One of the most vibrant and exciting cities in the world, Los Angeles is home to some of the best sights, sounds and experiences for families. You might be surprised how many things there are to do in Los Angeles and Southern California with kids.
Whether you’re a local looking for something new or an out-of-towner visiting for the first time, these are the spots my family loves to visit.
From sunning on one of LA’s beautiful beaches to exploring its famed landmarks, let us walk you through everything that makes Los Angeles special: what cultural attractions await, how to spend your days outdoors and how to best plan your locations for minimum (and most organized) time in the car.
After hitting even a few of these famed sites it will have everyone in your family from toddlers to teens asking if they can stay just a little bit longer…
1. Visit the Beach
No trip to Los Angeles is complete without a visit to the beach! There are plenty of beaches to choose from, whether you want to relax on the sand, body surf in the waves or build sandcastles with your little ones. Venice Beach, Santa Monica Beach, Malibu and Manhattan Beach are all great options. They’re on our list of the five cleanest beaches in LA.
If you have a tiny tot you might want Mother’s beach in Marina del Rey, which is a small Cove with no waves and close access to The Cheesecake Factory and other restaurants for food and a playground.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Parking is a big deal at the beach and you need to be prepared for it. Most places take cash and you’re going to pay around $20+ on a weekend or in the height of summer. There are parking meters in Santa Monica that take credit cards but most of those last only two hours. If you’re intent on spending the day at the beach in Los Angeles, it’s best to just pay the parking fee where ever you can find space and enjoy the ocean.
The Marina offers tons of family-friendly water activity including bike rentals, parasailing, boat rentals, whale watching and deep-sea fishing excursions. Marina del Rey also offers easy access to abundant amounts of food and parking.
Families can go to the Fisherman’s Village and spend a good part of the day there. You can rent bikes or kayaks and even visit with sea lions swimming in the harbor and sunning themselves on the docks.
3. Santa Monica Pier and Promenade
The Santa Monica Pier is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Los Angeles, and it’s also a great place to take kids. They will love riding on the Ferris wheel and roller coaster, and you can all enjoy views of the ocean from the pier.
Eager for a fabulous family photo? Bring a tiny tripod with you and shoot it in the Ferris Wheel above the Pacific Ocean. Riding the Ferris Wheel is one of my all-time favorite photo spots with visitors.
SheBuysTravel Tip: You’ll burn through ride tickets fast in this place; best to buy an all-day arm band for you and your kids and ride as much as you want.
Visitors can also take a scenic walk or bike ride along the beachfront path that runs from Santa Monica Pier all the way up to Malibu or down to Marina del Rey. There are plenty of places to eat, rent a bicycle or skates, there’s a merry-go-round (another great photo opp) and, of course, you can just spend time on the beach.
The pier is also next to downtown Santa Monica and the Santa Monica Promenade, with many shops and restaurants to explore. The promenade features several large parking garages with hourly rates for parking. It can get busy there during the summer, so plan ahead. You can make a day of this entire area, and take your time to enjoy.
4. Venice Beach Boardwalk
Venice Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Los Angeles, nestled between Marina del Rey and Santa Monica, and the boardwalk is a great place to take kids. They can people-watch, skateboard, catch a drum circle or just enjoy the sunny weather and street performers.
There are also a number of shops and restaurants along the boardwalk, so you can find something for everyone to enjoy.
Riding bikes along the bike path is a great way to take in Venice Beach (the paths connect to Santa Monica and Marina del Rey) and there are plenty of bike rental shops in the area. It gets super busy on the weekends, so if you’ve got little kids and you don’t want to be riding your bikes in a maze of wall-to-wall humans, best to go on a weekday.
Parking in Venice Beach can be a challenge, as the lots tend to be small and fill up fast.
SheBuysTravel Tip: If you’re looking to explore Venice Beach, arrive early (that advice goes for any beach in the area basically) as the lots are often full by noon on summer weekends. There is street parking but a lot of it is metered with 2-hour limits.
When many people think of LA Beaches, they think of Malibu, the 26-mile-long city nestled along the coast northwest of Los Angeles. Following the Pacific Coast Highway and cruising with the windows open is a dream for many. The city is famous for its many beaches and celebrity residents.
