Things To Do In Los Angeles When You're Twelve
June 21, 2014 3:06 PM   Subscribe

Family -- including my preteen cousin -- is coming to visit me in Los Angeles and I'm not sure where to bring them. Special personality snowflakes inside.

I obviously know about lots of fun things in Los Angeles, but between our diverse interests and the fact that I don't spend really any time with the middle school set these days, I'm at a loss to figure out itinerary options.

Dramatis Personae:

My dad: foodie and wine geek. Also a huge history buff. Loves bookstores, historical sites, live music, culture.

My stepmother: also into great food and wine and up for cultural stuff. Loves quirky vintage style, anything with a boho aesthetic, and is a major animal lover. Not outdoorsy, which precludes hikes.

If it were just the two of them coming, I'd be thinking The Getty and maybe some other arts/cultural museums, hit up a bunch of food trucks and taquerias, some live music and/or comedy, bars with great atmosphere that mix killer cocktails, possibly drive up to Solvang and do some wine tasting (both are huge fans of the film Sideways).

However, throwing my drastically underage cousin into the mix means that a lot of that stuff is totally off limits, and the rest of it would probably seem really boring.

My cousin: I'm pretty sure she's between seventh and eighth grades. Luckily she's also really into food and has wanted to become a pastry chef since she was tiny, so she'll be able to hang for some culinary adventures. I have no idea what her interests are beyond whatever junior high girls are typically into these days.

Already on the agenda per their request is a beach outing and dinner at A Frame. I'm thinking we can't let a future pastry chef visit L.A. without trips to Donut Friend and Coolhaus. I'm also thinking Olvera Street would be a hit, and we will be visiting The Last Bookstore. They are probably staying in Hollywood or WeHo.

I'm interested in really any recommendations for tween/young teen aged visitors to L.A., but here are some additional questions:

- Japanese food recommendations? Weird is totally fine.

- Other "Only In L.A." cuisines I'm not thinking of? I've got Mexican covered.

- Where do thirteen year old girls like to shop these days?

- Great bakeries known for serious pastry as opposed to food trends?

- Where do you go if you want good wine and cocktails but have a kid in tow?

- Good informal places to catch live music? I recently did Jon Brion at The Largo, which could be cool if the dates work.

- What are the great historical sites or history oriented museums in town? Is there an old mission nearby that's worth a special trip?

- Aside from Runyon (not going to happen), is there any great dog & people watching spot? We are all dog lovers, especially my stepmother.
posted by Sara C. to Travel & Transportation around Los Angeles, CA (32 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Used to be I loved to stroll on Melrose, when there was Flip and Chick-a-boom and other vintage stuff, so if you know of a good vintage/thrift store, that might be a hit.

Mission St. Inez in Solvang was pretty representative, and it didn't warrant more than an hour of hanging around. So if you do Solvang, get your Pea Soup, hit the mission, take a few windmill pics and grab some cookies for the road.

Either Disneyland or Magic Mountain would be a hit. If you're into it, perhaps the two of you can go while Aunt and Uncle chill out.

Santa Monica pier is also a good option, combine with a windows down drive up US1, to see if you can see whales.

Are whale watches going on? That would be popular.

There's an aquarium in San Pedro, and an open air Zocalo where you can get ceviche and see folks having big family lunches.

Do Mann's Chinese Theater, check out the walk of fame, look at the weirdos. Then drive over to Westwood and stroll around.

There may be stuff on THEIR agenda, if it's interesting to you, go on ahead, if not, let them go and do, you stay home and do laundry, or whatever.

Have fun!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 3:19 PM on June 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I LOVED Venice Beach at that age. Parking in Venice and then walking to and from Santa Monica (or vice versa) would make a nice afternoon.
posted by something something at 3:21 PM on June 21, 2014 [5 favorites]

I don't know LA well enough to answer those questions, but a couple of thoughts:

- Where do thirteen year old girls like to shop these days?

Every 13yo girl is different. I don't remember there being a typical place to shop when I was that age (though I do remember malls being very popular) - and many of my friends hated shopping back then anyway. I think you'll have better luck if you ask her where she likes to shop/what she likes to do. That way no one is disappointed and there's less pressure on you to dream up The Perfect Shopping Outing.

- Where do you go if you want good wine and cocktails but have a kid in tow?

This depends on how mature she is for her age. If she can hang with adults and is well behaved, it is probably okay to bring her to mid- or upscale restaurant, where the adults can enjoy their booze. If she is on the more childish side...please don't bring her to a bar or nice restaurant.

