If you’re visiting LA with children, then you need to check out our top list of things to do in Los Angeles with kids. Blessed with sun and great weather all year round, LA is a great place to explore with your kids year-round! From going to Disneyland, or exploring at the Kidspace Children’s Museum in Pasadena, or being immersed in the ocean at the amazing Aquarium of the Pacific, your kids are sure to have an unforgettable time. If you’re looking for generally fun things to do in LA, check out our exhaustive list of the 50 best things to do in Los Angeles.
Get your trip to LA with your kids off to a great start by reviewing our guide to the top 12 interesting and popular destinations in LA for kids.
1. Griffith Park
If you are looking for the absolute best view of LA on a clear day or night, this is your spot. At the main lookout point, you can start to take in the massive sprawl of the city. With seemingly endless hiking trails, this park may deceive you with its sheer size. It is so close to downtown LA but when you venture further in, you can feel lost in the wilderness! This should definitely be on your todo list if you want the quintessential city view.
What can we say? Does “The Happiest Place On Earth” sound like a place that you’d want to visit? When it comes to fun for the whole family, Disneyland and their adjacent park, California Adventure, can literally take multiple days to fully explore if you have the time. If you are just going for the day, bring your best pair of walking shoes as you will probably cover lots of ground. From all the themed rides, to the various mini-productions throughout the day and into the daily nighttime fireworks display, there are non-stop activities. And, with Disneyland’s new “Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge” area open, there are even more areas of the park take in.
3. Kidspace Children’s Museum
Your kids are going to love the Kidspace Children’s Museum in Pasadena. opened in 2004, this unique museum has over 40 hands-on exhibits that encourage kids to learn and interact. Seeing over 400,000 visitors each year, this museum will be a great activity that you and your kids are going to love!
4. Santa Monica Pier
The Santa Monica Pier should be on everyone’s LA bucket-list. This pier is like a mini amusement park sitting out over the Pacific Ocean featuring restaurants, a Ferris wheel, and a roller coaster. Positioned close to the downtown Santa Monica shopping, it’s a convenient spot to add to your Santa Monica day trip.
Originally built in 1909, The Santa Monica Pier has shown up frequently over the years in popular tv shows and many hit movies, such as Iron Man and Forest Gump.
5. Universal Studios Hollywood
If you like movies, then you’ll probably like Universal Studios. Founded in 1910 in Los Angeles as a tourist attraction where visitors could get an “inside look” what went into filming their favorite movies. It has grown significantly throughout the years and in addition to still operating movie studios, it offers amazing rides, shows, and live entertainment based on popular movies and tv shows. In fact, Universal Studios Theme Parks is the 3rd largest theme park operator in the world based on visits per year. If you are looking for a fun day for the entire family, Universal Studios Theme Park is an truly entertaining option.
6. Zuma Beach
Though this beach stretches literally for miles of coastline, it can be hard to find a good spot to lay down a towel on warm summer days. Zuma Beach is a great option if you want to see some of the pristine Malibu coastline and get a taste for a beach that’s frequented by thousands of locals every day in the peak summer months. You’ll see thousands of sunbathers, and the dozens of lifeguards that are working hard to keep everyone safe in the water.
7. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
The Los Angeles Natural History Museum is a great option for curious kids. With thousands of interesting exhibits and specimens, you are taken on a journey through the historical record of animals, fossils, and geology. This museum and very large and sees about 1,000,000 visitors per year. We’d recommend this museum to anyone that has kids who love dinosaurs, animals, or just science in general.
8. IN-N-Out Burger
A Classic West Coast favorite, In-N-Out Burger stands alone at the top of the fast-food food chain. Unlike other fast-food restaurants, here you are presented with a purposefully sparse and easy-to-read menu that only serves a few main items, but has these few things perfected. No frozen food to be found here – everything is fresh, and you can even watch as they smash the freshly peeled potatoes through a cutter and into the oil to become the golden brown french-fries that you are eating minutes later. There is probably no other restaurant that typifies the California lifestyle better than In-N-Out, so you’d better add this to your LA todo list pronto!
9. Tongva Park
Tongva Park is a beautiful 6-acre park that sits on the cliffs in Santa Monica overlooking the Pacific ocean. This park is a great destination for parents with active kids, as it features multiple playgrounds, slides, fountains, picnic areas, and restrooms. This park is located in the heart of Santa Monica, so if you’re planning on shopping or visiting sites in Santa Monica, we’d recommend a stop at this fun park.
10. Catalina Island
If you want to get off the mainland and experience the ocean and island life, you are in luck. Catalina Island is a beautiful destination – Just 29 miles off the coast of LA. We suggest making a day trip of it by taking the 1-hour ferry ride from Long Beach harbor. Catalina is a hilly island with the main town, Avalon, situated above a gorgeous cove and harbor with aqua blue water. There are many great restaurants, bars, and shopping along the waterfront, and many hotel options if you want to stay for an extended visit. Here, there are water activities everywhere: You can go snorkeling or scuba diving, take a speed boat tour, or just relax on the sandy beach of the Avalon cove after a great meal. A trip out to Catalina island will be well worth it, so book your ferry ride today!
11. The La Brea Tar Pits and Museum
The La Brea Tar Pits are a group of naturally occurring tar seepages where natural asphalt has been seeping through the ground for tens of thousands of years. Throughout the millennia, various animals have gotten trapped in the tar and become preserved, leaving a trail of animal bones for archeologists to discover and study. The Museum showcases many of the dinosaurs and animals that have been recovered from the tar and is a really interesting and educational activity. The tar pits and museum are surrounded by a large park, so it makes for a great destination if you have children.
12. Los Angeles Zoo
If you have kids, then you should definitely consider visiting the sprawling Los Angeles Zoo. This massive zoo, operating completely by the city of LA, was originally opened in 1912 and sits on 133 acres. Compared to the naturally dry surroundings of LA, Zoo visitors are treated to surprisingly lush landscaping throughout the grounds and the Zoo has been designated as a certified botanical garden. So, for a refreshing break from the busy cityscape, try taking a stroll through the LA Zoo to cool off and recharge!
13. Aquarium of the Pacific
If you want to experience the sea like never before, you need to visit the Aquarium of the Pacific. This impressive aquarium is located in Long Beach along the harbor and is visited by nearly 2 million people each year. With many amazing exhibits, you will be immersed in the ocean and sea life like never before. For example, one of the most popular exhibits is the “Shark Lagoon” that features a 10,000-foot tank with hundreds of sharks and rays. Another great spot if you have kids, we would highly recommend this aquarium as a top destination in LA.
14. Griffith Observatory
Sitting on top of a hill in Griffith Park, the Griffith Observatory has arguably the best view of Los Angeles of any building you can visit. With a close view of the Hollywood sign, the observatory is a popular tourist destination and can be visited most times of the day. Along with a large park area for relaxing, the observatory has multiple displays and space-related exhibits and has been free to the public since it opened in 1935. If you visit at night, you’ll be treated to the opportunity to look through the main refraction telescope. If you do, you’ll be in good company, as over 7 million people have viewed the stars through this particular telescope, making the most viewed telescope in the world.
15. Malibu Creek State Park
Just inland from the city of Malibu, the Malibu Creek State Park seems a world away from Los Angeles. Feature miles of hiking trails, swimming holes, and multiple camping sites, this wilderness area is a great escape from the hustle of the big city and not too far away. This area is also a popular spot for rock climbers and there are many remote and popular walls to climb. If you are craving some outdoor time, then head up to this amazing state park for the day, or make it a camping trip for the weekend. You might find yourself refreshed and rejuvenated.