The Los Angeles Kids Guide
Thanks to its impeccable weather, beach, hills, and everything in between, Los Angeles is a pretty top-notch playground. What makes it even better is that there are plenty of activities for kiddos that parents might enjoy, too.
Color Me Mine233 S. Beverly Dr. #A, Beverly Hills | 310.247.1226
First, pick a ceramic item to paint: it's not just cups and plates here, they also have figurines of dinosaurs, mermaids and pets. The helpful staff is on hand to supply paints, stencils and sponges to make the plain white ceramics your own, no matter your painting skill. When you're done, they take your work, glaze it, and fire it for you to collect a few days later. For parties, you can also get them to come to your home. There's another location in Studio City.
Brentwood Art Center13031 Montana Ave., Brentwood | 310.451.5657
Brentwood Art Center's classes cater to all kinds of artistic interest, from drawing techniques to comic book illustration. During the summer and winter breaks, Brentwood Art Center also offers one-week and two-week day camps for kids aged 5-13 where they get to try painting, drawing, sculpture and printmaking.
Pickwick Ice1001 W. Riverside Dr., Burbank | 818.845.5300
This ice skating rink in Burbank is perfect for year-round skating with your kids. Day and night sessions are available. The beautiful adjoining gardens are great for the springtime.
Jag Gym8640 Hayden Pl., Culver City | 310.287.9886
JAG Gym pays an incredible amount of care and attention to their pupils, and their range of classes tailored to different ages and skill levels proves it. Not only do they host parties, they have also struck on the brilliant idea of 'Kids' Night Out', where you drop off your child for an evening of gymnastics (and dinner) so you have the evening to yourself: Way more exciting than a babysitter.
Toyota Sports Center555 N. Nash St., El Segundo | 310.535.4400
If you've got a little one who is obsessed with ice hockey, look no further: Not only are there plenty of free skate and mini hockey league options here, but this is where the LA Kings (and their rivals) practice, meaning you can grab a seat in the stands and watch them shoot pucks.
Sunset Ranch3400 N. Beachwood Dr., Hollywood | 323.469.5450
Sure, you can drive to the base of the Hollywood sign, but why not horseback ride around it instead? Located in Griffith Park, Sunset Ranch leads one- or two-hour trail rides, offering unparalleled vistas of Hollywood (and the sign). Kids, in particular, love this adventure.
Rancho Sea Air27335 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu | 310.457.4037
This ranch, built in 1941 by famous horseman Egon Merz, was where Elizabeth Taylor trained for her role in National Velvet. Classes specializing in hunting, jumping, and dressage are available alongside general riding lessons. Rental stables may be available for longer stays if you have your own pony.
Kidspace Children’s Museum480 N. Arroyo Blvd., Pasadena | 626.449.9144
There is an absolutely huge range of things to see and fun activities to do in LA's dedicated children's museum, both indoors and out. Everything on the museum's grounds is geared towards igniting kids interest in the natural world with an adventure playground feel.
Annenberg Community Beach House415 Pacific Coast Hwy., Santa Monica | 310.458.4904
Sitting on the site of what was once a giant mansion that Randolph Hearst built for actress Marion Davies in the ’20s, this is now a 5-acre, completely public beach house, complete with the home’s original Olympic pool (the house was irreparably damaged by an earthquake, which led to its demolition). When it’s not pool season (Memorial Day through Labor Day), there’s still a lot to do, including a toes-in-sand cafe and beach volleyball for kids.
Tongva Park1615 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica | 310.458.8310
When the family tires of the Santa Monica Pier, cross the street to this brand-new, space-age park. It’s composed of (soft), pebble-y rubber, making it excellent for crawlers and early walkers, though there are things to appease kids of all ages: Long slides are built into the hills, there’s a slanted climbing wall, plus huge jungle gym-like cones that aren’t for the acrophobic.
The Coop11118 Ventura Blvd., Studio City | 818.760.9613
Though it admittedly rarely rains in LA, this indoor playground still beckons. There's a big slide, ball pit, light-up floor, and more. The best part, though, is that the grown-ups can sip coffee at the cappuccino bar while the kids play. However, even adults have to remove their shoes, so if you'd like to join your kids in the bouncy castle, go right ahead.
Sky High Sports6033 De Soto Ave., Woodland Hills | 818.346.6300
While a warehouse lined in trampolines (walls, too) sounds like a special version of hell, it’s pretty much kid crack. Foam pits, dodgeball, a special jumping area for the smaller set, and a Wifi-equipped lounge check all the boxes—understandably, this spot is huge on the birthday party circuit.
Arclight Cinema Santa Monica395 Santa Monica Place, Suite 330, Santa Monica | 310.566.2810
It always blows visitors minds that at most of the city’s movie theaters, you can pre-book specific seats, meaning that you can eat dinner and wander around until minutes before the show starts, and not have to jockey and jostle for position. We love the Arclight in particular because there’s an on-site bar and during 21+ screenings you can sip your wine while you watch. Locations in Culver City, Hollywood, Pasadena, Santa Monica, and Sherman Oaks.
