Known as one of America’s premier vacation destinations, Los Angeles is the Entertainment Capital of the World. It’s hard to visit California, without a stop in this vibrant, energetic city full of history, culture, shopping and dining…not to mention the miles and miles of some of the most beautiful coastline you will ever see! There is SO much to see and do in this city from exploring museums to seeing stars, Los Angeles offers something for visitors of all ages and interests. We have been so spoiled with this fun city right up the street. Here are 11 amazing things to do in Los Angeles with kids this year, our family favorites.
The Griffith Observatory
Seeing Stars is always on everyone’s list when they visit LA. I can’t guarantee any paparazzi sightings, but I can guarantee you will see stars if you visit The Griffith Observatory. One of L.A.’s most popular attractions, the Griffith Observatory offers spectacular views from the Pacific Ocean to Downtown L.A. Admission to the Observatory building, grounds, telescopes, and parking is FREE! If you get lucky, you can drive up to the Observatory and park in the parking lot, but you will most likely need to park on the adjacent roads…so expect a little bit of a hike. The kids will love seeing the views and having some room to run. If you are looking to make an evening of it, grab a picnic dinner from Whole Foods or Joan’s on 3rd and picnic on the grass as the sun goes down. You can find all of the information you might like on the Griffith Observatory website.
Take your little bookworms to The Last Bookstore. Housed in an old bank building in downtown LA, there are all kinds of books for you to browse and some super cool displays made from old books upstairs. Themed rooms for different genres of books, an arch made from old tomes, and even a bookshelf with the volumes “flying” off the shelves! It’s funky, it’s fun, and not to be missed! You won’t find this in guidebooks, and you won’t be disappointed.
Stroll the charming, narrow brick lined street known as Olvera Street : “the birthplace of Los Angeles.” This Mexican Marketplace smells of churros and taquitos and is a great place to wander through painted stalls selling handcrafted gifts and trinkets, eat some delicious Mexican food, watch folkloric dancers, and listen to mariachi music, all while getting a better sense of California history. The kids will love the treats and all the fun things to explore. Find more visitor information here.
Duff’s Cake Mix
Located on Melrose and surrounded by hip and trendy shops, Duff’s Cake Mix is the perfect experience for kids that are fans of the Food Network and shows like Kid’s Baking Challenge. Famous cake artist Duff Goldman opened his Charm City Cakes shop here, and attached to it is a fun baking workshop where you can learn to decorate a cake like Duff and his team. This studio is often crowded and reservations are recommended. Such a great place for the whole family! You can make reservations and get all the details here.
The El Capitan Theater
Treat your kids to a movie experience like no other. This iconic Hollywood theater made it’s debut in 1926. It has been lovingly restored and is owned and operated by Disney. The theater is HUGE and beautifully ornate, and The El Capitan Theatre experience often includes pre-show entertainment, prop & costume exhibits on the balcony level and just a totally cool movie experience. Tickets for the El Capitan can be purchased for between roughly $15-28, depending on the movie and time of day, and can include reserved seating, popcorn and drinks. Because it it owned and operated by Disney the movies shown are almost exclusively family friendly. You can find more information here on the El Capitan Theater website.
Lake Hollywood Park
If you’re looking for a place to let the kids run and tire them out, a quick drive up into the Hollywood Hills and you can picnic and play in the shadow of the iconic Hollywood sign. I love the local feel (yes, there are lots of tourists these days too) but I enjoy hanging out with families from the neighborhood having birthday parties and feeling…if only for a moment, like I live in the Hills. You will get amazing pictures of the sign from here too. Lake Hollywood Park info.
Yes, it’s a mall, but it’s a mall in the heart of LA. Fun shops like the American Girl Store and Dylan’s Candy Bar will make the kids crazy, and it has a trolley to ride. Connected to the famous LA Farmer’s Market, there are plenty of great, family friendly places to eat too. Many shows are filmed here and you might just have a celebrity sighting. More information about The Grove.
LaBrea Tar Pits
If you would have told me that the world’s most famous ice age fossil excavation site is located in the heart of Los Angeles, I wouldn’t have believed you…but it’s true! You and the kids can explore the world’s only active, urban ice age excavation site, wander the grounds and watch scientists at work, catch a cool 3D journey through time, and walk among fossils in the museum. Find all the visitor information to plan your visit here.
The Hollywood Bowl is my favorite open-air venue. I have been spoiled to enjoy so many amazing shows here. Throughout the year you can find tons of kid-friendly concerts and sing alongs that are perfect for the whole family. The annual Sound of Music sing along is always a hit. Keep an eye on their schedule to find something that is a good fit for your family and lines up with your trip dates. You are allowed to bring food into the venue too, so get a picnic and bring it with you, just check the website to make sure your food items follow the guidelines for what is allowed.
Grand Central Market
Come hungry to this super cool 30,000 square-foot arcade that houses a food emporium and retail marketplace. Opened in 1917, it has been in continuous operation since. There are over 30 vendors selling everything from burgers to ramen and everything in between. A few of my favorites? Wexler’s deli…the Macarthur Park (pastrami on rye with swiss, slaw and Russian dressing is AMAZING!) and EggSlut is a great choice for breakfast. There is something for everyone. It’s loud and busy, so perfect for the kids. More information about Grand Central Market here.
Santa Monica Pier
Located on the world famous Santa Monica Pier, the amusement park here is the family place to play! I’m sure you will recognize the famous pier, it’s been in dozens of movies, music videos, TV shows and more. It’s also the West Coast’s only amusement park located on a pier which is kind of cool. Bring the kids to enjoy all the rides, games and fun. There are about a dozen rides, lots of midway games, specialty food outlets and plenty of souvenir shopping. Parking can be tricky everywhere in LA, but you can find where to park and even buy advanced, discounted reserved parking for the pier on it’s website.
(image via la times)
California Science Center
The California Science Center is a place where the whole family can explore the wonders of science through interactive exhibits. Admission to the science center is free. Once inside there are some attractions and IMAX movies etc., that are an additional charge. You can check out the space shuttle Endeavor which is certain to be a memorable experience for everyone. My kids loved the hurricane simulator tunnel too. You can find information on hours and exhibits here.
I hope that this list of things to do in Los Angeles with kids is a help for you and your family and that you will really enjoy your time in this fun city! Be sure to check out my other travel posts for more great ideas and adventures!