It’s easy to get caught up in all of the glitz and glam of raising kids in Los Angeles. When preschool can cost more than college tuitions and munchkins have their own iphones, it is refreshing to take a moment to get back to the basics. Head to any of these historic places around town for a fun-filled opportunity to learn about the real roots of our storied past and see how families lived in the old town, way back when.
The Banning Museum
Tour 18 carefully restored rooms of this historic residence and learn about the exciting life of Phineas Banning, who left his home in Delaware when he was only 13 years old to find his fortune in the West. The house, stagecoach barn, gardens, and 20 acres of parkland are beautifully maintained and are perfect for a summertime family outing. Check the website for tour times, or arrange a special one by calling 310-548-7777.
Upcoming Event: Improbable Gateway Grand Opening Celebration! Aug 20,12:00 pm to 4:00 pm, free. The opening of the new History of L.A. Transportation exhibit will be celebrated with a day of fun events featuring a free hotdog bbq lunch, crafts, Victorian music, living history performers, a children’s Plein Air art show, antique cars, and more.
Visit: 401 East M Street, Wilmington, Ca
Franklin Canyon Native American Hike
Get away from the hustle and bustle of city life at this beautiful nature-park that boasts five miles of hiking trails, a lake, duck pond, amphitheater, and endless picnicking spots. On August 14th at 5:00 pm, “Tribal Fun for Kids” will teach your little ones about the local native Tongva people and how they lived – their houses, food, games, and what it was like to be a Tongva kid. Your kiddos will even hit the trails and learn how to live off of the land.
Upcoming Event: Tribal Fun for Kids, Aug 14, 5:00 pm, free. Meet at the Sooky Goldman Nature Center.
Visit: 2600 Franklin Canyon Drive, Beverly Hills, Ca
Heritage Square Museum
Eight Victorian Era buildings make the perfect setting to explore early Los Angeles culture, architecture, and history. Guided tours depart hourly between 12:00 pm and 4:00 pm. Look for Living History Events throughout the year, which are especially family-friendly.
Upcoming Event: Square Dancing and Pie Baking Contest, Aug 27, $5. Learn how to square dance to the tunes of Triple Chicken Foot and if inclined, bring a fruit pie for judging.
Visit: Fri. – Sun., 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm. $10 adults, $5 kids (6-12), free for kids under 6.
3800 Homer Street, Los Angeles, Ca
Leonis Adobe Museum
Experience California ranch life at this charming country home and farm, as it was over 150 years ago. Featured on the PBS series, California Gold, the lovely grounds feature living history exhibits and guided tours. Meet horses and longhorn steer, learn how to wash clothes by hand, and pump water from a trough beside the grand oak tree. Parking is free and the museum is located just next door to the Sagebrush Cantina, which has plenty of seating and is very kid-friendly, should you need some tasty vittles for your little buckaroos.
Upcoming Events: Lil’ Ranchers Roundup, Aug 9 & 16, 9:30 am to 11:30 am, $4 per person. Featuring games, old-time music, crafts, tortilla making, knitting, and story telling.
Visit: Wed. – Sun. 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. $4 adults, 1$ children.
23537 Calabasas Road, Calabasas, Ca
Los Encinos State Historic Park
This spacious 5-acre park features the De La Ossa Adobe, built in 1849, and a natural spring-fed duck pond that is very popular with families. Bring a picnic and enjoy an afternoon lunch on the historic grounds and feed the ducks – food is available for 25 cents.
Upcoming Events: Living History Day, July 17 and Aug 21, 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. Featuring traditional children’s games, music, a blacksmith demonstration, docents in 1870s attire, and tours of the historic buildings.
Visit: Wed. – Sun., 10:00 am to 5:00 pm,. Free.
16756 Moorpark Street, Encino, Ca
Take a drive up PCH or the 101 to the Malibu mountains, where this beautiful “movie ranch” is nestled amidst sprawling oak trees alongside a gurgling creek. Purchased by Paramount Studios in 1927, it became a location for filming westerns and hits like Gunsmoke, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and more recently, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. Stroll through the now-permanent old Western Town set and you will feel like you’ve gone back in time. It’s a great place to take pictures of your little ones, so bring a camera. Hiking trails abound, as does the open space for little legs to run wild.
Upcoming Events: Movie Magic Hike, Aug 20, 9:30 am. Free. Join a ranger for an easy walk to discover the cinematic history of the ranch.
Visit: Silents Under the Stars, Aug 21, 7:30 pm, $6. Bring a picnic dinner and see The Great K&A Train Robbery (1926) staring Tom Mix.
2813 Cornell Road, Agoura, Ca
The Queen Mary
This Grand Dame of famous ocean liners began her life at sea in 1936 and has been enchanting passengers ever since. Take a self-guided tour or reserve a spot in one of the many guided options, featuring the ship’s WWII history, art deco designs, a Russian submarine, and paranormal activity (though not recommended for kids!). There are several dining options, from casual cafes to upscale restaurants. For a real nautical adventure, you can even stay onboard in one of the ship’s many first-class staterooms.
Visit: Open daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Adults $24.95, kids (5-11) $12.95, free for children 4 & under.
1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach, Ca
– Kameron DeWulf