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Finding the right family-friendly activities comes with plenty of challenges. The wrong choices can leave kids bored, disengaged, and frustrated, or they can have parents gritting their teeth through something insufferable. Worse yet, the disinterest could extend to the parents and the kids, leaving everyone involved discouraged and unsatisfied.
Thankfully, Los Angeles offers a diverse array of activities, attractions, and points of interest for all ages to enjoy. The hardest part about finding things to do with kids in Los Angeles is sorting through all the different options. Here are just a few sites and attractions to help you get started.
Located in Hancock Park, the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum is the site of some of the most extraordinary fossil discoveries in the world. Characterized by pools of natural asphalt bubbling up from the earth, the La Brea Tar Pits have yielded one of the biggest collections of Ice Age fossils in the entire world, and paleontologists still dig there throughout the year (save for some holidays) and have discovered over 600 different species. While the tar is a mess to clean up, it is also incredible at preserving individual fossils and even entire ecosystems.
For kids and adults who love their ancient bones, the tar pits offer a fun opportunity to explore paleontology up close and personal, from walking around the Lake Pit to actually visiting live dig sites where scientists continue to excavate new specimens and make new discoveries every day. Along with the outdoor tar pits, the indoor museum houses some of the best fossils, plants, and animals that have been discovered in the pits, from mammoths to dire wolves to saber-toothed cats. While the outdoor area is free, the museum does charge admission.
Adjacent to the La Brea Tar Pits, the LA County Museum of Art is perfect for appreciators of art, both young and old. Attracting nearly a million visitors every year, LACMA is designated as the largest art museum in the Western United States, featuring over 120,000 pieces ranging nearly all of history and geography. From modern and contemporary pieces to Latin American art, LACMA offers over 20 acres of incredible art to explore.
If your kids need a break from wandering the galleries, they are welcome to head to the Boone Children’s Gallery where they are welcome to draw, paint, and create to their hearts’ content. The staff hold art-making pop ups that allow for new ideas, new inspiration, and new ways to engage with art and express yourself. On Tuesdays and Fridays, museum staff also offer story time to engage kids with stories about art, color, and culture.
The Huntington Library is an incredible center for culture, art, and education that combines a library of rare books, three art galleries, and incredible gardens featuring an extensive variety of international plant life. The botanical gardens cover over 120 acres of land, offering plenty of space for kids to explore the rose, desert, Japanese, and Chinese gardens.
For middle-school-aged kids, the conservatory offers some hands-on learning and exhibits on botany. For younger kids and the young at heart, the Helen and Peter Bing Children’s Garden is a must-visit. The Children’s Garden is an incredible space that mixes fountains, magnets, topiary, and prisms for a truly magical experience that finds the intersection between nature and art. Just make sure your kids have a bathing suit or an extra set of dry clothes.
One of the best things to do in downtown Los Angeles, El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historica l Monument marks the historic birthplace of the city. A plaque commemorates the day in 1781 when eleven families from the Gulf of California established the pueblo that would eventually grow and spread to become Los Angeles as we know it today.
If you are wondering what to do in Los Angeles with kids, El Pueblo offers a wealth of experiences for all ages and interests. Frequent live music and dance performances keep the streets vibrant and beautiful. Take a stroll down Olvera Street and enjoy the marketplace full of clothes, bags, artwork, and more, or take a breather and enjoy a meal at the numerous restaurants in the area. Explore the many museums, including the Plaza Firehouse, the Chinese American Museum, and La Plaza de Cultura y Artes. El Pueblo is truly a southern California treasure that offers an in-depth look into the city’s diverse roots.
Open since 1986, Children’s Book World has dedicated itself to providing books, music, crafts, and education materials to kids, parents, and teachers, making it the first full-service children’s bookstore in the area. The vast collection celebrates diversity and culture, ensuring that every child can see themselves on the shelves.
Along with its huge selection of books and educational aids, Children’s Book World hosts regular story times and music events aimed specifically at kids. This is the perfect southern California spot for young bookworms ready to enrich their minds and dive into the next great book.
Those wondering how to meet people in Los Angeles shouldn’t have far to look. A ti me-honored landmark, Griffith Park is a favorite for locals and tourists alike, and for good reasons. Griffith Park has something for everyone, from visiting the LA Zoo to hiking to the Hollywood sign. If you’re wondering where to celebrate a birthday in Los Angeles, enjoy the Griffith Park’s wide open spaces .
For youthful stargazers, a visit to the Griffith Observatory offers dozens of space-centric exhibits and a planetarium with three live shows every day, along with a rotating schedule of programs for people of all ages.
Griffith Park also boasts three train rides. The LA Zoo Choo Choo train travels through the zoo, while a small train rolls into and out of the Travel Town railroad. A larger train at Griffith Park and Southern Railroad travels over a mile of track that takes passengers over a bridge, through a forest, and into the Old Western Town.
For kids and adults, nothing beats a nice park on a sunny day, and Tongva Park is one of the best. Located in Santa Monica, this park spans six acres of land with local plant life and plenty of objects for kids to climb, slide, and play on. The park offers observation decks, walkways, sprawling lawns, and rolling hills as far as the eye can see. The southeast quadrant is home to a unique playground and splash pad. If your kids have some pent-up energy that they need to expend, Tongva Park is the place to go.
Remember that these are just some of the family-friendly spaces you’ll find in the city. Part of the joy and wonder of Los Angeles is the wealth of activities going on throughout the city on any given day. From live music to street fairs to a local farmers market it’s easy to stumble into a fun and engaging activity that you and your kids will appreciate. Plus, the surrounding area of Venice, Santa Monica, Long Beach, and Malibu all offer spectacular beach spots that are perfect for warm-weather days. Whether you decide to hike to the Hollywood sign or you prefer checking out the mini theme park at the Santa Monica pier, there are endless activities to enjoy with young kids. If you’re still not sure what to do in Los Angeles with kids, just get out there and explore what the city has to offer.