Whether you’re in the mood for shopping, culture or good food, this slice of L.A.’s West side has you covered.
by Erin Mahoney Harris
Tucked among the towering buildings of Century City, the Westfield shopping center was designed with family fun in mind, while the cultural institutions of nearby UCLA provide a high-minded counterbalance to all that frivolity.
Westfield Century City shopping center (10250 Santa Monica Blvd.; 310/277-3898; www.westfield.com/ centurycity) has cornered the market on catering to kids. A large, netted outdoor climbing structure keeps kids thoroughly (and safely) entertained while parents enjoy the chance to get off their feet and take a break from shopping. And every Wednesday afternoon, the shopping center hosts free Play Dates during which kids can make seasonal arts and crafts.
Conveniently located right next to the Westfield’s awesome outdoor play structure is Giggles N’ Hugs family restaurant and play place (10250 Santa Monica Blvd.; 310-553-HUGS; www.gigglesnhugs.com), a dream come true for any parent who can’t get their kids to sit still through dinner. Children are encouraged to run around, enjoying the restaurant’s play areas and live entertainment, while grown-ups get the oh-so-rare opportunity to dine in relative peace.
If your kids love pizza (a safe bet), they’ll surely dig 800 Degrees (10889 Lindbrook Dr.; 424-239-5010; www.800degreespizza.com), an artisanal pizza parlor where guests can see their customized Neapolitan style pie crafted before their eyes. Older kids will also be fascinated by the high-tech soda dispenser, which allows them to create just about any carbonated concoction they can dream up.
UCLA’s Hammer Museum (10899 Wilshire Blvd.; 310-443-7000; www.hammer.ucla.edu) regularly features interactive, kid-friendly exhibits. What’s more, the Hammer Kids program offers regular Sunday afternoon art projects, Family Days and movie screenings.
Boasting half a dozen universally accessible play areas and structures, Aiden’s Place playground at the Westwood Recreation Center (1350 S. Sepulveda Blvd.; www.laparks.org) can keep kids of all ages entertained for hours. The huge surrounding park also features playing fields, grassy hills and plenty of shade trees.
Also Worth a Look…
The UCLA campus is another great place to visit with kids (hopefully giving them an early appreciation for the college life). The Mildred E Mathias Botanical Garden (777 Tiverton Dr.; www.botgard.ucla.edu) is a shaded, bucolic place to wander with little ones, while the Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden (on Charles E. Young Dr. East) makes a superb picnicking spot.