Paradise Cove is an easy way for families to enjoy the iconic Malibu, California, experience connected to a quintessential California Beach restaurant.
This tiny beach is great for small kids as it has a protected inlet where the waves tend to be mellow. There are nooks and crannies in the beach to explore with tidepools, and the whole area is connected to a restaurant that offers private beach loungers (extra fee per day/per space), bathrooms and cocktails. That makes it easy to breathe fresh sea air and gaze at the beautiful blue Pacific Ocean with a margarita in hand.
Take a walk along the beach and ogle the homes of movie stars, rock stars and millionaires. The location has been used to film everything from Gidget and The Rockford Files to Indecent Proposal and X-Men. It was also the backdrop for The Beach Boys’ iconic Surfin’ Safari album cover.
The restaurant has laid-back beach vibes. It’s a fun family find, if you’re seeking some classic California cool.
This is a busy spot and restaurant waits can be up to one hour long. Parking can be pricey (think $35-$60 range).
The easiest way to get close to the beach in Malibu is via a dining experience. The Sunset Restaurant in Malibu is right on the beach. It is a beautiful view with good food and one of my favorite places to watch the sunset.
6. Take a Boat Ride
There’s no better way to see Los Angeles than from the water! You can take a leisurely cruise down the coast or go for an adrenaline-pumping ride on a speedboat. Your teens will fall in love with parasailing or rent kayaks or stand-up paddle boards.
If you’re celebrating something special consider booking a ride on a dining cruise. The boat doesn’t leave the harbor. however full meals are served and it’s an easy, all-inclusive trip. Whatever you choose, it’s always fun to get out on the open water.
Griffith Park is one of the largest urban parks in North America and a great place to spend a day with your kids.
The park has plenty of biking and hiking trails, as well as horseback and pony rides, a carousel and a scenic train ride. The Hollywood Sign, the Griffith Observatory, the LA Zoo, a golf course, the Travel Town Train Museum and even an old abandoned zoo where you can climb into the enclosures, are all within the park as well as offering some incredible views of Los Angeles.
There are numerous different areas to park, but it can get congested especially during the summer tourism season.
8. Griffith Observatory
The Griffith Observatory is a great place to take kids in Los Angeles. The Observatory has a number of kid-friendly exhibits, including a planetarium, an astronomy museum and an outdoor telescope.
The Observatory also offers a number of special programs for kids, such as stargazing nights and family astronomy classes, plus its outdoor observation decks provide stunning views of Los Angeles.
There’s a cafeteria in the observatory that offers one of my favorite views of the Hollywood Hills…definitely worth a snack stop at this location.
The Griffith Observatory is located on the south slope of Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park. There is a paid parking lot next to the Observatory, or free parking on the roads and parks leading up towards it. Plan ahead, as the roads and parking can get very busy.
You can also kill two birds with one stone and get some great views of the Hollywood Sign, or for the more adventurous, hike from the observatory to the Hollywood Sign (about 8.8 miles round trip).
9. See the Hollywood Sign
The Hollywood Sign is one of the most iconic landmarks in Los Angeles and is a must-see for any visitor.
You can hike toward the sign along trails in Griffith Park, but you cannot get too close. The best places to view the sign are:
- From the Griffith Observatory
- Runyon Canyon Park
- Inside the midpoint of the Hollywood Reservoir (personal favorite, easy flat walk and stroller friendly)
- Hiking up to the top of Mount Lee (the sign is actually on Mount Lee and it is not an easy hike, it’s steep)
- Visiting the Hollywood Highland center
- Taking an open bus tour of the Hollywood Hills which you can pick up from many vendors in Hollywood near Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
Note: the sign is not illuminated at night.
10. Los Angeles Zoo
Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens is home to more than 1,200 animals from around the world as well as a number of kid-friendly attractions. The petting zoo and playground make it one of the best family activities in Los Angeles.
The zoo also has gardens with more than 7,000 plants, so you can explore nature together. The zoo is located in Griffith Park and usually has ample free parking, but can still get busy in the summer months.
