Family Fun

murals in los angeles

Murals in Los Angeles: Taking Art to the Streets with Kids

L.A. is a heavyweight contender in the battle to be the city with the most splendid street art on Earth. Venice, the San Fernando Valley and the Downtown Arts District are teeming with work by some of the world’s most famous muralists, and our area boasts a torrent of Technicolor innovations from local talent. City officials imposed a mural ban in the 1990s, but it was lifted in 2013, and...

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animation in los angeles

It’s Toon Time: Celebrations of Animation in Los Angeles

Some unique fun is on tap for families this month. Animation in Los Angeles is a thriving sector of the entertainment industry and you can celebrate it with your kids. Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills (media.paleycenter.org) unveils an exhibition saluting Cartoon Network’s first quarter century on Oct. 14. Called “Cartoon Network: 25 Years of Drawing on Creativity,” it offers visitors an in-depth sketch-to-screen look at the creative process...

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Big Draw Events Unite L.A. In Art

Get ready to put pencil, pen or crayon to paper because Big Draw LA is coming to town. Organized by local nonprofit Ryman Arts, the event celebrates the simple joy of drawing a picture and promotes inclusiveness through the diversity of its projects and participants. There will be related events around Southern California throughout October. The signature event, “Make Your Mark in the Park,” will take place Oct. 8 in...

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Your Boo! To-Do List of 22 Halloween Haunts for Families

It seems like all of October is one big Halloween party. Throughout the month, there will be a wide range of events across Southern California where you can get into the Halloween spirit. These are some of our favorites (and you can find more in our Calendar in print and online). Eerie Experiments If your kids look great in a lab coat, head over to Discovery Cube Los Angeles (la.discoverycube.org)...

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we are savvy

Teens Showcase Their Savvy in New YouTube Red Series

When I was 11, there were few opportunities to peer into the lives of tweens outside of my immediate community. Today, tweens  have many chances to see how their peers around the world are living. These include a YouTube Red Original series called “We Are Savvy,” which aims to give tweens and teens a refreshing spin on girl culture. The cheeky magazine-style show set in three of the hosts’ bedrooms...

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haunted houses in los angeles

Halloween Fun for Tweens: Terror Time

For young kids, Halloween revolves around cute costumes and trick-or-treat candy. Teens’ interests often shift toward more frightful fun. With that in mind, here’s a guide to Southern California Halloween attractions that are a real scream. The Queen Mary (www.queenmary.com) in Long Beach is said to be haunted, making it spooky enough on an average day. Its Dark Harbor event Sept. 28-Nov. 1 intensifies the fright with menacing mazes and...

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pumpkin patch in los angeles

Which Patch Will You Pick?

It's Pumpkin patch in Los Angeles time in October, but sometimes you can’t find one when you need it. Here are four worthy destinations for pumpkin picking and seasonal excitement. Underwood Family Farms: The Underwood family’s 20th annual Fall Harvest Festival offers plenty of pumpkins, along with giant hay pyramids, a corn stalk labyrinth, the sling shot and corn cannon. Themes include Antique Tractor Weekend Oct. 14-15 and Wild West...

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touch a truck

Get Touchy with Trucks

Big vehicles and little kids just seem to go together, which explains the ongoing popularity of Southern California Children’s Museum’s Touch-A-Truck day. Now in its fifth year, this event gives children a chance to get a good close-up look at a variety of big vehicles – and climb into and explore them. Emergency vehicles, large trucks, recreational vehicles and other heavy machinery will be on display at Santa Anita Park...

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It’s Twinkle Time

  If you frequent children’s music shows around Southern California, then you probably have seen Twinkle Time. Known for their colorful, energetic performances, Twinkle and her band play several hundred times a year. The local singer also somehow found time to record a new album, “Just Dance,” which comes out this month.   The title track is one of the tracks powered with a big dance beat, but Twinkle says “Just...

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girls who code

Merging Two Kinds of Language: Literature and Coding

The front cover of the new Girls Who Code novel, “The Friendship Code,” showcases a familiar image of girl friendships: four tweens are hanging out in a bedroom, chatting it up and having fun.  While the room is decked out in purples and pinks, stars and fluffy pillows, crack open the book, and you’ll discover a story that’s far from stereotypically girly. The “gossip” these characters are dishing has to...

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Shop Talk: Get Things Moving

The new school year is here and it’s time to get busy (as if you weren’t already). These NAPPA award-winning products will help your kids stretch their bodies and brains, while you help them with time-management skills and keep them safe online.

beaches in los angeles

Be Part Of The Cleanup Community

If you head to the beach Sept. 16, leave the boogie board and sandcastle pail at home and bring your gloves and trash bags. It’s Coastal Cleanup Day.   Thousands of volunteers will pitch in and lend a hand at more than 50 L.A. County locations, from Malibu to San Pedro. Some events are community-based while others are organized by places such as the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium (www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org) and the Aquarium...

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Latino Art in Los Angeles

LA/LA Set Your Clocks to Museum Time

This autumn, the L.A. art world will be consumed with Getty-led initiative Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, an exploration of Latin American and Latino art and Los Angeles. Exhibits, programs and events will take place in more than 70 Southern California arts institutions. It’s a mammoth multicultural, multimedia endeavor beginning with a launch party from noon-10 p.m. Sept. 14 in Grand Park. The day features music, dance, food trucks and giveaways,...

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kids club los angeles

Find Victory at Sea With Battleship Iowa’s Kids Club in Los Angeles

Is your child really interested in warships? Not just curious, but run-away-to-join-the-Navy interested? The Battleship Iowa Museum in San Pedro has just the right outlet for such eager-to-be sailors: a newly unveiled Victory’s Cadet Club, a kids club in Los Angeles! Named after the vessel’s World War II canine mascot, the club offers yearlong memberships for ages 6-12 and boasts a bevy of benefits, including tours, a hat and backpack,...

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rock climbing in los angeles

Getting a Strong Hold on Fitness and Fun

As I watch kids scramble up the bouldering walls at Stronghold Climbing Gym one recent morning, the words “no fear” come to mind. Up the sculpted gray walls they go, using the colorful hand- and footholds to stretch, push and pull their way to the top. The gym, located in Downtown L.A.’s Brewery Arts Complex and featured on this month’s cover of L.A. Parent, is pretty safety-forward, with plenty of...

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lisa loeb lullaby girl

EXCLUSIVE! First Listen to Lisa Loeb’s Lullaby Girl

We have the exclusive first listen to Lisa Loeb's soothing version of "Inchworm" from her forthcoming release, "Lullaby Girl," out Oct. 6. The album will be available for streaming exclusively on Amazon Music Unlimited and Prime Music, as well as for digital download or physical purchase through Amazon Music. Lullaby Girl offers fresh and dreamy arrangements of 13 classic songs from a variety of genres, with a world-class quartet led...

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Shop Talk: Back-to-School Fun and Games

A smooth transition back to school starts well before the first day. These NAPPA Award-winning games and gear will help you get ready for the upcoming school year at home, on the go and at school.

Progressive Santa Barbara Family Travel With Kids In Tow

I’ve always been a traveler, and before my kids were born my trips were often to exotic destinations such as Argentina and Peru. I valued the challenges of those kind of trips: Figuring out the transit system, running the exchange rate in my head and picking up key expressions in the native language. To do any of those things successfully felt like its own reward. But having two small children...

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Family Movie Review: Take the Leap!

Jumping into theaters Aug. 25 is “Leap!” This Weinstein Company animated film doesn’t feature talking animals or cars, and it doesn’t seem to have been created to spawn a series of sequels or a line of merchandise. This film was made just to be a movie, and there is a something greatly refreshing about that. A coming-of-age tale filled with comedy, adventure, music and dance, “Leap!” tells the story of...

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Budget Beach Getaways Near L.A.

If you’re like a lot of L.A. parents, the idea of a vacation with the family sounds amazing. The idea of going into debt to do it? Not so much. Maybe those dreams of a two-week stay in Hawaii have to be dashed, but don’t hit the snooze alarm. How about waking up to the idea of an inexpensive beach getaway? Here are five options, all within two hours of...

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What’s Bubbling Up at the Tar Pits

Young paleontology enthusiasts interested in visiting Los Angeles museums can dig up some interesting adventures at the La Brea Tar Pits this summer. Staff and volunteers at Pit 91 are focused on microfossils during their summer excavation work and will be recovering the bones of small birds, snakes and lizards. One of the Tar Pit’s original excavation locations, Pit 91 is open for public viewing Wed.-Sun. Visitors can also watch...

