When you’ve got a weekend—or any two days, really—with the kids, it’s hard to please everyone. Hit the indoors, outdoors, quirky wonders, culture, and food with our itinerary customized to beat the traffic and the tantrums.
9 a.m. Get everyone’s energy going with pancakes as big as your head at the Griddle Café. We recommend the red velvet pancakes for all, with the Frosted Flakes and strawberry ’cakes coming in a close second.
10:30 a.m. Go as far west as you can before you hit the Pacific and spend the morning riding roller coasters and playing midway games at the Santa Monica Pier. Be sure to catch the endless ocean view on the top of the Ferris wheel. And as you head out, make a stop at the mysterious Camera Obscura Art Lab, where an old-school camera obscura has been recording the ocean for a century.
1 p.m. Take a short stroll to the Third Street Promenade (or take a Bird if your kids are old enough to scoot) and watch the street performers and shoppers. At the south end of the promenade, your kids will find nirvana in the playground at Santa Monica Place, where a life-size humpback whale invites them to explore. You can enjoy ocean views and lunch in the food court or downstairs at True Food Kitchen.
3 p.m. Save room for dessert, because you’re going to want to head back to West Hollywood and let the kids go wild in the kitchen at Duff’s CakeMix. Make an appointment to guarantee your spot, and choose your medium: Get crazy with fondant, icing, and the goodie bar as you decorate six cupcakes or one big cake.
4:30 p.m. Time to chill at one of the only VR theaters in America. The IMAX VR Centre offers a variety of experiences for those who want family entertainment–or an experience filled with jump scares.
6 p.m. Across the street you can refuel at the Original Farmers’ Market at the Grove. Grab a fried chicken sammie at Fritzi Coop and follow it up with a scoop from Bennett’s, an old-fashioned ice cream parlor.
8 a.m. A great way to begin a day in L.A. is with a hike in Griffith Park, up to the Griffith Park Observatory. Grab a muffin and coffee at the Trails Café, or come with a picnic of breakfast tacos from Home State on Hollywood Boulevard.
11 a.m. Head to downtown L.A., where everyone can dig into the massive stacks at the Last Bookstore. Let the kids crawl through book tunnels and enjoy the artist nooks upstairs.
1 p.m. Down the street, you can graze at the Grand Central Market or go a few blocks northeast to Kura Revolving Sushi Bar in Little Tokyo, where you order your sushi on an iPad and watch it come down the conveyor. After getting your fill, take a few steps into the Little Tokyo Mall to spend your afternoon (and fun money) shopping any of the thousands of unique finds.
3 p.m. Take a moment to relax and chill in Grand Park, where the kids can still keep it going at the interactive splash pad in the middle of the city.
6 p.m. Keep it downtown and end your day with a bang at Two Bit Circus, where kid and adult minds will be blown by the nonstop fun. Escape rooms, VR experiences, an arcade, and more will work up an appetite for the hand pies, hot potato tots, and carny food.