21 Hidden-Gem Things To Do in Los Angeles with Kids

You might know Los Angeles for the Hollywood Sign, Griffith Observatory, and theme parks, but there’s much more to LA with kids than meets the eye. We give you the GoWhee low-down.
Venice Beach at sunset one of the best things to do in Los Angeles with kids
Credit: Krys Amon

21 Hidden-Gem Things To Do in Los Angeles with Kids

There’s more to Los Angeles than meets the eye! While world-famous tourist attractions like Disneyland and the Hollywood Sign are awesome, but for families looking to discover the city with a slightly more off-the-beaten-path experience, check out these family friendly attractions.

These hidden gems, recommended by the GoWhee App‘s families, are great options that will let you beat the tourist crowds and having a great time.

Fun Outdoors things to do with kids in Los Angeles

1. Explore California Cuisine at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market

The Santa Monica Farmer’s Market is one of those things to do in Los Angeles with kids that should be on everyone’s bucket list. You’ll get to explore ingredients that celebrate California’s rich agricultural heritage. There are four markets with different hours and days of operation.

Key Information: Markets are typically open from 8:00 AM until 1:00 PM – Most vendors take cards but bring cash just in case – Markets are easily accessed by public transportation

Good To Know: The most family friendly market is the Main Street Market, which features live music and is open from 8:30 until 1:00 on Saturdays.

2.Stroll the Historic Cactus Garden in Beverly Hills

Tucked away in Beverly Gardens Park is a gorgeous historic cactus garden. This unique botanical experience is an oasis of calm just off of bustling Rodeo Drive, and is a fun place for kids to run around and burn off some energy. 

Key Information: FREE – Public restrooms available – Metered parking available

Good To Know: The Beverly Gardens Park has lots of public art and hosts an art show twice a year in May and October.

Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach one of the hidden-gem things to do in Los angeles with kids
Credit: Stephen Andrews

3. Transport Yourself to Venice for an Afternoon

When you think “Los Angeles,” you usually don’t think about canals and gondolas. But near Venice Beach is Venice of America, a neighborhood founded in the early 1900s as a tourist resort. The sidewalks along these canals are a great place to walk and explore. The neighborhood is typically rather quiet, and the sidewalks are great for strollers.

Key Information: FREE – Parking is available in a lot at the end of Venice Boulevard – No public bathrooms

Good To Know: While this is a residential neighborhood, there are plenty of restaurants and shops nearby, as well as Venice Beach itself.

Best Things To Do With Kids in LA Indoors

4. Learn About the Ancient World at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

There’s much more things to do in Los Angeles with kids, than Hollywood glitz and shining skyscrapers. At LA County’s Natural History Museum, you can learn about what LA was like millions of year ago– when it was completely underwater! See dinosaurs, marine mammal and reptile skeletons, and learn about the fascinating landscape surrounding Los Angeles.

Key Information: Admission is $15/$7 for kids under 12 – All restrooms have infant changing tables – Family Care Lounge available on the 2nd floor

Good To Know: Most of the museum is stroller-friendly, but the two pavilions with live butterflies and spiders ask you to leave your stroller outside for the animals’ safety.

5.Visit the Interactive Exhibits at Cayton Children’s Museum

The Cayton Children’s Museum is a great place to learn and play. With special age-grouped exhibit and play areas, kids can play safely and explore the world around them. 

Key Information: Admission is $15 – Strollers must be parked – All bathrooms have infant changing tables

Good To Know: Food is not permitted in the museum, but you can leave the museum and come back as frequently as you’d like– your admission is good for the whole day.

6.Spend a Day at the La Brea Tar Pits & Museum

The La Brea Tar Pits are a truly unique experience and memorable thing to do in LA with kids. The tar pits are the source of some of the best-preserved Ice Age fossils anywhere in the world… but unlike any other active fossil dig sites, this site is located right in downtown LA! The museum holds some of the world’s most complete fossils of mammoths, dire wolves, sabertooth cats, and more. 

