This is one of the many reasons Angelenos love LA: our hidden treasures. Your average tourist drives right by the mini mall that hides a 4 star sushi experience or the glow in the dark golf adventure that looks like an empty warehouse. And in a city this vast, you can live here for years and still be discovering cool things. Like the Los Angeles Police Museum. This historical society is tucked away in an unassuming stretch of Highland Park, and takes up all three floors of a beautiful old Police Station (built in 1925). For kids who love cops (and/or just playing pretend) there are four fabulous areas to explore: jail, uniform exhibit, retired vehicles and the store. What are you waiting for, backup?
Book ‘Em Danno
You’re greeted with a badge instead of a ticket (of the sticker variety, so no pesky pins). Which they’ll need, because you’ll want to head through the pictures lining the wall and through the first gallery straight to the jail, where your little Jack Webb will delight in throwing you in the clinker.
Bring your camera. This is the room you’ll spend the most time in, posing for pictures, and playing police. Pay special attention to the inmate rules, the mug shot station and the area to place your one phone call. (Do kids today even recognize a pay phone as the ancient cousin of a cell?)
Calling All Cars (and Motorcycles)
Next you’ll want to head upstairs, where kids can hop on the police motorcycle. It’s in the main room at the top of the stairs, sharing space with some pretty cool bomb disarming robots. They’ll also be fascinated by the police uniforms (like the one worn by the first woman police officer in Los Angeles, who just happens to also be the first woman police officer in America!) and badges throughout time.
Car 54, Where Are You?
After your trip upstairs, it’s time for the car show. Rather, the vehicle show, as they have a range of police vehicles outside that boasts everything from a helicopter (which kids can climb in and pretend to fly) to a car that was really in a shootout (bullet holes and all).
There are old cars, battering rams, police horse transport vans and very cool giant bomb trucks. Kids can play pretend out here for ages. (If you remember to bring some kid plastic cuffs or a notepad for ticket writing, you’re good for even longer.)
Last Stop: Shop!
One way to get them to leave the bullet ridden cars and bomb trucks and other assorted things that go is to remind them that the gift shop is still waiting for you. With memorabilia, t-shirts and mugs mixed in with police themed toys, they’ll browse while you find a few unique gifts for those hard-to-shop for people in the family.
Get the kids excited for their visit by watching this short movie about what you’ll find here.
Speaking of what you’ll find here: there are two adult exhibits upstairs. Both are fascinating for grown-ups, potentially scary for kids. One is the Symbionese Liberation Army exhibit. This one is easy to avoid, as it’s tucked in the back rooms, behind the uniform exhibit. The other is a fascinating look at an event that first provoked the California firearm legislation discussion: the North Hollywood bank robbery and shootout of 1997. There’s a video of the shoot out that may be playing and is kind of intense for little ones. The problem is, it’s on TV and it’s good guys vs. bad guys – they’ll want to watch it. So our advice is skip the stairs for little frys – or at least scope it out first to make sure the video isn’t playing.
Fees & Hours
Kids 12 and under are free, adults are $8 and seniors are $7. It’s open Monday – Friday 10:00 am – 4:00 pm and every third Saturday of the month from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm. Be sure to call before you go as they may close for filming (and they don’t post it on the website – we’ve experienced this, so you don’t have to!).
Potty & Parking
Bathrooms are on the first floor and parking is free in the adjacent lot.
Los Angeles Police Museum
6045 York Blvd.
Los Angeles, Ca 90042
What are your favorite hidden museums in the city?