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10 Educational (And Fun!) Things To Do in Los Angeles With Kids

Going on a whale watching tour is one of the educational (and fun!) things to do with kids in Los Angeles

If your child attends an LAUSD school, you’ve got a 3-week winter break ahead of you. Lucky for us, there are lots of educational, and fun, things to do right here in southern California.

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Visiting one of the great public libraries is one of the educational (and fun!) things to do in Los Angeles with kids

Visit a Public Library

A visit to the public library is an economical way to spend some time during winter break. Remember, reading is reading so whether your child wants to read about the sinking of the Titanic, or his/her favorite L.A. Sparks player, or astronaut Buzz Aldrin it’s all reading. Use your library card and take home books, magazines, graphic novels, and more. And don’t forget there’s a lot more to our Los Angeles Public Library System than books. Read the post here that gives you ideas about other things you can do such as special exhibitions, story times, classes, and more. 

Japanese American National Museum
100 N. Central Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012

To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, plan a visit to the Japanese American National Museum. The mission of the Museum is “to promote understanding and appreciation of American’s ethnic and cultural diversity by sharing the Japanese American experience.” It is in fact the largest museum in the United States that is dedicated to sharing the experience of those with Japanese ancestry. Throughout the year, the Museum also hosts free Family Festivals. (The next one is happening on Sunday, January 8th from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm and will celebrate the Year of the Rooster). General admission is $10 for adults, $6 for children 6-17, and children 5 and younger are free. And while you’re there, take a walk around Little Tokyo. You can read about family-friendly things to do in Little Tokyo by clicking here.

Visit a Presidential Library
The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library
40 Presidential Dr., Simi Valley, CA 93065 and
Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum
18001 Yorba Linda Blvd., Yorba Linda, CA 92886

With the upcoming Presidential Inauguration, take the time to visit the two presidential libraries within our state. Whatever your politics may be, a visit to these facilities opens up discussion and conversation. At The Reagan Presidential library you’ll explore many exhibits including a full-size replica of the White House Oval Office, a piece of the Berlin Wall, and have the opportunity to walk onboard the Air Force One aircraft which flew 7 United States Presidents.

Located in Yorba Linda, the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum’s houses many exhibits including photographs and artifacts about his presidency, the Vietnam War, Watergate, and more; Mr. Nixon’s birthplace; and Army One — the helicopter that President Nixon used. 

Going on a whale watching tour is one of the educational (and fun!) things to do with kids in Los Angeles

Whale Watching
Harbor Breeze Cruises
100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, CA 90802 (next to the Aquarium of the Pacific)

It’s not just holiday season. It’s also “Gray Whale Season;” the time of year when the Pacific Gray Whale migrates from Alaska down to Baja California. The season continues through April, and taking a whale watching cruise is a chance for children to observe marine animals (including whales, dolphins, seals, and more). By watching these “gentle giants” in their native habitats, children gain exposure and understanding to just how important these creatures are to our planet and how important humans are to them.

Aquarium of the Pacific
100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, CA 90802

A visit to the Aquarium goes hand-in-hand with a whale-watching excursion. You’ll find more than 11,000 marine animals here representing almost 500 different species. Learn about the marine life in the Pacific Ocean by getting up close and personal, visit a touch tank; admire the sharks in Shark Lagoon, stop and see the Penguin Habitat, spend some time in Lorikeet Forest, and much more. Special activities are periodically taking place at the Aquarium. Check the website for a complete listing.

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
900 Exposition Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90007

There’s really something for everyone at the Natural History Museum. Their exhibits include Dinosaur Hall (where you can see a trio of  different aged/different sized T. Rex fossils), the Gem and Mineral Hall (including more than 2,000 specimens of gems and minerals from around the world), the Becoming Los Angeles exhibit (which tells the 500-year history of our city), the outside Nature Gardens, the Hall of Birds, the hands-on Discovery Center (complete with microscopes, touchable fossils and furs, and a polar bear collected in Norway back in 1964), Animal Habitat Halls (featuring impressive dioramas), and much more.

California Science Center
700 Exposition Park Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90037

The California Science Center has it all. Plenty of things for kids to do, touch, and experience first-hand. It has the space shuttle Endeavour, the planet’s only External Tank, an IMAX Theater, an Ecosystems exhibit, and much more. Be sure to check out their newest exhibit, The Science Behind Pixar Exhibition which takes a look at the science and technology involved in making some of our favorite films such as Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and more. (The exhibit will be at the Science Center through April 16th). And for parents, there’s the price. General admission to the Science Center is free though there is a slight charge to see the space shuttle and an admissions fee to the Pixar exhibit. (Note — while the Science Center and the Natural History Museum are located very close to each other, make sure you plan for two visits. Trying to see and do everything at both locations in one day will most likely prove too much for everyone).

The La Brea Tar Pits is one of the educational (and fun!) places to take kids in Los Angeles

La Brea Tar Pits and Museum
5801 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036

Wander through the Museum and feel like you’re walking back in time. On display you’ll find thousands of different fossils from 650 different species, including dire wolves, ancient horses, the Columbian mammoth, coyotes, and more. Additionally, at the Fossil Lab, families are given the chance to see paleontologists at work right in front of your eyes! Basic admission prices are $12 for adults, $9 for students ages 13-17, and children 3-12 are $5. However, if you opt to participate in an extra activity (such as viewing “Titans of the Ice Age 3D”) there are additional fees. Outside the Museum building, be sure to wander through the Tar Pits — “the world’s most famous Ice Age excavation site.”  You’ll find excavators at work sorting through fossils at Project 23 as well as sculptures and large grassy areas perfect for picnics.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art
5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036

Adjacent to the Tar Pits, you’ll find the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). A visit to LACMA is a great deal for families; the NexGen program provides free youth membership to children 17 and under (admission is also free for one accompanying adult). You can virtually travel around the world by exploring the more than 120,000 objects from around the globe, dating back to ancient times all the way to the present. You’ll find Asian art, Latin American art, Islamic art, European art, and modern art. Be sure to visit the Boone Children’s Gallery where kids (and adults) can pick up a paint brush and make some art of their own. Story time is also offered on certain days as well. And be sure to visit “Metropolis II,” the ongoing kinetic sculpture that represents the pace and noise of living in a busy city. Kids will love watching the miniature cars zooming around the roadways. (Note — while the Tar Pits and LACMA are located next door to each other, make sure you plan for two visits. Trying to see and do everything at both locations in one day will most likely prove too much for everyone).

STAR Eco Station
10101 Jefferson Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232

The STAR Eco Station is the place to bring kids who are interested in animals and their role in making sure these animals are safe. Partly a museum and partly an exotic wildlife rescue facility, the STAR Eco Station is a special place. Here you’ll find animals that you won’t find anywhere else. Families will participate in hands-on ecology lessons and be able to observe a variety of birds, reptiles, and mammals. Public tours are offered each Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, beginning on the hour. (The last tour begins at 3 pm). The tours are 45-60 minutes in length and will introduce families to more than 200 hundred different rescued wildlife. Adult admission is $8, children are $6, and children under 2 are free. (Be sure to check the website before visiting. The facility is sometimes closed for private parties).

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Wendy Kennar (330 Posts)

Wendy is a freelance writer who finds inspiration in her eight-year-old son and from her experiences from her twelve-year teaching career. Her writing has appeared in several publications and anthologies, both in print and online. She prefers sunflowers to roses and thinks chocolate is okay at any meal. You can find her at wendykennar.com.


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