It’s official! Both of the boys are done with school for this year, and summer has begun! I always have a little mixed feelings when it comes to summer break with the kids. Part of me is excited to sleep in a bit and have lazy mornings at home, and part of me thinks “what the HECK am I going to do to entertain them for 6 weeks?!”
In order to keep us all from going stir crazy, I wrote down a list of some of our favorite spots to take the kids in LA during the summer. These are places that would make perfect play dates with your friends and their kiddos too! They are all kid friendly and budget friendly, and most of them are inside, away from the beating summer sun. Sound amazing? They are. I’ve listed them all at the bottom of this post (along with a few new ones on our list that I want to check out).
No matter where we go, I always love dressing my boys in clothing from Old Navy. They always have the best selection of boys clothes, and their prices are so affordable. I can just let the kids play and enjoy our outings without stressing that they will ruin their clothing because I didn’t spend a fortune on it!
I met up with Merrick and her 3 boys earlier this week at the Santa Anita Race Track. I went to a Breeder’s Cup race there with Garrett a few years ago, and I was so excited to go back with the kids! The area is absolutely gorgeous, and the building looks like it’s right out of a movie (which it is…it’s where they filmed Seabiscuit). This is one of the very first times Merrick and I have gotten together for a play date with all 6 boys, and they loved running around looking at the horses.
Every morning on the weekdays they train the horses from 5am-10am, and entrance is free if you want to take the kids and come watch. They also have free general admission and free parking every Thursday and Friday during the summer to watch live horse races from 2pm-6pm. They have lots of family events happening there on Saturdays too. You can view their calendar here.
I love taking the kids here! It’s located right next to USC’s campus in a really fun part of LA. The museum is huge, and there is plenty for the kids to see and learn. I usually plan on spending most of the day here. One of the levels has a giant aquarium that you can walk through, and the boys love it! Admission to the Science Center is FREE and parking is $12 (CASH ONLY!). It also houses the Spaceship The Endeavor. You have to buy a separate ticket to see the space shuttle, but I definitely think it’s worth paying to see it on your first trip. It’s incredible! You can read more about this museum here.
*note: There are other museums that you get access to after you pay to park, but most of those cost around $15 per person. This one is just as good and free!
This giant beautiful arboretum is located right across the street from the race track in Santa Anita (just down the street from Pasadena). Adults are $9, kids 5-12 are $4, and under 5 are free. They have acres and acres of gardens (about 9 different kinds), a giant lake with fish and ducks, and peacocks that roam around. This does require lots of walking, which is great for tiring out kids with lots of energy! They have lots of kid-centered activities going on. They also have an amazing night concert series with performances by bands and symphonies.
This park might be my favorite of all time. I love taking the kids here! Merrick and I stopped here for a few hours to feed the kids lunch and let them ride scooters after visiting the race track. It’s located in San Marino, home to the most beautiful mansions in the world, so the drive there is enough to make it worth your time. The park is huge, with a giant running track surrounded by palm trees, with a giant grassy field and baseball field in the middle. It’s a great place to go running, because there is plenty of room on the track for kids to ride bikes or push a stroller. The play structure was just redone and is really fun. They do charge a little on the weekends, so keep that in mind.
I’m not a car fan in the slightest and I love this museum! It has some really incredible cars and my boys go crazy over it. On the second floor they have an entire room for kids that is all things from the movie Cars (they can touch and play anything there- the other floors have incredible cars they just can’t be touched). They have a giant life-sized Lightning McQueen that kids can touch! I usually save this floor for last though. We explore the other rooms and I’m careful to let my boys know they can’t touch the cars and they usually do really well! Then when they get antsy I move to this last floor and let them go crazy. This way they don’t start the museum thinking they can touch everything.. I save the best for last! (Also makes for a fun date night)
The coolest bookstore you will ever see. Stories of cool books for sale, with rooms full of books all the same color, a tunnel made out of books, and a section of really really old books to look through. It’s kind of like a book museum. It’s free and right in the heart of Downtown LA.
When my boys were a little younger and obsessed with trains, this place was heaven for them! The entrance and parking is free, and there are tons of old trains for the boys to walk through and explore. They have a small air conditioned museum, and you can buy a ticket to go for a ride on a mini train around the park. Super cute!