22 Kid-Friendly Museums that LA Kids Must Explore!

Updated: Sep 11, 2020

LA Families don’t have to travel far to explore some of the best kid-friendly museums. From exploring the cars and trains to animals and dinosaurs, from playtime to hands-on-educational opportunities, these fabulous LA and Orange County museums offer children of all ages the best in discovering history, science, technology, music, culture, art, and learning.

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

900 Exposition Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90007

​​Natural History Museum of Los Angeles is an extensive natural history museum with beautiful dramas of North American and African mammals, and a hands-on, interactive Discovery Center with live animals, shells, rocks, bones, insects, and ​other specimens. It protects over 35 million specimens, dating back 4.5 billion years, and is an authority on the "big picture" of the planet, the natural and the cultural world. Watch for special exhibits like butterfly pavilion, spider pavilion, and dino lab.

La Brea Tar Pits & Museum

5801 Wilshire Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90036

The La Brea Tar Pits in Hancock Park had pits of tar in which animals got stuck and died during the latter par of the last Ice Age (10,000 to 40,000 years ago). The animals thought the black pools of tar were water and got stuck. The black ozee preserved the bones that have been excavated, and are still being excavated today. Explore the tar pits, go inside the Museum to see what paleontologists have found, and get the inside story of the La Brea Tar Pits and experience how an actual Ice Age dig site works.The Museum also houses animal skeletons, including mammoths, mastodons, dire wolves, saber-toothed cats, and a variety of birds.

While you are there, make sure to catch Titans of the Ice Age 3D. In this exciting 3D adventure, discover an icy world on the brink of extinction, where humans share the frozen tundra with majestic beasts. Encounter some of the Earth’s most awe-inspiring mammals, from saber-toothed cats and dire wolves to giant sloths and the iconic mammoths that lived 10,000 years before modern civilization. Take your lunch, or grab something nearby, and have a picnic in Hancock park right in the middle of the La Brea Tar Pits, and roll down the hills with the kids, which is one of the kids' favorite things to do when they visit.

California Science Center

700 Exposition Park Dr.

Los Angeles, CA 90037

​The California Science Center is a dynamic destination where families, and children can explore the wonders of science through interactive exhibits, live demonstrations, innovative programs and awe-inspiring films for free. The Science Center offers self-guided experiences of Permanent and Special Exhibit galleries, Big Lab interactive programs, and IMAX Movies. The IMAX Theater is great for older kids.

The Discovery Rooms are filled with cool hands-on experiments like a kitchen, a garden, construction site, and a kid-sized TV studio with costumes, which are perfect for exploring for kids 6 & under. After your exploration, you can enjoy a meal from one of the dining options located on the Science Center's 1st floor or grab a snack at the IMAX Theater's concession stand.

Cayton Children's Museum

395 Santa Monica Pl Suite 374

Santa Monica, CA 90401

The state of the art space in the Santa Monica Mall features 21,000 square feet is filled with immersive elements including a full-size helicopter, fire truck, and veterinary clinic. The kids get to shop for groceries, eat in a café, play chef, go to the vet, become firefighters, or pretend to be a pilot.

"The Together We" section offers group activities and team building, and the "Reflect On" section is where children learn to better connect with nature. You’ll also find the “Courage Climber,” an entire level made from nets, which kids find extremely fun to explore. There is a separate space for infants to 2 years old children to explore through touch, and is intended to help them strengthen their coordination.

Skirball Cultural Center

2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90049

The Skirball features an extraordinary museum, changing exhibitions, engaging music, theater, comedy, film, family, and literary programs, Zeidler's Café, Audrey's Museum store, and an interactive family destination inspired by the Noah's Ark story—all in a stunning architectural setting designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie. Play, climb, build, explore, make believe, and make friends–all while exploring a floor-to-ceiling wooden ark, filled to the rafters with whimsical animals.

Petersen Automotive Museum

6060 Wilshire Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90036

The Mission of Petersen Automotive Museum is to explore and present the history of the automobile and its global impact on life and culture using Los Angeles as a prime example. At Petersen Automotive Museum you get to drive into the world of the automobile in lots of different ways. There are interactive exhibits, art projects, automotive awareness workshops and more.

Through a ground-breaking partnership with Disney/Pixar, you can be a part of the Cars Mechanical Institute, inspired by the animated film CARS. At this permanent Exhibit you can learn about the mechanical systems that make cars work. You can also paint and personalize virtual cars as well as race and color their own Cars character to take home. And the littlest car enthusiasts can zoom toy cars around a racetrack.