11. Autry Museum of the American West
The Autry Museum is located not far from the zoo, and features galleries filled with Native American art and cultural materials, film memorabilia, historic firearms, paintings and other things related to the American West.
There’s a family play space that regularly features kids’ activities, western, and Native American musical and dance performers. Every 2nd Tuesday of the month is free at the museum.
12. Play at an Amusement Park
If your kids are looking for some thrills, take them to an amusement park! Six Flags Magic Mountain is a roller coaster mecca for thrill seekers, while Knott’s Berry Farm is perfect for younger kids with its family-friendly rides and shows.
13. Universal Studios Hollywood
Universal Studios Hollywood is a great theme park for kids of all ages although the rides probably offer a bit more for teenagers than young kids. The park has rides, shows and attractions based on popular movies and TV shows, including The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ and The Simpsons™ Ride and the new Super Nintendo World™.
SheBuysTravel Tip: many of the rides are a combination of thrill and simulation and some kids get nauseous on them. I’m a big fan of taking half a kid’s Dramamine before some of the larger rides to make sure no one gets sick or at least have them on hand just in case.
Disneyland is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Los Angeles and for good reason.
The most important thing to do at Disneyland with kids is to have fun!
Disneyland has two great parks: Disneyland Park and California Adventure Park. Both parks have plenty of things for kids to see and do. Pick up a map when you enter so you can plan your day and make sure you don’t miss anything.
Disneyland is actually located south of Los Angeles in the Orange County city of Anaheim. Depending on where you’re coming from, it can easily be a 2-hour drive from Los Angeles to get there. You may want to consider staying overnight at one of the many hotels near the park so you can have two full days at Disneyland.
There is so much to see and do that you’re sure to create lasting memories that the whole family will cherish for years to come. Be sure to buy tickets in advance as Disneyland can get very busy, especially during peak tourist season.
Los Angeles is world famous for Hollywood, but many people don’t realize that although Hollywood is a neighborhood in Los Angeles, the movie-making industry by the same name is spread all over the area.
Paramount is the only movie studio actually located in Hollywood; the rest are in surrounding areas. But there are a number of sites from Hollywood’s “Golden Era” still in Hollywood including the Walk of Fame, Capital Records Building, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, The Dolby Theater, The Ovation Hollywood (Hollywood and Highland) Shopping Center, a few Wax Museums and Hollywood is currently the home of a lot of LA’s nightlife.
With kids, visiting Hollywood will likely only take a few hours, and there’s a lot of off-street paid parking garages. One of the easiest places to park is underneath The Ovation Hollywood Shopping Center which is on the Walk of Fame, next door to Grauman’s, and promises a great view of the Hollywood Sign. Catch a bus tour of celebrity homes.
16. Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour Hollywood and Los Angeles
A hop-on hop-off bus tour is a great way to explore Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and the surrounding areas. Choose a tour of Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Melrose, Beverly and Miracle Mile; Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Westwood, Brentwood, and West LA; or Downtown LA.
Takign the bus allows you to enjoy the scenery, look for celebrities and not have to worry about driving in LA’s crazy traffic or parking.
17. Hollywood Walk of Fame
The Hollywood Walk of Fame is one of the most iconic tourist attractions in Los Angeles and mostly follows Hollywood Boulevard through the heart of Hollywood.
Kids will enjoy seeing the stars on the ground, and they might even spot a celebrity or two! Near the Grauman’s Chinese Theater there are often actors in various superhero or movie-themed costumes that will be happy to pose with you for a tip.
The best time to visit is early in the morning before it gets too crowded.
18. The Grove and Farmer’s Market
The original farmers market is LA’s oldest and most famous farmers market. It started in 1934 as an idea and has evolved into a wonderful place to wander and explore the paths and stalls that attract celebrities from the Beatles to Marilyn Monroe. It’s a fun place to wander the paths and stalls for a delicious bite to eat and entertainment.
Next door, to the farmers market sits the Grove, one of Los Angeles’ favorite shopping, dining and lifestyle destinations. Explore a mix of retail, restaurants and entertainment in an open-air environment that features a lovely fountain and trolley car rolling down the street and is a great place to shop and stop for an ice cream on nice days.
