Since moving to the City of Angels two years ago with my partner and small child, we've never had a shortage of exciting activities to do as a family. Los Angeles is a fantastic place to raise a kid, especially because of the things you can do to spark their curiosity and keep them entertained. Whether your kids are the outdoorsy types who like to hike and enjoy sandy beaches, or the museum-going kind who like exploring the sciences, the greater Los Angeles County offers an abundance of fun and cheap (and sometimes even free!) things to do with your kids.
Raising our daughter in LA has been exciting — between the non-stop weather (it's always nice), and the activities, there's always something that the three of us can't enjoy together.
Here are 10 things you can only do in Los Angeles with your kids:
Meander Through The Gorgeous Gardens At The Getty Center
The interior of the museum is also quite spectacular, with four pavilions filled with an array of art, photography and sculptures. There’s also a family room that lets your kid have an interactive experience with the art through tactile versions of artwork and craft making. Yet among all the wings of historical and contemporary art, my kid’s absolute favorite thing to do is run around like a maniac through the multiple gardens, and to be honest, I prefer the Getty Center’s outdoors to looking at the exhibits.
Everything from the stunning architectural lines in the backdrop to the walkway that floats over the stream lined with trees and plants is a complete treat to the eye. There’s plenty of grass and shade for the public to spread out, picnic, and take in the amazing city views that stretch toward the Pacific Ocean.
Check Out The Urban Lights And Levitated Mass Installations at LACMA
Yes, another museum (LA has an abundance) but this one is particularly special because of the unique outdoor installations that are free to the public. "Urban Lights" by Chris Burden is a crowd favorite, especially at dusk when the rows of refurbished street lamps light up and cast a beautiful illumination as you walk through the antique lamps. "Levitated Mass" by Michael Heizer is a massive rock suspended by two walls. Tourist protip: you can walk right underneath the boulder and take a series of pictures to make it look like you are holding up the boulder with one hand.
LACMA also hosts a free concert series called Jazz at LACMA on Friday nights through the summer. Whether you take a date or your entire family, the talented musicians and free entertainment make another great opportunity for a picnic at dusk.
Splash Around At The Downtown Oasis of Grand Park
Amidst the congestion of tall buildings and quintessential Los Angeles traffic is this literal oasis tucked in the heart of downtown LA called Grand Park. It’s an extensive park between the City Hall and The Music Center and holds many events year-round. There’s a coffee shop (score!), playground, and my daughter’s personal favorite: a fountain plaza where everyone is welcome to splash around.
Light Up For The Holidays At LA Zoo
During the holiday season, LA Zoo flicks on their light switch for a dazzling display that will make your kids’ jaws drop in holiday cheer. Everything from the trees to the water displays will be bright and stunning, you will feel like you’ve just entered some sort of psychedelic holiday-themed twilight zone. Of course it’s a zoo, so there are also real-life reindeer!
Have Your Pick Among Beaches (Year-Round)
Do you want to ride roller coasters on a pier? Santa Monica Pier it is. People-watch among an eclectic crowd? Let’s go to Venice! Oh, you’d rather surf or body board? Manhattan Beach, here we come!
Seriously, that’s only a few among many beaches that span Los Angeles County’s coast. Plus, with our year-round temperate weather, you can go almost anytime you want! I’ve definitely done my share of wave chasing in November. The only tip I have for beach going on those warm summer weekends is to be prepared to wait and pay (a lot) for parking — it is still LA, after all.
Hike Griffith Trails And Take In Panoramic LA Views
Start at Griffith Observatory and follow one of the many trails that hug the mountain. If you pick the right trail, you could end up very close to the Hollywood Sign! My daughter absolutely loves hiking here (mostly because she’s still too little to do any of the hiking herself, so she snoozes in her father’s hiking backpack). Not only do you get to see more of LA’s panoramic city views, but you can also spot horseback riders, as well as other wildlife, climbing the trails too.
Eat A Dodger Dog At Dodger’s Stadium
Take it from someone who is not even close to being a Dodger’s fan (*cough* Giants *cough*) you have to try a Dodger Dog at least once for the experience. My partner is a huge Dodger’s fan and we’ve brought my daughter to more games than I’m willing to admit. But no one can deny that ball games, no matter who is playing, are a fun American pastime, and that hot dogs and baseball go together like popcorn at a movie theatre. Just as good as the dodger dogs are the specialty nachos and ice cream, which are served up in adorable plastic Dodger hats that you can clean up and take home as a souvenirs.
Take my money, Dodgers! Just don’t tell my home team …
Picnic And Paddleboat In Echo Park Lake
Adjacent to the Dodger’s Stadium in East Los Angeles, Echo Park Lake is another oasis that offers a peaceful getaway from the frantic downtown activity.
At Echo Park Lake, you can paddle boat among the lotus flowers, lie across the green grass, and eat pupusas from one of the local vendors. It’s the perfect daytime destination if you want to get away from hectic city life and just relax with your kids.
Spot Celebrities While Shopping At The Grove
What’s more LA than a casual celebrity spotting? To be honest, I personally haven’t spotted a single celebrity here, but I’ve heard it can happen. If you have older kids who are into teen pop idols, Barnes & Noble at The Grove often hosts book signings, with past guests that include Demi Lovato.
Plus, the annual Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony usually includes performances by popular artists; this year will feature Meghan Trainor. When no celebrities are scheduled to appear at The Grove, you can still have a wonderful time sitting on a complementary blanket on the grass next to the fountains watching your kids wave at the trolley as it chugs back and forth. Oh, and shopping. Tons of shopping.
Take A Peek At The Space Shuttle Endeavour At The California Academy Of Sciences
If you have a kid who is interested in outer space and becoming an astronaut (I mean, who isn’t?) make a timed reservation to see the Space Shuttle Endeavour while it’s still here (it’s permanent home is still being built). It’s a breathtaking sight to peer up at such a magnificent machine that has traveled further than your mind can even conceive.
The thought of it is still mind-blowing to me as an adult; just imagine how your kids would react! The rest of the museum offers up A TON of exhibits, ranging from swamp life to human biology, so don’t skip out while you’re there!