My husband is back at work and as a rule if he’s gone longer than two weeks the whole family packs up and goes along with him. So that definitely went into play when we found out he was doing two back to back films on the west coast. A total of two months away from our beloved East coast. But what’s not to like about an adventure in California? We gladly packed our bags and were very excited about the prospect of being on the west coast for the summer. While Bruce is working away the girls and I are playing! Luckily he gets to join us for some fun too, but only on the weekends.
Los Angeles is one of those cities you can visit hundreds of times and not do the same thing twice. Like most big cities, LA can be pricey, so I wanted to share some of my favorite free/low-cost activities. I’m even including my secret taco spot . Southern Californians (as well as myself) take our tacos very seriously! But once you have the real deal, you will understand the hype. So Yummy!
Here’s my top 5 list of places to go in Los Angeles on a budget:
If your little one is obsessed with trains this is a must...
Heal the Bay Aquarium : Nestled at the base of the historic Santa Monica Pier , this family- friendly aquarium is a non-profit marine education center with over 100 marine animals and plants all found in Santa Monica Bay. The girls LOVED it and the staff was super friendly and knowledgeable. You will gain a new appreciation for the sea life of the Bay, and leave inspired to become a steward of this crucial marine environment. Kids 12 and under are always FREE; All others: $5 per person; groups of 10 or more: $3 per person, regardless of age. Free days are the first Wednesday of the month
Travel Town Museum : If your little one is obsessed with trains this is a must. To be honest, even if your child isn’t the biggest train aficionado, this is a great way to spend a few hours. Located next door to the LA zoo, this train lover’s mecca is a great place for kids to explore, run, and climb themselves in to (hopeful) a blissful nap! They have picnic tables and you are welcome to bring your own food. Entrance is FREE and if you would like to ride the mini train around the museum grounds, the cost is $2.75 per ride. Museum Hours and Visitors information here .
Venice Canals: Built in 1905 by developer Abbot Kinney, who had the wild idea of creating a “Venice of America”. Kinney’s dream was never fully achieved, however, what remains is a lovely place to take a walk. Here’s a map to make sure you don’t miss a thing! If your family enjoys taking in the sights by foot, here’s a great list of walking tours provided by the LA Times. Who says nobody walks in LA??
The Los Angeles County Museum of Modern Art: LACMA : Fun for art lovers of all ages! Make art , enjoy story time , and there are even programs for teens . The LACMA has an incredible Next Generation program that offers a FREE membership to anybody under the age of 18. This free membership gets the child and ONE adult into the museum for free. For a full list of programs for kids and families click here . If visiting the LACMA is on your itinerary, you may also want to consider checking out the La Brea Tar Pits too!
California Science Center : A great place to take kids, with interactive hands-on displays, it’s such a great method of engaging children. I know I am a visual learner and I don’t think the apple fell far from that tree with my little ones! Parking is $10 (cash only) but you can view the majority of science center for FREE. (General Admission is FREE to the permanent exhibition galleries) Click HERE for a list of exhibits. If you scroll down the page you can see complete descriptions of the permanent galleries. A definite must-see for future astronauts is the space shuttle, Endeavour (cost is $2).
I didn’t include this on my list, but an obvious “free” choice is to hit the beach! Remember to pack plenty of sunscreen, and a great budget-friendly tip is to hit the dollar store for a few beach toys so you don’t have to lug your sand drenched goodies in your suitcase. Here is a great compiled list of LA area beaches because clean bathrooms, life guards, and distance to the parking lot are important factors to consider when you are heading to the beach with your family. Especially the parking lot part, because we know families roll with lots of gear! As I raise my hand.
Last but certainly not least, is Tito’s Tacos . The lines can be long but what you get is beyond yummy crunchy tacos worthy of the wait.
I truly hope you and your family have been enjoying your summer so far. Are you planning any trips or have you gone on any great ones this summer? What would you say is your best tip for traveling with a family?