There’s no shortage of things to do in downtown Los Angeles. Don’t try to do it all in one day. Many are free and appropriate for kids of all ages!
630 W. 5th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90071
The central library isn’t your usual public library. For starters, it’s huge – as public libraries go. And, it almost serves as a type of museum because of the different art and architectural styles on display. Here, you’ll find examples of Art Deco pieces, an astounding Rotunda, sculptures, murals, and more. A ride in the elevators won’t just take you from floor to floor, but will also give you the chance to teach your children about card catalogs. (The inside of the elevators are papered with them). Roam from floor to floor, and make sure to spend time in the Children’s Literature Department (level 2 of the Goodhue Building). In addition to the thousands of items available for loan, you’ll also find a wide assortment of activities and programs that are all offered free of charge. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the sheer size of the Library, take advantage of one of the free daily docent tours that are offered.
Grand Central Market
317 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013
For almost 100 years, the Grand Central Market has been bringing our city’s diverse cultures and food to one location. Get ready to be on sensory overload — the sights, the smells, the tastes contained within this 30,000-foot space. You’ll find food from all corners of the world, coffee, juice, ice cream, flowers, and more. Even a picky eater can find something to eat here!
Toyota Symphonies for Youth
Walt Disney Concert Hall
111 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012
Toyota Symphonies for Youth are special concerts that are family-friendly (held on weekends, during the day). They are geared for kids ages 5-11 and “mix music with fun and fantasy.” Before each performance, kids also have the chance to participate in an art workshop. Specific information about days, times, tickets, and shows can be found online.
304 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Recognized as the oldest commercial building in downtown L.A., the Bradbury Building is not like most buildings we find ourselves in today. Here you’ll find marble stairs, open-cage elevators, iron railings, and a light-filled Victorian court. Kids who are intrigued with building and design will most likely appreciate this often-photographed building. It is a National History Landmark and has been featured in many movies and television shows.
The Last Bookstore
453 S. Spring St. (entrance is on 5th St.), Los Angeles, CA 90013
Make sure kids know that books aren’t just bought from Amazon, and take them to The Last Bookstore, California’s largest new and used book store. They occupy 20,000 square feet of space and feature more than two hundred thousand books! In addition, you and your kids will marvel at the many “extras,” including a “tunnel” made out of books.
648 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90014
A classic downtown L.A. experience has been revitalized. For those who don’t know the story — Clifton’s originally opened in 1935. For the last five years (and costing $10 million) it has been renovated by Andrew Meieran. In addition to the food, come here to explore. Kids (and adults) will marvel at the waterfall, a 250-pound meteorite, a stuffed grizzly bear, and an artificial redwood tree, among other oddities.
221 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012
The Broad is downtown L.A.’s newest art museum featuring contemporary art. The Broad’s collection includes more than 2000 works of art in a 120,000-square-foot space. The Broad is being called “the veil and the vault,” because it combines two floors of exhibition space with the “vault” (items not currently on display in the galleries). Admission is free, and tickets for advance reservations are available online.
845 N. Alameda St., Los Angeles, CA 90012
Olvera Street is known as the “birthplace of Los Angeles.” In this Mexican Marketplace, you’ll find restaurants, street vendors, gift shops, dancers and musicians, handcrafted items, and folk art. Olvera Street was created in 1930 to give visitors a sense of what early California was like. You can explore on your own or take advantage of free docent-led tours of Olvera Street and El Pueblo Historical Monument.
200 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012
After exploring downtown L.A., you’ll need a place to rest and recharge. Head to Grand Park, located between The Music Center and City Hall. Often times, Grand Park is the site for specific events, but it is also open to the public. Pack a picnic and enjoy “the park for everyone.” (Make sure the kids get a chance to have fun in the splash pad).
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