Annenberg Community Beach House
Quiet beach with playground, pool, splash pad, and games room. Pool and games room $10 for adults and $5 for kids plus parking. (Use of beach, playground, splash pad, and picnic tables is free.) Dollar Splash Mondays in the summer. Puddle jumper floaties are permitted for children (unlike most LA public pools) and you can rent these from the lifeguards, cost included in admission.
415 Pacific Coast Hwy
Santa Monica, CA 90402
Del Rey Lagoon Park
Playground, grills, basketball courts, baseball field; right next to the beach.
Playa Del Rey, CA
Dockweiler State Beach
Bonfire pits on the beach. Free. First-come, first-serve, and usually go fast on summer weekends, so arrive early to reserve. Free kids arts and crafts Saturday mornings at the youth center. Also: great view of planes taking off from LAX! Park on the street for free; in the lot $3-$13/day.
12000 Vista del Mar
Playa Del Rey, CA 90293
Franklin Canyon Park
A great stroller-friendly loop trail around the reservoir.
2600 Franklin Canyon Dr.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Huntington Library and Gardens
Huge, beautiful gardens in Pasadena, including a children’s garden, cafe, gallery, and museum. $10-$25 admissions, monthly free day (reserve online at 9 am on the first day of the month for the following month’s free day; tickets sell out in minutes so be prompt.)
1151 Oxford Rd, San Marino, CA 91108
Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area
Running trails, a lake and stream, several playgrounds, barbecue grills, and picnic seating. Parking free during the week, pay at weekends. This is a great park: large, with a mix of more and less managed spaces that make it feel nicely removed from the city. Free weekdays, parking charges at weekends.
4100 South La Cienega Boulevard (Los Angeles, CA 90056) in Baldwin Hills.
Malibu Lagoon State Beach
Free, option to pay for lot parking. Also known as Malibu Surfrider beach, a long right-hand break = great surf spot. A good kids’ summer swimming spot: the reef means at low tide the water is calm and (in the summer) warm. Tide pools at low tide and the lagoon is full of birdlife. Pay to park in the State Beach lot or free parking on Highway 1. NB the beach is a ten-minute walk down a track from the parking lot, so plan ahead to haul small children and beach things.
Mar Vista Rec
Free. Park with picnic tables and barbecues (under a lot of tree shade), outdoor gym equipment, playground, basketball court, baseball diamond and nets, and community center with classes. In the summer, an outdoor full-sized public pool with youth swim classes.
Ocean Park Beach
Two nice children’s playgrounds on a short stretch of beach, bike path (and bike rental shops), beach (with clean bathrooms, showers and picnic tables). Short term parking $1/hr for 2 hours.
Main Street and Ocean Park, Santa Monica State Beach
Stoner Avenue Park and Recreation Center
Playground, skate pool, park with picnic areas, and a public pool that is open in the summer ($10 summer swim pass available for children; this pass also admits an accompanying adult so is exceptional value)
1835 Stoner Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90025
Splash pad, playground, and park opposite City Hall in Santa Monica, close to the pier. $5 all-day parking in the parking lot down the street at the Santa Monica Courthouse on Main Street.
Playground, skate pool, and outdoor gym equipment for adults (kids will love to watch the local acrobats on the rings and bars!) Note: the beach bathrooms here are horrible and local businesses will not let you use theirs, so come prepared.
1800 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA 90291
Virginia Avenue Park
Free. Splash pad (summer only) and playground. Santa Monica public library on site (free to use and attend classes, non-Santa Monica Residents must buy an annual membership for around $20 to become a member and borrow books).
Participates in ‘Museums for All’: EBT Cardholders (CalFresh, CalWorks) get in free
Free admission. Fun outdoor family events.
California African American Museum
Free after-school program (parents and kids), regular free family activities and programs (e.g. Martin Luther King Jr. Day festival)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
‘NextGen’ membership; children under 18 and one accompanying adult get in free
Free jazz concerts in the summer (Friday evenings)
Natural History Museum
Regular free days. Take the expo line to avoid paying to park; if paying admission your metro fare is deducted from your tickets.
(locations near UCLA include Westside, Culver-Palms, Santa Monica, Crenshaw, and Westchester)
Scholarships are available for both memberships and classes.
Swimming lessons, dance, sports for kids (including basketball taught by LA Clippers players!). Winter and summer day camps.
Mar Vista Recreation Center
Dance, sport, and art for kids, parent and me classes, and some programming for adults. Winter and Summer day camps, summer movie nights and seasonal events
City of Santa Monica
A huge variety of programming for children and adults, including sports, art, music, and dance. Cheaper than private classes but still moderately expensive; non-Santa Monica residents pay a premium.
Los Angeles Public Library
Storytimes, movie nights, computer classes, etc.
Other Cool Stuff
Skirball Cultural Center
Huge, interactive wooden ‘Noah’s Ark’ play structure and summer concert series. Free for EBT cardholders and every Thursday.
Mar Vista Farmer's Market
Every Sunday from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm
Shop local, eat sustainably!
Brentwood Farmer's Market
Every Sunday from 9:00 am to 2:30 pm
From San Vicente to Montana
First Fridays: Experience food trucks galore with everything from delicious kabob, to lobster trucks, to churro ice cream sundaes! 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm. No tickets necessary, parking is scarce!