The Broad

221 S. Grand Ave.

Los Angeles, CA 90012

The Broad is a contemporary art museum on Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles. The Broad is home to more than 2,000 works of art in the Broad collection, which is among the most prominent holdings of post-war and contemporary art worldwide. While you are there, you must check out Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room–The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away. This must-see installation only accommodates one visitor at a time for 45 seconds each. Be sure to download The Broad’s free mobile app so you can have guided tours including a family tour for kids called Looking with Levar.

The Hammer Museum

10899 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90024

The Hammer Museum is one of three public arts institutions of the School of the Arts and Architecture at UCLA. It is fueled by dynamic exhibitions and programs including lectures, symposia, film series, readings, and musical performances. The Hammer holds over 2,000 contemporary collection of artworks, and holds a series of more than one hundred contemporary exhibitions and installations featuring local, national, and international emerging artists. The Hammer has over 300 programs each year, some of which are family friendly, and are all free.

Autry Museum of the American West

4700 Western Heritage Way

Los Angeles, CA 90027

​Discover the art, history, and cultures of the American West! Located in beautiful Griffith Park, the Autry features world-class galleries filled with Native American art and artifacts, film memorabilia, historic firearms, paintings, and more. Throughout the year, the Autry also presents a wide range of public events and programs-including lectures, film, theater, festivals, family activities, and music-and performs scholarship, research, and educational outreach.

The Autry’s collection of more than 500,000 pieces of art and artifacts includes the Southwest Museum of the American Indian Collection, one of the largest and most significant collections of Native American materials in the United States. Kids adore the chance to pan for gold, to be in a cowboy movie, and fascinated by the newest permanent exhibit, California Continued.

Los Angeles County Museum of Arts

5905 Wilshire Boulevard

Los Angeles, CA 90036

This world-class art museum is a wonderful introduction to art for kids of all ages. The Boone Children’s Gallery is a free, creative space where visitors of all ages are invited to explore the art of brush painting. No prior art-making experience is necessary. Friendly and helpful staff introduce painting techniques, offer tips, and even provide high chairs for very young artists. Visitors sit at communal tables in this fun, family-friendly, and resourceful place to relax, create, and make new friends. While you're here, explore Material Play, a collaborative artwork made by families and artist Zheng Chongbin.

The Getty Center

1200 N Sepulveda Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90049

The J. Paul Getty Museum seeks to inspire curiosity about, and enjoyment and understanding of, the visual arts by collecting, conserving, exhibiting, and interpreting works of art of outstanding quality and historical importance. The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center in Los Angeles houses European paintings, drawings, sculpture, illuminated manuscripts, decorative arts, and photography from its beginnings to the present, gathered internationally.

The Getty Center features several gardens and fountains, and landscaping for public enjoyment, including a cactus garden at the South Promontory, fountains in the Museum Courtyard and the Tram Arrival Plaza, shaded hideaways, and spectacular views of the Santa Monica Mountains, the Pacific Ocean, and Los Angeles. The Getty Center also hosts family friendly events almost every day of the week.

The Getty Villa

17985 Pacific Coast Highway

Pacific Palisades, CA 90272

The Getty Villa in Malibu houses approximately 44,000 works of art from the Museum's extensive collection of Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities, of which over 1,200 are on view. The Getty Villa also hosts family friendly events almost every day of the week.

Travel Town Museum

5200 Zoo Drive

Los Angeles, CA 90027

The mission of Travel Town is to educate the public about railroad history as it pertains to the development of the Southwest Region of the United States, particularly the Los Angeles area. At Travel Town Railroad, you can travel around the Travel Town Museum. After riding the miniature train, you can explore dozens of old time railroad locomotives and cars. On the 2nd Saturday of each month, guided tours are offered.

Griffith Observatory

2800 East Observatory Rd.

Los Angeles, CA 90027

Griffith Observatory is an icon of Los Angeles, a national leader in public astronomy, a beloved civic gathering place, and one of southern California's most popular attractions. It is 1,134 feet above sea level and is visible from many parts of the Los Angeles basin. At Griffith Observatory, you can look through telescopes, explore exhibits, see live shows in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium, and enjoy spectacular views of Los Angeles and the Hollywood Sign.

