fun to do kids downtown los angeles   Travel for Kids
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Downtown Los Angeles

Los Angeles
Downtown is the oldest section of Los Angeles. In 1769, Father Juan Crespi named the Los Angeles River, "el Rio de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula." Settlers from Mexico established "el Pueblo de Los Angeles" in the downtown area, which grew into "the city of angels." Exploring downtown Los Angeles with kids, you'll get a taste of different ethnic neighborhoods and the history of this major metropolis.
Olvera Street
  Olvera Street (El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument) – Walk down the streets of this Mexican marketplace, named for Agustin Olvera, the first county judge of Los Angeles. In the Avila Adobe, the oldest house in Los Angeles, you can see what life was like in Los Angeles around 1840 – kitchen, dining and family room, office for rancho business, parlor, children's room and courtyard with lemon trees and cactus. At the Firehouse Museum, check out the old-fashioned hoses and fire-fighting equipment.
    Sample Mexican food at Olvera Street restaurants and snack stands – tacos, enchiladas, pastries ("churros") and candy. On weekends, there is live music, mariachi bands and folklorico performances. Throughout the year there are special events, such as the blessing of the animals at Easter, Cinco de Mayo, Day of the Dead (Nov. 1 and 2), and a parade at Christmas. Pick up souvenirs of Mexico – big sombreros, maracas, ponchos, ceramic animals.
Union Station
 

Union Station – Close to Olvera Street is Union Station, once the gateway for the Acheson, Topeka and Santa Fe, Union Pacific and Southern Pacific Railways. Today, Union Station has been beautifully restored, and is the terminus for the Metro Red Line subway. On the Red Line, take a ride to Hollywood and Highland, or Universal City (save on parking and the ride is fun).

      If you want the excitement of boarding a train in this grand old station, take Amtrak for a day trip to Mission San Juan Capistrano. For a longer trip, the train goes to San Diego - the track goes right along the coast and you get the superb views of the sparkling Pacific Ocean.
  Los Angeles Public Library (Central Library) – The LA Public Library is something special, not just the huge rotunda with a gigantic chandelier, murals of California history, but especially the Children's Literature Room. Find a comfy couch and read books out loud, sunlight streaming in through the windows (or feel cozy on a gray day). The library also has a good program of kid's events. Click here for the schedule.
Bunker HIll Steps
  Bunker Hill Steps – Across from the Central Library, hop up Bunker Hill Steps, reminiscent of the Spanish Steps in Rome. Feel free to dabble your hands in the water that cascades down the 103 steps. At the top, there's a great view of the glittering pyramidal dome of the Central Library. Kids might want to run up and down the steps a couple of times.
Wells Fargo History Museum (333 South Grand) – In the mid 19th century, Wells Fargo stagecoaches carried passengers, treasure boxes (filled with gold) and mail throughout the West. Los Angeles was an important stop, as business flowed between Los Angeles and Northern California. In the museum, you'll see crusty gold nuggets, gold scales, strong boxes, and a stagecoach. Try your hand sending messages in Morse code on a telegraph key. The museum is free and open Monday to Friday.
Chintatown Los Angeles
Chinatown – Head to Chinatown for lunch. Chinese restaurants are perfect for families. At dim sum restaurants, pick the dishes you like as they come by (even picky eaters like a barbeque pork bun), and the ambiance is pleasantly noisy.
    According to urban legends, Los Angeles (along with San Francisco) is credited with the invention of the fortune cookie. David Jung, a baker from Canton, started making the cookies around 1920; they were so popular, his Hong Kong Noodle Company made 3,000 cookies an hour! Stop into the Phoenix Bakery on North Broadway at Bamboo Lane for fortune cookies and Chinese sweets.
      Chinese American Museum – Located next to Olvera Street, walk into a Chinese herbal shop and general store. In the general store, shoppers bought children's toys, bamboo umbrellas, silk dresses, along with lanterns and food. Pull open drawers to learn about Chinese medicine and how to count with an abacus. The museum is free.
Little Tokyo – Another fun spot to eat and stroll is Little Tokyo, a mostly-pedestrian neighborhood with shops and restaurants. There are plenty of restaurants with steaming noodles, gyoza (dumplings) and sushi. Don't worry what's on the menu – most restaurants have a display of plastic food.
      Japanese American National Museum – JANM has arts, crafts and workshops for the whole family. Celebrate the new year with mochi pounding, arts of spring, how to fold origami, seasonal projects throughout the year.
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