California Reopening: Everything Families Need To Know

It's time to play! Photo courtesy of Pretend City Children's Museum
It's time to play! Photo courtesy of Pretend City Children's Museum
6/12/21 - By Meghan Rose

Yay! The great California reopening is happening! The Dodgers can play to capacity crowds. Disneyland can sell all the tickets—and we can bring out-of-town guests, too. Kids are out of school, but pretty much every Califonia school is pledging to return in-person, 5 days a week in the fall (or summer, since we have a ridiculously early start). Museums, theme parks, zoos, restaurants, and more are all open. But does California reopening mean no more masks? Is social distancing a thing of the past?

As California reopens fully this week, we're looking at what that means, what's reopening, and everything in LA that's now open for kids...


The Rules for California Reopening

As of Tuesday, June 15, California is fully reopen. One of the first states to fully lockdown, we beat this thing (knock wood) and the reward is a full reopening. That means Disneyland (and all our favorite theme parks) are allowed to open at capacity. Sports stadiums (outdoor ones) can sell as many tickets as the stands can hold. Restaurants and bars can seat people indoors. And every place we love can reopen.

These are the top questions parents, kids, and all Angelenos are asking:

1. Do I have to wear a mask?

Well, that depends. Fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks unless they are on public transportation, in a K-12 school or child care center, in a hospital, or at a jail. Unvaccinated people (including kids over 2) are still required to wear face coverings when indoors in a public space. Also, a business can require masks of anyone on the premises. So check with a museum or business to find out what their mask requirements are before visiting.

2. Do I have to make reservations?

Mostly, still, at theme parks and museums. (You'll notice none of these answers are definitive!) As it took a while for businesses to implement operational guidelines, many are un-doing these same guidelines at varying rates. Check with a venue to confirm the current policy before visiting.

3. Will I have to prove I'm vaccinated to go places?

No, not to go places. However, businesses have the option of implementing a vaccine verification system and may require those who do not show proof of vaccination to wear masks. Also, at indoor events of more than 5,000 people, all guests must show proof that they are fully vaccinated (or show a negative coronavirus test) to enter. Some outdoor venues, like the Hollywood Bowl, may also ask for proof of vaccination or negative test (this is recommended for outdoor venues that seat over 10,000 people, but not required).

4. Will schools open this fall with hybrid or online learning still an option?

At this time, LAUSD plans to open all campuses for in-person classes, 5 days a week. Outgoing Superintendent Buetner has stated that there will be the option for online learning for families. But the fall is a long, long way away (it's summer, people!) and things may change if there is any change in the number of cases in LA. Also, there are a lot of school districts in Southern California, so be sure to check the policy at your school.

The rule we've been living under at Mommy Poppins during these changing times is to always verify before visiting. Institutions, businesses, and individuals are all making the decisions that are right for them, often on a daily changing basis. Check, verify, and keep following Mommy Poppins, as we update all our favorite local kids' museums, zoos, restaurants, and more as soon as the information is available.

Museums in Los Angeles That Are Open

Hey! Who you calling a bag of bones? Photo courtesy of the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County

  • Natural History Museum
    The NHM is open, as is its sister museum, the museum at the La Brea Tar Pits.
  • CAAM
    The California African American Museum is now open.
  • The Children's Museum at La Habra
    This fabulous local children's museum reopened on April 14.
  • The Grammy Museum
    Music to our ears; this spot reopened May 21.
  • California Science Center
    This fabulous, much-missed space for kids is now open. Timed entry reservations are required for everyone. Some high-touch galleries and exhibits are still  temporarily closed, many Science Center exhibits have been adapted for hands-free interaction. Timed tickets are also available for purchase for The Art of the Brick.
    After being closed for more than a year, LACMA is opening again. Though most of the buildings are closed while the new museum is being built, the grounds, the BCAM Building, and Resnick Pavilion will all be open. This means Metropolis II is back, and that's really all the kids care about!
  • The Petersen Automotive Museum
    The Petersen open for little car lovers opened in March.
  • MOXI: The Wolf Museum of Exploration and Innovation
    This amazing children's museum (with a guitar you can walk into!) is now open.
  • The Hammer Museum
    This art museum is Westwood open to the public. And it's free, every day.
  • The Nixon Library
    Step into the Oval Office, as the Library opened on May 19.
  • The Getty Museum and Villa
    The Getty Villa Museum reopened April 21 and Getty Center opened at the end of May with 4 new exhibits.
  • Pretend City
    Pretend City is now open, which means camps and classes are back, too!
  • Battleship Iowa
    The San Pedro floating monument is open for self-guided tours of the outdoor spaces, using the free mobile app.

