People come from all over to visit Los Angeles' golden beaches and family-friendly attractions, but there are also many secret gems to discover with kids. Places most visitors never see, but that locals treasure. Whether it’s your first or 10th visit to the City of Angels, you can experience LA like a local. From urban jungles and parks to ghost towns and an abandoned zoo, LA has many unique places to explore. Just ask a local! Most Angelinos are willing to share their favorite activities and tips. Here are five examples of local things to do in Los Angeles with kids. These attractions are also steeped in history and free to the public!
Abandoned Old LA Zoo, Griffith Park
A stone’s throw from the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, the abandoned Griffith Zoo opened in 1912 and closed in 1966. Now the empty small and large animal cages attract hikers and curious families looking for unique things to do in Los Angeles with kids. Picnic tables and hiking trails round out this family-friendly attraction. Find parking near the park’s carousel.
Los Arboles Rocketship Park, Torrance
For many Angelinos, this hilltop park was a childhood staple and they’re thrilled it’s still here to share with their kids. The 6.3 acre park features children’s play equipment, including, of course, a rocket ship climbing structure with a slide. The space-themed playground and picnic area rank it among family-friendly things to do in Los Angeles with kids.
Korean Bell of Friendship, San Pedro
Overlooking the ocean, the Korean Bell of Friendship in Angel’s Gate Park was presented by the Republic of Korea to celebrate America’s bicentennial and symbolize friendship. Set in a pagoda-like stone structure, the bronze bell is only rung a handful of times each year. Local families like to bring a picnic or fly a kite on the grassy grounds. For nearby things to do with kids in Los Angeles visit the MacArthur Museum and the Point Fermin Lighthouse.
Eaton Canyon Natural Area, Pasadena
Its woodsy location at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains makes Eaton Canyon Natural Area a favorite getaway with locals. The 190-acre nature preserve in Pasadena offers many outdoorsy things to do in Los Angeles with kids. These include hiking (on your own or on a guided tour) on trails with native plants, wildlife and a seasonal stream and waterfall. The family-friendly nature center has exhibits, live animals, children’s activities, and information about the area.
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Mentryville Ghost Town, Newhall
Hidden in Newhall’s chaparral slopes (about 35 miles north of LA), Mentryville was an oil drilling boomtown from 1876 to 1900. Over 100 families lived there until the early 1930s. Today, the ghost town attracts filmmakers and families looking for historical and quirky things to do in Los Angeles with kids. Still standing are a 13-room mansion, a schoolhouse, and barn.
Mimi Slawoff of Planetfamilytravel contributed this to MiniTime. She is a Los Angeles-based journalist and a seasoned family travel expert who explores the world with her three children and writes about their journeys.
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