Landmarks in Los Angeles

Genie Davis November 10, 2013 No Comments


Typical beach sunset in Los Angeles

Even if your children aren’t old enough to ask the question “What’s a landmark?” it’s still time to introduce them to one. Los Angeles has many to choose from, all of them fun for the whole family. And it’s really nice to teach your kids early on that LA is a city with real history behind it.


Let’s start with some food finds. El Coyote is Mexican food with style. Waitstaff in traditional Mexican costumes, decor for the holidays, and on weekends mariachis roam the premises. It’s been around since 1931, and serves inexpensive, child pleasing favorites under strings of glittery Christmas lights. What child won’t like a cheese quesadilla, or enjoy a sweet green corn tamale. Lead the kids through the warren of rooms with such kitschy delights as paint on velvet art and smiling Day of the Dead figures, and point out the photos of celebrities who’ve dined here over the years, including the big man himself, John Wayne.

Tots will love the extensive menu and parents will love the large portions and reasonable prices at Canter’s Deli, another landmark eatery in LA. Canter’s also started in 1931, that must’ve been a good year to start beloved local restaurants. The bakery items are made fresh daily and delicious, and your child will love a sweet noodle kugel or some comforting matzoh ball soup.


LA is a movie lovers town, and when your little ones are old enough to sit through a film, there are several iconic theaters you’ll want to show them from the inside. The now Disney owned El Capitan on Hollywood Boulevard has been artfully restored and the theater usually shows family oriented films. Exhibits depicting costumes or sets from the films are often a part of the ticket price, too. Just across the street is the newly supersized IMAX TCL Chinese Theater. The Asian decor is shined up and stunning, and the giant screen will make a child’s eyes wide and their mouth drop. Yours, too.  And just a few blocks away you’ll find the well known egg shaped roof of the Cinerama Dome. An Archlight first run theater, the Dome  was created to show widescreen Cinerama movies. Now it shows mainstream films in a vast and comfortable setting with a lot of history behind it.


Now there’s a landmark – the iconic Griffith Observatory

What about some outdoor landmarks? One can’t miss is the Griffith Observatory and of course Griffith Park itself. From the children’s carousel and Travel Town at one end to the LA Zoo and many pleasant, easy hiking and walking trails, Griffith is a treat. Try a picnic in the shady Ferndell area of the park on the west side. But the Observatory itself also shouldn’t be missed. The view of vast LA spread before it, the green lawn for a family picnic, and a glimpse inside the giant telescope on its roof will all prove wonderful for a child. Slightly older kids will love the Planetarium shows and the exhibits that explain the explain moon, sun, planets, and stars. Everything except the Planetarium shows is free, too.

Plus, the classic Grecian design of the observatory buildings themselves are a lot of fun to explore. Note that the area is particularly stunning around sunset and offers a great tableau of California sky and LA city lights. It makes a great spot to view fireworks on the 4th of July, and Christmas lights in the winter.


The Santa Monica Pier has been around for about 100 years

Or what about the Santa Monica Pier? Massive Ferris Wheel, or tot-sized bumper cars, there’s a ride to please everyone in the family. Lots of fun carnival games, a roller coaster built for child enjoyment, and naturally, the history of this pier which has weathered storms and been featured in countless film and television programs – that’s enough to claim landmark status alone. The old wooden boardwalk is just plain fun in and of itself, and it’s always a treat to watch the solar powered lighting change it’s colorful patterns on the Ferris Wheel.

Another pier worth peering at is the Redondo Beach Pier.  Neither fire nor storms nor redevelopment can quell this fishing pier, which also makes a great place for a stroll from the marina to the upper deck. Treat the kids to a few arcade games in the pier’s old fashioned Fun Center, where the prizes are pretty weird (what child wouldn’t want a shower cap from a defunct hotel) but the collection of skee ball, fortune telling, sporting games, and even a tilt-a-whirl are sure to delight. And be sure to listen for the sea lions out on the harbor barge.


Your kids will also enjoy a night at the Hollywood Bowl. Pick an evening when you can bring the family in to the cheap seats, in case little ones need to leave early or are restless. The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra often features singalongs – The Sound of Music, for example, or musical programs accompanied by clips from cartoons or classic films. The beautiful half shell will grab the kids attention and if they doze off midway through the program, they’ll still have a healthy dose of history and culture at this landmark.

And let’s not forget the Hollywood sign. The smallest children will need to be carried from the Beechwood Ave. parking area up the initial hilly path, but once it flattens – and becomes paved instead of dirt, its an easy walk to a great viewpoint below the sign for fun family photos and more great views of the city from this well known LA landmark.

Happy History!


avatarAbout the Author:

Genie Davis is a multi-published fiction author, screen and TV writer, and travel writer. If it was possible, she'd like to spend every day traveling.

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