The Ultimate Kids Guide to Los Angeles

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

True story: Los Angeles’s well-deserved moniker as the Entertainment Capital of the World applies to residents and tourists of all ages. Whether you’re a parent to an adorable animal lover, a fearless explorer, a budding intellectual, or an aspiring artist or performer, Los Angeles provides myriad opportunities for kids with big dreams, inquisitive minds, and adventurous spirits. Here’s a look at some of the most engaging activities for kids in Los Angeles.

The famous "Dueling Dinos" in the Grand Foyer of the Natural History Museum | Photo: Yuri Hasegawa
The famous "Dueling Dinos" in the Grand Foyer of the Natural History Museum  |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

For Inquiring Minds

Curious kids will have their interests piqued at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, the California Science Center, and at the Discovery Science Foundation’s Discovery Cube. Whether your child has a passion for science, the history of humankind, dinosaurs, technology, or the environment, when it comes to learning Los Angeles gets an A+ for its world-class museums.  

Moon jellies at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
Moon jellies at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium  |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

For Animal Lovers

Kids who love critters big and small will find plenty of opportunities to get up close and personal with animal friends in Los Angeles. To learn about the creatures who call the Pacific Ocean home, consider a visit to the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro - kids will love learning about the local sea life both through indoor exhibits and outside along the Cabrillo Coastal Park. The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach features 11,000 animal exhibits, opportunities to feed fish, watch otters and seals at play, and much more.

If you’re looking to get hands on with mammals, consider a visit to the Studio City Farmers Market on Sundays from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., where pony rides and a petting zoo allow kids to pet and play with goats, ponies, and more. Or consider a trip to Sylmar, where more than 50 different species – including bobcats, porcupines, monkeys, and sloths—are exhibited along a pretty, walkable, landscape at the Wildlife Learning Center.

 

Franklin Lake at Franklin Canyon Park
Franklin Lake at Franklin Canyon Park | Photo: Ken Shelton, Discover Los Angeles Flickr Pool

Enjoy animals in natural environments with an afternoon visit to Franklin Canyon Park. At this 600+ acre park located between Beverly Hills and the San Fernando Valley, you’ll find loads of fish, turtles, ducks, and birds as you stroll near the lake, past the ponds, and along more than five miles of hiking trails.

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

For Aspiring Artists and Performers

If you’ve got a young artist or creative in the making, consider taking a class, signing up for an art exploration workshop, or indulging in open studio time at Purple Twig. Likewise, through the Hammer Museum, kids ages 5+ can create art through “Art Without Walls” at various offsite locations. Families can also partake in Gallery Games and appreciate the museum’s exhibits in Westwood Village.

The Getty Center also offers building, drawing, and designing opportunities in the Family Room near the East Pavilion. Likewise, at the 21,000 square foot Cayton Children’s Museum at Santa Monica Place, kids and families will have a blast indulging in arts and cultural programming, and/or taking advantage of the new facility’s art studios.

 

 

Wurlitzer pipe organ | Photo courtesy of El Capitan Theatre
Wurlitzer pipe organ | Photo courtesy of El Capitan Theatre

For kids who love live performances, Los Angeles has everything you need. Take in a National Children’s Chorus concert at venues ranging from Royce Hall at UCLA to the world famous Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown L.A. Or, check out the El Capitan Theatre programming in Hollywood. From kid-friendly movies to meet and greets with favorite characters, the El Capitan hosts family-friendly events all year long.

At the Southern California Children’s Museum, kids are also invited to participate in interactive fun through exhibits including the Bob Baker Marionette Theater, where children can meet the marionettes and the puppeteers (through May 2019).

Kidspace Children's Museum

For Active Kids and Young Athletes

For kids with seemingly endless energy, and/or a passion for sports, Los Angeles provides loads of opportunities for activity or spectatorship. Calorie and energy burning activities in L.A. run the gamut from endless biking opportunities to outdoor climbing at Kidspace Children’s Museum. An afternoon spent at Sky Zone trampoline park or We Rock The Spectrum Kids Gym will also provide ample opportunity for exercise and fun. Of course, with professional and college sports teams galore, the L.A. sports scene is alive and kicking all year long.

Solstice Canyon in Malibu | Photo: Wing Sze Lee, NPS
Solstice Canyon in Malibu | Photo: Wing Sze Lee, NPS
Eaton Canyon Falls   |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa
Eaton Canyon Falls  |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

For Explorers and Adventurers

If your family includes a natural born adventurer or explorer, Los Angeles is your city. Kid-friendly hikes are in abundance here, and some such as Temescal Canyon, Solstice Canyon, and Eaton Canyon even lead to little waterfalls.  Or, pack a picnic and head to Rancho Palos Verdes to the explore the trails, beach, and tidepools at Abalone Cove Shoreline Park and the nearby White Point Nature Preserve in San Pedro.

Interactive opportunities for kids to explore L.A. (all the while earning prizes and badges) are offered through the choose-your-own-adventure style of games from Agents of Discovery’s SoCal Explorer 2.0 campaign. Download the Agents of Discovery mobile gaming app to create customized discovery games, which will lead kids on adventures to landmarks in Los Angeles including Griffith Park, Echo Park Lake, the South L.A. Wetlands Park, and dozens of other locations.

For Thrill Seekers

Kids who thrive on adrenaline will have their thirst for excitement sufficiently quenched in Los Angeles. Six Flags Magic Mountain and Universal Studios Hollywood have some of the nation’s most thrilling amusement park rides, while on the coast older thrill-seekers can soar through the air with trapeze lessons or plummet to the ground on the Pacific Plunge Tower ride at Pacific Park.

 

El Porto Manhattan Beach Surfer
El Porto in Manhattan Beach | Photo: JKG II, Discover Los Angeles Flickr Pool

For Water Lovers

With miles of beaches and our renowned surf culture, there’s no better place than L.A. to indulge in surf lessons. We recommend the Surf Concierge at the Westin Los Angeles Airport, which provides surfing lessons at nearby Manhattan Beach.

Other fun options for making the most of the coast include standup paddle boarding, kayaking, and whale watching trips available in Marina del Rey.

Raging Waters Los Angeles kids
Photo: Raging Waters Los Angeles, Facebook

Away from the beaches, there’s also plenty of ways to enjoy the water. Near Downtown L.A., kids will love pedaling around Echo Park Lake in swan-shaped pedal boats. For bonafide wet and wild amusement, a trip to Six Flags Hurricane Harbor or Raging Waters Los Angeles also makes for a perfect family day.


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