Our list of the best things to do in Los Angeles with kids on a family vacation
I would have never guessed Los Angeles would became a favorite family destination for us, however, after 4 dreamy family vacations in California, we are hooked!
There are so many fun things to do in Los Angeles for kids, so many child friendly attractions and just so much to do for both children and adults that we simply cannot get enough of it.
The city is a wonderful mix of things, a playground for kids and adults – these are the best things to do in Los Angeles with kids for visitors!
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Top 10 things to do in Los Angeles with kids
Explore Griffiths Park
Griffiths park is wonderful for kids and adults and almost deserves and article on its own as it has not one but at least 5 of the best things for kids in LA, all within its boundaries!
A large, green area right in the heart of LA, Griffiths park has hiking trails, picnic spots, views over the city and a fantastic observatory open to the public.
The Griffiths observatory is free, fun and educational for kids of all ages and just outside you get gorgeous views over the hills, the city below and the famous Hollywood sign.
Get acquainted with mammoths in The Tar Pits
One of the most child friendly museums in Los Angeles and a firm family favorite is La Brea Tar Pits.
Located in the heart of the city (close to LACMA, see below), La Brea Tar Pits has skeletons and findings from the ice Age (!), all preserved in the local ‘tar pits’, pools of asphalts that trapped animals from long ago.
Here you can see fossils of animals big and small including ground sloths, mammoths, and saber-toothed cats.
This was a huge hit with our 6 year old in particular but it is a great place for all ages with both indoor and outdoor areas.
Marvel at the art and the views from the Getty Center
Perched on the top of one of the LA hills, the Getty Center is a museum but also a stunning space with child friendly attractions, play opportunities and children events.
The center is a vast exhibition complex with areas for everyone: there, you have permanent exhibitions, temporary ones (we got a fun family friendly one about medieval beasts), a children discovery room and gorgeous gardens with sweeping views over the city and the ocean.
The Getty Center is a full destination in itself and you can spend here as little as an hour and as long as a day.
The garden often hosts children concerts and the restaurants and cafes are family friendly.
This is one on the most beautiful attractions in Los Angeles for kids and adults alike!
Learn about the origins of LA in the historic pueblo
Los Angeles is now a modern mega city but started as a pueblo and you can still get a sense of it exploring the area of Olvera street.
Located in downtown LA, Olvera street is now a market street with Mexican themed stalls and restaurants but it also hosts ancient buildings that tell the story of Los Angeles as it used to be.
With kids, make sure you explore the pueblo museum, which preserves an old house and school!
See the fancy cars in Beverly Hills
If you have a child who loves cars, there is no better place for fancy car spotting than Beverly Hills!
Adults can enjoy strolling down famous Rodeo drive, the whole family can enjoy the Beverly gardens and car loving kids can spend hours mesmerizes by the fancy wheels zooming up and down the place.
Play to your heart content in Santa Monica
The coastal city of Santa Monica is like a huge playground for families.
Here you have a stunning beach, lovely playgrounds (Tongva park has a splash area that is just perfect), the famous Santa Monica Pier with rides, restaurants and the aquarium of the bay and you even have a pedestrianized town center!
You can spend a full day here or even use Santa Monica as a base to explore Los Angeles proper: accommodation here is plentiful and the atmosphere family friendly
Join the skaters in Venice beach
Skating is an iconic LA activity and there is no better place to get acquainted with it than Venice beach.
While its famous boardwalk may not be your ideas of a family friendly attractions (read here to see why) Venice beach is fantastic for kids.
Start with the skaters, lunge on the beach, have a bite on Abbot Kinney and then explore the canals for the perfect family afternoon in Los Angeles
Relax in stunning Hermosa beach
If beach and family friendly atmosphere is what you are looking for then head no farther than beautiful Hermosa Beach.
One of the beach cities making up South Bay, Hermosa has a glorious sandy beach, a lovely plaza with family friendly restaurants, a nice playground and an all round family friendly Southern California vibe.
This is the place we called home for a summer and truly made us fall for the LA area.
Explore the Last Bookstore and its tunnel of books
The Last bookstore appears on pretty much any list of peculiar bookshops around the world and with good reason.
As well as being a paradise for book lovers, its upstairs has peculiar displays of books such as book tunnels and windows!
A trip here is fun and one of the best things to do in LA with kids if you are in the downtown area
Spend a day in Malibu
Famous Malibu is a coastal, hilly area of LA immediately to the North of the city and it is as dreamy as the movies suggest.
Here you have a lovely pier with restaurants, a fantastic beach to splash about and spot surfers (they are amazing, it is called surf riders beach for a reason).
It also has a lovely shopping center with boutiques, restaurants and a kids playground. You can read our guide to one day in Malibu here.
