by Mar Yvette - 482 Reviews - 150 List
Think finding cool things to do with your kids is mission impossible? Think again. We've rounded up some of the best kid-friendly activities in LA. Whether you've got a 2-year-old or a tween on your hands, check out our essential guide to family-friendly fun in Los Angeles.
Updated: July 20, 2010
We know you don't need us to tell you that the "Happiest Place on Earth" is also one of the most kid-friendly places on the planet. But we'll tell you anyway: This is where you can hang out with Mickey, board a boat on the Pirates of the Caribbean, shoot through Space Mountain, pig out on all the fried and sugary goodness that abounds and be dazzled by the nightly fireworks show ... even if you are 34.
Head back to the days of the Wild Wild West at America's first theme park that wrangles in both adventure-seeking cowboys and fun-loving little ones. Once you've careened on the purposely rickety wooden coaster Ghost Rider and have braved Supreme Scream's 250-foot free fall, you'll want to just hang with the kids at Camp Snoopy. Just don't forget to dig into one of Knott's freshly made funnel cakes--it's the one thing everyone will agree on no matter what your age.
Lights, camera, action! Some of the world's most memorable movies and TV shows have been shot at this sprawling studio theme park and folks are encouraged to be part of the action. With a little something for everyone, rides range from Jurassic Park's 80-foot raft plunge and Revenge of the Mummy's lightning-fast, twist-and-turn rails to The Simpsons multi-sensory "rollercoaster" and more small-kid friendly attractions like Nickelodeon's Blast Zone, a water play area perfect for those hot summer afternoons.
This 260-acre park is known for its scary, gravity-defying, nausea-inducing thrill rides--perfect for teenagers!--but there's also plenty of milder rides for little ones (and scaredy cats) like Elmer's Weather Balloons, Pepe Le Pew's Tea Party, Thomas the Tank Engine and Sylvester's Pounce & Bounce.
A favorite for kid-friendly activities in LA, this museum has exhibits ranging from old-fashioned dioramas of hippos and towering dinosaur skeletons to a lively insect zoo where kids can pester the Madagascar Hissing cockroaches until they hiss. Weekends offer Critter Club (3-5 year olds), Junior Scientists (6-9 year olds) and special Curator's Cupboard events where the staff brings out special items not usually on display. During the summer, the museum sometimes stays open late, so call ahead for details.
All aboard! This miniature train ride in Griffith Park has been a favorite among children, parents and young-at-heart adventurers since it first opened to the public in 1948. Get on board locomotives like the Freedom Train or the Colonel Griffith to ride along the scenic mile-long track that stretches over bridges, through an 80-foot tunnel and lush green meadows.
This old-fashioned indoor ice rink is where many Westsiders had their first skate (and maybe even a birthday party or two.) The spacious arena offers plenty of public skate time throughout the day as well as tons of classes ranging from youth hockey to summer figure skating camp.
Too chicken to jump out of a plane at 10,000 feet? Yeah, so are we. But that doesn't mean you (or at least your daredevil youngin') can't get to experience the thrill of skydiving. Open to kids of all ages (three and up, to be exact), this high-powered vertical wind tunnel at Universal CityWalk brings the experience of weightless flight without the fright. It's like walking (or at least, wobbling) on air.
A must-see for tourists and locals alike, this iconic spot isn't just a beachside destination for its fantastic views, cool breezes and kid-friendly food options--hot dogs, churros, cotton candy and Bubba Gump shrimp--it's also where you can hop on a roller coaster literally above water. Around since 1909, the pier is also home to a full-on carnival with games, a merry-go-round, jugglers and even a museum. Every Thursday night from late June through August, the Twilight Dance Series turns the pier into an all-out block party.
Located on Newport Harbor, the Balboa Fun Zone is one of OC's favorite kid-friendly attractions. The small Ferris wheel is just $3 per rider and offers the best views in town. There's also the merry-go-round ($2, free for standing helpers), miniature golf, arcade games, cute shops, restaurants and trips on the Balboa ferry.
Another fun train ride awaits you--this time in Orange County--at this 477-acre park filled with picnic areas, hiking trails and family-friendly activities, including play areas and tot lots, fishing (in the park's two lakes) and bike rentals. Pony rides are offered on weekends and there are plenty of birthday party options, too.
The next best thing to scuba diving, this impressive ode to all things aquatic is like being underwater minus the annoying wetsuits. The five-acre facility features 19 habitats and more than 11,000 ocean animals including rescued seals and sea lions, otters and jellyfish. Kids and adults love Shark Lagoon, which features more than 150 sharks you can touch (and some you can't!).