Whether you’re looking for educational activities, entertainment ideas, or merely want to enjoy the outdoors, LA has it all - and it’s at your fingertips all year long. Here’s a look at top family-friendly and exceedingly fun things to do in the City of Angels.
LOS ANGELES ZOO
Opened in November 1966, the Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens is home to more than 2,100 animals representing more than 270 species, many rare or endangered. The kids will love the Tom Mankiewicz Conservation Carousel and young animals like three-year-old Angela, the first gorilla born at the Zoo in more than 20 years.
At Kindred Spirits Care Farm in Chatsworth, families can visit with rescued animals on Sundays and enjoy a vegan meal.
Further out, The Gentle Barn in Santa Clarita lets you get up close and personal with animals rescued from severe abuse and neglect; and others that were just too old, sick, lame, or scared to be adopted into alternate homes.
Officially known as the Marvin Braude Bike Trail, The Strand takes cyclists on a 22-mile coastal journey from Will Rogers State Beach to Torrance Beach. Check out Discover LA's two-part guide to navigating this spectacular trek.
L.A. RIVER BIKE PATH
If you prefer the river to the ocean, the L.A. River Bike Path takes riders through ten miles of the Glendale Narrows. Discover LA's guide to biking Griffith Park includes info on accessing the bike path.
There are bike paths that run along two Metro routes: the 18-mile Orange Line Bikeway, which follows the G Line (Orange) from North Hollywood to Chatsworth; and the Expo Line Bikeway that parallels the E Line (Expo) from Exposition Park to Santa Monica.
For more routes, visit the L.A. County Bikeways Map.
Arts District super arcade Two Bit Circus merges high-tech, carnival-style games with story rooms and virtual reality for an experience that can last most of the day. Family packages are available on the weekends.
For a quick round of pinball in NELA with the kids, head to Revenge Of. The Glassell Park comic book shop is also home to a small arcade with a stellar selection of new pinball machines.
While Barcade LA in Highland Park is usually reserved for adults, the first Sunday of the month is Family Day from noon to 5pm.
Little Tokyo’s XLanes boasts 80+ games in addition to 30 lanes and karaoke. San Fernando Valley favorite Corbin Bowl has a bonus for families who love live music - their entertainment schedule includes all-ages shows. Check the bowling alley’s calendar for updates.
At Sherman Oaks Castle Park, families can play a round of miniature golf before hitting the arcade or taking swings in a batting cage.
SUNSET RANCH HOLLYWOOD
For an unforgettable horseback adventure in the Hollywood Hills, book the Mulholland Trail or Mt. Hollywood Tour at Sunset Ranch. (All riders must be at least 8 years old.)
If roller skating is more your thing, get ready to roll at Moonlight Rollerway in Glendale, which hosts all-ages open skates, Roller Roo (beginner's class for kids under 16) and Super Skater Kids (skills program).
The LA Kings Burbank Sports Center hosts an all-ages Friday night skate from 6:30-9:30pm, Family Skate Nights on weekends, and a Youth Roller Hockey League.
Founded in 2003, the famed L.A. Derby Dolls offer a Juniors program that's open to skaters of all skill levels ages 7 to 17.
Families can drop into local skateparks like Venice Beach Skatepark, Belvedere Skatepark and The Cove.
HOLIDAY ICE SKATING
In the winter - yes, LA has winters - outdoor ice rinks across the city invite the whole family to enjoy fresh air and holiday fun.
BOB BAKER MARIONETTE THEATER
Founded in 1963, the Bob Baker Marionette Theater has entertained generations of children with whimsical shows presented cabaret style and in-the-round, giving kids an up-close experience of puppet magic.
SKIRBALL CULTURAL CENTER
Inspired by the Noah's Ark permanent exhibit, family-friendly shows at the Skirball Cultural Center include Music Jams on Sunday mornings and Thursday afternoon Story Time in the Amphitheater.