Will Rogers State Park1501 Will Rogers Park Rd., Pacific Palisades | 310.454.8212
Nestled at the base of the Santa Monica mountains, this 186-acre state park boasts horse stables, a polo field, and a riding ring, along with a host of trails that feed into other state park systems. Whether you come for a riding lesson or a trail ride, or just want to throw down a blanket and have a picnic while a polo game unfolds, it’s a pretty idyllic place to spend the day. Tours of Will Rogers’ homestead are also available.
Bike Rentals1619 Ocean Front Walk, Santa Monica | 310.395.7076
Just off the Santa Monica pier, Sea Mist offers rentals on cruisers and mountain bikes by the hour or for under $20 a day, providing a healthy way to see the coast and catch some rays at your own pace. They also rent out tandems and roller blades. Bring ID for your deposit and cash at the end of the day as they don't accept card payments.
Wi Spa2700 Wilshire Blvd., Koreatown | 213.487.2700
Fans of traditional Korean spas—kids included—tend to feel right at home here, with its clean, meditative "Jimjilbang" communal room, it's spacious, super hot saunas, and its no-nonsense massages and body scrubs. Head to the sauna, get a massage, and your nails done, too.
Dan the Man’s Superkids2347 Pontius Ave., West LA | 310.268.8300
This kid gym offers gymnastics classes for a range of age groups—beginning with their Jump Starters class for just 12-month-old littles, and expanding into more advanced classes for children through 12 years old. In addition to the classes, the gym runs camps in the spring, summer, and winter. And not surprisingly, you can also host your kid's birthday party at the Dan the Man's Superkids.
La Brea Tar Pits5801 Wilshire Blvd., West Hollywood | 323.857.6300
Pit 91—as it's known to the paleontologists—is still being excavated, and new fossils are continuously being discovered, preserved by the tar that they fell into eons ago. Some of the most impressive of these are on display at the Page Museum.
Griffith Observatory2800 E. Observatory Rd., Los Feliz | 213.473.0800
Griffith Park is one of those spots where you think you’ll spend an hour and end up staying for the day. Complete with an observatory, a planetarium (there’s a live show every sixty to ninety minutes), loads of displays, and even more hiking (it sits on more than 3,000 acres, and offers fifty-three miles of trails), this draws a crowd from across the city. On weekends, it’s packed.
Surfrider, Sunset Beach, and Point Dume are probably the most talked-about swells along the Malibu coastline, but you don’t necessarily need to be a pro to surf them (for Point Dume, you do need to have a key though, unless you paddle over from one of the adjacent beaches). Fortunately, LA is packed with surf instructors. Friends swear by Chris “Crash” Carson ([email protected]), who will swim out with you and push you in, making it an all-around fun and successful endeavor.
Serenity Bird Sanctuary11301 Wilshire Blvd., Brentwood
Located in the back of the Veteran’s Garden, a 20-acre oasis that’s dedicated to rehabilitating vets with PTSD, you’ll find a sanctuary, where injured, abused, and abandoned cockatoos, parakeets, macaws, and parrots can find relief. They’re tended and nursed back to health by veterans, who apparently find a certain satisfaction in helping something so frail get back in the air. It’s open to the public, and the birds love visitors.
Echo Park Pedalboats751 N. Echo Park Ave., Echo Park | 213.481.8577
Echo Park isn't as celebrated as LA's larger parks, like Griffith Park or Runyon Canyon, but with excellent views of Downtown's skyline and a well-tended walking trail, it's a local favorite (you'll recognize it from the park's tall fountains, which are visible as you leave Downtown on the 101). For a kid-friendly afternoon adventure, rent a four-person pedal boat for the afternoon.
The Great Escape Club3525 Glenhurst Ave., Atwater Village | 323.922.6100
This genius business bills itself as a "playspace and retreat." It's outfitted with a full, modern, and blessedly clean kids playspace that's supervised during open hours. While kids are playing, parents can drink tea and coffee in a parents-only room, plug in and handle emails in a workspace, or, best of all, sign up for massage and reiki treatments. While the concept works best during the week, this is also an excellent place to host a weekend birthday party.
Snooknuk506 N. Larchmont Blvd., Hancock Park | 323.498.5258
Snooknuk offers a little of everything for the kids—and you. For the kids: dance, music, art, story time, and even improv classes. Plus camps, themed parties, and a no-shoes play area. You can purchase day passes for the play area, or a membership plan. For the adults, there's the Snooknuk Café, which serves coffee, pastries, paninis, and salads—and is made complete with complementary WiFi.
Shorty Yoga333½ South Robertson Blvd., Beverly Hills | 424.646.3330
Kids are tiny balls of energy. Yoga burns energy. Put the two together and you have Shorty Yoga. Picking the right class is blessedly easy. There are three: one for preschoolers, one for elementary-school-aged kids and up, and one called Mamastay, for the under-two set and their caretakers. The space is cute but not cutesy, meaning that you won’t mind hanging out while your child is busy learning simple positions, dancing, and letting loose. (La Colombe coffee and free Wi-Fi also help.)