Key Information: Admission is $15/$7 for kids under 12 – All bathrooms are wheelchair accessible – Bring a picnic or enjoy offerings from nearby food trucks

Good To Know: Don’t skip the fossil prep lab– you will be able to watch paleontologists preparing real mammoth fossils!

7.Visit the Interactive Exhibits at Cayton Children’s Museum

The Cayton Children’s Museum is a great place to learn and play. With special age-grouped exhibit and play areas, kids can play safely and explore the world around them. 

Key Information: Admission is $15 – Strollers must be parked – All bathrooms have infant changing tables

Good To Know: Food is not permitted in the museum, but you can leave the museum and come back as frequently as you’d like– your admission is good for the whole day.


Things to do with kids in los angeles for foodie families

8 Enjoy Ice Cream at Bumsan Organic Milk Bar

Bumsan’s ice cream is so much more than just your basic scoop! This luxurious South Korean treat comes in fun flavors like pink guava and matcha, and the cones and toppings are absolutely adorable.

Key Information: Cups start at $4.95 – Organic, non-GMO, and antibiotic free – No non-dairy options available

Good To Know: Bumsan’s cones are famous for their unique “halo” effect made from toppings and marshmallows. The Oreo variety is extremely popular!

9. Snack on Donuts at Venice Beach

Blue Star Donuts are a great way to start your day… or end your day… or to enjoy the middle of your day… you get the idea, they’re great any time! With innovative, fun flavors like haupia coconut cream, blueberry basil, and mimosa, these donuts are a sweet treat for the whole family to enjoy. 

Key Information: Donuts start at $5.50 – Open from 7 AM to 6 PM – No gluten-free options available

Good To Know: All of the cake donuts and many of the donut bites are vegan.

Must Visit Aquariums in Los Angeles

10. Splash in the Touch Pool at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro

No trip to LA with kids is complete without seeing the Pacific Coast’s marine life up close and personal At the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, kids don’t just get to see oceanic wildlife; they can touch and experience these amazing creatures for themselves! 

Key Information: Open Tuesday-Sunday – Admission is $7 – Parking is $1 per hour

Good To Know: The aquarium suggests experiencing the tidal touch tank and outdoor exhibits at low tide.

11.Visit the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach

Get up close and personal with cuddly sea otters, animal babies, and other marine wonders at the Aquarium of the Pacific. This fun aquarium showcases local and worldwide wildlife and is home to some of the most innovative aquarium programs in the world. The Moon Jelly Touch Lab is not to be missed!

Key Information: Admission is $36.95/$26.95 – Full restaurant menu available – Lots of accessibility features

Good To Know: The museum has a series of fun, educational puppet shows that budding marine biologists can watch before or after their visit.

12. Go Whale Watching at Dana Point

Although not technically an aquarium, seeing whales and dolphins up close is an incredible, life-changing experience, and a must for any bucket list of things to do in LA with kids. The coastal waters off of LA are home to thousands of these incredible animals. Depending on the time of year, you might see gray whales, humpback whales, blue whales, fin whales, and more! Captain Dave’s two hour whale watching cruises include access to underwater viewing pods, so you can see the wildlife from their perspective. They even let kids help steer the boat!

Key Information: $71.20/$48 for kids under 12- Restrooms on board – Good for kids of all ages

Good To Know: Good times to see whales include between January and April, when the gray whales are migrating, and between November and March, when the humpback whales are migrating.

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Great Things to do in Los Angeles for older kids

13. Go Roller Skating at a 1950s Style Roller Rink

During your next family vacation in LA, take a step back in time to an age before apps, smartphones, or even color TV! The Moonlight Rollerway’s history as a roller rink began in 1956, and it’s been a popular LA attraction ever since. The owner has lovingly maintained the ‘50s vibe and plays the organ for skaters every Tuesday night.

Key Information: Admission is $16 – Skate rental is $7 – Full snack bar menu available

Good To Know: Check in advance to make sure that the roller rink isn’t closed for a private function– it’s a popular spot for birthday parties!

