The Best Places for Kids to Get Creative in Los Angeles

A young student learns to scratch at the Beat Junkie Institute of Sound
Photo: Beat Junkie Institute of Sound

Children and teens have plenty of opportunities to get creative in Los Angeles. Our list includes arts programs at cultural institutions, studios and education centers from the San Fernando Valley to San Pedro. Programs range from regularly scheduled classes to drop-in workshops to creative birthday parties for kids and their friends. There are options at different price points and institutions that offer scholarships are noted.

Whether you want to introduce your children to the arts, or they have already expressed an interest they want to pursue, read on for the best places in Los Angeles for kids to get creative.

Family Workshop at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
Family Workshop | Photo: Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

On the first three Saturdays of every month, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures hosts Drop-in Workshops for Families. The events are free with museum admission and open to children ages 2 and older. Projects vary, but are typically related to film. Depending on the week you visit, you and your kids might learn the basics of animation, special effects makeup or costume design. In the process, the kids will start to see how movie magic is made.

Student at Angels Gate Cultural Center
Photo: Angels Gate Cultural Center

Angels Gate Cultural Center

Located at Angels Gate Park in San Pedro, Angels Gate Cultural Center has been a creative hub for the community since the 1970s. Housed in the park's former U.S. Army barracks, the center offers free monthly Family Art Workshops for kids and adults of all ages. (Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.) The workshops are popular, so be sure to register in advance and arrive at the meeting spot on time.

A young student learns to scratch at the Beat Junkie Institute of Sound
Photo: Beat Junkie Institute of Sound

Beat Junkie Institute of Sound

In 2017, legendary DJ crew Beat Junkies founded their own school in Glendale. The Beat Junkie Institute of Sound teaches everything from basic DJ skills to Ableton with a focus on fundamentals. Their “Intro to DJing for Kids” class is an 8-week session where young students learn the basics of the art with vinyl and turntables. If aspiring DJs want to continue in their practice, the 8-month intermediate-advanced course guides students ages 8 to 14 to develop their own style as they start to play with digital DJ gear.

A young girl paints her bowl at Bitter Root Pottery
Adding some color at Bitter Root Pottery | Instagram: @bitterrootpottery

Bitter Root Pottery

Young people with an interest in ceramics can head to Bitter Root Pottery’s Beverly Grove location for the studio’s beginner open wheel sessions. These classes, which are available in the late afternoon on weekdays and weekend mornings, are open to anyone age six and over, making it an ideal opportunity for families with multiple aspiring potters.

Teenage Drama Workshop at CSUN
Teenage Drama Workshop | Photo: CSUN

California State University, Northridge

Since 1958, the Teenage Drama Workshop at CSUN has offered a six-week intensive where students can strengthen their performance, design and writing skills. It’s the longest-running program of its kind in the country and is open to students ages 12 to 18. For musicians, there’s the CSUN Youth Orchestras, which boasts more than 250 students and multiple orchestras. Contact the school for more information on applications and auditions.

Getty Center

Both the Getty Center and Getty Villa offer ample opportunities for kids and teens to get creative with their families. For high school students, both facilities are home to programs that will spark their imagination while preparing them for future education and/or career goals.

Produced in partnership with Self Help Graphics & Art, Impressionist Pastels at the Getty Center invites the whole family to the touch table in the courtyard, where they'll draw with pastels and frame their masterpieces.

The robust Unshuttered initiative invites LA-based teen photographers to apply for an 8-week intensive program that includes behind-the-scenes access to the Getty and close collaboration with mentors.

Outer Peristyle Garden at the Getty Villa
Outer Peristyle Garden at the Getty Villa  |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Getty Villa

The Family Floralia Workshop at the Getty Villa is a free drop-in program that celebrates the ancient season of Floralia, which honors the Roman goddess Flora. Explore the Villa gardens with your family, discover beautiful flowers, then make seed balls to bring home and grow a garden of your own.

