Most people think Disneyland is one of the few things you can do in Los Angeles with young kids. That’s simply not true. After all, Los Angeles is the second biggest city in the U.S. so there’s plenty to do if you plan ahead.

Large cities can be intimidating for parents with young kids. While there are tons of things to do as a couple or alone, cities feel different when you need to juggle strollers, snacks, and naptime. However, L.A. is an excellent destination for families.

Some of these attractions are included on the Go Los Angeles pass discounted bundled attractions pass.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Natural History Museum Los Angeles
Courtesy of the Natural History Museum of L.A. County

On a hot summer day, you may wish to stay cool at the Natural History Museum of L.A. County.

Some of the permanent exhibits you can enjoy include:

  • Dinosaur Hall
  • Age of Mammals
  • Birds
  • Insect Zoo
  • Nature Gardens
  • Shells

In the Dinosaur Hall, you can see more than 300 fossils and 20 complete dinosaurs and ancient sea creatures. The museum also has an expansive exhibit on mammals and other types of animals. There’s even a 3D movie theater you can enjoy.

They also have several rotating exhibits you might enjoy. Some recent exhibits include the Butterfly Pavilion and Spider Pavilion.

Besides learning about natural history, you can see exhibits on the history of Los Angeles. The museum walls come to life with diorama paintings of various animals in their natural habitats. Some of the oldest dioramas date back to 1925 and are the world’s first museum exhibits lit entirely with artificial light.

If any of your children are under two years old, they get free admission on the first Tuesday of each month (except for the months of July and August). There are several other ways to get free admission. You can visit their website for more details.

Discovery Cube

Discovery Cube Los Angeles
Photo courtesy of Discovery Cube Los Angeles

This children’s science museum is a popular destination for school field trips. But, non-school groups are welcome too. Discovery Cube Los Angeles is one of three area museums. There are several ongoing exhibits that will excite your child.

For example, the Aquavator takes you into the Earth’s crust to learn about the different layer.

You can also learn about the underground water aquifers that provide ample drinking water for cities like Los Angeles. Most of the Cube’s exhibits promote environmental stewardship in a fun and educational setting.

Your children may also enjoy the digital Helicopter Tour that lets you see the Los Angeles skyline and the Sierra Nevadas to learn more about where Los Angeles sources its water.

The Science of Hockey exhibit is a fun way for your child can learn to be the goalie or shooter. You can climb aboard a replica Zamboni machine as well.

There are also temporary exhibits as well as STEM activities to partake in. For example, in October, children can participate in the Spooky Science Presents: Monster Academy which has several interactive science displays. You even have the chance to spend the night at the Cube.

Noah’s Ark

Noah's Ark Skirball Cultural Center Los Angeles

At the Skirball Cultural Center is the Noah’s Ark indoor playground. This exhibit is a replica of the wooden ark that took five years to build. It recounts the ancient Biblical flood with floor-to-ceiling displays of animals made out of everyday objects that children are encouraged to interact with. Children can enjoy looking at the different animals in the ark but this exhibit is fun for children of all ages.

There are planned daily activities each week you may also want to check out. For example, your children can help finish building the ark. There are also impromptu activities like puppet interactions, music jams, and take home art projects children will enjoy.

Note that Noah’s Ark exhibit has set admission entry times so do try to plan in advance. Rack up some dining points by grabbing a bite to eat before driving up to the Skirball. Alternatively, there is a cafe and food cart located on the premises.

Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens

Los Angeles Zoo Holiday Lights
Jamie Pham/GLAZA

Zoos are great for families with young kids. The L.A. Zoo has fun permanent exhibits and some seasonal events too. Plus, children ages five and up can enjoy a weekend sleepover with an adult chaperone.

If you don’t want to sleep with the animals, day visits can be fun too. In the zoo, you can see animals that live in the various world continents. For added fun, you can also participate in giraffe feedings, see hippos up close, and take behind-the-scenes zoo tours.

There’s also a children’s petting zoo that is worth a visit. Check out the LAIR that has exhibits of rare Living Amphibians Invertebrates and Reptiles. You can see more than 60 species in natural habitats that range from the desert, tropical rainforest, and Australian river banks. In some cases, you can see species that are exclusive to the L.A. Zoo.

The L.A. Zoo is home to more than 1,400 animals and 800 plant species with more than 1.8 million people visiting the zoo each year. So, if you’ve never been to a large zoo before, you’re in for a treat.

Other exhibits you might want to see include:

  • Rainforest of the Americas
  • Elephants of Asia
  • Australia
  • Red Ape Rain Forest
  • Dragons of Komodo

With so many exotic animals, a trip to the L.A. Zoo is a fun way to learn about animals that you don’t have time to travel and see in-person. You and your children can also enjoy animals native to California.

Griffith Park

Los Angeles with Young Kids: Griffith Park

The L.A. Zoo is in a larger area known as Griffith Park. Inside Griffith Park are other fun child-friendly activities for the whole family. Some of the most popular attractions include pony rides and miniature train rides for both young and older children.

If you like science, check out the Griffith Observatory. You can visit the planetarium, a public star party, and peer through public telescopes in the evening hours.

You can also walk the park grounds to see local flora and fauna. If you’re up for hiking, there are 53 miles of trails to explore. One of these trails takes you to the top of Mt. Hollywood, the park’s highest peak and home to the world-famous Hollywood sign.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, there are plenty of things to do with young children in Los Angeles. If you’re still not convinced, plan a bleisure trip to test the waters. You can cut costs by using the best business credit cards to upgrade your trip. Earn points for your work and still enjoy family time.

Spending your time in LA with young kids doesn’t have to be a trip to Disneyland in Anaheim. There’s plenty of indoor and outdoor activities the entire family will enjoy. Plus, everyone can learn a thing or two while having fun at the same time.

Johnny Jet has traveled over 100,000 miles a year since starting his newsletter in 1995 and has visited close to 100 countries. On his website, he writes about travel deals and travel tips, everything from how to find cheap flights to how to maximize your credit card points. He has hosted a television special on The Travel Channel and was recently named one of Forbes’ Top 10 Travel Influencers for 2017. He now appears every Saturday on Leo Laporte’s The Tech Guy Show talking about travel and technology and travels the world with his wife Natalie DiScala, who writes the travel + style blog Oh! Travelissima and their son Jack.

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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