Planning to visit Los Angeles soon? LA is the second biggest city in the USA and there are endless fun things to do in Los Angeles with kids!
Below are our top tips on what to do in Los Angeles with kids, plus where to eat, where to stay in Los Angeles with kids, how to save money, getting around, and much more!
If you’ve been dreaming of things to do in California with kids, read on!
Over the years we’ve been able to visit Los Angeles several times. Firstly as a couple, and recently with our two daughters, Kalyra and Savannah.
To be honest we weren’t initially big fans, and it’s taken a while for LA to grow on us.
Sometimes you have to visit a place a second or third time before you can appreciate it, especially one with a wide variety of things to see.
Our opinion of Los Angeles was always that it was overrated, and the main reason to visit would be for a theme park trip to Disneyland.
Otherwise it was one big sprawl of a city with horrible traffic, average weather, expensive, and no real community or soul.
And we could never understand why people would choose to live there?
But on our recent visit on our one year USA road trip, we’ve finally discovered an appreciation for the City of Los Angeles and have found what people find so attractive about it.
So what is there to do in LA for families?
This visit we got some great insider tips from locals that live with kids in Los Angeles and from other family travelers and embraced the sprawling metropolis.
This trip to LA just felt different.
We had more time, which allowed us to discover LA at a slower pace which is always nicer with kids, especially in a city this size as sightseeing in LA can be overwhelming.
And we loved the excitement of visiting LA with the girls for the first time and exploring the world of Hollywood with them.
Kalyra, our eldest, has acting dreams so it was exciting to help fuel that dream for her!
Top LA Attractions For Kids
Warner Bros Studio Tour
This was a treat for our budding actress, Kalyra and a fun place for kids in Los Angeles.
The Warner Bros Studios tour was quite fascinating to see the behind the scenes of putting TV and movies together. But I hate to tell you this – it’s mostly all fake!!
The kids especially loved wearing the sorting hat in the Harry Potter archive section. Kalyra and Savannah got Gryffindor, I was Hufflepuff, and Craig was Slytherin.
We also had fun holding a real OSCAR, and sitting on the Friends couch which was filmed here and not in New York City! And Savannah got to stand on the steps of her favorite TV show house, the Fuller House.
Ellen is also filmed out here and The Big Bang Theory is in its last season. And even parts of Jurassic Park were filmed here.
You can visit archive rooms to see costumes and props from Harry Potter and Batman films, You even get to try the sorting hat.
It does come at a price though, and kids must be 8 years old or older.
If you’re fascinated with the movie industry then you’ll find this tour worth it. If you’re tight on budget and nonplussed, I’d skip it.
Universal Studios Hollywood LA
Turns out the Hollywood park is not as big as Orlando, which makes it easy to do in a day and gives it a more relaxed vibe.
So for a family-friendly day of movies, rides and entertaining shows at one of the top LA tourist attractions, head to Universal Studios just north of Hollywood (over the hills!)
You’ll appreciate the views over the valley from here.
Don’t miss the backlot tour which takes you behind the scenes, and the Mummy ride is super fun.
And of course, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is one of the best things to do in LA with family for raving Harry Potter fans!
Sipping on a butterbeer and the Forbidden Journey ride were our two favorite things. This is probably one of the most well known kid friendly activities in Los Angeles
Once you exit the park, Universal City Walk is a cool spot to explore and have dinner – we ate at the Hard Rock Cafe which is always a family favorite!
Hollywood Walk of Fame
One of the most touristy things to do in LA with kids is the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and one of the LA attractions Kalyra was most looking forward too!
She was excited to see and grab a photo with some of her idols stars embedded in the sidewalks along 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard.
We did, however, visit a few days before the OSCARS Academy Awards show so there was lots of setting up going on with scaffolding for lighting and TV equipment which covered up a large section of the pavement.
Unfortunately Kalyra missed seeing her fave star, Daniel Radcliffe, who was under the red carpet.
Be warned there are people trying to sell you things, but they have cleaned this up since the last time we were here many years ago with permits required.
But if you and your kids are into movies and Hollywood, go here once!
This is a public sidewalk, and open 24 hours with no tickets to purchase.
TLC Chinese Theatre
Also along the Hollywood Walk of Fame is one of the other top LA tourist attractions, the TCL Chinese Theatre.
It’s where Hollywood’s biggest stars come to watch their movie premiers, and out the front of this theatre is where you see the cement hand and footprints of the who’s who of Hollywood.
Stars only receive this special accolade if one of their films have been shown at the theater. Each star will leave behind something signature about them as well whether it’s a saying or a particular imprint.
