At first glance, West Hollywood is more of an adult-friendly destination, boasting a plethora of upscale, designer boutiques and fine-dining restaurants. But if you take the time to scratch beneath the glossy surface, there’s so much to shop, see and do with kids in the bustling 1.9 square mile city. If you find yourself in the vicinity, or you’d like to explore this beautiful part of Los Angeles one afternoon, here are plenty of ways to soak up the fun and the sun in West Hollywood, which was recently voted by Walk Score, the most walkable city in California, and the fourth most walkable city in the US!

Go: Year-round!

Location: West Hollywood, also dubbed ‘Weho,’ is located between Hollywood and Beverly Hills, midway between downtown Los Angeles and the beach.

Where to go, what to see: This fall, residents and visitors alike will be wowed by the brand new, eagerly anticipated West Hollywood library, which will feature specially designed sections for children and teens, as well as “a unique theater-within-a-library for storytelling, puppet shows, displays and plenty of library fun where entire families will be able to participate together.” The grand opening is scheduled for October 1, 2011, and the 10th Annual West Hollywood Book Fair will take place the next day.

The Grove is also a gem of a destination in the area. The outdoor shopping center includes trolley rides, an outdoor fountain that dances in time to music, old-fashioned homemade ice cream, a gigantic American Girl doll store, and plenty of special, almost daily activities and events geared toward kids.

If your tots want more of a historic view of the city, the nearby La Brea Tarpits will take them back quite a few eras to 40,000 years ago! The world famous site is home to millions of fossils and is the former tromping ground of mammoths, sloths and saber toothed cats!

Just a hop, skip and jump from The Grove/Farmers Market is LACMA. Their Tim Burton exhibit ends, appropriately enough, on Halloween. If your visit inspires the artists within, sign up for the museum’s Family Art Classes which use the viewing of art exhibits to inspire masterpiece making for ages 3 1/2 and up.

Bitten by the shopping bug? Head to West Third Street to get your fill of quirky, eclectic boutiques. Visit Eggy (near Magnolia Bakery, see below), a supreme children’s shop that’s chock-full of chic, fashionable clothing for babies and kids. Next, pop into Plastica to peruse a well-curated collection of colorful gifts and toys for kids!

Also on 3rd Street, Hands-On 3rd is a cool craft studio which offers creative workshops in sewing, green living, crafts and knitting for adults and kids. If your kid is in love with the concept of DIY, sign her up for one of several classes for ages 6 and up!

Possible lunch spots: While there are an abundance of delectable eateries on 3rd Street, Melrose Avenue and Robertson Boulevard, most are packed to the hilt and cater to a hipster crowd. Your best bet for casual, family-friendly fare are the array of options in the many fooderies at The Original Farmers Market at 3rd Street and Fairfax. Between the crepes, sandwiches, fruit bowls and buffets — your little muffin is sure to find something to suit his taste. If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle, treat your family to a divine dose of take away from gourmet marketplace Joan’s on Third (they whip up sophisticated grilled cheese and crunchy PB&J sandwiches for kids) as well as delicious salads, soups, sandwiches and baked goods, and head to Plummer Park to dine al fresco. When the kids get a hankering for something sweet, visit the infamous NYC Magnolia Bakery, which recently made its way to the west coast and reigns supreme on the corner of 3rd Street and Orlando. Their cupcakes, cookies and bars will enchant — S’mores cupcakes! Need we say more?

How to dress: Casual, with comfortable walking shoes… after all, West Hollywood is California’s most walkable city, remember?

Need to know: For respite from the sunshine, West Hollywood Park has a shady, entertaining haven for babies. Stop by and let wee ones crawl through the large sandbox, ride the petite swings and climb on the play structure, which are all housed beneath a protective tarp.

Cost of trip: Moderate to expensive


– Beth Shea