Cars, cars, cars: Petersen Automotive Museum


When our boys were little, the Petersen Automotive Museum was one of our favorites in Los Angeles, and the all new museum is better than ever! On three large floors, discover the history of cars, contemporary car design and technology, cars as art.

You could start your museum visit on the third floor with history of cars, but we made a beeline to the second floor Cars Mechanical Institute. Pixar and Petersen teamed up to create this hands-on gallery for kids. Little ones can paint and race toy cars, older kids will find out how cars work – the engine, drive train, brakes and suspension. Check out the Carspad Experience, an interactive app where families can design, build, optimize, race your own cars, and explore the second floor galleries like a treasure hunt.

Hollywood loves using impressive cars in movies, and on the third floor check out a collection of movie cars – the Batmobile and Batcycle (motorcycle with sidecar), cars used in James Bond movies, Steve McQueen’s favorite green convertible and more. Kids can sit in a model T Ford, and see some early 20th century cars, including a 1915 electric car!

On the first floor are beautifully preserved, very rare, one-of-a kind grand touring cars, hand-made with exquisite design details, such as the 1936 Bugatti or 1938 Delahaye. Kids will enjoy the gallery with “art cars,” BMWs painted in bright colors by artists such as David Hockney and Alexander Calder. (If kids get ideas for paintings your cars at home, try painting model cars instead.)

Here’s just a few of the cars in the museum:


1910 Ford Model T



1989 Batmobile



1966 Yamaha “Batcycle”



1938 Delahaye touring car



1954 Mercedes Benz racing car



Hot rod



1955 Chevrolet Biscayne



1969 Porsche racing car



1915 Detroit Electric car



1936 Bugatti



Tip: The Petersen Automotive Museum is right across the street from the La Brea Tar Pits. You’ll also want a fun place to stay – West Hollywood is very convenient to these museums: Los Angeles family hotels.