For example, the Harry Potter crew left imprints of their wands.
Fortunately, the OSCAR construction crew didn’t cover up this area and Kalyra got to see her favorite Harry Potter stars embedded in the pavement.
Madame Tussauds Hollywood
Can you believe this is the first time we’ve gone to a Madame Tussauds in Los Angeles?
We always felt it was a silly idea and a waste of money. But it was included on our LA Sightseeing Pass and we had an attraction spare so we went as our kids were begging us!
We found this kid friendly thing to do in LA surprisingly quite fun, and liked how you could interact with the wax figures in various ways for photos. The girls really had a great time taking selfies with their favorites.
It is amazing how life-like and realistic these wax versions are!
Eat On The Carneys Train
Sunset Blvd is famous mostly for adult experiences, but one of the fun things to do in Los Angeles with kids is eat at Carneys Restaurant, which is actually a train carriage you sit inside of.
This is a LA landmark, and a family owned business that prides itself on serving some of the best hamburgers and hot dogs in Los Angeles.
Our kids had fun and enjoyed their burger and hot dog, and don’t leave out the chili fries too!
Hollywood – Behind the Scenes Walking Tour
If you’re looking for even more things to do with kids in Hollywood, consider doing this 75 minute behind the scenes walking tour.
We’re doing more of these walking tours as you learn so many cool stories and a deeper history to a certain area.
This one changed our opinion on Hollywood and gave it more meaning. Without it, it just would have just been a few stars with names on the sidewalk and some hand prints in the cement.
Because of this kid-friendly tour we learned of the traditions behind this and how the whole celebrity stardom thing happened – with one man’s dream to change the local Hollywood residents’ opinion of the actors and actresses who weren’t really anybody back at the time.
Our guide was local from the area, and interacted with and kept our kids entertained. It’s a fun thing for kids to do in LA.
Go On An Urban Hike in Griffith Park
If you’re looking for stuff to do in LA away from the urban congestion and in nature, Griffith Park is one of the largest urban wilderness municipal parks in the US.
Located in the Santa Monica mountain range, it’s approximately a 20-minute drive north-west of Downtown and offers several hiking trails, deep canyons, pony rides, and stunning views over LA.
If I lived in LA, I’d be hiking here all the time, especially considering it’s one of those FREE things to do in LA with kids.
We did the hike to the Mt Hollywood Summit, a 4 mile loop trail, which offered spectacular views of Downtown LA, the Griffith Observatory, Hollywood Hills and the Hollywood sign.
We didn’t make it to the sign – it was much longer to get all the way there, so it’s going on our list of Los Angeles family activities for next time!
The LA Sightseeing Pass includes guided hikes in Griffith Park if you did not want to do it yourself. It’s perfectly safe and enjoyable to do it solo as a family activity in LA!
Watch this video of a few LA hikes:
Walk Rodeo Drive
Probably more suitable as things to do in Los Angeles with teenagers, but another Los Angeles sightseeing activity Kalyra really wanted to do was visit Rodeo Drive.
She followers a few YouTubers who frequent this street so wanted see all the glitz and glamour.
And when you visit LA, this is definitely one of the places where it’s best to leave your credit cards at home – unless of course you have the means to spend like $750,000 for a designer suit at House of Bijan!
We saw some of the most ridiculous and expensive clothes in Gucci. Each to their own of course, and when you have the $$$$ I guess you gotta stay cool.
Our girls LOVED pretending to be rich and famous on this street.
And why not pop into the Beverly Wiltshire Four Seasons for a sticky beak. We would loved to have sat at the bar having a cocktail. But, wasn’t sure how kid-friendly it was.
Movie Stars Homes Tour – family friendly LA activity
We enjoyed this family friendly Los Angeles tour.
Caz and I did one years ago pre-kids, and all I remember is seeing a lot of high gates and privacy walls.
But, I found this one more interesting. And Kalyra was excited to see the homes of Katy Perry, Beyonce and Bruno Mars.
Again, there were a lot of high gates but we still got glimpses of properties with okay views, and saw the round glass rental home Justin Bieber got kicked out of when his mate threw a party when he was out of town.
It was nice sitting back of the open top van hearing the stories and taking in the beautiful Hollywood Hills and Mulholland Drive views.
We were able to go into the exclusive neighborhood of Bel Air and help Kalyra’s dream of one day owning a house like Beyoncé’s and Jay Z’s $80 million dollar home.
We also enjoyed driving along Mulholland Drive and looking out over the valleys and Beverly Hills gated communities.
It helped us to appreciate LA more and get the allure of living in this city.
