25 things to do and places to go in LA for Children (and Adults too)

Posted on December 27th, 2009 at 6:59 pm by Lisa Newton

Okay, school’s out and the excitement of the Holiday Season is upon us; but school’s out for another week. Choices abound, in fact, there’s probably too many now-a-days, but you have to start somewhere.

Although LA is known for its celebrities, Hollywood, and glitz and glamor, the reality of life here is that we’re pretty much like most other city’s. There’s many eclectic things to do which if you have children, are frequently fun for the entire family.

In fact, below is a list of 25 child and adult friendly places to go and things to do in town; some well-known, some not as much:

Face Painting

1. LACMA – Arts for NexGen at LACMA is the nation’s only free youth membership program. NexGen offers free general admission to anyone 17 and under, with an additional free admission for an accompanying adult. This includes access to both their permanent collection galleries as well as all special exhibitions.

2. Griffith Park – Just one of the many attractions at Griffith Park is their Merry-Go-Round, which has been a Los Angeles family attraction for over five generations. Built in 1926 by the Spillman Engineering Company and brought to Griffith Park in 1937, the Merry-Go-Round boasts 68 horses—each one a jumper. As a matter of fact, each horse is finely carved with jewel-encrusted bridles, detailed draped blankets, and decorated with sunflowers and lion’s heads.

3. Olvera Street – Is the world famous original mixing bowl and melting pot of Los Angeles. California’s present day reality is–firmly and deeply–rooted from our early settlements and the pueblos–which fueled the migration and discovery of California–by ways and means from Mexico.

4. Santa Monica Pier and Pacific Park – Located on the world famous Santa Monica Pier, Pacific Park® is the family place to play! It’s the West Coast’s only amusement park located on a pier. Millions of visitors each year enjoy all the rides, games and fun you’d expect, from one of Southern California’s Leading attractions on the beach.

Father and Son

5. Japanese American Cultural and Community Center – Founded in 1971, the JACCC is one of the largest ethnic arts and cultural centers of its kind in the United States. JACCC’s mission is to present, perpetuate, transmit and promote Japanese and Japanese American arts and culture to diverse audiences, and to provide a center to enhance community programs.

6. Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens – From the California Condor Rescue Zone, to the Neil Papiano Play Park, the LA Zoo has something for everyone, even the animals! Located inside the confines of Griffith Park, it’s easy to find. When you’re there, don’t forget to visit the Reindeer Romp. Hurry though, it’s only here until January 3, 2010.

7. Page Museum and The La Brea Tar Pits – Rancho La Brea is one of the world’s most famous fossil anthropological digs. It’s world renowned as containing the largest and most diverse assemblage of extinct Ice Age plants and animals in the world. Visitors can learn about Los Angeles, as it was between 10,000 and 40,000 years ago–during the last Ice Age–when animals such as saber-toothed cats and mammoths roamed the Los Angeles Basin.

8. Universal City Walk – “Discover LA’s favorite place to play.”  Surrounded by restaurants, concerts, shopping, cinemas, and so much more, taking a walk here has been forever redefined.  If you’d like to see what’s available to see just a short walk away, here’s the map.


9. Autry National Center of the American West – The Autry Center offers free programs for children with a museum admission.  Children of all ages can enjoy art workshops, story times, hands-on history activities, and the opportunity to experience the Family Discovery Gallery. Make sure to take part in all of the interactive opportunities they offer–from panning for gold and digging for clues to the past. At the Autry, there’s fun around every corner!

10. LA Parks and Recreation – Enriches the lives of Los Angeles citizens of by providing safe, welcoming parks and recreation facilities; and affordable, diverse recreation, and other activities for people of all ages to play, learn, contemplate, build community relations, and be good stewards of our environment.

11. Cabrillo Marine Aquarium – Located at the San Pedro beach, the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium engages its visitors for education, recreation and research, to promote knowledge, appreciation and conservation of the marine life throughout the hundreds miles of Southern California coastline and our Pacific Ocean.

