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Photograph: Michael JulianoCalifornia Science Center.

Best summer activities for kids in L.A.

The best summer activities for kids in Los Angeles, from festivals to fair-weather beach days and more

Michael Juliano
Edited by
Michael Juliano
Written by
Stephanie Morino

As soon as the final school bell rings, the next sound you hear is “I’m bored!” So aside from heading to L.A.’s essential museums or art galleries for some educational fun, or a local campground for a short vacation, fill up your kiddos’ calendar with these great warm-weather summer activities for kids.  

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to things to do in the summer in Los Angeles

Summer activities for kids in L.A.

  • Kids

Los Angeles has plenty of beautiful beaches to cool off at on hot summer days, but sometimes it can be a bigger headache than you want to deal with—loading your car, traffic, crowds and those pesky sharks. Thankfully there are also great swimming pools for kids throughout the area—some of which also have splash pads—that allow for some good ol' fashioned fun this summer.

  • Things to do
  • Pasadena
  • price 1 of 4

Housed for two decades in a school gym, this popular interactive children's museum moved to a new site in 2004 after an $18-million funding drive. There's a wide variety of exhibits and entertainment, from the Kaleidoscope entrance to the educational gardens and the Splash Dance water feature in the central courtyard, the perfect way to cool down on a baking valley afternoon. There are various programs and events throughout the summer as well.

  • Things to do

There are playgrounds all over Los Angeles, but chances are, you go to the same ones over and over. Take advantage of summertime and find a new place to play. Whether your kid loves swings, slides and climbing structures or sandboxes and water features, your options are pretty much endless.

Pan for gold at the Autry National Center
  • Museums
  • History
  • Griffith Park
  • price 1 of 4

On the eastern edge of Griffith Park, this museum explores the history of the American West. Learn about Native Americans and cowboys and then check out their research library and store. Keep an eye on their calendar since this museum also doubles as a venue for film screenings, lectures, music, and other events like panning for gold or other family-friendly activities.

  • Art

Parents will enjoy this just as much as their children will. From the Arts District in Downtown Los Angeles to beachside communities, artists are creating beautiful pieces of work, be it oil paintings, sculptures or glassworks, and these events highlight that work while also providing entertainment like live music, food and more. All of the art walks take place throughout summer, making it a perfect evening out for the whole family.

  • Restaurants

Endless summers in Los Angeles mean non-stop cravings for the best ice cream in L.A. Not key lime pie, not jelly donuts—ice cream. When temperatures climb and the Santa Ana winds roll in, treat yourself—and your kids, of course—to the city's tastiest frozen treats. Here's where to find them.

  • Things to do
  • Ventura County
  • price 2 of 4

Old MacDonald would have a serious fit of farm envy if he saw the fun kids have here. For starters, they can visit with (and in many cases feed) an array of animals or play in a bounce house, electric train, petting corral and mini electric tractors. Pony rides are also available to little visitors under four feet tall and/or 75 pounds. The best part? You can pick your own seasonal produce while pulling wee ones behind you in a wagon. Or, simply shop at the farmers’ market near the entrance.

  • Movies

Outdoor movies combine two obvious things about L.A. and the people who live here: we're really into film and we love being outside. Makes sense, right? Here's your guide to the best spots to watch outdoor screenings of classics and new releases under the stars, for all ages. Be sure to check back for updates on the list—seems like at least one or two new outdoor movie series pops up every summer.

  • Things to do

The longstanding Disneyland resort isn't just a set of theme parks: it's a spectacular piece of pop art stocked with rides, hotels and an adjacent shopping center, Downtown Disney. Incorporating two parks—the nearly 70-year-old, near-mythic Disneyland, plus the younger, recently revamped Disney California Adventure—the resort calls itself "The Happiest Place on Earth." And if you bring the right mood with you, it'll likely live up to its nickname.

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