, with a boardwalk full of funky shops, street performers and murals. We found a playground and skate park for kids to enjoy, and the Muscle Beach outdoor gym for us to watch the locals training to be musclemen like Arnie!

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier, LA

The iconic Santa Monica Pier was built in 1909, the first concrete pier on the USA West Coast. Ride the Santa Monica Pier Carousel built in 1939, take a spin on the world’s only solar-powered ferris wheel, challenge each other to a game at Playland Arcade and don’t miss the gorgeous sunset.

Photo by Matthew LeJune on Unsplash

Santa Monica Pier
200 Santa Monica Pier A, Santa Monica
santamonicapier.org

The Original Farmers Market

LA Original Farmers Markets, USA

Enjoy food from over 100 gourmet grocers and restaurants at the Original Farmers Markets, an LA institution since 1934. We loved the open-air setting which made for low-key dining in a vibey atmosphere.

The Original Farmers Market
6333 W 3rd St, Los Angeles
farmersmarketla.com

The Grove

The Grove, LA, USA

This famous outdoor mall is a must if you love to shop! The grove is packed with world-class shops, restaurants and entertainment, plus offering a bit of fun with old-fashioned trolley rides and dancing fountains.

The Grove, LA, USA

The American Girl Doll store was a fave for us. Our doll had her hair done and ears pierced in the salon.

The Grove
189 The Grove Dr, Los Angeles
thegrovela.com

Hollywood Boulevard

Hollywood, LA, USA

Movie buffs will want to visit the iconic Hollywood Boulevard, the famous strip lined with museums, theatres and 2,500 stars on the 18-block Hollywood Walk of Fame. The Hollywood Wax Museum and Madame Tussauds Hollywood are both a fun way to spend a few hours “meeting” the stars, or you can see if your hands and feet match up with famous celebs’ in the TCL Chinese Theatre’s Forecourt to the Stars.

Hollywood, LA, USA

Catch a movie while you’re there! The TCL Chinese Theatre is home to one of the largest IMAX© auditoriums in the world, and the Dolby Theatre, where the Academy Awards are held every year, plays live shows year-round.

El Capitan Theatre Soda Shop, Hollywood, LA, USA

Since we are Disney fans, we had to visit the El Capitan Theatre. Owned by the Walt Disney Company, the theatre shows Disney movies, often with great movie-themed exhibits. Attached to the theatre is the Disney Studio Store & Ghirardelli Soda Fountain, where you can try an incredible sundae and buy exclusive Disney pins and merchandise.

Hollywood, LA, USA

When we visited we were lucky enough to see the new Star Wars premiering, including a life-sized AT-AT Walker in the street.

Hollywood, LA, USA

The Hollywood & Highland Center is a great spot on the strip to eat and shop, and has fountains in the forecourt for kids to play in. There is also a great view of the Hollywood sign inside.

Hollywood, LA, USA

We found the strip to be quite seedy and filled with people who would try to give you something like a “free CD” and then ask for money for it, so keep your wits around you and your valuables close.

Hollywood, LA, USA

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHMLA)

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, USA

The largest natural and historical museum in the western USA, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County’s collections include nearly 35 million specimens and artefacts from across 4.5 billion years of history.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, USA

There is plenty for kids to do at the NHMLA, from multi-media stations where they can “excavate” their own fossils, to the Discovery Center featuring a fossil dig pit, live bugs and a daily dinosaur puppet show.

We were extremely impressed with the NHMLA and rate it as one of our fave LA family attractions.

Read more about our visit to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County here.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
900 W Exposition Blvd, Los Angeles
nhm.org

Disneyland and California Adventure Park

Disneyland California

An hours drive south of Los Angeles will bring you to Anaheim, and the original Disneyland theme park. Disneyland park opened in 1955 and still retains many of the original rides and much of the charm that it had upon opening. California Adventure Park opened across from Disneyland in 2001.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

I’m a massive Disney fan and my daughter is the same. It goes without saying that if you visit LA and even kind of like Disney, then you must, must, must visit Disneyland. It’s my number one choice of LA family attractions and the one that we re-visit over and over and over again.

We visited during last December, which was absolutely magical. Read about visiting Disneyland during the holidays here.

Get lots of tips on visiting both parks here.

How to get around LA

Hollywood, LA, USA

Driving is the easiest! If you hire a car and can put up with exhorbitant parking fees at the hotels, then I would advise driving as it’s simplly the easiest way to get everywhere.

