Updated for 2022
Los Angeles has a wealth of amazing kid-friendly museums with interactive exhibits, cool experiments, live animals and spectacular play spaces. From exploring the past to sustaining the future, from playtime to hands-on educational STEM opportunities, this list of family-friendly museums in Los Angeles offers children of all ages the best options for discovering history, science, technology, culture, art and, most of all, fun!
Everyone in Southern California should count themselves lucky, because there are literally dozens of Museums and Cultural Institutions for us to see and interact with. We hope you get a chance to visit all the terrific places on the list.
- Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
- Aquarium of the Pacific
- Autry Museum of the American West
- Battleship IOWA
- Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
- California African American Museum
- California Science Center
- Cayton Children’s Museum
- Chinese American Museum
- Discovery Cube Los Angeles
- Discovery Cube Orange County
- Getty Center
- Getty Villa
- GRAMMY Museum
- Griffith Observatory
- Heritage Square Museum
- Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens
- Japanese American National Museum
- Kidseum at the Bowers Museum
- Kidspace Children’s Museum
- La Brea Tar Pits and Page Museum
- La Plaza de Cultura y Artes
- Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
- Los Angeles Fire Department Museum
- Los Angeles Zoo
- Lucas Museum of Narrative Art
- March Field Air Museum
- Museum of Flying
- Museum of Latin American Art
- Natural History Museum
- Petersen Automotive Museum
- Pretend City Children’s Museum
- Ronald Reagan Presidential Library
- Skirball Cultural Center
- USC Pacific Asia Museum
- Travel Town Museum
- Zimmerman Automobile Driving Museum
Best Museums for Kids in Los Angeles and Around SoCal
1. Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
6067 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles 90036
Opened in 2021, this is the movie museum that Los Angeles has been waiting for. The “Entertainment Capital of the World” is now the home of a space that pays homage to film and the filmmakers we all love. There are exhibits designed for all ages, and your whole family is sure to find it delightful. Of course there’s a terrific screening facility on site, and the Academy hosts weekly family movie matinees, various family events throughout the year, and hosts monthly “Calm Mornings” designed for neurodivergent visitors can experience the museum with lowered light and sound levels.
2. The Aquarium of the Pacific
100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach 90802
The Aquarium is a terrific place to take your kids, especially when they’re young. The multi-colored fish and marine life are eye-catching and will delight children – and the adults who accompany them! Plus it’s a way to learn about animals from deep under the sea that we may never get to see up close any other way.
3. Autry Museum of the American West
4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles, CA 90027
The Autry Museum celebrates the history, art, and culture of the American West. The Museum is home to a number of permanent exhibits that help visitors get a sense of how things have changed (and remained the same) over the years. The Autry is considered to be the only museum of its kind that combines Western history and cultures with Native American perspectives. The Autry also offers a number of family-friendly and interactive activities. Kids will have fun learning how movie sound effects are made, panning for “gold,” sitting on top of a mock-up of a horse (in front of a screen) and pretending to ride along in a western film!
4. Battleship IOWA Museum
250 S. Harbor Blvd., San Pedro 90731
A visit to San Pedro wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Battleship IOWA. This battleship is in fact an interactive naval museum. Families can take a self-guided tour and get a sense of what life was like for our country’s sailors. Known as the “Battleship of Presidents,” the IOWA served our country for over 50 years. In addition, special attention has been made to make sure that the youngest visitors are engaged in their visit. There’s a special “Victory the Dog Adventure” scavenger hunt for kids.
5. Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
3720 Stephen M. White Dr., San Pedro 90731
Kids will certainly enjoy a visit to the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. The Aquarium houses a large collection of Southern California marine life. Inside the 21,000 square-foot Frank Gehry-designed facility, you’ll find an auditorium, an Aquatic Nursery, an outdoor tide pool touch tank, a teaching laboratory, an Exploration Center, and more. The Aquarium also hosts a variety of special events throughout the year.
6. California African American Museum (CAAM)
600 State Dr., Los Angeles 90037
The California African American Museum, located within Exposition Park, focuses on the art and culture of African Americans, specifically focusing on California and the Western part of the United States. There are over 5000 objects in the permanent collection, ranging from the 1800s to the present, and includes painting, sculptures, works on paper, film, photographs, and historical documents.