One of the largest performing arts centers in the country, the Music Center includes world-class venues (Ahmanson Theatre, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Mark Taper Forum, Walt Disney Concert Hall) and is the home of renowned resident companies – the LA Phil, LA Opera, Center Theatre Group and the Los Angeles Master Chorale.
The All-Ages Programs at the Music Center include the popular Dance DTLA during the summer, and holiday events like the July 4th Block Party, Día de los Muertos and L.A. County Holiday Celebration.
One of LA's most popular outdoor movie series, Street Food Cinema screens decades of films across the city with a wide selection of food truck options. Children under 5 are free and leashed dogs are welcome.
Some of LA's best movie theatres offer family-friendly experiences. The Disney-owned El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood offers special advance screenings like the live action version of The Little Mermaid. The theatre also presents pre-movie stage shows and themed exhibits.
The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures screens Family Matinees every Saturday at 11am.
Quentin Tarantino's New Beverly Cinema hosts the monthly Saturday morning Cartoon Club and Family Matinees at 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
The Alamo Drafthouse calendar includes series like Tales of Studio Ghibli, Brunch Screenings and Movie Parties with interactive props. A Season Pass is available.
Museums across Los Angeles offer family-friendly experiences and learning opportunities.
Take the family for a day trip to Exposition Park, home to some of LA's greatest cultural institutions, including the California African American Museum, California Science Center and Natural History Museum of L.A. County. Exposition Park is conveniently located off the Expo Park/USC Station of the Metro E Line (Expo).
EL PUEBLO DE LOS ANGELES
A department of the City of Los Angeles, El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument is a living museum in the city's oldest district. The cultural attractions include América Tropical, Avila Adobe, Chinese American Museum, Italian American Museum, LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes and Plaza Firehouse. While you're exploring the museums, you can grab a bite and shop the vendors along Olvera Street.
Located along Wilshire Boulevard in Mid-City, Museum Row is another cultural hub with several of LA's most popular and renowned museums. The La Brea Tar Pits takes the family back in time to prehistoric Los Angeles. Other museums include LACMA, Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Petersen Automotive Museum and Craft Contemporary.
Spanning more than 4,200 acres, Griffith Park is one of the largest urban parks in the country. For aspiring Carl Sagans, the iconic Griffith Observatory is a must. Celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2023, The Autry Museum hosts a weekend Family Play Space and the annual Great Big Family Play Day in May.
Train fans will love the Travel Town Museum, which is open seven days a week and offers picnic areas and Birthday Party Cars to rent. The Melody Ranch Special, a miniature train once owned by Gene Autry, takes passengers on a ride for two loops around the museum grounds.
Located next door to Travel Town, the Los Angeles Live Steamers Railroad Museum also features a scale model train that gives rides on Sundays from 11am to 3pm. Walt Disney was a member of LALS and the actual barn that was in his backyard is open to the public every third Sunday from 11am-3pm.
The award-winning Noah's Ark at the Skirball Cultural Center invites visitors of all generations to play, climb, build, make-believe, and make friends while exploring an 8,000 square-foot wooden ark filled to the rafters with whimsical animals.
Touting "the Power of Play," the Cayton Children's Museum at Santa Monica Place offers 21,000 square feet of discovery-based exhibits, from a real-life helicopter to a miniature marketplace to reactive VR and much more.
Located in Pasadena, Kidspace is designed to delight and engage children emotionally, intellectually, and physically through joyful, kid-driven experiences. All children are invited to play, discover, create, thrive, and explore the world with curiosity and kindness.
Parks & Gardens
Gloria Molina Grand Park (aka "Grand Park") stretches 12 acres from The Music Center to City Hall. The year-round calendar includes free family-friendly activities like Easy Mornings, Drag Queen Story Time, and Downtown LA's largest free Fourth of July celebration. The park is open daily from 5:30am to 10pm. Go Metro by taking either the B Line (Red) or the D Line (Purple) to the Civic Center/Grand Park Station.
