Got Kids? TOP THINGS TO DO IN LA WITH KIDS!

Photo: @Ographr

Photo: @Ographr

Top things to do in Los Angeles WITH KIDS— the second part of my VISIT LOS ANGELES series. (See the first post on TOP FREE THINGS TO DO IN LA). The City of Angeles has gems for children that are worth carving out time whether you are a local and looking for fun things to do this summer or year round, or vacationing on the West Coast.

There are many lists out there, but these are my curated picks from the past few years running around LA with Huck and Hayden. Nothing is sponsored, by the way…I’m so often asked these questions, I just decided to jot it all down.

THE HUNTINGTON GARDENS

CHILDREN UNDER 4  ARE FREE.

If you follow me on stories, you see how often we are at “The Gardens.” I truly love the wide open spaces, the unbelievable selection of different gardens and cultures. It is an amazing experience for kids of all ages. My suggestions for first time visitors:

If you live in the area, buy a family membership for about $150 or so. It will pay for itself quickly and you can also bring a guest (there are rules to how many and adults verses kids, please check). Otherwise, check photo below for pricing. 

I recommend giving yourself some time if you are paying the day rate. There are several places to eat throughout the gardens, but you could also pack a picnic. If you want to see it all, I would give myself a good 3-4 hours, maybe more. Get a map- there is a lot to see! Make sure you don’t miss the Botanical Garden, the Children’s outdoor museum and the Japanese and Chinese Gardens, where you can also grab a bite to eat on site. The Art galleries are worth visiting, but may be more of an interest to you, not the kids. If your child likes water, there are fountains and streams in the children’s section. I make sure we have a swimsuit that dries easily or a change of clothes. You don’t have to, but the younger ones tend to get wet. We definitely use a stroller for Hayden, FYI. There are stroller and wheel-chair accessible ways throughout the entire garden.

THE SKIRBALL MUSEUM

The Noah’s Ark Exhibit is not to be missed. From my experience, it seems to interest children until the age of around 11 or 12. ADMISSION IS FREE for children under 2 always and FREE for everyone EVERY THURSDAY on a first come, first serve basis starting at 11:45. Huck had the best time here when he was 3, and now Hayden is taking after him. It’s incredibly inventive, educational and historical (even I enjoyed it!). Plenty of activities to keep your interest, keep them occupied (ropes to climb, lightning to “make,” etc), and don’t miss the Family Art Programs.

noahs-ark-things-to-in-los-angeles-with-kids
Courtsey of Museum

Courtsey of Museum

MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY

I have heard AMAZING things about this Natural History museum in Los Angeles, so I felt the need to include it. My usual rounds of the Natural Science and History Museum is in Houston with my parents and Hayden, so I added the text from the website. While writing this column, I’m making a separate list to take Huck and Hayden asap and I’ll update this with my thoughts!

Discover your world past and present. See dinosaurs in our new Dinosaur Hall, including the world’s only Tyrannosaurus rex growth series. Get the behind- the- scenes look at how scientists work on fossils at our Dino Lab. See 240 specimens, including skeletons from mastodons to whales, animal dioramas from North American and Africa, and more.Stroll through our extensive Nature Gardens, and discover true stories about plants and animals in our Nature Lab. See and touch more than 2,000 spectacular specimens displayed in our Gem and Mineral Hall, and enter into the vault to view diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and other exquisite gems. Our Butterfly and Spider Pavilions are open seasonally. Here you can wander through the changing ecosystem with over 30 species of fluttering butterflies all around you, or witness arachnids up close and personal. source: website.

Courtesy of Museum

Courtesy of Museum

Courtesy of instagram/museum

Courtesy of instagram/museum

BACK AT THE BEACH

I’ve talked about how Back at the Beach Cafe is one of my favorite spots in between Santa Monica beach and Malibu before (like in THIS POST HERE). I LOVE it.

PROS: Enjoy lunch while your toes feel the sand. Let the kids play on the playground on the beach right by the patio all in front of the ocean. If you aren’t responsible for any kiddos, btw, sit under the umbrella and enjoy a glass of wine. You are steps away from feeling the water on your feet! It's adjacent to the Anneberg Beach House, which is worth a visit, too.

