Things to Do With Kids in LA: A day in DTLA


What’s a family to do when vacation is a distant memory, camps are done and there are TWO HOT weeks of summer left?

We suggest exploring a new part of town! Once school starts, traffic and homework will take precedence over your relaxed summer mind-set. We promise you’ll see enough new sites to feel like you had a vacation.

Here’s the TFS Staycation Itinerary for exploring DTLA… that is, Downtown LA.

Start off at Bottega Louie for a classy breakfast. This super popular restaurant can get crowded during the lunch and dinner rush (not to mention terrifically loud at night). But a weekday breakfast with kids allows for you to really check out the beautiful space and sample the delicious pastries. (We can’t resist saying that the pizzas are family friendly, too so it might be worth a midday visit!). We always feel as though we’re in another city when we head downtown, because the folks that patronize this spot — office workers, art patrons and loft-livers — look different from folks in our neighborhod. Snag a box of Bottega Louie’s jewel-like macarons on your way out – you won’t be sorry… though your wallet may groan, a bit!

Next, make your way to The Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design, an exhibit on view until Oct 20 at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising’s Museum.

Featuring the outfits from recent shows like “Game of Thrones”, “Downton Abbey”, and even “New Girl”, every family member is sure to find fun clothes they recognize from shows they love. The FIDM Museum is adjacent to the campus’ large lawn, a nice place for kids to run around or teens to sunbathe. Older kids will want to check out FIDM’s student store where they might luck into an undiscovered designer’s work.

It’s hard to think about downtown without the image of Frank Gehry’s silver masterpiece coming to mind. You may have been to a concert at the Disney Concert Hall, but have you ever taken one of the venue’s self-guided audio tours? Offered from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM, the one-hour tour tells the history of the concert hall from idea to finished masterpiece and what kid doesn’t want to scramble around the building on a secret ladders and hidden passageways.  Don’t miss the chance head up to the roof to see the gardens and the W.M. Keck Children’s Amphitheater.

When you’ve gotten your fill of the soaring architecture, L.A.’s new Grand Park is only a block’s jaunt away. It’s worth seeing, if only to be able to toss off a first-hand opinion of it at a cocktail party this fall.  The brand spanking new, 12-acre expanse has beautiful, panoramic views of the growing city, and copious fountains that mesmerize one and all with complex patterns of water flow.  They’re a worthy addition to the fabulous fountains at the Music Center. We snapped this nighttime photo of the new park after watching RED at the Mark Taper last week, all glorious with a bright moon, and glowing with the color… red!

End your day with a visit to one of downtown’s most venerated buildings — the Central Branch of the Los Angeles Library.  (Our apologies if you are suddenly having those panicky thoughts about whether your kids have finished their summer reading!!) The Central Library boasts impressive architecture and goes out of its way to make kids feel comfortable in it’s regal environments. Relax and read in the air conditioning, or take one of the library’s scheduled tours. If you visit on a Tuesday or Thursday, the library is open until 8:00 PM. Which gives you ample time to enjoy the excellent Library Store (and perhaps stock up your gift closet for fall — these vintage LA maps by Jo Mora make fabulous adult gifts, and they stock our favorite kids-book-about-LA City of Angels).


If you’re a foodie you have no doubt ventured downtown to try out the staples in the downtown scene. Or, maybe you’ve ventured to LA Live for a meal. The latest news is that Mo-Chica has moved from it’s counter top location near Exhibition Park to a space near Bottega Louie, and the LA Time’s food critic, Jonathan Gold, recently extolled the virtues of this Peruvian restaurant — chances are, you’ll find something kid-friendly here, if your kids are a tiny bit intrepid in their choices.  If you want to brave the lines, the dog and brats at Wurstkuche are loved by the kid in everyone. Closer to Staples, you’ll find The Pantry, a 24-hour classic American restaurant that has been open since 1924. No, it didn’t just open in 1924 – it’s been serving food 24/7 since 1924. We love the idea of ending your adventure on a sweet note with a visit to Mikawaya, a classic Japanese bakery in Little Tokyo specializing in Mochi. These ice cream treats are a delicious way to cool down after a long day, and locals swear by this bakery, which has been in operation since 1910.


Perhaps one of these two venues will also captures your fancy. Both are fabulous spots to spend a few hours.  MOCA has a fantastic collection of contemporary art — their landscape art show ends on Sept 3 – and a fabulous gift shop.  The Japanese American Museum offers a wonderful overview of Japanese culture in America, currently features a fun Origami exhibit,  and sits on the edge of Little Tokyo.


We found a site called which is an all-around resource for culture/work/art and play downtown.