Children's museums can be just the ticket for family vacations, a rainy day, or just plain fun

Los Angeles Children's Museum

FOR children as well as the child within, the Los Angeles Children's Museum is an absorbing educational destination for visitors to Southern California and residents alike.

A boutique-sized museum in the tradition of learning-by-doing, it has 15 different areas that create a mosaic of learning opportunities easily digested by kids from 2 to 10 in a single afternoon.

The museum is essentially one large warehouse, so screams of pleasure and discovery echo throughout the vaulted space as the kids move from one exhibit to the next. In keeping with the theme of learning about the world, the museum has brought urban Los Angeles inside.

The City Streets, Metro Exhibit, and Fire Station have real motorcycles, city buses, and fireman outfits for the kids to play in, not to mention a full-size culvert for crawling into.

For sheer play value, Sticky City offers a huge, upholstered room where kids can throw, roll, and, yes, stick pillows (courtesy of Velcro) of all sizes and shapes to the wall and one another.

Just next door, in the Lego building site, thousands of Legos spill across a Lego floor, waiting to be built to the ceiling. Down the hall, in Shadow Box, kids create shadow pictures on a wall of phosphorescent vinyl.

For the older children, the Recording Studio and Video Zone offer hands-on opportunities to manipulate cameras and recording devices, teaching kids about the high-tech world that surrounds us.

Most of the exhibits are appropriate for all ages, but the younger children naturally gravitate to the more physical activities while the older kids get more out of activities that require thought and planning, such as the technology-based areas.

In addition to the permanent shows, the museum sponsors local performing artists and runs monthly themed exhibits in which industry professionals give workshops. June is Water Month, and a huge water activity has made a big splash with kids.

July is Film and Media Month and August is Architecture and Building Month.

310 N. Main St., Los Angeles, CA 90012; (213) 687-8800

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