LA does have a metro system so if you’re planning on using it, I would advise staying near one of the train stations. Get more info on the metro system here.

Uber is also very easy to use in LA. If you require a car seat, see here for info. We always travel with our own car booster seat.

Best Place To Stay In LA For Families

We stayed in two hotels:

The Hollywood Orchid Suites, directly behind Hollywood Boulevard, has a fantastic location and is excellent value. We had an apartment-sized suites featuring a full kitchen. We also received complimentary breakfast every day. A few steps outside of the hotel took us to the Highland Mall with plenty of restaurants and shops, and Hollywood Boulevard on the street parallel. The hotel staff were extremely warm and welcoming and we would happily stay again.

Hollywood Orchid Suites, LA, USA

Get more info on the Hollywood Orchid Suites here.

Beverly Laurel Motor Hotel is a budget hotel with a cool retro vibe and a nice-sized pool. The location is excellent for the Grove shopping center, Original Farmers Markets – both are within walking distance. We also walked to LACMA and La Brea Tar Pits from here. The Beverly Laurel was an adequate hotel but lacked the warmth and attention to detail of our other hotel and we wouldn’t stay again.

Beverly Laurel, Los Angeles

Get more info on the Beverly Laurel Motor Hotel here.

Kid-Friendly Restaurants Los Angeles

The Original Farmers Market

LA Original Farmers Markets, USA
A popular spot for locals and tourists alike since 1934, even the fussiest eater will find something they like from the 100 gourmet grocers and restaurants inside.
farmersmarketla.com

Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop

El Capitan Theatre Soda Shop, Hollywood, LA, USA

Pricey but delicious old-fashioned sodas, ice cream sundaes and chocolate inside the Disney Studio Store. Located on Hollywood Boulevard inside the El Capitan Theatre, the soda fountain is a welcome haven from the busy boulevard outside.

Mel’s Drive In

Mel's Drive In, LA, USA
A retro-style diner featuring a wide menu of standard diner fare and jukeboxes at the tables. Mel’s has plenty of options for kids and adults.
melsdrive-in.com

California Pizza Kitchen

Hollywood, LA, USA
Who doesn’t love pizza? We frequented the CPK brand inside Highland Mall in Hollywood multiple times. They also do pasta and salad.
cpk.com

LA Family Attractions: Where To take The Kids In Los Angeles LA Family Attractions: Where To take The Kids In Los Angeles LA Family Attractions: Where To take The Kids In Los Angeles

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHMLA)

The largest natural and historical museum in the western USA, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County’s collections include nearly 35 million specimens and artefacts from across 4.5 billion years of history.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, USA

The NHMLA’s new dinosaur hall is incredible. Featuring more than 300 real fossils, 20 complete dinosaurs and ancient sea creatures, it’s an impressive collection – particularly the centrepiece exhibit of three T. rex skeletons shown at different ages. It’s the display of such in the world. Kids will enjoy the multi-media stations where they can “excavate” their own fossils and watch footage of a real dinosaur hunting expedition.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, USA

 

Many of the dinosaurs were discovered by the Museum’s own in-house Dinosaur Institute.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, USA

We also highly enjoyed the Hall of Gems and Minerals, which we looked at three times during our one visit. The diamonds are dazzling and gold nuggets entrancing!

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, USA

While we also enjoyed the other sections of the Museum, including the Insect Zoo, North American mammals, African mammals and The Story of P-22, LA’s famous mountain lion who roams Griffith Park, the other big hit for us was the Discovery Center.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, USA

The Discovery Center allows kids to get hands-on with science through various stations around the center. The Paleo Play Zone with its fossil dig pit was a particular favourite, as were the fossils in rocks, binoculars pointed outside and bug displays. The Museums also puts on a dinosaur show featuring large puppets.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, USA

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, USA

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, USA

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, USA

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, USA

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, USA

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, USA

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, USA

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, USA

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
900 W Exposition Blvd, Los Angeles
nhm.org

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Griffith Observatory, Griffith Park, Los Angeles

Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles, USA

Griffith Observatory

A must for lovers of astronomy and space, the Griffith Observatory is perched high up in Griffith Park, offering visitors an excellent view of Los Angeles as well as the famous Hollywood Sign.

Griffith Observatory, LA, USA

Griffith Observatory opened in May 1935, the third planetarium in the USA.

While admission to the Observatory and grounds is free, entry to the planetarium attracts a fee.