19. Warner Bros Studio Tour
The Warner Brothers Studio lot is not located in Hollywood, but just over the hills in Burbank.
Although all of the major studios offer tours, The Warner Bros Studio Tour is generally considered to be one of the best and is a great way to see how movies are made! Kids will love seeing all of the sets and props, and you might even get to see a real-life movie star if you’re lucky! The tour lasts about two hours.
20. Hollywood Bowl
The Hollywood Bowl is one of the most iconic venues in Los Angeles, and it’s a great place to take kids to see a show. There are usually a number of family-friendly performances scheduled throughout the year, so you’re sure to find something that your kids will enjoy.
For shows like the LA Philharmonic, which uses the Bowl as its summer home, you can also pack a picnic dinner to enjoy with the show.
The Hollywood Bowl Museum across the street from the Bowl is ideal for families who love music and history. The museum has interactive exhibits on the history of the Hollywood Bowl and its performers. The museum also offers a number of kid-friendly programs, such as concerts, movie nights and family sing-alongs. Parking is usually free unless there’s an event happening at the bowl. The museum is only open Tuesday – Friday.
21. El Capitan Theatre
El Capitan Theatre is a historic movie palace that first opened its doors in 1926. Today, the theatre shows Disney movies both old and new on its big screen—a perfect activity for families with young children who love Disney films. It’s a fun and unique experience while in Hollywood, and a super fun place to see a movie.
22. Discovery Cube LA
Discovery Cube LA is an interactive museum that’s perfect for curious kids who want to learn about science and technology. The museum has hands-on exhibits on topics like space exploration, engineering, and weather patterns that will spark your child’s interest in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math).
23. California Science Center
The California Science Center is an excellent choice for families with kids of all ages. The Science Center has interactive exhibits on a variety of topics, including space exploration, the human body, the environment and includes a giant IMAX theater featuring various films exploring the world. The Science Center also houses the Space Shuttle Endeavour, one of four Space Shuttles on display and the only one on the west coast, the Endeavour, and offers a number of educational programs for kids.
The California Science Center is located in Exposition Park along with a number of LA landmarks, such as the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, the California African American Museum, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, BMO Stadium (home to major league soccer), the EXPO Center and the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art (opening in 2025).
There are various paid parking lots around the area, but they can often get busy, especially if there are events at the nearby stadiums or coliseum.
24. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is the largest natural and historical museum in the western United States. Its collections include nearly 35 million specimens and artifacts and cover 4.5 billion years of history. If your kids are dinosaur fans, the museum’s Dinosaur Hall is one of the most extraordinary dinosaur exhibits in the world and a premier dinosaur experience in the western United States.
25. Los Angeles County Museum of Art
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, or LACMA, is the largest collection of 149,000 objects that illuminate 6,000 years of art from across the globe in the western US. LACMA.
LACMA may be most famous for its Urban Light exhibit, a display of numerous street light fixtures used captured in many social media posts.
The museum is located on Wilshire Boulevard in Hancock Park across the street from the Petersen Automotive Museum and next to the La Brea Tar Pits and the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in a stretch called Museum Mile.
26. Petersen Automotive Museum
The Petersen Automotive Museum is perfect for families with car-loving kids. The museum has more than 150 vehicles on display, ranging from classic cars to race cars to concept cars. The museum also offers a number of kid-friendly activities, such as tours, scavenger hunts and hands-on workshops. Parking is available in the attached garage for a fee.
27. La Brea Tar Pits
The La Brea Tar Pits are a unique attraction kids will love. The Tar Pits are just that, places, where tar seeps up through the ground and animals, have been getting trapped there for millions of years. You can see tar pits, learn about the Ice Age and even see real fossils being excavated. The onsite museum offers interactive exhibits about dinosaurs and other animals from the past.
SheBuysTravel Tip: The museum is free for local LA County residents Mon-Fri from 3-5pm, but tickets are only available onsite from the ticketing kiosk. If you have local friends, bring them along for a free afternoon at the museum.
