Los Angeles is a big city. With its highly urbanized nature, the hustle and bustle, and its fast-paced environment, it might seem overwhelming to find things to do for kids. Yet Los Angeles is a vast place, and that belief that it is an “adult town” is far from the truth. Although having a population of 8 million and in the most densely populated regions in the country, Los Angeles has many places that are great for young children and adolescents.
Top 9 Things to Do for Kids in Greater Los Angeles (that you might have never heard of)
480 N Arroyo Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91103
The first place worth mentioning is the Kidspace Museum in Pasadena, California. The Kidspace Museum is a nonprofit organization that dedicated itself to nurturing the potential of every child through activities that foster education and learning. Inaugurated in 1979 at the California Institute of Technology, the museum was created to address the educational need in the San Gabriel Valley while simultaneously creating access to the arts, humanities, and the sciences.
At the museum, there are a total of about 40 exhibits within five main educational areas. The first section is the Arroyo Adventure. Patterned after the nearby Arroyo Seco, this area challenges children to be more tuned with nature. It allows them to gain knowledge about flood patterns, understand soil erosion, and to find creative ways to use rocks to distort the design of rivers. In the storytelling studio, children can express their creative side by reading and listening to stories, creating their own stories with muppets, and allows an open space for youth to express themselves. In the next area that caters to the scientifically inclined is the Robert And Mary Galvin Physics Forest. Here youth can engage in all types of physic related activities. Activities here include the Giant Levers, which demonstrate mechanical advantage through tug of war and the Bottle Rocket experiment that illustrates force required to allow things to propel. Other parts of the exhibit that are worth investigating are the I-Play Zone, which encourages and teaches young children to build, the Nature Exchange, home of everything relating to animals, and the Dig, which teaches children about archeology. Education-wise, this is not even considering the other forms of education that the museum offers, which ranges from outdoor activities, painting, and interactive music.
In June of 2017, the museum was able to reach its five millionth guest, and the campaign for the future of Kidspace reached its 13 million dollar goal. Located near the 210, the Kidspace Museum is directly across from the Rose Bowl Stadium and adjacent to the Brookside Park and Arroyo Seco Baseball. Admission should not hurt you financially as tickets will cost 14 dollars for both Adults and adolescents, while children one and under get in for free.
700 Exposition Park Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90037
Located right next to the prestigious USC campus and the Los Angeles Coliseum in Southern Los Angeles is the California Science Center. Open seven days a week, and 362 days a year, the exhibit is a great place to visit as it is easily accessible, with free general admission to its permanent galleries. Opening two decades ago in 1998, the center spanned nearly 400,000 square feet and consists of four main sections. These sections include the World Of Life, where visitors can learn the complexities of biology, Ecosystems, a place that young children can go to learn about the environment through zones. More include the Creative World, which allows visitors to show their creativity through the application of ingenuity and innovation, and finally, the Air & Space, which offers tours and exhibits of some of the world’s most well-known aircraft and space shuttles.
Not only does the Science Center provide educational resources for children of all ages, but it also offers various forms of entertainment. One of these avenues include the IMAX attraction, which provides a seven-story tall, 90-foot widescreen. Tickets are relatively inexpensive as the prices for the IMAX Apollo 11, which is showing at the venue right now, will cost about 9 dollars for one adult, 7 dollars for children, while seniors and students pay an average price of about 8 dollars. Prices may vary, however, as high traffic days, like the weekends, will generally cost more. Accessing this location is relatively easy, and the exhibit offers affordable parking. If you are coming from the West Side, the ten freeway will be your best bet, while people from the south and north should use the 110. When using interstate 110, it generally is understood that taking an exit on Exposition Blvd and making a south on Figueroa will lead you there. Once at the Science Center, parking should not be expensive as it will cost 12 dollars till 5:00 pm and 15 dollars if staying later. If you are someone who likes to plan their trips, California Science Center offers brochures for visitors and gives information about events, conferences, and showings.
2701 N Sepulveda Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90049
Located in the Santa Monica Mountains near the 405 freeway is an excellent exhibit for the youth. That place is called the Skirball Cultural Center. The Skirball Museum is an educational site that is dedicated to not only sustaining Jewish heritage and American ideals. Although you may not be Jewish, do not let that stop you from allowing your kids to have an interactive experience that will both educate and enlighten. Having about 30,000 objects, the Skirball Cultural Center is home to many artifacts, both culturally and historically, much coming from the biblical periods. It is the main reason why it draws about 60,000 people annually, as it is an excellent tool in understanding the history of ancient Israel and the Near East. Current exhibits that are available are the “Through Different Lenses: Stanley Kubrick Photographs,” which follow the life of the famous filmmaker and the “El Sueno Americano.”