Griffith Observatory, LA, USA

Inside the Observatory you’ll find a wide variety of space and science-related displays. Look through telescopes, explore the hands-on exhibits (most feature dense text and aren’t overly suitable to younger kids), and be sure to catch a live show in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium.

Griffith Observatory, LA, USA

We particularly enjoyed the lower level with plenty of information on the planets and scales to show us how much we would weigh if we were on the surface.

Griffith Observatory, LA, USA Griffith Observatory, LA, USA Griffith Observatory, LA, USA Griffith Observatory, LA, USA Griffith Observatory, LA, USA Griffith Observatory, LA, USA Griffith Observatory, LA, USA Griffith Observatory, LA, USA

 

Parking at the observatory can be tricky. Read up on how to get there and plan accordingly.

Griffith Observatory
2800 E Observatory Rd, Los Angeles
griffithobservatory.org

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

The Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round That Inspired Disneyland

The Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round That Inspired Disneyland, LA, USA

The Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round That Inspired Disneyland

It might not look like much, a dilapidated merry-go-round that’s a a bit neglected and worse for wear, but the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round is a special place for Disneyphiles. This carousel with peeling paint, in need of some serious restoration, was actually the inspiration behind Disneyland.

You can find this old fashioned children’s ride is located in Griffith Park, in the Park Center between the Los Angeles Zoo and the Los Feliz park entrance. It’s been enjoyed by over five generations of Los Angleans, including the Walt Disney family.

Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round, LA, USA

Local Los Feliz resident, Walt Disney, regularly brought his young children to the merry-go-round on weekends, while he would sit on the nearby benches and watch his kids enjoy the ride.

Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round, LA, USA

It was while sitting on a bench watching the enjoyment had by families on the merry-go-round that Disney had the idea for Disneyland – a place for families to go and enjoy time together (the bench has been since been removed and placed behind a fence for preservation at the rear of the carousel). Disney’s dream came true on July 17, 1955, the day that Disneyland opened to the public.

Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round, LA, USA

The Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round was built in 1926 by the Spillman Engineering Company and brought to Griffith Park in 1937. It features 68 horses, carved with bridles and blankets. It is accompanied by a Stinson 165 Military Band Organ, playing over 1500 selections of marches and waltz music.

Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round, LA, USA

The small carousel, which is tucked away into a quiet corner of the park, served as Walt Disney’s inspiration for Disneyland. When his children were young, Walt, a Los Feliz denizen, took them to the merry-go-round on weekends. During one visit, while sitting on a bench watching his kids circle round and round, he was inspired to create a large scale gathering site that the whole family could enjoy. His dream was realized on July 17, 1955, when Disneyland opened to the public.

Read more about Griffith Park here.

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Stepping Back In Time At The La Brea Tar Pits And Museum, LA, California

La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, Los Angeles, California, USA

Stepping Back In Time At The La Brea Tar Pits And Museum

The La Brea Tar Pits and museum were an unexpected delight that engaged the whole family, including the hard-to-please husband. Science-lovers of all ages will get a real kick out of visiting this incredible time capsule, where active tar pits are still in play and fossils being still being discovered and excavated.

La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, Los Angeles, California, USA

Right in the centre of Los Angeles, the tar pits are an Ice Age fossil excavation site where natural asphalt has seeped up from the ground to form pits of tar where animals were trapped and died many centuries ago. The tar preserved the bones of the animals, resulting in one of the biggest collections of Ice Age fossils in the world.

La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, Los Angeles, California, USA

More than 3.5 million fossils have been discovered in the tar pits, including over 600 species of animals from snakes and sloths to mollusks, mammoths sabre-toothed cats and mountain lions.

La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, Los Angeles, California, USA

Next to the actual tar pits is the George C. Page Museum, which is dedicated to researching the tar pits and displaying specimens from the animals that died there. The La Brea Tar Pits are a registered National Natural Landmark.

When visiting the La Brea Tar Pits, begin outside in the park where the actual tar pits are located. Pick up a map from the entrance and walk around the tar pits in order, reading about the animals that have been found in each pit.

We found it a fascinating journey back in time to a land of apex predators such as sabre toothed tigers. Walking around the pits we learned that 90% of the mammals found in the pits were carnivorous – the likely reason being a herbivore would wander in to a pit and get stuck. A carnivore would then spot the animal, assume they were easy pickings, and enter the pit to become stuck themselves.

