Thanksgiving Break is upon us, and if you're looking to keep your little turkeys entertained without breaking the bank, you've come to the right place. Los Angeles is bursting with a plethora of fantastic free and wallet-friendly activities that'll have your kids grinning from ear to ear faster than you can say, "pass the cranberry sauce!" From enchanting parks to quirky museums and everything in between, we've rounded up 20 delightful adventures that'll make this Thanksgiving Break a memorable one for your whole family. So, get ready to trade in the pumpkin pie for some priceless memories as we dive into the top thrifty activities for your kids in the City of Angels!
Many LA Museums offer free admission days every month. Also, you can get free passes with your library card to various Museums and cultural institutions through Discover & Go!
Take your kids to see a movie—but don’t just settle for any theater or film. Instead, look for kid-friendly movies that are still somewhat appropriate for their age. You can see old-time favorite family movies at Beverly Cinemas for only $10 per person.
Public libraries are not just for borrowing books. They often offer free workshops, movies, shows, and more. Click here to find a library near you.
The California Science Center is a dynamic destination where families, adults, and children can explore the wonders of science through interactive exhibits, live demonstrations, innovative programs, and awe-inspiring films. Admission to the California Science Center is always free.
CAMP is where kids and grown-ups get to play at summer camp, all year long. You can climb up bunk beds, zoom down slides, explore areas full of toys and ways to play, dance in a disco cabin, go full Jackson Pollock in the splatter art room, and much more! CAMP’s Magic Door is your family’s personal gateway to fun, creativity, and adventure. Your kids would love to find out what is behind the Magic Door. CAMP is constantly changing what’s behind the Magic Door to keep the experience fresh and new for you with fun activities, cool events, and awesome hand-picked products. Visiting CAMP is free, and open to all ages.
Farmer's Markets are great places for social time, and opportunities to teach kids about healthy eating. Find a Farmer's Market near you here. We also highly suggest visiting The Original Farmer's Market during the Thanksgiving break.
Explore this beautiful old mansion with distinctive English gardens located in Beverly Hills on 16-acre land. Greystone Mansion is free and open to the public every day.
You can take a tour of the Beverly Hills Fire Station any day of the week for free. Little kids would love to see the big fire trucks and learn about them. Station tours are limited to 30 minutes and are scheduled from 10 am to 11:30 am, and from 1 pm to 4 pm. Call before you go.
Overlooking the ocean at the Malibu Lagoon State Beach, the Adamson House is an architectural beauty with an unusual interior that has earned it the moniker “The Taj Mahal of Tile.” The Spanish Colonial Revival style home—today a National Historic Site, California Historic Landmark, and a California State Park—casts a magical spell, allowing visitors to evoke old California in a way few places can. Tours are only $2 for kids and $7 for adults. Kids under 5 are free.
See over 100 local species on exhibit at Santa Monica Aquarium, enjoy hands-on activities, and daily educational programs. Kids under 13 are free, and adults and kids 13+ are only $10. Students get $2 off their tickets.
Take the kids to a dollar store for a little math lesson. Tell them how much they can spend and let them find items that don't exceed that amount. Find a store near you here.
Explore the conservation of Southern California marine life at Cabrillo Aquarium. The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is divided into Mudflats like crabs, clams, sand dollars, sea stars, and some fish, Rocky Shores, and Open Ocean like sharks, whales, dolphins, jellyfish, and sea birds. Favorites are the lobsters, the hands-on tide pools, and the whale bones. Many tanks are low so toddlers can see without lifting up. Cabrillo Beach is just outside the door and has real tide pools during low tide. The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is open year-round and operates on a suggested donation of $7 for adults and $3 for children and seniors.
The Getty Center hosts family-friendly events almost every day of the week. The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center in Los Angeles houses European paintings, drawings, sculptures, illuminated manuscripts, decorative arts, and photography from its beginnings to the present, gathered internationally. Admission to the Getty Center is always free.
Take an exciting trip on The Trolley at The Grove! Built on a historic undercarriage from a 1950s Boston streetcar, The Trolley travels along First Street through The Grove, taking you on a special tour of the property. Powered electrically, this trolley is the first use of inductive power technology for a transit system in the U.S.
Connect with pets, interact with staff, and attend a lecture or workshop. You can also play in a kid-centric space or shop a collection of pet items. Admission to the space is always complimentary. Some special programs or activities may have an associated program fee. Check out the calendar to see what’s coming up!
The Beverly Hills Farmers' Market is a weekly outdoor certified market that provides the finest California-grown, fresh and seasonal fruits and vegetables, juices, bread, specialty items, and more in a festive outdoor setting. Beverly Hills Market features a petting zoo, and pony rides for a minimal fee, and a new kid's zone on the 3rd Sunday of every month from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. The Kid's zone is located at the south end of the Farmers Market near the petting zoo.
The Marine Mammal Care Center is a rescue, rehabilitation, and release facility for injured and sick marine mammals, including harbor seals, fur seals, elephant seals, and sea lions. You can usually see seals and sea lions and sometimes other mammals here. Most of the animals are rehabilitated and released to wild aftercare. Admission is free but donations are accepted.
The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa's Festival of Lights is one of the nation's largest holiday light collections, voted "Best Public Lights Display" by USA Today. Every year The Inn's festival gains new energy and grows in popularity. This event is free and open to the public and starts on November 25th.
Calico is an old West mining town that has been around since 1881 during the largest silver strike in California. Explore some of the untouched buildings that remain from the silver-miming days. Ride the Calico and Odessa Railroad, take a tour through the Maggie Mine, or go panning for silver.
The Paramount Ranch property is a working movie ranch that allows the public to see filmmaking in progress. It also offers several miles of easy-to-moderate scenic hikes through chaparral, riparian, and valley oak savannah plant communities. Most hikes are named after T.V. and movie productions that were filmed here. Equestrians and mountain bikers may access these multi-use trails. There is no entrance fee for National Park Service sites in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.