100 Things To Do with LA Kids Before They Grow Up
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