La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, Los Angeles, California, USA

Some of the tar pits are still active and you may see excavators at work when you visit.

Once the fossils have been excavated, they’re brought inside the museum. the best fossils are on display. Over 1 million Ice Age fossils, from 650 species, can be seen inside, from a Columbian Mammoth, excavated in 1914, to the tooth of a baby mouse.

La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, Los Angeles, California, USA

Visitors can see paleontology in action in the lab in the centre of the museum, where fossils are being cleaned, studied and prepared for future exhibits. When we visited, paleontologists and volunteers were working on fossils of animals who had lived between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago, excavated from Project 23 in the outside tar pits.

La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, Los Angeles, California, USA

Kids in particular will enjoy the 15-minute multimedia performance that brings the Ice Age to life, and features a life-size saber-toothed cat puppet.

The museum is also home to a 3D cinema where visitors can watch entertaining shows on relevant subjects. When we visited, the show was “Titans of the Ice Age 3D”.

 

La Brea Tar Pits
5801 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles
tarpits.org

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Visiting The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

Visiting LACMA Los Angeles County Museum of Art, USA

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

LACMA, LA, USA

The iconic Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in the Miracle Mile area of Los Angeles is a must-visit for any lover of art and design.

LACMA is the largest art museum in the western United States, featuring an excellent collection of modern art including works by Picasso, Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Willem de Kooning and Joan Miró, plus collections of American and Latin American art, Asian art, Greek, Roman, and Etruscan art, Islamic art, Decorative arts and design and photography.

LACMA, LA, USA

Outside, there is an outdoor sculpture garden and palm garden to enjoy

In front of the entrance to LACMA on Wilshire Boulevard you’ll find the famous Urban Light light installation, featuring 202 antique cast-iron street lights from various cities in and around LA. The lights turn on at night so be sure to visit during the day and evening for the full experience.

LACMA, LA, USA

At the rear of the gallery sits another large-scale installation, Levitated Mass. A 340-tonne boulder sits atop of a 456-foot-long trench allowing visitors to walk underneath.

LACMA, LA, USA

 

Kids are more than welcome at LACMA, they’re invited to participate in art making in the Boone’s Children’s Gallery, a free, creative space where visitors of all ages can explore painting. LACMA also offers Story Time in the Galleries, featuring folk-tales and stories aimed at engaging young children, every Friday at 2pm in the Korean art galleries adjacent to the Boone Children’s Gallery.

LACMA, LA, USA

Families can also enjoy Andell Family Sundays, a weekly event featuring artist-led workshops, family gallery tours and activities.

LACMA, LA, USA LACMA, LA, USA

LACMA
5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles
Hours: Mon, Tue, Thur & Fri 11am-5pm. Sat & Sun 10am-5pm.
Children aged 17 and under are free (3-17 need a “free” ticket)
lacma.org

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Visiting The Getty Villa, Los Angeles

Getty Villa, LA, California, USA

An absolute must-visit in LA, the Getty Villa is a recreation of an ancient Roman country house, built in the 1970s and modelled after the Villa dei Papiri in Herculaneum, Italy, which was buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79.

The Getty Villa, Los Angeles, USA

The villa is filled with artefacts and art works from the end of the Stone Age to the fall of the Roman Empire, while the garden design reflects those found in ancient Roman homes including a herb garden, decorative fountains, arbors and reflecting ponds.

The Getty Villa, Los Angeles, USA

We spent a peaceful few hours walking through the gardens and villa following the Art Detective Cards, which direct families to find art and solve a mystery while exploring the galleries, garden, and architecture.

The Getty Villa, Los Angeles, USA

The Family Forum is a highlight of a visit to the Getty Villa with kids. This interactive room brings ancient history to life with hands-on activities designed to encourage families to play and learn together. The Greek vase, how they were made, decorated and used, is the focal point of the Family Forum.

The Getty Villa, Los Angeles, USA The Getty Villa, Los Angeles, USA

Another free activity, the GettyGuide® Family Favorites multimedia tour lets kids discover the myths, legends and daily life of the ancient Greek and Romans.

The Getty Villa, Los Angeles, USA The Getty Villa, Los Angeles, USA The Getty Villa, Los Angeles, USA The Getty Villa, Los Angeles, USA The Getty Villa, Los Angeles, USA

 

Admission to the Getty Villa is free but must be reserved prior to your visit.

