Los Angeles With Kids: What To Know Before You Go
Los Angeles With Kids
I struggled for a long time with how to approach writing a guidebook about Los Angeles. It’s my home and there is a TON to do, so it’s hard to sum it all up! But what I am realizing is that Los Angeles holds a different draw for everyone. I am going to explain to you MY Los Angeles, which looks different from every guidebook on LA I’ve ever read (they gloss right over my favorite neighborhoods!).
Something to realize about Los Angeles that I didn’t know before I lived here: it’s ugly and it’s inconvenient. The boulevards are big, dirty, and filled with strip malls. There are a ton of people everywhere and power lines criss-cross the sky. The traffic is world famous for a reason and you won’t leave here without getting stuck in it.
However, despite all these drawbacks, Los Angeles keeps us here with its fantastic beaches (still have yet to find a beach town I like better than Manhattan Beach) its amusement parks that set the standard for the rest of the world (forever Disney Annual Passholders over here), its weather (sunny and 70 year round!), and its amazing variety of people/activities/history that keep this restless family entertained every weekend we aren’t traveling.
Stroller or Baby Backpack?
You’ll be getting in and out of the car for each activity, so either a stroller or baby backpack will work great. Your main challenge will be to heft everyone from the car down to the beach. Sometimes baby backpacks are useful for this, but we also like using big-wheeled strollers that we turn around and drag pioneer-style across the sand. If you’re doing Disney or any of the amusement parks, definitely bring a big stroller.
Where to Stay:
If you can, see if you can work out a home exchange. If not, here are some good places to stay that hopefully won’t break the bank! My favorite area of Los Angeles is where we’ve chosen to make our home: The South Bay. This means it is south of Santa Monica Bay. You’ll find a better price for places to stay and you’ll be staying in a real neighborhood without all the tourists of Santa Monica and Venice. We can also get to anywhere in Los Angeles or Orange County in under an hour and the beach in less than 15 minutes. Cities included: the three beach cities (Manhattan, Hermosa, Redondo) and their immediate neighbors (El Segundo, Lawndale, Hawthorne, Inglewood, Torrance). For the immediate neighbors, make sure to read the safety reviews on the Airbnbs. Some neighborhoods are safer than others.
Hawthorne Airbnb, 2 adult, 1-2 kids, $96/night (I personally know this host, we go to church together. She is an amazing person with fantastic taste and this neighborhood is really well located for seeing LA!)
Book in Advance
I would check the Disney website in advance to see when the cheapest day to go. The prices vary per day. Best to plan Disney on a weekday if you can. It’s also good to nab a free reservation for The Getty and The Getty Villa if you’re planning on visiting either of those places.
Movies / Books to Prep For Your Trip
Movies: I’m not entirely sure where to start for the LA movies. There are so many! Honestly, living here both enhances and ruins movies for me. We can’t watch a movie set in LA without yelling at the screen “That’s not how you get to Malibu!” or something similar at least once.
LaLa Land: This movie is really all about LA. My favorite scenes are the freeway scene (filmed going the wrong way on the 105 W overpass to the 110 on an overpass I use frequently!) and the dancing scene filmed on Hermosa Pier (though they added the lamp posts!).
Captain Marvel: LA in the 90’s. Definitely recognized the train station near LAX that I pass almost daily!
Legally Blonde and Clueless: Have you ever heard of a Valley Girl? Yup, that comes from LA. I like these two movies about Valley girls because they end up actually being smarter than they seem. That goes for a lot of people in Los Angeles. I learned very quickly not to judge someone based on how they speak because many people are whip-smart despite the various accents.
Endeavour’s Long Journey by John D. Olivas: Visiting The California Science Center? This book is a must.
Going to the Getty by Vivian Walsh: A perfect book to get kids interested in art.
City of Angels: In and Around Los Angeles by Julie Jaskol and Brian Lewis: This book focuses on the different cultures of the neighborhoods.
To get yourself further organized, see our sample itinerary and tips for arrival for this city.