Discovery Cube Los Angeles

11800 Foothill Blvd

Los Angeles, CA 91342

Discovery Cube is a discovery center with hands-on science education that delights, challenges, and encourages kids​. This non-profit museum dedicated to teaching STEM proficiency, early childhood education, healthy living, and environmental stewardship. Discovery Cube offers permanent exhibits such as Planetary Research Station, Science of Hockey, 3D Theater, Helicopter Tour, Discovery Market, Race to Zero Waste, Aquavator, Inspector Training Course, and park-science, and new interactive exhibits that change every few months.

You can also host birthday parties at the cube exploring two floors of interactive exhibits and celebrate your special day in the Birthday Party Zone. The cube also offers several different summer camp programs that give kids of all ages the chance to investigate science through fun and one-of-a-kind experiences.

Grammy Museum at LA Live

800 W. Olympic Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90015

The Grammy Museum explores and celebrates the enduring legacies of all forms of music, the creative process, the art and technology of the recording process, the history of the Grammy Awards, and the premier recognition of recorded music accomplishment. Kids will enjoy seeing photos, hand-written lyrics, costumes, and more. You can even play electronic musical instruments at the “Roland LIVE” section.

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum

40 Presidential Drive

Simi Valley, CA 93065

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation was created by President Reagan himself to share his principles. The Foundation features the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, the Reagan Center for Public Affairs, the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Presidential Learning Center, award-winning Discovery Center, and the Air Force One Pavilion. The museum features continually changing temporary exhibits and a permanent exhibit covering President Reagan's life. A full-scale replica of the Oval Office, a feature of most presidential libraries, is a prominent feature of this museum as well. Allow 2 ½ to 3 hours to enjoy all the galleries.

​​Los Angeles Fire Department Museum

1355 N. Cahuenga Blvd.

Hollywood, CA 90028

At Los Angeles Fire Department Museum, artifacts and equipment of all types are on display, dating from the 1880s through the present day. There are existing and under-development exhibits as well. Old Station 27 also includes a Fire Service Research Library and a learning center where fire and life safety lessons are shared with both children and adults.

Kidspace Children's Museum

480 North Arroyo Boulevard

Pasadena, CA 91103

There is always so much to do at Kidspace Children Museum. The hands-on exhibits inspire children to be the innovators and creators of tomorrow. From the bottle rocket, tennis ball launcher, and pulleys, there are activities to touch, teach and nurture children's love of science. Discover adventure and uncover possibilities in the Arroyo Seco Exhibit. This latest enhancement to the Museum features 8 additional interactive exhibits in the Kidspace Gardens designed to connect your child with nature and inspire imaginative play.

For the little ones (ages 0-3), a space is designed to inspire wonder, stimulate exploration and prompt interaction between children and their parents. Crawlers and early walkers can enjoy the tactile nature of the Shiny Stream, exploring different surfaces, climbing and sliding.

Pretend City Children's Museum

29 Hubble

Irvine, CA 92618

Pretend City Children’s Museum is “the world in a nut-shell.” This Museum is designed for children to learn how the real world works. The museum is a child-size interconnected city built with rich educational intention, where children can assume various real-world roles. Through interactive exhibits and activities facilitated by highly trained professional staff, children learn foundational math, reading and science skills while fostering curiosity, creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork. The Museum is a nut-free facility.

Discovery Cube Orange County

2500 N. Main Street

Santa Ana, CA 92705

Discovery Cube is a new discovery center with hands-on science education that delights, challenges, and encourages kids​. This non-profit museum dedicated to teaching STEM proficiency, early childhood education, healthy living, and environmental stewardship. Discovery Cube Orange offers permanent exhibits such as Mission Control, Helicopter Tour, Water Gallery, Inspector Training, Petersonville Healthy kitchen, Science of Hockey, Discovery Theater, Eco Challenge, and Planetary Research Station and other interactive exhibits and shows that change every few months.

Your can also host birthday parties at the cube exploring two floors of interactive exhibits and celebrate your special day in the Birthday Party Zone. The cube also offers several different summer camp programs that give kids of all ages the chance to investigate science through fun and one-of-a-kind experiences.

Kidseum at Bowers Museum

1802 N. Main Street

Santa Ana, CA 92706

Kidseum is a high-tech and interactive children museum with a focus on it's mission, "Igniting imagination through exploration," stressing the excitement of art, archaeology and world cultures. Check out the "Glow Cave" with its fun art making activities, ride the magical Wells Fargo stagecoach through time in the "Green Screen Time Machine," and explore archaeology like never before in the Archaeology Lab. New smart tables, smart boards, and computers offer visual stimulation and engagement.