Best thing to do with toddlers in/around the South Bay

Check out our trusty guide of stuff to do with your kids in the South Bay area.

1. Wonder of Dinosaurs -- this is one of my son's favorite places to go. At first he was a little weary of all the blow-up slides, but now he loves it. Just don't forget a good pair of socks (and preferably ones with grips for the LOs). Children < 2 are free and other rates: Child (2-12): $16 and Adults (13-54): $8. Your ticket is good the entire day.

2. Bogdanovich Park -- this is our nanny's favorite spot to take LG in San Pedro. And just look at it above. No wonder!

3. LA Maritime Museum -- MainMan took LG here a couple of weekends ago and they had a blast. At this stage in LG's walking life, I don't really trust him on big boats (I wouldn't bring him to the Midway in San Diego like we did when we could wear him in a carrier). But this place was very kid-friendly -- lots of open space vs. tight confines of an actual ship -- and they even had an area for the little ones to romp around. No fee here, but donations are welcome.

4. Cabrillo Aquarium -- I love being able to expose LG to the ocean and its creatures in any way we can. This aquarium is underrated. It's the perfect size for the LOs. It rarely gets crowded and it's always fun to have it to yourself for toddler roaming and stumbling. Make sure to check out the great little kids' interactive area in the exploration center -- the first doorway off to the left when you walk through the gates (and where you'll find the tank above that you can crawl under and through). No fee here either, but donations are welcome. And they have lots of cute things for the kids in the gift shop.

5. Aquarium of the Pacific -- I know, this technically isn't the South Bay, but it's too good not to mention. This is a world-class aquarium, but it's a bit of a hike for us from the hill. We're lucky if we make it here about once a month. My only gripes are it's jam-packed on the weekends and a it's a bit short on space in the outdoor exhibit areas. They have a fun little area with stuff for kids to climb on, but it's a madhouse and if your kid's still getting his or her sea legs it's not a great place for them to walk in between bigger kids running around.

6. Rat Beach -- this is a perfect stretch of sand for LG to explore, just off of Paseo de la Playa in Redondo, and there are a few ramps you can use with the stroller to get down to the beach. Our getting-the-stroller-through-the-sand tip: Pull it backwards. There's a huge parking lot with machines you can pay to park in or you can park along the neighboring streets. Just look out for street cleaning days.

7. Little Fish Tales by the Sea -- Every third Thursday of the month the Point Vicente Interpretive Center holds a storytime from 10:30-11:30 a.m. This is a great excuse to go take a walk on one of the most scenic walkways on the PV peninsula and end it with some reading time for your LO.

8. the COOP -- Located in Redondo Beach, this is a great spot for indoor play. Bonus, our nanny says it's never really that crowded. It's $12 here for all-day play.

9. Robert E. Ryan Community Park -- If you're looking for a spot with tons of space for running around, look no further than our neighborhood park in Rancho Palos Verdes off Hawthorne. The views are breathtaking overlooking the coast and Catalina off in the distance. Bring a picnic and spend a sunset here. They have a few different jungle gyms, a basketball court, loads of slides and even a baseball diamond.

10. Brouwerij West in San Pedro -- Why on Earth is she including a link to a brewery in a "things to do with toddlers" list? Because, folks, we all need a little break. And what parent doesn't deserve a little something for themselves? The brewery is fantastic and actually a rip-roaring good time for the LOs. The huge space is very kid-friendly -- there are always families and little kids romping around indoors and out. Kids can wheel around on their razors and 3-wheelers in the courtyard. They don't serve food, but there are always food trucks to choose from (I think you can check in with them on FB or their website for the food truck schedule). If beer's not your thing, check out the open marketplace Crafted right across the parking lot in the neighboring warehouse. I recommend a stroller for the marketplace in case your kid gets handy and tries to grab gifts off the vendors' shelves.

11. Adventureplex in Manhattan Beach -- Our nanny has taken LG here a few times. They have a really cute "ToddlerTown" area with a ball pit that LG was initially afraid of, but now he loves it. It's $12 for two hours of playtime (for 1 adult and 1 child).

12. South Coast Botanic Garden -- If you're looking for an outdoor alternative to the typical playground/park, head on over to these luscious and beautiful gardens off Crenshaw on the PV Peninsula. It's nice to just meander through the flora, but you can also take the kiddos right to the children's discovery garden. Check out their website with event details -- I know they had a kiddie Halloween event and they likely do other seasonal stuff, as well.

Places on our radar we have yet to check out: the SEA Lab in Redondo, the Wilderness Park and Seaside Lagoon.

In addition, WonderTree Kids in El Segundo offers kid/parent classes -- LG went to a music class with a friend there a few weeks ago -- and while I love the idea, it's too far for us to go on a weekly basis.

What are some of your favorite family hangouts? We'd love to hear from you in the comments. We're also putting together another list of great stroller-friendly walks.

Stay tuned and make it a rad day!


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