A Family Day Out in Chinatown: 10 Things To Do with Kids

1/13/18 - By Brian Steele

At first glance, Chinatown feels stuck in time as the rest of the city transforms around it. But the neighborhood has been experiencing a  renaissance, exploding with new restaurants and galleries. For parents looking for a fun outing with the fam, Chinatown is a place with sights, sounds, and delicious smells your kids will never forget.


1. Chinatown Central Plaza
943 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012

In many ways the heart of the neighborhood, Chinatown Central Plaza is a place where you can experience many of the joys of the neighborhood in one spot. Full of unique shops and restaurants, you can get lost for hours in the unending trinkets and tasty delights. Be sure to hit up the wishing well, where dreams can come true for a little pocket change, and take in the lights and lanterns at night, which will wow the whole family.

2. Ocean Seafood
750 N Hill St, Los Angeles, CA 90012  

If you’re looking for a healthy sampling of dim sum, stop into Ocean Seafood. More banquet hall than restaurant, the place has an indoor koi pond and decor that seems straight from the 70s. The kids will love the carts full of food that never stop coming, no matter how full you get. Just be sure to pop in before 3pm, when the dim sum service ends.

3. Phoenix Bakery
969 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012 

If you’ve still got the room for dessert, stop by Phoenix Bakery. From its creamy cakes to Chinese classics like bao buns, pineapple bread, and sugar butterflies, this bakery can satisfy most cravings. Phoenix Bakery has been a staple of the neighborhood for decades. Just be sure to get there early, before the most popular treats sell out.

Waiting patiently at Phoenix Bakery!

4. Scoops Chinatown
727 N Broadway #125, Los Angeles, CA 90012

An LA favorite, the artisan ice cream shop Scoops has a location on North Broadway right in the heart of the neighborhood. With more than 700 flavors rotating on the ever-changing menu, ranging from lavender goat cheese honey to Guinness tiramisu, there’s bound to be something for every member of the family.

5. Neo Happyland Company
988 N Hill St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

If you want to pick out something special for the kids, swing by this eclectic toyshop. From gunplay to p-bandai kits, Gundam models to Sanrio plushy toys, this shop guarantees that even if you don't know what you’re looking at you'll still be fascinated. Warning: The mall that Neo Happyland is in can look desolate, but don’t worry. Once you’re inside this wacko wonderland, you won’t regret it.

6. Chinese American Museum
425 N Los Angeles St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Located inside one of the oldest surviving Chinese buildings in Southern California, this museum is a chance for your family to explore the stories behind the colorful facades of the neighborhood. Full of exhibits about the struggles and successes of California's Chinese-American community, the spot gives kids a chance to learn more about Chinatown. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10am to 3pm. Admission is free, although donations are welcomed.

7. Walking Tours

If aimless wandering doesn't appeal, there are a variety of walking tours that can help you organize your day. Every first Saturday of the month, from 10:30am to 1pm, The Undiscovered Chinatown Walking Tour takes guests through the winding alleys of the neighborhood, exploring temples, shops, and art galleries for just $20 per person. If that's out of your budget, you can also check out the Chinatown Business Improvement District website for a self-guided tour that will leave no stone unturned.

8. Chung King Road Art Galleries
502 Chung King Ct., Los Angeles, CA 90012 

Despite a giant sign advertising that it appeared in the Jackie Chan movie Rush Hour, Chung King Road is probably best known these days as home to the hottest art galleries in the city. An ever-rotating cast of artists makes this a destination, despite some tired facades. Your whole family will get an eyeful of the world-renowned LA art scene, all for the low, low price of free. Be sure to check out which galleries are open when, as they all keep eclectic hours. 

Celebrating Chinatown Summer Nights. Photo by Eric Chan/CC BY 2.0

9. Chinatown Summer Nights
984 N. Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Chinatown Summer Nights are seasonal, but they're also a highlight of the neighborhood for transforming its bustling streets into a giant party. There are cooking demonstrations, video projections, and activities for the whole family. Get the kids fed at the gourmet food trucks, and snag craft beer for the parents. There’s even a mini-dance party, thanks to contributions from KCRW’s DJs. The parties are the first Saturday of the month, all summer long, and not to be missed. 

10. Far East Plaza
727 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Regarded as the first modern ethnic shopping mall in the United States, this plaza is ground zero for the transformation the neighborhood has undertaken over the last decade. Home to some of the hottest restaurants in the city, like Roy Choi’s Chego and Howlin Ray's Chicken, this is the spot guaranteed to have something for everyone. Just be warned, the lines can get long, (particularly for Howlin Ray's, whose wait times can stretch on for hours) and all the hipsters can leave little wiggle room to squeeze your stroller through. But whatever the crowd sizes may be, this foodie heaven is a must-do when visiting the neighborhood.


Top photo by Vahe Martirosyan/CC BY 2.0. All others by author unless otherwise noted

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