There is also more, like the Vision And Values and the Discovery Center, that is an excellent tool regarding Near East antiquity. However, the site that is most well known and is well discussed and appreciated, including the New York Times, is Noah’s Ark Exhibit. A fascinating piece of architecture, the ark is not only a fun place but also is an excellent way for youth to understand the story of Noah in a new and fascinating way. Inside the ark, children will be able to relive the ancient tale of the flood by interacting with the many handcrafted animals, constructing their ark, and upon exiting bask themselves in a mist that creates a rainbow. Tickets to all the exhibits except for Noah’s Ark, are available only at the museum, while Noah’s Ark, as well as programs and classes are on the website. Tickets are affordable as general admission will only cost about 12 dollars while tickets for children ages 2-12 will only cost you 7.00 dollars. Prices are also accessible for other groups as well, with seniors and students only paying around 9.00 dollars. Like our previous destinations, the Skirball Cultural Center is not hard to access as all one has to do is use the 405 freeway and take the Skirball Center Drive exit.
1200 Getty Center Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90049
Located not too far from the Skirball Cultural Center and very much suited for children and adolescents is the Getty Center Museum. Although the Getty is one of the most sophisticated places, with ancient figurines, bas-reliefs, and paintings, it still is very much a kid-friendly place and offers much for youth. On most Saturdays of the month, the Getty Center offers many extracurricular activities that are suited just for children. Upcoming events that have been scheduled at the Getty Villa will allow children to discover how the ancient Romans used papyrus and will enable them to make their very own writings. Other events that are very suitable for the youth include family tours, with the most recent one being the widely known world of Percy Jackson.
If you are looking for something more hands-on, the Getty also offers the Family Room. This area has activities that include building a tube sculpture, decorating a giant book, and developing a curiosity about camera lenses and mirrors. The Getty Center also allows children to hunt for treasure that they initially have seen earlier through the peepholes at the treasure hunt walls. They then are tasked with trying to find those same objects throughout the museum, making it a very interactive experience. What is good about all of this is that you will not have to pay a single dime. Admission into both the Getty Center and the Getty Villa are free, with the only cost to you being parking which is 20 dollars. The Getty Center, being near the 405, should not be hard to miss as it sits on top of the hillside, and they do offer trams that lead you up to the exhibit. To access this, I suggest taking an exit off of Getty Center Drive. Stay on this street till you see a parking lot, which should be on your left. Once there, you will be able to access the Getty with their very convenient tram easily.
5801 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Arguably one of the world’s most well-known fossil museums in the La Brea Tar Pits & Museum in the Miracle Mile section of the city. Here kids will be able to see real-life excavations by professional scientists and have the chance to tour the many exhibits that show our prehistoric past. The three pits that are being excavated as of right now and can give you insights on how archeology works from the insides out are the Observation Pit, Project 21, and Pit 91. Each three will give your child an understanding of the tasks that paleontologists deal with on a daily bases. If you are even more curious about the scientific advancements in the field of archaeology and paleontology, the museum also offers the Fossil Lab. The Fossil Lab is a laboratory that shows the paleontologist gathering and examining specimens from the tar pits. The lab is a very educational experience and gives youth insight into what many in the science field do daily.
Much like our previous examples, the La Brea Tar Pits also is home to many great exhibits and tours. All the excavations that conjure up fossils of past species are always on display throughout the museum. Not only that, but you can also take part in the many tours that the museum offers here. One trip that should be of interest to you and your family is the Ice Age Encounters, which is a live performance that showcases the infamous saber tooth tiger and offers an educational form of entertainment that the children would appreciate. The museum is open throughout the year from 9:30-5 pm, except for many national holidays such as Christmas and the 4th of July. Admission into this exhibit is not expensive as tickets for adults will be 14 dollars online, while for children (3-12), it is only 6 dollars. Anyone under three is admitted for free while seniors and students pay 11 dollars. There are ways to enter free of charge, as the museum offers every first Tuesday of the month entirely for free (except for July and August), and people who have are California EBT cardholders, California teachers. Active or former military also can get in free of charge. You will have to show your documentation to get this discount. Located near the Miracle Mile, the La Brea Tar Pits are most accessible if you use Wilshire Blvd. You will see almost immediately as it is at the intersection of Curson and Wilshire.
