Best 10 Free or Cheap Things to Do with Kids in Los Angeles


What to do with kids if you only have 48 hours to visit Los Angeles?

As we are planning our Southern California trip, I have planned out what to do in San Diego down to the hours.. Ok. I’m a bit obsessive when it comes to travel planning. I know that. Now that San Diego plan is ready, I can turn my attention to Los Angeles.

Los Angeles in 2 days is not merely enough but I just have to do it. I need my Thai food fix. It will kill me if I fly all that way but couldn’t taste Thai food that as close as I can get in Thailand. I just have to do it. :)

I know that LA is big so no matter how well I plan, we won’t be able to see it all. This time I will just focus on kid-friendly and preferably cheap or free activities. We plan to stay in the Hollywood area for easy access to much of the activities.

Here are my Top 10 Frugal Family Friendly things to Do with Kids in LA.

1. Griffith Park -The City of Los Angeles park – Griffith Park is a great place for the whole family. The biggest city park in the country has so many attractions and activities you will think you are visiting a theme park. Kids can enjoy train ride from LA Life Steamers Railroad Museum or Griffith Park Southern ride and visiting Travel Town. If train is not in their interests, perhap a pony ride or Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round. Oh! And the best part, admission is FREE for everyone. So you can have great fun in LA on a budget with your family and your kids.

2. Griffith Observatory – An iconic place of LA is not only in a great and amazing location but also FREE. What else can we ask for? The Griffith Park Observatory is part of Griffith Park. There is also planetarium show that you will have to pay small fee to watch the show. However, the show is not recommended for kids under the ages of 5. There are still plenty of kids-friendly interactive displays to keep little ones busy.

3. Grauman’s Chinese Theatre – One of the most famous theatre in LA or even in the world. Hollywood is all about movies and there is nothing that will be more hollywood than the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. You can walk around and checkout the historical cultural landmark. However, you can also check out the inside when you purchase the movie tickets. It likes killing two birds with one stone. But your movie tickets cost might be a bit higher than your hometown movie ticket.

4. Hollywood Walk of Fame – It’s cheesy, yes. But it’s fun. Kids will enjoy tracing their hands on many famous stars’ handprints. Walking along the Hollywood will give them a taste of fame. The best part is that it’s totally free. Just enjoy the stroll and have the discipline not to buy too many souvenirs.

5. El Capitan Theatre – Another famous theme theatre in Los Angeles. Also with the association with Disney it can’t go wrong for family with kids. I have been so in love with old world theatre like the Fox theatre in Atlanta. So I’m really looking forward to watching Disney movie in this historical theatre. Ok. The tickets might be a bit higher than typical AMC tickets. But it’s still a good deal comparing to other attraction around town especially in a big city like Los Angeles.

6. Page Museum – La Brea Tar Pits – A unique experience that kids will talk for year. As long as I have known, kids love things that are gross or out of ordinary. And the La Brea Tar Pits is both. The smell will probably stay with you for a whole day. But it will be an experience they will talk about for years to come. It’s not just all smell but kids will learn about one of the world largest and most diverse assemblage of extinct Ice Age plants and animals. The admission is free on 1st Tuesday of the month. General admission fee is $7 which is very affordable.

7. Getty Villa – I can’t wait to check out this museum that has fantastic Roman-inspired architecture and garden. Kids will be inspired by this educational museum that dedicate to the study of Greece, Rome and Etruria. Another big plus is the admission is FREE. There is a parking for $15 per car. But that’s very cheap considering you are in LA.

8. Santa Monica Pier – A fun outdoor pier offers a variety of entertainment, dining and shopping experiences, including the thrill rides of Pacific Park; a historic 1922 Carousel, and an interactive aquarium. You will also be able to enjoy the beautiful view of the Pacific coast and stay a while longer to take in the amazing view of the Sunset. There is no admission so it’s one of the major attractions that will fit any budget. There are several great family-friendly hotels by the beach.

9. LACMA NexGen Gallery – One of the Top 10 Best Art Museums for Kids deserves to be one of the best. There are a variety of programs to encourage kids in arts. Plus the NexGen program which is the only FREE youth membership program in the country allows kids to experience art even more. Join the program is free to all kids and will allow kids to enter the gallery for FREE along with one free admission for adult who accompanies the kid. At the Boone Gallery, you will can also utilize a variety of programs built with family in mind – family guides, collection highlights, children audio tour and art tole.  This what I call best program for kids!!!

10. Walt Disney Concert Hall – A unique architecture that’s a home of Los Angeles Philharmonic is a great place to visit even if you don’t want to sit through 2 hours for a concert. You can take the self-guided audio tour or guided tour daily at the Music Center. Check out the website for schedule and time.

So now, my problem is just finding time to fit all these options to my schedule.

Is there other fun and free things to do with kids in Los Angeles that I missed? Please feel free to leave me a comment!

Photo Credit: JohnMueller

Los Angeles Family Travel Tips

About Amy Querido

Amy is the owner & author of The Q Family Adventures Travel blog, family blog chronicles her family trips, tips and tricks. She hopes to inspire family to travel with kids one adventure at a time. Connect with Amy on Google+, Twitter and Facebook.


  1. All of these thins sound great to do even if you don’t have the kids with you. We have never been to LA but if we get there we will be sure to check out some of these cool spots. Especially the Tar pits, I also love things that are gross and out of the ordinary :-)

  2. Couldn’t have thought up a better list myself! I took my nephew to all of these places when he came out to visit me when I lived in LA – he simply adored the Tar Pits – and all of the movie characters outside of the the Chinese Theatre :-) Fantastic list Amy!

  3. I think you have a fabulous list here! When I lived in San Diego (and before I met my husband who is from L.A), I loved heading down to L.A. for day trips. There is so much to see and do, and those listed are some great places to hit up. Especially the Santa Monica pier and the Chinese Theatre. If you can catch a movie while there, it’s an amazing theater. Also, if you’re heading for Santa Monica, just be weary of traffic. I rarely made it down there without running into plenty of it! But the beach and pier is great fun. Just stay out of the water.

  4. La Brea is stinky but great. I would try the Getty Center instead of the villa, it is also free, but you pay for parking. And you get great views from up there.

  5. Have to put in our vote for the Tar Pits too — one of the strangest things LA has to offer. The nearby LACMA debuted a neat-o outdoor light/lamps sculpture called “Urban Light” that’s fun to run around in after dark. Just north of the LACMA at 3rd and Fairfax is the year-round Farmer’s Market. It could be a little zany with kids, but the cuisine choices are stellar. There’s also a really fantastic classic toy store called Shine Gallery. If that’s not enough, head east to Milk for dessert (our absolute favorite) for homemade ice cream sandwiches and other cold treats.

    Before we sold off our stuff and set off around the world, LA was our home :)

  6. Thanks for telling me about Shine Gallery. WOW, what a great store! One of the employees explained to me that everything they sell is real unused vintage stuff that they get from old stores and warehouses. It is amazing how much of it was still in the orignial packaging. How cool!

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