Los Angeles is an ever-changing puzzle box of delights--many of them free. Plan summer city excursions with your kids and family. The possibilities are endlessly varied. A simple walk down Broadway or Hill Street, for example, carries you past historic landmarks and architectural treasures.
A city excursion doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. It can be as light and effervescent as sun on water, as well as a fun learning experience for you and your kids. Break your adventures over multiple weekends. Map your general route or destination in advance. Don't forget the sunblock, hat, comfortable walking shoes/sneakers--and your curiosity.
Some suggestions to kick-start your adventures:
LA's Central Library - FREE - A historic landmark that offers art exhibits, architectural tours, story time and free lunches for kids--and, oh, yeah: books.
LA's City Hall - FREE - A portrait gallery of LA's past mayors, and an observation deck offering 360 degrees of stunning views of your city.
LA Times - FREE Tours - LA's venerable flagship newspaper offers free tours--check the website for details.
The Last Bookstore - FREE to browse - Bargain books and vinyl records, concerts, book signings, art exhibits, poetry readings and oh-so-much-more. One of the hipster cultural hearts of renaissance LA.
Grand Central Market - FREE to browse - Classic produce stands and mom-n-pop stalls interspersed with hip new restaurants. A long-time LA landmark not-to-be-missed.
Grand Park - FREE - Throw a frisbee, catch a concert or late-night outdoor movie, grab a bite at a food truck, meditate, read a book, or take a stroll. One of LA's newest green spaces, where your tots are allowed to run through the fountain.
Bradbury Building - FREE ground level - One of LA's most iconic and dreamlike structures, used frequently in films and TV shows. Check the Bradbury Building website for information about free tours on the ground-floor level.
Million Dollar Theatre - $10 - One of LA's first theatres, the beautiful and partially refurbished space has begun showing classic films in partnership with "Vintage LA".
St. Vincent's Court - FREE to browse - This Jewelry District gem is tucked away--you have to make an effort to find it. Nosh deli treats while soaking in the old-world European atmosphere.
Olvera Street - FREE to browse - Wander one of LA's oldest thoroughfares, perusing the imported fabrics, toys and bags, eating delicious Mexican food, exploring one of LA's oldest adobe residences, and visiting the Church of Our Lady Queen of the Angels.
Chinatown - FREE to browse - Everything from bargain T shirts and sunglasses to live poultry, delicious Chinese cuisine, and lovely Chinese architecture and history. Take the time to chat with the shop owners, some of whom have been in Chinatown for many decades.
Little Tokyo - FREE to browse - Japanese food and imports, a large Japanese supermarket, the Japanese American Cultural Center--and a ukelele store!
Summer is here--where will it lead you?
Leslie is the author of Downtown Los Angeles in Photographs 2013 and Downtown Los Angeles in Photographs 2014--Broadway, available at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.