Los Angeles, California is a popular destination for families year-round, with its mix of beautiful beaches, vibrant urban cityscape, and rolling Hollywood Hills. When you’re in Los Angeles with kids, consider using light rail and public transit to escape the worst of the city’s traffic, and pace yourself so you can enjoy the sights. Kids activities in Los Angeles range from fascinating museums to hiking in the hills and exploring street art murals. In the evening take in a relaxing sunset on the beach, or head to the hilltop observatory to see the stars up close through telescopes.

1. Get ice cream on Venice Beach Boardwalk

Venice Beach is a great place to wander on a Los Angeles family vacation, with a lively atmosphere, soft sandy beaches, sweeping ocean views, and a beach-side boardwalk. Stroll along the Venice Beach boardwalk to find local restaurants and ice-cream spots, boutiques, and shops. You can hang out and watch skaters grind at the skatepark, then check out the iconic Muscle Beach, and let the kids wear themselves out on the playground.

2. Explore the Wizarding World™ at Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood™ is just north of LA, with rides and attractions that will appeal to all ages. You can explore Hogsmeade™ and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter™, encounter dinosaurs on Jurassic Park™ rides, and maybe even have a character sighting or two. Universal™ is one of Los Angeles’s all-day kids’ activities, with a large number of rides and attractions available in the park.

3. Hike the trail at Runyon Canyon

Hiking Runyon Canyon is one of the free family things to do in Los Angeles, overlooking sweeping views of LA and the coastline beyond. The full Runyon Canyon hike is a 3.5-mile loop of spectacular scenery, but you can hike a shorter section and back if needed and still enjoy scenic overlooks. Bring water, sunscreen, and good walking shoes, and remember there are no restroom facilities on the trail. Hiking in Runyon Canyon is a great free family activity in LA.

4. Take cool photos in front of Melrose Avenue Art Murals

The Melrose Art District is famed for its local public art scene, with a massive collection of ever-changing murals and street art along Melrose Avenue. Visually charged murals differ drastically from one to the next, on walls and garage doors, street corners, and even spilling into the street. You can explore them on your own, but locals recommend taking a guided tour of the current murals to experience the backstory behind them and see the best ones. They’re great for selfies and cool family photos, and one of the super unique family things to do in Los Angeles.

5. Explore artwork and historical exhibits at the California African American Museum

The California African American Museum is a free family activity in Los Angeles, housing collections and exhibitions of artwork, history, culture, and social topics. Powerful artwork collections include modern and contemporary art in paintings and portraiture, mixed media artworks, print materials, and historical objects. The California African American Museum also hosts regular events and programming for families, kids, and teens, as well as concerts and performances.

6. Play in the water at Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach in southwest LA offers the same SoCal charm as big-name beaches in the area but maintains a relaxed atmosphere that’s great for families and kids. You can relax in the soft sand, play in the water, and stroll the boardwalk for beachside restaurants and boutiques. Head to the Manhattan Beach Pier for a small aquarium and excellent views of the surfers on the waves.

7. Get lost in a good story at The Last Bookstore

If you’re in Los Angeles with kids, check out The Last Bookstore. This is no ordinary bookstore, it’s a mecca of new and used books with offbeat art pieces, archways and architectural features constructed from books, and cool stuff around every corner. Housing books of all kinds, including titles for children and teens, you’ll also find a massive collection of graphic novels, vinyl records, and adjacent art galleries and shops. Spend a couple of hours wandering around The Last Bookstore, you’ll be glad you did.

8. See mammoth and dire wolf fossils at the La Brea Tar Pits Museum

If you’re searching for family things to do in Los Angeles, you’ll definitely want to put the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum on your list. The famous tar pits are a naturally occurring phenomenon that has existed for tens of thousands of years, preserving bones and artifacts from animals who have entered the tar over the centuries. Scientists have unearthed thousands of fossils and artifacts from the pits that you can view in the museum, including mammoths, giant ground sloths, dire wolves, and saber-toothed cats.

