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Chinese Temple Chinatown Los Angeles

Los Angeles with Kids: Exploring Ethnic Neighborhoods

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Heading to Los Angeles with kids soon? How about introducing them to the various ethnic neighborhoods that make LA one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world?

Many of us travel with kids to learn about different cultures. Exploring these neighborhoods allows kids to travel and experience the world without getting on a plane.

Eating in ethnic restaurants expands kids’ palates and exposes them to different flavors and customs. Don’t hesitate to visit these neighborhood’s grocery stores to see and sample authentic food. My kids head straight to the snack aisles to see what they can try. Exploring these popular ethnic posts is one of our favorite things to do in the city.

Little Tokyo

This downtown cultural center of the local Japanese community is a wonderful place to visit. We have been taking our kids here for years, and it provided useful travel information before our visit to Japan two years ago.

Many shopping malls sell Japanese food, electronics, gadgets and toys. It’s a wonderland for kids who like anime or Sanrio. We also love the bakeries for treats like mochiVisit the Buddhist temples surrounded by well-manicured Japanese-style gardens. Come here during Nisei Week in August for parades, exhibits and demonstrations.

Explore the Japanese temples of Little Tokyo in Los Angeles.

Explore the Japanese temples of Little Tokyo in Los Angeles.

Little India

LA is home to the second-largest Indian population in the U.S. Take a leisurely stroll along the blocks of shops and restaurants housed in strip malls in Artesia. See the colorful native costumes called saris and smell the pungent aroma of spices and curry in the air. My kids love Saffron Spot for its exotic ice cream flavors like saffron, jackfruit and rose. No worries, it’s free to sample.

Olvera Street

El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument was built on the original site where LA was founded.  This pedestrian street has stalls of Mexican crafts, toys, piñatas, souvenirs and clothing.  We love walking through the colorful marketplace and always feel like we stepped into Old Mexico with the enticing scent of beans and tortilla emanating from many restaurants.

Come during the weekends where mariachi players perform and feel the energy of a fiesta atmosphere. For some history, visit the free Avila Adobe, LA’s oldest existing house, restored as an example of California lifestyle in the 1800s.

Kids will love the colorful shops on Olvera Street in Los Angeles.

Kids will love the colorful shops on Olvera Street in Los Angeles.


Bordered by a dragon gate sure to please kids, Chinatown is an interesting place to visit. The best way to explore is by walking the streets and peering through the windows.  You’ll never know what trinkets your kids will find. Explore the restaurants for authentic Chinese cuisine. My kids’ favorite part? Opening their fortune cookies. Visit the accessible temples and see what surprises you’ll find.

Chinese temple Chinatown Los Angeles

Go inside one of the Chinese temples in Chinatown in Los Angeles to see how they worship.


Los Angeles has the largest Korean population in the U.S.  Driving through here almost makes you feel like you’ve been teleported to Seoul.  All-you-can-eat Korean BBQ buffets line the streets.  The Korean Cultural Center is a fantastic stop with a museum and gallery.

And More…

There are also smaller neighborhoods like Little Ethiopia , Filipinotown, Thai Town and Little Armenia to explore. All these ethnic neighborhoods are great cultural lessons and wonderful breaks from the beach and amusement parks.

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Mary lives in San Diego, California with her husband, 13 year-old daughter and 10 year-old son. She was born in the Philippines, grew up in the U.S. territory…

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