12. Travel Town – The mission of this Foundation is to educate the public about railroad history, as it pertains to the development of the Southwest Region of the United States, particularly Los Angeles and environs. Their state mission by restoring, operating, and interpreting the historic railroad equipment at the Travel Town Museum.


13. The Santa Monica Pier Aquarium – The Santa Monica Pier Aquarium—which attracts upwards of 85,000 visitors per year–is made of large salt-water tanks, where ocean life can survive and prosper in conditions similar to ocean life on dry land. Its purpose is to display, study, observe, and care for underwater sea creatures, which have been plucked from their natural habitat–the depths of the ocean.

14. Audubon Center Debs Park – The Audubon Center at Debs Park opened in 2003 as an environmental education and conservation center for the communities of northeast Los Angeles. The Center is located in the third largest park in the city of Los Angeles.

15. California Science Center – We aspire to stimulate curiosity and inspire science learning in everyone by creating fun, memorable experiences, because we value science as an indispensable tool for understanding our world, accessibility and inclusiveness, and enriching people’s lives.

Oh, yummy, yummy!!

16. Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Area – Walks to view and study more than 200 different species of birds seen in the wildlife reserve are conducted by the San Fernando Valley (SFV) Audubon Society. There’s a Bird Walk on the first Sunday of every month from 8am-11:30am, year-round. For families & beginners, there’s a Bird Walk on the second Saturday of winter months between October and March starting at 8:30am and ending around 11:00am.

17. Rocky Oaks – As you drive along Mulholland Highway or Kanan Road, you could easily miss Rocky Oaks. Hidden between houses, roads and other signs of modern life, Rocky Oaks is home to a surprising number of plants and animals. Its fewer than 200 acres contain a diversity of wildlife habitats including a pond, oak woodland, grassland, coastal sage scrub and chaparral communities.

18. Heritage Square Museum – A living history museum reflecting the settlement and development of Southern California from the Civil War to the early 20th Century, Heritage Square Museum offers visitors a look into the everyday lives of Southern Californians at the close of the 19th Century.

19. Kids Space Children’s Museum – At Kidspace, we subscribe to the idea that learning and play are one. Play is an essential ingredient in the cognitive, emotional, physical and moral development of a child. Research has also shown that play contributes to school success because children are more motivated to learn when they follow their own interests.

20. Skirball Cultural Center – The Skirball offers learning opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds. From our School Outreach Program, providing educational visits for pre-K through Grade 12, to our Learning for Life adult education program, the Skirball’s educational offerings address such topics as art and history, immigration and citizenship, language and literature, and more.

21. Los Angeles County Natural History Museum – The mission of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is to inspire wonder, discovery and responsibility for our natural and cultural worlds.

22. Ice Skating – Even with 70 degree days, Los Angeles still has its fair share of public ice skating rinks. With various times and costs, skating outside in LA can bring the winter to your feet.

23. Zimmer Children’s Museum – The Zimmer Children’s Museum is dedicated to teaching people about the BIG IDEAS of global citizenship, community responsibility, and cultural sensitivity. Our mission is to promote values that help make a better society through interactive learning, creative self-expression and art experiences for children and families.

24. Griffith Observatory – Griffith Observatory is an icon of Los Angeles, a national leader in public astronomy, a beloved civic gathering place, and one of southern California’s most popular attractions. The Observatory is located on the southern slope of Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park, just above the Los Feliz neighborhood. It is 1,134 feet above sea level and is visible from many parts of the Los Angeles basin.

25. Special Programs at the Public Library – For kids of all ages, the Los Angeles Public Library system has location all over the city, ready to help you find a book, attend a special program, or just sit back and read a book.

So the next time when one of your children complains, and dutifully informs you that he or she is “bored.” keep this list handy, to always have a reference guide to find something family friendly to do in Los Angeles.

Since I’m fairly sure that our reader’s have many other places they like to go with their kids, please feel free to add them in the comment section, and I’ll be sure to add it to this list.

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