CONS: Parking. On a good parking day, there’s inexpensive paid parking right in front… on a crowded summer weekend, it takes a long time to find parking and can take a while to get a spot at the restaurant outside on the patio. Indoor seating can be reserved for tables of 6 or more. You can also make reservations through the Anneberg for parking and a pool spot, which I would highly recommend if you want to make a day out of it.

BACK AT THE BEACH CAFE THINGS-TO-DO-IN-LOSANGELES-WITH-KIDS
THINGS-TO-DO-IN-LA-WITH-KIDS-BEACH

FISHERMAN’S VILLAGE

Right here in LA county, there is a little slice of New England seaside in the Marina called Fisherman’s Village. It definitely has some instagram worthy photo-ops, but I would only make a trip to Marina Del Rey if I was 1) staying nearby or 2) going on a boat ride. The village is still in need of a bit of renovation, however, there are restaurants and stores open that are charming.

Image: Getty

Image: Getty

IMG_7558.jpg
IMG_7491.jpg

SANTA MONICA PIER

You’ll most likely get some great photos here, but I describe my reticence in the first segment of these posts HERE. If you’re visiting the area in an off season, I say go! But it gets very crowded otherwise. Still a famous site to see and kids love festival type games and rides, so it’s a must have on this list.


ECHO LAKE PARK

Rent a pedal boat and have a picnic in the park that dates back to 1860! After the extensive renovation, pedal through the lake or walk the path lined with palm trees with the Los Angeles skyline as the back drop. Have a bite at Beacon while you’re there!

LA BREA TAR PITS

LA Brea tar pits-things-to-do-with-kids-in-la

Again, this made the list on the first segment, but it bears repeating here because kids love it. Right here in the HEART of LA, you get to experience the Ice Age. The LA BREA TAR PITS next to the L.A. County Museum of Art is the most significant source of prehistoric fossils ever excavated. These fossils have made their way into museums around the world, but the largest collection is here at the Page Museum. It's free to wander the park and look at the tar pits and outdoor exhibits. During the summer, you can watch the excavators at work

ANGELS FLIGHT RAILWAY

Remember Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams riding this Angles Flight railway in THE NOTEBOOK? Well, maintenance is now complete and it is open! If you have reason to go to Downtown LA, this is a MUST SEE or must ride! I must say I had forgotten about this historical landmark until Katherine Kelly Lang and B&B producer Casey Kasprzyk added it to their Bus Tour! It’ll be one of the best dollars you spend in LA! And totally instagram worthy;)

Image: instagram

Image: instagram

TRAVEL TOWN

When Hayden was barely a month old, we took our first family outing to Travel Town to do something fun for Huck. This is a great space for kids to explore old trains, learn about the rich 150 year-old heritage and roam around. ADMISSION IS FREE. Train rides are a nominal fee (around $3) and really fun for younger kids. Bring a picnic to have a snack at a picnic table. There are limited snacks available on site.

HOLLYWOOD STUDIO TOUR

If your kids are a bit older (at least 8), your family might consider a studio lot tour to see behind the scenes of where the magic happens. This site does a great job at breaking down all the tours in town, prices and age limits. If you are a fan of a show (like FRIENDS, for instance, you might get a kick out of sitting on the couch at “Central Perk!”), take that particular tour! I’ve been on all the lots and seen the tours drive by. Generally, they are all pretty informative and fun. If you keep your eyes peeled, there’s a great chance you’ll see stars of shows walking around. I hear Universal reenacts the plane crash from WAR OF THE WORLDS, has fire, etc—- plus you get to spend the rest of the day at the Universal park! Most people I talk to after they take a tour rave about it! The studios are located all over the city, so make sure you plan your day’s events around traffic and parking.

HOLLYWOOD BOWL

Scroll down on my post HERE where I give away a great secret for kids that love music. Many concerts at the bowl have FREE rehearsals during the day with easy (nearly VIP) parking and so fun for the kids to run around and get a “private” day concert.

If you’ve done any of these activities and have some tips, PLEASE LEAVE THEM IN THE COMMENTS. I want to continually update this post so it stays current. Looking foward to your thoughts and if you have anything to add.