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The Late-Summer Family Movie Scene

By the time August rolls around, Hollywood typically has sent all of its blockbusters out to theaters. If you’ve seen “Despicable Me 3” and “Cars 3” three times each and are looking for new options, you’ll be happy to know that a few fresh family films are on deck. Those who went nuts over the 2014 animated comedy “The Nut Job” will be excited to find “The Nut Job 2:...

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A Mother-Daughter Trip To Hawaii

Ten years ago, my husband and I enjoyed post-wedding bliss on the island of Hawaii. I hadn’t been back since and booked a return trip on impulse, hoping we’d have family available to watch our 3-year-old twin boys. That would give Adriohn and me a chance to reminisce, and to enjoy some time with our 5-year-old daughter, Mirae. Our plans fell through and it turned into a girls’ trip. All...

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Where to See This Month’s Solar Eclipse

Here comes the sun … and there it goes. For the first time in almost 40 years, L.A. families catch a glimpse of a solar eclipse from the comfort of their own backyards or other spots around town. From 9:05–11:43 a.m. Aug. 21, the moon will travel directly in front of the sun, covering more than half of the solar surface for viewers in the L.A. area. The L.A. County...

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lost in oz

Amazon Prime Video’s “Lost in Oz” Debuts as Animated Series

Orbs, portals and ozonium exist in Amazon Prime Video’s newest release, an adaptation of “The Wizard of Oz.” Based on the “Oz” books by L. Frank Baum, “Lost in Oz,” is an animated series that expands on the Emmy-award winning Amazon Original special, “Lost in Oz: Extended Adventure.” The series features 13 half-hour episodes and gives little viewers a confident, STEM-loving, independent and quick-witted 12-year-old Dorothy Gale with dog Toto,...

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Lucky Diaz Shares L.A. Love on New Family Music CD

“Made In L.A.” is the perfect title for the latest CD from Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band. Diaz, his wife Alisha “Lishy Lou” Gaddis and their group recorded the album here and invited local children’s musicians Mista Cookie Jar, Todd McHatton, Genevieve Goings and Andrew & Polly to join them on this 12-track set. Diaz describes this album as a love letter to Los Angeles and says he...

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Four Spots to See Free Family Music

For family music fans, August comes packed with wonderful free concerts. The Levitt Pavilions in Pasadena and Los Angeles’ MacArthur Park (www.levittla.org) are offering an impressive lineup of performers. Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band will play L.A. Aug. 6 and Pasadena Aug. 10. Jazzy Ash celebrates her new album “Swing Set” on Aug. 13 in MacArthur Park, which will also welcome Birdie’s Playhouse Aug. 27. Pasadena’s Levitt Pavilion,...

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Family Fun at the World Series of Beach Volleyball in Long Beach

During the summer 2016 Olympics, my daughters became huge fans of the Beach Volleyball games. The sport is fast paced and exciting, and we found ourselves following the U.S. women’s team closely, which made a recent weekend in July super-exciting for us. The Beach Volleyball World Series was in Long Beach and we got an up-close view of the games and some of the best players in the world. This...

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P-22

P-22 Makes His Debut at the Natural History Museum

To get into the Natural History Museum’s new installation about famed Griffith Park mountain lion P-22, you have to cross the freeway. OK, it’s not really a freeway, but the 10 lanes of scaled-down moving traffic projected onto the floor at the installation’s entrance make an impression. “The Story of P-22, L.A.’s Most Famous Feline,” opening June 21, is a love letter to the big cat famous for crossing both...

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7 Great Water Sports for Kids

For some kids, choosing a water sport is a no-brainer. Synchronized swim, for instance, is a natural fit for 13-year-old Sophia Davison. “It joins two of my passions – speed swimming and gymnastics,” she says. Other kids might want to explore a little, and the L.A. area’s miles of coastline and nearby lakes make it easy. When my three kids were small, we started kayaking and picked up other water...

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Hitting the Beach for Summer Fun Hollywood Style

To many of us in and around Los Angeles, summer fun at the beach is an afterthought, only beckoning when the inland heat calls for relief. A friend from Studio City once referred to it as “the great A/C unit to the west.” Out-of-towners often accuse us of taking our 75 miles of Pacific coastline for granted. And they're right. I'm feeling especially salty at the moment because I recently...

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knotts berry farm

Go Wild West in Calico at Knotts Berry Farm as Ghost Town Alive! Returns

Last year the newly renovated wooden rollercoaster, GhostRider, compelled me to drive to Buena Park for Knott’s Berry Farm’s 75th Anniversary celebration and the debut of its Ghost Town Alive! Experience. The interactive Wild West-themed improv show isn’t relegated to one stage. Instead, entering the town of Calico allows you to join a gang you choose and engage with the characters as if you and your kids are in a Back to...

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kidz bop kids

Kidz Bop Kids Talk Best Time Ever Tour and New Album ’35’

We caught up with the new kids on the block, Kidz Bop Kids that is. The kids performing your child's favorite pop songs for family consumption are currently on their Best Time Ever Tour. We had Instagram star Haileigh Vasquez interview them on their tour bus during the Los Angeles stop in June. The brand new group of kids, who started this year – Ahnya (12), Freddy (12), Julianna (12), Isaiah (10), Sierra...

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the COOP Woodland Hills

The COOP Woodland Hills Opens at The Village at Westfield Topanga

Parents looking for a place to cool off in the valley's hot summer weather just got a new place to tuck into. The COOP, a kids party and playspace, is now open at the Village at Westfield Topanga. The COOP is a fun indoor playground that offers an area for Moms to work with free wi-fi, but also has a number of different areas for kids of different ages. I was...

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Wrightwood Ziplining and Our Leap of Love

We didn’t know my son Kaleb was scared of heights until we rode the Ferris wheel at California Adventure. When our pod started climbing and swaying, he threw himself on the floor and hid his head between his father’s knees. No amount of reassuring could get him to look around. When I learned about “Ziplines at Pacific Crest” in Wrightwood, I thought it would be the perfect place for him...

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Churned Creamery: A Sweet Spot to Beat the Heat This Summer

Looking for fun activities for your little ones (who are out of school) that also offer a cool treat? Churned Creamery, a new and innovative ice cream shop, is here to delight and provide a “sweet” oasis from the summer heat. Located just inside the charming Westfield Topanga Mall, Churned Creamery is nestled close to the Children’s Play area, the iconic carousel and various children’s stores including The Children’s Place. The combination could...

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Tween Time: The Summer of Love Turns 50

“The Summer of Love” – that watershed moment when the hippie youth culture became a potent force in American society – turns 50 this year. Music then, as now, was a cultural driving force. 1967 was the year the Beatles recorded “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” and the year of debut albums from The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, The Velvet Underground, the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin. Parents who want...

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The OC Fair Serves Up Farm-Fresh Summer Fun

The first Orange County Fair, back in 1890, included horse racing and a few exhibits. The 127th OC Fair (a few years were skipped here and there) features the Mexican horsemen of the Fiesta del Charro and the annual Clydesdale horses visit. But racing nowadays focuses more on motorcycles and pigs (the All-Alaskan Racing Pigs!). This year’s fair, with its “Farm Fresh Fun” theme, brings back favorite attractions such as...

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Universal Amps Up It’s Harry Potter World Magic

Since it opened in 2016, throngs have flocked to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood to walk the streets of Hogsmeade, checking out the wands at Ollivanders, imbibing Butterbeer and taking a spin (or two) on the “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” ride up at Hogwarts Castle. This summer, the park is brightening visitors’ evenings with “The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle,” an electrifying light-projection experience....

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The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music in Victoria and Vancouver

Ever since my daughters, Erin and Emily, were elementary-school age, they would spontaneously burst into songs from our family’s favorite movie, “The Sound of Music,” every time we were somewhere uniquely beautiful. The first time it happened, we were visiting the Vanderbilt Estate in Rhode Island. As we walked through the gorgeous flower beds and past the gazebos on the immense grounds, my girls started singing “You Are Sixteen Going...

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Splash, Sun and Summer Fun

Summer is in full swing. These great products will enhance your family’s fun in the sun. Don’t forget the sunscreen!

Bridging the Summer Gap to Prevent Learning Loss

Now that the academic school year has ended, students are ready to enjoy summer and all of the fun that it promises. Beach days, family vacations, swimming pools and waterparks; activities that bring fun memories, social time with friends and a highly anticipated break from the classroom. Unfortunately, with all of the fun that summer has to offer, the gap between the end of one academic year and the beginning...

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Los Angeles Events: Marvel Universe Life! Age of Heroes

It might be hard to imagine a time when you could only find Iron Man, Captain America and other Marvel superheroes in the pages of comic books. Today they can be found in movies, TV shows, computer games, merchandise of all types and Disneyland’s new “Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!” attraction. But this month, fans should get ready to encounter these superheroes in a whole new way. “Marvel...