Now open is the Museum of Illusion in Los Angeles

Don't look down! Photo courtesy of the Museum of Illusion

  • The Museum of Illusions
    Hollywood's photo-op destination is open.
  • The Museum of Dream Space
    Another Hollywood photo-op destination is open. These rooms and experiences are inspired by the work of Yayoi Kusama, so for families who love the Infinity Mirror Room at the Broad Museum, here's your chance to recreate a little of that digital art magic.
  • Noah's Ark
    The Skirball found a way to bring back the beloved Noah’s Ark—by moving it outside. The cultural center is now open for all guests with an Ai Weiwei exhibit that runs through the summer.
  • The Heritage Museum
    This DTLA gem is now open for self-guided tours of the grounds.
  • Southern California Railway Museum
    The museum has reopened its campus and outdoor exhibits for visitors, while indoor exhibits and car barns remain closed. Train and trolley rides have also resumed.

Meet friendly lorikeets at the Aquarium of the Pacific. Photo by cruz__26/Instagram

Places in LA Where Kids Can Visit Animals

  • The Los Angeles Zoo
    Hooray! The LA Zoo is now open, offering a modified zoo experience with limited capacity, and advance, timed-entry reservations are required. But the zoo is back.
  • The Aquarium of the Pacific
    The Aquarium has reopened both indoor and outdoor areas as of March 16. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Retail and food services are also open.
  • Heal the Bay Santa Monica Aquarium
    The Aquarium has reopened on the weekend only with new outdoor patio exhibits, which include two animal displays: tidepool creatures and the full lifecycle of sharks with shark pups.
  • Montebello Barnyard Zoo
    Now open with pony rides (kids need to bring bike helmets to take a pony ride), train rides, a petting zoo, a picnic area, and playground.
  • Danny's Farm
  • While the farm is open for visits, for health and safety reasons, currently no more than 6 people can visit Danny's Farm at a time, and visits are limited to one hour. Check the website for details and to make reservations.
  • The Gentle Barn
    The Gentle Barn is only open for "Cow Hug Therapy" at this time: Get hugs and unconditional love from the therapy cows. Make a one-hour appointment for your family.
  • The Ocean Institute
    Dana Point's Ocean Institute fully reopened on April 10, with two new exhibits.
  • Moorpark Animal Center at Underwood Farms
    See the farm animals! While play structures and feeding/petting the animals are not currently allowed, all 13 baby goats, baby chicks, ponies, alpacas, emus, sheep, bunnies, birds, and more are there for kids to see.
  • America's Teaching Zoo
    This Moorpark zoo is now open to visitors.
  • The OC Zoo
    The OC Zoo, home to animals and plants native to the southwestern United States, reopened on February 3.
  • San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld San Diego
    The world-famous San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park are now open, and SeaWorld San Diego reopened on February 6, so it’s the perfect time for a little San Diego summer vacation.
  • The Santa Barbara Zoo
    The zoo in Santa Barbara is open again, and a visit is a perfect excuse for a day trip up the coast. 

Now open in LA are many of our favorite zoos, like the Santa Barbara Zoo

Kids can see animals in person again at favorite local zoos. Photo courtesy of Santa Barbara Zoo

  • The CatCafe Lounge
    Now open for kids needing kitten cuddles.
  • Wildlife Learning Center
    The center is open for two different private tours, both of which include animal meet and greets. (Perfect for birthday parties…)
  • The Shadowland Foundation
    While the foundation has suspended Saturday visits with wolves, families or small groups can still book a private experience to meet (and feed) wolves in person.
  • The Gibbon Conservation Center
    The Gibbon Conservation Center, the only facility in the world dedicated exclusively to gibbons, offers tours to visit the rarest group of apes in the western hemisphere. You can now visit the center.
  • The Living Desert
    The desert zoo is open, and a trek to Palm Springs rewards visitors with a chance to get up close and personal with bighorn sheep, mountain lions, desert tortoises, and countless other animals.
  • Oasis Camel Dairy
    While currently only offering private tours, this is an experience no one can forget: a visit to Oasis Camel Dairy, just north of San Diego. Tours can include feeding and taking rides on the camels.

What’s Open at Theme Parks

Now open in LA are all playgrounds and parks, like Shane's Inspiration

Shane's Inspiration at Griffith Park is open. Photo courtesy of Landscape Structures

Parks and Playgrounds Are All Open in LA

now open in LA - sand sledding the beach berms

Sand sledding! Do it while you can...

Beaches and Piers in Los Angeles—What’s Open?

