It can be hard to find family activities that interest the entire family. An afternoon at the movies, however, is always a good bet, especially if you have a miniature film buff in your ranks. This list of movie theaters in LA may cater to kids, but they have enough charm and history to hold your interest as well. Everyone wins!
The golf-ball-shaped Cinerama Dome is one of the extraordinary movie theaters in LA. Its 32′ by 86′ curved screen may have originally been used to present films shot on Cinerama, a now-outdated medium that required the use of three projectors. Times have changed (for the better) though and films here are now projected digitally. Part of the modern, elegant ArcLight Cinemas chain, the exterior of the Dome is often decorated to promote big blockbuster movies— past decorations have included green ears for Shrek and an enormous inflatable Spiderman. It’s a one-of-a-kind place to see the latest popcorn flick.
El Capitan Theatre
The historic El Capitan Theatre opened on Hollywood Boulevard in 1926. Called “Walt Disney Studio’s premiere cinema,” it specializes in holding special screenings of Disney movies where fans can meet princesses and join together in singalongs performed on their vintage organ. The theater also features “Tiny Tot Tuesdays” for parents of toddlers—every Tuesday, the first screening has dimmed lights and reduced sound. For an extra special treat, you can give your kid the star treatment by throwing their birthday party at El Capitan. They’ll get their own private screening, as well as a premiere themed party.
TCL Chinese Theatre
Located right across the street from El Capitan, TCL Chinese Theatre may be a year younger (it was built in 1927) but is also an important piece of Hollywood history. If not the most famous theater in the world, it’s certainly the most iconic—handprints from dozens of stars pressed in the concrete outside give kids a lesson in Hollywood history, and the grand interior will dazzle young and old alike. It’s recently been transformed into the world’s largest IMAX theater, which makes experiencing a film there all the more impressive. Want to learn even more history about the place? Take VIP tour of one of the best movie theaters in LA.
California Science Center
Speaking of IMAX, the IMAX screen at the California Science Center is seven stories tall and 90 feet wide, immersing curious kids in 3D films about space, nature, and—you guessed it—science. Family activities can often be expensive, but the prices here are quite reasonable. A kid’s ticket runs slightly over $5, and admission to the museum itself, filled with interactive, thought-provoking activities, is free year-round. Make sure to check out the Endeavour space shuttle on display before you leave.
Mission Tiki Drive-In Theater
Located in Montclair, the Mission Tiki Drive-In Theater may be bit off the beaten path but it’s definitely worth the drive. A painstaking 2006 remodel restored the drive-in to its 1950s glory, and the ambiance will transport you to the islands. Ticket booths resemble Tiki huts, there’s a Maui statue garden, and even the concession stand sticks to the theme. For one price, you get to watch double features of today’s top hits, all from the comfort of your car (which means the kids can yell as much as they want!). Best of all? Youngsters aged five to nine pay only $1.