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despicable me 3

Kids Movie Review: Despicable Me 3, the Goat and the Boat

“Is that the movie ‘fee-uh-ter’?” 3-year-old Dax asks as we approach the Tuck Room Tavern on Wilshire where iPic Theaters Westwood  is tucked right upstairs. “It’s a building, it’s not a movie place,” says Mirae. The sibling banter ended soon after as we approached the "Despicable Me 3" screening and Minion-themed breakfast party. There was a minion milling about, a photo booth with bananas, as well as actual breakfast. Kellogg’s Cereal,...

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Bob Baker Marionettes Revisit a History of Family Fun

The Bob Baker Marionettes have been entertaining audiences for more than half a century at shows around Southern California and downtown in the Bob Baker Marionette Theater at 1345 W. 1st St. This year, the black clouds that have hung over the troupe’s future since the theater property was bought up several years ago seem to be lifting. Construction will soon begin on what is described as a “rejuvenated theater...

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la zoo creature camp out

Get Wild with L.A. Zoo’s Creature Camp Out for Families

“Have you ever wondered what happens at the Zoo when the last guest leaves?” As a mom who’s been there literally scores of times with my family, the answer is, "yes."  And you can now be a guest after the L.A. Zoo officially closes. The Zoo offers an overnight opportunity for families and you don't need to bring your own tent or food or electricity to do it. I’d heard of family classes, Zoo...

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July Fourth Parades Bring Summer Family Fun to L.A.

Independence Day is the most American of holidays, defined by its morning parades, afternoon barbecues and evening fireworks. While barbecues are as close as your own back yard and fireworks dot the Southern California skies, the old-fashioned July 4th parade is a bit more elusive. Here are four of the best. Spending July 4th at LAX usually isn’t a fun time. Spending it at the LAX Coastal Fourth of July...

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Six Tips for Making Summer Camp Worth It

Summer, at last, is here. And if your kids will be spending all or part of it at camp, it’s worth your time to help them get the most they can from the experience. “Invest in whatever program you have signed your kids up for,” says Janna Hawes, director of admissions at Clairbourn School in San Gabriel. With support from parents, campers can build new skills, make new friends and...

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These Summer Activities Let Kids Hear Music – and Make Music

MakeMusicLA – taking place this year on Wednesday, June 21 – could be called a “people’s concert.” The area-wide event is part of an international day of music involving more than 100 countries. Among the free musical events taking place that day across Southern California, a good number will be family oriented and invite public participation. A talent show will be staged in Silver Lake’s Triangle Plaza, the Long Beach...

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Seven Summer Activities for Learning in and Around L.A.

It’s a sweet synergy when you can have fun with your kids while they’re learning. Los Angeles is a big city with even bigger opportunities for families to discover and explore together, but you might not have heard of these lesser-known gems. Among them are a path-blazing center that rescues animals while helping kids connect with nature, a shop where you can go back and forth in time (or, rather,...

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“Play!” Exhibit at the Autry Promises Family Fun For Kids and Parents

The Autry Museum of the American West (www.theautry.org) is offering families a summer of play. On June 18, the museum unveils its latest exhibit, entitled “Play!” and designed to explore “the universal aspects of play while emphasizing the changing concepts of childhood and the social meanings of toys from the 19th -21st centuries.” What this really means is that you can see a fun selection of toys, games and other...

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hyperlinked

L2M Brings STEM to Life in YouTube Red’s Hyperlinked

Getting kids interested in STEM is going beyond the classroom. Instead of talking about careers in science, technology, engineering and math through parents and teachers, YouTube Red Originals is showing tweens how it’s done. The new show "Hyperlinked" launched in May and features tween music group L2M. The series follows five girls as they come together to create their own website by girls for girls. The mission of the website is to...

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16 Great Ways to Spend Father’s Day in L.A.

When I was a kid, my three brothers and I agreed that going clothes shopping felt more like a punishment than a pleasure. So, when my daughter asked me to take her clothes shopping at local thrift stores, the idea didn’t fill me with excitement. Still, off we went. During our first few stops, including Goodwill and Out of the Closet, I felt like Julia’s driver, biding my time until...

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Catch An Outdoor Film for Family Fun in L.A. This Summer

Feel like catching a summer film and a little family fun by a pool? In a cemetery? At a college? In a Bowl? You can do it at all four, and more! L.A. is blessed with multiple outdoor summer movie series – a few particularly worth knowing about. CSUN’s Summer Movie Fest happens Thursday nights on the university’s Oviatt Library Lawn (18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge; www.csun.edu/as/summer-movie-fest). June’s free films include...

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3 New Reasons to Visit LEGOLAND this Summer

SoCal isn’t short on summer escapes or family fun, but LEGOLAND has some fun new reasons to consider a quick trip to Carlsbad. Opening June 30, the waterpark’s new Surfers’ Cove expansion will feature a 100-foot waterslide where six adventurous souls can hop on mats and race to the bottom. Riptide Racers juices up the competition with digital stopwatches that keep time over each slide, so there’s an undisputed winner...

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SoCal Theme Parks add to the Family Fun This Summer

With school out, it is a terrific time to find family fun. Do some day-tripping and head south down an Interstate for new attractions. Knott’s Berry Farm has expanded its Soak City Waterpark, which stays open through Labor Day. Orange County’s largest water park is debuting two slide towers – The Shore Break and The Wedge – that add seven new slides for aquatic thrill seekers to try. A trio of...

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inclusive

Find Sports for All at the Angel City Games

Asher Stewart likes to keep moving. He was born without a fibula (shin bone) in one leg and there was an issue with his other foot. Doctors thought it best to amputate part of the leg, and planned for the surgery to take place when he was a year old. “At 6 months, he was trying to walk,” says Asher’s father, John. “Nothing’s ever stopped him.” The Angel City Games...

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Toddle and Spin at Baby DJ School

For a unique musical experience, visit Baby DJ School in Santa Monica or West Hollywood. Run by enthusiastic teacher Anna Wallace (also known as “DJ Annie Wonder”), this isn’t your typical children’s music class with guitars, pianos and drums. Instead, kids ages 2 months to 5 years are introduced to faders, laptops, vinyl records, turntables and other DJ equipment. The 45-minute lessons also feature one-of-a-kind songs such as “Makin’ our...

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L.A. Summer Shakespeare is Great For Teens & Tweens

Summers often mean summer reading for middle and high schoolers. Whether or not Shakespeare is on your tween’s list this year, take advantage of the wealth of summer Shakespeare productions and get an entertaining Shakespeare lesson. Shakespeare By The Sea (www.shakespearebythesea.org) stages its shows, which are always free, all over Southern California, beginning this year at San Pedro’s Point Fermin Park with “The Taming of the Shrew” June 15 and...

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Tween Time: A Memorable Memory Play

“Memory 5D+” might sound like an app (with more appeal for the middle-aged than for tweens), but it couldn’t be more human. The production is a multimillion-dollar, multisensory theatrical experience featuring more than 35 Chinese musicians, dancers, acrobats and singers that will appeal to teens and tweens. The “Memory” in the show’s name refers to the traditional Chinese music and dance that form the core of this production. Musicians will...

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Groot’s California Adventure

May is a major month for “Guardians of the Galaxy” fans. The film’s much-anticipated sequel hit movie screens May 5, and the “Guardians of the Galaxy–Mission: BREAKOUT!” attraction premieres at Disney’s California Adventure (1313 Disneyland Dr., Anaheim; www.disneyland.com) May 27. This immersive ride offers guests an family fun and out-of-this-world adventure as they join characters on randomized ride experiences complete with new visual and audio effects and music inspired by...

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Geocaching With Kids for Outdoor Fun In L.A.

Armed with a modern-day treasure map (of the iPhone variety), my 4-year-old son and I beelined through the park, following the in-app compass to our destination. Ding! “You’re getting close!” the app encouraged. Our hearts were pounding as we arrived where X marked the spot. We frantically flipped over leaves, shuffled rocks and generally sleuthed around a bit, until … pay dirt! My son popped open a small Tupperware container...

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5 L.A. Museums You Can See For Free

Dodger Stadium and Disneyland are well known to most Southern Californians. But have you visited the Lummis Home or the Los Angeles Police Museum? This month, you have a great opportunity to discover them and many other great local spots for free. From noon-5 p.m. May 21, the Museums of the Arroyo hosts its annual MOTA Day, with free admission to museums in the group. Head to Highland Park and...

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Shopping For a Mom’s Day Out?

