It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… both!  The historic Proud Bird Food Bazaar re-opened late this summer with a free aviation museum, food court serving a little bit of everything, and it happens to be conveniently located right next to the runways of Los Angeles International Airport.  That means you get a free show of airplanes taking off and landing and you have a great new place to stop on your way to or from the airport. Read on to learn about the recently re-opened spot that will quickly become a family travel staple.

On Your Way to the Airport
Get ready to learn about how brave U.S. aviators helped our country to win wars and make great strides for mankind. Check out the gorgeous fiberglass replicas of famous planes. The fun and educational history of aviation will appeal to all ages from 2 to 92, which makes it a perfect visit on the way home from picking up visiting grandparents at the airport. Since you can also get a tasty snack from a variety of vendors and stretch your legs before or after a flight, it’s a great stop anytime you have to go to or come from LAX.

A Little History
The original Proud Bird restaurant was opened in 1967 by David Tallichet to pay homage to American achievements in aviation. The restaurant found a home in the hearts of the local community and has been a family favorite for generations. On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, the restaurant has been renovated and re-imagined and is now an international food hall and events center contained within an aviation museum.

Once You Have Tasted Flight
From the moment you pull into the driveway, you are greeted with the glory of all things aviation. The aviation museum touches on the past, present and future of flight. Fabulous fiberglass replicas of famous historic planes swoop over the convenient (and large and free) parking lot. As you walk in the door, the first thing you see is a giant P-40 Flying Tiger replica. If aviation hasn’t been your thing before, it may well be now.

Exhibits include a dedication to the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African American aviators in the US armed forces, as well as a tribute to the many women aviators in history, including the brave Amelia Earhart. The immense collection of memorabilia includes military emblems, photos, hand-written letters and more. The museum also touches on modern-day aviation pioneers like Richard Branson and Elon Musk.  Kids who find history dusty will have fun checking out the cool interactive showcases featuring the futuristic space exhibit.

Working up an Appetite
Go for the (free) Aviation Museum, stay for the food. The Proud Bird went from an old school sit down restaurant with a menu that hadn’t changed much in 50 years to a large self-service food court boasting affordably priced meals ($6-$12 for most entrees) with an around-the-world flair. With six different kitchens preparing the specialties, you may wind up with an eclectic combination of Asian Fried Rice (a favorite with the kids), Mushroom Pizza with Arugula and Caramelized Onions (one word: Yum) and a messily delicious pulled pork sandwich. The sky’s the limit. And since most patrons are coming before or after a long flight, the idea of sitting and waiting for a meal doesn’t, well, sit well.  It’s perfect that kids can wander, look at the different foods on offer, and everyone can get exactly what appeals to them.

There’s a kids menu for the littlest aviators and the bathrooms are roomy and convenient and equipped with changing tables. Choose to eat indoors or on the outdoor patio next to the outdoor airplane park featuring a few real World War II aircrafts, including a DC-3 and a P-38 Lightning. From here you can watch the enormous planes from LAX taking off and landing all day long. It’s dramatic and beautiful and could even inspire your children to one day take to the skies themselves.

The Mile High Club
The grown up set might enjoy grabbing a local beer or handcrafted cocktail in the eclectic and cheekily-named bar, “The Mile-High Club.” It’s a popular spot for locals and is always brimming with good friends and good cheer. If caffeine is more your style, a full Starbucks offers you all your favorites.

The 411
The Proud Bird is open for lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday and an All-You-Can-Eat brunch and dinner on Sunday (which is just $29.95 for adults and $19.95 for kids 5-12 years old, those 4 and under are free).

Looking at all the exhibits is totally free, and you can arrange for a complimentary aviation tour; just visit the docent stand to schedule one for your flight crew.

The Proud Bird
11022 Aviation Blvd.
Westchester
310-670-3093
Online: theproudbird.com

If your kids love all things about airplanes and flying, this is a wonderful place to visit!  What are your favorite places in LA for little flyers?

-written and photos by Elizabeth Kate