- Get your individual ticket for the tour here
- Or it is included in the Sightseeing Pass which you can purchase here.
Griffith Park offers numerous LA attractions, including Griffith Observatory which sits perched on a hilltop below the Hollywood Sign.
We had great views of this during our hike here, and then walked down and around the perimeter. Unfortunately it was closed as we visited on President’s Day.
The observatory has public telescopes and star parties, and we’d like to go back, especially at night and do some star gazing and to see the Samuel Oschin Planetarium.
So consider putting this on your list of fun family things to do in LA at night.
Melrose Ave Walking Tour
Our girls loved this Melrose Ave tour so don’t be afraid to take you kids. You can of course do it yourself.
We had a blast exploring the art murals on Melrose Ave and taking photos. There are so many and they change all the time.
We decided to do a walking tour which turned out to be one of the most fun things to do in LA with kids. You could do it yourself, but we loved having a guide to take us to the best spots and even help us create cool poses.
Melrose Ave in LA is the area for those who love funk, edge, art murals, boutique shopping and loads more. You can just wander up and down here looking in the stores and taking selfies with the painted walls.
The tour started by grabbing a cup of boutique coffee and then hitting the murals, learning more about the art and couture of hip Melrose Ave.
The murals here are changing all the time so you can keep coming back.
Santa Monica Pier
This is one of the most popular things for kids to do in Los Angeles.
But, we’ve never been huge fans of Santa Monica Pier, or the Third Street Promenade, and our recent visit hasn’t changed our minds.
We find the pier too busy, too tacky, with crappy food and rides. If you want rides, I suggest you go to Universal, or Six Flags, or Disneyland.
And many people have since told us how underwhelming they found it too.
But hey, if it’s your first time visiting LA with kids, of course go see it once and decide for yourself.
We did discover a cool family friendly brewery though, The Dudes Brewing Co. And on our next visit we’d like to explore the more local flavor of Santa Monica but we ran out of time with our bike ride to Venice Beach.
Bike from Santa Monica to Venice Beach
Put this on your list of fun things to do in LA with kids.
You can rent bikes down by Santa Monica beach for around $7 an hour or $20 a day. You can also rent a bike here for $45 a day to explore all of LA. As we’re on a 1 year USA road trip we had our own.
It’s an easy a 3 mile cycle along the boardwalk that’s filled with other cyclists, walkers, runners, and roller skaters, you name it.
Explore Venice Beach
Venice Beach is one of the top things to do in Los Angeles for first time visitors.
We enjoyed watching the skateboarders, basketball games, gymnasts, buskers and people watching.
There was this young skateboarder, maybe 9 years old girl absolutely carving up the skate ramp when we last visited – our kids loved watching her.
Venice is colorful and just eclectically cool. We kind of like it’s psychedelic ambiance that’s trapped in the hippy free love movement of the sixties.
If you’re looking for colorful LA experiences, then Venice Beach is the place for you.
There is a nice sized boardwalk filled with shops and a few restaurants/cafes, colorful murals and the odd busker and artist selling their wares.
And the people watching is first class!
Be prepared for whiffs of marijuana though, it’s legal in California, and the homelessness, so maybe prepare your kids for that.
Again, when you visit Los Angeles with kids for the first time, Venice is one of those places to experience at least once.
Discover Manhattan and Hermosa Beaches
We tell all of our Australian (and international readers) to head to the South Bay beaches of Manhattan and Hermosa, which are not far from LAX.
These beach towns are two of the best places in Los Angeles that offer a local vibe and feel, especially compared to the over touristy Santa Monica, and Venice.
If you enjoy beach volleyball, then Manhattan Beach and Hermosa are the best places to visit in Los Angeles to have a friendly game. In fact, they call Manhattan Beach the Volleyball Capital of the World.
We love to ride along the beach promenade between Manhattan Pier and Hermosa Pier (you can even go further: north to Marina Del Rey and South to Redondo Beach). It’s one of our fave family activities in Los Angeles.
California wins with epic sunsets.
Of course, you get to watch it dip below the ocean horizon. We loved our evening sunset bike ride from El Segundo to Manhattan and watching the sunset.
The sunsets on the beaches are worth the trip alone.
Make sure you stop for a sundowner at one of the many beer gardens along the promenade. And be sure to grab some ice creams for the kids!
LA Beaches Video:
Check out more of the South Bay Beaches, Palos Verdes Drive and Venice Beach in our video:
Slide Down California’s Tallest Building
Are you and your kids brave enough to slide from the 70th floor to the 60th floor of California’s tallest building on a see through glass slide?