Gather the gals for a Mom’s Day Out celebration at The Point and The Collection at Plaza El Segundo from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. May 13. The first 50 attendees to register (at The Point next to Superba Food + Bread) for the free event will receive an exclusive tote and a free ride at Soul Cycle. All attendees receive a VIP passport unlocking exclusive specials: Michael Stars: Mimosas, macaroons and...

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Family Fun with Frogs, Bugs and Extreme Mammals

Frogs will invade Long Beach, bugs will infest Exposition Park and extreme animals will be sighted there, too. But don’t be alarmed. These critters are just part of new attractions bringing family fun to the Aquarium of the Pacific and the Natural History Museum. Arriving May 12 will be the unusual, rare and strange creatures in the “Extreme Mammals” exhibit at the Natural History Museum (900 Exposition Blvd., L.A.; www.nhm.org. $12...

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Eats for Little Bellies – and You, Too

What are you feeding your family? It’s a question we all have to answer, and these new food options available in stores and online will make that a little easier.

free comic book day

Wow! Bam! Pow! Free Comic Book Day is Here

If there is a comic book fan in your house, you should circle May 6 on your calendar. It’s Free Comic Book Day and, for the 16th year, comic book stores around the country will dole out free comic books – many created just for this day. Titles will include “Super Hero Girls,” “Barbie,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “Doctor Who,” “Monster High” and “Underdog.” Among SoCal comics stores participating are...

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Learning About Rancho History – and Service Dogs!

If your family is headed to one of the monthly Creation Station art workshops or other family events at Rancho Los Cerritos (4600 Virginia Rd., Long Beach; www.rancholoscerritos.org), keep an eye out for Marcia Harris and her canine companion. A longtime volunteer at the rancho, Harris also raises service dogs. Harris began volunteering at the rancho, an historic adobe house and surrounding property dedicated to inspiring curiosity about the past,...

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accessible los angeles

Out, About and Inclusive In L.A.

There was a time when “accessible” meant someone with a disability could get in the front door, and maybe up to the second floor – and after that they were on their own. These days, accessibility goes way beyond that, and many L.A. attractions are making it part of their mission. “Accessibility is more than just adding a ramp,” says Peter Martineau, marketing events manager at Aquarium of the Pacific...

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ben lee

Ben Lee’s New Release is Philosophical Family Fun

Ben Lee has made a lot of albums since recording his first songs as a teenager in Australia, but his most ambitious might be his latest – a children’s album entitled “Ben Lee Sings Songs About Islam For The Whole Family.” These songs are thoughtful, educational and catchy. Lee hasn’t composed religious songs as much as songs about a religion. Several years ago, Lee, who now makes Los Angeles his...

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monster trucks movie

Making Play Hands-On with Monster Trucks Movie’s Special FX Coordinator Jim Schwalm

Monster trucks jump over highway railings in playrooms all too often, but seeing it on the big screen is a spectacle that piques a child's imagination. This and more mechanical feats can be seen in Paramount Pictures' "Monster Trucks" movie, which just released on BluRay and DVD this month. We recently sat down with Jim Schwalm, Special FX Coordinator for the film, and talked about how to make play more hands-on...

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Cover To Cover Book Festivals

Southern California book lovers rejoice at the arrival of April, when two major book festivals come to town. The 22nd Annual L.A. Times Festival of Books (www.latimes.com/FestivalofBooks) transforms the USC University Park campus into a bibliophile’s paradise from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. April 22 and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. April 23. As regular festival-goers know, the free event will be packed with author appearances, live entertainment, poetry readings and giveaways as well...

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What’s News At The L.A. Zoo?

There has been a lot going on at the L.A. Zoo, which is in the midst of its year-long 50th anniversary "ZooLAbration." The zoo recently announced that it is welcoming a female Sumatran tiger named Indah to the Tiger Plaza, which was already home to the 4-year-old male Sumatran tiger known as C.J. Over the course of several months, zookeepers and animal-care staff helped these two Sumatran tigers, an endangered...

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L.A. Citizen Scientists Called on For City Nature Challenge

After launching the first-ever City Nature Challenge in 2016, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHMLA) and San Francisco’s California Academy of Sciences are hosting its second—and much larger—effort. This year’s City Nature Challenge will span 16 cities across the U.S. The multi-city event calls on current and aspiring citizen scientists, nature and science fans, and people of all ages and science backgrounds to observe and submit pictures...

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Shop Talk: Sing Into Spring

Whether you’re on the road again or simply out and about more often, having new tunes can make the trip that much sweeter. Listening at home as a family is fun as well. Visit www.NAPPAawards.com for more reviews of children’s and parenting products.

Portals Pop Up in Grand Park

Some unusual objects will appear in Grand Park on April 10 – large gold shipping containers. And they aren’t part of a nefarious plot or props from an upcoming Hollywood blockbuster. The containers are the centerpiece of an installation created by the Portals Project. They will function as “portals” that allow park visitors to communicate with people at other “portals” around the world. Twice a day, from April 10-23, you...

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los angeles events for tweens

Tween Time: Intriguing Exhibitions

Looking for an excuse to take your tween to a museum? Check out this trio of thought-provoking local exhibits. LACMA (5905 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; www.lacma.org) is home to a fascinating retrospective on the visionary artist/educator László Moholy-Nagy. Walking through the galleries, you will be amazed at how many media Moholy-Nagy excelled in: painting, photography, sculpture, advertising and stage design. He was forward-thinking in his use of materials (such as Plexiglass)...

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dodgers baseball

Dodgers Put Family Fun and New Tasty Treats on the 2017 Menu

The Dodgers kicked off the 2017 season April 3, and I took a ride out to Dodger Stadium recently for a sneak peek at what’s new. For most of my life, Dodger Stadium has been one of my favorite places to go. I loved going to games as a kid, took my daughters to their first games when they were young – I still remember the smiles when they had their...

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Where to Roll With Easter Egg Hunts in Los Angeles

April is an “egg”-citing time for egg-hunt lovers and Easter Bunny enthusiasts. But with dozens of egg hunts happening, it can be hard to know which one to pick. We have selected a quartet of egg hunts that look to be “egg”-specially “eggs”-traordinary and egg-stra big on their egg counts. Easter On The Farm, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. April 1-17, Underwood Family Farms, 3370 Sunset Valley Rd., Moorpark; www.underwoodfamilyfarms.com. $6 Mon.-Fri.,...

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Autism’s First Film Fest Comes to L.A.

What would you do if someone offered you the use of a movie theater for a couple of days? If you’re Matt Asner, vice president of development for Autism Society of America, you put on a film festival. AutFest, the first film festival solely dedicated to the portrayal of autism in film and filmmakers on the spectrum, takes place April 22-23 at the AMC 30 in Orange. “I’ve always thought...

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How to Do Earth Day in L.A.

Earth Day, which occurs on April 22, is a day to stop and smell the roses – and honor our beautiful, precious planet and work to protect it. In Southern California, we celebrate with events throughout the month. Be An Earth Star Get an early start on Earth Day at the Children’s Earth Day event hosted by Star ECO Station (10101 Jefferson Blvd., Culver City; www.ecostation.org) from 10 a.m.-4 p.m....

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pbs kids writing contest

Does Your Child Have The Write Stuff?

Do you have a child who loves to make up stories or draw illustrations? Stop the presses! The PBS Kids Writers Contest is back, and its April 30 deadline is approaching fast. Children in grades K-3 can submit original prose fiction or non-fiction or poetry that they have written and illustrated. First-, second- and third-place winners will be honored at each grade level, and every child who enters a submission...

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los angeles events

A Different Type Of World Series

  The Los Angeles Dodgers’ opening day isn’t until April 3, but you don’t need to wait until then to see major leaguers playing ball in Dodger Stadium. The fourth edition of the World Baseball Classic happens this spring, and the championship round takes place at Dodger Stadium, with semifinal games March 20-21 and the title game March 22. In this unique competition, teams composed of major league players from...

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quebec with kids

Bonjour: Visiting Quebec with Kids in Tow

It is Paris without the jarring jet lag, a European experience wrapped in the warmth of Canadian hospitality. And in little more than five hours, you and your family can be there. A vacation in Montreal and Quebec City, in the Canadian province of Quebec, is the stuff family-travel dreams are made of. There’s just enough of the exotic – French as the common language, centuries-old stone buildings lining narrow...

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Why This Dad Is On Pokemon Go

Last year, Los Angeles TV producer Brant Pinvidic found himself equally baffled by two things. One was the exploding popularity of the smartphone game Pokemon Go, which in the summer of 2016 was played by millions of people, including his whole family. The other was how to find common ground with his 13-year-old daughter, who had become obsessed with catching its virtual characters to the point where he caught her...

