Rather than scramble for ways to entertain your kiddos over the summer in Los Angeles, we pulled together 50 incredibly fun ideas to keep your precious rugrats smiling from ear to ear and your sanity (relatively) intact. Scroll below for the 50 best family activities to do during the summer in SoCal.
photo: Annenberg Community Beach House via Yelp
1. In the blazing heat of summer, water plus kids equal instant fun. Cool off at some of the grooviest splash pads in town.
2. When your little animals want to pet other little animals, there are plenty of petting zoos to get up close and personal with adorable new friends.
3. For many kiddos, daytime is filled with summer camps and playdates, so why not take them out for some fun after dark with these kid-friendly nighttime activities.
4. Just because school is out, doesn’t mean kids can’t keep learning—treat them to an afternoon of culture and education at these incredible SoCal museums.
5. Put the iPads down and get your pinkies up for an afternoon of tea and scrumptious yummies at LA’s most fabulous tea rooms.
6. Grab a big blanket and a basket because there’s no better time than summer to spend a relaxing afternoon picnicking with your babes.
photo: Grand Park Playground by Jennifer O’Brien
7. Every family has that one neighborhood playground they frequent, but the summer is the perfect time to check out some uber cool playgrounds that may have flown under your radar.
8. All aboard! Pint-sized choo-choo fanatics will love visiting these train-related attractions throughout the LA area.
9. From Secret Life of Pets 2 and Toy Story 4 to The Lion King and Spider-Man: Far From Home, there’s no shortage of fab movies for kids this summer, so why not see them at these family-friendly movie theaters?
10. LA temps tend to soar in Jul. and Aug., so it’s a swell time to chill at LA’s coolest indoor play spaces.
11. Is there anything better than a hot slice of ooey-gooey pizza during the summertime (or fall, or winter, or spring)? Check out these pizza spots for the tastiest pies around LA.
12. If you’re willing to brave the crowds and can snag a reservation, one of the top things to do this summer is definitely Disneyland’s new Star Wars: The Galaxy’s Edge. May the force (and lots of luck) be with you.
13. Sometimes you just want to escape LA for a bit without droppin’ lotsa dolla bills. These great day trips are right up your alley.
14. If you’re lucky, summer months allow for lots of hugs and visits from grandma and grandpa, so we’ve rounded up some wonderful ideas on what to do during their stay.
photo: Carlsbad Strawberry Company
15. Skip the middle man and head straight to the source! Go pick your own delicious summer fruits at these amazing LA area farms.
16. Sure, it’s tad toasty there during the summer, but who doesn’t love a kid-friendly getaway to Palm Springs? Just two hours from LA and so many fun things to do, you’ll quickly forget those three-digit temps.
17. Looking for an activity that’s sure to be a hole in one? How about a day of putt-putt fun at one of the city’s best mini golf courses.
18. LA is blessed with some of the best hiking trails in the country, but these unforgettable waterfall hikes take things to the next level.
19. When tots get hangry, think outside the pizza box and dine at one of these super fun themed restaurants totally worth the drive.
photo: The Beverly Hilton via Yelp
20. No pool? No problem! Pop by one of these resort pools that offer day passes for an afternoon of fun in the sun.
21. If your fam wants more thrill than chill this summer, you’ll definitely want to visit one of these exciting new attractions at SoCal theme parks.
22. Mmmm…hot, juicy, burgers. You want ’em, we got ’em. In fact, these are the best burger spots in town.
23. With everything from mountain biking and kayaking to water slides and tram rides, Big Bear Lake makes a convenient getaway this summer just 100-miles outside LA.
24. Before you drop the kiddos at summer camp for the day, treat them to a surprise breakfast at one of these to-die-for donut shops.
25. Goodbye early school mornings, hello sleepovers. These spectacular museum family sleepovers should not be missed.
26. Angelenos are lucky to eat outside most of the year, but nothing’s better than summertime. Gather up your tykes and dine alfresco at one of these kid-friendly hotspots. Bon appetit!
