Insider's Guide to Griffith Park: 23 Top Things To Do With Kids

Climb aboard trains at Travel Town in Griffith Park. Photo by Kylie Williams
Climb aboard trains at Travel Town in Griffith Park. Photo by Kylie Williams
1/21/24 - By Kylie Williams

Griffith Park is a true oasis for kids. Nestled in the heart of Los Angeles, it offers endless family-friendly activities. You could spend days in Griffith Park with all there is to do. 

Nature trails cater to little explorers, leading them through the park's green landscapes. The iconic Hollywood Sign serves as a backdrop for family photos and panoramic views, creating a magical setting for outdoor adventures. There's even some Disneyland history. Whether marveling at animals in the Los Angeles Zoo or playing conductor at Travel Town's vintage train collection, Griffith Park is a diverse and captivating playground for kids to learn, play, and make cherished memories. 

For more iconic attractions for kids in Los Angeles, discover all there is to do in Hollywood with kids, read these tips about visiting the Santa Monica Pier with kids, and find more things to do in our Los Angeles Visitors' Guide for Families


Best Things to Do in Griffith Park with Kids 

Griffith Park with kids: Griffith Observatory 
Scenic views and science exhibits await at the Griffith Observatory. Photo by Gina Ragland

1. Griffth Observatory

You could easily spend an entire day just at the Griffith Observatory. Channel your inner La La Land moment by spending an afternoon gazing up at constellations in the planetarium or wonder at the Tesla Coil and the swinging pendulum inside.

Whether the kids are obsessed with science and stars, stunning city views are appreciated, or you want to check an LA landmark off your list (or several landmarks, as you can see the Hollywood sign from Griffith Observatory, too), it is a must-visit. Pro tip: Catch the Dodger Stadium fireworks from the lookout on game nights. 

2. Griffith Park Train Rides

Griffith Park has not one but two currently operating ride-on trains. The first is in Travel Town, where kids and adults can coast around the museum for only $4 per adult and $3 per kid (entrance into Travel Town is free).

The second train is the Griffith Park and Southern Railroad, which travels through a meadow, past Snow White's house, and through a tunnel. The conductors dress up the tracks for Halloween and the holidays. The festive holiday lights train is a seasonal Los Angeles classic, with thousands of twinkly lights guiding your way. 

3. Travel Town

Speaking of trains, Travel Town is a free museum for all ages tucked into Griffith Park. Kids and adults can explore old train cars, sit in an engine, admire antique vehicles, or play with Brio cars on a massive train table. It's also a fantastic and affordable option for train-themed kids' birthday parties in Los Angeles

4. Shane's Inspiration Playground

Dedicated to the memory of Shane Williams, who died of spinal muscular atrophy, Shane’s Inspiration is one of the most famous playgrounds in Los Angeles and a universally accessible playground. This giant spot for play has creative climbing structures, swings and spinners, a basketball hoop challenge, and more. 

5. Ferndell Trail

Fern Dell is my favorite spot in Griffith Park. It's a fern grotto on a marked trail that leads to a spectacular playground. My kids love to pretend they are fairies and explorers as they traverse the flat, shaded, stroller-friendly path. A small stream bubbles next to the walking path, and keen eyes may spot koi fish, tadpoles, or crawdads. The thick canopy of trees keeps the path cool, even on the hottest days.

6. The Trails Cafe

This charming rustic spot is nestled in the trees across the way from the playground on the Ferndell trail, and near the start of the trailhead to the Griffith Observatory. The cafe offers sandwiches, sweet treats, and something called a snake dog (a hot dog on a stick wrapped in pastry). There is plenty of hot coffee and tea, and picnic tables set up on a deck outdoors. 

RELATED: 100 Things To Do in Los Angeles Before Kids Grow Up

Griffith Park with Kids: Los Angeles Zoo 
Don't miss Reggie, the most famous alligator in LA at the zoo! Photo by Kylie Williams

7. The LA Zoo 

The Los Angeles Zoo is tucked away in Griffith Park, and has plenty to offer in the way of animal encounters. See elephants, giraffes, slithery snakes, playful otters, a stunning jaguar, some cheeky chimps, and more. Kids who want to ride a merry-go-round can get their chance on the zoo carousel. You'll also likely spend a lot of time at the zoo playground. There are feedings and presentations regularly at the zoo, but check their website for timing details. 

8. The Autry Museum of the American West

This western cowboy museum is directly across from the LA Zoo, and it's a fun place to take your kiddos. Recently, the Autry opened up a brand-new family play space where my kids enjoyed LEGO bricks, coloring, and pretending to run a grocery store. The museum has free admission every Tuesday and Wednesday from 1pm to 4pm. 

