100 Things To Do with LA Kids Before They Grow Up
Kids. We can't stop them from growing up so fast, but we can try not to miss any of the best, most memorable things to do in their home town. LA is probably the best city in the country for raising kids, but that just means there are more things to remember to do before the little chickens spring the coop. Being phenomenal Southern California parents, you've certainly already done several of these; but which of these 100 not-to-be-missed, family-fun outings have you not yet done? There's always this weekend!
If you're in the mood for a more local itinerary, check out one of our neighborhood bucket lists. And finally a tip: Keep an eye on our list of ages that kids get in free at SoCal attractions as you make your plan.
NEW: We have a free printable checklist of our favorite LA activities from this list. Print it out and stick it on your fridge to inspire you any time you need an activity idea.
- See Pasadena's Rose Parade live and in person.
- See Pasadena's other parade—the Doo Dah Parade—live and in person.
- Take a Warner Brothers Studio Tour—the real deal, theme-park-free studio tour.
- Ride the Santa Monica Pier Ferris wheel at sunset.
- Star-gaze at Griffith Observatory.
- Ride the high-wire bicycle at the California Science Center.
Photo by Roberta Brown
- Pick your own veggies at Underwood Farms.
- Tour the STAR Eco Station.
- See an IMAX movie at the California Science Center.
- Visit Kidspace Children’s Museum.
- See a play at Topanga's Theatricum Botanicum.
- Finagle a guest pass to kids brunch at the Magic Castle.
- See a big Disney movie at El Capitan.
- Ride the Orange County Great Park helium balloon.
- Go to a Native American event at the Autry National Center.
- Camp in Malibu Creek State Park.
- Do an LA Conservancy Family Walking Tour.
- Go rollerblading along Venice Beach.
- Head south to swim with the belugas or dolphins at SeaWorld.
- Go to a Medieval Times dinner tournament.
- See EquestFest over winter break.
- Play at Noah’s Ark at the Skirball.
- Build a campfire and cook dinner at Dockweiller Beach.
- Do a Sunset Ranch Hollywood sign trail ride—or hike up for a close-up view.
- Ride a Fillmore & Western train.
- Take a whale watching trip.
- Attend a hand print or a star laying ceremony on Hollywood Blvd.
Checking out Emma Watson's handprints at Grauman's Chinese Theater. Photo by Jeff Christiansen/CC BY 2.0
- Skydive on Universal Citywalk at iFly Hollywood.
- Try the Muscle Beach Travelling Rings.
- Ride the trains at LA Live Steamers in Griffith Park.
- Browse the Rose Bowl Flea Market.
- Have brunch and hit the beach at Paradise Cove.
- Hike to the Bat Cave in Griffith Park.
- Celebrate a traditional Mexican festival at Olvera Street.
- Register to be extras in a movie.
- Watch a taping of a live kids’ show.
- Take a surfing lesson.
- Rent (or bring) a bike to ride the beach bike path.
- Ice skate in short sleeves at one of the seasonal outdoor ice rinks.
- See a show at Bob Baker Marionette Theater.
- Go for a walk through the Venice Canals.
- Take a day out of school to go to Disneyland when it's not as busy.
- See the buffalo on Catalina Island.
- Go on a Faery Hunt.
The woods are alive with faeries at the Faery Hunt. Photo by Christi Anna
- Check out Watts Towers.
- Visit the Flower Mart downtown.
- See the swallows return to San Juan Capistrano.
- Spend a summer evening at the Pageant of the Masters.
- See one of the Christmas Boat Parades.
- Go watch some old TV shows at the Paley Center.
- Ski or sled at a local ski resort, then have dinner by the beach.
- Go to a Presidential Library - Reagan or Nixon.
- Buy a season pass to one of the big parks (Disneyland, Universal, Knotts) so that you can drop in any time, even if only for a couple of rides.
- Watch a horse show at the LA Equestrian Center.
- Wander The Huntington Gardens.
- Go to an open rehearsal at the Hollywood Bowl.
- Join LACMA Nexgen, go to a Family Sunday, and take photos at the lampposts.
- Attend an event at the Central Library (story hour, author event, etc..).
- Do a sleepover at either the Tar Pits or Natural History Museum.
- Sled the Venice sand berms.
Sand-sledding. Photo via Bigstock
- Go to the Chinese New Year Parade in Chinatown.
- Do a beach clean-up.
- Wander the Camellia Festival at either Descanso or Huntington Gardens.
- Take part in a Dia de los Muertos Festival at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
- Drop in on Los Encinos Living History Day.
- Explore the Natural History Museum's seasonal Butterfly Pavilion or Spider Pavilion
- Take a trip on DTLA's famous Angel's Flight.
- Visit the Moorpark Teaching Zoo.
- Do a Kids Run the Bases day at Dodger Stadium.
- Go to a Family Festival (and ride the monorail up the hill) at the Getty Center.
- Tour (or stay at) the Queen Mary.
- Spend a day at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire.
Ride a broomstick through Hogwarts. Photo courtesy of Warner Brothers Studio Tour
- Go to the Los Angeles County Fair.
- Attend the Hollywood Christmas Parade.
- Wander the LA Times Festival of Books.
- Ride the Marina del Rey Water Bus to a waterside concert.
- Bake cookies, bring them to your local fire station, and get a tour of the station and engines.
- Take a free Beverly Hills Trolley, and hop off on Rodeo Drive to window shop.
- Tour the Museum of Tolerance.
- Go sea kayaking.
- Have dinner at the Santa Monica Food Trucks, with a table (and grown-up drinks) at The Victorian.
- Rent a family bicycle surrey or swan boat at Lake Balboa.
Lake Balboa Family enjoying a ride on a Surrey. Photo courtesy of Wheel Fun Rentals
- Experience the famous Festival of Lights at Riverside's Mission Inn.
- Celebrate Mardi Gras at the Farmers Market.
- Get in the Halloween spirit at Knotts Scary Farm.
- Experience science at the Discovery Science Center—in the Valley or the OC.
- See the Space Shuttle Endeavour at the Samuel Oschin Pavilion.
- Take a trapeze lesson.
- Volunteer to work on a Rose Parade float and/or view the floats up close after the parade.
- Check out the Heritage Square Museum
- Catch a Sunday shark feeding at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium
- Enjoy a Sunday morning concert at McCabe’s and try out all the guitars afterward
- Experience a Toyota Symphony for Youth at Disney Concert Hall
- Create a recycled masterpiece at ReDiscover
- See the Avila Adobe – LA’s oldest house
- Go for Gospel Brunch at the House of Blues in Anaheim
- Catch some live music at Amoeba Records and show kids what records are
- Attend the annual Jet Propulsion Laboratory Open House
- Catch the Tall Ships Festival
- Go on a Grunion Run
And, in honor of everyone's favorite freeway (the 101), we can't resist adding one more:
101. Dress up & belt out the songs at the Hollywood Bowl Sound of Music Sing-Along
Post originally published January 6, 2012, updated regularly since