There are so many incredible and FREE things to do here with your family. When you go to LACMA for the first time, stop by the ticketing booths and ask where to pick up the Next Gen Pass or plan ahead and mail in for a pass or fill out a form online. With this pass, kids get in free and one adult gets in free with that child. Anyone 17 years old and under can get a Next Gen Pass and you don’t need to live in LA to sign up, it’s free for all. There’s no catch, it’s simply available to the public to encourage people to visit and to build a lifelong love of exploring museums from an early age.
Next Gen. Pass
Using our Next Gen Pass we usually just go to the spaghetti installation and the Boone Art gallery for kids and paint. Once we tire out our son, we’ll put him in the stroller and explore the art exhibits. He’s only 2.5 and they don’t like kids to run around or be loud in the actual museum itself, so it’s best to run them around outside and do other more kid focused activities first so your child is calm and everyone can enjoy the art.
Andell Family Sundays
Every Sunday at 12:30, this weekly family event features an art work shop based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collections with themes changing every month or so. After the artist led workshops, they take you on a gallery tour with activities based on the current theme.
Boone Children’s Gallery
If you have a toddler or young child that loves to create and make a big mess, this is the perfect place to take them! My son is particularly fond of painting and I love getting him out of the house for this activity, sparing myself the aftermath and the cleanup. For children like mine, that have a flair for being creative, this is the perfect space for them to explore their artistic side. We usually walk around the Chinese and Korean exhibits for inspiration adjacent to the gallery prior to painting. I find looking around and talking about stuff gives him a little inspiration, since it’s a freestyle art class and not instructor led. The gallery provides paper, brushes and tons of colors of paint. They have large communal tables, with helpful staff that provide all the materials and tidy up for you. They also have highchairs for the smallest of visitors. The gallery is free and open to the public 11-5 Monday-Friday, except Wednesday it’s closed and weekend hours are from 10am-5pm.
There’s also a special storytime and activities by the Boone staff, every Monday and Friday at 2 pm in the Korean art galleries which is free and welcomes children of all ages.
This usually runs end of May to the beginning of September every Saturday at 5pm. From firsthand experience, it’s an amazing community event. Get there early to score a good seat as it can get pretty busy especially on a nice day, which, let’s be honest, is every day here in sunny LA. In a nutshell, it’s a concert series that honors and celebrates Latin music, art and dancing. The series typically has a focus that ties into a current art exhibit at LACMA which you can explore earlier in the day before the concert. Then go enjoy free live music, set up a picnic and dance. The times we’ve gone we’ve told friends to meet us there, brought blankets, tables, food and drinks and have stayed from beginning to end. The kids have just as much fun as the adults as they run around play and dance with their friends. There’s also food and drinks there for purchase if you prefer not to bring stuff.
Jazz at LACMA
Similar to the Latin Sounds, this runs from Mid-April to Mid-November every Friday at 6pm. This year LACMA is kicking off its annual Jazz concert series celebrating its 25th anniversary on Friday April 22nd, 2016 with jazz legend Les McCann & Friends! This is another fun way to spend the evening outside, bring a picnic and listen to music with family and friends. If I’m honest, the Latin sounds series is a little more kid friendly as it’s located in the park area on grass and starts an hour earlier, which when you have kids makes a huge difference. But we’ve been to both with our son and loved both experiences.
The La Brea Tar Pits, or as my son likes to call it the “stinky mud”, is one of a kind, as its one of the only paleontological sites in the world that’s being actively excavated in an urban setting. This site is so rich in history that it’s a must see for a family visiting this year. The museum houses the largest and most diverse range of extinct Ice Age plants and animals in the world. You can also watch scientist prepare fossils in the Fossil Lab or visit a current excavation site. There are also two shows, the Ice Age Encounters which is 15-minutes long that combines a live speaker with video and life sized saber tooth tiger puppet. As well as the 3D Theater which is currently playing the Titans of the Ice Age, a 25-minute film that explores what life must have been like for Ice Age animals. Requires use of 3D glasses (provided) which my 2.5 year old refused to keep on! Film runs daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m and children under 3 are free for all of the La Brea Tar Pits activities.
Chris Burden’s Urban Light: There are certain spots in LA that everyone feels like they need a photo in front of, and this is definitely one of those spots! If you enter from Wilshire you’ll be greeted by Burden’s iconic art piece. There are 202 distinct and each slightly different lamppost to explore and kids are just fascinated by all of the lights and running in and out of the exhibit.
Better known as, Jesús Rafael Soto’s Penetrable but nicknamed by all the kids who explore it “Spaghetti” or “Noodle” exhibit. This is one of the few interactive exhibits that kids are free to touch and explore. My son LOVES this, and every time we go to LACMA for whatever reason he insists we head straight to the spaghetti!
Hancock Park La Brea
This is the grassy area if coming from Wilshire, at the back of the museum. There are always people doing yoga, working out, soccer lessons and even camps for kids. There are always people there enjoying this beautiful park and it’s a great spot to let your kids run wild, ride their bikes or scooters or have a picnic. There’s also a large hill on one side of the park that kids love to roll down!
Overall, LACMA is one of the best spots for locals and visitors to explore, especially if you have children. There’s an endless amount of fun to be had, and it’s almost all free, I mean, what more can you ask for? Enjoy!