9. The Hollywood Sign 

One of LA's most noteworthy icons, the Hollywood Sign, is in Griffith Park. Kids and adults can hike behind the Hollywood sign for photos from a unique perspective from a landmark. 

With a high elevation and no shade coverage, the Mt. Hollywood hike is not considered easy, and you'll have to work for those views from behind the sign. There are plenty of places within Griffith Park where you don't have to hike to the top for a photo in front of the sign. 

10. The Greek Theatre

The Hollywood Bowl might get all the glory as the essential outdoor music venue in Los Angeles, but the Greek Theatre holds its own. This stunning outdoor amphitheater in Griffith Park always has a solid seasonal summer lineup in an intimate setting.  

11. Hiking 

There are miles of trails in Griffith Park. Besides the very kid-friendly Ferndell trail, hiking up to the Griffith Observatory is a very popular route to take. The Captain's Roost trail is another option, and really, you can make your own way through the expansive network of Griffith Park trails. Don't miss hiking through Griffith Park in the spring when everything is lush and green, and wildflowers sprout from the trails. 

12. T-6 Simulator Ride

Enhance your train riding experience by hopping in the T-6 simulator next to the Griffith Park and Southern Railroad station for only $5 per person. Bigger kids will get a kick out of this virtual reality experience that presents as more of a "thrill ride" than the sweet but slow train next door. 

13. Sleepaway Camps

Camp Hollywoodland for girls and Griffith Park Boys Camp offer young urbanites a chance to slumber in nature without leaving the city. The camps have been operating since 1925 and were part of Griffith's original vision for the land.​ In addition to summer sleepaway camps, both locations offer weekend retreats throughout the year. 

14. Bike Rentals

Local cycle shop Spokes ‘n Stuff has a concession right next to the ranger station on Crystal Springs Drive. Check the website or call first, as hours vary. Weekday rentals are cash only. With plenty of bike trails weaving through Griffith Park, families can pedal for hours while enjoying the views. 

15. Scooters

For a unique way to experience Griffith Park, Sunnyday Scoot offers a thrilling ride that doesn't let anyone switch off in the back seat. Spend an hour exploring several of the park's high points in a vehicle that makes onlookers shout and wave. Book a sunrise tour, a discover LA tour, or an adventure tour to putter around Griffith Park.

16. The Old LA Zoo

Did you know that the current LA Zoo is not the original location of Griffith Park's menagerie? The zoo used to be off Crystal Springs Drive, but the area was too crowded, and the enclosures were too small, so animals moved to the Los Angeles Zoo we now know and love. However, the "old zoo" is still hidden in the park, and explorers can walk around the open space once home to wild animals. It's a unique picnic spot and photo op. 

17. Walt Disney's Carolwood Barn

There is no shortage of trains in Griffith Park, but perhaps some of the most famous model trains can be seen inside Walt Disney's barn. It's not a secret that Walt Disney was a railroad enthusiast, and some of that passion is on display in the form of collections and memorabilia. Walt Disney's barn is open to the public once a month, on the third Sunday, from 11am to 3pm. 

Can't-Miss Events in Griffith Park 

18. Public Star Parties

The Griffith Observatory hosts monthly public star parties with plenty of telescopes so budding astronomers can look for the planets, stars, and moon. The Los Angeles Astronomical Society, the Los Angeles Sidewalk Astronomers, and the Planetary Society are all present to assist with identifying heavenly bodies and using telescopes.

19. P-22 Day Festival

Every year in October, Griffith Park pulls out all the stops to honor everyone's favorite mountain lion, P-22. Families enjoy arts and crafts, live music, food vendors, and rock climbing.

20. The Great Big Day of Play 

Keep an eye out for the Great Big Day of Play, which typically pops up in May at the Autry Museum. This epic family day includes a kid's music festival, inflatables, ball pits, lots of free samples, and more. 

21. Holiday Lights Festival Train Ride

Every year, The Griffith Park and Southern Railroad decorate the track with thousands of twinkling lights for a holiday experience. For many Angelenos, this is an annual holiday must-do. 

RELATED: Best Polar Express Train Rides & Christmas Trains in Los Angeles

Griffith Park with kids: Griffith Park Shakespeare Festival 
Et tu, Griffith Park? Photo courtesy of the Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival 

22. Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival

Griffith Park turns into The Globe Theater every summer, with free al fresco Shakespeare performances Wednesday though Sunday June through the beginning of September. Experience the best of the Bard in the summer air.

23. Los Angeles Haunted Hayride

This one is definitely reserved for teens and adults, but the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride takes place in Griffith Park near the old zoo every October. The entire space fills with ghostly figures, eerie lights, and plenty of tricks (and treats) for those brave enough to board the tractors and take the ride. 

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