A Day Out: Visiting the Van Nuys Airport Observation Area

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Every week we try to do something new, so that we continue to explore and find our way in the vast city of Los Angeles.  This week’s adventure was to the Van Nuys Airport Observation Area.
Fun afternoon at the van nuys airport observation area.

I have to admit I did not find this great adventure on my own. It was a planned play date for one of the (million!) parent groups I am a member of.  It was super hot out today, so I expected the turnout to be quite low and almost thought of cancelling myself. But since I had already told Cian about it the day before, there was no turning back! He was SO excited to go to the airport. Although he didn’t quite get that we weren’t getting on the plane. He even wanted to take our cats with us.  (His last two flights were to the US with the cats and from my Mom’s house with the cats, so I guess he now thinks they always fly with us!)

The first thing I do when I see an adventure of interest is check the driving directions. I am still deathly afraid of getting stuck in the notorious LA traffic. Even though I wasn’t happy with where this was, I knew it was an adventure that Cian would love. Thankfully, it actually didn’t take too long to get there since it was Sunday and there was little traffic on the normally horrible 101.


 I think this was officially our first trip to the “valley” as it’s known here. Sidenote: I still really don’t understand what the valley IS, all I know is it’s up ‘there’ and is considered the suburbs! I loved the old style Toys R Us  and a few old school looking signs along the way.

Once you arrive, there is plenty of parking right inside the observation area, which is just beside the runways, near a helicopter landing area. The space is actually pretty small, but big enough for the little ones to run around, ride bikes and see the planes take off and land. There is a painted runway on the ground and a few wood cut outs of an airplane, firetruck, police car, control tower and airport vehicles. There is also a couple of picnic tables under a semi-covered awning. It really was a perfect set up for a play date.

Van nuys airport observation area Turnout was low, as I expected. It ended up being only us and one other family, but no one seemed to mind! The kids played so well together that the adults had time to sit around and chat, which is always a welcome relief! (And it’s nice to have the hubby’s there to chase the kiddos if needed!) We also loved listening to the live broadcast from the control tower, trying to decipher their messages on who was landing or taking off.

It is a great free afternoon of fun for airplane loving kids (and parents too!).

Visiting the Van Nuys Airport Observation Area:

  • 16398 Waterman Drive Los Angeles, CA 91406 (Off of Woodley Ave)
  • Open from 6 a.m. to 10:45 pm
  • It is not very noisy, but if your child is super sensitive to sound you can bring some noise cancelling headphones for when the larger planes land. Our son didn’t seem to mind, and didn’t ask for his headphones (which he LOVES).
  • There is little shade except where the picnic tables are located, so on a hot day like today, make sure to load up on sunscreen, water and bring hats.
  • There is NO bathroom facility here, so plan accordingly.
  • Bring bikes, push cars, and toy airplanes to contribute to the fun.

Next up on our airplane play date list is a visit to the Santa Monica airport observation area and airplane park.

*Originally posted at slaint.com

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