Now deemed the City of Stars thanks to the popularity of the hit movie, “La La Land,” Los Angeles is a bucket list destination for families who love to travel. With so much to do and see, putting together a flawless Los Angeles family vacation itinerary might seem like a hassle.
To make sure your family creates lifelong memories in Los Angeles, we’ve gone ahead and done the work for you! Use our 5-day itinerary to experience the best of Los Angeles with your family.
- Day 1: Disneyland
- Day 2: Tour Hollywood
- Day 3: Your Choice of Theme Park
- Day 4: Go Wild with Adventure
- Day 5: Sun, Sand, and Surf
Day 1: Disneyland
Disneyland has been a Los Angeles theme park staple since 1955. Families from all over the world travel to this iconic theme park. The park features classic Disney characters, interactive and magical rides, and a myriad of parades and performances sure to capture the hearts of your kids.
Use your first day in Los Angeles to visit the park. With a seemingly endless amount of activities and rides, you’ll want to get your family there early and plan to stay the entire day. The park is open from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm.
Disneyland is also home to Disney California Adventure Park. This theme park houses attractions such as the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission BREAKOUT ride (formerly the Tower of Terror drop ride), Pixar attractions and shows, and so much more.
Tips for Visiting Disneyland
Know Before You Go
Although Walt Disney World is far bigger, Disneyland still holds its own in terms of park size and attractions. With 8 themed lands and growing, it will definitely take an entire day to experience it all. Use our guide to Disneyland to know what to expect during your first trip to the park.
Choose the Right Ticket
If you would like to visit both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park, you must purchase either a park-hopper ticket or a multi-day ticket. The Park Hopper pass lets you visit both parks on the same day, while multi-day tickets allow you to experience one park per day. The choice is yours!
Eat at the Park
Disneyland offers a variety of whimsical dining experiences. From quick order food to exquisite meals, there are several restaurants to choose from. To truly experience the Disney magic, add a character breakfast to your Los Angeles family vacation itinerary. Reserve your seats at the Plaza Inn for breakfast and dine with your favorite Disney characters.
To maximize your time at the park, I’d recommend a quick service lunch and dinner reservations at Ariel’s Grotto. Dinner reservations can be made up to 60 days in advance of your intended visit.
Use Your FastPass
FastPass lets you skip the lines by selecting a ride time in advance. If you’re visiting Los Angeles during peak tourist season, expect the ride lines to be insanely long. Leverage FastPass reservations to beat the wait times!
Watch the Fireworks
At the closing of each day, Disneyland lights up with a magical fireworks display and light show. You don’t want to miss it!
Day 2: Tour Hollywood
After a long, but extraordinary, day at Disneyland, use your second day in Los Angeles to explore Hollywood.
If your Los Angeles hotel offers a continental breakfast, start your day there. Be sure to fuel up; you and your family have an exciting day ahead.
Tour Warner Bros. Studios
Prior to embarking on your family vacation, secure your tickets for the Warner Bros. Studio Tour. This 2-hour tour around Warner Bros. Studios brings you behind the scenes of your favorite shows and movies. You’ll see and learn about classics such as Casablanca and get an inside look at popular shows like the Big Bang Theory.
The Warner Bros. Studio Tour issues tours at specific times, meaning you’ll want to reserve tickets prior to visiting Los Angeles. Once you have your tickets and tour time scheduled, add it to your Los Angeles family vacation itinerary.
Hike to the Hollywood Sign
Although you can see the Hollywood Sign from almost anywhere in Los Angeles, hiking to it is a whole new experience. If you have rambunctious children with tons of energy, this is the best way to start your day in Los Angeles. With your Warner Bros. Studio Tour time in mind, head out to hike in Hollywood!
There are three trails to the Hollywood Sign:
- The Mt. Hollywood Trail: Easy and popular
- The Canyon Drive Trail: Moderate
- The Cahuenga Peak Hike: Difficult
If you are visiting Los Angeles with young children, the Mt. Hollywood trail is your best bet. The shortest hiking loop begins at Griffith Observatory, so carve out some time to explore there as well!
