12 Things To Do with Family in Los Angeles, California

Last Updated on February 15, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Los Angeles is one of the top family destinations in the United States, offering a wide variety of activities and attractions for visitors of all ages. From world-famous theme parks like Disneyland to kid-friendly museums and scenic nature spots, there is something to entertain every member of the family. The sunny weather also makes outdoor adventures possible year-round.

The mix of urban cityscapes and natural landscapes creates unique opportunities to both explore vibrant urban neighborhoods and get out into nature within a short drive. Iconic destinations like the Santa Monica Pier or Hollywood Bowl capture the essence of LA’s culture, while spots like the Los Angeles Zoo let kids get up close to exotic animals.

With so many options to choose from, planning the perfect family vacation in LA can feel overwhelming. To help narrow things down, here are 12 top things to do with family in Los Angeles, California.

Spend a Day at Disneyland

No family trip to Southern California is complete without a visit to Disneyland. Both kids and kids-at-heart will enjoy the Magic Kingdom’s rides, shows, characters, and parades. Be sure to stay into the evening to catch the spectacular nighttime fireworks over Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.

Plan at least one full day to take in favorites like Space Mountain and It’s a Small World, as well as newer Star Wars-themed attractions. Stopping for photos with Disney characters is a must. Staying overnight at one of the Disneyland Resort hotels completes the immersive experience.

Best for: All ages, especially kids under 12.

Explore the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum

The bubbling asphalt pits that trapped ancient beasts have fascinated kids and scientists alike for generations. At the Page Museum next to the tar pits, get eye-to-eye with creatures like sabercats and dire wolves.

Virtual reality presentations let visitors see and hear what life was like during the Ice Age. Newer exhibits showcase hundreds more specimens in addition to celebrity creatures like the La Brea Woman. Outside, watch paleontologists working at the Fossil Lab before heading out on a family scavenger hunt.

Best for: Kids 5 and up interested in fossils, dinosaurs, Ice Age mammals or archaeology; great educational spot.

Ride the Rollercoasters at Six Flags Magic Mountain

For families with thrill-seekers and coaster enthusiasts, Six Flags Magic Mountain delivers adrenaline-pumping rides for all risk levels. Challenge your bravest to face off against Superman Escape from Krypton, which includes twin towers that blast you backwards at 100 mph.

Have smaller kids tackle the tamer coaster options perfect for beginners. When you need a break from the wild rides, enjoy tamer options like carousels and bumper cars together. Fuel up on theme park food classics before repeating your favorites.

Best for: Families with kids over 42” tall who love adventure. Height restrictions vary per ride.

Sunbathe and Swim at Santa Monica Beach

With its iconic pier, amusement park rides, funky street performers, and wide sandy beach, Santa Monica beckons families looking to soak up the classic SoCal beach scene. Build sandcastles, play volleyball, go surfing or stand-up paddleboarding, or simply relax and watch the waves.

Rent bikes and ride from Venice Beach up to Malibu along the bike path with stunning ocean views. Fuel up on tacos and ice cream on the pier before browsing the eclectic shops on the Third Street Promenade. Catch the sunset with a picnic dinner on the sand.

Best for: Beach lovers and families who want a quintessential California beach day; good for all ages.

Hike Runyon Canyon Park

Pack the family into your hiking shoes and head out on the trails winding through Runyon Canyon Park in the Hollywood Hills. Well-behaved leashed dogs are welcome too. Climb up to the top of the canyon through relatively undulating terrain and pause to take in views of downtown LA and the Hollywood sign.

Have an aspiring actress practice an acceptance speech on the Inspiration Point platform. Check out the crumbling remains of the Runyon estate. Spot hawks and owls hiding in the trees. Finish with lunch at nearby Farmer’s Market.

Best for: Families who like easy hiking and want cool city views.

Tour Paramount Pictures Studios

Get an insider’s view into Hollywood magic at the only major studio that offers public tours. Walk through the soundstages and city block sets featured in productions like Friends and Star Trek. Check out the wardrobe and props departments to see artifacts like the Maltese Falcon and Indiana Jones’ bullwhip up close.

Snap photos under the iconic Paramount Pictures archway entrance before exploring the newly expanded Edgemar center, featuring Friends’ Central Perk cafe and Chandler and Joey’s apartment decorated just like on the show, perfect for family pics.

Best for: Older kids and teens who love TV shows and movies; families interested in the entertainment industry.

