Activities in LA: Battleship Iowa

I am always looking for activities in LA with my kids. Because having a 16-year-old and 12-year-old is great for help around the house and yard work. (Well, they don’t think that’s so great.) But when you are looking for a fun family activity in  Los Angeles that doesn’t cost a lot of money? Not so great.

Oh how I miss the days when I could throw a few PBJ’s and some sand toys in the car, drive to a local park, sit my butt down in a beach chair, open up my book, tell them to “go play” and call it a successful afternoon. Throw in a couple of Big Sticks from the ice cream truck and I’m Mother-of-the-Year.

Those days are long gone. I suppose I could take them to the park and play Frisbee or football with them. But I can’t imagine it (or rather me) lasting very long.

Of course there are fun and inexpensive things we can do. We can always go to the beach. (Yes, often even in the winter. Sorry east coasters!) But this time of year it’s too cold to go in the water, so they get bored quickly.

Who could ever get bored here?


And there are hundreds of hiking trails within a reasonable distance (and dozens mere minutes away), but Marley hates to hike and I tire of her nonstop commentary about how “hiking sucks.”


It becomes hard to enjoy this beauty with a whiny tween!


Over the winter break when I was really scrambling for things to do with the kids (yeah, this blog is long overdue) my mom stumbled upon a Groupon for the Battleship Iowa in San Pedro. So the four of us, along with my mom, step-dad and 9-year-old nephew made plans for a Los Angeles day trip.

The Battleship Iowa, built in 1940, is one of the largest battleships ever and is now retired and turned into a museum. How big is it? Pretty big.


That’s a BIG ship!


The Iowa was an important part of the Navy fleet for five decades. It even ferried President Franklin D. Roosevelt to Casablanca during World War II. It also served in the Korean War and was recommissioned to serve in the Persian Gulf in the 1980’s. The battleship has been permanently retired and is now a museum.

You take a self-guided tour through the museum, but there are plenty of guides throughout the ship -most of them veterans- to answer questions and tell you facts about the battleship.

The most impressive thing about the battleship is definitely the 16 inch guns…


Those are some big guns!


The Iowa was cool enough to keep Chandler-the-history-buff interested and there were enough places to climb and explore to keep Marley entertained. (It probably helped that she got to “be in charge” of my nephew Garrett.)




When we were done exploring the battleship we took a picnic lunch to the Korean Bell of Friendship Park.

Side note: If there is going to be a Ross Family outing you can pretty much guarantee a picnic lunch will be involved. It’s not that I don’t enjoy eating out (I do) or that I’m particularly healthy (I’m not), I just don’t enjoy paying for a meal out. (I’m not cheap, just frugal poor.) And since there were seven of us on this day, and the weather was gorgeous, we decided a salami on rye with some Fritos (see not so healthy) and orange slices at a beautiful park beat a $40+ fast food or $80+ sit down meal.


Korean Bell of Friendship (featured in the movie “The Usual Suspects”)


The bell and pavilion were donated in 1976 to the people of Los Angeles by the people of the Republic of Korea. The park is lovely and has an amazing ocean view. There was even a playset for Garrett to play. (And Marley to boss him around.)


What a gorgeous place for a picnic!


Most people would head home after spending a few hours on a battleship and then picnicking for an hour or so. But most people are not the Ross family!

I like to look in funky thrift stores and Chandler likes to poke around antique stores. We did a search for antique stores on my mom’s iPhone, but the places we found were no longer there. I did find a really cool thrift store (I like to look for clothes) but everyone quickly lost patience with me so we didn’t spend nearly enough time there.

After that we drove to Wayfarers Chapel in Palos Verdes. It was designed by Lloyd Wright (the son of Frank Lloyd Wright) and is truly stunning.




It’s a big wedding destination and a bit of a tourist trap, but I think it’s peaceful and very lovely. We met a couple who were in town from Wisconsin for the Rose Bowl game (I told you this blog was overdue) who had gotten married in the church 25 years ago. It was so sweet to hear them reminisce.


Wayfarers Chapel
A beautiful place for a wedding


After touring the church it was almost 4:00. Everyone was tired and ready to go home. We kept a 16-year-old, a 12-year-old and a 9-year-old entertained (on a budget) and deemed the day a success. What a great idea by my mom. I think she just stole my title of “Mother of the Year.”

At this posting the Groupon for the Battleship Iowa is still available. To check it out click here.