If your little one rises before the sun, you’re probably ready to get out of the house by the time the clock strikes 8 a.m. Yet, outside of the park (been there, done that ad infinitum), Los Angeles doesn’t offer a huge selection of places to go in the wee hours of the morning.  Here are a few suggestions of things to do, so you can turn off Dora and get out there and be an explorer.

The Kettle

photo credit: yelp

The Kettle Restaurant/ Manhattan Beach Roundhouse
Located steps from the ocean in Manhattan Beach this local favorite is open 24 hours a day. The chocolate chip or Mickey Mouse pancakes are always a hit with the kids. As an extra bonus, all little ones get Wikki Stix and crayons as soon as they sit down so they’ll will be entertained while waiting for food. After breakfast you can walk to the end of the Manhattan Beach pier and check out the Roundhouse Marine Aquarium, which opens at 10 a.m. on the weekends and is free of charge (though there is a suggested donation of $2 per kid and $5 per adult). There’s a tidepool touch tank where your tikes can feel fun creatures such as sea stars, sea urchins and anemones.

1138 Highland Ave., Manhattan Beach
Phone: 310-545-851
Hours: The Kettle is open 24 hours a day; The Roundhouse opens at 10 a.m. on the weekends.
Online: thekettle.net and roundhouseaquarium.org

The Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden
This is a hidden living museum located on the campus of UCLA. The best part is it’s free of charge and opens at 8 a.m. Your kids can check out unusual plants, turtles, and explore the many hidden paths the garden offers.  Then you can swing by local student favorite Diddy Riese for a mid-morning (cheap!) cookie break.

777 Tiverton Dr., Westwood
Phone: 310-825-1260
Hours: Mon. – Fri. from 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
Online: botgard.ucla.edu/

rose garden

photo credit: Mia McNiece

Exposition Park Rose Garden
Stop and smell the roses at this urban oasis in downtown Los Angeles. The spacious seven acre-gardens allows your kids plenty of space to run around and see more than 200 varieties of roses. It also makes for a great backdrop for photos.  After an early morning frolic among the flowers, you can always head next door to the Natural History Museum, which opens at 9:30a.m. for a entirely new adventure.

701 State Dr., Exposition Park, Los Angeles
Phone: 213-763-0114
Hours: Open daily 9 a.m. – sunset
Online: laparks.org/exporosegarden/rosegarden.htm

Du-par’s and The Grove
You need coffee.  You also need to get the heck out of the house.  But even your local Starbucks isn’t open yet.  Head to Du-par’s for some of best pancakes the city has to offer, plus a cup of no nonsense joe that will keep your peepers peeled.  All 6 Du-par’s locations are open 24/7, but when the kids are up early, we like to head to the Farmers Market location where after breakfast kids can run around the empty streets of the Grove, watching the fountains, playing on the green and waiting to take a tram ride.

6333 W. 3rd St., Mid-City Los Angeles
Phone: 323-933-8446
Hours: 24 hours a day/7 days a week
Online: du-pars.com

Books-and-Cookies-Store-Reading-Area

photo credit: Books and Cookies

Books and Cookies
What better way to start your day than with some new books and yummy snacks? Shop and play in their new indoor/outdoor Learn and Play area until their first drop-in activity begins at 9:30 a.m. Check out a class schedule to find out when your little ones can enjoy classes like story time, yoga for toddlers, and arts and crafts.  And if you’re up before the doors open at 9 a.m., you can take a stroll by the ocean, which is merely blocks away.  (Or swing into Urth Caffe, a few steps away, which opens at 6 a.m. for some cocoa and coffee to jumpstart your morning.)

2309 Main St., Santa Monica
Phone: 310-452-1301
Hours: Mon.-Sat. from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Online: BooksandCookiesLA.com

Farmers Markets
Your local open-air market is always a great resource for getting the kids up and out the door early. You can stalk up on fruits and flowers while they can partake in several kid-friendly activities. One of our favorites is the Santa Monica Farmers Market on Sundays, which offers pony rides, a petting zoo, face painting, balloon animals and live music.  Most morning market open at 9 a.m., but the farmers drive in and start setting up in the wee hours, so your wee wakers can always head over on the early side.

2640 Main St., Santa Monica
Hours: Sun. from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Online: smgov.net

kids at tropical

photo credit: Aquarium of the Pacific

Aquarium of the Pacific
The fish are totally awake early! This is a great morning option because it opens every day at 9 a.m., and if you live in the LA area, you can breakfast, dress, hop on the freeway and still get there the minute the doors open. There are tons of exhibits to check out; from the Penguin Habitat to the Shark Lagoon and Lorikeet Forest your kids will be entertained for hours—or at least until lunch.

100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach
Phone: 562-590-3100
Hours: Mon. – Sun. from 9 a.m.–6 p.m.
Cost: $28.95/adults, $14.95/children
Online: aquariumofpacific.org/

Randy's Donuts

photo credit: Ann Larie Valentine via Creative Commons

Nothing Says Morning Like A Donut
If all else fails, there’s always donuts! East Coast transplants love the nostalgia of taking their kids for a special treat and let them choose a sprinkle, glazed or chocolate delight at the new Santa Monica Dunkin’ Donuts (opens at 5 a.m.). Or drive to one of Los Angeles’ most iconic landmarks, Randy’s Donuts, which features a can’t-be-missed giant donut on its roof. Thankfully, they also serve a great cup of coffee for very sleepy parents.

805 W Manchester Blvd., Inglewood
Phone: 310-645-4707
Hours: 7 days a week from 12 a.m.-11:30 p.m.
Online: randys-donuts.com

— Mia McNiece

So, kids woke up at 5 a.m. and by 8 a.m., you’re all going stir crazy.  Where do you go?  Let us know, in the comments below!