Los Angeles - the City of Angels, the land of dreams - and one of the most popular cities for families to visit in the entire USA. But what is Los Angeles like now? We are Family Days Out recently visited, and so we wanted to share our own personal experience with you, in the hope it helps you on your next trip to this film capital of the world.
First, for any worries we had about getting through security at LAX, we didn't need to have. With all the new rules, and tests, and screenings, we thought our entry through passport control would have taken hours, however we were pleasantly surprised. In fact, it was one of the most seamless entires through LAX we've ever had.
Our next adventure was picking up the hire car. Pre-pandemic, the whole experience of car hire in LA was something that felt came second nature to the city. The entire process had been stream-lined, the cars were almost too new to be true, and the car hire options even started to offer some insurance included.
Post-pandemic, it felt the car hire companies had really struggled. The cars were old, and dated, and we even received a car with stains that we only noticed in the morning. We managed to change the car, but really do a thorough check on the car now before it leaves the lot.
(Tip: we always now pick up annual worldwide third party car insurance. Our annual policy is cheaper than getting all the bells and whistles from most US car hire companies. It can really save you lots of money, especially if it includes third party coverage. Typically, whoever's name is on the insurance needs to be the name on the hire, and on the credit card used)
You absolutely need a car to get around Los Angeles, especially with a family. The city does have buses and trains as far as public transport goes, but if there is an occasion you don't want to drive, we would recommend just jumping in an Uber or Lyft - they're very reasonably priced, and incredibly always on time!
It's always great to stay in a city where you're walking distance to cafes, shops, and fun! LA is known for not being very walk-friendly (it's true!) but there are pockets of magic. Kids always love the Hollywood Walk of Fame - that area has great souvenir shops, cinemas, and makes you really feel like you're in Hollywood!
Venice Beach has always been another favorite if you love the ocean, with the iconic body builders, roller bladers and delicious food. Be careful now, however, as in recent years it's become more unsafe than it has been in the past, so test the waters with one or two nights before committing any longer, to see how you feel about it.
Sunset Strip is well, Sunset Strip! Great for older kids and parents, it's the atmosphere here that it electric. There are also some incredible restaurants, and icons such as Chateau Marmont. History loving families will LOVE this area as it's so rich in culture and history.
West Hollywood is always a favorite of ours at Family Days Out. The Grove is incredibly kid-friendly (it's almost like Disneyland!) and the perfect place to catch a movie, enjoy some dinner and hit the shops. There are attractions like the La Brea Tar Pits close by, as well as studios such as CBS where you might be lucky enough to see a living taping of something!
Los Angeles has so many great things to do with the kids, and if it's your first trip, absolutely stick with what makes LA so great.
Don't miss heading up to Griffith Observatory for some specatular views of the city (if you love views check out Sunset Ranch too - a horseback adventure Family Days Out has enjoyed multiple times!) and enjoy time at some of the classic museums like the Petersen Automotive Museum.
Take a studio tour at one of the majors like Universal Studios (of course, there are a host of amazing rides there too beyond the iconic Backlot Tour!) and YES - any trip to Los Angeles needs that trip to Disneyland!
If you're flying into the city, don't rush too much on your first day to accommodate for jet lag. It can be super exciting to be in the City of Angels, so try and pick lighter attractions - perhaps strolling around The Grove or taking a trip to Santa Monica Pier and putting your toes in the sand.
Make sure you visit some iconic food options too, such as Mel's Diner (where the movie American Grafitti was filmed!) or Pink's Hot Dogs! Movies are everywhere in Hollywood, so go on and soak up the magic - it's certainly one of a kind!
For more, why not check out our Los Angeles City Guide, for our Top 9 things to do in the city, plus free attractions and more!