Zoo in Hawthorne

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• For $74, you get a one-year Family Deluxe membership (a $149 value). Benefits include unlimited admission for either three adults and their children (ages 2–17) or two adults and their children plus one adult guest. Other perks include six one-day guest passes, three one-day Safari Shuttle passes, two Choo-Choo Train passes, and one free stroller rental.

5333 Zoo Dr
Los Angeles,
CA
US

The nonprofit Wildlife Learning Center populates its ancient olive grove with more than 50 species from across the globe, teaching visitors the value of conservation while raising funds for wildlife sanctuary and public education through its Wildlife Learning Foundation. Alongside a circular walking path, a menagerie of animals, including lynxes, arctic foxes, kinkajous, and college sports mascots, frolics within landscaped enclosures. Throughout the afternoon, friendly biologists give training talks on the hour and facilitate up-close interaction with various critters. The zoo also hosts children's camps and birthday parties for precocious naturalists to ensure a future generation of nature-savvy citizens.

16027 Yarnell Street
Los Angeles,
CA
US

When animals are rescued from dangerous living situations or seized from the hands of smugglers, STAR Eco Station provides second chances at peaceful lives. The facility offers a haven for more than 200 rescued animals and educates the public as an environmental science museum. During public tours, guides lead guests through exhibits of rescued exotic animals, such as parrots, pythons, and wildcats, while explaining the habits, history, and New Year's resolutions of each creature.

The recipient of multiple awards from media and government agencies, STAR Eco Station also provides educational outreach programs to more than 40 California school districts and works in concert with conservation organizations such as the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Paw Project, and Heal the Bay.

10101 Jefferson Blvd
Culver City,
CA
US

In continual operation since 1965, the Hollywood Wax Museum captures the storied history of Tinseltown by recreating its most memorable faces and moments in lifelike detail. All rendered via intricate, multi-week processes, classic entertainers such as Marilyn Monroe and Charlie Chaplin pose alongside modern A-list stars such as Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, and Morgan Freeman. Visitors can step up to each figure for interactive photo ops with their favorite stars. For its efforts, the museum has received a 2012 Heroes of Hollywood award and a 2008 Charlie Award in Entertainment Arts. The museum was also awarded a civic scroll in the 1970s for helping to restore “glamour and gaiety” to the city of Los Angeles—a mission it continues today even with Hollywood’s ever-changing celebrity landscape.

6767 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles,
CA
US

A nonprofit organization, Shoestring City Ranch is run by instructors that dedicate their time to teach teamwork and leadership skills to city-slicker kids by having them work with rescued animals. The environmentally friendly ranch hosts clinics on communicating with pets and group horseback-riding classes that teach everyone from tots to adults how to groom and ride. They also host fun events in addition to classes, such as the 5K Gallop and 1-Mile Tot Trot and a Roping Clinic 101, where a professional rodeo cowboy teaches students how to use a lasso.

7220 Century Blvd.
Paramount,
CA
US

A pumpkin can pep up a pie, transform into a jack-o'-lantern, or fill in for you at work, and each fall, Toluca Lake Pumpkin Patch stocks an ample supply of this versatile squash. The staff also celebrates the harvest season with a maze in which monsters and spooky displays chill visitors' spines. Once fall transforms into winter, the patch turns its attention to selling Christmas trees such as douglas firs and custom wreaths to hang on doors. Regardless of the season, visitors can meet goats, rabbits, and sheep at an onsite petting zoo or pick up a bouquet from Toluca Lake Florist, which has supplied cut flowers for more than 60 years.

10601 Riverside Dr
North Hollywood,
CA
US