The Best Things to Do With Kids in LA This Winter

Family Room at the Getty Center

Family Room at the Getty Center | Photo: J. Paul Getty Trust


Though winters are pretty mild in Los Angeles, cooler temps are a great excuse to explore the plethora of indoor activities for kids around town. From art and science museums to sports and cooking classes, there’s plenty for families to see, do and make in L.A. this winter.

Noah's Ark at Skirball Cultural Center

Noah's Ark at Skirball Cultural Center

 |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Get Creative

Most of L.A.’s art museums offer family programs, giving kids a chance to get creative. 

  • After visiting the Noah’s Ark exhibit at the Skirball Cultural Center, families can build, tinker and make art in the museum’s Family Art Studio (Saturday-Sunday only).
  • At the Getty Center and Getty Villa, kids can earn Art Detective badges by picking up Art Detective cards at the entrance and uncover mysteries about works of art. Both museums also host hands-on workshops and family-friendly programs.
  • On the second Sunday of the month, Craft Contemporary hosts CraftLab Workshops such as building terrariums, making piñatas and molding clay pinch pots.
  • LACMA hosts Andell Family Sundays with workshops and family-friendly gallery tours of current exhibitions. The Boone Children's Gallery features pop-up art making activities and Friday afternoon story time.
  • Similarly, The Broad offers Family Weekend Workshops twice a year, engaging kids with projects such as print-making inspired by Andy Warhol’s works. The workshops are free, but tickets must be reserved in advance.
LA Phil Toyota Symphonies for Youth at Walt Disney Concert Hall

Toyota Symphonies for Youth | Photo: LA Phil

Tune Into Opera and Classical Music

Both the LA Opera and Los Angeles Philharmonic offer Saturday morning programs for children and families during the winter months and beyond.

  • Performed at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Saturday Mornings at the Opera features kid-friendly operas along with pre-show workshops and special souvenirs. The 2019/20 season productions, The Marriage of Figueroa and Mozart Opera Tales are currently sold out, but tickets may become available closer to the performance dates. LA Opera also hosts Family Days, which include meeting the cast, cookie decorating, games and more.
  • The LA Phil’s Toyota Symphonies for Youth feature abridged productions such as Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf accompanied by dance and narration. Arrive at 10am for an hour of art, movement and music workshops before the concert.
Saber-toothed cat from Ice Age Encounters at the La Brea Tar Pits | Photo: Jim Henson's Creature Shop

Saber-toothed cat from Ice Age Encounters at the La Brea Tar Pits | Photo: Jim Henson's Creature Shop

Explore a Science Museum

There’s always something to see at the Natural History Museum, from exhibits dedicated to dinosaurs, African and North American mammals, gems & minerals, to the sprawling outdoor gardens. The NHM also hosts sleepovers a few times a year for kids ages 5-12 to enjoy an overnight museum experience. 

Also located at Exposition Park, the California Science Center is home to the Space Shuttle Endeavour, and also features a body simulator in the World of Life hall and a 188,000-gallon tank with 1,500 fish, kelp and other marine animals.

Fossil-loving kiddos can't miss the La Brea Tar Pits, where fossils dating back to the Ice Age are being actively excavated.

Hall of the Eye at Griffith Observatory

Hall of the Eye at Griffith Observatory

 |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Gaze Up at the Stars

The Griffith Observatory invites visitors of all ages to weigh yourself on different planets; learn all about the moon, eclipses and telescopes; and enjoy a planetarium show. Parking is limited, consider parking and hiking up to the observatory or taking the Parkline Shuttle (weekends only).

LA Kings Kids Days at STAPLES Center

Photo: LA Kings

Cheer for the Home Teams

Cooler weather is an ideal time to catch some indoor sports around the city. Take in a gymnastics meet or men’s or women’s basketball game at UCLA. Watch the Sparks or Lakers at STAPLES Center, or bundle up for a Kings hockey game.

New for the 2019-20 season, the LA Kings are featuring Kids Days - Saturday games that start at 1pm and include pre-game Fan Fests at L.A. LIVE, new interactive areas, and more. Upcoming Kids Days games include the New Jersey Devils (Feb. 29), Minnesota Wild (Mar. 7), and Anaheim Ducks (Mar. 14).

Disney/Pixar Cars Mechanical Institute at the Petersen Automotive Museum

Disney/Pixar Cars Mechanical Institute | Photo: Petersen Automotive Museum

Take the Checkered Flag

From classic cars to Lightning McQueen, see a variety of wheels at the Petersen Automotive Museum, located along Museum Row. Kids can play, color and learn about the design and engineering of cars at the Cars Mechanical Institute, inspired by the Disney/Pixar Cars animated movies.

Mista Cookie Jar performs at Children's Book World

Mista Cookie Jar performs at Children's Book World | Photo: @mistacookiejar, Instagram

Story Time is the Best Time

There’s a bit of magic to visiting a brick-and-mortar bookstore these days. In West L.A., the beloved Children’s Book World has been around since 1986, stocking its shelves with all manner of children’s and young adult books as well as regularly hosting story time and music events.

Have Some Retro Fun

The whole family can enjoy some retro fun at a roller rink or bowling alley in L.A.

  • Skateland in Northridge and Moonlight Rollerway in Glendale offer old-fashioned fun, including skating lessons for kids on Saturday mornings.
  • A favorite for bowling, Bowlero has several locations in the Los Angeles area, including Mar Vista, Westchester, Woodland Hills, Pasadena and Arcadia. Bowlero hosts birthday parties for kids ages 4-12.
  • Restored and reopened by 1933 Group in 2016, Highland Park Bowl is a great option for families with older children and teens.
Kaleidoscope Entrance at the Kidspace Children's Museum

Kaleidoscope Entrance | Photo: Kidspace Children's Museum, Facebook

Climb, Play, Imagine

Younger kids will love Kidspace Children’s Museum in Pasadena, which has both indoor and outdoor spaces. Explore and try climbing structures, physical experiments, an arts & science studio, and a mini arroyo modeled after Pasadena’s own canyon areas.

Boys making pasta at The Gourmandise School in Santa Monica

Kids Cooking Class | Photo: The Gourmandise School, Facebook

Cooking for Kids

Get kids in the kitchen at The Gourmandise School at Santa Monica Place, which offers cooking and baking classes for children (6-12) as well as teens (12-17). Typically held on Saturday mornings, the 2.5 hour classes range from making tacos to baking French macarons to rolling sushi. The cost of a one-time class is $75. 

Launched in 2019, Foodschool in Santa Monica is an all-vegetarian cooking program solely for kids, where the focus is not only on preparing tasty, healthy dishes, but also learning how food grows, how different cultures may use the same ingredients, and the history of food. Foodschool offers after school classes, Saturday classes as well as camps.