Hooray for Hollywood: a family vacation to Los Angeles has it all! One of the most glamorous spots around, Los Angeles offers celebrity filled restaurants, thrilling amusement parks, world-famous art museums, buzzing neighborhoods, the legendary Hollywood Walk of Fame, the glitz of Rodeo Drive, and of course, sun and fun by the beach!
So how do you possibly choose what to do when you visit Los Angeles? Use our handy guide to help craft your family-friendly itinerary for kids of all ages. Pack your sunscreen, shades and bathing suit, and get ready for an adventure of a lifetime!
TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN LOS ANGELES WITH KIDS
1. (WINDOW) SHOP ‘TIL YOU DROP IN BEVERLY HILLS
Prada, Gucci, Harry Winston, you name it – it’s probably here! Beverly Hills is a true shopper’s paradise! Check out the shops full of diamonds and couture fashions as you stroll along Rodeo Drive. Soak in the European inspired Two Rodeo outdoor shopping area.
Your kids will adore Sprinkles Cupcakes for treats that taste as good as they look, and your gang will love the 24-hour cupcake ATM. How neat is that? Or, drop into Sugarfina, which is like a temple of international sweets. Be sure to venture a short distance away from the stores to visit the beautiful lily pond with kid friendly playgrounds and the iconic Beverly Hills signs for great photo ops.
2. SOAK IN THE SUN AT SANTA MONICA
Head to festive Pacific Park Amusement Park on the Santa Monica Pier. Meander among the arcades, food stands and street performers while taking in the jaw-dropping beach views.
Game on! We fiercely competed at the carnival games trying to win the biggest stuffed animals. The park has all-day ride wristbands available.
Follow-up your time at the pier with a leisurely walk along the Third Street Promenade pedestrian shopping zone or relax at the beach taking a dip in the Pacific. Right next to Santa Monica is your next stop, Venice Beach.
3. EXPERIENCE ONE-OF-A-KIND VENICE BEACH
Buskers, hippies, Muscle Beach weightlifters: there is no other place like Venice Beach! Sit at an outdoor café for some prime people watching. Venice is not for the faint of heart; it’s for families who want to see what an interesting city LA is!
For a perfect SoCal day, start in Santa Monica and hop a Segway Los Angeles Tour along a beachside path from Santa Monica all the way to Venice Beach and back. This is the perfect place for first time Segwayers with practically all flat terrain and not much vehicle traffic, but beware of pedestrians on the boardwalk. Our friendly tour-guide showed us some hidden gems in Venice and kept us entertained throughout. It was truly a highlight of our vacation!
4. HAVE A BLAST AT UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD & CITYWALK
Universal rocks! The one-hour guided tram ride of Universal’s back lot is a must-do LA highlight, with “disasters” at every turn and recognizable movie sets such as Jaws, The Grinch that Stole Christmas, and others.
My kids screamed their heads off on the wild Revenge of the Mummy roller coaster. My personal favorites were the captivating virtual reality roller coasters, especially the Despicable Me Minion Mayhem and The Simpsons Ride.
My girls made a beeline for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and its spectacularly accurate recreation of Hogsmeade Village. Potter fans will rejoice when they sip delicious Butterbeer, shop in Olivander’s wand store, and thrill on the exhilarating Flight of the Hippogriff.
Just beyond the gates to the park is CityWalk which offers pedestrian friendly shopping, dining options, movie theaters and bars. Universal expertly combines high-thrill rides and captivating shows with an insider’s behind-the-scenes access to movie making.
I recommend getting an easy-to-use, cost-saving 3-day Go Card Los Angeles all-inclusive pass and using it to visit Universal Studios (weekday access only) and over 30 other family-friendly attractions in the Greater LA area such as Warner Brothers Studios, Knott’s Berry Farm, Six Flags Magic Mountain and LEGOLAND.
5. LEARN ABOUT THE BEHIND THE SCENES MAGIC AT WARNER BROTHERS STUDIOS
Up-close backstage access to Tinseltown! This three-hour combination walking and tram tour led by an upbeat expert tour guide is another must-do for television and movie buffs. The Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood back lot includes the sets of many well-known productions.
