Family-friendly hot spots in Los Angeles that Chicagoans should know about

Los Angeles is a great place to visit with children. There is so much to do besides visiting Disneyland and Universal Studios, which are obvious choices. The weather is always pleasant and even if it gets really hot during the day, the ocean breezes cool it down in the evening.

Indulge at Donut Friend

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My kids were fascinated by all the tall palm trees and were positive that the sun is redder in California than it is in Chicago. They can’t wait to go back! Here are four places you definitely have to visit if you and your family make the trip out west.

Griffith Observatory

My kids really enjoyed the Griffith Observatory, which is similar to Adler Planetarium in that you can learn all about the solar system. A big difference is the Griffith Observatory has a stunning view of L.A. that you have to see.

The Observatory is on a hill so it’s a bit of a hike to get up to, but it’s worth it. They make sure to turn the lights off in the evening so that when you step outside to stargaze you can see them that much clearer. Take a peek through the telescopes that are all around and try to spot the Hollywood sign.

The best part about the observatory is that parking and admission is free! It’s also very close to the LA Brea Tar pits, another must-see.

Downtown Santa Monica

Third Street and Santa Monica Pier are some of my favorite places to visit while in L.A. Even though I have been several times, the excitement never gets old. The promenade is very populated and diverse. It’s full of street performers, unique kiosks, food and lots of shopping with ongoing sales!

After you get tired of shopping and eating (if you ever do) on Third Street, you can walk down to the pier, which is only a few blocks away. First of all, the views overlooking the pier are amazing. The sights of the mountains, palm trees and ocean is just breathtaking. Secondly, you have food trucks lining up down the street offering unique eats such as Thai and Indian fusion, amazing tacos, cupcakes and more. You can have a three course meal in one area!

More kiosks, smalls shops and yes, more performers–from magicians to belly dancers–set up along the pier. There is so much to do and see. Finally, there are games and rides–some which travel out over the water as an extra thrill–that the kids will love. Believe me, they will not want to leave!

Donut Friend

L.A. has so many donut shops! Believe me when I say I probably ate at five different donut shops, and I discovered the best one: Donut Friend!

I don’t know where to start about this amazing shop. They have donuts, sliced in half and stuffed with incredible fillings! They have lemon glazed donuts topped with fresh berries and mint, strawberry shortcake donuts filled with fresh cream and strawberries and custard filled donuts topped with a dark chocolate ganache. But my ultimate favorite donut of all time is the Fudgegazi, which is a donut filled with chocolate cream, and topped with chocolate sauce and chocolate shavings! If you’re a chocolate fan you will love this donut. You can also customize your donut as well. It doesn’t get any better than that.

The place is adorable and staff is super friendly, and right next door is a pizza place (Town Pizza) and an ice-cream shop (Scoops). It’s a one-stop shop, but make sure you have pizza first, otherwise you will stuff your face with donuts before your dinner. At least, that’s kind of what happened to me.

Safari Park

Two hours away from L.A. in San Diego is The Safari Park, and it is quite the adventure. You can get up close and personal with animals, take guided bus tours through the animal habitats which make you feel like you’re on an actual safari, walk with mongooses and watch a cheetah run and play with her best pal which just happens to be a dog. It’s pretty amazing.

They also have zip lining, parachute rides, up close encounters with animals and more. Overall it was a great experience for the kids.

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