6 Free/Cheap Family-Friendly Things To Do in Los Angeles

Family-Friendly Travel Tips for a Los Angeles Vacation

By Angeline Sheridan January 9, 2020

Anyone else California dreaming on a cold winter's day? If you are planning a warm vacation this year, consider adding Los Angeles, California to your list. There are so many things to do with the family that are free or almost free.  Here are a few of our favorites. 


California Science Museum has an impressive array of hands-on, interactive exhibits for all ages including toddlers. The exhibit topics are current such as climate change, alternative energy sources, and natural disasters. The Discovery Center for ages 7 and under is a fantastic play space for imaginary play. There is even a room full of iPads featuring educational games. There are also a few interesting activities such as IMAX shows, the high wire bike ride and virtual reality stations that have separate charges. A food court offers different opens for meals including pizza, tacos, beverages and snacks. Overall the California Science Museum is a sure thing when you’re looking for an indoor activity that’s fun and educational. 

If the weather is nice (which it usually is), step outside the California Science Museum and stroll through the Rose Garden across the street. There is a gorgeous water fountain for photo opps and to sit and enjoy the sights and smells of this impressive garden open year round. While you are in the area, you can also check out the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles.  General admission to California Science Museum is by donation and there is a fee for parking.  


Head to the Pacific where historic Route 66 ends at Santa Monica Pier. You can stay the whole day to take in this beautiful beach town complete with walking paths, shops, restaurants, ferris wheel, carousel, and carnival rides and concessions. The pier is open all day but check individual businesses for hours of operation here. There is public parking at the Pier Parking Deck for a fee. For shorter visits, you can pay by the hour at metered parking spots along Ocean Avenue.


When you have had your beach fix, head back east on the freeway and check out everything Italian at EATALY, an Italian-themed food hall and market located at the glitzy Century 21 Mall. Sip an espresso, grab a gelato, or shop for souvenirs and treats throughout the store’s two levels. If the weather is nice, make a reservation at the rooftop restaurant Terra to enjoy small plates, cocktails and a view of the hills of Los Angeles.


A visit to Los Angeles isn’t compete without a drive through world-famous Rodeo Drive where fashion, design, and affluence meet to create stunning and creative window displays. During the holidays from mid-November through the end of December, the streets are decorated with festive lights and each store has stunning holiday displays. Stop in front of the Louis Vuitton store for a cute photo opp with the “Life is Beautiful” sculpture.


If you have a few extra hours, other nearby places to check out is the touristy downtown Hollywood where you can find sidewalks lined with celebrity stars along the Walk of Fame, check out a movie at the famous Chinese Theater, and get a great view of the iconic Hollywood sign on the hills at the behemoth outdoor mall Hollywood & Highland.


The campus of UCLA is a good stop if your kids are interested in checking out colleges.  It also offers several free attractions including a botanical gardens and the Hammer Museum showcasing contemporary art. Both are free to the public. The surrounding Westwood Village has walkable streets for familiar shops and chain restaurants like Urban Outfitters, Trader Joe’s, and California Pizza Kitchen as well as more unique dining options like Napa Valley Grill.

For more California fun, check out Macaroni Kid Travel's articles "2 Days of Family Fun on California's Catalina Island" HERE and "24 Hours in San Diego on a Budget" HERE.


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