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Tween Time: Are You Experienced With Jimi Hendrix and Madagascar Slim?

This month presents several opportunities to see live concerts and classic photos of historic ones. Adventurous music fans should be aware of the Aratani World Series. This collaboration between Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (JACCC) and the Foundation for World Arts (World Festival of Sacred Music) offers a lineup of unique concerts between now and June 3 at the JACCC (244 S. San Pedro St., L.A.; www.festivalofsacredmusic.org). On March...

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Shop Talk: Game On!

Whether you want to head outdoors together or gather around the kitchen table, we found some award-winning products to help you rev up the fun! These are courtesy of the National Parenting Product Awards (NAPPA). For more information on NAPPA visit their website at www.NAPPAawards.com or follow them on social media at @NAPPAawards on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

los angeles family event

For Junior Chefs and Flapjack Fans

Cooking shows featuring kids are all over television, including “MasterChef Junior,” “Chopped Junior” and “Kids Baking Championship.” So it’s not surprising that food festivals also are appealing to kids who love to cook. This month, the All-Star Chef Classic returns to L.A. Live (800 W. Olympic Blvd., L.A.) March 8-11. Besides its adult-focused lineup of “Master Chef Dinners” and “Grill & Chill” and “Southern Eats” strolling events, the Classic will...

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events in los angeles

Dive Deep Without Leaving Shore

Starting March 6, you will be able to have an underwater adventure at the Natural History Museum without leaving the museum, or even getting wet! Its newest attraction “theBlu: An Underwater VR Experience” is an immersive virtual reality installation unlike anything else you can see at the museum. Visitors will first enter a gallery lounge area and are introduced to VR technology and theBlu experience. Then they enter one of...

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events in los angeles

Spring Fling Things: Experience L.A.’s Family Fun this March

  March 20 officially marks the start of spring, but signs of the season will be apparent even before the Vernal Equinox. At Descanso Gardens (1418 Descanso Dr., La Cañada Flintridge; www.descansogardens.com) the annual Cherry Blossom Festival takes place the first two weekends of March. Besides enjoying the beautiful blossoming trees, for an admission fee of $9 adults, $6 students and $4 ages 4-12, visitors can enjoy origami workshops, live...

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invent it challenge

The Invent It Challenge Shows How Inventive Children Can Be

  Is your child a tinkerer, a dreamer, a builder and fount of ideas? Do they see a problem, whether it is a hole in a sock or a hole in the ozone, and want to find a solution for it? Then you should know about the Spark!Lab Invent It Challenge. A partnership between Cricket Media and the Smithsonian's Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, this annual...

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Gathering for Good – and Baked Goods

“The great uniter of all people is food and social rights,” says Rustic Canyon Family of Restaurants Co-Owner Zoe Nathan. The celebrated baker has teamed up with a group of women and top bakers and pastry chefs across Los Angeles to create Bake & Gather, a grassroots campaign to bring people together in a family-friendly, bake sale-inspired setting to raise funds for causes the community feels passionate about. The first...

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Date Night: The Pan Am Experience

Does anyone ever deliberately set out to eat airplane food? If that food is part of Air Hollywood’s Pan Am Experience, you definitely should! Avoid the crowds at LAX, leave your luggage at home and head instead to a cluster of warehouses off the 118 Freeway in San Fernando to board a Pan Am 747 for a flight to the 1970s. Pan American World Airways disbanded in 1991 and the...

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Your Family Can Feed a Giraffe a Snack

Put “feed a giraffe” on your bucket list – then check it right off by pitching in at one of the Los Angeles Zoo’s new giraffe feedings. Just $5 gets you three acacia stems – one of the giraffe’s favorite foods, plucked fresh from the zoo landscaping – to feed to one of the zoo’s Masai giraffes. You’ll be so busy watching that 18-inch tongue stretch to collect acacia leaves...

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national children's chorus

USC Grad Students to Conduct for National Children’s Chorus

We are raising a baton to USC’s Thornton School of Music. They are investing in developing tomorrow’s youth while getting something back in return. The National Children’s Chorus, America’s leading chorus – which works with children 5-17 to develop their vocals skills while performing around the world – will work with USC’s musical department to further train select young conductors from its graduate program in choral conducting. The USC graduate students will serve as conductors for...

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february family friendly movies

February Film Feast for Families

Arriving this month are two non-Hollywood movies that should interest cinemaphiles young and old. One is a small Swiss animated film and the other is a big IMAX movie, but both celebrate the human condition in their own unique ways. “Dream Big: Engineering Our World,” the IMAX movie, will debut at the California Science Center (700 Exposition Park, L.A.; www.californiasciencecenter.org) Feb. 17. Created by MacGillivray Freeman Films, a studio that...

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youtube red

YouTube Red Gets Original for Kids with 4 New Series

YouTube's subscription service YouTube Red is expanding its content offerings for kids in 2017. The $9.99-a-month service currently offers a music service, access to original series and movies and an uninterrupted experience across YouTube, YouTube Music, YouTube Gaming and YouTube Kids. Just announced are four new original series for kids and teens this year. These new series will feature top creators: DanTDM , Joe and Cody of TheAtlanticCraft, popular tween music act L2M, and Fruit Ninja. This marks the first...

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move the world

Taking the Stage to Move the World

They learn to dance and they dance to create change. The L.A.-based participants in the nonprofit Move the World, most ages 9 to 21, create and perform original dance works that spotlight causes from the health of our oceans to homelessness among our youth. “I wanted to teach the kids not only to love performing, but for there to be a purpose behind it,” says Move the World Executive Director...

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grammy children's music

A High Five for Grammy Children’s Music Nominees

It might be a cliché to say that the nominees for the Grammy’s Best Children’s Album are all winners – but it’s true! This year’s five contending albums are all exceptional work, and each contains something musically distinctive. Frances England instills a lovely, winsome quality to the folk-pop tunes that populate her “Explorer of the World” album. Secret Agent 23 Skidoo mixes heady raps with genre-blending kid-hop grooves on his...

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community news

LA Opera Seeks Flood of Local Talent

LA Opera is seeking volunteer singers, actors and dancers to perform as part of the Community Ensemble in this spring’s production of “Noah’s Flood.” Participants will perform alongside professional singers and orchestra members from LA Opera. No audition is required for Community Ensemble roles, and roles for kids include “animals” who sing and act. Roles for teens and adults include “the doomed.” Rehearsals begin March 12 and continue through May...

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Toys for Valentine’s Play

This Valentine’s Day, gather your family for some playtime with these award-winning products. It’ll show your kids just how precious you think they are, deepen your bonds and create lasting memories.

tweens in la

Tween Time: Sleeping Beauty, Slides and Sand

This month’s Tween Time is brought to you by the letter S. First comes “Sleeping Beauty,” which the Russian National Ballet Theatre will perform at 8 p.m. Feb. 4 at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts (12700 Center Court Dr., Cerritos, www.cerritoscenter.com). The ballet company has received critical accolades for its versions of such classics as “Swan Lake” and “The Nutcracker.” This full-scale production presents colorful costumes and memorable...

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black history month

Celebrate African American History at These Six Spots

Since 1976, February has been designated as African American History Month (or Black History Month) and there are a number of opportunities to celebrate it around Southern California. STAR Eco Station (10101 Jefferson Blvd., Culver City; www.ecostation.org) will host its 17th annual African American Art Festival from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Feb. 11. This free event is filled with singing, dancing, drumming, poetry and educational exhibits. The 15th annual African-American Festival...

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family travel

Reconnecting During Annual Snow Trip to Mammoth Mountain

It was 17 degrees with snow on the ground. My fingers were starting to hurt from the cold even though I had liners underneath my gloves, but I wasn’t about to head indoors. Numb fingers, who cares? I was with my daughters dancing to Flo Rida, Usher, Rihanna and Katy Perry mixed in with some old-school favs like Bon Jovi, Duran Duran and the Go’s Go’s. Friday night of New...

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yoga in la

Family Yoga Expands at One Down Dog

Yoga is a meditative practice that many use to find calm and inner peace. So, why not make it a family affair? One Down Dog is known for its family-oriented yoga classes and it is expanding. New kids' classes just launched. Having offered prenatal, baby and me, toddler and me, and family yoga classes for some time, kids' classes were a natural extension of the studio's growing clientele. "After having my son, I realized how...

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au fudge

“Just Add Magic” Hosts Season Premiere at Au Fudge

Our own L.A. Parent kid reporter, Lola Bassirat, joined the fun at Jessica Biel’s  Au Fudge in West Hollywood Jan. 14 for the season two premiere party of Amazon Studio’s Original Series, “Just Add Magic.” In the series, loosely based on the book of the same name by Cindy Callaghan, three aspiring pre-teen chefs discover a magical cookbook full of recipes that have interesting powers – and consequences. The story...

