Top Things To Do in Los Angeles with Teenagers

At some point, most traveling families will find themselves in Los Angeles. Whether it’s for a carefully-planned vacation, or simply an extended layover to take in some sites, having fun in LA is easy. The City of Angels is all about entertainment and they know how to show even the trickiest of teens a good time.

Warner Bros. Studios
Warner Bros. Studios

Tips for Visiting Los Angeles with Teens

Warner Bros. VIP Studio Tour

From Harry Potter to Batman to the Big Bang Theory, it’s easy to be a little star struck behind the scenes at Warner Bros. Studios. The 110-acre lot has 29 soundstages. There’s also a 20 acre backlot that can, and has doubled for everything from a bustling metropolitan city to a remote jungle. Keep your eyes posted for the Cagney cats. Legend has it the cats became welcome studio residents and employees in charge of mouse control at the request of actor James Cagney.

Goblin from Gringotts, Warner Bros. Museum
Goblin from Gringotts, Warner Bros. Museum

Before the tour officially began, our guide Katie went through the long list of television shows shot at Warner Bros. Studios, and based on the group’s reactions was able to personalize the tour a bit. Big Bang Theory was a clear winner and even though the show was on break for the summer, we were able to visit the studio where it is shot and see the set. Harry Potter fans of any age will enjoy the Warner Bros. Museum. The entire second floor is dedicated to the magical tale, with artwork, costumes, and numerous props from the movies on display.

One hundred plus acres is a lot of ground to cover. You’ll spend a fair amount of time aboard the open-air tram, but there’s plenty of stops to get out and stretch your legs. There’s only 12 people per tram, which keeps groups on the small size.

Plan on arriving about 20 minutes early to park and check-in. Adults must present a driver’s license or passport to join a tour. Kids eight and older are welcome on the VIP Tour.

TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX
TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX

TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX® Tour

The famous hand and footprints in front of the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX® are known around the world. Sadly, your kids probably won’t recognize great names like George Burns and Mickey Rooney, but the likes of Robert Downey Jr. and Jerry Bruckheimer will have them pulling out their cell phone to snap a picture.

With the crowds and general hustle and bustle of Hollywood Boulevard, most visitors move on after they’ve had their fill of famous feet, completely forgetting about the famous theatre just steps away. With a history dating back to the 1920s, the inside of the actual theatre has plenty of stories to tell.

Take a tour and learn about the long list of Hollywood premiers the Theatre has hosted over the years. How about seeing a movie? With 932 seats, it’s one of the largest IMAX® auditoriums in the world. Every movie begins with a live introduction, making the entire experience feel like more of a grand affair.

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Photo Courtesy The Petersen Automotive Museum
Photo Courtesy The Petersen Automotive Museum

Petersen Automotive Museum

If you’re a car person, it’s a given. If you’re not a car person I understand why you might have your doubts. Don’t. Go to The Petersen. These cars are not just cars, they’re gleaming, shiny, jaw-dropping, unique history lessons.

If you can make it work schedule wise, take a vault tour, as in vehicle storage vault. There’s over 100 cars of all colors, shapes and sizes, and your guide will talk about every one of them.

There’s the Pope mobile – a 1998 Cadillac DeVille customized to the tune of $900,000 for Pope John Paul. He loved it, even blessed it, but because of safety concerns, the Swiss Guard wouldn’t let him ride in it, so it was never used. It has 88 miles on the odometer. Then there’s the 24-karat gold-plated DeLorean. It’s as close to a guaranteed teen attention getter as you can get.

Photo Courtesy, The Petersen Automotive Museum
Photo Courtesy, The Petersen Automotive Museum

It’s a really big vault, so wear good walking shoes, and it can be on the cool side, so bring a sweater or sweatshirt just in case. The tour lasts close to two hours and kids must be 13. No touching or photography allowed.

California Science Center

Have you ever rode a bike across a high wire three stories above ground? Neither have I, but it’s amazingly doable at the California Science Center. Right up the adventurous alley of many teens. Oh and then there’s Space Shuttle Endeavour. You don’t have to be a space nut to be impressed when you stand next to the behemoth that blasted off into space for 25 missions.

Space Shuttle Endeavour, California Science Center
Space Shuttle Endeavour, California Science Center

Admission to the California Science Center is free, but on many days (summer, holidays & weekends) you need a timed reservation to see the Shuttle. The sooner you make a reservation, the better. If spots are still available, you can make a timed reservation online or over the phone up until the day before you visit. But booking in advance is the best way to avoid disappointment. If it’s just a last minute thing, don’t give up, get on it first thing when you arrive at the California Science Center.

An added bonus – if you’re at the point where you are looking ahead to college, the University of Southern California is just across the way. Walk through the Rose Garden, jump on a campus tour or hit the bookstore for some college wear souvenirs.

Need Help Planning a Los Angeles Family Vacation?

We can help! Our Family Travel Advisors can provide expert advice on the best accommodations and activities for your family. Check out our Connect with a Family Travel Advisor page.

Relevant Links:

Ciao Bambino recommended family hotels in Los Angeles

72 Hours in Los Angeles with Kids

Best family hotels and things to do in California with kids 

A grand California family road trip

Los Angeles: 5 kid-friendly activities

The magic of the California coast

California Central Coast family beach vacation

Editor’s Note: Dana received complimentary admission to the above Los Angeles attractions, but as always her thoughts and opinions are her own. Photos by Dana Rebmann.

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  • Great list! But we would add that any trip to LA without heading to Santa Monica (pier, beach, or the restaurants on Main Street) or to LACMA would be incomplete….

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