Er, that is, getting the most out of winter vacations!  While it always seems that we don’t have enough time to spend with our kids, ideally that time would come a little more spread out.  That 2-3 week winter break from school, daycare or Nanny’s vacay is looming, and while we love the idea of more family time, that’s a whole lot of togetherness all at once.  But before your kids can retreat to ipad games or utter the first syllable in the dreaded “B” word (bored), whisk them off on one of these unique adventures. Keep these maxims in mind, and your vacation will fly by.

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Museums have more than just the kid center.
While we love rooms in museums that cater to kids (like the Boone Gallery at LACMA, the Discovery Room at the Petersen and the Family Center at the Autry) parents can be guilty of comfy old shoe syndrome and return over and over to spots that we know.  But once you break out of your routine, you’ll find that the new exhibitions at your favorite museum are worth a look – even with little guys.  Here are 5 museums with exhibits kids will love that you just might not have seen.
1. Traveling the Silk Road at the Natural History Museum
2. Imagination Workshop at Kidspace
3. James Terrell at LACMA
4. Nathalie Miebach: Changing Waters at CAFAM
5. Design Zone at California Science Center

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There’s more to movies than Disney.
We don’t blaspheme – we love the mouse.  But why not take advantage of the fact that we live in the center of the film universe?  We have art house cinemas that often show foreign cartoons (Laemmle Cinemas is one great example) and spots like the Aero, the Egyptian, the New Beverly and Cinefamily that show classics on the big screen (from the Marx Brothers to golden age musicals to recent classics like “Elf”).  Film conservancy spots like the Academy and Last Remaining Seats show restored classics (often in classic theaters), and we even have drive-ins (Electric Dusk, right here in the city, or a classic one like Vineland in City of Industry) and IMAX 3D at the Science Center.  So go explore the world of cinema!

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Check your bucket list.
Santa’s not the only one checking his list (twice).  What’s on your list of “must do” things in LA?  Surely there are one or two places you’ve always meant to get to, but never quite gotten around to it… like visiting Watt’s Towers, checking out the Bunny Museum, having tea at the Bel Air Hotel, playing tourist at Madame Tussauds, or seeing a show at the planetarium at the Griffith Observatory.  Time to get your list out and check something off!

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You can play winter sports in the desert.
The most obvious way is to hit the snow at the local mountains, many of which are an easy day trip; Mammoth and Big Bear have skiing and snowboarding and aren’t very far at all.  But you could also get creative and go to Palm Springs and take the tram, seek out one of our local ice rinks and get in some skating (or watch a broomball tourney or a Kings game) or even take your sled to the beach and slide the sand berms.

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Animals aren’t just at the zoo.
We love the LA Zoo.  But we also love all the other fabulous places in the city where you can get up close and personal with some very interesting animals.  Find rescued exotic animals at the Star Eco Station.  Search for sea life on a whale watch or marine mammal cruise.  Meet some talkative birds at the Serenity Park Parrot Sanctuary.  Peacocks roam all over the Arboretum and fish can be found in many a local koi ponds.  Play Dr. Doolittle and go talk to some animals.

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Parks, playgrounds, parks, playgrounds.
Ok, that one’s a little repetitive, but nonetheless true – we have awesome weather, so we have awesome parks & playgrounds.  Break out of your rut!  We have parks by the river, playgrounds that will amaze, playgrounds for babies and parks you’ve never heard of.  Find a spot that speaks to you, pack some snacks and go explore outdoors.

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You can explore the whole world without leaving the city.
Maybe you were hoping to take off enough time this winter for a month long sojourn to Tuscany.  A week in London.  A bit of time on the beaches in Thailand.  But alas, it didn’t happen (or better yet, it did, and you miss it already!).  You can recreate an exotic vacation right here in LA, by visiting one of our amazingly rich ethnic neighborhoods.  There’s India in Artesia, Thai Town mid-Hollywood and Korea Town further south.  Best dim sum outside China is in the San Gabriel Valley, and Little Tokyo downtown stands in for a trip to Japan.  Olvera Street takes you to Mexico, and you can find French bistros, British tea shops and even German delis that would make you swear you’ve been transported to a little counter in the Black Forest.  Visit, eat, browse, and don’t forget to stop in a market to bring home some tastes, sights and sounds from around the world.

What unusual tips do you have for staving off kid’s boredom during long vacations?

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-Meghan Rose

Photo credits: Wikimedia, Meghan Rose, Jolie Loeb, Jennifer Clare via Creative Commons, Jennifer Arrow and Analise Dubner

For more holiday season events and activities in Los Angeles, click here!