Fun and Inexpensive Things to Do with Kids in LA Area

Updated on August 04, 2010
K.L. asks from Erie, PA
5 answers

We are planning a trip to visit family in the LA area in a few weeks (end of August). We don't want to fill up all the time with sight-seeing acitivities, but we are looking for a few suggestions. Are there any things that your family really enjoyed doing (or things to avoid)? Our twin boys are 4 years old, and I will be almost six months pregnant at the time :O

The boys have been excited to go to Legoland since someone else turned it on to them. Any suggestions or horror stories about that particular park?

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So What Happened?

Thanks to everyone who posted suggestions. We just returned from our trip, and the boys had a ball! Part of that was simply the fun of being in a new place and seeing family that they haven't seen in a while. However, we also made the trek down to Legoland which was perfect for their age! We went to the La Brea tarpits, and they enjoyed the museum as well as the atrium with the turtles and fish ;) Because we are raising two food snobs :O they also loved lunch at a seafood market on Redondo Beach Pier (we have a cute photo of one of our little guys cracking a crab with his wooden mallet) and dinner at a little Thai place. We had a nice balance between structured activities that were unique to the SoCal area and down time to walk the beach, play croquet and just catch up with family :)

More Answers



answers from Los Angeles on

What part of LA will you be in? That'll make it a lot easier to come up with good suggestions. A few really fun things:

Zimmer Museum -
Kidspace -
Pretend City Children's Museum:

Several great waterparks: Raging Waters, Wild Rivers, Knott's Soak City, Legoland, and a few others

Legoland is great, especially if the boys are at least 37" tall, since then they will be able to ride most of the rides. It is a lot of fun and perfect to do in one day, since it's not too big but certainly has enough for a full day's entertainment. There is a very fun water play area within the park and a brand new separate water park that just opened up as well (separate admission for the new one).

Plus, there is the beach, the Santa Monica Pier, and all kinds of other great stuff. Let us know specifically where you'll be staying and I can give you more advice!

K. - need entertainment for the plane? Check out our toys and our summer sale!


answers from Los Angeles on

I think it also depends how far you are willing to drive for fun. We like the Long Beach Aquarium, and San Diego Zoo. Check on-line if you want to take them to legoland or any other parks. They usually run specials that will give you a discount. Like "Bring a coke can in a save 15 dollars." Or "Kids free and Adults at kids price". Legoland too has hopper passes for more then 1 park. Have fun! =)



answers from Philadelphia on

Well-I think you mean L.A. and not LA (from one and lived a long time in the other) because of the Legoland mention. We never made it to Legoland but I heard it was very fun. We did Disneyland at least once a year while we lived there because it was so close and well, Disney is just awesome.

Pasadena is GREAT for kids...there is the Rose Bowl which is cool to drive over to see and they can run around if they want as people are always exercising around the perimeter....all free. Right near the Rose Bowl is a Children’s Museum...not really an L.A. only thing but still fun and I don’t think it is too expensive.
Drive down Colorado Blvd (the shopping district area) and Huntington Ave in Pasadena as both are really neat and quite lovely. There is a very fun store to take them to called STATS to just walk around. Sounds crazy but we would take our babies there a few times every year to see and sometimes shop-is a decoration store and they get all decked out for each holiday, Halloween is probably on tap end of Aug and every time we go back to visit, I take my kids there now.

Hollywood area Grumman’s Chinese Theater is so fun...walking around the front area outside to look at the handprints from the stars and some of the sidewalk stars-all free of course is very L.A. and you can make it very fun for 4 year olds by talking about the action movies they like or whatever...optimal for pictures too.

One idea we loved was taking the kids to the Getty....I am pretty sure it is free and there are kid friendly parts to every section etc...what makes this so L.A. is the tram ride through the Santa Monica Mountains and the lovely grounds too which get you up close and personal with the wonderful L.A. mountain perspective.

Another great area is the Santa Monica Pier....walking on the pier, then driving down farther North to Malibu or South to access the beach 10 or so blocks South of the Pier is very fun. Don’t advise swimming in the ocean around there off the top of my head due to water quality and stay away from the beach access right near Santa Monica or the Pier area, lots or homeless and scary looking folks there.

Also very fun is the Manhattan Beach area- nice little downtown area you can park pretty close to the beach and walk to beach to see ocean and the stores around there are nice so you could get an ice-cream if it’s hot.
All in all, if you are not from the West Coast being on the beach in any of these areas at sundown (except the Santa Monica Pier area I'd not advise being at too late) is a very fun event for little ones and is a great time to explain the natural phenomena up close and live of the sunrise-sunset as the sun seems to drop slowly into the ocean.

A couple of dining recs if you want some fun L.A. kid friendly experiences-
Islands is a chain and has locations all over the greater L.A. area....good burgers and great fries and a surfing feel. They are kid friendly and feature closed circuit TV’s throughout all their restaurants which run loops of way cool footage of people surfing and doing great water sports which is a great thing for them to watch while food is coming, etc.
Also good is Marie Callendars which has lots of good kid friendly things and great pie desserts (especially their fresh strawberry pie which should be in season).
One other place which is a bit more $ but not outrageous is in Malibu (you can go to the beach there before or after you eat) Gladstone’s 4 Fish....ideal location, fun atmosphere with peanuts on the ground while you wait and they have beach view seating and very fun "I love L.A." sing along that happens every day at a certain time (not sure when but if you call them)...all 3 places are very adult fun too.

Oh, did I mention that I love L.A....have a great trip and enjoy the way hip town and the wonderful people who live there.


answers from Cleveland on

Santa monica pier
Venice Beach
Hermosa beach
Third Street promenade can be fun...
Like Karen really depends on where in LA you will be.
Its a pretty big place



answers from Harrisburg on

Just took our family from PA to southern CA a few months ago and they LOVED it. Our kids (10 and 13) enjoyed Legoland, but I think they were a bit old for it. Yours are a better age.

We did the San Diego Zoo, Sea World, and Hollywood as well. All were fun. We did NOT do Disneyland b/c our kids have been to DisneyWorld 3 times, and we've been told it would have been a let down for them to go to DisneyLand. It's just not as nice (so I've been told).

However, I've got to say, my son's VERY favorite place was a little cove in La Jolla...FREE. He could have spent our entire vacation looking through the tide pools for little sea creatures and shells. It's a bit of a drive from LA, but worth it. It's so peaceful. Just a 5 minute walk down the beach from the cova at La Jolla is a beach where the seals come to rest. My daughter counted over 200 the day we were there...again...FREE. We ate dinner several nights there at a restaurant which overlooked the ocean and we watched the dolphins playing...

Both my kids are already asking when we can go back.

If you don't have your heart set on LA, I would move the trip a bit further south. LA was crowded, congested and dirty, but the San Diego area was phenomenal!

If you want any further info, please free to p.m. me.


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