Top 10 Attractions to Keep Kids Happy in Los Angeles



In some ways, the Los Angeles area is a Mecca for children, especially if you include Anaheim, putting Disneyland, Disney's California Adventure and Mickey Mouse into the mix. For with just the Disney resorts and Universal Studios (the home of Harry Potter), L.A. has two of the world's biggest attractions for children (and their parents); add in the numerous other museums, amusement parks and beachfront experiences found across the Southland and families with kids of all ages will discover plenty of fun to keep them occupied while visiting the City of Angels. Start at the beach with a trip to the Santa Monica Pier for some traditional carnival rides (especially good for children under eight years old) and then head for the hills, and beyond, where the massive rollercoasters at Six Flags Magic Mountain await the strong of stomach and the Griffith Observatory sparks imaginations to the stars and beyond. Universal Studios is also north of the city itself, while the always fun California Science Center and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles are right in the heart of Downtown L.A. There's plenty of choices for kids of all ages in Southern California, so many that finding time to do them all may be the biggest challenge your family has on a visit to our sunny shores.



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One way or another, this museum of science and technology has been in operation since 1912, when it began as the State Exposition Building. It was remodeled in 1951 and rechristened the California Museum of Science and Industry, then it was finally completely revamped in 1998 and became the California Science Center. Admission is always free and the four permanent exhibitions are Creative World; Ecosystems; World of Life; and Air and Space, which has housed the Endeavour space shuttle since 2012. Many of the exhibits are hands on, which means both children and adults really get the chance to understand the basic principles of science and technology.


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Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Photo courtesy of Los Angeles County Museum of Art


 

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is the largest art museum in the Western United States. Its large complex houses a permanent collection that spans the globe, covers every historical era and features everything from European to Asian and Islamic art. Don't miss the impressive Latin American collection, which showcases pre-Columbian masterpieces, as well as works by modern and contemporary artists like Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and Jose Clemente Orozco. Regularly rotating temporary exhibits, constantly changing film programs, lectures, courses and special events mean that there is always something new and fascinating going on at this top-notch museum. Kids will especially love the Boone Children's Gallery at LACMA, where they can try their hand at painting. It's open every day except Wednesday.


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Hollywood Bowl
Photo courtesy of L.A. Philharmonic Hollywood Bowl

 

From April to October, the Hollywood Bowl is the place in SoCal to see concerts and performances of every kind. The summer home of the L.A. Philharmonic, it's also the spot where the Beatles and the Doors played back in the day and the venue that hosts the Playboy Jazz Festival weekend every June. There's sometimes ballet on the beautiful bandshell stage, sometimes a classic movie musical unspools with the whole audience singing along, and other times rock, country, Latin or pop musicians belt out their tunes. Bring your own picnic, book tickets for a show that features singalongs with classic kids' movies like "Star Wars" and "Annie," and the whole family is sure to have a blast at the Bowl.


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The Zimmer Children's Museum is a non-profit museum that caters to kids eight years old and younger, with a mission to help kids learn about global citizenship, community and different cultures. The museum entertains and teaches kids through hands-on, interactive exhibits that include arts and crafts, dress-up, playing musical instruments and more. Through creative exhibits that masquerade as kid-sized kitchens, theaters and more, kids learn lessons that range from community responsibility to diversity to helping the earth. Kids will enjoy how hands-on they get to be with the exhibits while learning and playing with other kids at Zimmer Children's Museum.


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Roller-coaster lovers know that Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia is one of the world's best amusement parks, boasting more hair-raising rides than any other on the planet. Fearless adventurers will find record-breaking rides like the Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom, the X2, Viper, Tatsu and the Riddler's Revenge, the fastest stand-up coaster in the world. Plus, there are family and kids' rides, too; nighttime shows featuring laser lights and live music; and the Looney Tunes characters can be found throughout the park. But anyone with motion sickness might prefer hitting Hurricane Harbor, the 22-acre water park that is right next door. It's much easier on the stomach.


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Natural History Museum of Los Angeles


 

Dinosaurs, insects, African mammals, cool rocks and more - what kid wouldn't be entranced? The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles has some great exhibits. In Dinosaur Hall, you can visit one of the ten most completed Tyrannosaurus Rex skeletons in the world. Another exhibit popular with families is the Insect Zoo, which serves to educate visitors about the many different types of insect species in the world - with many live ones on display, some which kids can even touch. You can also learn about gems and minerals, endangered species and California history while visiting the Natural History Museum ofo Los Angeles.


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Griffith Observatory
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

 

If you believe, like Colonel Griffith J. Griffith, in the transformative power of observation, then the Griffith Observatory is the L.A. museum for you and your children. Located in the park that also bears that philanthropist's name, the observatory was recently renovated completely (it originally opened in 1935), but it still offers free public telescope viewing on every clear night in the city. Look up into the universe with the historic Zeiss telescope, the historic coelostat (solar telescope) or the portable telescopes on the lawn and a whole new perspective opens up. Be sure to visit the Samuel Oschin Planetarium for one of the in-depth shows, but note that there is an admission fee for those. Everything else, including parking, is free at the Griffith Observatory.


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The Santa Monica Pier is the most iconic spot in Santa Monica, the place that first comes to most people's minds when they think of Santa Monica. It's a long, wide pier that is packed with fun things to do. A roller coaster, Ferris wheel and other rides await, colorfully curling against the skyline and providing a lit-up atmosphere at night. Carnival-style games also line the pier along with carnival foods and other eateries. There are plenty of souvenir shops, too, at this great family spot. And be sure to bring bathing suits, towels and sand toys, too, since the beach and ocean beckon right below the famous pier. Spend the whole day here and we guarantee that your kids will sleep like babies by the time you're back home.


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Universal Studios
Photo courtesy of Universal Studios Hollywood


 

Universal Studios is the real thing, a working movie studio that also happens to have a theme park attached to it. Which means visitors get the chance to go right onto the lot to see where some of their favorite movies and television shows are made â€" think the "Psycho" house, the "Desperate Housewives" neighborhood, the "Back to the Future" town square and much more. Take the Studio Tour for real insights into how Hollywood really works. Stay for the rest of the rides there too, including the Fast and Furious â€" Supercharged, Transformers The Ride 3D, WaterWorld, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, and be sure to allow lots of time to see everything The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has to offer, too.


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Disneyland Resort
Photo courtesy of Disneyland

 

Disneyland is Walt Disney's original vision for "the happiest place on earth," and more than 50 years later it remains just that. Kids of all ages adore spending all day (and night) at this massive amusement park in Anaheim, beginning with a walk down Main Street and ending with the fireworks-filled parade and laser light shows that happen every evening. In between, go on all the big rides â€" the Matterhorn Bobsleds, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, Indiana Jones and the Haunted House â€" and make sure to meet Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Cinderella and all their friends, too. Don't miss Mr. Toad's Wild ride or the Mad Teacups and spend another day next door at Disney's California Adventure Park, too.


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Meet Jenny Peters

Jenny Peters – aka Jet Set Jen – is a Los Angeles-based freelance journalist, editor and party columnist specializing in travel, entertainment, film, food, wine, fashion and the other good...  More About Jenny

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