Things to do in Los Angeles with kids

With science centres, splashpads, theme parks, Hollywood hikes and huge tar pits of fossilised animals, Los Angeles is positively fizzing with fun.

How much laughter can you pack into an LA family holiday? Days and days is what we say. From star gazing across the galaxies to looking for stars walking their dogs in Runyon Canyon, family activities in Los Angeles come in every shape and form. You can even visit a new-concept museum where your kids can touch and play with absolutely everything! It's one of the best attractions for children in California.

Watch as scientists excavate ancient creatures, chiselling away newly discovered sabre-toothed cats, dire wolves, giant sloths and mammoths.

Do some time travelling

Do your kids fancy themselves as future palaeontologists? Do you want to know what Los Angeles was like 10,000 years ago? Pack a lunch and visit the La Brea Tar Pits, an incredible archaeological site unique to LA. Given the city's warm climate it's hard to imagine that ice age animals once roamed the area, but here you'll see all manner of fossilised animal specimens trapped in the tar, a natural asphalt that has seeped up from the ground for tens of thousands of years.

You can also watch first-hand as the museum's scientists excavate ancient creatures, chiselling away newly discovered sabre-toothed cats, dire wolves, giant sloths and mammoths right before your eyes. Have your photo taken in the Pleistocene Garden, next to a life-size replica of an extinct mammal, check out the three million ice age specimens the museum has already unearthed or take an exciting 3D journey back in time.

Discover how LA does educational entertainment

If your kids love science (or you want them to love science), the California Science Center promises a day of immersive and interactive science fun. There are permanent exhibits, like Ecosystems and Air & Space, which help children understand the amazing facts of life on Earth. You'll also find special exhibitions about animals, space and nature, which change regularly. A highlight of California Science Center is the seven-storey IMAX movie theatre with its epic, high-definition laser screen. Imagine watching a 3D movie about volcanoes on the biggest screen you've ever seen!

Stroll the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Who's been immortalised on the Hollywood Walk of Fame? What do the icons on the stars represent? These are questions your family can answer when they're strolling past more than 2,600 terrazzo stars that stretch for 2.1 kilometres from Gower Street to La Brea Avenue on Hollywood Boulevard. You can also check out the handprints, footprints and handwritten messages from stars and starlets at the TCL Chinese Theatre's Forecourt of the Stars. See if you can find the biggest hoof in Hollywood!

Have a big time at Santa Monica Beach

A family day out at Santa Monica Beach involves much more than swimming and dozing in the sun. Just inland from the famous pier is the new Cayton Children's Museum, where your kids can roam free and touch anything they want. The museum's founder says children's museums are meant to be "played with, broken, destroyed, replaced and revised", so your kids can do no wrong here.

Another Santa Monica attraction that's top with families is Annenberg Community Beach House. Encompassing a splashpad, beach courts and fields, swimming pool, playground and other kids' activities, it's a five-acre oceanfront site that has had previous lives as a luxury mansion, hotel and exclusive beach club. The property was sold to the State of California in 1959 and today it's a destination for family bliss. Admission is free!

Catch the action at a pro sports game

Watching a live pro sports game is a quintessential USA experience the whole family will love, even if they don't fully understand the rules. In LA you can see baseball, basketball, football and NFC at stadiums that are built to keep crowds of up to 90,000 happy. Which team will you support? The Dodgers, Rams, Chargers, Lakers, Clippers, Kings, Sparks, LAFC and Galaxy all call Los Angeles home, so start checking their game schedules to find a match that fits your plans.

See the real Hollywood stars

When the light starts to wane, you won't get a more impressive holiday photo than the one at Griffith Observatory. Situated on Mount Hollywood, this world-class facility is the place to visit for that all-important sighting of the famous Hollywood sign, not to mention unbelievable views of the city.

With its multiple levels, indoor and outdoor facilities, planetarium and galleries, there's plenty to inspire learners of all ages. Check out exhibits on meteorites, and don't forget to investigate the crazy lightning emanating from the awe-inspiring Tesla Coil. On a clear, Los Angeles evening, you'll want to take advantage of the free telescope for the best views of the night sky. Don't worry if it's cloudy - the observatory boasts the world's largest astronomical image and there are up to 10 live shows each day.

Theme park fun

Los Angeles has been theme park central since the original Disneyland® opened in 1955. Today there's a super-abundance of fun park family attractions in Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego, from ultra-famous places like Universal Studios Hollywood, Knott's Berry Farm and Legoland to less-obvious fun parks like Adventure City, Gilroy Gardens and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. To help you choose the best theme park for your family, check out our things to do in Anaheim page.

Take a hike in the Hollywood Hills

Every legendary family holiday demands a hike, and there's no hiking ground quite like Runyon Canyon Park. Located high above Los Angeles in the Hollywood Hills, this iconic park is where famous and not-so-famous locals come to stretch their legs and exercise their canine pals. The official entrance is just north of Hollywood Boulevard and there are several trails to choose from. If you want to put the Hollywood sign up on your Instagram, hike up to Clouds Rest. The canyon's longest loop is just over five kilometres long, so you really only need half a day to tick the 'been there, done that' box for Runyon Canyon.


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