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Los Angeles for Toddlers

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Los Angeles for Toddlers
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Beyond the Beach in Los Angeles for the Younger Crowd

    When my husband accepted a consulting position for the summer in Los Angeles, I was excited to return to a place where I had lived as a graduate student. This time, with two young children in tow, I had to forgo late nights at the Hollywood Bowl or at the movies. My two sons were also too young, Benjamin at 10 months and Joshua at 3 years, to appreciate Disneyland and other typical Southern California family attractions. Of course Benjamin and Joshua enjoying the fish at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium.we spent lots of time at the beach, something we can’t do at home in Ohio.

We also found other wonderful adventures that kept the toddlers entertained and busy the entire time. The only thing Los Angeles lacks is sufficient parking!

    One of the highlights of our Los Angeles visit was a performance of Bob Baker’s Marionettes (www. bobbakermarionettes .com) located just outside the downtown area. The theater is arranged so that all the kids have front row seats and the puppets interact with them as part of the performance. Be sure to bring the camera because you can take pictures during the show. The theater is tricky to find so be sure to print and follow directions from the web site. Parking in their lot is crowded but it’s free. You can reserve tickets online.
    Though Benjamin and Joshua wouldn’t have been able to stay awake for a regular Hollywood Bowl performance, we enjoyed the SummerSounds program for kids (www.hollywood bowl
.com/event/summersounds.cfm)which consists of a music and dance performance ($5) and a craft ($3 per child) in the fine arts outdoor studio. Craft projects are available for all age levels, so each week 3 year old Joshua was able to choose a project he could do with just a little help. His two favorites over the summer were a maraca and an alien hat!  Though tickets for most the music and dance shows were sold out, we almost always could get last minute tickets at the box office if we got there early enough. If not however, we still could enjoy the fine arts studio. For these SummerSounds performances, find plenty of free parking in the lot next to the Hollywood Bowl.
    The Audubon Center at Debs Parks (www.audubon-ca.org/ debs_park.htm), just south of Pasadena, is a must-see for your young outdoor adventurers. The park (free admission and parking) offers unique play areas for youngsters with toy lizards, animals, birds and fish scattered over realistic terrain that includes a running creek, a campsite, a cabin, and a garden. We also enjoy
ed a guided hike geared towards a preschooler’s limited attention span that emphasized looking for animal signs and tracks. The staff was friendly and helpful in giving suggestiPlaying fire engine at the Los Angeles Fire Department Museum.ons for outdoor activities for the kids. You can borrow supplies such as baby backpacks and binoculars to make your hike more interesting and enjoyable.
    Though many mu
seums in Los Angeles have special preschool sections that our sons enjoyed both the Los Angeles Fire Department Museum and the Boone Children’s Gallery of the Los Angeles County Joshua trying on boots at the Los Angeles Fire Department Museum.Museum of Art (LACMA – www. lacma.org), are free and well worth a visit. The Fire Department Museum, called Old Fire Station 27 is housed in an old firehouse in
Hollywood. We were impressed by the historic fire equipment on the ground floor, but our two toddlers most enjoyed the hands-on play and dress-up area on the second floor.  This room includes various fire engines and related toys the kids can play with as well as boots, coats, and hats they can try on. A small lot in front of the museum offers free parking.
    For an art experience for the active toddler or preschooler, go to the Boone Children’s Gallery in LACMA’s West Wing, which offers an interactive exhibit area. The gallery contains touchable sculptures and a hands-on area where the kids can create their own masterpieces. Combine this activity with the La Brea Tar Pits around the main LACMA building for a great outing that won’t overextend a preschooler’s attention span. Admission is free to the West Wing (tickets are required for the main building).   You can park in the museum parking lot ($5-$8) or at metered parking spaces on the surrounding streets.



 

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