Getty Villa
17985 Pacific Coast Hwy, Pacific Palisades
getty.edu

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Visiting the Getty Center Art Museum Los Angeles

Getty Center Art Museum LA USA

 

Getty Center Art Museum Los Angeles

Getty Center LA, USA Perched atop a hill with a stunning view, the Getty Center art museum in Los Angeles is worth visiting to see it’s incredible architecture and gardens as well as their art collection.

To reach the Getty Center, park or take a cab/bus to the visitors’ parking garage at the bottom of the hill and take the funicular up to the top.

Getty Center LA, USA

The Getty Center houses the Getty Museum’s collection of pre-20th-century European paintings, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, sculpture, and decorative arts; and 19th- and 20th-century American, Asian, and European photographs. Keep your eyes peeled for the beautiful Vincent Van Gogh painting Irises.

Getty Center LA, USA

We loved the Central Garden with its fountain flowing over rocks into a pool at the bottom, surrounded by a maze of azaleas and trees, and the outdoor sculptures on display throughout the terraces and gardens.

Getty Center LA, USA

Visit the Family Room with kids to explore art with hands-on activities such as mask-making, playing with camera lenses, creating a tube sculpture and decorating a giant illuminated manuscript.  .

Getty Center LA, USA

Or, use the Art Detective Cards to engage kids in art around the galleries and garden. There is even a free multimedia GettyGuide® Family Tour with stories, music, and sounds inspired by art available at the GettyGuide Desk in the Museum Entrance Hall. Get more info on the Getty Center programs for families here.

Getty Center LA, USA Getty Center LA, USA Getty Center LA, USA Getty Center LA, USA Getty Center LA, USA Getty Center LA, USA Getty Center LA, USA Getty Center LA, USA

Getty Center
1200 Getty Center Dr, Los Angeles
getty.edu

Entry into the Getty Center is free!

 

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood is an absolute must when visiting Los Angeles. It’s the place where movies are made and dreams come true! This is the original Universal Studios and home of the Backlot Tour, where visitors are taken around the “back lot” to see the real sets where blockbusters are made. Universal Studios Hollywood is the only one in the world where this attractions is on offer. If you’re visiting the park, these tips will help you make your day a fun and successful outing that the whole family will remember for years to come.

Buy tickets in advance

This is always something I do as it saves an extra step at every place we visit. You can buy your tickets online here.

Options include (at time of print):

Single day general admission: $105-$116 USD
Two-day admission: $129-$159 USD
Universal Express: $179-$269 USD
VIP Experience: From $309

Tickets cost different amounts depending on the time of year that you go. Busier times of year cost more.

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

Get early entry by buying tickets online

Buy your tickets online at http://www.UniversalStudiosHollywood.com for early park access to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ (see details here).

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

Consider Universal Express Tickets

if you’re visiting during busy periods, consider upgrading your ticket to a Universal Express Ticket. This gives you one-time express entry  to attractions and priority seating at shows. We visited on a busy Saturday in December and found the pass to be an excellent time saver.

Note: You can only use the express pass ONCE per ride/ attraction.

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

Download the app

The Universal Studios app is particularly helpful with showtimes, ride wait times and character appearances, plus you can also plan a basic itinerary for yourself in it and leave yourself a reminder for where you parked your car! Download the app here.

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

Arrive early

This is my number one tip for any theme park. Always arrive as early as possible! Check the calendar for park hours here.

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

Choose your form of transport wisely

Universal Studios is easily reached by train or you can drive. There is ample parking but it will cost you from $20 per day.

Plan the Studio Backlot Tour into your day

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

The Studio Backlot Tour is a must-see when visiting Universal Studios Hollywood. It takes you behind the scenes of the historic studio where many famous movies and TV shows are filmed. The tour takes an hour so budget plenty of time for it. You are allowed to take food and drink on the tour.

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

The Studio Backlot Tour is exclusive to Universal Studios Hollywood, so you won’t see it at any other Universal Studios in the world.

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

Be aware of the park layout and opening times

The park is divided into the Upper Lot and Lower Lot. It takes several escalators and a good 10 minutes or more to get between the two, so factor this into your planning. The Lower Lot opens an hour after the Upper Lot.

Make use of park rentals and lockers


There are lockers inside the park entrance as well as dotted around the park to store your belongings all day. You can also rent strollers and wheelchairs if needed. Make your day easier by keeping your hands free and companions comfortable.