Happy Summer with the kiddos!!

xoxo

AAJ

PRESERVING TRADITIONS

ashley-jones-ball-jars-canning.JPG

Thank you Newell Brands, makers of Ball® Home Canning products, for sponsoring this post and bringing us so much joy; but as always, thoughts are authentically mine!

I really can’t even explain the fun we had canning recently. And although I have used Ball® jars for years for many purposes, canning had not been one of them, till recently.

Lemme start from the beginning. My earliest memories of my paternal grandparents are picking strawberries on their farm. My Pa Jack, as we called him, would take my hand and show me how to gently collect the fruit. My Ma would take all the “pickings” and can them In Ball® jars. They canned concord grapes from the vines in the backyard, green tomatoes, even cabbage slaw! They lived in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, small town USA where people take care of each other, grow their own food, and share. My dad has vivid memories. And even getting to write up this column, it was lovely to bring up the “good ‘ol days” and let him tell me a little more. I even connected with some cousins and my Aunt Debi to discuss their memories of canning. It was more than a tradition for my dad and aunt growing up; it was a way of life.

WE DID IT!!!!

WE DID IT!!!!


As an adult, I was intimidated and overwhelmed by the concept. It seemed like such a huge (and somewhat messy) process to me. BUT I’M HERE TO TELL YOU DIFFERENTLY!! If I can do it (and do it WELL!!) so “can” YOU. And our experience canning in our kitchen was a family affair. We all pitched in some way.

CANNING-ASHLEY-JONES-BALL-JARS.jpg

Huck and Hayden helped pick out the organic strawberries from the farmers market and mash them! I was excited to try strawberry lemonade marmalade (try saying that 5 times;) And Joel is ALL THINGS SPICY. All things. Anytime. So, Texas-style Maple Pickled Jalapeños were right up his alley. Our small-batch canning experience was such a success that Joel has it on the calendar for another upcoming weekend. He even wants to have a “canning” party. I’m sensing a new hobby in our household. But, hey, it’s a healthy one we all are loving.

HAYDEN-MOMMY-MARMALADE.jpg

The cans turned out so well, I took them to a picnic birthday party with Hayden for a hosting gift for friends. Hayden was proud to tell the group that he helped make the “red jars.”  Hayden and “Mommy Marmalade.” lol So, if you are on my Christmas list, guess what you might be getting?! Hope you like Maple Texas pickled jalapeños or strawberry preserves! (I was even thinking of sending one of you a complete canning kit from Ball® with a sample jar of the jalapeños...thoughts?)

There’s something nostalgic about using Ball® Aqua Vintage jars available now. They look like the same jars my grandparents used years and years ago…because they are! Ball® Home Canning is celebrating 135 years of heritage and family traditions.

ASHLEY-JONES-PICNIC-BALL-JARS.jpg

In a world of instant gratification, microwaved speed and information at our fingertips, there’s something to be said about the art of canning and preserving.

I got to go first and do the Strawberries. I followed the instructions carefully using the Ball® Preserving Starter Kit and Ball® Jars. If you get this exact kit available at Target, it comes with everything you will need (outside of the ingredients). All in all, it was about an hour process to make. Then, they need to cool and sit still for 24 hours.

Joel was ALL ABOUT the jalapeños. We used this helpful cutting board to get the right sized pieces for the jalapeños and onions. (He also used a knife to perfect some and on the ends.) My husband used to brew his own beer, so he really enjoyed this process. I’m not into beer, but this newfound hobby I’m finding very rewarding.

I’m adding our exact recipes below. And in case you get an itch to preserve your special commodities of the season while they are fresh, I’m also adding a great list from Ball® about the do’s and don’ts of canning.

Is this something you would do with me?? I’m thinking about doing a LIVE facebook or instagram during our next canning experience! And leave a comment if you’d like to win a package of the memory-making Ball® jars!! What would YOU preserve or use the  Ball® Aqua Vintage jars for (even flowers would be fun!)?? Leave in comments..I’m asking the brand to randomly pick a winner;) We’ll just need your name, email and address if you win!

xoxo

A

Maple-pickled-peppers-ashley-jones-ball-jars
Strawberry-lemonade-marmalade-ashley-jones-ball-jars-recipe


dos-donts-canning-recipe
Dos-don't-canning-ball-recipe
6D4A1629.jpg