Three Days in Los Angeles with Kids

Author: Dan Brewer

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Ahhhh…  is there anywhere nicer than Southern California? With endless sun, sand, theme parks and Hollywood, visiting Los Angeles with kids is a great idea for a family vacation.

We had visited Los Angeles a few years back while on a family trip to Palm Springs. On that trip, we took our kids to Disneyland, so on our return visit to Los Angeles with kids, we focused on Hollywood and the beach. We had a great time visiting the major kid-friendly attractions in Hollywood, while a day at the beach was simply amazing.

In this blog post, we share how we spent three days in Los Angeles with kids

the kids from the Family Can Travel blog have fun in the sand at Santa Monica beach while on a 3-day family trip to Los Angeles.
Our kids loved Santa Monica beach!

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Three Days in Los Angeles with Kids 

There are so many incredible things to do with kids in Los Angeles. If, like us, you only have three days in Los Angeles with your kids, you’ll need to make some tough choices on how to spend your time. To give you an idea of what is possible on your family trip to LA, here is how we spent our three days in LA with kids.

a 10-year old girl on a family trip to Los Angeles loves the Harry Potter exhibits on the Warner Brothers Studio Tour.

Day 1 in LA with Kids                          

Warner Brothers Studio Tour

Given the major event for our family trip to Los Angeles was a visit to the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park, we decided to look for other activities in the area. We were excited to discover that another of the best kid-friendly things to do in Los Angeles was very close to our Universal Studios hotel.

The Warner Brothers Studio has been creating TV and movie magic for over 100 years. Back home, we have a weekly movie night with our kids, so we were especially excited to show them a little about how movies are made.

Golf Cart Tour of the Warners Brothers Studio

The Warner Brothers Studio Tour begins with a short movie about the history of this iconic Hollywood movie studio. Before long, we were escorted outside where our large golf carts were waiting to begin the tour around the studio lot.

Our tour guides led us through the many outdoor sets on the Warner Brothers lot. Our kids were excited to drive through the jungle set where some iconic Jurassic Park T-Rex scenes were filmed.

Celine Brewer, of the Family Can Travel blog, enjoys the Warner Bros Studio tour while on a trip to Los Angeles with kids.
the kids from the Family Can Travel blog have fun in the sand at Santa Monica beach while on a 3-day family trip to Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Family Photoshoot

A family photoshoot is an excellent way to preserve memories from your trip! Get $25 off your first Flytographer photo shoot.

We continued on to visit the Warner Village, designed to replicate suburban America. Shows like Young Sheldon and Big Bang Theory were filmed here. We parents were excited when we visited the Midwest Street where we saw the exterior of the Alibi Room, from Shameless – one of our favorite shows.

We left the golf cart to walk through some of the interiors of houses (called practical sets). One especially notable set was a scene from Friends where Ross thought he was going to take Rachel to the prom. From there, we toured through the French Street (best known from Casablanca), New York Street and Chicago Street.

From there, we got out of the cart and toured the interiors of two of the massive Warner Brothers sound stages. The first was fully set up for the upcoming filming of the fifth season of All-American. It was fascinating to wander through and see all of the sets for the show all in one gigantic sound stage.

a street with sound studios on the Warner Brothers Studio Tour.
It was exciting to see the iconic Warner Brothers sound stages.

The second sound stage was empty, but it was the largest on the lot. It was incredible to see the sheer size of this structure without any sets. This particular sound stage has a massive underground pool of water, allowing for filming of water scenes.

Lunch at Central Perk

The golf cart tour ended at Stage 48. Upon entry, we stopped for lunch at a cafeteria designed to replicate Central Perk from Friends. The food was better than we expected, but expensive (as you’d imagine). After lunch at Central Perk, we enjoyed a self-guided walk through the museum of costumes and props.

Dan and Celine Brewer, the owners of FamilyCanTravel.com enjoy lunch at the  replica Friends Central Perk restaurant on the Warner Brothers Studio Tour in Hollywood.
A rare picture of just the parents at the replica Central Perk restaurant.
Self-Guided Tour of Warner Brothers Studio

During this portion of the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, our kids especially liked the interactive displays, such as designing their own Batmobile, and a motion capture exhibit where their body movements controlled Dobby (the house elf from Harry Potter).

As for us parents, we loved the sets from Friends and Big Bang Theory and took the chance to get our pictures taken in both. We also enjoyed the short film on the Art of Sound, which walks us through the importance of sound to the experience of movie making.

the Brewer family sits on the Friends couch in Central Perk while on a tour of the Warner Brothers studios in Los Angeles.
One day soon our kids will think this is cool!

After Stage 48, we hopped on another golf cart to the iconic Friends fountain (from the opening theme song), where we got our pictures taken. Before long, we were on our way to our final stop – the Action and Magic building.

the entire FamilyCanTravel.com team sits on a red couch in front of the iconic Friends fountain from the opening credits of the TV show.
Our kids thought we were a little ‘Friends’ crazy!
The Action and Magic Building

Inside the Action and Magic building are costumes and props from some of Warner Brothers most iconic movies, including Harry Potter, the Game of Thrones and the Justice League superheroes.

Our kids are huge Potterheads, so the Harry Potter exhibit was our kids favorite (of course), with a chance to get a picture with the sorting hat. They could also pull out screaming mandrake plants and wander through the potions shop.

a 10-year old girl wears the Harry Potter sorting hat while visiting the Warner Bros Studio on a 3-day family trip to Los Angeles, California.

Are your kids also Harry Potter fans? Check out our favorite Harry Potter attractions in London.

Universal Studios City Walk

After roughly 3.5 hours at the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, we returned to our hotel to freshen up. We still had time left on our first day in Los Angeles with kids, so we walked to the nearby Universal Studios City Walk.