If I were you, I'd offer to hang out with your cousin one-on-one for at least one night, and send the parents to one of the bars with great atmosphere that mix killer cocktails you think they'd like. (Obviously contingent on how long they're in town, how frequently you see your folks, your schedule, and your tolerance for children. Just an idea.)
posted by schroedingersgirl at 3:21 PM on June 21, 2014

Response by poster: Tween Cousin has already put in a request for shopping. I figure we could bang it out with The Grove (also handy for the Farmer's Market, which should make the foodies happy), or just hit the Third Street Promenade if we end up at Venice Beach/Santa Monica Pier.

When I was thirteen, there absolutely WERE sought after shopping oriented things, whether it was clothes from Delia's or all those sort of Clueless-ish feathery pens and tarot cards and dream journals and, you know stuff teen girls like.

I'm pretty sure we're all down for Disney if she's desperate to go, but if not, none of the rest of us are really Disney enough for the trek all the way out to Anaheim. A tour of the Disney Lot might be more up our alley. Is that a thing? Is it fun?

I am personally up to hang and do anything they want to do, but so far I don't have any requests aside from Roy Choi stalking and the beach. Which is why I ask. The parental units have been coming to visit me in whatever city I live in for years, and usually we blend itinerary suggestions.
posted by Sara C. at 3:28 PM on June 21, 2014

The Farmer's Market and DuPars.

Take the NBC tour (I saw the Carson set back in the day!)

Is there a live studio audience to be a part of?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 3:29 PM on June 21, 2014

Oh yeah,

Best celebrity siting is at the Rexal/Longs/CVS at Beverly and LaCienega. I met Seth Green there and he was such a mench.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 3:30 PM on June 21, 2014

The Museum of Jurassic Technology? Movie studio tour? I was also thinking Venice Beach/Santa Monica, esp on a farmers market day.

Anthony Bourdain did an episode in LA that was on Hulu not long ago... I think the restaurants are listed online. There were some cool looking Korean-Mexican fusian places.
posted by jrobin276 at 3:42 PM on June 21, 2014

Best answer: Universal Studios is better for a 12 year old than Disneyland, unless she's a major Disney fan.
Agreed on Venice Beach being a great destination for her to do some people watching and trashy tourist shopping.
My favourite breakfast place which has great pastries, is Little Next Door on West 3rd, near Crescent Heights. Their croissants are awesome.
Maybe take her to see a movie somewhere nice like an Arclight ( the dome for the cheese factor), or somewhere red-carpety in Westwood or Bev Hills.
Will she want to go celebrity spotting? Robertson and Beverly might be a good spot, especially if you can book a table at The Ivy.
posted by Joh at 3:43 PM on June 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Proof Bakery in Atwater has amazing pastries IMO. Fluffy flakey buttery goodness. If you're doing this when he's open, Trystero Coffee is just down the street. Would they be into an informal garage espresso bar/microroaster? The other bonus is that just past Trystero is a nice spot to look at the LA River and some arty graffiti under the Hyperion bridge.

13 year old me would have probably been super into the Urban Outfitters downtown on Broadway.

People bring their kids to the Friday night Barnsdall wine tastings, but I have no idea how the kids feel about that. There are food trucks as well. It's a lovely place to watch the sunset.

If you're in Little Tokyo, I like Cafe Dulce's pastries (more of the green tea donut variety). If no one is vegetarian, the udon at Monzo is hella tasty (hand cut noodles, bonito broth).
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 3:43 PM on June 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Proof Bakery in Atwater is just tremendous. One of the best bakeries in town for sure (great coffee, too). (on preview: JINX, mandyman!!)

Blue Whale for jazz and seconding Monzo for udon.
posted by raihan_ at 3:44 PM on June 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

La Brea Tar Pits? Is that even a thing? I know they have good tacos over there.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 3:48 PM on June 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also maybe this list of free outdoor summer concerts in LA will be handy.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 4:13 PM on June 21, 2014

Best answer: Take her to Surfas in Culver City--tons of cool cooking tools. Also, 3rd St. Promanade in Santa Monica.
posted by Ideefixe at 4:21 PM on June 21, 2014

Two of the excavation pits at the La Brea Tar Pits have recently been reopened so you can see the scientists at work.
posted by plastic_animals at 4:33 PM on June 21, 2014

For Dad the history buff, maybe a visit to see the Space Shuttle? Pinks for an only in LA lunch?
posted by cecic at 4:37 PM on June 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

We liked Venice Beach, the Los Angeles Zoo, Griffin Observatory, Museum of Jurassic Technology, Santa Monica Pier. There is a Japanese section that has lots of good food, an unusual thing for me was a shave ice place with very different flavors my daughter in law took us to. I can't remember the name, but it was good. The Space Shuttle is great too, kids would enjoy it.
posted by mermayd at 4:49 PM on June 21, 2014

I LOVED Venice Beach at that age.

