If you’re looking for some place to cool off with the kids this summer in Los Angeles, you’ve come to the right place. But be forewarned: You won’t find any amusement parks on this list. I’m relying on Mother Nature to provide the entertainment instead.
Before you head out, make sure to check out how to stay cool outside on hot days.
Time your visit to Descanso to take advantage of Family Tuesdays. All summer there are hands-on activities and performances designed with families in mind. Picnics are encouraged while kids and adults enjoy a variety of music, theater and garden events. Performances are free with admission and begin at 6 p.m.
El Matador State Beach
Yes, we have many, many beaches we love in Los Angeles. But El Matador still holds the coveted No. 1 spot. Visit during low tide – it’s great for bird watching, sand play, tide pool fun and cave exploring. Just be sure to check the tides before you go; arrive during hide tide and the beach will be inaccessible.
Ferdell Nature Museum
Don’t let the name fool you: Ferndell Nature Museum is actually an outdoor space perfect for exploring when the temperatures start to rise. That’s because this home to some 50 fern species is set under cool cover of California sycamores.
Ferndell also makes a great jumping off point for nature play at the Western Canyon entrance of Griffith Park, located directly in front of Ferndell’s parking area. Admission and parking to both are free.
While the Griffith Observatory is a fun spot to explore, it is technically indoors. It makes the list because it offers evening public star parties once a month. These are a family-friendly way to look at the sun, moon, stars, planets and other objects in the night sky.
Leo Carrillo State Park
Leo Carrillo State Park has 1.5 miles of beach with tide pools, coastal caves and reefs for exploring. Time your visit for low tides to see tons of tidal pool wildlife. The big perk of this beach is the large expanse of shore, creating tons of room for kids to play in the sand.
Temescal Gateway Park
We don’t spend much time on the trails in LA during the summer; there just aren’t enough of them with adequate shade. But Temescal Gateway Park still packs in a bit of fun for little ones.
Sure, the Temescal Waterfall trail offers a nice, relatively short (and quite popular) hike to a waterfall with great views. But skip it. Instead, take advantage of the cooler spots toward the beginning of the trail. There’s a creek and plenty of shade of oaks and sycamores – even a giant platform around a tree that’s perfect for a picnic.
Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum is an open-air theater offering the perfect spot to enjoy music or theater outdoors from June through October. Be sure to allow time to check out the natural surroundings outside the Theatricum. Bring a picnic, then let the kids play.
Parks With Water Play Features
If you don’t happen to have a pool in your own backyard – or don’t want to venture out to one in your community, don’t worry! Many Los Angeles parks provide great spots for water play – be it splash pads or man-made creeks. Don’t forget to bring swimsuits (or a change of clothes) and a towel.
If you’re looking for other places to explore in Los Angeles with the kids this summer, check out:
- 10 Great nature destinations in Malibu
- 50 ideas for your summer outdoor bucket list
- Best beaches for families in Los Angeles
- The big list of outdoor adventures for Los Angeles kids