Easily accessed from the Chinatown Station of the Metro A Line (Blue), the 32-acre Los Angeles State Historic Park is dotted with art and dog-friendly. It’s a popular spot for kite-flying and hosts outdoor movie series like Cinespia and Street Food Cinema. Taking place the second and fourth Wednesday, the monthly Art in the Park with Xochitl is free and open to all ages. Art supplies are provided.
Also located in Downtown LA, the dog-friendly Elysian Park offers easy hiking trails and bike paths, basketball courts, a children's play area, BBQ pits and plenty of picnic spots.
Griffith Park boasts more than 50 miles of hiking trails, and is home to family-friendly attractions like the Los Angeles Zoo, The Autry and Travel Town.
Lake Balboa / Anthony C. Beilenson Park in Van Nuys is famous for its 2,000 cherry blossoms, and is also popular for swan pedal boats, kayaking and fishing.
The whole family will love exploring the Nature Gardens at the Natural History Museum. Experience LA wildlife at the Sarah Meeker Jensen Pond and the Living Wall; dip your toes in the water at the Urban Waterfall & Creek Bed; and dig into compost and see how roots grow in the Get Dirty Zone.
Located in La Cañada Flintridge 20 minutes from Downtown LA, Descanso Gardens offers educational programs like Habitats (TK-2nd), Adaptations (3rd-5th), Nature Guides and the beloved Enchanted Railroad, a 1/8th-scale replica of a diesel train. (Currently closed for repairs.)
Acorns & Oaks is a six-week parent-child educational program that takes place in the gardens of The Arboretum. The program is designed to provide outdoor, nature-based learning experiences for babies, toddlers and children up to age 5. Acorns & Oaks is mixed-age for a “family learning” style, and siblings are warmly encouraged. The Arboretum also hosts Family Adventure Night Hikes, and birthday parties that include hands-on experiences led by Arboretum Educators in a private party space.
Featuring hundreds of tropical butterflies in an immersive experience, SOAR is back for its third year at South Coast Botanic Garden from May 1 through August 31. New for 2023, the Butterfly Feeding Experience (additional $6) invites guests to feed the exhibit's butterflies with nectar.
The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens hosts several Family Workshops and activities. At Children's Saturday Workshops, families create fantasy bouquets and make cacti-shaped cupcakes. Check The Huntington's calendar for upcoming dates.
Sweets and Treats
The family-owned Fugetsu-Do has specialized in making mochi for more than 120 years. The Little Tokyo shop also stocks plenty of sweet and savory snacks.
Founded in 1938, Phoenix Bakery in Chinatown is known for its strawberry and whipped cream cake, which you can buy by the slice if you’re on-the-go.
Indulge your sweet tooth at the historic Grand Central Market, from The Donut Man and McCconnell’s Fine Ice Creams to La Huerta Candy, which offers classic American candies, novelty Mexican nuts, dried fruit and much more.
Open 24/7 in Koreatown, the family-owned California Donuts is well-known for their IG-ready panda and unicorn shaped creations.
Galco’s Soda Pop Stop in Highland Park is packed with a wild variety of sodas for the kids, plus beer and wine for the grown-ups.
Founded on Western Avenue in 1921, See's Candies has expanded to nearly 300 locations in L.A. and across the country.
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD
From SUPER NINTENDO WORLD™ World to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ to the classic Studio Tour and much more, the whole family can enjoy a fun-filled day at Universal Studios Hollywood. Go Metro and take the B Line (Red) to the Universal/Studio City Station.
SIX FLAGS MAGIC MOUNTAIN
Located a half-hour north of Downtown LA, Six Flags Magic Mountain boasts more roller coasters (20 and counting!) than any other theme park in the world. There are family-friendly rides throughout the park, from the Road Runner Express in Bugs Bunny World to Whistlestop Park for the little ones.
For beachside fun, head to the West Coast's only amusement park on a pier, Pacific Park at the historic Santa Monica Pier. Play games on the retro midway and watch the sunset over the ocean from the first solar Ferris wheel.