More fun things to so with kids in Los Angeles
Visit Universal studios Hollywood
A Universal Studios Hollywood is a quintessential LA experience and one that can be great fun for kids and adults alike!
You can take their world famous studio tour, take the rides but most of all visit their Harry Potter world (as well as Minion Meyhem, Water world, Springfield and more!).
If you are looking for theme park entertainment in the heart of Los Angeles, this is the place for you however, some tips before your visit are useful!
I recommend you start from this guide about the best time for visiting Universal Studios Hollywood: it is packed with useful info you will need to make the most of your experience!
Visit the beautiful California Science center
Space loving kids cannot miss a trip to the California space center which currently host wonderful space exhibits and the space shuttle endeavour!
The science center hosts both permanent and temporary exhibition and is a wonderful family friendly museum in LA for kids and adults alike
Immerse yourself in Little Tokyo
For a taste of Japanese culture in the heart of LA, head to Little Tokyo, a family friendly area close to Downtown LA.
In its center, you have the pedestrian friendly Japanese Village Plaza with many Japanese restaurants and shops, courtyards decorated with lanterns and a wishing tree.
Kids (and adults) can get strips of wishing paper from the shop beside and tie them to the tree for a chance of them becoming true.
Admire art in LACMA
LACMA is not a museum for kids but one that is easy to enjoy as a family.
Outside, several installations will capture the children attention and nice cafes and terraces make is easy to mix an afternoon at the museums with running around opportunities for the youngest in the family.
Take a walk in the arts district
The LA art district is an interesting and fun place to visit with kids.
Here you can take a full on art walking tour (not for kids, but family friendly) or just enjoy the art on your own.
This area is also full of hip cafes and ice cream shops and also has the family friendly Houser and Wirth garden, a great outside space for adults and kids with chicken coop and beds of herbs and vegetables!
Take a break in LA Grand Park
In the heart of downtown LA, Grand Park is a great place for kids.
Here you have lovely playgrounds (shaded!), water games and several interesting areas and statues such as the memorial of historical American flags.
From here you have lovely views over the LA city hall and you are a stone throw from the Disney music hall which has a design so peculiar, it is worth seeing
Take the Angels flight railway
One of the most peculiar attractions in LA Is the Angels flight railway, a bright orange cable car!
It sits unexpectedly right in the heart of LA and it has a vintage, fun vibe about it that will make it fun for kids and adults.
Eat to your heart content in Grand Central market
Just in front of the Angels flight railway sits a wonderful place for a family meal: the Los Angeles central market.
Packed with restaurants and with a bustling atmosphere, here you have a food from all over the world and a fun, buzzy vibe
Take a surf lesson in El Porto
If your children want to partake of the vibrant surfing culture of LA, there is no better way than with a lesson in El Porto.
A perfect beach for beginners, if you get a private family class you have an experienced, friendly instructor just for them for a hour of absolute fun!
Go roller blading along the beach
Roller blading along a sandy beach with palm trees swaying in the wind from the Pacific is a bucket list item for many and there are several places for you to make this dream come true!
You can roller braked (or cycle) from Santa Monica Beach to Venice or also from Hermosa Beach to Manhattan Beach, both excellent, family friendly places in LA
Relax in Annenberg community house
The beach but also a pool, a playground, umbrellas and restaurants: this and more you will find in Annenberg community house, THE beach destination for families in Santa Monica.
Pasadena children museum
This is on my kids’ list of things to do in LA the next time we go. Located in Pasadena, the museum is for children age 10 and under and has outdoor exhibits and even water mud features to play and learn!
Have a baked bear
Los Angeles has some amazing food but my children have no doubt: the best of all is Baked Bear ice cream!
Baked bear is from Southern California (I believe it was born in San Diego) and specializes in ice cream sandwiches.
You can pick your ice cream flavor and have it sandwiched between chocolate chip cookies, butter cookies or a brownie and even get it sprinkled with your favorite topper.
You will know a Baked Bear shop is nearby from the deliciously buttery smell from their ovens. Amazing!
Slide down OUE Skyspace LA
If your kids (or you) like a thrill, then you will love the slide of OUE skyspace in downtown LA, a glass, fully enclosed slide at the very top of a skyscraper!
Do not even begin to thinking about it if you are afraid of heights (although the view from the terrace is amazing)
Soak up the magic at Disneyland
I couldn’t possibly end a list of the best things to do in Los Angeles with kids without at least a mention of Disneyland, the magical child friendly attraction par excellence.
Disneyland is indeed magic although it only partially belongs in this list since it is not in LA but Anaheim, a different town you reach with a drive south along the freeway.
The best way to visit is to plan a full day there if the visit is part of a family vacation in the LA area or just book a hotel at the resort if it is your only destination in this part of California.
I hope you enjoyed this list of kids activities in LA and it helped you plan your visit to Los Angeles with kids. Safe travels!