9. Tour famous movie and tv sets at Warner Bros. Studio

One of the unique family things to do in LA is taking a tour of Warner Bros. Studio, where many iconic movies and TV shows have been filmed over the years. Tours are pricey, but offer one-of-a-kind experiences to see soundstages and backlots, exclusive collections of props and costumes, and stand in some of the same spaces where celebrities have been. From the DC Universe and Batman to Harry Potter™, the Batcave, Friends, and the Big Bang Theory, there are tons of big Hollywood names.

10. Play in the sun and sand on Santa Monica Beach

Santa Monica Beach is one of several famed Southern California beaches, and rightfully so with a great mix of soft sandy beaches, family attractions, and local hotspots all within walking distance of each other. Rent bikes or bring your own to ride along the beach, hike on scenic trails with ocean views, and soak up some excellent local people-watching.

11. Check out your favorite animals at the Los Angeles Zoo

The Los Angeles Zoo is a sprawling park housing over 2,000 different animals, as well as rare plant species, and interactive kids’ activities. The Los Angeles Zoo offers a range of programs, presentations, and animal feedings, including a children’s play park and carousel, and a safari shuttle. You’ll find some of your favorite animals in lush biomes and natural habitat exhibits, ranging from elephants, monkeys, and jaguars, to tortoise, alligators, and eagles.

12. Go back in time with historical exhibits at the Natural History Museum

At the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles you’ll find over 4 billion years of history to explore, all under one roof. Spaces range from a dinosaur hall to a butterfly pavilion and extensive nature gardens. Exhibits at the Natural History Museum include ancient fossils and mammoth skeletons, regional history about LA, as well as a 3-D theater and live theater for presentations and regular events.

13. Ride in a swan paddle-boat at Lake Balboa Park

Lake Balboa Park offers plenty of open space for picnicking and running around, plus family-friendly facilities and multiple playgrounds. Balboa Park houses scenic trails around the lake for strolling or biking, as well as bike rental services. You can rent a swan-shaped paddle boat and paddle out onto Balboa Lake with the kids, a sure-fire hit with little ones. Shaded playgrounds include a toddler play space with interactive equipment and an imaginative atmosphere, as well as a maritime-themed playground for bigger kids.

14. See a space shuttle at California Science Center

At the California Science Center you can see the real space shuttle Endeavor, as well as exhibits on its historic journey from Earth to outer space. Permanent collections also include air and space, Earth’s ecosystems, and hands-on discovery rooms where kids can learn through play. At the California Science Center, you can safely ride on a high-wire bicycle exhibit, rock climb, and hop into a virtual reality simulator. In the on-site IMAX theater, you’ll find movies on topics ranging from the depths of the ocean to faraway galaxies in space.

15. Take a guided walking tour down Hollywood Boulevard

If you want to see the full gambit of iconic Hollywood attractions in Los Angeles with kids, head over to Hollywood Boulevard. Along this famous street, you’ll find familiar sights like the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the TCL Chinese Theater, and Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. Locals recommend taking a guided walking tour to hear some of the fascinating backstory and colorful history behind the attractions, otherwise, these spots can fall a bit flat on their own.

16. Splash and play in Tongva Park

Tongva Park and Ken Genser Square comprise a public park known for large conceptual modern art pieces, lush green spaces, and children’s playgrounds. Among scenic walking paths, you’ll find shaded picnic areas and gardens, plus family-friendly restrooms and free Wi-Fi. A kids’ playspace includes a splash pad with padded ground, great for little ones running around. Exploring Tongva Park and Ken Genser Square is a great free family thing to do in Los Angeles.

17. Experience evening stars through a telescope at Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory is one of the great free family things to do in Los Angeles, perched on a hilltop overlooking Hollywood below. You can look through telescopes, explore exhibits on space, and check out live presentations and shows inside the Planetarium. The observatory is typically open until 10 pm, perfect for families to enjoy seeing the stars through telescopes in the evening. There are also scenic walking trails around the grounds, with sweeping views of the city skyline below.