fun to do kids griffith park los angeles california   Travel for Kids
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Los Angeles - Griffith Park

Griffith Park
Griffith Park is named after Col. Griffith J. Griffith, who gave over 3,000 acres of land to Los Angeles in 1896 for a public park, "a place of rest and recreation." By 1900, there was a small zoo, Griffith Observatory was completed in 1935, and today it's a unique park in an urban setting, fun for kids and adults alike. It covers more than 4,000 acres, most of which is still covered with native oak trees, manzanita and sage, crisscrossed with miles of hiking and horseback trails.
Giffith Observatory
  Griffith Park Observatory – Griffith Park Observatory is absolutely a favorite Los Angeles landmark. The planetarium has a show that's out of this world (show is every hour, kids under 5 can only go to the first show of the day). Star gazers will want to come at night to look through the Zeiss telescope, during the day, views of the Sun through the solar telescopes.

And there's a wealth of interactive exhibits - peer at California meteorites under a microscope, jump up and down to make an earthquake, a seismometer records the vibrations (best with a group of kids), kids can see how much they would weigh on the moon, watch the night sky over the Observatory change with the seasons, plus goodies such as the Foucault pendulum and zappy Tesla coil. This is one museum where kids of all ages will have fun, not just avid astronomers, and the exhibits are free.

      Outside the Observatory are picnic tables with views, so bring your lunch. There is limited parking for the observatory (especially on weekends), so come early in the day.
      Tip: From the Observatory, you get a pretty good view of the Hollywood sign.
    Fern Dell (Fern Dell Dr. entrance) – Fern Dell is a hidden treasure in Griffith Park. Take a stroll along a bubbling stream, lined with cedars, pines and tons of leafy ferns. Little waterfalls, bridges over the creek and tunnels under the road make for interesting places to explore. Look for tiny crawfish in the water. Grassy areas and shaded picnic tables make this a real oasis.
  Miniature Train (Riverside Dr., near Los Feliz Blvd.) – Take a ride on the Griffith Park & Southern Railroad, a mile long track through the woodland. The train starts out under the water tower, passes by figurines of Snow White and the seven dwarfs and Bambi along the way, and ending back at the station and an Old West town.
Pony Rides – Right next to the miniature train are the pony rides. Little kids will enjoy a turn around the pony track. Your littlest kids can try sitting on a pony that's led around. Take a ride in a tot-sized covered wagon too.

Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round – This is a classic carousel, in operation for over 60 years. The carousel has jumping horses, each with jeweled saddles and horse-hair tails, swirling manes and prancing forelegs. The horses go round and round in time to waltz music and twinkling rows of lights.

Crystal Springs Picnic Area – Stop in to pick up maps of Griffith Park at the Park Headquarters. You can also rent bikes, surreys and skates – lots of fun for everyone in the family. There are playing fields, plenty of picnic tables and a large playground.

Autry Museum of Western Heritage –What better way to soak up the Old West than a visit to the Autry Museum? In the galleries are remnants of a vanished way of life – buckskin shirts, cowboy saddles, chaps and spurs. Don't miss an entire room of antique revolvers, including the famous Colt revolver. In the Children's Discovery Gallery, kids can play house and dress up in clothes like the Chinese immigrants who came to work on the railroads in the 19th century.

Los Angeles Zoo – The Los Angeles Zoo has plenty of animals of North America – alligators, river otters, gray wolves, coyotes, wolverines and bobcats, and animals local to Southern California, such as desert big horn sheep, San Diego alligator lizard and gopher snake, Mojave Desert sidewinder, Southern Pacific rattlesnake, Colorado River toad, California condor, kingsnake and sea lions. The Reptile House is full of exotic snakes: boas, pythons, ratsnakes, cobras.
      Don't miss the World of Birds show, and Animals Encounters, where kids can get close to a red-tailed boa, possum, African hedgehog, and other animals.
      Check out the Winnick Family Animal Care Center, a nursery with newborn animals, contact area where kids can groom goats and sheep, Kid's Corner with storytelling and puppet shows, and Desert Trail exhibit.
Los Angeles Live Steamers – For years, the Live Steamers have been popular with the kids of Los Angeles and your little ones will enjoy a ride on these scale model steam trains (1/8 size). The train takes you over bridges, through tunnels, past miniature towns, water towers and train stations. Sundays only.
Travel Town – Travel Town is an outdoor museum with locomotives, freight cars, cabooses and passenger cars that kids can climb on. Many of the locomotives were once in operation in California and the Southwest. A miniature train goes around the outside of Travel Town. Picnic tables are available (though they're often taken up with birthday parties). The Travel Town gift shop has engineer's hats (my kids wore these hats for years) and train whistles, as well as Thomas the Tank Engine toys.
Kids in Griffith Park, Los Angeles
Picnics and Playgrounds – There are plenty of picnic areas spread throughout Griffith Park. Most picnic areas, such as Mineral Wells, have barbeques, as well as picnic tables. Shane's Inspiration is a popular two acre playground that has wheelchair-accessible play structures.

Horseback Riding – Ride through sagebrush and manzanita on more than 50 miles of bridle paths in Griffith Park. You can rent horses at Griffith Park Horse Rentals, at the LA Equestrian Center, (ages 6 and up, you have to be 4 ft. tall) or Sunset Ranch Hollywood Stables, (7 years and older) 3400 North Beachwood Dr.

Hiking – There are miles of wide sandy hiking trails through Griffith Park. On the ground, look for plump quail rooting around the chaparral. Get maps for the trails at the Park Rangers Headquarters on Crystal Springs Drive. A nice hike for older kids is the trail from Griffith Observatory to Fern Dell, or the Mt. Hollywood trail. Start at the trailhead at the Observatory parking lot.
Symphony in the Glen (Old Zoo Picnic Area) – There are free afternoon classical concerts each month, with special children's activities before the concert. Bring a blanket or picnic- seating is on the grass. Click here for info about children's activities.
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