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Museums and Gardens
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The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is a wonderful place to spend the day with your kids! Newly updated they have added a parking structure and ticket counter to what was the backside of the museum. Visitors enter that side via the new gift shop. So if you want to avoid the gift shop, go around the front. The museum is home to the wildly popular Dinosaur Hall, the halls of North American Mammals, African Mammals and the Age of Mammals and the Fin Whale Passage where the skeleton of a 63-foot-long specimen, weighing more than 7,000 pounds, is suspended from the ceiling. Kids will also love the Insect Room, the Discovery Center and the outdoor Pavilion which features Butterflies in the Spring and Spiders in the fall. Membership to the museum includes entrance to the Page Museum (see below) and the William S Hart Museum. NHM is open seven days a week, 9:30 am – 5 pm, all year, except for New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day . Plan Your Visit.
The California Science Center has some really cool exhibits including the Earth’sEcosystems where you can walk through a glass tunnel that takes you under a large aquarium, Creative World which showcases advances humans make to fill the needs for communication, structures and transportation, and Air and Space exhibits. The Science Center also features fantastic special exhibits that change all the time, so visit often to find out what’s new! The California Science Center is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Plan your Visit.
The Rose Garden is operated by the Los Angeles City Department of Recreation and Parks and has been since 1928. The Rose Garden is visited by hundreds of Angelenos and tourists each year. It is often used as an urban oasis by the local Community as a place of quiet and refuge. On most weekends between April and November, it is the location of choice for weddings and photographs of family gatherings. The Rose Garden is opened daily from 9:00 am – sunset. It is closed to the public from January 1st – March 15th of each year for annual maintenance.
The California African American Museum (CAAM researches, collects, preserves and interprets for public enrichment the history, art and culture of African Americans. In addition to its permanent collection, CAAM hosts specially mounted exhibitions curated through loans and its own collection, and tours CAAM exhibitions throughout California and the nation. The museum is open to the public Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5pm, and Sundays 11am-5pm. Admission is always free. Plan Your Visit.
Pretend City Children’s Museum is the first educational facility of its kind in Orange County, representing a small interconnected city. The non-profit museum builds better brains through whole body learning experiences, educational programs and over 15 permanent exhibits. Each exhibit empowers children to learn about and meaningfully connect with and expand their world. Open 9 – 10am every day for Members Only, 10am – 1pm Mondays and 10am – 5pm Tuesday through Sunday. Plan Your Visit. Also available for birthday parties.
The Getty Villa in Malibu is an educational center and museum dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria. The gardens are integral to the setting of the Getty Villa, as they were in the ancient Roman home. Open spaces around the site feature bronze sculptures, fountains, and lush plantings of trees, herbs, and flowers used by the Romans. They also host numerous Family Events throughout the year. Plan Your Visit.
Museum Row / Miracle Mile
The Zimmer Children’s Museum features hands-on exhibits for children 0-8 to explore BIG IDEAS in creative and inspiring settings. The Museum’s permanent and rotating exhibits, some of which have Jewish cultural themes, are the focal points from which programming about BIG IDEAS is used to engage diverse participants in learning about one another. Seasonal or topically themed programs and festivals for families are conducted on Sundays featuring art workshops, theatre, and music for children and parents. A series of classes for toddlers and parents are offered year-round to begin to introduce BIG IDEAS to the youngest child. Open Sunday 12:30 – 5pm, Tuesday – Friday 10am – 5pm, Closed Monday and Saturday. Plan Your Visit. Also available for birthday parties.
LACMA offers NexGen, the nation’s only free youth membership program! NexGen offers free general admission to anyone 17 and under as well as one accompanying adult. This includes permanent collection galleries and selected special exhibitions. To join, visit the LACMA box office or print the enrollment form and mail it in. The Boone Children’s Gallery at LACMA, now open inside the Korean art galleries in the Hammer Building, is a place for kids and families to learn about brush painting and Korean art. Open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday 12 – 8 pm, Friday 12 – 9 pm, Saturday and Sunday 11am – 8pm, Closed on Wednesdays. Plan Your Visit.
The Page Museum at The LaBrea Tar Pits hosts one of the world’s most famous fossil localities, recognized for having the largest and most diverse assemblage of extinct Ice Age plants and animals in the world. Visitors can learn about Los Angeles as it was between 10,000 and 40,000 years ago, during the last Ice Age, when animals such as saber-toothed cats and mammoths roamed the Los Angeles Basin. Through windows at the Page Museum Laboratory, visitors can watch bones being cleaned and repaired. Outside the Museum, in Hancock Park, life-size replicas of several extinct mammals are featured. Membership to the museum includes entrance to the Natural History Museum and the William S Hart Museum. Open seven days a week, 9:30 am – 5 pm, all year, except for New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Plan Your Visit.
Petersen Automotive Museum dedicated to the exploration and presentation of the automobile and its impact on American life and culture using Los Angeles as the prime example. Encompassing more than 300,000 square feet, its exhibits and lifelike dioramas feature more than 150 rare and classic cars, trucks and motorcycles. Open Tuesday through Sunday 10am – 6pm. Plan Your Visit. Also available for birthday parties.