Oh yeah! Parents took me to LA when I was 14, and just walking around Venice/Santa Monica was really swell. (This was a long time ago.)
posted by ovvl at 5:25 PM on June 21, 2014

Japanese food recommendations? Weird is totally fine.

One place that is a bit out of your way, but that is really fun, really loud, and really amusing, is Shin Sen Gumi Yakitori down in Gardena.

It's really entertaining, the sumibiyaki is great, and it makes for quite a fun dinner. (Fair warning: it's busy though.) If they enjoy Japanese culture, cuisine, shopping, etc., you could precede this with shopping time at some great stores and markets down in Torrance and Gardena. Marukai markets are pretty fun, particularly the one on Western and Artesia.

(I am a huge Torrance and Gardena fan, if you can't tell. Personally I think it's the place to go for Japanese and Korean food.)

I'll also second the Museum of Jurassic Technology as a great way to kill an hour or two, if your 12-13 year old enjoys the weird.

One more cuisine that is pretty much "only in LA" unless you get out to the islands... Hawaiian food. Again, Torrance and Gardena is the place to go for great loco moco, good plate lunches, good portuguese sausage and banana pancakes, macadamia pancakes, fried rice, etc. Bob's Hawaiian is great, as is Gardena Bowl, an awesome little Hawaiian joint which is a coffee shop style restaurant inside a bowling alley.
posted by Old Man McKay at 6:01 PM on June 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Shopping: I just read something yesterday that there will be Uniqlo pop-ups this summer in advance of the permanent store opening in the fall.

Sunset dinner at Yamashiro (the food is fine, not spectacular) is an only in LA thing I recommend everyone do.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:06 PM on June 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Other "Only In L.A." cuisines I'm not thinking of?

There's excellent Korean in Koreatown - tons of good kbbq places, noodle places, soup places, etc. Let me know if you want specific recommendations, or check yelp.

You could do a dim sum brunch somewhere - depending on where they're from, they might not have tried that.
posted by insectosaurus at 6:41 PM on June 21, 2014

If you will be in Venice, the shopping on Abbey Kinney blvd between Venice and Main St. is excellent - few chain stores, mostly one-of-a-kind shops.
posted by conrad53 at 6:49 PM on June 21, 2014

Best answer: Nthing suggestions for Farmers Market, Venice Beach, and Santa Monica Pier/Promenade -- the teen girls I've spent time with over the past few years have enjoyed them all.

History-wise, there's a Route 66 exhibition at the Autry that just opened and looks like great fun.

For music, what's on at the Hollywood Bowl when they're here? Get some cheap bench seats, bring a picnic, and have fun. (Avoid the parking nightmare by taking the shuttle from Hollywood & Highland.)
posted by scody at 6:49 PM on June 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

The cafe at the Getty was actually quite good, and might check boxes for everyone. A visit to the museums and grounds doesn't have to take a very long time.
posted by JMOZ at 8:44 PM on June 21, 2014

Depending on where they're coming from, LA has some great Persian and Ethiopian food- not that you can't get that in, say, Philly or DC or other places, but both cuisines are super fun, super delicious, and good for groups. If I have it right, Little Ethiopia is close to the Grove, so convenient if you stop off at the Page, LACMA, or shopping. (Or head to Westwood for Persian after a sunset walk along the beach around Santa Monica?)

