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With a nearly limitless list of activities and natural wonders, Los Angeles more than ever is recognized as a place that welcomes the entire family.
Los Angeles offers a tremendous amount of entertainment and enrichment for families who can find everything from movie history and science exhibits to theme parks and the great outdoors.
Known for its thriving entertainment industry, it is no surprise that many families travel to Los Angeles to see a taping of their favorite show or catch a glimpse of a famous star.
Universal Studios Hollywood is the outgrowth of Universal Studios, the world's busiest and biggest motion picture and television studio. Guests of all ages can journey back 65 million years aboard the highly acclaimed Jurassic Park - The Ride. It features larger-than-life dinosaurs and a water ride that drops 84 feet. "Totally Nickelodeon" is an interactive live attraction based on the children's television network. It offers excitement, laughter and, of course, plenty of slime. Families can also phone home with E.T. and take a thrilling journey Back to the Future in addition to touring historic sets and special effects stages.
At nearby Universal CityWalk, visitors can shop, eat and catch a movie. This pedestrian promenade has unique specialty shops as well as some of the area's best-known restaurants.
Another movie giant, Warner Bros. Studios, offers unstaged tours. Guests can enjoy a different experience every day, depending on what is being filmed that day. Stops may include recording stages, the prop shop and the costume department. Children must be age eight or older to participate.
Theme parks and family amusement centers draw many thrill-seeking families visiting Los Angeles like magnets. LA's three largest amusement parks have some of the world's most exciting rollercoasters as well as special areas with games and rides designed for the younger set.
There is the famed, magical Disneyland, the world's first theme park, which continues to delight children of all ages. Disneyland now takes guests on a journey to the imagination and beyond with its new Tomorrowland. The newly renovated landscape of Tomorrowland, one of the park's eight themed lands, showcases a world of the future that is warm, enjoyable and friendly. Guests can experience a high-speed rocket journey, play with futuristic technology, blast into orbit on the striking new Astro Orbiter and take a 3-D experience that literally rocks their world.
Six Flags Magic Mountain is a roller-coaster enthusiast's paradise. Its action-packed rides include the Colossus, Ninja, Viper and Superman, the Ride. With more than 100 rides, live shows and adventures covering 260 acres, the park also offers special children's attractions. New this year is the Riddler's Revenge, the world's tallest, fastest stand-up roller coaster which takes the art of "thrill" to the extreme. Guests can also meet the Riddler's rivals, Batman and Robin, who star in their own live action show.
Nearby, the related Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Water Park offers a perfect place to cool off. The water park features 18 water attractions, including 22 tube and speed slides as well as the exciting new addition of Lizard Lagoon, Reptile Ridge and Bamboo Racer. Knott's Berry Farm is another theme park rides and entertainment. New in 1998 at Knott's is the Supreme Scream - the tallest thrill ride of its kind and Orange County's tallest structure - 312 feet of sheer vertical excitement. The younger set will prefer Camp Snoopy, the official home of the Peanuts cartoon.
With 72 miles of coastline along the western edge of Los Angeles County, LA's sandy stretches are ideal for sunning, volleyball and building sand castles. Families can rollerblade, bike or simply stroll along the boardwalk that stretches more than 20 miles along the ocean, from Palos Verdes to Pacific Palisades.
Highlights include Venice Beach, which provides a continuous parade of comedians, jugglers, bodybuilders, musicians, mimes, skaters and zany performers that make the boardwalk a nonstop people-watching paradise.
Nearby is the Santa Monica Pier, one of the last great pleasure piers. It boasts an added attraction-an amusement park. Pacific Park offers 11 rides, including bumper cars, a roller coaster and a Ferris wheel that towers nine stories high, offering sweeping ocean views.
Treasures at Sea
Los Angeles visitors can easily see the ocean and sail upon the water. But it is not always so easy to look at the world beneath the gently rolling waves.
The Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific is the new jewel along the Pacific. Celebrating the planet's largest and most diverse body of water, the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific is a world-class, new breed aquarium. On a five-acre site on Rainbow Harbor, the $117-million aquarium features 17 major habitats and 30 smaller exhibits. More than 10,000 ocean animals, from more than 550 species live in the Aquarium.
Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro introduces visitors to the mysterious world of marine life. It features interpretive exhibits and glass tanks brimming with fish and plants from nearby marine environments. A special favorite of children and adults alike is the tide pool touch tank, where visitors can actually touch starfish and other sea life.
Nearby is the Ports o' Call Village, a shopping and dining center that looks like a quaint fishing community. Here, families can enjoy a meal in a nautical environment before taking a harbor cruise (year-round) or whale-watching trip (seasonal, January through April).
Explore lush green pathways and discover more than 1,200 rare and exotic animals and plants at the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens. The Zoo is located in Griffith Park. Highlights include the Winnick Family Children's Zoo, Red Ape Rain Forest, Chimpanzees of Mahale Mountains, a bird show and a play park. The Zoo is open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed December 25). Admission is $9.00 for adults and $4.00 for children.
Los Angeles boasts more museums per person than any other city in the world. From paintings and furniture to nature and psychology, LA has a museum for it.
The Autry Museum of Western Heritage, nearby the Los Angeles Zoo, takes guests back to the wild, wild West. Exhibits trace the rich history of the West from the 16th century to the present.
The Los Angeles Children's Museum, in the heart of downtown, encourages children to learn with hands-on exhibits in an entertaining environment. For example, "City Streets" allows children to be police officers, bus drivers, passengers going to work, truck drivers or firefighters. In addition, the museum offers several workshops on subjects, such as how to recycle paper, make art projects with recycled materials and operate a lock-and-dam system.
The California Science Center in Exposition Park has been transformed into a world-class science education facility showcasing interactive exhibits and scientific wonders. Especially popular here is the museum's IMAX (Image Maximizing) Theater.
Also in Exposition Park is the Natural History Museum, where young visitors can try on costumes from around the world, inspect water drops under a microscope and watch live creatures such as tarantulas, fish and lizards.
Not to be missed is the Museum of Tolerance, which teaches guests about the psychology behind hate and prejudice-and about the Holocaust-through high-tech, interactive displays.
Pick a Park
There are more than 350 parks in Los Angeles, all with grass, flowers and hiking trails. As the largest city park in the United States, Griffith Park offers 4,000 acres with 53 miles of hiking trails, an equestrian center, horse trails, pony rides, tennis courts, an Olympic-size pool, golf courses, playgrounds and a vintage carousel. Other attractions include Travel Town, a display of antique locomotives and miniature trains; the Greek Theatre, an amphitheater that presents classical and pop performances throughout the summer; and the Griffith Observatory and Planetarium, which offers opportunities to gaze at stars of a different variety - the celestial kind.
Of special note is Will Rogers State Historic Park in the Pacific Palisades. Once the home of humorist Will Rogers, the 187-acre park has a polo field, stables, tours of Rogers' former home and miles of hiking trails into the Santa Monica Mountains.
Just down the coast is Palisades Park in Santa Monica, a narrow strip of grass, palm trees and park benches that boasts one of the most sweeping ocean views in town.
With such a diverse array of educational and recreational opportunities, it is no wonder that Los Angeles is becoming an increasingly popular destination for families. After all, in a town that has it all, the words "I'm bored" will never be an issue.
Websites of Interest
To get more detailed information about what's currently happening in Los Angeles, check the web sites below.