Los Angeles with Teens: A Perfect Family Day
Best known for glitz, traffic and smog, trying to plan a vacation day with your teens in Los Angeles may leave you a bit baffled. Amusement parks aside (the city is home to Disneyland, Universal Studios and Magic Mountain), what does this sprawling city have to offer? Take a closer look, and you might be surprised by the abundance of attractions and activities that showcase California's largest city as the perfect destination for a family trip.
Get up early and start off your day in Los Angeles by getting your teens some delicious treats from Bob's Coffee and Doughnuts (open at 6am). This popular establishment is located near the east patio inside L.A.'s original farmers market, and serves up a large variety of fresh doughnuts, coffee and tea. For a best bet, order the apple fritters and beignets -- you won't be sorry. After breakfast, meander through the market, taking in all the eclectic shops and groceries as you go. The famed Farmers Market (6333 W. 3rd street) is located right next to the Grove Shopping Mall, which may lure you in for some people watching and browsing at stores like Apple, Nordstrom and teen favorite, Forever 21. Parking is available in two separate lots and is free for the first two hours with validation.
After a leisurely breakfast, it's time to get serious. Spend the better part of the morning exploring the Museum of Tolerance, which takes a hard look at tolerance, racism and the Holocaust. The Holocaust exhibit takes up a good portion of the museum space and the moving display will take you and your teens on an emotional journey through the history of the Holocaust from the 1920s through 1945. View exhibits, hear real stories and see historic artifacts. Immerse yourself in the exhibit by picking up a card that depicts a child's photograph and follow along throughout the exhibit to find out more about the child. The exhibit concludes with information on whether or not the child on your card survived. Be sure to check out the multiple exhibits located in the Tolerance Center and the "Finding our Families, Finding Ourselves" section, which showcases the intimate lives of several well-known Americans. Check their website for more information on the museum and to see the list of current exhibits. Reservations are recommended. The museum opens at 10am weekdays, 11am Sundays and is closed Saturdays. Admission prices are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and $11 for ages 5 to 18 or students with ID. Children under age 5 are free. There is parking underneath the building, but know ahead of time that your car may be searched. The museum is located at 9786 West Pico Blvd. Call 310-553-8403 for more information.
Petersen Automotive Museum (6060 Wilshire Blvd.; 323-964-6326) a place with a much less-intense vibe. This cool museum will please adults and kids alike, as all will love strolling through the permanent and rotating displays featuring cars and motorcycles. Vehicles range from historic to modern, and exhibits explain the impact they have made on our lives over the past 100 years. There is a hands-on learning center that lets kids analyze the science of cars, and for the young at heart, an amazing Hot Wheels Hall of Fame features over 1,000 Hot Wheels cars, including full-scale models. After exploring, take a break and grab some lunch at the Johnny Rockets hamburger joint located inside the Petersen Museum. Sit at the counter and enjoy some deliciously-retro hamburgers, hot dogs and sandwiches. The museum is open from 10am to 6pm daily (closed Mondays). Tickets are $10 for adults, $3 for ages 5 to 12 and children under 5 are free.
Now it's time to head over to Venice Beach for an afternoon of absurd fun. Simply dip your feet in the ocean, or stroll along the boardwalk to enjoy this beachfront destination full of shopping, art, sports and more. Catch a glimpse of the surfers, skateboarders or weightlifters at Muscle Beach or watch a lively basketball game at the famous Venice courts. Spend a little money at an eclectic shop, browse art that is prevalently showcased along the boardwalk, or take some time to be entertained by the many street performers. Join in the action by renting a bike or a pair of skates from one of the numerous rental shops that dot the beach. Parking is available right at the beach at the end of Venice Blvd., and when all the spaces fill up, several other lots are within walking distance -- just remember to bring cash.
When the dinner bug strikes there is no better place in Los Angeles, than the original Pink's(709 N. La Brea Ave.), a world famous hot dog joint. An L.A. landmark, Pink's first opened in 1939 as a small stand and has since grown into a phenomenon. Famous for its delicious chili dogs, Pink's also serves up a variety of unusual hot-dog combinations. If you're appetite is large, go for the bacon burrito dog, consisting of two hot dogs, two slices of cheese, chili, bacon and onions wrapped in a huge flour tortilla. Really bad for your health, but oh so tasty! They also serve burgers and plenty of sides (we love the chili cheese fries). Prices are very reasonable, with almost every item pricing under $7. There are a few tables outside, but its fun to sit indoors and look at the walls plastered with autographed pictures of Pink's celeb clientele. Parking is free in Pink's lot and there is metered parking on the street. They open every day at 9:30am and close at 2am weekdays and 3am Friday and Saturday. Expect to stand in line, as there is always one, regardless of what time of day (or night) you're hankering for a hot dog.
The perfect way to end your day is at Universal City Walk (100 Universal City Plaza in Universal City), an area loaded with shopping, movies, food, concerts and a variety of activities that will keep your family busy into the night. Try your hand rock-n-roll bowling at Jillian's Hi Life Lanes and, if your stomach can take it, you can even try out skydiving the safe way, at iFLY Hollywood, where you can experience a simulated freefall in a controlled wind tunnel. Catch a flick on one of the 19 state-of-the-art screens, one of which is an eight-story IMAX screen, or shop at several popular stores, such as Billabong, Fossil, or Game Stop. For a late-night snack be sure to check out Popcornopolis, a popcorn lover's dream. Your kid's mouths will water when they're presented with unique flavors like strawberries and cream and cinnamon bun. Popcornopolis also sells caramel apples and various other chocolate treats, making it a great way to cap off the perfect family day in L.A with teens.
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