Need some fun family activities that WON’T break the bank? Check out this list of free family activities in Long Beach, complete with both indoor and outdoor activities. If you need something to do on the cheap, this list of free things to do with kids in Long Beach is the best place to start!
Living in Southern California means that we never run out of something to do. Amusement parks, museums, plays and restuarants- there’s fun to be had around every corner.
Unfortunately, most of those super fun activities come with a pretty hefty price tag.
If you need to change it up with some free things to do with kids in Long Beach, you’ve come to the right place!
With our gorgeous weather, fantastic parks, and accessible educational resources, we’ve got you covered when it comes to free family activities in Long Beach and the surrounding areas.
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Outdoors Free Family Activities in Long Beach
Visit the Beach
Why not take advantage of our gorgeous weather and beautiful local beaches?
Check out our list of the best beaches in Long Beach, and choose the one that best suits your mood.
Go for a Hike
Getting outdoors with your family is easy to do in Long Beach, with tons of outdoor spaces designed for family use.
There are many easy hiking trails and walking paths to take advantage. Check out our list of the best family hikes in Long Beach to add to your local hike bucket list!
Located just a short drive down PCH, the Bolsa Chica Wetlands are a great, easy hike to do with your family.
With great views of water, local wildlife, and native plants, there’s plenty to see.
Go to a New Park
We have a park within walking distance from our house, but let’s be honest- sometimes kids get tired of the same old park.
Luckily, there are TONS of amazing parks in Long Beach (and Lakewood). You can visit our parks page to explore them all.
Here are some that our kids find most exciting:
- Bolivar Park in Lakewood (that long zipline gets them every time)
- Whaley Park (tons of climbing and a swing merry-go-round that rivals carnival rides!)
- Los Cerritos (just the right amount of adventure, with lots of neat features)
Visit the Japanese Gardens
Need a little quiet in your day? Consider a trip to the super-mellow (but still very interesting!) Japanese Gardens at Long Beach State.
There is a parking fee, but you can also avoid this by parking at nearby Whaley Park and walking over to the Japanese Gardens.
Go to the Ranchos
Both of the ranchos offer hiking, history, and time outside in nature. Rancho Los Alamitos also features farm animals, like chickens, horses, goats, and sheep.
Bike the Bike Trail
We have a really neat beach bike trail right here in Long Beach. It stretches for 7 miles, but you can create your own loop.
You can park on the street, or in beach parking lots stretching from Granada Beach to Bixby Park.
And the bike trail is not just for biking- you’ll see people running, rollerblading, and walking the trail, too.
Walk at the Colorado Lagoon
Colorado Lagoon presents a special place to explore with your family in Long Beach. There is a playground, as well as water to splash in the weather allows.
There is also a neat wooden pier stretching across the lagoon, leading to a walking trail.
We’ve seen lots of wildlife here over past visits– egrets, moon jellies, ducks, and plenty of fish. With careful looking, there can be LOTS to see.
Related Post: Things to Do Outside with Kids in Long Beach
Indoor Free Things to Do with Kids in Long Beach
Go to a Story Time
One of my favorite ways to entertain my kids when they were little was making a regular rotation of local storytimes.
Many of the storytimes are located near playgrounds (we particularly liked visiting Signal Hill’s storytime, followed by park play, and hitting up the duck pond after Bach’s storytime.) It’s a great way to extend your outing, and burn some energy before or after all the sitting still.
Related Post: Storytimes in Long Beach
Browse for Books
My family and I love to visit Barnes and Noble, either at the Town Center or at Marina Pacifica, to look at new titles. But if we each get a book, we’re looking at a really hefty price tag.
Instead, we head to Barnes and Noble, armed with a smartphone, and “window shop.” As we browse, we request the titles that interest us from the Long Beach Public Library and place a hold.
We do try to buy at least one book while we’re there to support the store, but we get out a LOT cheaper if we visit with the intent to browse. If you’re looking to buy, Gatsby Books is a fantastic local bookshop.
Visit the Poor Man’s Zoo (AKA PetSmart)
Okay, HEAR ME OUT- my kids looooove to visit PetSmart and see all the little creatures. It’s obviously NOT the zoo, but you’d be amazed at how much entertainment they’ll get out of it.
Hamsters, cats, frogs, lizards, fish, birds, mice- there is a TON to see here.
We often visit the PetSmart at the Long Beach Towne Center and pair it with browsing at Barnes and Noble and, if we’re feeling fancy, lunch at Chick-fil-A or In N Out afterwards.
Go to the Museum of Latin American Art (Sundays)
It’s the country’s ONLY Latin American art museum, and it’s ours all ours! The best news? You can get free admission on Sundays!
Reservations are required. It’s a smaller museum, so your kids won’t likely spend the whole day there. But it’s a culturally relevant (and FREE!) thing to do with kids in Long Beach.
VIsit the Long Beach Museum of Art (Thursdays from 3-5 pm)
Speaking of museum freebies, there’s also an option to visit our local Long Beach Museum of Art for free!
Visit on Thursdays from 3-5 (it’s giving me happy hour vibes, if I’m being honest) to visit with your family for free.
This is a pretty serious museum, so make sure you think your kids can handle it!
Free Outdoor Family Activities Near Long Beach
Go to the Tidepools
We LOVE going to the tidepools with our family. It’s a (nearly) free activity, with a $1 per hour parking lot being your only cost.
You have to time your visit right, though- visit our Cabrillo Beach tidepools post to get all the details!
Visit Centennial Farm
Centennial Farms is a quick and easy (free!) family adventure, just down the 405.
With lots of animals, farming demonstrations, and wide open spaces, it’s a chill way to spend an afternoon with your family.
Free Indoor Family Activities Near Long Beach
Visit Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
While donations are recommended, don’t let lack of funds stop from visiting this little gem.
Expect to spend an hour or two here, with lots of amazing hands-on exhibits for kids, plenty of local sealife, and very friendly docents who will answer any questions you might have.
Go to the California Science Center
This is one of my very favorite free things to do near Long Beach. It’s a bit of a drive (about 30 minutes without traffic) and costs $10 to park, but it’s so very worth it. (You can avoid the parking fee by taking the Metro Blue Line up from Long Beach, costing you about a $1.50 per person)
You’ll see aquariums, science exhibits, and the Endeavor, all on a donation-based system. There are also nearby Rose Gardens to explore, and the free California African American Museum.
It can definitely be as full a day as you want it to be! We’ve got tons of tips in our California Science Center with Kids post!
Visit the Getty
This is another one that’s technically free, but has a small cost- you’ll get in for free, but you’ll pay $15 for parking.
While the Getty is for pretty serious art, it is also surprisingly family friendly. With free strollers to check out, tons of open green space, and family restrooms, they really do encourage a whole-family experience.
There is SO much adventuring to be had in Long Beach and the surrounding cities. You can cycle through these free family activities in Long Beach, CA over and over again, and never get bored!
What would you add to the list? We’d love to hear it in the comments!
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