27. When you’ve exhausted the public pool scene, these natural swimming holes are just what Mother Nature ordered.
photo: Jenifer Scott
28. Pack up your surfer babes and channel your inner Moon Doggy for a day they’ll always remember at one of LA’s best beaches for families.
29. Nothing tastes better on a sweltering summer day than an ice cold beer, and these kid-friendly breweries have you covered. Cheers!
30. Westsiiiide! Between the Annenberg Beach House, the pier and Tongva Park, you could fill a whole day with fun activities in Santa Monica. And getting there’s a total breeze when you take the Metro Expo Line.
31. Whether you’re packing a picnic or just want something quick and easy after a busy day of fun, check out these spots for mouthwatering food on-the-go.
32. There’s no better time of year to visit Universal Studios Hollywood, and with so many exciting attractions and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, kid boredom disappears like magic!
33. LA is filled with stars, but the ones in the cosmos are better seen from the Griffith Observatory. Just be sure to get there early during summer months and on weekends as it gets crowded quick.
photo: Grace K. via Yelp
34. For a little peace and serenity during the summer (is there such a thing?), spend a day exploring Descanso Gardens in La Canada Flintridge. The rose garden is blooming like crazy this time of year, so be sure to stop there first.
35. There’s hardly any LA beach more iconic than Venice Beach. From the colorful boardwalk scene filled with vendors and street performers to awesome skate parks and the Venice canals, it’s the grooviest place to spend the day, brah.
36. I scream you scream, we all scream for…well, you know the rest. It’s the perfect time of year to pick up a scoop or two at the best ice cream shops in town.
37. LA’s best-kept secret is a secret no more. Pack up the kids and head to the Hollywood Bowl this summer where you and the fam can catch free rehearsals of that week’s shows!
38. Between vacations, camps and outings, it’s easy for parents to rack up costs during the summer, so be sure to visit these restaurants where kids can eat for free.
39. With over 16 breathtaking gardens to explore and plenty of room to run around, summer is the perfect time to spend an afternoon at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.
photo: Andie Huber
40. Make a day of it and take the kids to Long Beach where they can romp and roam around the famous decks of the Queen Mary, check out sea creatures at The Aquarium of the Pacific and take a harbor cruise.
41. Pint-sized dino lovers will dig the La Brea Tarpits filled with ongoing excavations, prehistoric fossils, and the fabulous Page Museum.
42. Got kiddos who love to horse around? Then giddy-up to the best places in town where lil cowboys and cowgirls can saddle up for a bonafide horse ride.
43. Why not clean out those closets filled with too-small clothes and forgotten toys and donate them to some local organizations who could really use some kids and baby gear?
photo: California Science Center by Jennifer O’Brien
44. The California Science Center has so much to keep kids occupado for a day, but it’s especially great right now with their “Dogs: A Science Tail” exhibition that premiered in Mar. Summer is the perfect time to see it (or see it again).
45. The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden in Arcadia should definitely be on your to-do list if you haven’t been already. It features 232 varieties of birds, gorgeous flowers and plants out the ying-yang and hello, peacocks! What more do you need?
46. If you find yourself in Pasadena in search of tranquility, take the little ones to Norton Simon Museum. Filled with art from world-renowned masters and a stunning sculpture garden out back that will beg you to linger—it’s the most relaxing afternoon you’ll have all summer break.
47. Hiking is a great bonding experience for families (at least that’s what we’ve heard). Check out our list of must-do hikes around LA.
48. Malibu is totally worth the trek for a beautiful beach day, some great playgrounds and stellar shopping.
49. Figuring out which public pools to visit can be a challenge—not! We’ve got you covered with the creme de la creme around LA.
50. Culver City is quickly becoming one of the hippest hoods in LA, so we’ve rounded up everything you need to see and do to make a day of it.
Lead image courtesy of iStock.
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—Meghan Rose, Andie Huber & Jennifer O’Brien