Collect free buttons

Drop by Guest Relations inside the park entrance to pick up free buttons for special occasions. We nabbed “first visit” buttons, but they also have them to celebrate birthdays, graduations and weddings,

Keep your phone charged

If your phone doesn’t have the power to last all day, you can borrow a charger from Guest Relations or plug in your own charger at Starbucks.

Try all the food

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

We really enjoyed the giant donuts in the Simpson’s themed land, and had the best theme park meal we’ve possibly ever had at the Three Broomsticks restaurant in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We also loved the frozen Butterbeer! I really appreciated that Universal Studios has a link on their website that details all of the park’s vegetarian options!

Make Magic Happen at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

We bought the special wands that allow wizards to perform “spells” around Hogsmede. They were pricey souvenirs (around $45 for non-interactive resin wands and $60 for interactive wands), but well worth it for us as this is where we spent the majority of our time at Universal Studios Hollywood.

Get creepy with The Walking Dead

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

A second attraction that is exclusive to Universal Studios Hollywood is “The Walking Dead”. Due to its intense nature, it’s not recommended for guests under the age of 13, but older teens and adults will enjoy some the authentic make-up effects, detailed costuming and set design, plus and sophisticated (read: scary!) animatronic walkers.

Check your child is tall enough for rides

The majority of rides at Universal Studios Hollywood are aimed at older kids and adults. While there is plenty to entertain littler kids, you should check that your child is big enough for the rides if that is your prime motivation for going.

The following attractions have minimum height requirements:

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™: Must be 48″ (122 cm) tall.
Flight of the Hippogriff™: Must be 39″ (99 cm) tall.
Children 39-48″ (99-122 cm) must be accompanied by a Supervising Companion (14 years or older)
Despicable Me Minion Mayhem: Must be 40″ (102 cm) tall.
Children 40-48″ (102-122 cm) must be accompanied by a Supervising Companion (14 years or older)
Transformers™: The Ride-3D: Must be 40″ (102 cm) tall.
Children 40-48″ (102-122 cm) must be accompanied by a Supervising Companion (14 years or older)
The Simpsons Ride: Must be 40″ (102 cm) tall.
Children 40-48″ (102-122 cm) must be accompanied by a Supervising Companion (14 years or older)
Jurassic Park® — The Ride: Must be 42″ (107 cm) tall.
Children 42-48″ (107-122 cm) must be accompanied by a Supervising Companion (14 years or older)
Revenge of the Mummy℠ — The Ride: Must be 48″ (122 cm) tall.

Visiting with little kids? Use the Rider Switch Option

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood


If your kids aren’t big enough for the rides you want to go on, use the “child switch” program. One or more of your party goes on the ride while the rest can wait with the kids who are too small in the attraction’s Child Switch room. When the party returns, they switch with those who were waiting with the kids, without having to wait in line again.

Watch the live shows

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

I find the live shows to be great fun, as well as pretty kid-friendly. They’re a great way to get into the spirit of movies in-between rides. My 6-year-old loved the Animal Actors and WaterWorld shows in particular. The Special Effects show had a few too many monsters for the little one, but was incredibly interesting for the older kids and adults in the audience. The wand selection show in Ollivanders at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is really fun (and a bit magic!). If you’re lucky, you might get chosen in the show to find your perfect wand (and keep it!).

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

In the Lower Lot, the Raptor Encounter out the front of the Jurassic Park ride was also a lot of fun, even if the raptor was deemed “too scary” to get too close.

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

Visit during the holidays

We were lucky enough to visit just before Christmastime and enjoyed seeing the park at its most festive. In the centre of the park there is a special “Grinchmas” set up, with a huge Suess-themed Christmas tree that looks stunning at night when it’s lit up, as well as all-day live, family-friendly entertainment and photo opportunities with the Grinch himself.

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is also excellent to visit at this time of year, with the Frog Choir singing a special Christmas tune and a spectacular evening light show on Hogwarts Castle.

Entertain the littles in the play areas

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

The Upper and Lower Lots both have designated play areas for little kids aged 5 and under. The Upper Lot area is water-themed so take swimmers if it’s a hot day, while the Lower Lot area is dinosaur themed and next to the Jurassic Park ride.

Meet the characters

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

I love meeting the characters – you’re never too old! I particularly enjoyed seeing the characters from Shrek, Madagascar and Minions while at Universal Studios Hollywood.

Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood Top Tips For Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood
100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City
universalstudioshollywood.com

Christine Knight

Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!