Adventures in… Los Angeles…

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 MuseumIf 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: LACMAFun 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?


Emma xx

los angelesmamahoodplaces to gosummerthings to do

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

There are 5 comments
Read them
Wendy R says:

Hi Emma – ok, now I’m officially jealous! Los Angeles sounds wonderful. 🙂 I am hoping to take my daughter to the US next year at the end of her secondary schooling for a month and I will definitely be putting these locations in the GPS. Let me know if you’re ever travelling to a different west coast (West Coast of Australia where I am and I’ll provide you a similar list 🙂 Our favourite holiday destination is Bali and we are regular visitors. My little man thinks every plane in the sky is going to Bali and wonders when its our turn next to go there… A small present I gave my husband, daughter and son for our last trip to Bali (3 hours plane trip) was an MP3 player with their favourite music and 10 audio books to help the trip go faster. Our local library has plenty of music and audio books for all of them and I did it all in secret. I also made up a booklet for hubby and daughter with an overview of what each of the books were about. I am a big fan of audio books and listen to them in the car all the time, so I am slowly converting them too! They loved the MP3 player and all were surprisingly quiet for the whole trip…
Enjoy your holiday but if you’re anything like me – travel is great, but there’s not place like home!
W x

Emma Heming Willis says:

I haven’t got in to the audio books, yet. It sounds like I should!! Because I sure don’t have too much time to read these days. But being in LA you sure do spend a lot of time in your car.
I’ve been to Australia once and Loved it! Went to Sydney and even made it to Tasmaina. Wonderful country. xx

Roxanne says:

Hi Emma,
Sounds like you and your baby girls are having an awesome time in L.A. Thanks for the tips on the great places to go with a budget in mind. Oh and we definitely can’t forget the beach…one of my favorite places to go…so much fun playing in the sand, finding shells and flying kites.
My best tip for traveling with a family is not to plan too many things for one day. It takes all the fun out of it when you are rushing to get to the next thing on your itinerary. Keep it simple. It’s nice to be able to take the extra time if you want to.
One more thing is snacks. I don’t know what it is about traveling but we always seem to snack instead of having big meals so packing plenty of healthy treats is a must.
As for trips this year we went to the Grand Canyon. I hadn’t seen my brother since we had moved from Middle Grove, NY 20 years ago. We had a great reunion. I met his wife Pamela and my niece and nephew for the first time. It was awesome.
Thanks again for starting this and sharing so many great things with your readers. You have such a knack for this writing thing…you go girl!
Until next time,
Roxanne 🙂 xoxo

Emma Heming Willis says:

Ah you’re too sweet. Thank you for the high compliments!
Yes, I agree. I think one “event” a day (as my husband would say.) You don’t want to over schedule that we you can really enjoy the moments

Wendy R says:

Hi Emma – definitely treat yourself to an audio book whilst you’re on holidays – nothing better than having someone else read to you! It will surprise you how quickly it will become addictive! I know about having no time to read! I sometimes sit in the garage for a few minutes after coming home just to hear the end of a chapter. My husband thinks I’m strange! what do you like to read – there are lots of classics that you can download free to try out – Mabel might like it too, there is so many great little books for the kids too – great for places like the car when you can’t read yourself. Let me know if you’d like some suggestions for both.
W x

Sign-up for the latest scoop.
Emma's Newsletter