The week-long Summer Latin Academy (Academia Aestiva) at the Getty Villa immerses high school students in the language and culture of the ancient Romans. Held the week of June 26, the theme of the 2023 Academia Aestiva is Good and Bad Roman Emperors. The week ends with a trip to the Getty Center so students can view (and hopefully read) Medieval Latin texts.

NexGenLA kids at LACMA
NexGenLA members | Photo: LACMA

Los Angeles County Museum Of Art (LACMA)

The NexGenLA program at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is an ideal way to expose young people to art, and perhaps encourage their creative pursuits in the process. Membership is free and available to L.A. County residents under 17. As members, kids and teens receive free admission for themselves and one guest. Even better, membership provides discounts for art classes at LACMA, which vary in subject and include multi-week sessions for children and teens, workshops for the whole family, as well as art camps during school breaks.

3D Printer at the Octavia Lab in the Central Library
3D Printer at the Octavia Lab | Photo: LAPL

Los Angeles Public Library

Neighborhood branches of the Los Angeles Public Library offer a wide range of creative activities for kids of varying age groups. Everything from story time to seasonal craft sessions to zine-making is listed on the packed LAPL calendar.

Named for beloved science fiction author Octavia E. Butler, the Central Library’s Octavia Lab is filled with high-tech creative tools for kids and teens to build their 3D modeling, 3D printing and digital music skills. Sign up to become a lab member at the Central Library.

“Sing Move Play!” at the Natural History Museum
“Sing Move Play!” | Photo: Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Located at Exposition Park, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County offers members Sing Move Play! The monthly Saturday morning program is geared towards preschool-age children through 1st graders. Children engage with various subjects through song and dance in a half-hour session led by the museum’s performing artists.

Birthday Celebration masks at Purple Twig
Birthday Celebration masks | Photo: Purple Twig

Purple Twig

Planning a birthday party for a group of creative kids? In addition to their calendar of classes and workshops, plus Spring Break and Summer Camps, Purple Twig offers Birthday Celebration packages. For these special sessions, the Eagle Rock art school can accommodate up to 18 kids with projects geared towards either 3 to 6-year-olds or kids over age 6. For an extra $50, Purple Twig will work with you to develop a specialized project based on your party theme.

Tinkering Camp at reDiscover Center
Tinkering Camp | Photo: reDiscover Center

reDiscover Center

Art, science and sustainability converge at reDiscover Center in Culver City. Kids can craft with their families; design and build projects with upcycled materials; and learn how to properly handle tools at Tinkering Open Studio on Sundays or week-long Tinkering Camp. reDiscover offers birthday party packages and scholarships are available for income-qualified children.

Spring Recital at Silverlake Conservatory of Music
Spring Recital | Photo: Silverlake Conservatory of Music

Silverlake Conservatory of Music

Silverlake Conservatory of Music was founded in 2001 by Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Michael “Flea” Balzary and fellow musician Keith “Tree” Barry as a response to arts education cuts at public schools. Since opening at Sunset Junction, SCM has moved to its forever home on Hollywood Boulevard with 13 state-of-the-art studios offering private and group classes, workshops and a summer camp. Whether you’re a parent who wants to instill your baby with a love of music and movement; encourage your 10 year-old’s newfound love of songwriting; or even work on your own vocal chops, there’s a class for you. The Conservatory also boasts a scholarship program that includes free weekly one-on-one lessons, instruments, supplies, ensemble class and summer camp registration.

Music Jam in the Amphitheater at Skirball Cultural Center
Music Jam in the Amphitheater | Photo: Skirball Cultural Center

Skirball Cultural Center

Inspired by the Noah's Ark permanent exhibit at the Skirball Cultural Center, the ongoing Family Art Studio series encourages kids and their parents to explore themes related to museum exhibitions and Jewish tradition through art. Projects change every few weeks - you might design planters on one visit and make puppets the next time. The best part is that participation in the projects is included with Skirball admission. Visitors can make art at any time, but there’s a minimum ratio of one adult and four kids to take part.

Other family friendly activities include Music Jams on Sunday mornings and Thursday afternoon Story Time in the Amphitheater.