California Reopening: Everything Families Need To Know
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
- The Autry Museum
The Autry Museum of the American West, right across from the LA Zoo, is now open.
The museum reopened for all guests on May 6.
- JANM: The Japanese American National Museum
JANM reopened for members only on April 16. For a limited time, admission is free. Advance reservations required.
- Norton Simon Museum
The Norton Simon is reopened to the public on May 20.
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.
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.
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.
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
- CityWalk at Universal Studios
Universal Studios Hollywood has reopened.
- Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure Park
The park has reopened, and Avengers Campus is open as well, and both parks are now allowing tickets to be purchased to get the park to full capacity.
- Knott's Berry Farm
Knott’s Berry Farm has reopened its gates for a summer-long, Knott’s 100th Anniversary Celebration.
- Six Flags Magic Mountain
The amusement park opened to the general public on April 3.
- Legoland California
Legoland California fully reopened to guests on April 15.
- Great Wolf Lodge
Great Wolf Lodge is now fully open and accepting reservations for summer getaways.
Shane's Inspiration at Griffith Park is open. Photo courtesy of Landscape Structures
Parks and Playgrounds Are All Open in LA
Playgrounds all over LA County have reopened. These are our very favorites, and worth the drive from anywhere in LA.
- Malibu Creek State Park
While camping is still on hold, the park is open for hikes and picnics (and even swimming, when it’s warm enough!).
- Griffith Park
This park at the center of the city is vast, varied, and not to be forgotten. While some activities remain closed (Travel Town and the Carousel, for example) other aspects, like Shane’s Inspiration, Griffith Park Pony Rides, the Old Zoo area, and more are waiting for you.
- Orange County Great Park
While attractions (like the balloon ride and carousel) are still closed, outdoor park spaces and playgrounds (including the Farm + Food Lab) are open at Orange County Great Park.
Sand sledding! Do it while you can...
Beaches and Piers in Los Angeles—What’s Open?
Whether you want one of the most popular beaches for families, a hidden gem, or a spot where the waves are toddler-sized, we know where you should go.
- Sand Sledding
Sled the Venice sand berms while they are still around.
- Grunion Runs
Open season began in March, and you can track when the grunion will be at which beaches on this website and plan your own family grunion run.
- Santa Monica Pier
The pier is now open daily again, after briefly being closed on weekends, to reduce crowds. While rides are closed, restaurants are open for takeout, and you can still take lessons at the trapeze school, do the Secret Story Tour, rent bikes, and go fishing.
- Redondo Beach Pier
This pier in the South Bay is also open for shopping, takeout, and boat or SUP rentals.
- Venice Beach Boardwalk
Go rollerblading along Venice Beach because the boardwalk is 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!
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.
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.
Something is always blooming at Descanso. Photo courtesy of Descanso Gardens
Gardens That Are Open in LA (All of Them!)
- Gardens in Los Angeles Are Open
Wander one of LA's iconic gardens, like The Huntington, Descanso Gardens, or the Arboretum; they have been open and giving our kids places to run and play since the pandemic started. Even the Children's Garden at the Huntington is open again! Hooray!
- Hollywood Forever Cemetery
The grounds at Hollywood Forever Cemetery are open—bring the kids to walk the beautiful grounds, enjoy the peacocks and swans, and look for famous graves.
- Botanic Gardens
South Coast Botanic Gardens and the California Botanic Garden are both open and have art installations throughout the gardens.
- Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden
This beautiful spot is never crowded.
- Malibu Legacy Park
This coastal park is part outdoor classroom, part living-learning center, and all fun nature walk filled with giant tile animals to climb on.
- Exposition Park Rose Garden
The Rose Garden is now open daily until dusk and is a beautiful spot for a picnic.
- Southern California Missions and Gardens
Mission San Juan Capistrano and Gardens opened on February 4. (And parents of 4th graders thought they might not get to visit a mission this year!) The San Buenaventura Mission in Ventura is also open.
Exploring the gorgeous Vasquez Rocks. Photo by Meghan Rose
The Best Hiking Trails in Los Angeles for Kids Are Open
- Los Angeles City Hiking Trails
Most of the city hiking trails have been open for a long time and saving parents' sanity. Don’t know where to start? Try one of our favorite hikes in the city, one of these best hikes for toddlers, a hike that is stroller-friendly, a wildflower hike, or a hike to a waterfall!
- The Batcave
Hike to the Batcave in Griffith Park, as trails are open. However, this popular hike can get crowded, so families may wish to visit on weekdays or early morning.
- Eaton Canyon Natural Area
While the nature center at Eaton Canyon is closed, the trails remain open and are perfect for cautious families. They never get crowded, because free reservations are required to access these trails.
- Vasquez Rocks
At Vasquez Rocks, the nature center is also closed, but the nature preserve is open.
- Malibu Wine Hikes
Malibu Wine is open and leading hikes that never get crowded, because they’re on private property. It’s the only way to see the vineyards of Saddlerock Ranch and the Chumash Native American cave paintings on this property. (Yes, there is a fee, but you also go home with wine-and support a local business!)
- Visit Griffith Observatory
The Observatory is still closed, but you can still visit the landmark spot, hike, and take in the views of the city, Hollywood sign, and even the ocean.
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.
Take a day trip to one of these spots where the whole family can soar through the air.
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.