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Endeavour
Photograph: Michael Juliano

The best things to do with kids in L.A.

With books, bowling, museums and mini golf, it’s easy to keep little ones entertained with these things to do in L.A. with kids

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Looking for things to do in Los Angeles with kids to keep your small ones smiling (aside from a trip to Disneyland, of course)? Boredom leads to bad moods for even the most angelic of children, so keep the yawns (and tantrums) at bay with our exhaustive list of things to do in L.A. with kids. Whether you’re in Hollywood, Venice or the Valley, we have picks designed to help you not only meet, but exceed the expectations of even the toughest tiny customers—be they bookworms, speed demons or petite patrons of the arts.

Best kids activities in L.A.

  • Attractions
  • Animal rescue homes
  • San Fernando Valley
  • price 1 of 4

Walk around the leafy grounds of this suburban Sylmar sanctuary to see everything from monkeys to foxes—and school trips and birthday parties. For hands-on photo ops, request a close encounter with a porcupine, an armadillo, a two-toed sloth or even a giraffe. Make sure to say hi to Zeus, the starry-eyed blind owl in the gift shop.

  • Things to do
  • Highland Park
  • price 2 of 4

Nothing says childhood entertainment quite like a puppet show, and the longest-running marionette theater company in the nation delivers, big-time. Tykes truly delight in watching the marionettes come to life in the darkened theater space—and afterwards being treated to free ice cream and a backstage tour.

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  • Attractions
  • Animal rescue homes
  • San Pedro

This San Pedro rehabilitation center scoops up distressed marine mammals along the coast between Long Beach and Malibu in hopes of reintroducing them to the ocean. Though these stories can be sad—sudden blindness, a shark bite—the mood stays light thanks to a cordial crew of volunteers and a comical chorus of sea lion barks. Viewing is restricted to a sidewalk outside the fences—close enough to see the sweet faces of belly-flopping baby elephant seals.

Learn about sustainability on a Laguna Beach tour.

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  • Things to do
  • Griffith Park
  • price 1 of 4

The L.A. Zoo’s greatest asset is its location, a lush oasis tucked into the hills of Griffith Park. It’s a pretty popular place, but the zoo’s size—133 acres, plus a huge parking lot—means that it rarely feels crowded. Kids will love to see the elephants and repitles, as well as to take a ride on the beautifully painted Tom Mankiewicz Conservation Carousel.

  • Things to do
  • Griffith Park

As the first universally accessible playground in the Western U.S. and the largest in the nation, this popular playground is a gem. Kids can make like astronauts inside a spaceship, man the controls in an airplane cockpit, access their inner pirates and safely land on the soft, rubberized surface beneath the many slides, swings, monkey bars, zip lines and much, much more.

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  • Things to do
  • Long Beach
  • price 2 of 4

Dedicated as much to education as entertainment, this aquarium more than justifies the drive down to Long Beach. Inevitably, the shark lagoon and its touchable habitat is the most popular exhibit. Other highlights include the adorable sea otter habitat as well as a low-key exhibition about whales. Much of the rest of the aquarium is divided geographically: loveable sea lions in the Southern California section, all kinds of garish fish in the tropical Pacific area and a variety of exotic creatures in the Gulf of California exhibit.

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  • Museums
  • Transportation
  • Griffith Park
  • price 1 of 4

The northwest corner of Griffith Park is the destination for train enthusiasts and curious kids. Travel Town, open six days a week, is a railroad petting zoo full of historic rail stock that also does a good job explaining how the railroads helped build Southern California. Lovers of things that go choo-choo should be sure to visit the park on a Sunday, when the neighboring Los Angeles Live Steamers section is open for railheads. Kids clamor to come here again and again to ride a miniature train around more than a mile of track.

  • Museums
  • Science and technology
  • USC/Exposition Park

Permanent exhibit galleries at this kid-friendly Exposition Park museum explore life sciences, human innovation and powered flight. But the real attraction here is the Space Shuttle Endeavour, which was very pubicly paraded through L.A. to reach its temporary home at the Samuel Oschin Pavilion—a permanent structure slated to display the ship upright is in the works. While the rest of the museum is free, Endeavour requires $3 time tickets on weekends, a bargain to come face to face with one of this country’s most iconic engineering marvels.

Visit L.A.'s top 40 attractions.

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