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Los Angeles is a great travel destinations with plenty to do but the one disadvantage (or challenge) is that most of the attractions are spread out across the huge city and into neighboring cities which are usually visited together. Santa Monica, Hollywood, Anaheim and Pasadena are not actually LA but can easily be visited on the same trip.
The ultimate family attraction in the Los Angeles area is the Disneyland resort. Here you have a choice of Disneyland Adventure Park where there are 7 exciting lands each with amusement park rides and all decorated with the theme of Disney and Pixar movies; or Disneyland Park the original Disney park where there are 8 themed “lands.” You’ll need to plan your visit with military precision and probably spend an entire day here. In addition to the rides there are live shows, firework displays, restaurants and merchandise stores in both parks. The resort also has several Disney themed hotels. If you are really into theme parks then there is also Knott’s Berry Farm and Six Flags Magic Mountain nearby.
Universal Studios Hollywood http://www.universalstudioshollywood.com/
This is a theme park and studio tour on the “Upper Lot” and “Lower Lot.” On the Upper Lot you have all of the park’s shows including special effects, stunts and animal shows. There are also a few amusement park rides, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the Studio Tour, a 45 minute tram ride as if you were going through the back lot of a film studio and experiencing a number of special effects. On the Lower Lot there are more rides, eateries and merchandise stores. Next to Universal Studios Hollywood is CityWalk, an exciting entertainment and retail area.
Natural History Museum http://www.nhm.org/site/
With its wide range of hands-on displays including a nature garden, butterfly pavilion edible garden, insect zoo and spider pavilion the real highlight of this museum is the Dinosaur Hall where there is a giant T-Rex skeleton. Kids can see scenes from Africa, North and South America with taxidermy animals as well as shell collections, gems and minerals.
California Science Center http://californiasciencecenter.org/
Interactive-exhibits and live demonstrations make this a dynamic environment for kids to learn scientific principles. There are 3D films and exhibits on the ecosystem, inventions, living things, air and space. The highlight of a visit to the center is the Space Shuttle Endeavour and the movies in the IMAX theatre.
Griffith Park, http://griffithobservatory.org/
LA has many outstanding parks but Griffith Park is special because it is also the site of the Griffith Observatory. Here kids can learn about astronomy, visit the Planetarium, learn about earthquakes, see the Foucault Pendulum, look through a massive telescope and gaze at the stars. The park also has a zoo, miniature train, pony rides, merry-go-round, playgrounds and recreational facilities.
There are really too many wonderful places to include in this short list but if you can fit it in also visit Hollywood Blvd., Aquarium of the Pacific, La Brea Tar Pits, the Getty Center and of course the glorious California beaches.