Craft and Folk Art Museum has an interesting history! What started in 1965 by “the high priestess of folk art”, the late Edith R. Wyle, as a bohemian cafe that served over 50 kinds of omelets and offered an international array of folk art and contemporary crafts. The Egg and The Eye became a popular community gathering place and a trusted source of exotic gifts. In 1973, it reorganized into a nonprofit institution, offering artist-led workshops and educational programs. Known for taking risks, early shows were held at CAFAM for now well-established artists like Frank Romero, Otto Natzler and Sam Maloof. CAFAM was also the home of Los Angeles’ first multi-cultural festival, the International Festival of Masks, until 1998. Today CAFAM serves as a catalyst for the exploration of art and ideas that reflect our ever-changing community. Open Tuesday – Friday 11am – 5pm, Saturday and Sunday 12 – 6pm. Free admission the first Wednesday from 11a.m.-5 p.m. and Sundays noon- 6 p.m. Plan Your Visit.
Palm Springs / Rancho Mirage
The Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert has over fifty “hands-on” exhibits in their main Gallery for children of all ages to learn from in the most interesting and funniest ways possible! As a “hands-on” museum they take the best of both worlds – exhibits and touch or manipulation – and combine them for a world of discovery! Your visit will provide you with opportunities to better understand you child’s interests and ways to encourage their natural curiosity through activities at home and school. A child’s motivation to learn depends on meaningful activities and a supportive environment where imagination and curiosity are encouraged. Exhibits include interactive science exhibits, a human skeleton and an archaeological dig. If you are headed to Palm Springs, Palm Desert or Rancho Mirage for the weekend take the kids in for some fun! OPen Tuesday – sunday 10am – 5pm. Plan Your Visit.
Pasadena / Arcadia
Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Garden Occupying the heart of the historic Rancho Santa Anita, this unique 127 acre botanical garden and historical site jointly operated by the Los Angeles Arboretum Foundation and the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation is located in the city of Arcadia. Home to plant collections from all over the world, including many rare and endangered species, The Arboretum also houses outdoor historical landmarks representative of the major phases of California history. Open every day 9am – 4:30pm. Plan Your Visit.
The Huntington library, art museum and botanical gardens in San Marino is a lovely place to take your kids for a stroll in the gardens. Older children will enjoy the museum. Tickets are available onsite. Advanced reservations not required. Food is not allowed on premises, an area is set-up next to the parking lot for eating or you may dine in their Tea Room. Open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 12 – 4:30 pm, Saturday and Sunday 10:30 am – 4:30 pm, Closed on Tuesdays. Plan Your Visit.
Kidspace Children’s Museum provides creative environments that inspire learning through self-directed, interactive experiences and play in the arts, sciences and humanities that enrich children, families and the community. This indoor / outdoor museum is not to be missed! Open September – May Tuesday – Friday, 9:30am to 5:00pm and Saturday and Sunday, 10:00am to 5:00pm. Summer hours differ. Plan Your Visit. Also available for birthday parties.
San Diego (Encinitas)
The San Diego Botanic Garden is open daily from 9am to 5pm. It is closed on Christmas and New Year’s Day. Summer extended hours are available on Thursdays until 8pm. The Garden is Free on the first Tuesday of the month. Tuesday, July 3rd is the next Free day offered. Admission to the garden is $12 for adults, kids 3 to 12 are $6. Parking is $2 and if there are 4 or more people in the car the parking fee is waived. For additional info Click Here.
The Getty is a fantastic kids experience. Just riding the train to the museum is an adventure in itself! The campus and gardens are a wondrous place to explore and there is always great art to view! The Getty features a Family Room and a kid-friendly cafe. They also host numerous Family Events throughout the year. Open 10am – 5:30pm Tuesday - Friday, 10am – 9pm Saturday, 10am – 5;30pm Sunday, Closed on Monday. Plan Your Visit.
Hailed by The New York Times as “a lesson on how to connect the eye to heart and mind,” the Skirball Cultural Center has established itself as one of the world’s most dynamic Jewish cultural institutions, and among the most prominent cultural venues in the United States. Its mission is to explore the connections between four thousand years of Jewish heritage and the vitality of American democratic ideals. Make plans today to visit Noah’s Ark at the Skirball™, the permanent, award-winning children’s and family destination that is the talk of the town! Play, climb, build, explore, make believe, and make friends. Open Tuesday – Friday 12 – 5pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am – 5pm, Closed Monday. Plan Your Visit.
The Hammer Museum is UCLA’s incredible contemporary art museum. Take the kids to view the very colorful and interesting art and stop for lunch in the courtyard (just don’t let them play in the rock gardens like I did.) They host ongoing kids programs throughout the year including their annual fundraising event called KAMP. Open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 11am – 7pm, Thursday 11am – 9pm and Sunday 11am – 5pm. Closed Monday. Plan Your Visit.