Lunch at Kitchen24
Depending on when your Warner Bros. Studio Tour is scheduled for, you may have time to grab lunch in Hollywood after the hike. Kitchen24 offers an expansive menu for children and adults alike 24/7.
Stroll Down the Hollywood Walk of Fame
You can’t visit Hollywood without seeing the Walk of Fame. Turn your visit into a game and see who can find their favorite star, celebrity, or character!
Be sure to keep hold of your child’s hand while walking through the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It gets quite busy during peak times or star dedications.
Watch a Disney Movie at El Capitan Theatre
Can’t get enough Disney in one trip? Bring the family to El Capitan Theatre to watch a new or classic Disney movie. This historic theatre opened in 1926 and is known as “Hollywood’s First Home of Spoken Drama.” The theater was also the host of numerous legendary film openings throughout Hollywood’s history. See what Disney film is playing and grab tickets for your family!
Dinner at Mel’s Drive-In
Keeping with the theme of historic Hollywood, dinner at Mel’s Drive-In is a must. Based on the original Mel’s Drive-In in San Francisco (now demolished) from the late 1940s through 50s, this restaurant serves everything from milkshakes to grilled salmon. Even the pickiest of eaters can find something to nosh on at Mel’s Drive-In.
After dinner, stroll through Hollywood Boulevard one last time, take in the sights and sounds before heading back to your hotel room to rest up for day three.
Day 3: Your Choice of Theme Park
No Los Angeles family vacation itinerary would be complete without a day at one of the legendary theme parks. On your third day in Los Angeles, plan to spend the entire day at either Universal Studios Hollywood, Knott’s Berry Farm, or LEGOLAND California.
Universal Studios Hollywood
Universal Studios Hollywood is where your favorite movies and stories come to life! Everything from the Minions to Harry Potter, The Walking Dead to Transformers and more are waiting for you at the park.
The top rides include:
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™
- Jurassic Park® – The Ride
- Revenge of the Mummy℠ – The Ride
- The Simpsons Ride™
Plus, the characters you know and love roam about the park for you to meet.
If adding Universal Studios Hollywood to your Los Angeles family vacation itinerary, keep these tips in mind:
- Coolers are not permitted into the park.
- General parking is $25 or $10 after 5:00 pm. Valet parking is also available for an additional fee.
- Locker facilities range from $8 to $15, depending on the locker size and location.
- Strollers, ECVs, and wheelchairs available to rent for a surcharge.
- Purchase a Universal Express™ ticket to skip the lines for popular rides and shows.
Eat lunch and dinner at the park to maximize your time at Universal Studios. If your family loves Harry Potter, you can’t beat a meal at Three Broomsticks or Hog’s Head Pub!
Knott’s Berry Farm
Another Los Angeles theme park staple is Knott’s Berry Farm. This original theme park boasts more than 165 rides, shows, and attractions, on top of delectable dining. Known for their unbeatable boysenberry pie and other sweets, the food at Knott’s Berry Farm is world-class. If adding this theme park to your Los Angeles family vacation itinerary, be sure to leave enough space between meals and roller coaster rides!
Speaking of rides, Knott’s Berry Farm has insane coasters such as the all-new HangTime, Xcelerator, and Silver Bullet®. Plus, thrill seekers love Supreme Scream and La Revolucion. Of course, the family-friendly park also offers kid-centric rides at Camp Snoopy with the lovable Peanuts characters.
Keep these tips in mind when spending the day at Knott’s Berry Farm:
- Seasonal events are offered throughout the year including the Boysenberry Festival in spring and Knott’s Merry Farm in the winter.
- Guests may re-enter the park on the same day with a hand stamp.
- Certain events, such as Knotts Scary Farm, require a separate ticket.
- No outside food or drinks allowed.
- Lockers are available for a fee.