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community news

A Double Dose Of Justin Roberts

Grammy-nominated children’s musician Justin Roberts will be in L.A. for two reasons in January. One reason is something you would expect: a concert. The other is something you might not expect: a theatrical performance. Roberts is coming to Pepperdine’s Smothers Theatre (24255 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu; www.arts.pepperdine.edu) with his band and a new CD, “Lemonade,” for 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. shows Jan. 21. He will also see “Hansel & Gretel: A Wickedly Delicious Musical Treat,” a musical featuring his original...

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disneyland

Light Parade Returns to Disneyland’s Main Street

In 1972, Disneyland debuted an evening attraction that became an icon of the amusement park’s experience. “The Main Street Electrical Parade” entertained more than 75 million guests during its original run, which ended in 1996. The parade continued at California Adventure from 2001-2010 and – during the 45 years since it first stepped off – there have been Electrical Parades at Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort...

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los angeles events

Oh, The Places You Can Explore For Free

The New Year begins with something that everyone can rally behind – free stuff! SoCal Museums is a group of museum professionals who want to raise public awareness about our local cultural institutions. On Jan. 29, everyone can benefit from this mission during Museum Free-For-All Day. Folks can check out more than 25 area museums without having to pay an admission fee. You can investigate the Old West at the...

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la families

6 Free Workouts for L.A. Families

Whether your goals for 2017 involve a narrower waistline, speedier 5K or just a longer and happier life, they’ll be well served by getting out and getting active with your family. Though the Southland has no shortage of gym memberships and specialty fitness classes, it also offers plenty of free – and fun! – workouts you and your kids will love. This might sound great when the fresh calendar year...

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la events

Five Ways To Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a day off where you can also take time to give something back. Here are five events families can attend to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and celebrate his impact on our nation. A Day of Service. MLK Day has also been designated as a Day of Service. The public is invited to White Point Nature Preserve (1600 W. Paseo del Mar, San...

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california farms

Find Big Family Fun on California Farms

When Erin Mahoney Harris became a mom 10 years ago, she found herself becoming more and more interested in where her family’s food came from. That led to a passion for gardening – a challenge in her urban L.A. environment. She and her growing family moved to Santa Monica, where Harris built up an extensive vegetable garden in containers and pots. And she began taking her family to visit local...

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Celebrating Human Abilities at Aquarium of the Pacific

What does a celebration of the artistic talents of people with disabilities have to do with taking care of the world’s oceans? Plenty, says Peter Martineau, marketing events manager at Aquarium of the Pacific, which will host its 14th annual Festival of Human Abilities this month. “The aquarium has always wanted to include as many people from as many backgrounds as possible,” says Martineau, pointing out that the aquarium’s mission...

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New Experiences At the Santa Barbara Zoo

Anyone can visit the Santa Barbara Zoo, but how about getting a chance to paint with an elephant or a porcupine, hand-feed a giraffe or meet the latest newborn critter in the zoo nursery? All of these VIP experiences and more are now possible thanks to a slew of new, exclusive packages just launched by the SB Zoo on IfOnly, a marketplace for experiences that support charitable causes.

movie memorabilia

Cool Movie Memorabilia And Where To Find It

  For film lovers, there is always something fascinating about seeing things that were part of their favorite films. Two new exhibits, one temporary and the other permanent, have recently opened in Los Angeles, allowing fans to glimpse props that were part of some very popular motion pictures. Earlier this year, Universal Studios (100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City; $99-$110 adults, $93-$104 ages 3-9) presented “From Coraline to Kubo: A...

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family getaway

Family Getaway: A Picturesque Holiday Weekend in the Santa Ynez Valley

This is the first year that both my daughters are in college, which makes the holiday time even more special. I’ve been looking forward to having our house full again since move-in day in September, so when we realized midweek that all four of us were free for the weekend, we knew we wanted to go somewhere fun together. We didn’t want to drive too far and we wanted somewhere...

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disney on ice

Disney on Ice Brings Worlds of Enchantment

The moment Mickey and Minnie Mouse skated onto the ice during Disney on Ice’s “Worlds of Enchantment” at Staples Center, I realized you are never too old for some Disney magic. The tour opened there Dec. 15 and both of my daughters were home from college for opening night, so we headed to Staples for some nostalgia and family fun. We were not disappointed. We started the evening with a...

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rose parade 2017

See the Rose Parade 2017 From All Angles

The Tournament of Roses is an American institution that Southern California can claim as its own. But instead of New Year’s Day, this year’s Rose Parade will take place on Monday, Jan. 2 with the fitting theme of “Never On Sunday.” Founders decreed back in 1893 that the parade would never be staged on a Sunday (and it never has), because they feared the festivities might scare the horses hitched...

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New Year's Eve for kids

Seven Spots To Ring In 2017 With Kids

When children want something, they typically want it “now!” This impatience can come in handy on New Year’s Eve, when Southern California hosts several early celebrations just for kids. Children most impatient to celebrate the new year should visit Zimmer Children’s Museum (6505 Wilshire Blvd., #100, L.A.; www.zimmermuseum.org) Dec. 30 for a New Year’s Eve Eve Party that will last from 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Revelers can make their own party...

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cavalia's odysseo

Cavalia’s “Odysseo” Offers Magic for All Ages

When talent, beauty, art, choreography and skill come together, it‘s magic. When they come together with horses, music and breathtaking visual arts, it’s “Cavalia Odysseo.” This experience is more than a show. It’s an event – and one for all ages. You don’t have to be a horse owner to appreciate this beautiful program. The immense and creative staging, using an IMAX-size screen depicting various locations and natural images, becomes...

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holiday traditions

See Hanukkah In a New Light

“Can I have a cell phone for Hanukkah?” is not an uncommon phrase to hear in L.A. leading up to the Jewish Festival of Lights. Hanukkah is not one of the major Jewish holidays, nor does it have a history of gift giving associated with it. But, because it is typically in December near that other holiday – a magical time filled with music, twinkling lights, swirling snowflakes, flying reindeer...

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skiing with kids

First-Time Skiing Tips for Success

First time skiing with kids? Use these tips to have a great experience  An avid skier since I was a teen, I was eager to share my favorite winter sport with my three kids. Young adults now, each of my kids stepped into his or her first pair of skis by age 4. Our family ski trips are among our favorite memories: Snacking on Cheerios on chairlifts while watching skiers...

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holiday travel

The Great Wolf Lodge Gets Buried by Snow

When the leaves start falling in Autumn, turning the world into a basket of warm and wonderful colors, the Great Wolf Lodge also undergoes a dramatic transformation that shifts with the seasons. Santa arrives at the lodge’s lobby the Saturday after Thanksgiving, accompanied by the lodge wolves, Violet and Willey, driving behind his sled in their cool convertible. In the back of the lobby, the group comes upon a giant...

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family travel

Celebrate the Season in San Francisco

The City by the Bay offers merry fun that will revive your holiday spirit. The lead-up to the holidays can be an especially exhausting time for parents. It’s a special time, yes, but – let’s be honest here – it is difficult to embrace the magic of the season when you’re face-planting into bed every night. Perhaps it’s time to hit the pause button, pack up the kids and some...

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Ultimate Frisbee Gets New Name and More Fun

  In 2024, the Olympic Games might come to L.A. And one of the possible new additions to the roster of athletic events is Ultimate (originally called Ultimate Frisbee). That gives your kids plenty of time to jump on the Ultimate bandwagon – and Southern California Youth Ultimate (SCYU) is ready to help. “Now is the time, more than ever, for L.A. to take the lead on this new and...

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A Magical Winter Wonderland Comes to Westlake Village

If you’re looking for a charming winter wonderland for the whole family, the Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village has snow, s’mores, cookies with Mrs. Clause and much more. The Four Seasons Westlake Village is one of my fav getaway spots. I have escaped work deadlines many times with my mom friends to find absolute tranquility and bliss in the hotel’s exquisite spa. I’ve enjoyed overnight stays here with my...

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los angeles events

Cinderella With a Twist

We all know the story of the girl who went to the ball, lost her glass slipper and found her prince. For its holiday Panto at the Playhouse production, the Pasadena Playhouse is putting a holiday spin on the tale and calling it “A Cinderella Christmas.” To play Cinderella, they’ve tapped Lauren Taylor of the Disney Channel’s “Best Friends Whenever.” “I grew up, of course, idolizing Cinderella,” says Taylor, who...