Entertainment and Stores Now Open in LA

  • Apple Stores
    Apple Stores across the Southland are now open for Genius Bar and shopping appointments. So if you've been the sole tech support for your family, in-person help is now available.
  • Mini Golf
    Mini golfing is now allowed and our favorite spots are open or opening soon.
  • Drive-in Movies
    Drive-ins are popping up all over town! (We’re adding new venues all the time.)
  • Go Karts
    Go karts with outdoor tracks are now allowed to operate, which means K1 Speed in Anaheim is now racing, as is Go Kart World in Carson, and Boomers in Irvine (which also has mini golf and batting cages).
  • Irvine Park Railroad
    Choo-choo, this track is running its open-air train daily. Pony rides and paddleboat rentals are also available at Irvine Park. Bring a picnic and make a day of it!

horseback rides are available at stables all over LA

Take a ride under the Hollywood sign. Photo courtesy of Sunset Ranch

Outdoor Sports & Activities for Families in Los Angeles

  • Horseback Riding Stables
    All our favorite spots are open!
  • Batting Cages
    If your little slugger is missing Little League, batting cages are open.
  • Water Sports Rental and Lesson
    With ocean breezes clearing the air and longboards and boats enforcing social distancing, SUP, kayak, surf, and other water sports rental shops and lesson providers are all open for business.
  • Beach Bike Rentals
    Rent (or bring) a bike to ride the beach bike path, bike rental shops and beach biking paths are open.
  • Swan Pedal Boats
    Rent a swan boat at Lake Balboa or Echo Park Lake.
  • Fishing
    We mentioned that fishing is allowed off the Santa Monica Pier now, but you can also go fishing (and rent gear) at these local lakes.
  • Hot Air Balloon Rides
    And now for something completely different: go up, up, and away in a hot air balloon. Temecula has several companies offering balloon rides over the vineyards.
  • Waterski and More
    Take a day trip to Lake Elsinore, where kids as young as 5 years old can learn to wakeboard, wakesurf, waterski, and more at LA Wake
  • Long Beach Waterbikes
    Maybe you can’t walk on water, but the whole family can bike on water, day or night, at Long Beach Waterbikes.
  • Golf and Tennis in LA County
    Golf courses and tennis courts are open. LA City Golf has a few par-3 courses that are inexpensive and great for kids who are just learning. And the LA Department of Recreation and Parks has several parks that reserve courts by the hour online (and are also very inexpensive).
  • Gondola Rides
    There are two spots now open in Southern California where the whole family can take a gondola ride: Long Beach and Oxnard. (Funny, no gondolas in Venice!)

Farm Fresh Outings for Families in Los Angeles

  • Farmers Markets
    Farmers markets all over LA County are open, and while samples and pony rides are currently on hold, visiting your local farmers market is a great way to support local farms who have been hit hard this year.
  • Tanaka Farms
    Guests can take a wagon ride around the farm and pick some veggies.
  • Underwood Farms
    The Underwood Farms Moorpark location is also open daily for pick your own visits to the field, as well as saying hi to the animals at the animal center.
  • The Original Farmers Market
    This open-air market is fully open. Also now open: outdoor dining! So get groceries for the week, and enjoy a meal (or ice cream, or donuts) today.

What's Open iin LA Now: Descanso Gardens

Something is always blooming at Descanso. Photo courtesy of Descanso Gardens

Gardens That Are Open in LA (All of Them!)

Hiking trails are now open in Los Angeles, including the Vasquez Rocks area

Exploring the gorgeous Vasquez Rocks. Photo by Meghan Rose

The Best Hiking Trails in Los Angeles for Kids Are Open

Horses and mini cars are two unique ways to tour Griffith Park.

Toodle around Griffith Park in a mini car. Photo courtesy of Sunny Day Scoot

Outings & Adventures for Families in Southern California

  • Fillmore & Western Train Rides
    With reduced capacity and masks, families can take a Saturday scenic ride on a Fillmore & Western train this summer before it closes to change ownership.
  • Long Beach Glass Bottom Boat
    Take a harbor tour on a glass-bottom boat, day or night, in Long Beach on the weekend.
  • Sunny Day Scoot
    These thrilling tiny, open-air cars are still available to rent to toodle around Griffith Park.
  • Ziplines
    Take a day trip to one of these spots where the whole family can soar through the air.

Take a trip to Catalina to see wild bison.

See wild bison in Catalina. Photo courtesy of Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau

Daytrips & Staycations That Families Can Take in LA

  • Palm Springs
    The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway reopened.
  • Catalina Island
    See the buffalo on Catalina Island.
  • Joshua Tree National Park
    Joshua Tree is now open for hiking and exploring, but it's getting pretty hot!
  • Channel Islands
    Island Packers started running trips to the Channel Islands again at the end of January—now is a beautiful time to go visit the island dwarf fox or take a kayak around one of the islands.
  • Calico Ghost Town
    The old mining town is a great historical exploration spot.
  • Terranea Resort
    For a weekend getaway without even leaving the county, Terranea opened again the last weekend of January.