Kids will delight in learning industry secrets that make the magic of movies and television come to life. Our crew’s favorite stops included walking through the sets of The Fosters and Pretty Little Liars, snapping pictures on the Friends sofa from Central Perk, checking out the cool Batmobiles (they are even more fabulous in person), and touring the expansive prop warehouse. This is where much of award winning La La Land was filmed!
6. VISIT WEST HOLLYWOOD
Spend an hour or so shopping at the well-manicured outdoor shopping center, The Grove. This spot is featured in many television shows and a celeb hangout. Check out one of the most instagrammed spots in LA: the many colorful murals around Melrose. If shopping is your thing, walk along Melrose Avenue’s many trendy boutiques such as Dash, Paul Smith (its pink wall is a top Instagram spot) and Theory.
7. ESCAPE TO MARVELOUS MALIBU
Just a short ride away from Los Angeles are some of the most breathtakingly beautiful coastlines in California. Whether you want to bask in the sun on a beach, watch surfers “hang 10,” hike dramatic trails into the mountains, tour neighborhoods full of multi-million dollar celebrity homes, or soak in this charming community’s boutiques and restaurants, Malibu offers so much for families.
Some of our personal highlights included walking along the coast, and shopping and dining at the famed Malibu Country Mart full of trendy boutiques, delicious food, sweet treats, and a popular playground in the middle of it all! For those families with kids who are Zoey 101 fans, take a drive through Pepperdine University’s picturesque campus (the location of the fictional Pacific Coast Academy) and be rewarded with a fabulous panoramic view.
8. VISIT THE SPECTACULAR J. PAUL GETTY MUSEUM IN BRENTWOOD
This gorgeous arts center and garden is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen in the entire world. Take a scenic tram ride up the mountain to the isolated perch of this museum. As soon as you step off the tram, you will understand why the Getty Museum is one of the most visited museums in the U.S.
Explore the meticulously curated art collection. Don’t miss the Central Garden which is truly a work of art, with tree-lined walkways that lead visitors through extraordinary sights, sounds, scents, and spectacular views of downtown LA. With young children, visit the Family Room full of hands-on activities. Admission to the museum is always free, but there is a fee for parking.
9. VISIT THE HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME (THE MOST FAMOUS SIDEWALK IN THE WORLD)
No first-time trip to LA is complete without a stroll down the world famous Hollywood Walk of Fame. Yes, the area is a wee bit seedy and dirty but it is distinctly LA. Take this stop for what it is: a famous sidewalk with people decked out in outlandish superhero, cartoon and Muppet character costumes!
Head there early in the day for a more family-friendly vibe. Meander the sidewalks adorned with stars honoring thousands of actors, musicians and others in the entertainment industry. Let your children find the celebrities they know. If there are particular stars you want to see, be sure to look them up in advance so you know where they are.
Let your kids slip their feet and hands into the concrete prints in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Exploring Madame Tussauds Hollywood wax museum is also an entertaining way to spend an afternoon. Kids (and adults) are amazed by the wax celebrity lookalikes which appeal to all ages. Drive up into the hills to get a view of the famed Hollywood sign and drop into the fabulous free Griffith Observatory, a science museum focusing on outer space.
10. TASTE LA’S GOURMET DELIGHTS!
Eating is a sport in LA! Los Angeles abounds with flavors from all over the world! From street food to celebrity chef fine dining, you name it, you can find it in LA. For my take on food you must try when in the City of Angels, I suggest you read my family’s 10 Best Restaurants in Los Angeles for Foodie Families!
WHERE TO STAY IN LOS ANGELES
We absolutely loved our eight-night stay at The Beverly Hilton. This well-located beautiful hotel is just a few blocks from the heart of Beverly Hills. With a tremendous old-school glamorous pool, a relaxing lobby bar with excellent cocktails, an on-site delicious restaurant, and a welcoming staff, The Beverly Hilton is the ideal home base for families. Our crew also loved checking out the ballroom that is home to the Golden Globes each year!
What’s on your family’s list of the top 10 things to do in Los Angeles? Feel free to add your favorites in the comments below.
This article was originally published by Hilton Mom Voyage.