Los Angeles is one of the largest cities in the United States, so there’s no shortage of activities to explore here. From the iconic Hollywood sign to hiking, amusement parks, and more, this city offers something for the whole family. Make sure you check out kid-friendly Airbnbs in LA and book a place well ahead of your trip.
Once you’ve chosen your home base for your stay in Los Angeles, it’s time to consider one (or several) of the activities below.
- Watch a Show at the Equestrian Center in Burbank
- Catch a Film at El Capitan Theatre
- Check out The Huntington
- Visit the Iconic Hollywood Sign
- Pick a Whale Watching Spot
- Visit the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach
- Ride the Marina WaterBus
- Explore Balboa Island
- Visit Exposition Park
1. Watch a Show at the Equestrian Center
If your kids like horses, the Equestrian Center in Los Angeles is a must-see. Located in scenic Griffith Park, the clean, safe center and arena hosts a wide variety of equestrian sports. You’ll find numerous horse shows taking place at the center almost every weekend. The complex spans an impressive 75 acres with hundreds of boarding stalls.
If you have an interest in riding a horse, you can explore that at the Equestrian center. Otherwise, you and your kids can pass the time watching the beautiful animals strut and jump around. The Los Angeles Equestrian Center is an elegant facility with knowledgeable, helpful staff. Don’t forget to visit the gift and coffee shop when you go.
2. Catch a Film at El Capitan Theatre
Disney enthusiasts will appreciate this one. The El Capitan Theatre (nicknamed “Disney’s home”) on Hollywood Boulevard is a popular destination in the Los Angeles area. Built in the 1920s and reopened in 1991, the shows at this theater are unforgettable for the whole family.
For every new film, the theater sets up decorations and costume displays. They often include cast member appearances after the show, along with chances to meet lookalike characters. You can pay a bit extra to get VIP status at El Capitan Theatre, which means early entry, seat reservations, and souvenirs. Make sure you visit the ice cream shop next door after your visit.
3. Check Out The Huntington
The Huntington (which includes a library, botanical gardens, and an art museum) is one of our favorite family-friendly activities in Los Angeles. This location attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year from around the world, and for good reason. The property encompasses more than 200 acres of the San Gabriel Valley and includes diverse fauna such as mature trees, shrubs, and rare plants.
The Huntington isn’t a wildlife preservation, but you still have a high chance of seeing animals when you visit. Your kids might spot barn owls, California quail, raccoons, squirrels, and possums. The Library Exhibition Hall at the Huntington houses exquisite art objects, rare materials, grand portraits, and other delights for your senses. The Huntington also has a Desert Garden, which contains a huge collection of succulents (over 5,000 species).
4. Visit the Iconic Hollywood Sign
You’ve seen it in films and it may even be one of the reasons you want to go to LA; the Hollywood Sign. Whether you’re making the trek for a great photo opportunity or simply want to experience seeing it up close, it’s worth setting aside time for this. As you make your way to the sign, you’ll get to enjoy Griffith park, mountain views, and diverse wildlife. Once you hike to the sign, you’ll have a chance to take in the San Gabriel Mountains, the ocean, and the city of Los Angeles from above.
Families who want to visit the famous Hollywood sign have several options for hiking there. The best route for families (and the most popular choice) is the Mt. Hollywood trail. Summers get pretty hot on this hike, so bring water and make sure you wear proper footwear as a precaution against snakes. These trails are open every day of the year from sunrise to sunset. So, rally up the family and make a day of it.
5. Pick a Whale Watching Spot
Every year, from Winter to Springtime, thousands of gray whales make their way past Southern California beaches. Los Angeles visitors can take a whale watching cruise or see these fascinating creatures from land in select areas. Winter is the best season to go whale watching in Los Angeles, but if you’re set on catching blue whales, Summer is better.
With whale watching, you can select any place with an ocean view and hope for the best. But there are some places where you have a higher chance of a sighting. A couple of the best spots for whale watching in the LA area include Dana Wharf at Dana Point and Point Mugu, which has several trails overlooking the sea. Even if you don’t end up seeing a whale, hanging out near the ocean is always a fun time.
6. Visit the Aquarium of the Pacific
The Aquarium of the Pacific is the fourth most visited aquarium in the nation. It offers about 12,000 animals and more than 100 exhibits that celebrate the planet’s largest and most diverse body of water, the Pacific Ocean. Its galleries represent the frigid waters of the Northern Pacific, the temperate Southern California, and the warm coral reefs and lagoons of the Tropical Pacific.
Friendly and well trained staff members make this to-do while in LA totally worth it.
7. Ride the Marina WaterBus
Vacation can be expensive, so this next option will be a relief for budget-conscious parents. The Marina WaterBus provides tourists with a one-of-a-kind experience of Marina del Rey, one of the prettiest tourist areas in Southern California. Priced at just a dollar per ride, the boat stops at several areas to give you a chance to dine, shop, and look around. You can bring strollers and bicycles onboard.
The WaterBus operates from the Del Rey Landing, Esprit 1, Dolphin Marina, Marina Beach, Burton Chace Park, and Fisherman’s Village. Keep in mind that the tickets are one-way, on a per destination basis. This means once you get to your stop, you have to get off the boat and buy another ticket if you want to take the boat to another location. You’ll find dock attendants at each stop who can answer your questions and provide you with tickets.
8. Explore Balboa Island
Balboa Island is another family-friendly hot spot in the Los Angeles area. The harbor-side community is accessible via bridge, public docks, or the Balboa Island Ferry. Located in Newport Beach, this community is popular for pedestrian traffic and boasts coastal shops with fun jewelry, art, and beach fashions. And when your family gets hungry, you’ll have several quaint bistros and restaurants to choose from. Of course, seafood is on the menu, but you’ll also find Mexican, Italian, and European options.
Depending on the season or pandemic conditions, there may be parades or street fairs happening on the island. In May, the island hosts an outdoor art show with free admission and live music. The event hosts 100 artists with everything from photography to blown glass, sculpture, paintings, and other fun stuff.
9. Visit Exposition Park
Exposition Park is a popular area that hosts a variety of outdoor activities for the whole family. The urban park has entertainment venues, sports facilities, museums, and educational centers. The campus spans 160 acres, so there’s plenty to see here.
Whether you want to visit the Rose Garden, learn about natural history, or check out the California Science center, Exposition Park is a must-see. You’ll also find the Memorial Coliseum in the area which hosts world-class competitions. So, whether it’s leisure, learning, or sports you’re after, you’ll find it here. You’ll also find plenty of restaurants to choose from once you’re done exploring the park.
With so many fun activities to choose from, it’s easy to see why Los Angeles is so popular with tourists. Try to fit at least a few of these activities in. If you miss some, there’s always next time.