With so many things to do in Los Angeles, a family-friendly trip to SoCal doesn’t mean you’ve got to abandon your affinity for the avant-garde and up-and-coming. Read on to discover 6 distinctive adventures to sample in the City of Angels with kids.

Things to do with younger kids

The Aquarium of the Pacific: Venture off the beaten path to Rainbow Harbor, where you can marvel at the Aquarium of the Pacific’s more than 11,000 animals.  Inside the Northern Pacific Gallery, budding marine biologists love spotting the sea otters as they chase each other around the tank. Conservation enthusiasts won’t want to miss the Earth Friendly Garden, which engages visitors in a compelling conversation about California’s water shortage problem.

For a sweet treat following your adventures, head to the aptly-named Afters Ice Cream, a Los Angeles institution that hand-churns flavors like cookie monster, banana-walnut fudge, and peanut-butter s’mores.

Family touches jellyfish in pool at aquarium in Los Angeles

The Queen Mary: There are a plethora of luxury homes in and around Los Angeles—but opulent ocean liners? Those can be harder to come by. The Queen Mary in Long Beach houses a 1,020-foot (311-m) retired military and cruise ship that crossed the Atlantic Ocean during a dizzying number of missions. Mini ship captains gravitate toward the control room, which has been lovingly restored to reflect the liner’s original grandeur.

Before heading back to LA, sample the mac ‘n’ Cheetos at the Attic on Broadway. In addition to a smattering of kid-tested specialties, offerings like the warm spinach salad and Catalina burger appeal to hungry adults.

View from the deck of Queen Mary ship in Los Angeles

La Brea Tar Pits Museum: Chances are, you’ve already payed homage to the gentle giants on display at the Natural History Museum. Why not head further afield to the La Brea Tar Pits Museum—a destination where natural asphalt seeps forth from the earth. During your visit, enthusiastic guides educate kids about the creatures that have been fossilized in the tar—from prehistoric mammoths to the now-extinct American lion. If you happen to be in Los Angeles for International Sloth Day, be sure to pay close attention to the giant ground sloth bones to see where our modern  cuddly sloths came from.

A stone’s throw from the La Brea Tar Pits, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art houses more than 150,000 works. Visit the Boone Children’s Gallery, where your littles can learn brush painting and admire examples of Korean art.

Children gather around tour guide at La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles

Things to do with older kids

Skyspace LA: With so many things to do in Los Angeles, consider trading the roller coasters for a trip to Skyspace LA, hosted by OUE Skyspace LA. Inside the US Bank Tower, soar to heights of nearly 1,000 feet (305) and climb a cantilevered staircase, drinking in 360-degree views of Los Angeles from above. Older kids adore the adrenaline-pumping Skyslide—an all-glass attraction that wraps around the skyscraper’s exterior.

Once you’re Downtown, a bevy of sightseeing options await. If you have time to reserve your tickets in advance, consider a visit to The Broad—LA’s newest cutting-edge contemporary art museum. If your stomach is rumbling, book it to the Grand Central Market—an open-air affair with some of the city’s oldest and most historic food vendors.

Family touches jellyfish in pool at aquarium in Los Angeles

 

Catalina Island: Escape the bustle of the Big Orange and venture to Catalina Island with Extreme Tours. On the island noted for its dramatic rock formations, furtive foxes, and even roaming buffalo, you and your teenage thrill-seeker can indulge in a memorable zipline tour, flying above verdant treetops with views of the brilliant-blue Pacific.

If time allows, treat yourself to a meal at the eclectic Original Jack’s Country Kitchen—which crafts old-fashioned country breakfasts alongside classics like burgers and fries. Or, satisfy your sweet-tooth with the island’s only homemade ice cream and sorbet at Descanso Fresh.

Man starts ziplining from platform on Catalina Island in Los Angeles

Venice: Head to the seaside enclave of Venice, which was once its own resort town. Here, you and your artist-in-the-making can launch a street art bike tour with the Santa Monica Bike Center. Nose a cruiser around Venice’s sun-soaked boulevards, admiring graffiti murals and learning about the area’s artistic ingénues.

Following your two-wheeled travails, consider trekking north to the Eames House, an iconic mid-20th century architectural masterpiece that lets you dream about life along the Pacific coast. Or, cruise into Santa Monica and grab lunch from Gjelina Take Away, which serves up some of LA’s most sought-after lunch fare, seven days a week.

 

What’s your favorite way to experience LA with kids?