There are a staggering number of things to do and see in Los Angeles and its surrounding areas. While, no doubt, a good majority of families will be headed to Anaheim for a visit to the Happiest Place on Earth, there is no shortage of other major attractions, events and activities to fill the rest of your days. Disneyland Resort, which encompasses the original Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park, is easily the area's biggest attraction and one of the biggest in the world. That's just a start!
What to Do in Los Angeles with Kids
Get Your Thrills at a Theme Park
Theme park lovers (that’s us!) have many options. For thrill-seekers, nearby Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park and Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia offer a number of Coasters with a capital C. Just to be clear, we're talking reaching top speeds of 82 mph in 2.3 seconds up 205 feet in the air ... and then coming back down at a death-defying 90-degree angle aboard the Xcelerator at Knott's. Six Flags Magic Mountain has no shortage of thrills. It boasts the most roller coasters in the world, adding its 20th roller coaster in 2022!
For those of you interested in movies or Harry Potter, Universal Studios Hollywood should be on your Los Angeles must-do list. With shows, rides, the World-Famous Studio Tour and water play areas for the kids, it has something for movie lovers of all ages.
No visit to Los Angeles is complete without a trip to Disneyland. Located to the south of Los Angeles in Orange County, you might want to take a couple of days to stay at a hotel near Disneyland so you have time to see everything in both theme parks.
Tour a Movie Studio
Obviously, you can tour the Backlot during the Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Tour when you visit the theme park. A VIP Experience ticket will take you behind the scenes. But you can also take a Warner Bros. Studio Tour in Hollywood! This tour offers a more intimate experience with the studio. Get sorted by the Wizarding World sorting hat, explore backlots and soundstages and see sets from favorite shows such as "Friends" and "The Big Bang Theory."
Stargazers can hit The Original Farmers Market and its next-door neighbor The Grove shopping mall for shopping and celeb-spotting. Celebrate Hollywood with a visit to the famed sign that sits atop the Hollywood Hills (but bring your hiking shoes!). Then, make stops at the TCL Chinese Theatre, Beverly Hills and Hollywood Boulevard. You can even explore by bike tour (because nobody walks in LA).
Take a Hop-on Hop-Off Bus Tour
It's easiest to get around LA on a Big Bus Tour. It stops at all the iconic LA stops, and you don't have to drive in traffic or figure out where to park. There is even a beach loop that stops at the Santa Monica Pier. It's a great way to see it all in a day or two.
Hit the Beach!
Every visitor should make at least one trip to the beach. There are plenty to choose from in Los Angeles and Orange County. In Orange County, Huntington City Beach is perhaps the most quintessentially California surfin' beach. It boasts miles of beach coastline perfect for a beach bonfire, a bike ride or a nice walk, and has plenty of parking. Other family-friendly OC beaches are Laguna Beach, Little Corona and Seal Beach. Just keep in mind that California water is much colder than you'd might expect. You might want to being or rent a wetsuit in the colder months.
If you hit Long Beach, be sure to visit the Aquarium of the Pacific with your animal lovers! We recently made a visit and the tadpoles loved it and the surrounding area of Long Beach. Hop over to our guide to Visiting the Aquarium of the Pacific. There are both indoor and outdoor exhibits, plus hands-on experiences your tadpoles will love. You can go out on a boat tour to see marine life up close in the water.
In Los Angeles County, Mother's Beach at Marina Del Rey and Mother's Beach in Long Beach are both on bays, making the waves tamer for the little ones. The Annenberg Community Beach House at Santa Monica State Beach is another great spot for families. It has a playground, splash pad, pool (open seasonally), restaurant and activities.
After a day in the sun, spend the evening at the Santa Monica Pier. It has an old-fashioned amusement park in Pacific Park, the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, an arcade, a trapeze school and fishing. While this area gets quite congested, there are multiple options for parking.
There are wide, smooth sidewalks that connect to Venice Beach to the south. Rent bikes to take a family bike ride along the coast. You'll get to see Muscle Beach, the skate park, graffiti walls and other unique sights of Venice Beach. Plus you can borrow balls to play on the sports courts from the Venice Beach Recreation Center.
Visit a Museum
Are you are looking for a bit of culture or learning? There are some great museums in the area of Los Angeles. Take a trip back to the Ice Age to learn about woolly mammoths and saber-toothed cats at the La Brea Tarpits and Museum. The California Science Center (near the Coliseum) holds the Space Shuttle Endeavor along with other fun exhibits. Climb your way to the top of Griffith Park to the Griffith Observatory. The views of “La La Land” and telescopes and a planetarium that are out of this world. Head two-by-two to the Skirball Cultural Center for a giant Noah’s Ark exhibit.
The Getty Center offers art, gardens and sweeping views of the Los Angeles Area. The museum has a family room, family tours and Art Detective cards for kids. But don’t be surprised if your tadpoles most enjoy getting the wiggles out by rolling down the grassy hills and exploring the gardens!
If you can't meet some Hollywood stars in person, you can fake it by taking selfies with your favorite stars and MARVEL heroes at Madame Tussaud's Hollywood!
We hope you've found this overview of what to do in Los Angeles hopful in planning a visit to Los Angeles. Check out our Los Angeles discount tickets and tours.
Related: When to Visit Los Angeles