I often get asked by out of town friends (and you!) what to do with kids when visiting Los Angeles. Now that my kids are older, I figured it’s time to do an update! Whether you’re coming to town for vacation or you already live in Los Angeles, here are some things I suggest and love. These are things meant for the whole family (vs. only for the kids) as I believe in activities and destinations that parents can enjoy, too!
A note: One thing that people don’t realize about Los Angeles is how spread out everything is. 10 miles in other cities means a 10 minute drive, but 10 miles here can mean a 1 hour drive depending on traffic. So, anytime you are planning to do things in LA as an out-of-towner, you should plan your days based on the part of the city you want to go to and explore near that area each day. I’m starting on the West side and going East…
Malibu Beach Day
Some people love the beach and can’t imagine living in LA without going to the beach. But I rarely go to the beach. Partially because I don’t live near it, but also I’m not a huge beach person. We usually aim to go a couple times in the summer as a day trip, and it’s always fun! (Pro tip: Check to make sure the beach is open before you go!)
Will Rogers State Beach Park and Paradise Cove make for easy beach spots with parking. Paradise Cove has a restaurant attached if you don’t feel like packing your lunch. Afterwards, you can do some fancy shopping at the Malibu Country Mart or get a great meal at Malibu Seafood.
Abbott Kinney Street in Venice
Abbott Kinney has been one of my favorite West Side destinations since I moved to Los Angeles over a decade ago. While it’s evolved a lot (and gotten much fancier), it continues to have a great mix of restaurants and shops which makes it perfect for walking, shopping, and getting great things to eat. The prime area starts at the intersection of Venice Blvd. and Abbott Kinney, and then keep walking west on Abbott Kinney as you head into blocks and blocks of shops. Some great restaurants include: Gjelina and The Butcher’s Daughter.
If you’re looking for another area to shop and eat on the west side, Platform LA has a great mix of retail within a small, outdoor shopping complex. It’s a great spot for a casual meal or snack while being outside and getting some retail therapy, too.
Santa Monica Pier
The Santa Monica Pier is totally touristy, but fun if you like rides and arcades. My kids love going there to play games and go on rides, but we avoid weekends whenever possible.
Downtown Los Angeles is not what most people think of as “downtown”, it’s not one central hub where most of the action is. That’s the amazing thing about Los Angeles – that great stuff is all over the city. There are now some amazing restaurants and hotels in DTLA (short for Downtown Los Angeles) but they are spread out. If any of these things I mention strikes your fancy, map them out so you can plan your downtown adventures accordingly.
A great spot for food lovers is Grand Central Market where you can find so many types of foods and get a little bit of everything. I love pairing it with a trip to The Broad which often has exhibits that are fun for kids, too. (The Broad has this incredible infinity room – it’s a separate ticket so make sure you book both!)
The Arts District (in DTLA)
The Arts District has continually changed over the last decade and is currently known for it’s amazing restaurants. There are some spots there that would make for a great date night out if you have a sitter for your kids. We have taken our kids to brunch at Damian and Girl and the Goat, as I am all for getting lunch options at nice restaurants, too, which make them a little more affordable and kid-friendly than evening options.
The Row in DTLA
The Row is another area that mixes shops and food for a little section of DTLA that you can walk around and explore. Smorgasburg on Sundays is a must for those who love food. They will often host other events there on the weekends so check their site to see what else is happening that could be fun for your family. Pico Nico (Japanese Fried Chicken) and Pizzeria Bianco make for great meals there with kids.
Little Tokyo in DTLA
Little Tokyo is one of my kids favorite spots to explore in DTLA. We love to get lunch at Kura Sushi, coffee at Cafe Dulce, soft serve at Honeymee, mochi at Fugetsu-do, and then check out the cute shops!
Koreatown truly is jam-packed with Korean restaurants of every kind. For us, this is a food destination more than a shopping destination. You can get Korean BBQ at every corner (Parks is a classic), soft serve at Bumsan, raw crab at Ondal, and so many more.
Silver Lake is a hip, fun, and now more fancy area of Los Angeles that’s a bit more indie than West side neighborhoods. It’s know for it’s amazing restaurants and fun, indie shopping. There are a few main streets in Silver Lake that can be explored on foot including Sunset Blvd. (the main street) and Silver Lake Blvd. But you’ll have to drive to get from one main area to the other :). Some of my favorite restaurants that are great with kids in Silver Lake include: Pine and Crane, Bodega Park, and April 90’s Something. Great shops include Yolk, Broome Street General Store, and Magpie’s for softserve.
Highland Park is has been the newer up-and-coming hipster neighborhood for the past few years and it’s becoming an area that more and more families are moving to on the East side. See a puppet show at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater, get lunch at Joy, shop at Crush Art Store and Merci Milo (pictured above).
Griffith Park is one of the largest municipal parks with urban wilderness areas in the United States. You can go hiking, visit the Griffith Observatory, the LA Zoo (Adults $22, Kids $18), ride the trains (Adults $4, Kids $3), horseback riding, and the Gene Autry Museum (Adults $16, Kids $8).
Other Kid Friendly Destinations
These are in a mix of locations throughout the city but wanted to mention the Petersen Automotive Museum (Adults $20, Kids $13), and LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) is free after 3pm M-F, and around $10 for kids and $25 for adults. And, Universal Studios is always fun.