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snow activities

A Dozen Shades of L.A. Winter Fun

Sometimes it’s hard to tell it is December in California. The skies remain sunny and the temperature touches 80. Sometimes you get the itch for a visit from winter, particularly when that doesn’t require driving on icy roads. This month offers several new spots that can cure your “lack of winter” blues as well as some continuing from November. A Winter Wonderfest takes over Discovery Cube L.A. (11800 Foothill Blvd.,...

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7 Don’t-Miss Events for December

Check out these great family events happening in December. They are our top picks for family fun.

los angeles holiday events

Nutcracker Alternatives For Tweens

“Another Nutcracker?” your tween might moan after years of going to see sugar plum fairies dancing across stages. Your teenager might even become a Scrooge about seeing “A Christmas Carol” for the 10th time. Happily, a few December performances offer something different enough that they might hold your kids’ interest. Trumpeter Jeff Bordes will be something of a Louisiana Santa at the James Armstrong Theatre (3330 Civic Center Dr., Torrance;...

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los angeles holiday events

Get in Character for Christmas

Among best-known Christmas characters, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Grinch must rank in the top five. And both of them can be found in Los Angeles this month. Rudolph will visit just before Christmas as the star of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical,” which has a four-show run at the Dolby Theater (6801 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood;www.rudolphthemusical.com) at 1, 4 and 7 p.m. Dec. 23 and 10:30 a.m. Dec....

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A Sensory-Friendly Nutcracker Comes to Theaters

If you have a child on the autism spectrum, you might have shied away from ballet – even that most child-friendly ballet, “The Nutcracker.” Children with sensory issues might be overwhelmed by the sound and the spectacle. And those with attention deficits could have a tough time staying quietly in their seats. This month, the Autism Society of America is helping bring “The Nutcracker” to kids with autism in a...

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los angeles holiday events

A Dozen Ways to Celebrate the Season around LA

Take a historical perspective to bring jolly fun to your family’s holidays. Southern California seems always interested in the future – the next cool thing, the next hot trend. Sometimes, however, it is nice to think about the past. The Christmas season is a particularly fitting occasion for this since many generations gather together to celebrate. And despite its modernistic attitude, Southern California has quite a few place that celebrate...

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choir programs in la

Choir Programs Let Kids Sing a Song

Given the chance, most kids love to sing and lots of L.A. programs will help them tune in  As Artistic Director Misha Shtangrud plays the piano to start a rehearsal for MUSYCA Children’s Choir, he sings, “Hello everybody, yes indeed, let’s make music, yes indeed.” His young students joyfully sing along, clearly enjoying the upbeat music and seamlessly transitioning to “Do Re Mi” and “Seasons of Love.” The kids, ages...

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children's resale shops in la

Where to Buy, Sell or Trade Your Kids’ Clothes in L.A.

Buying used clothing for children makes a lot of sense, and if you can clear their closets of outgrown duds at the same time, it’s a no-brainer. I hit up the top resale shops in the L.A. area to find out what types of deals I could make. Here’s the rundown on these awesome spots! The Green Bean: This cozy, colorful Eagle Rock shop is run by Traci Green of...

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Light Up Your Winter at These Family Venues

The L.A. Zoo Lights, which USA Today named one of the “Best Zoo Lights” of 2015, return to dazzle you this holiday season. Visitors can wander around an illuminated winter wonderland filled with sparkling snowflakes, twinkling tunnels and a musical light-and-water show. Because this is the zoo, there will be animals, but not like the ones you are accustomed to. There will be animated snakes, monkeys, elephants and other creatures,...

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holiday traditions

Family Holiday Traditions Worth Sharing

Add any of these ideas from L.A. families to your seasonal celebration. When you roast a Thanksgiving turkey in my house, you have to use Grandad’s stuffing recipe. And all the up-and-coming young cooks in the family are pressed to take a good whiff of the stuffing so they can learn how much poultry seasoning to add. (Sniffing is the best way to tell.) Family and friends love my Christmas...

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Volunteer on Thanksgiving

Give a Little Back This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time to consider the many things we are thankful for. It is also a time to become aware of those around us who are in need. Family Volunteer Day, a tradition for 25 years, offers opportunities to lend a helping hand in your community. And when parents and kids participate together, kids get to learn about volunteering and how much good a person can do in the...

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5 Turkey Trots for Your Thanksgiving Day Exercise

Thanksgiving is known as a day to feast. But before pigging out on turkey, you might want to get a little exercise in – just to balance out your day. Across Southern California, there will be a number of “turkey trot” events Thanksgiving Day where you can work off some calories before adding more on. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, many of these events also raise money for charities. The...

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Shop Talk: What’s Cookin?

The holiday season is the perfect time to show off those culinary skills. Don't have any? Don't fret! Here are some tools and treats that will have you whipping up tasty goodness in no time.

Three for Tweens to Explore the Arts or Aerospace

When your kids outgrow story times and kids clubs and hit the double-digits in age, it can be tricky to find activities and events that interest them. Here is a trio of Los Angeles events that target tweens and are probably acceptable for parents, too. The Norton Simon Museum (411 W Colorado Blvd, Pasadena; www.nortonsimon.org) will offer a Middle School ArtsLab from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Nov. 16 that will explore Renaissance...

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snow activities in la

Snow, Ice, Chill This Winter for Kids of All Ages

When Southern Californians want to experience a blast of winter fun, they have a surprising number of options. One popular choice is heading to one of the outdoor ice rinks that pop up this time of year. For the 19th year, the Holiday Ice Rink returns to Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles (532 S. Olive St., L.A.; www.holidayicerinkdowntownla.com). Open from Nov. 10 through Jan. 18, this 7,200-square-foot rink presents...

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Make These Cute, Crafty Owls

As a parent and an art teacher, I permanently have my eyes on the lookout for materials that are fun, inexpensive and kid-friendly. Craft sticks have gotten on my radar lately, since you can buy them in so many lengths and widths, and since craft stores often sell so many fun wooden shapes with them. I love that they allow children to get the sense of building and creating something...

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los angeles events

TORUK Will Take You to the Blue World Of Pandora

What happens when the imaginative folks at Cirque du Soleil team with innovative filmmaker James Cameron? You get “TORUK – The First Flight.” In this magical production, audiences will travel to Pandora, the world featured in Cameron’s blockbuster film “Avatar.” As one would expect from a Cirque show, “TORUK” presents a dazzling mix of state-of-the art technology and amazing human athleticism. It also uses unique puppetry, cutting-edge stagecraft and elaborate...

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7 Don’t-Miss Family Events For November

Here are our top picks for upcoming family fun in and around L.A. Plan ahead for maximum family fun. Hang Around With Spiders: You’ll be amazed by the tangled web in the Natural History Museum’s Spider Pavilion. (Happening Nov. 1) A Festival To Fall For: The Aquarium of the Pacific’s Autumn Festival spotlights the cultures of China, Korea, Japan and the Philippines through live performances, art and food. (Happening Nov....

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girlfriend getaways

Girlfriend Getaways: Moms’ Time Out

This Sonoma girlfriends’ getaway is perfect for pals with a personality. Repeat after me: “I deserve a break from my momly duties. My girlfriends deserve a break. We are awesome, therefore we should do awesome things on our break.” Of course, escaping your family’s hectic schedule is not easy, nor is coordinating a getaway with busy friends. And finding a location not too far from home with activities that appeal...

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los angeles attractions

Technology Takes a Front Seat This October

October is often full of surprises, and technology brings a surprising twist to two new exhibits opening this month. You can experience a high-tech musical adventure when you venture into the Orbit Pavilion. Located on the Celebration Lawn of the Huntington Gardens (1151 Oxford Road, San Marino; www.huntington.org), this large nautilus-shell-shaped aluminum sculptural installation is a unique collaboration between NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Huntington. From Oct. 29-Feb....

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kids home

Shop Talk: Home Sweet Home

Creating that perfect living space is always a work in progress, but adding just a few things here and there can really turn a house into a home. For more product reviews, visit NAPPAawards.com

family recipes

Family Recipes: Pancakes On the House

Chef Kristina Mikyste of Doma Kitchen shares a fun dish you can top any way you like  Ricotta cheese is an unusual addition to pancakes, but it is similar to the farmers’ cheese Kristina Mikyste used growing up in Lithuania – in a family of chefs. Needless to say, the family did a lot of cooking. “Especially Sunday,” says Mikyste, “because it’s a family day, so we always cooked. It’s...

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girls dolls

L.A. Mom Designs Dolls Representing the Global Scene

You can learn a lot about a little girl by watching her play with dolls. Stacey McBride-Irby, a Gardena native, played out her love of fashion with Barbie dolls. That love never waned, and after earning a degree in fashion design from Los Angeles Trade-Tech College, she turned her childhood passion into a design career. McBride-Irby started as a design assistant for Barbie doll toy maker Mattel. “After an interview,...

