Do you have family coming to town next week? Are you looking for something to do? When people think of Los Angeles, they often think of the Hollywood, sunny skies and amusement parks. But there is so much more to Los Angeles. Families can hike, bike, shop, eat, learn and explore in L.A. like in no other place in the world. It wasn’t easy to narrow down, but we’ve compiled our top picks for Family Fun activities in and around Los Angeles.
Visit Griffith Park – You could spend an entire trip to Los Angeles in Griffith Park. The area includes the Los Angeles Zoo, which is home to more than 1,000 mammals, birds, and reptiles and the Griffith Observatory where you can see stars at night and one of the best views of the city during the day. Visitors can go horseback riding or hiking on one of the many park trails while the ambitious family can hike up to the Hollywood sign (actually behind the sign, you can’t get too close to the iconic letters). There is also the Autry National Center that celebrates the culture of the American West and the Travel Town Museum for train-loving kids and adults.
Explore Downtown Los Angeles – Downtown Los Angeles has been revitalized and that means more fun activities for families. If you can get tickets to a show at Walt Disney Concert Hall, there’s not a bad seat in the house. If you can’t, it’s worth driving by and seeing Frank Gehry’s architecture catch the light. New and interesting restaurants are popping up every week, but you’ll want to have lunch at Clifton’s Cafeteria. Kids will love the waterfall, artificial redwood trees and stuffed grizzly bear. You can then walk through Grand Central Market for coffee, produce, more lunch and ice cream. Book-loving families will want to spend time in The Last Bookstore, California’s largest new and used bookstore.
Don’t forget to visit Olvera Street, the “birthplace of Los Angeles” and a Mexican marketplace with shopping, restaurants and docent led tours of El Pueblo Historical Monument. Or the vibrant Little Tokyo neighborhood with its bustling shops, restaurants and museums.
Head to the Beach – Every trip to Los Angeles should include a trip to the beach. You can lie on the sand in Santa Monica, people watch on the Venice Beach boardwalk (don’t forget to get your medical marijuana and botox, too!) and paddle board in Marina del Rey. Everything you need for a fun trip to the beach can be rented including surfboards, paddle boards, kayaks, wetsuits, and bicycles. Rent bikes anywhere on the beach and ride on The Strand Beach Path from Will Rogers State Beach in Pacific Palisades to Redondo Beach.
Take a hike – There are so many gorgeous places to hike in Los Angeles, it will be hard for families to choose just one. Will Rogers State Park in Pacific Palisades offers spectacular views of the ocean, Los Angeles, and on a clear day, Catalina Island. Families can horseback ride, play soccer in the large, grassy field, and have a picnic. Solstice Canyon in Malibu offers year-round views of waterfalls (when we’re not in a drought) and Franklin Canyon Park in Beverly Hills has kid-friendly hiking trails and a duck pond.
Visit a Museum – Los Angeles has a museum for everyone in the family. There’s the Grammy Museum downtown for the music lover, The Natural History Museum for the dinosaur fan and the Petersen Automotive Museum for the car enthusiast. Kids will love Kidspace Children’s Museum in Pasadena with interactive exhibits and a physics forest. Other childrens’ museums include the STEM-themed Discovery Cube LA and the Skirball Cultural Center, which has an interactive Noah’s Ark exhibit. The California Science Center is a must-visit for families. It’s currently home to the Endeavor Space Shuttle and many other interactive exhibits plus an IMAX theater. It’s in Exposition Park that is also home to the Natural History Museum and the California African American Museum. One museum that is sure to blow your mind is the La Brea Tar Pits, the world’s most famous ice age fossil excavation site, located in the middle of the city. It’s near museum row and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Go shopping – There is great shopping in Los Angeles from upscale to eclectic to bargain shopping. The Grove outdoor shopping mall has popular stores, but it’s connected to LA’s Original Farmers Market, which is home to gourmet food shops, restaurants, and candy stores. Kids will love the fountains set to music and the old-time trolley. Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade also has a little something for everyone as does the Americana at Brand in Glendale.
Ride a roller coaster – No visit to Southern California is complete without a visit to an amusement park. There are many to choose from including Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, and Knott’s Berry Farm in Orange County, Universal Studios in Los Angeles County, and Legoland in San Diego. Make sure to look for deals before you buy tickets. There are multiple park and multiple day discounts plus deals for going in the off-season.
Traveling to Italy? Take a look at this article about visiting the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.