Downtown Los Angeles with the Kids

Princess in front of the Disney Concert Hall
Although I've been looking forward to our trip to California, the byproduct of a conference my husband is attending, the planning of our leg in downtown Los Angeles has not been without some trepidation. We've all heard about urban violence and the absolute need for a car in LA. But the downtown was nothing like I had imagined. Yes, there are a lot of cars, skyscrapers and cement, but there are still some amazing sites to see within walking distance, even with two kids in tow. (I'll be talking about a few other discoveries tomorrow.)

My kids on the footbridge on a quiet Sunday
Our first day out was a bright Sunday morning, my kids and I walked the deserted streets of the financial district to the stunning Walt Disney Concert Hall, designed by Frank Gehry and home to the LA Philharmonic. The mention of Disney elicited some initial excitement from my kids, and the coincidence of seeing a young princess coming down the steps helped maintain enthusiasm for another quarter hour. But the pleasure was all mine when I learned that we could take a self-guided audio-tour of the Concert Hall and gardens free of charge. Despite all the steel outside, the interior was bright and airy. My five-year-old had a lot of fun running around loudly singing a few notes to hear his own echo, but for many, this sounded like squealing. Although not entirely successful, I did my best to contain his excitement, much to the chagrin of the more serious music fans touring the site. But a more trying problem lurked ahead: we had to walk up the steep hill to get back to our hotel. Yes, downtown LA is hilly in places, another unexpected surprise.

Bison Skeleton
On the Monday, instead of visiting the hotel concierge about kid friendly attractions, I consulted my guide book and Google maps for transportation. I discovered that LA does indeed have public transportation, and it's cheap ($1.50 a ticket, and my five-year-old rode for free). We took a 40-minute bus drive down Wilshire Boulevard past some beautiful art deco buildings to the La Brea Tar Pits and the Page Museum. My five-year-old found the bus trip long, but both the mammoth statue and the pungent odour of the tar pond quickly revived his interest. The Los Angeles area was apparently teeming with wildlife 11,000 years ago, and the tar pits, a naturally occurring phenomenon, were used by early settlers to waterproof their homes. Paleontologists have found over 3.5 million fossils of both large and small animals, in addition to plant life in these tar pits, located in the middle of Los Angeles. At the Page Museum, you can see some of the larger reconstituted mammals on display and a paleontologist at work. This museum was a big hit with my kids, but the best part was visiting the excavation sites on the grounds.

As we walked around the excavation pits, I eyed the imposing Los Angeles County Museum of Art next door, but I knew that my kids were nearly at their "best before" time, and I still had to get them home. The LACMA would have to wait for another day.



Post a Comment