All four of us did this no problem, but a lady in front of us hesitated forever and then screamed the city down!
The slide is over within seconds and you barely notice you’re held up by a piece of glass hanging off the side of a building. I promise it’s not that scary.
It is a little expensive though.
But the Oue Skyspace in Downtown LA is a unique experience and worth doing if your budget is not too tight. It offers 360-degree panoramic views of LA, with some interesting and fun displays on show. It’s high screaming family fun in LA.
We almost had the OUE Skyspace to ourselves. If that was in Chicago or New York City, you’d be lining up for hours!
So if you find yourself in downtown LA, put this on your list of best things to do in Los Angeles with kids.
And thankfully, it’s included in the Los Angeles Sightseeing Pass.
The Last Bookstore
If any of you in your family are book lovers, one of the cool things to do in downtown LA is visit The Last Bookstore.
It’s a very cool space to browse, read, buy books and check out quirky book sculptures, and get some fun photos. And of course, admission is free!
Ride Angels Flight Railway
Also in Downtown LA, and across the road from Grand Central Markets (which is a cool spot to eat or wander through by the way), is a bright orange archway leading to the world’s shortest railway at 298 feet.
Angels Flight Railway is a quirky historical landmark and was originally built (in a nearby location) to carry residents of the luxe homes on Bunker Hill to their jobs in downtown.
If your kids like train rides, they will enjoy this family friendly LA attraction.
Open daily, 365 days a year, and only costs $1 each way.
Runyon Canyon Hike
For more hiking adventures in LA, we headed to Runyon Canyon, which is one of the most accessible hikes as it backs onto Mulholland Drive on one end and West Hollywood on the other.
This also makes it one of the busiest, since it’s a small hiking area and popular with locals.
There are plenty of paved trails winding up and down the hills filled with runners, walkers and dogs.
This short hike offered more stunning views of the Hollywood Hills and Downtown LA. It’s an easy kid-friendly Los Angeles activity.
Although not specifically a children museum, the Getty Museum is one of the popular free things to do with kids in Los Angeles (you have to pay $15 for parking).
We’re not big art or museum people so found this a little boring, but most art lovers will rave about it.
The Getty Center sits atop a hill in Brentwood, and is reached via a three car cable pulled tram from the bottom car park.
The museum specializes in artworks, but way more interesting to us was the architecture of the building, the views and the beautiful sculptured gardens that surround the museum.
So if you’re not a big art lover like us, and you have a few spare hours it’s worth a visit. It’s a great LA museum for kids if they love art.
For other museums, consider Exposition Park. Or for arts centers consider Watts Towers. For dinosaur and fossil lovers you will want to visit La Brea Tar Pits, where you can see ice age fossils uncovered during an LA subway dig. A very cool LA attraction for families!
How To Save Money On Los Angeles Attractions With Kids
If you plan on doing a few attractions in LA with kids, consider purchasing a Sightseeing Pass.
It is a city discount card which will save you money on several big name attractions, including several we listed above.
An alternative is the Go Los Angeles Attraction Card. Save up to 50% off retail prices on admission to over 30 top attractions and tours including Universal Studios Hollywood, Madame Tussauds and more.
If you are visiting multiple cities in the USA, a USA Sightseeing Pass may work better for you.
Getting To and Around LA
Parking in LA
Parking in LA was not as bad as I was anticipating. Other cities in the US will charge more.
- Down on the beach in Santa Monica down you can find parking in their beach lots for $7- 10 a day.
- Hollywood & Highland shopping center on Hollywood Blvd offers $3 for two hours if you get the ticket validated at a store inside. (Tip: the Visitor Center can validate it!)
- Melrose Ave side streets were only $1 an hour in the meters
- Malibu has free parking everywhere
Metro light rail and bus lines
You can ride the metro to most places in LA.
You can even make connections that will take you as far as Santa Barbara and San Diego, and with traffic, it may be a far better option.
The TAP card is a reusable transit-fare card that can be used at 26 LA transit agencies, making it easy to ride Metro alternatives. It can be purchased and loaded with fare at Metro stations and local vendors Check taptogo.net for more
You can use the Metro’s itinerary planner to help you map your routes.
We did not experience the metro on our last trip, but we had many years previous.
Bike Sharing in LA
There are Metro Bike Shares located all over the city and outside many Metro Stops. It’s available 24/7 and costs $1.75 per 30 minutes.
You can also purchase a day pass ($5 for unlimited trips free trips for 30 minutes or less. That means every 30 minutes you have to check your b bike in and swap it with another.
It will cost $1.75 per 30 minutes you go over the 30 minute free trip limit.
