25 Things To Do with Your Preschooler in Downtown Los Angeles

1/12/16 - By Jennifer Cook Nice

It's the New Year; time to get creative! There's only so much a parent can dream up for the kids to do in a 12 hour span of time, especially after a busy holiday season when there might have been too much on the things to do list.

Even if you live in a bustling city like Los Angeles, sometimes options for preschool activities seem limited—even more so the farther you get from the suburbs. As concrete and dry as Downtown LA might seem at times, I promise you there's a ton of stuff for families to do, particularly for you and your preschooler. Have fun exploring!


1. Treat your preschooler to a world of books at the hip and unique Last Book Store on the corner of 5th and Spring. See shelves built like mazes and tunnels with walls made of books.

2. Enjoy the DTLA renaissance. Visit the lobby of the Ace Hotel, located in the United Artists building and theater, to see the wall of books and decor of real instruments. Take some funny photos in the old school photo booth. Snack on all day breakfast at the attached restaurant, LA Chapter. 

3. Browse the LA Fashion Disctrict's many fabric shops and let your kid pick out some cool fabrics that he or she can use for a fancy craft project.

4. In Little Tokyo, visit the tranquil James Irvine Japanese Gardens at the Japanese Cultural Center (FREE admission). 

5. Indulge in some make-believe at Kiddie City.

6. Exposition Park is home to the California Science Center and the Natural History Museum—both of which offer a full day's worth of educational fun for toddlers, preschoolers, and beyond.

7. Take a sketch pad and a pencil to practice your drawing while touring The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), or reserve free tickets at the new Broad Museum.

8. Catch a movie at the Regal or boogie down at the GRAMMY Museum, followed by a snack at LA Live. (This is also a great location for winter season ice skating.)

9. Go Hello Kitty crazy at the Japanese Village Plaza.

10. Enjoy some organic, fair trade ice cream, churned and energized by a person on a bicycle at the Peddler's Creamery.

11. Explore the Central Library; take a tour, ride the elevators wallpapered with Dewey Decimal System index cards, and see the unique fountains outside of the library.

12. Indulge in a picnic at the California Plaza at Bunker Hill amidst fountains, streams, and flowers, and watch a free show in the summer hosted by Grand Performances.

13. Stop by Grand Hope Park for some good ole playground time at 9th Street and Hope. Take advantage of the photo op near the large dog statues on the grass. 

14. Breathe in the smells of the Flower District, and let your little one choose a few stems to bring home—perhaps to arrange in a jar decorated with that fabric you bought in the Fashion District.

15. People watch at Pershing Square, or shop for some fresh produce at the Wednesday farmers' market. Pershing also has a fun little playground, as well as great ice skating mid November through mid January.

16. Walk the dog at the Arts District Dog Park.

17. Support one of Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy's newest parks, Vista Hermosa Natural Park, which offers beautiful views of Downtown LA, walking trails, streams, and picnic grounds.

18. Take a unique, stroller-friendly walk through the Grand Central Market, a bustling open market filled with shops and international cuisine.

19. Let little ones bounce and play at Around the Globe Kids' Center, Downtown's indoor play space ($12 for a day pass).

20. All aboard! Take a Metro Link train ride to/from beautiful Union Station.

21. Commute within DTLA using the gold, purple and red lines of the Metro LA.

22. Across from Union Station, take a stroll through historic Olvera Street, a one-block pedestrian zone and Mexican street market, home to the oldest remaining structure in Los Angeles, the Avila Adobe (FREE admission).

23. Take a picnic to eco-friendly Grand Park and enjoy the splash pad, located between The Music Center and City Hall.

24. After some lunchtime pizza, invite your preschooler to pick out one of the many fancy pastries on display at Bottega Louie.

25. And something to remember for October, even though it's long ways from now, Downtown LA kids are invited to its Annual Halloween Party for DTLA Kids crafts, bouncy castles, and face painting. $8 at the door (2 and under free).


Places featured in this article:

Farmer's Market at Los Angeles City Hall

Vista Hermosa Natural Park

Around the Globe Kid's Center

Annual Halloween Party for DTLA Kids