14. Bring Train Fanatics to Walt Disney’s Carolwood Foundation

Did you know? One of Walt Disney’s greatest passions was trains. The rides at Disneyland were partially inspired by the miniature train he set up in his backyard, and his train barn has been preserved in Griffith Park. So when planning things to do in los angeles with kids, make  sure to visit, Walt Disney’s personal workshop and many of the model trains he built, one of the original cars from the Disneyland Railroad, and more. 

Key Information: Typically open every 3rd Sunday of the month depending on volunteer availability – FREE but donations are appreciated – Best for kids 3 and up 

Good To Know: Carolwood is run entirely by volunteers, and opening times are subject to change; check out the group’s calendar and Facebook page for current information.

Available on

Quirky Things to do With Kids in Los Angeles

15. Visit a Micro Amusement Park

The Two Bit Circus is a combination arcade, amusement park, and virtual reality experience that promises an incredible time for the whole family. Whether you want to play midway games, compete in a virtual game show, or fill up on creative twists on classic carnival snacks, the Two Bit Circus is a wildly entertaining experience.

Key Information: Best for kids 7 and up – After 9 PM on Friday and Saturday, the space is 18+ – Most areas and games are wheelchair accessible, but some games require jumping, standing, and running in place.

Good To Know: The park recommends booking ahead with a package deal.

16. Ride the Pacific Wheel at Santa Monica Pier

The Santa Monica Pier is one of America’s classic theme parks, and their solar-powered Ferris wheel gives you the best view of the Pacific coastline that LA has to offer. 

Key Information: Ferris wheel tickets are $10 – Stroller friendly – Lots of food and drink options available

Good To Know: The rides at the pier are pay-per-attraction, but an unlimited ride pass is available for $40/$20 for kids under 7.

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17. See a Show at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater

The Bob Baker Marionette Theater is one of the most special things to do in Los Angeles with kids. This unique theater has been charming families for sixty years with their incredible puppet artistry. Their current show, a massive marionette circus, is an interactive performance that will dazzle kids of all ages.

Key Information: $25 – Kids under 2 are FREE – Shows are on Saturday and Sunday

Good To Know: If your family wants to see even more puppet magic, the nearby Forest Lawn Museum has a free exhibit about the history of the Bob Baker marionettes.

18. Shop at a Time Traveling Convenience Store

One of LA’s quirkiest, cutest stores, the Time Travel Mart is part gift shop, part performance art. You’ll find lots of unique products here, themed to the past, present, and future– as well as lots of amazing books and art pieces. 

Key Information: FREE – Purchases support 826LA, a free writing and tutoring service for kids – Best for kids who aren’t in a stroller

Good To Know: Don’t miss some of the fun hidden references– the bulletin board, for instance, is covered with fliers from different eras. You might find a casting call for Henry VIII’s next wife, or a caveman who needs a roommate!

Fun Free Things to do in LA with kids

If you are traveling on a budget, no worries, Los Angeles has some great options to keep kids busy and happy, at no cost.

19.The Griffith Observatory

This beautiful building is located at the very top of a mount where you can admire the breathtaking view of Los Angeles. Although it is a very popular attraction during the day, you can also head over there at night and enjoy the views in a whole different vibe and without the crowds.
Pro tip: Parking can be tricky so try to plan on going when there is no show at the Greek Theater, so you can use their parking lot and save yourself a walk uphill with strollers and kiddos.

20.The African American Firefighter Museum

The AAFM museum is completely free and great for kids of all ages. It is a great way to spend some times indoors during a hot summer day, while learning about the heritage of these heroes.

21.Farm Sanctuary

This rescue farm is located outside of downtown LA and is definitely worth the drive. The whole family can learn about the animals, give cuddles, and get familiar with the hard work it takes to run this conservation effort.
The tour takes about 1hr  and parking is also free!
Pro tip: Starting March 2023, the farm plans on offering tours specially designed for kids 4-10. So make sure to inquire about it.

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