You can rent bikes down by Santa Monica beach for around $7 an hour or $20 a day. You can also rent a bike here for $45 a day to explore all of LA.
The scooter sharing programs are now popular and can be found all over the city.
For nervous bikers, perhaps a bike tour may be more your style:
- Santa Monica and Venice 3 hour electric bike tour
- LA in a day bike tour
- Hollywood Bike Tour
- Beverly Hills Bike Tour
Flights to LA
- Skyscanner is a comparison website that searches millions of flights. Once you find your best deal, book directly through the airline (no extra fees).
- Finding cheap deals on flights is easy with Scott’s Cheap Flights
Car Rental in LA
- RentalCars.com is the world’s biggest car rental booking service that compares all the major brands like Hertz, Avis, Alamo, and Europcar. You may want to rent a car if you want to visit beyond Los Angeles, like the scenic coastal drive to San Pedro, or as far as San Deigo.
LA Tours & Sightseeing
Our partner, the Get Your Guide tour company offers many LA tours and attractions. They have lowest prices, guaranteed — no booking fees or hidden charges.
You can pre-book tickets and skip the line at top attractions and cancel up to 24 hours before.
Where To Stay in LA with kids
So, where to stay in Los Angeles with kids?
Being a travel town, there are endless choices for places to stay in LA. Consider length of stay, which areas you’ll spend more time in, ease of access, amenities and budget.
Places to stay in Hollywood and Universal City with Kids
Where should I stay in Los Angeles with kids close to Universal Studios?
- The Garland – Located in North Hollywood near Universal Studios it offers retro cool rooms on a seven acre shaded property.
- Hilton Los Angeles – One block from Universal (with free shuttles) and a short trip to Hollywood, this is a great family hotel option.
Places to stay in Beverly Hills and Westside Glamor with kids
- Kimpton Hotel Wilshire – a sleek boutique hotel located near Beverly Hills, The Grove and LACMA. Rooftop pool and views await. We stayed at a Kimpton in Huntington Beach which we loved!
- Hotel Bel-Air – Located in a tranquil wooded hills setting, this exclusive luxury accommodation will give you a taste of the celebrity life.
- Four Seasons Beverly Hills for the ultimate celebrity like accommodation. Remember Pretty Woman? This is the hotel. It’s just off Rodeo Drive
Where to stay in Downtown LA with kids
Art and culture lovers and business travelers will want to stay in Downtown LA
- The NoMad Hotel Los Angeles Downtown LA’s historic Giannini Building, the NoMad Los Angeles features several on-site dining options and a rooftop pool.
- The Ace Hotel – this hotel in the historic United Artists Building gets my vote. I especially LOVE the rooftop pool and sunset views.
- Sheraton Grand in the heart of the financial district. Great for business travelers and conference attendees
- Hotel Indigo you can read our review of this boutique Downtown LA hotel
Kid Friendly Places to stay in Manhattan and Hermosa Beaches
There aren’t a lot of hotel choices here. Airbnb may be a better option
- Westdrift Manhattan Beach Autograph Collection by Marriott: Golf club, outdoor pool,fitness center and only a mile from the ocean
- Hermosa Hotel – 0.8 of a mile from Hermosa beach offers spacious rooms, heated pool and not tub year round.
Airbnb Rentals in LA
You can often find great deals on Airbnb rentals for LA. See what’s available in the following LA neighborhoods
- West Hollywood
- South Bay Beaches
- Santa Monica
- Downtown LA – this is also the property I stayed at
More Things to Do in LA With Kids
Here are tips on more places to go in LA and family things to do:
And here are a few other kid friendly activities in Los Angeles people suggested that we haven’t done yet:
- California Science Center (See the Space Shuttle Endeavour)
- Natural History Museum
- La Brea Tar Pits
- LA Zoo
- Long Beach
Things to Do in California With Kids
The links below will take you to posts on other things to do in California with kids with detailed information:
- 30 Incredible Places to Visit in California For Your California Bucket List
- 5 Incredible National Parks in California To Set Foot In
- 16 things to do in San Diego with kids
- A Dream Disneyland trip
- Things to do in Orange County with kids
- 10 day itinerary for Southern California
- Lost Coast California Road trip and Redwood National Park
More USA Cities
- 16 awesome things to do in San Diego with kids
- 3 day itinerary for New York City
- 33 cool things to do with kids in Seattle
- 15 awesome things to do in Nashville with kids
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We hope this helped with your Los Angeles family vacation itinerary plans. If you have any questions or tips on what to do in Los Angeles, or what is there to do in Southern California with kids, share in the comments below