LA on a budget? No problem! There are lots of fun free things to do in Los Angeles with kids and we have rounded up the best of them here. While most of these attractions are completely free of charge, a small number require a low nominal cost to extend your visit further. All of these activities have been recommended by MyKidsTime parents and are very worthwhile and extremely budget-friendly.
1. Visit California Science Center at Exposition Park
Our first recommended stop is Exposition Park, which is home to a number of free fantastic attractions. With so much to choose from, you should plan on spending the whole day!
Admission to the fantastic California Science Center‘s permanent exhibitions is FREE & there are lots of activities here to educate your kids about Science and keep them busy in a fun environment! A visit to the Space Shuttle Endeavour needs to be reserved in advance and costs a little extra, but is well worth it!
2. African American Museum
Also free at Exposition Park is the African American Museum and the expansive seven acre Rose Garden. Bring a picnic & encourage the kids to explore the 16,000+ roses and play by the stunning fountain.
My favourite place is Griffith Observatory. Loads of fun, interactive displays to help the kids learn about space and the planets. One Saturday a month, the Observatory hosts a public star party from 2 to 9.45 pm. This a chance for the whole family to look at all the visible planets and other objects, try out a variety of telescopes, and talk with the helpful amateur astronomers about the sky and their equipment.
Looking for a great place to eat? Check out The Best Restaurants in Los Angeles for Kids.
4. The Griffith Park Carousel
The Griffith Park Carousel has been giving rides to the kids of LA since 1937 and it is rumoured that it’s the carousel that inspired Walt Disney to create Disneyland. Hand-carved and hand-painted, it includes moving figurines, and rides are just $2.
After riding the carousel, visit the remnants of the Old Zoo just up the street. The grounds are now a super area for imaginative play and exploring. The Carousel is open weekends all year from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. It’s also open weekdays in the summer.
5. Travel Town
Do you have a Thomas the Tank Engine fan in your house? Or a little one that just loves trains? The Travel Town Park is free entry & regularly hosts free family-friendly activities & events. There are train tables where the kids can play with their own trains & for just $2.75, you can take a trip around the park! The Gift Shop is a great place to pick up themed party accessories & you can even hold a birthday party here!! Go steam locomotives!
Heading to New York? Have you checked out our 10 Free things to do with kids in New York?
6. Step into Hollywood History on Hollywood Boulevard
One of LA’s most well-known attractions! While adults may recognise more names on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame than the kids, this stretch of street will delight children as they place their hands and feet inside those of the “stars” to see how they compare.
Also along Hollywood Boulevard – you’ll find lots of costumed and entertaining performers but beware, some might appear a little scary for younger kids.
Older kids will enjoy the museums located along the boulevard, like the Hollywood Wax Museum, Guinness World of Records Museum and Ripley’s Believe It or Not! (There may be some scary sections to watch out for with younger kids.)
7. Vist Zuma or Santa Monica beaches
You’re visiting the Golden Coast, we have to mention the beach!! The very clean and scenic stretch of Zuma Beach is rated among the healthiest beaches for clean water, so you won’t have to worry about the kids swallowing some saltwater as they play. You might even get lucky and spot one of the local dolphins jumping the waves off shore.
The cliff at Point Dume is close by, where you can visit the cove where Planet of the Apes was filmed.
“Digging our toes in the sand, or building a sandcastle, my kids just love the beach!”- Jean F.
8. Go Hiking in Topanga or Coldwater canyons
Fancy a hike? Make sure you pack your sun hats and hike through one of the many kid-friendly and accessible local canyons. Here are a couple of our close-by favorites:
- Coldwater Canyon is fantastic for free family fun! It has toddler and stroller friendly trails, great views and lots of trees and grassy areas to take a play break.
- Topanga State Park is 36 miles of trails through open grassland, with live oaks and spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean! Explore on your own or book a free kid-friendly guided nature walk with one of the Topanga Canyon Docents- local volunteers who lead public nature walks.
9. Hang out at the Grove Shopping Center and Farmers Market
There are lots of interesting food stalls at the Farmers Market at Grove Shopping Center so the kids are sure to find something they like. Great value for money, the eating area is casual and there’s no need to worry about what will happen if your kid makes too much noise.
Highly recommended is a free ride on The Grove Trolley which travels along First Street between The Grove and Farmer´s Market. Don’t miss the dancing fountain either, located in front of the theatre at the heart of The Grove, which dances every hour.
And make sure to stop by and visit “The Spirit of Los Angeles”, a magnificent bronze statue of a male and a female angel soaring towards the sky in this City of Angels.
10. Art Exhibits and Activities at LACMA
LACMA is a world class museum that encourages you to bring your kids. They have created a fabulous program with a free LACMA NexGen membership, so kids get in free and can bring an adult with them. A super deal, especially when you realise that at LACMA there are art exhibits that appeal to all, a painting studio and story times and tours several times a week. Join Sunday programs designed especially for families and take part in art challenges, explore the museum exhibits, or join a bilingual gallery tour. Most of all—have fun!
The tar pits are close by and worth a look, so bring a change of clothes and let the kids play and explore here. If you can’t find street parking, you can always park in the underground car park which has a glass elevator – just like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!
So that’s our list of fantastic free things to do in Los Angeles with kids! Have you come across a great free activity in LA? Please share it with us in the comments below.
If you’re visiting other US cities, you’ll find more great family ideas:
- Free Things to do with Kids in Dallas
- Free Things to do with Kids in Boston
- Free Things to do with Kids in Orlando.