7. California Science Center
700 Exposition Park Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90037
The Science Center is open to the public seven days a week, 362 days per year, with free general admission to its permanent exhibit galleries. The Science Center spans more than 400,000 sq. feet and includes four major exhibit sections: World of Life, Creative World, Ecosystems and the amazing Space Shuttle Endeavor that is a must see.
8. Cayton Children’s Museum
(formerly The Zimmer Museum)
395 Santa Monica Place, Suite 374, Santa Monica, CA 90401
The Cayton Children’s Museum is dedicated to teaching everyone about the big ideas of global citizenship, community responsibility, and cultural sensitivity. Their mission is to promote values that help make a better society through interactive learning, creative self-expression and art experiences for children of all ages.
9. Chinese American Museum
425 N. Los Angeles St., Los Angeles 90012
The Chinese American Museum is located at the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, inside one of the oldest surviving Chinese buildings in Southern California. Through the Museum’s exhibits, visitors will learn about the role Chinese Americans have played throughout history. Different exhibits document different aspects of Chinese American life.
10 + 11. Discovery Cube Los Angeles and Orange County
11800 Foothill Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 91342
2500 N Main Street, Santa Ana, CA 92805
The Discovery Cube is a fantastic museum, with two locations in SoCal, dedicated to teaching STEM proficiency, Environmental Stewardship, Healthy Living and Early Learning. From stepping into a simulated helicopter to take a tour of California’s natural resources to a scavenger hunt in a grocery store, the fun and learning never ends at the Discovery Cube. Read our guide!
12. The Getty Center
1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90049-1679
The J. Paul Getty Trust is a cultural and philanthropic institution dedicated to critical thinking in the presentation, conservation, and interpretation of the world’s artistic legacy. You can see a dazzling display of priceless art, architecture, and gardens, and admission to the Getty Center is FREE, although you will need to pay for parking.
13. The Getty Villa
17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90272
The Getty Villa may seem like an unusual choice for taking the kids, as the museum is filled with antiquities rather than STEM exhibits, but the setting in Malibu is lovely and we feel it’s a wonderful place to take the kids. You’ll be able to stroll the grounds of what is an amazing recreation of an ancient Roman country home. Besides being FREE to visit, there are several special activities designed for families you should try. Note that you will need to pay for parking.
14. GRAMMY Museum at L.A. Live
800 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90015
If your kids love music, then the GRAMMY Museum should definitely be on your must-visit list. In addition to exhibits showing how the actual Grammy award has evolved over time, the Museum has several permanent exhibits about different aspects of the music-making process. Kids will enjoy seeing a variety of memorabilia including hand-written lyrics, photos, costumes, and more. Be sure to spend some time in the “Roland LIVE” section where families can play electronic musical instruments.
15. Griffith Observatory
2800 E. Observatory Rd., Los Angeles 90027
The Griffith Observatory brings the wonder of outer space in a family-friendly, accessible way. There are telescopes and a multitude of exhibits that will keep the kids (and parents) engaged, curious, and in awe. And on clear days, you’ll enjoy great views of Los Angeles and the Hollywood sign! There is a cafe on site as well. (Outside food and drinks are not permitted inside the Observatory).
16. Heritage Square Museum
3800 Homer Street, Los Angeles 90031
Heritage Square is made up of eight beautiful buildings, constructed in the Victorian Era, and preserved in order to demonstrate what life was like in the early days of Los Angeles. There are Living History performances and special events like Museums of the Arroyo Day, and special holiday events each year as well. Parking can be a challenge, but kids can roam free on the grounds, which is a not true of every museum.
17. Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens
1151 Oxford Road, San Marino 91108
At the Huntington you’ll see it all: First editions of literary works, great works of art, beautiful gardens, wildlife (including several types of birds, squirrels, and koi fish in the ponds). In the Library, you’ll find early editions of Shakespeare’s works, Henry David Thoreau’s manuscript of Walden, a Gutenberg Bible, and much more. The Art Collection includes 440 sculptures and 650 paintings with European art from the 15th to early 20th century and American art from the late 17th century to mid-20th century. Popular pieces include Thomas Gainsborough’s Blue Boy and Pinkie by Sir Thomas Lawrence. 12 gardens with 15,000 different varieties of plants will give the kids lots to explore, including a rose garden, a California garden, a jungle garden, and more. And the Children’s Garden gives kids the chance to learn about earth, air, fire, and water in an interactive, fun way. There’s even an afternoon tea service.