28. Getty Center
The Getty Center is an art museum perched on the peak of a mountain in the Santa Monica Mountains that offers kids a chance to see some of the world’s most famous paintings and sculptures. The museum is also famous for its architecture and beautiful garden that kids can explore, views of Los Angeles, as well as a cafe where they can get a snack. The museum is always free, but it costs to park a car.
29. Kidspace Children’s Museum
The Kidspace Children’s Museum in Pasadena, California is a mission-driven institution that is dedicated to engaging children of all ages in an array of innovative activities and stimulating experiences. From the interactive exhibits to the outdoor gardens and scavenger hunts, there is something for every young visitor to explore and discover.
Plus, there are rotating programs and special events that offer unique opportunities throughout the year, making it a great place to spend some quality time with your kids. At Kidspace, children can learn through play while having fun at the same time. With its welcoming atmosphere and diverse range of educational activities.
30. Walt Disney Concert Hall
The Walt Disney Concert Hall is a must-see for music lovers of all ages. Kids will enjoy seeing the unique architecture of the building, and they might even get to hear a concert if you’re lucky! The hall is the home of the LA Philharmonic and offers free tours daily, so be sure to check them out when you’re visiting.
31. Explore Olvera Street
Olvera Street is a historic district in downtown Los Angeles that is home to Mexican restaurants, shops, and artisans. It’s the perfect place to take kids for a taste of Mexican culture. They will love watching the dancers perform traditional dances and listening to mariachi bands play music. You can also buy some souvenirs for the family at one of the many shops in the area.
32. Grand Central Market
Grand Central Market in downtown LA is a historical LA icon with more than 40 stalls that are home to an only-in-LA blend of legacy vendors like China Cafe and Roast To Go (Grand Central Market tenants for more than half a century), rising stars and success stories from the city’s buzzing food scene and is a fun place to stop by, even if only for an ice cream. This place is a great stop for both curious and picky palettes alike because there is so much variety in one location.
33. Runyon Canyon
Runyon Canyon is one of the best places in Los Angeles to go for a hike, and it’s also kid-friendly. The trails are not too difficult, and there are plenty of places to stop and rest along the way. Start at the top, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of Los Angeles.
Parking is difficult around there, and the police ticket often. Also, it’s important for families to know there are no public bathrooms in this park. That being said, this park offers a killer view of the Hollywood sign, so you can kill two birds with one stone. Views include the Hollywood Sign, view of Griffith Observatory, view of downtown Los Angeles and, if it’s clear weather, you can see down to the ocean.
34. Skirball Cultural Center
The Skirball Cultural Center is a great place to take kids to learn about different cultures from around the world. The center has rotating exhibitions on topics like immigration, Native American culture and Jewish history. Kids can also participate in arts and crafts activities, or enjoy a meal at the café.
35. Long Beach
Another fun area that’s worth checking out is Long Beach and its neighbor San Pedro. Both are about an hour south of Los Angeles and between their two ports, they are the busiest container port in North America and the port of Los Angeles in San Pedro has the cruise ship port.
Long Beach has a beautiful downtown area near the shore with a number of fun activities, including the Aquarium of the Pacific and the Queen Mary, a 1930s-style ocean liner that’s converted into a floating hotel and event space as well as some amazing restaurants
The Aquarium of the Pacific offers an interactive and educational experience for the entire family, featuring over 12,000 species of marine life in more than 100 exhibits. This aquarium has something for everyone, from the amazing Shark Lagoon to a seahorse exhibit, touch pools, a stingray petting experience, and a new Babies! Exhibit.
36. Go to a Dodgers Game
Going to a Dodgers game is a must for any fan of Major League Baseball. It’s also a great way to spend an afternoon or evening with the family. The stadium is family-friendly, with plenty of activities for kids to enjoy, and the food options are sure to please everyone in your group.
37. Crypto.com Arena
Crypto.com Arena is the home of LA’s three basketball teams, the Lakers, the Clippers and the WNBA Sparks and LA’s NHL hockey team the Kings.
38. Sofi Stadium
SoFi Stadium is LA’s new home for the NFL Football teams the LA Rams and the LA Chargers. The stadium will also be the home of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the 2028 Olympic Games.