Re: the Getty-- both are spectacular, but I admit a very slight preference for the Getty Villa's cafe over the Getty Center's. They're both very solid though, and getting chai at the Getty Center in the morning before the buildings open and it's still quiet and's pretty great. (When are they coming? I was at the Getty Center last weekend and I feel like they're preparing to open several exhibits, so check the timing on that.) The Getty Villa's collection is very cool and in a spectacular setting; I'm pretty sure there's a parking deal if you park at both during the same day.
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:13 PM on June 21, 2014

I had a 14 yo, Midwestern girl visit me in LA last summer. I never quite got the hang of planning our days just right but she liked the Tar Pits, shopping on Hollywood Blvd, Universal, The Grove, The Farmer's Market, SaMo Pier, Venice Beach, but mostly the beach. Oh, and Madame Tussaud's wax museum. She got to make a wax mold of her hand as a souvenir. Mostly she liked the beach and trying new foods in places that suited her short attention span. We tried hard to spot teen celebs. Nada. She wasn't that into Saks, Barney's and the like and Bev Hills bored her.
DTLA was a bust as well. Though a brief LACMA museum visit was tolerated.
Good luck.
posted by Lil Bit of Pepper at 10:29 PM on June 21, 2014

How about It's a Wrap for shopping? It has clothes from tv and movie sets. It's on Magnolia in NoHo, which may be a bit of a hike, but I think she might love it for the novelty.
posted by McPuppington the Third at 12:20 AM on June 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Venice Beach, Museum of Jurassic Technology, maybe the Natural History Museum (is there a First Friday happening then--KCRW sponsors them). EDM shaking dinosaur bones is pretty fun.

Shopping: Grove. Maybe Paseo Colorado in Pasadena. Are you going to the Huntington? 3rd Street Promenade.

Entertainment: the Bowl. Maybe Hollywood Forever Cemetery--lots of shows and movies there this summer.

Food: we have so much good food. Someone above mentioned Little Ethiopia. Yes! Chinese in Monterey Park. You say you have Mexican covered. There's awesome Central American food all over, as well. Yum. Sushi in Little Tokyo.

If you're going to Disney, maybe stop by Donut Man in Glendora or Some Crust in Claremont. Also, if you go to Claremont, you can check out Mt. Baldy Village, which feels Twin Peaksy.

Books: in addition to Last Bookstore, Skylight in Los Feliz. If you go to Pasadena, Vromans.
posted by persona au gratin at 1:38 AM on June 22, 2014

My daughter was 12 (and son was 14) when we visited LA and she liked shopping at the Hollywood&Highland mall, strolling around the Chinese Theater, Walk of Fame, etc. The Kids TodayTM shop at Forever 21, H&M, Charlotte Russe, and Hollister/Abercrombie if they're feeling spendy. Even if her hometown has a Forever 21, somehow the Forever 21 in LA will be "better."

The kids also enjoyed just driving around Beverly Hills. I think at that age it's important to do some of the "iconic" touristy LA stuff that they've seen on TV and that they can Instagram to their friends. My kids also enjoyed whale watching but whale season is kinda over, IIRC. They liked Little Tokyo (I think we had lunch at Monzo?), the tide pools at Crystal Cove, daytrip up on Rim of the World highway, and believe it or not, we all had fun at the Pirate's Dinner Adventure if you happen to get down Anaheim way. I don't know where they're coming from but one cuisine to look for might be filipino.
posted by drlith at 6:40 AM on June 22, 2014

daytrip up on Rim of the World highway

Seconded, particularly if they are not from a mountain-y area, but only if they are not prone to motion sickness. We go to Lake Arrowhead every year and the drive is fine if it is not foggy (then it's a total pants-shitter!) and we take Bonine (less drowsiness than Dramamine) right about the time we leave LA.

Unfortunately there are not a ton of restaurants up in Rimforest/Lake Arrowhead/Twin Peaks, nothing really destination-worthy but but there are options, or you can take a picnic up. It's about 1.5-2 hours each way from LA.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:37 AM on June 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Try to catch a performance at the Hollywood Bowl. Go up to the Hollywood sign and take pictures (the top of Beachwood Canyon?).

Best random celebrity sightings are in Pacific Palusades, followed by Brentwood.
posted by vignettist at 1:50 PM on June 22, 2014

The stairs in Santa Monica.
posted by Dansaman at 7:47 PM on June 22, 2014

It might be too late now, but almost always see at least one top tv chef at the SM Farmers Market on Wednesdays, but you need to get there when it opens. This may be true for FMs that are closer to you, too.

Out-of-towners really, really love the promenade and the pier. Venice if they're not uptight.

I love taking people down Sunset from DTLA to the ocean, just in time for the sunset. It's so much of LA scenery all wrapped up in one drive. Maybe lunch in Chinatown, dinner at Mallbu Seafood.

Seconded, particularly if they are not from a mountain-y area

Or canyon-y. Think Laurel, Rustic, Topanga. Very L.A.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:30 AM on June 25, 2014

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