18. Japanese American National Museum
100 N. Central Ave., Los Angeles 90012
The Japanese American National Museum is a one-of-a-kind place, dedicated to the history of Japanese Americans, and to a deeper understanding of cultural diversity. There are frank depictions of the discrimination many Japanese Americans faced during World War II, along with educational resources for children. The Museum celebrates the cultural contributions made by Japanese Americans and hosts many special events throughout the year, each designed to be welcoming and educational.
19. Kidseum at Bowers Museum
1802 N. Main St., Santa Ana, CA 92706
NOTE: The Kidseum is currently undergoing renovations, but family programming continues at the Bowers. Kidseum gives kids the opportunity to learn about cultures and art from around the world. Kids will find many ways to be actively engaged here including creating art, being an archaeologist for a day, traveling through time (through the magic of the Green Screen Time Machine), and more.
20. Kidspace Children’s Museum
480 North Arroyo Boulevard, Pasadena, CA 91103
The Kidspace Children’s Museum has over 3.5 acres of interactive environments with a mission to nurture the potential of all children through kid-driven experiences, inspiring them to become joyful, active learners. The Robert and Mary Galvin Physics Forest is a super fun outdoor interactive experience with 13 different hands-on exhibits to nurture and inspire children to be the innovators and creators of tomorrow.
21. La Brea Tar Pits and Page Museum
5801 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036
The Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits is the only consistently active urban Ice Age excavation site in the world and it houses one of the world’s largest and most diverse collections of Late Pleistocene fossils. After The Page Museum excavates ice age creatures outside in the tar pits, they bring them inside the Page Museum where visitors can watch paleontology in action.
22. La Plaza de Cultura y Artes
501 N Main St., Los Angeles 90012
A visit to this museum will illuminate the role played by Mexican, Mexican Americans, and Latinos in helping to create the Los Angeles we live in. Through exhibitions about the history of Los Angeles, as well as galleries filled with art, this museum is meant to be enjoyed by all. There’s also a beautiful garden and event space outside, and they host family programming throughout the year. As a bonus, their location near Olvera Street, Union Station, and the Chinese American Museum means you can make it a full day of LA History
23. Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036
LACMA is undergoing a massive renovation at the time of publication, which means there are temporarily fewer indoor exhibits to explore. However, there is still some amazing art to see, including “Metropolis II,” by the artist Chris Burden, which is sure to fascinate kids (as much as it does adults). The outdoor sculpture gardens that remain open include some iconic and amazing things to see. For example, try walking underneath “Levitated Mass,” a giant boulder suspended over a walkway that should make everyone appreciate the engineering required, or get a selfie in front of “Urban Light,” with dozens of light poles placed in formation – possibly one of the most “Instagrammable spots” in Los Angeles.
24. Los Angeles Fire Department Museum
1335 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028
Kids who love learning about firefighters will love visiting the L.A. Fire Department Museum in Hollywood. Families will view classic LAFD vehicles and equipment, memorabilia, and there’s also a special kids education center. The Museum is housed in Old Fire Station 27. Check the website for current hours and programming.
25. The Los Angeles Zoo
5333 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles 90027
The Zoo is like a Museum of animals, and as a bonus, our Zoo is also a botanical garden, with over 750 species of plants on site. This living museum is perfect for kids (of all ages) who want to see, learn about, and interact with animals from all over the world.
Related: The Best Botanical Gardens in SoCal
26. Lucas Museum of Narrative Art * Coming Soon
Exposition Park, Los Angeles 90007
Currently under construction, this is sure to be one of the most highly anticipated museum openings anywhere. Founded by filmmaker George Lucas and his wife Mellody Hobson, the museum will be dedicated to the art of visual storytelling. The building is sure to transform Exposition Park, with a purported 100,000 square feet of gallery space and 11 acres of surrounding green space. We can’t wait!
27. March Field Air Museum
22550 Van Buren Blvd., Riverside, CA 92518
Families can learn about the history of aviation when they visit the March Field Air Museum. You’ll find one of the largest collections of military aircraft on the West Coast, including over 80 aircraft and more than 30,000 artifacts on display, some of which date back to World War I. Set on 30 acres of outdoor exhibit space, and with two indoor hangars as well, this museum is sure to keep you busy learning and exploring. On display is a full-scale replica aircraft from 1903 that helped launch the era of powered flight, as well as spy planes, unmanned aircraft, cargo planes, bombers, helicopters, and more.