- Stroller and wheelchair rentals available on a first come, first serve basis for a fee.
- Parking fee applies.
When visiting in the warmer weather, be sure to check out Knott’s Soak City while spending the day at Knott’s Berry Farm!
Located an hour and a half south of Los Angeles, LEGOLAND California is a dream come true for imaginative kids. This Los Angeles family vacation itinerary addition is ideal for families with young children.
The theme park offers more than 60 thrilling and kid-friendly rides and attractions, along with numerous building stations, dining options, and family fun. Plus, LEGOLAND California offers LEGOLAND® WATER PARK for even more brick-tastic fun. To add to your awesome day at LEGOLAND California, SEA LIFE Aquarium is within walking distance. Many vacation packages are available to help your family save money and visit both attractions during your trip.
Since the park focuses on younger children, LEGOLAND California closes between 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm on certain days. With this in mind, you can save money by packing a picnic dinner before heading back on the road! However, you can’t leave the park without trying some of Granny’s legendary apple fries. Trust us, you’ll love it!
Keep these tips in mind for a memorable day at LEGOLAND:
- The park is 100% smoke-free.
- World’s first LEGOLAND® WATER PARK is located inside the theme park.
- The LEGO City Deep Sea Adventure submarine ride is coming to the park in the summer of 2018.
- Lockers and strollers are available for a fee.
- No outside food or drinks allowed within the park.
- Parking fees apply.
- The entire theme park is geared towards kids ages 2-12.
Day 4: Go Wild with Adventure
Get ready to go wild today, because your family is heading to the Los Angeles Zoo and Aquarium of the Pacific today!
Los Angeles Zoo
The Los Angeles Zoo is home to 1,100+ animals representing more than 250 different species, 29 of which are classified as endangered. From mammals to reptiles and everything in between, the zoo focuses on educating visitors on the animal kingdom, conservation, and what we can do to help preserve our wildlife. The zoo also boasts an impressive collection of botanicals with over 7,400 individual plants throughout the park.
The park is open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm each day. Get here early to beat the crowds and the California sun.
Aquarium of the Pacific
Located in Long Beach, CA, the Aquarium of the Pacific lets visitors explore under the sea without diving into the Pacific Ocean. The spacious aquarium houses than 11,000 ocean animals representing nearly 500 species from the waters of the Tropical, Southern California, and Northern Pacific.
Families can learn all about life underwater through engaging exhibits, shows, and feedings. The interactive Shark Lagoon exhibit and Lorikeet Forest tend to be the highlights for visitors.
Dinner With a Side of Adventure
Once you’ve gone wild, now it’s time for an adventure… over dinner.
In Los Angeles, your family can choose between dining in a Medieval castle or feasting among swashbuckling pirates. Reserve your seats for dinner at Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament for a two-hour tournament between knights and a feast fit for a king. Or, get your tickets to the “World’s Most Interactive Dinner Show” at Pirate’s Dinner Adventure. Featuring a four-course meal, incredible special effects, swordplay, aerial acrobatics, and more, this dinner show is epic!
Day 5: Sun, Sand, and Surf
On your last day in LA, let your family relax and take advantage of the beautiful beaches. Add one or more of these pristine California beaches to your Los Angeles family vacation itinerary:
- Leo Carrillo State Beach
- El Matador Beach
- Malibu Surfrider Beach
- Santa Monica Beach
- Cabrillo Beach
- Venice Beach
Most families prefer to visit Santa Monica Beach and roam the pier for food and fun. For additional thrills, sign up for surfing lessons and hang ten! However, if you prefer a less crowded option, check out Cabrillo Beach.
Regardless of which beach you choose, be sure to pack a picnic, kick back, and relax on your last day in sunny Los Angeles.
Create Your Perfect Los Angeles Family Vacation Itinerary
Feel free to rearrange or alter this itinerary to meet your family’s travel desires. Whether you’re a family full of roller coaster junkies or prefer to take in some edutainment, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in Los Angeles.