The Universal Studios City Walk is very similar in nature to some of the Disney City Walks we’ve visited. There’s a ton of big name, kid-friendly shops and restaurants. We especially enjoyed visiting the Super Nintendo World store, the comic book shop and the massive candy store.

an 8-year old boy hams it up wearing a Bowser hat in the Super Nintendo Store in the Universal Studios City Walk in Hollywood, California.
Our son tries on a Bowser hat at the Super Nintendo store.

Day 2 in Los Angeles with Children

Universal Studios Hollywood

Our second day in Los Angeles with kids was a ton of fun, as we spent all of it at Universal Studios Hollywood. We purchased the early admission tickets to get into Super Nintendo World one hour before the park opens, so we were up at the crack of dawn in order to be at the park early. Thankfully it was a short walk from our hotel.

Based on advice from our front desk guy at the hotel, we arrived at the theme park at 6:05 AM. We were among the first ones there, but we were amazed at how quickly the line filled up behind us. Our early arrival paid off big time.

A massive crowd of people who purchased Super Nintendo World Early Access tickets wait for the theme park to open.
The lineup behind us for early entry into Super Nintendo World.
Super Nintendo World – Mario Kart Ride

We were among the first to enter the Super Mario Kart ride at 7:00 on the nose, and 6 minutes later we were on the ride. Back in line again at 7:17, and this time only had to wait 20 minutes. We were able to get in two rides on the super popular Super Mario Kart ride before the park even opened. Later in the day, the wait times for this ride were nearly 2 hours.

A huge statue of Bowser in the Mario Kart Ride complex at Universal Studios Hollywood.
Universal Express Unlimited Pass

Once the park opened, we spent the rest of our day enjoying the rest of the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park. We had also purchased a Universal Express Unlimited ticket, so we got to enjoy a ton of rides without enduring any of the lineups.

Throughout the day we got to ride every major ride in the park at least once. Our favorite ride was the Jurassic World ride, which we rode three times in a row. Some of our other favorites included the Harry Potter Forbidden Journey (which we rode twice), the Simpsons, and the Transformers.

the Family Can Travel kids loved the Jurassic World ride at Universal Studios so much, we rode it three times in a row.

We paid quite a bit extra for our upgraded tickets. See if we thought if it was worth it to buy the Universal Express Unlimited Pass…

Day 3 of our Family Trip to LA

Santa Monica Beach & Pier

Our third day in Los Angeles with kids was a bit complicated. I had a ticket for the Los Angeles Rams game at SoFi Stadium, but the rest of the family was uninterested in going to an NFL game. So, we switched hotels and based the final day of our family trip to LA in Santa Monica.

With limited time in Santa Monica, visiting Santa Monica State Beach and Santa Monica Pier with kids is a fantastic family outing.

Santa Monica State Beach offers a wide stretch of sandy shoreline, perfect for building sandcastles, playing in the surf, and collecting seashells. The gentle waves make it safe for children to enjoy the water, whether it’s splashing around or boogie boarding. Celine took the opportunity to relax on the beach while watching the kids build their sandcastle.

two kids run and play in the sand at Santa Monica Beach on a beautiful sunny California day while on a family trip to Los Angeles, California.
Our kids love playing in the sand!

For anyone looking for more activity, there are also beachfront activities like volleyball and frisbee. Had we not spent the morning at our hotel pool, Celine would have convinced the kids to go for a long beach walk seeing as how the sand stretches as far as the eye can see.

A short walk from the beach, the Santa Monica Pier offers a classic amusement park experience. Given we just visited Universal Studios Hollywood the day before, Celine and the kids opted to just walk the length of the pier, enjoying the pier’s lively atmosphere.

two kids enjoy a family walk on the Santa Monica Pier - one of the best things to do in Los Angeles with kids.

The combination of Santa Monica State Beach and Santa Monica Pier made it a wonderful afternoon in this family-friendly destination. With fun in the sun and enjoying breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, we wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Where to Stay in Los Angeles with Kids

For our first night in Los Angeles with kids, our flight arrived late, so we grabbed a room at the Hampton Inn LAX El Segundo. We loved how close it was to LAX, allowing us to get to sleep as soon as possible. It was a nice hotel, very clean and had a great breakfast buffet.

For our two nights at Universal Studios Hollywood, we were shocked at how expensive hotels near the theme park were. So, we stayed at the Nite Inn, one of the least expensive (but still expensive) hotels near Universal Studios. The rooms were basic, but clean and we loved how Universal Studios was within easy walking distance. There’s even a chance to catch the Universal Studios shuttle if you time it right.

an 8-year old boy jumps between beds at the affordable Nite Inn near Universal Studios Hollywood.

For our final night in Los Angeles with kids, we stayed at the Hampton Inn & Suites Santa Monica. We chose this family-friendly Santa Monica hotel due to its combination of reasonable price and excellent location. Our kids loved the hotel pool, and when it was time to go out and explore, the hotel was just a few blocks away from the Santa Monica Pier, the beach and the pedestrian-only 3rd Avenue Promenade.

Celine Brewer, owner of FamilyCanTravel.com, plays with her kids at a family-friendly Los Angeles hotel near Santa Monica beach.

If you’d like to follow along on our family trip to the southwest USA, we flew from LA to spend 3 days in Las Vegas with kids.

More Southern California with Kids

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Dan Brewer is an intrepid family travel blogger with a passion for exploring the world's most captivating destinations. With 58 countries under his belt and a sense of wanderlust that knows no bounds, he has made it his life's mission to share his travel experiences and insights with fellow families who love to travel.

When Dan isn't traveling with his wife and kids, he's either out enjoying the Canadian Rockies he calls home or working on one of his three travel sites (Family Can Travel, Travel Banff Canada and Ultimate Sports Road Trip).