Catch a Baseball Game at Dodger Stadium

Few activities say family bonding more than cheering for the home team at the “ballpark in the ravine”. Watching a Dodgers game at Dodger Stadium is a rite of passage, from eating classic ballpark foods like Dodger dogs and garlic fries to participating in fan traditions like the 7th inning stretch sing-a-long.

Get there early to watch batting practice and try catching a fly or home run ball during the game. Fireworks and music after Friday and Saturday night games extend the fun.

Best for: Sports lovers, especially families with kids who play baseball or softball.

Explore Kid-Friendly Museums

When you’ve had your fill of the California sunshine, Los Angeles has an abundance of top-notch museums to education and entertain kids and parents alike.

Dinosaur Hall at The Natural History Museum lets you come face-to-face with T-Rex and experience what it would be like if dinosaurs were alive today. The California Science Center is home to the Space Shuttle Endeavor and inspires future inventors and astronauts with hands-on exhibits. The Petersen Automotive Museum has exhibits on cars in film that will tempt the family gearhead. Kids and adults alike will enjoy experiencing living history at The Autry Museum of the American West.

If modern art is more your style, introduce kids to Contemporary artists at The Broad museum Downtown. Connect over Contemporary architecture at The Getty Center, where kids get their own audio tour guides. Afterwards, enjoy the gardens and jaw-dropping views over Los Angeles.

Best for: Kids interested in science, nature, cars, history, art, inventions, space travel and more. Great rainy day activity.

Shop and Snack on Melrose Avenue

Bring your fashionable teens and tweens to shop the eclectic boutiques, vintage stores, and streetwear brands lining the Melrose shopping area between Fairfax and La Brea. Look for current trends and designer pieces consignment stores like Buffalo Exchange. Check out kitschy paper goods and novelty gifts at Papyrus and Kitson. Fantasize about owning a supercar at the Pedego Electric Bicycle store featuring a luxury car on their roof.

Refuel on cheeseburgers and shakes at The Apple Pan, famous for being featured in movies. Indulge your sweet tooth with rainbow unicorn cotton candy from Sugardaddy’s. Finish with chocolate ice cream sandwiches from Afters Ice Cream made with real Milano cookies.

Best for: Teens and tweens who love to shop. Good stop for families craving comfort food treats.

Ride the Legacy Trail from Griffith Park to the Beach

Cover over 26 miles from inland to ocean on this epic family bike ride. Start by renting cruisers near the Griffith Park merry go round. Pedal around the park to work up an appetite before stopping for brunch at Trejo’s Tacos run by Danny Trejo of Machete fame.

Continue on the LA River Bike Path viewing metal artists’ studios and murals in the Arts District along the way. Pass Dodger Stadium and connect to the Ballona Creek Path taking you all the way to Marina Del Rey. Celebrate making it to the beach with refreshments before returning via Uber or bike rentals. Use the bike paths to avoid traffic when possible.

Best for: Active families and kids age 10+ able to handle longer rides. Break into multiple days for younger kids.

Attend a Show at the Hollywood Bowl

Seeing a performance at the iconic Hollywood Bowl under the stars is a quintessential LA experience. Pack a picnic dinner to nosh on with wine for parents and juices for kids beforehand. Get tickets for a family-friendly concert option like movie music night or a Disney sing-along concert so younger ones can sing and dance along. Share binoculars to get closeup views of the orchestra and performers from the cheap bench seats. Glimpse the Hollywood sign from your perch after enjoying some musical magic.

Best for: Families who enjoy music outdoors; good for a wide range of ages.

See Exotic Animals at the Los Angeles Zoo

Get ready for roars, hoots, and trumpeting when you visit the LA Zoo in Griffith Park. Say hello to gorillas swinging overhead and get splashy with playful sea lions at mealtimes. Journey through different continents to spot creatures like red pandas in Asia, zebras in Africa, and koalas in Australia without leaving Southern California.

Don’t miss the Rainforest of the Americas indoor exhibit to observe jaguars, giant anteaters, and tiny poison dart frogs in tropical environments. Hand feed giraffes from an elevated platform for an unforgettable up-close encounter. Picnic grounds make the zoo a convenient day trip spot to please animal lovers young and old.

Best for: Families with kids who love learning about wildlife and exotic animals. Good for a wide range of ages.

Conclusion

With endless options for quality time ranging from playing at theme parks to exploring museums to hiking and biking around the city, Los Angeles offers unique and varied ways to bond as a family.

Take time to discover each distinct neighborhood for a mix of urban adventures and outdoor excursions. Whether trying new activities or enjoying iconic attractions, families who visit Los Angeles are sure to create special memories to last a lifetime.

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