28. Museum of Flying Santa Monica
3100 Airport Ave., Santa Monica 90405
For aviation enthusiasts, a visit to the Museum of Flying is a must-do. Families will find artifacts from the Douglas Aircraft Company, aviation-related art, a replica of the Wright Flyer, a flight simulator, and more. There is also an interactive center for children. And you can sit in the pilot’s chair of a FedEx plane, positioned at the actual height.
29. Museum of Latin American Art
628 Alamitos Avenue, Long Beach 90802
The Museum of Latin American Art is the only museum within the United States that is dedicated to both modern and contemporary Latin American art. Families will enjoy their permanent collection which includes more than 1,300 works of art, including sculpture, painting, photography, and video, all created by more than 350 Latin American artists from 20 Latin American countries. There are special events held throughout the year, all worth checking out.
30. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles
900 Exposition Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90007
The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles protects over 35 million specimens, dating back 4.5 billion years. A trip to the NHM’s new Dinosaur Hall with children of all ages is a sight to behold. It is one of the most extraordinary dinosaur exhibits in the world, and the premier dinosaur experience in the western United States. Inside are more than 300 real fossils, and 20 complete dinosaurs and ancient sea creatures.
31. Petersen Automotive Museum
6060 Wilshire Blvd,, Los Angeles, CA 90036
The Petersen is a great opportunity for family fun and learning, with something that appeals to parents and kids of all ages. From child-centered spaces to recurring programs, visitors are invited to drive into the world of the automobile in lots of different ways. There are interactive exhibits, art projects, automotive awareness workshops and more.
32. Pretend City Children’s Museum
29 Hubble, Irvine, CA 92618
At Pretend City, kids have the chance to be actively engaged and learn how the real world works. Pretend city describes itself as “the world in a nut-shell.” 17 interactive exhibits and activities allow kids to practice problem solving, critical thinking, math skills, and more. Exhibits include an art studio, a cafe, a post office, a grocery store, and more. The Museum is a nut-free facility.
33. Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum
40 Presidential Drive, Simi Valley, CA 93065
The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library is the final resting place of America’s 40th President Ronald Reagan and contains over 55 million pages of Gubernatorial, Presidential and personal papers and over 44,000 gifts and artifacts chronicling the lives of Ronald and Nancy Reagan it is also home to the Air Force One. The Air Force One Discovery Center is an immersive, educational experience meant to inspire the next generation of student leaders.
34. Skirball Cultural Center
2701 North Sepulveda Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90049
Open to the public since 1996, the Skirball Cultural Center has established itself as one of the world’s most dynamic Jewish cultural institutions in Los Angeles. Its mission is to explore the connections between 4,000 years of Jewish heritage and the vitality of American democratic ideals. The Skirball Cultural Center achieves its mission through educational programs that explore the literary, visual, and performing arts from around the world; through the display and interpretation of its permanent collections and changing exhibitions and through an amazing interactive family destination inspired by the Noah’s Ark story.
35. USC Pacific Asia Museum
46 North Los Robles Ave., Pasadena 91101
Located in an historic building designed to resemble an Imperial Chinese Palace, this is a fun museum to visit. You’ll see artifacts from many different Asian cultures, displayed in a beautiful setting. There’s an interactive gallery called Exploring the Silk Road, which is part of the permanent collection, and it’s ideal for families. You’ll find a spot to sit and read, musical instruments kids can touch, a Camel kids can sit upon, and more. And kids are sure to love seeing the koi fish in the garden pond
36. Travel Town Museum
5200 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Located in Griffith Park, Travel Town is a perfect spot to visit for kids who love trains! Learn about railroad history in Los Angeles, walk among a variety of railroad passenger cars, and take a ride on a miniature train. They’re open 364 days of the year (except for Christmas) and there is no admission fee.
37. Zimmerman Automobile Driving Museum
610 Lairport St., El Segundo, CA 90245
Families who are interested in cars should definitely make a point to visit the Automobile Driving Museum. You’ll find over 100 vintage and antique automobiles out on display. The Museum’s purpose is to preserve automotive history and to educate the public. In addition, kids will have fun with a scavenger hunt, playing in a special area with cars and Legos, as well as climbing into two cars on display.
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