100 Aquarium Way
Long Beach, CA 90802
The next great place for children in the greater Los Angeles area is the widely known and widely toured Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California. The aquarium holds about 11,000 different animals and 500 different species, all from the three representative regions of the Pacific Ocean, sunny California and the Baja, the Northern and tropical Pacific. The Southern California/Baja section represents the diverse flora and fauna of Southern California. Here one can learn about species like the California Garibaldi, the California Scorpionfish, and many other native species to Southern California.
Places that should be of particular interest to you and your family may be the Seals and Sealions exhibit. This exhibit is a great place to see some of the region’s best aquatic animals like the California Seal. Another point of interest is the Gulf of California, which is home to many species like the endangered Vaquita. The Vaquita, by the way, is the world’s only porpoise. In the Northern Pacific region of the aquarium, many of the species and animals found in this area will be from the Bering Sea region of the Pacific Ocean while the Tropical Gallery offers some of the most exotic animals from the islands of Palau.
Besides these three exhibits, youth can also see the shark lagoon, the lorikeet forest, and the June Keyes Penguin Habitat. Admission into the Aquarium Of The Pacific is not cheap, as one ticket for adults will cost you about 35.00 dollars while children, ages 3-12, can be admitted for about 25.00 dollars. I suggest, however, to purchase one of their multiple park packages as you can visit both the aquarium and the Los Angeles Zoo for 47.00 dollars. They also offer more packages to places like the Natural History Museum and the Harbor tour, which both are slightly cheaper than the Los Angeles Zoo package. Opening at 9:00 am and closing at 6:00 pm, it is pertinent to plan your trip by getting an early start on the freeways. The most common way people get to this location is by using the 405 before merging south on the 710. The 710 should not cause you any problems, but it is the 405 that will make you spend three hours in traffic, so make sure you are well aware of traffic in the area and plan accordingly. Once in the Long Beach area, you want to head east on Shoreline Dr before making a right onto Aquarium Way.
415 Pacific Coast Hwy
Santa Monica, CA 90402
If you want a place to have your children enjoy the soothing California sun right alongside the Pacific Ocean, look no further than the Annenburg Beach Community House in Santa Monica, California. Located directly off the Pacific Coast Highway, this beach home is not exclusively for the wealthy but has been serving the general public since 2009. Activities at this beachfront home include pool, where visitors can bring along their children to play in the water; Splash Pad, which is a feature that shoots water out of the ground; Beach Volleyball, which is more geared towards the older adolescents and beach sports, which include beach soccer, paddleboards for the ocean and beach tennis.
There is no membership required to enjoy the amenities, but you should note that it would be wise to come early in the morning as the waitlist can and will get busy. To access the pool, it will cost about 10 dollars for adults, 4 dollars for children ages 1-17, and only 5 dollars for seniors. Just like any pool, there are clear rules. Parents are not allowed to leave their children unattended if they are younger than the age of 8 and under 4 feet if they are in the water. Children ages 12 and younger will need to be supervised by an adult at all times, even if they may be taller than 4 feet. It also should be noted that for the paddleboards, only children ages 14 and up can access them. Even when the pool is not open, the Beach home offers many other amenities such as Pop Up Pool Days.
10580 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Reading has been said to be one of the most critical activities a child can engage in, and with our hectic lifestyles, it can be almost impossible for us regularly read to our children. However, do not be dismayed because the Children’s Book World has you covered. Located right off of Pico Blvd in Culver City, Children’s Book World has been serving their community since 1986. With 80,000 books, a large selection of audio, DVDs, and science kits, this organization provides youth with very relevant educational tools that will last with them for a lifetime. With professional authors reading some of their works, to Saturday morning stories, this place is an excellent way for children to enjoy stories such as Just In Case You Want To Fly by Julia Fogliano and Christian Johnson, Dog And Rabbit by Barney Saltzberg, Pie In The Sky by Remy Lai, and countless others. What is even more attractive is that admission is free of charge, with hours ranging from 10:00-5:30 Monday through Friday, while Saturday hours are 10:00 to 5:00 pm.
1615 Ocean Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90401
If you are looking for an outdoor park that is designed specifically for youth, look no further than the Tongva Park in Santa Monica. Tongva Park, which gets its name after the indigenous Tongva people who lived in the region, is a great park that offers many amenities. The Discover Hill section, which provides some of the most beautiful flowers, is excellent for the young ones as it features a children’s play area, picnic area, and a splash pad. Garden Hill, which is home to beautiful shrubs and succulents, offers seating bays, walking paths, and a shaded area for picnics. Other sections include the Gathering Hill, which offers free performances, and the Observation Hill. Accessing this park is relatively easy as it is right off of Pacific Coast Highway and Ocean Avenue. Like our previous destinations, Tongva Park is completely free of charge.
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