Los Angeles is California’s theme park hub. Between Disneyland, California Adventure, Universal Studios Hollywood, Knott’s Berry Farm, Magic Mountain, and a plethora of water parks, it’s easy to visit the city multiple times without ever stepping foot outside of a park. It’s no surprise that outside of the theme park gates lies a whole city filled with family-friendly excursions and experiences. So next time you board a flight to LAX, skip the obvious destinations and do a little city exploring as a family. Here are the top 5 things to do in L.A. that don’t involve roller coasters or adults in animal costumes.
Ride a giant slide.
If you’re standing in downtown L.A., look up. You may notice a glass slide hanging 1,000-feet above you, from a skyscraper. It’s called Skyspace LA, and it’s basically terrifying, but also a must for thrill seekers. Ride the slide from the 70th floor to the 69th floor, a total distance of about 45 feet.
Take in a kid-friendly show.
Which sounds more appealing, pirates or knights? In Buena Park, Medieval Times hosts dinner shows for families that include jousting and real horses. Pick a team and root for your knight, then stay to see if he wins the competition. Dinner is a classic medieval times meal, too—and it’s encouraged to eat with your hands, which kids will love! If Pirates sound more entertaining, attend the Pirate’s Dinner Adventure instead.
Like This? Try this: If your kids enjoy the medieval times show, consider hitting a renaissance fair while in town.
Hit the beach.
This one is pretty obvious, and there is no shortage of beaches to choose from in the Greater Los Angeles Areas. Try out Venice Beach to fill an afternoon. It’s a great place to stroll the boardwalk, take photos under the iconic Venice sign, and do a little local shopping. Street performers are there seven days a week playing music and performing tricks. Plus the area is known for its giant murals painted by local artists. You can often catch them in action, putting up new pieces right on the beach.
For lunch, stop over at The Waterfront for delicious (and cheap!) tacos on homemade tortillas. You can grab a spot inside or out with views of the water without ever leaving the boardwalk. For dessert, grab famous mini donuts from Zelda’s Corner, located down Westminster Avenue right off the boardwalk.
Visit a live television set.
One of the best parts of this excursion is that it’s free. Interested parties can apply for tickets to be part of a live studio audience (note age restrictions do occur). In some instances, you may even get a cameo filling the crowd on set of a movie. These experiences take place in Hollywood, Culver City, Studio City, and Burbank. Check out online sites such as On Camera Audiences or 1iota to apply for tickets. Some shows require you to contact the studio directly.
Play tourist for a day.
Living so close to Los Angeles it can be easy to overlook the big Hollywood attractions that everybody comes for. Don’t miss out. Head to Hollywood and hit all the main tourist spots before you leave. The big ones can be completed in just one day!
Start with a tour of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. This historic landmark is still the place to catch a flick (and they play current films). Tours are pretty inexpensive and take visitors inside the theatre while explaining its history. The theatre still plays host to movie premieres, special events, film festivals, and more. When you’re done, stroll down Hollywood Boulevard to see the stars.
Also on Hollywood Boulevard is Madame Tussauds Hollywood, the wax museum featuring life-like statues of your favorite celebrities. Snap photos with Justin Timberlake, Patrick Swayze, E.T., Lady Gaga, and more. Kids get a kick out of posing with the different celebs, and photos make the best souvenirs.
Last up on the agenda, take a tour. This might be the most touristy thing to do in all of Los Angeles. Hollywood Boulevard Tours is just one of the companies that offers driving tours of stars’ homes. Or, opt for the double-decker bus tours and check out famous Hollywood landmarks instead.
Like This? Try This: The Hollywood sign is one of Southern California’s most epic landmarks, and you can hike right to it. Hit the Santa Monica Mountains and get walking. Hike along Griffith Park for some of the best views—but remember, hands off! No one is allowed to touch the sign.