You’re in Los Angeles. Yay! You’ve got some intermittently sullen teens in your party. Boo! But not so fast…this city is built on fantasy, immediate gratification and tall tales—all of which are perfect, maturity-level speaking, for teens. So, we’ve run down some activities that will appeal to both visiting and locals. (Indoor skydiving? The Academy Museum?) Getting teens up and out of doors is the surest way to have a great day with them—and turn their mumbled “whatever” into a broad smile they won’t even remember to suppress.
19 Things to Do with Teens in L.A.￼
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2. Visit the Academy Museum
Best for Movie Lovers
Open since September 2021, the Academy Museum has been packing in the crowds with thoughtful curations of movie props, costumes and film theory. It’s the rare institution that’s going to engage multiple ages and levels of media sophistication. Reserve ahead!
3. Go Flea Market Shopping
For the Thrift Store Browser
Teens love to browse used clothing for funky, bargain ‘fits. Los Angeles has tons of them: In Hollywood, there’s the Melrose Trading Post every Sunday. Farther east, each Saturday there’s the Silverlake Flea. And so many more—check out the Topanga Vintage Market calendar to see what’s assembling near your location.
4. Eat Next-Level Ice Cream
For the Sweets Lover
For such a health-and-wellness-obsessed city, Los Angeles sure loves its ice cream. Maybe it’s the heat? Or just a reward for all that hiking? In any case, visit one of many ice cream shops for a scoop or two. (Personal favorite—McConnell’s Santa Barbara Strawberry, made with chunks of the local fruit.)
5. Play Pickleball
6. Visit Grand Central Market
Tacos, bento boxes, currywurst…these are just a few of the global restaurants and vendors arrayed in this bustling downtown open-air market that’s been operating since 1917. Open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Grand Central Market is one-stop shopping for the any-time-of-day hangries, and a time-efficient way to see some of the range of international cuisines on offer in L.A.
7. Skate the Venice Boardwalk
For the Skater
Rent a bike, scooter (or electric versions of those if you just want to chill) at Jay’s Rentals, and enjoy working your way along the winding paved mile-and-a-half path that separates the beach from Venice.
8. Take a Swan Boat Around Echo Park Lake
Great for Kitsch Lovers
On the east side, Echo Park has become a destination for selfie-chasing visitors who delight in renting a swan-shaped paddle boat and taking it for a spin around this small lake (and on hot days, paddling near the lake’s central fountain plume for a cool-down).
9. Take in Socially Conscious Public Art
Walk the Great Wall of Los Angeles
For five years, beginning in 1976, Chicana artist Judy Baca led a group of 80 youths referred by the criminal justice department to paint a mural in an otherwise derelict Tujunga Wash drainage canal. Today, at one-third of a mile long, this mural, nicknamed “the Great Wall,” abuts a leafy park and depicts California history from the time of the dinosaurs from the viewpoint of the state’s many ethnic groups. A walk along the vividly painted wall yields great talking points about historical perspective, political power and democratic principles.
10. Tour Universal Studios
Best for Theme Park Lovers
Whether your teen is a Harry Potter stan or was mesmerized by Jordan Peele’s latest sci-fi film Nope, they’ll get some IRL engagement at sprawling Universal Studios. From a ride where they can fly alongside Harry Potter to the actual Western film sets from Nope, plus activations from Universal IP including Jurassic Park, Fast & Furious and King Kong.
11. Catch a Concert—Maybe Even Open-Air
For the Music Lover
There’s something magical about listening to music in the open-air, and Los Angeles makes the most of its mild weather by booking shows practically year-round. The Greek Theatre, the Ford, Dodger Stadium, SoFi Stadium, the Levitt Pavilion and the Hollywood Bowl are all venues to browse for an act your teen will enjoy.
12. Visit the Griffith Observatory
For the Science Buff
Even non-science types will enjoy entering the Griffith Observatory, starting with the 1935 Art Deco building and marveling at the 75-foot diameter plaster dome of the planetarium. But along with the elegant environs, you can settle into one of numerous daily showings of programming about the natural world, from Signs of Life, a 35-minute exploration of life in our universe and Water Is Life, a 32-minute look at how and why water is so essential to life on earth—particularly in California.
13. Ride the Ferris Wheel on the Santa Monica Pier
For Carnival Lovers
First built as a way to pipe sewage out into the ocean in 1909, the pier is now a tourist attraction with rides, a gaming arcade and shooting gallery games. We recommend you skip the funnel cake and eat fresh seafood at The Albright, an oasis of elevated dining right amid all the hubbub.
14. Eat at Pink’s Hot Dogs
For Fast Food Fans
Pinks is where you’ll see celebs and tourists all lined up outside, waiting for one of the loaded chili dogs, pastrami dogs, jalapeño dogs—the works. Today, Pink’s claims to sell 2,000 hot dogs a day—not bad for a family-owned business that started as a food cart in 1939.
15. Window Shop on Rodeo Drive
For Luxury Goods Lovers
If your teen is all about the finer things, they’ll appreciate a walk along Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, where the status goods on sale are rivaled only by the glittering autos tooling by, disgorging an international clique of wealthy shoppers.
16. Hug a Cow
For the Animal Lover
Located in the San Fernando Valley about 45 minutes from Hollywood, The Gentle Barn is an animals sanctuary comprising large horse and cow pastures, a red and white barnyard for the smaller animals, an organic vegetable garden, shade trees and a panoramic view of gorgeous mountain. And for a small contribution, the ranch owner will guide your teen in hugging one of the assembled cows as an act of emotional regulation and just, well, fun. It’s a gas—we tried it and can’t wait to get back.
17. Go Skydiving Indoors
For the Adrenaline Junkie
Your teen is wearing a helmet and being held aloft by a steady pounding of air—a vertical wind tunnel. That’s the experience at iFly, a simulacrum skydiving experience that’s going to make them squeal (and possibly take up skydiving IRL).
18. Go Whale Watching
For the Ocean Lover
In this two-to-three hour Davey’s Locker cruise that leaves from Newport Beach, you’re trying to get access to migrating whales, from grey to giant blues. Dolphins might leap from the water, seals might pop their heads up and at the very least, you’ll enjoy getting out onto the refreshing water.
19. Visit the Martial Arts Museum
For the Aspiring Ninja
Located in Burbank, this museum looks at how martial arts was involved in the arts and culture of China, Japan, Korea, Thailand and the Philippines. There are sections on the history of anime, marital arts in America and martial arts in Hollywood film and television.