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Our West USA road trip started and ended in LA, and we were surprised by the number of kid-friendly places and attractions. With endless sunshine and plenty of exciting family-friendly attractions, we will be back for another visit soon!
Here are our favourite fun things to do in LA with kids, where to stay in LA with kids and a few budget tips to ensure you have the best family holiday in LA!
Disneyland and California Adventure Park
A visit to the happiest place on Earth was on the top of our list of things to do in LA with kids! Full of rides, attractions, activities, shows and parades, we all fell in love with this amazing place. The details in the buildings, decorations, food and costumes is incredible! We loved spotting all the roaming characters and getting to meet our favourites for a quick chat and photo. Check out crowd calendars for busy periods when planning your trip, and read up on our top tips for visiting Disneyland with kids.
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
The collection at this museum is seriously impressive, with more the 35 million objects! With massive dinosaur bones, stunning displays and beautiful kid-friendly gardens, a visit here should be on your things to do in LA with kids list. Make sure you head down downstairs to the Nature Lab, a hands-on science lab just for kids. With live animals and touchable specimens, this space is perfect for kids to explore and learn more about the natural world around them.
Universal Studios Hollywood
For a fun family day full of a mix of theme park rides, movie sets and some of your favourite characters, head on over to Universal Studios Hollywood! Make sure you hop on the backlot tour to check out behind the scenes, try a butterbeer, and grab front seats at a live show. For Harry Potter fans, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is one of the best things to do in LA for families! Universal Studios compact size makes it easy to do in just one day, even with little kids in tow.
The Last Bookstore
For book lovers, a visit to The Last Bookstore is a must! This quirky store boasts an amazing array of books and records. Browse the books available, and wander through the store to find some of the whimsical book sculptures, including a gravity-defying book tunnel.
LA Brea Tar Pits
In the heart of the Miracle Mile district lies one of the world’s most famous fossil sites, the LA Brea Tar Pits. The tar pits located outside are free to wander around and view the tar pits currently under excavation. Entry into the museum involves an entry fee, however in our opinion is it well worth it! The museum showcases the history of the tar pits, as well as the incredible array of fossils that have been excavated over the years. The fossil lab offers a fascinating insight into what happens to the fossils after excavation.
Knotts Berry Farm
Not far from the hustle and bustle of Disneyland is Knotts Berry Farm. This place is perfect for families of all ages, with kids rides to jaw-dropping rollercoasters that are guaranteed to get your heart pumping!
California Science Centre
The California Science Centre is home to aquariums, live animals, various exhibits and an IMAX theatre, however the star of centre is the Endeavour space shuttle. Here you can get up close to the shuttle and learn more about space and its exploration. Located next to the Natural History Museum, this centre is a great place to visit in LA with family.
Angels Flight Railway
Located across from the Grand Central Markets – a great spot to wander through and grab something to eat – is the world’s shortest railway. Over 100 years old, this tiny historic railway consists of two train cars that climb up and down the 298 feet long track on Bunker Hill. If you love trains, you’ll love a visit to this unique attraction!
Hollywood Walk of Fame
A visit to this iconic destination is one of the most touristy things to do in LA with kids. The kids loved spotting stars in the sidewalk, and were really excited to find Walt Disney! We found mornings were the best time to do visit, as the afternoons were super busy along the walk and people constantly trying to sell us stuff we weren’t interested in.
Santa Monica Pier
A visit to the Santa Monica Pier is one of the most popular things for kids to do in Los Angeles. While not as large and shiny as Disneyland and the like, this iconic location is a fun place to visit for a few hours, with rides, arcade games and an aquarium.
The Griffith Observatory is located in Griffith Park, perched up high above the Hollywood sign. With expansive views over Los Angeles, the observatory has public telescopes with which you can stargaze, as well as live shows, exhibits, and even star parties!
Battleship USS Iowa Museum
This former battleship turned floating museum lets kids explore maritime history through interactive displays and exhibits, scavenger hunts and shows. A visit here was a highlight of our family holiday in LA.
Where we stayed:
LA is a massive city! For Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm, I recommend staying in Anaheim for those days, and then basing yourself in another central LA location for the rest of your holiday to minimise driving times between attractions.
- Anaheim Desert Inn & Suites – super close to the Disneyland entrance so we could easily walk the 5 minutes in and out as needed. A basic yet filling continental breakfast was included with our booking. Our room included a small fridge and microwave, so we self-catered for some meals or ate at one of the nearby restaurants.
- Magic Castle Hotel – based in Hollywood, a room with everything we needed for a comfortable stay, incredibly friendly and helpful staff, and plenty of free snacks and drinks included! Our room had a full kitchen so we could cook for ourselves, and the included continental breakfast is served in the lobby.
- Our top tip to save money with LA attractions is to purchase a GO Los Angeles card, which allows you access to over 30 LA attractions, tours and activities.
- Stay offsite for Disneyland in one of the Good Neighbour hotels to save money on accommodation.
- We ate out at Denny’s IHOP, Tony Roma’s and the Cheesecake Factory for affordable meals. Portion sizes are huge, so the kids often shared a meal.
- Watch sites for discounted Disneyland tickets. Expedia had a sale on park-hopper tickets for our trip dates, saving us over $600 for our 4-day park hopper tickets!