LA is a great city to take your kids on a fun-filled family vacation. To be honest, I was a little anxious taking my 5-month-old baby to a whole new environment on the other side of the world. Flying in from Honolulu, I was so relieved that Kyra slept better than at home and caught up with the time zone difference faster than all of us.
The people of LA were super friendly and welcoming. My first impression of this bustling world city was the people here. People of LA were vigilant and very friendly to tourists. We were offered help with directions on numerous occasions and were never short of an extra pair of hands carrying the stroller up and down the stairs. A kind man even gave us $2 when we had forgotten to add tax on top of the bill. (The prices are always tax-inclusive in Australia).
The bottom line was, when we travelled to LA, we didn’t feel ‘foreign’ at all. There was a sense of community which made us feel safe and welcomed. That was my take on ‘The City of Angels’.
In this family travel guide, we’ll share the top 10 budget-friendly things to do in LA with kids.
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Getting Around LA
Getting around LA is so convenient. Depending on the length of your stay, we would recommend getting a day pass, which costs around $7 and is valid until 3am the next morning. You can use LA’s public transports to cover most of the attractions. All city Metro Stations have lifts to the platforms and exit out onto the streets.
Booking an uber ride was our favourite transport method in LA. America has the option to UberPool, where you have the choice to share the ride with someone else along the way. It’s cheaper than UberX and doesn’t cause much more inconvenience. However, if you’re travelling with a family of 3 or more, plus a stroller or/and a car seat, choose UberX.
We picked up a hired car from Union Station for the road trip along the California West Coast. You can request a car seat at an additional charge. Personally, I love hybrid cars as you can save a lot on fuel.
Make sure you have enough funds for pre-authorisation. This is to validate your credit card to make sure you have the funds to cover the total cost of hiring the car, plus a few hundred dollars on top. If this doesn’t go through on the credit card, there’s not a lot of other options as they don’t take cash.
Top 10 Things To Do in LA with Kids
1. Olvera St
This historical street of the Mexican marketplace is a must-visit for a taste of the ‘Old LA’. Visit during the week or join the buzz on the weekends, but don’t go too late as a lot of the stalls close in the early evenings.
We recommend having the baby in a baby carrier. Olvera St is quite narrow and it’s easier to move around on a busy day.
A must-try restaurant is Cielito Lindo near the entrance of Olvera St market. The authentic Mexican food at Cielito Lindo is very popular and highly rated.
2. Universal Studios & City Walk
When I first saw the hill up to Universal Studios, my heart sank thinking there was no way I could climb up over the hill with a stroller and a baby. But to my relief, just a short walk across the pedestrian bridge from the Metro station was a shuttle bus station that took us right up to the front door of City Walk. Hallelujah! The shuttle bus happily took care of our stroller and provided priority seating.
City Walk is very busy with a busy crowd and loud music, so if you’re travelling with young kids, be aware they may get overstimulated a lot quicker than usual. To avoid meltdowns, we recommend getting out of the main street and go for a walk outside instead. A happy kid = a blissful day.
3. Walk of Fame
Straight out of Hollywood Highland Metro station, you’ll step out onto the very famous Walk of Fame. This is a long walk, so take the stroller and a hat in the summer. Kyra absolutely loved this walk, not only did she have a long nap but she had loads of fun with her favourite characters.
4. City Hall
There’s a free observation deck on top of the City Hall that’s open to the public during weekdays business hours. Use a baby carrier if you’re travelling with a tot, as you will be climbing some stairs. This is the best vantage point to get a panoramic view of LA.
5. Little Tokyo
Little Tokyo is a unique Japanese-American national museum that would make a fun and educational stop with the kids.
Walk to Japanese Village Plaza, that’s where all the action is. Line up at Blue Nova for some ice cream rolls, sit and relax in the middle of the plaza while listening to live music. Wander through the cute Japanese shops for all your daily nitty-gritty needs.
We came here in the evening and the restaurants were packed. Be prepared for a long wait, so order your food early.
A summer night in LA Chinatown is filled with confetti in the sky! Join the fun, and try some authentic Chinese food.
7. Grand Park
We didn’t have this park in our itinerary but it caught our attention as we were walking past. It was a beautiful summer night with lights, music and a crowd eagerly learning to dance. It seemed like a lot of fun so we shamelessly joined in.
8. Griffith Park
Take Dash shuttle up from Vermont Sunset Station for 50c each, it’ll take you straight to Griffith Observatory and Greek Theatre.
On your return trip back, make sure to ask the driver if the shuttle goes to the rail line. The 2 shuttles look the same but have different routes.
You can see the famous Hollywood sign from the Observatory decks. If you can hang around until after sunsets, there’s a rooftop telescope that is accessible to the public for free from 7-9.30pm.
The Planetarium is a great place to bring kids. They will love the interactive and colourful equipment models.
p.s. LA Zoo is just on the other side of the park if you have time!
We were really bummed we missed out on this Sunday market.
Smorgasburg opens from 10am, book this market on your itinerary if you’re in LA on a Sunday.
Hop On Hop Off, with a Day Pass
For $7, this is one of the best things to do in LA with kids! Hop on a bus, hop off wherever and explore the city freely. If you’re feeling spontaneous, hop on a metro and let it take you to an unknown destination.
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What are your favourite things to do in LA with kids?