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museums for kids in la

Enter the Wonderful World of Pixar

Dory, Sully, Buzz Lightyear and WALL•E are just some of the beloved characters in Pixar family films. Now you can explore the technology behind Pixar’s movie magic at a new exhibit, “The Science Behind Pixar,” making its West Coast premiere at the California Science Center, (700 Exposition Park Dr., L.A.; www.californiasciencecenter.org), one of many museums for kids in LA. “The Science Behind Pixar” offers a fascinating insider’s look at how...

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Catch Andrew and Polly Live for Ear Snacks in LA

Andrew and Polly are a familiar presence in Los Angeles things to do in the family music scene, and their popularity has been growing due in no small part to the podcast, “Ear Snacks,” that they launched last year. Each episode explores a different topic with impressive depth. It’s like a junior version of “This American Life.” The award-winning husband-and-wife duo have collected tunes from their show’s first season for...

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fun ideas for kids

Goodwill’s BOO-Tiques Scare up Deals for Halloween Costumes

The Halloween shopping season is underway at Goodwill Southern California’s 81 stores. The retailer brings back its popular Halloween BOO-Tiques, providing shoppers with everything Halloween. Goodwill Southern California’s Halloween BOO-Tiques have become known as one of Southern California’s most popular one-stop shops for finding deeply discounted Halloween costumes and accessories. Shopping at GSC’s Halloween BOO-Tiques, which feature Halloween-inspired costumes, make-up, home decorations and props, has become a big tradition among...

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things to do in la

October LEGO Fun For Families

LEGO lovers have two reasons to be excited about October. The month starts off with the LEGO Travel Adventure opening at Discovery Cube LA. (11800 Foothill Blvd., L.A.; www.discoverycube.com/la). In this hands-on exhibit running Oct. 1-Jan. 16, kids can suit up like a pilot, race-car driver or ship captain and explore the air, Earth or seas in specially designed LEGO vehicles. Through its interactive elements, the exhibit allows children to...

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los angeles events

Make the Most of Museum Day Live

The Smithsonian is home to nine important research centers and publishes Smithsonian magazine. Its 19 museums contain an unparalleled treasury of historic items and all have free admission. “Free” is central to another great thing about the Smithsonian – its annual Museum Day Live. This event, taking place Sept. 24 this year and sponsored by Smithsonian magazine, gives people the opportunity to visit hundreds of museums across the country for...

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community news

Art Lessons That Think Inside the Box

When a friend bemoaned the limited art instruction options for her son in their school and community, Lauren Perelmuter, founder of Art to Grow On Children’s Art Center, sent the boy a Frank Lloyd Wright lesson in a box. His mom was so thrilled that she brought the program into her second-grade classroom, and The Art Box Academy was born. Art to Grow On offers mobile art classes in schools,...

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los angeles things to do

An Environmentally Strong September

The weekend of Sept. 16-18 offers three different opportunities to help make our planet a little bit better. The L.A. Convention Center (1201 S. Figueroa St.) will “go green” from noon-6 p.m. Sept. 16, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 17 and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 18 when the annual Green Festival Expo returns. Find out how you can help win the climate-change battle through hands-on demos, expert speakers and panel discussions. Expo-goers...

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los angeles events

Gather the Family for We Are LA Festival

What is more fun than a big, family-friendly music festival? A big, family-friendly music festival that is also a benefit! The first We Are LA Family Music Festival is just that type of concert, a day of great music for a great cause. The musical lineup is a who’s who of Southern California’s children’s music scene. Rhythm Child, Ozokidz, Lisa Loeb, The Hollow Trees, Lucky Diaz and The Family Jam...

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positive parenting

Positive Parenting: Getting Some Headspace with a New App

Parents looking to give their kids a mindfulness boost – and get one for themselves – have a new option. This summer, the creators of the Headspace meditation app launched Headspace for Kids. Available to Headspace subscribers ($7.99-$12.95 per month), Headspace for Kids features meditations on five themes – calm, kindness, focus, sleep and waking up – for ages 5 and younger, 6-8 and 9-12. The meditations are designed for...

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positive parenting

Practice, Not Perfection: Mindfulness Meditation for Kids

Meditation is a simple tool that can help kids develop focus and feel more calm.  And it can be enjoyable. Parents can meditate with kids in playful ways that create safe space for emotions to surface and imaginations to be set free. But getting there takes some practice. Mindfulness practice and meditation are different for kids than for adults, but their purpose is the same: to build awareness by taking...

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los angeles attractions

Giving Kids a Strong Hold on Fitness

If monkeys had a playroom, it would be the Stronghold Climbing Gym in Downtown Los Angeles. Located in the historic building that once housed the California Edison Company’s Los Angeles #3 Steam Power Plant, in the Brewery Arts Complex, this state-of-the-art facility houses hundreds of opportunities to scale walls and find routes to the top, across and under various types of simulated climbing terrain. For those who climb, it seems...

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fun ideas for kids

Angel City Derby Gets Girls into Four-Wheel Drive

It’s Saturday morning, and a couple dozen girls age 7-18 are skating around a Gardena warehouse on old-fashioned four-wheel skates. As their coach, Shilow “RegulateHer” Castro, shouts instructions, they pair up and practice nudging each other out of the oval track striped on the cement floor. The girls wear helmets, knee and elbow pads and wrist guards, which are standard for their sport: roller derby. Their team, Angel City Junior...

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los angeles attractions

Los Angeles Attractions: BYOB (Bring Your Own Baby) to Hollywood

Got a new baby? Tired of watching Netflix from your living room couch? Pack up your kiddo and head to movie town! The TCL Chinese 6 Theatre at Hollywood & Highland (6901 Hollywood Blvd., 3rd floor) this summer launched weekly BYOB screenings at 11 a.m. Wednesdays, just for new parents and their little ones. Movie tickets are a discounted $8, parking is $2 (with validation, stroller parking is free) and...

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community news

Community News: Eat Out to Help the Hungry

Since 2008, the Dine Out For No Kid Hungry program has raised more than $37 million to help end childhood hunger right here in the U.S. You might be surprised to learn in community news that, according to a study by the USDA Household Food Security, more than 16 million children here face hunger. It is easy to support the No Kid Hungry campaign, organized by the nonprofit Share Our...

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fun ideas for kids

The Globe-Trotting Musical Life of Stephen Michael Schwartz

The name Stephen Michael Schwartz is synonymous with fun ideas for kids. He is well-known in America’s family music scene, from his work in the award-winning group Parachute Express through his current solo career. But did you know he is also well-known in China? He started touring that country in 2010 and, due to his popularity, he now travels there twice a year. The Glendale-based performer recently chatted about playing...

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positive parenting

On The Record: Becoming a Butterfly Parent

Rhinoceroses are strong, have endurance and thick skin. A rhino charges toward its goals and never stops until it gets there. As a child, my bedtime stories were not about princesses and unicorns. They were about living life like a rhinoceros and not a cow. When I became a mother and had little rhinos of my own, I naturally wanted the same for them – to be strong and determined....

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family fun

“Kubo And The Two Strings” Hits All The Right Notes

Some movies are easy to describe. Like the one where a boy discovers an alien stranded on Earth. Or the film about a dad searching for his lost son (OK, father and son are fish). Then there are the movies that aren’t simple to synopsize – such as “Inside Out” or any of “The Avengers” films. “Kubo and the Two Strings,” the latest cinematic offering from the wonderfully creative folks...

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special needs

Sign-ups Open For The Miracle Project Fall Theater Classes

The Miracle Project – an innovative program that uses theater, music and movement to help individuals with autism and other disabilities build self-confidence, communication skills and friendships – is kicking off its fall schedule of courses in September. Space is limited, and early registration is strongly recommended. Several classes will be held Tuesdays at the Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts (9390 Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills; www.thewallis.org) from Sept....

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community news

Dongpo Kitchen Opens at Universal CityWalk

There's a new restaurant player in town at Universal CityWalk. Dongpo Kitchen, inspired by restaurant Meizhou Dongpo and its owners, Chef Mr. Wang and his wife Mrs. Liang, is serving up authentic Sichuan cuisine in the first-ever U.S. casual dining concept exclusively at the iconic open-air destination. Renowned for its Sichuan-style fusion of traditional and creative cooking, Meizhou Dongpo has  more than 100 locations across China. In 2008, the 20-year...

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community news

Astronaut Chris Hadfield Shares His Children’s Book

Astronaut Chris Hadfield, possibly best known for his zero-gravity music video of David Bowie’s song “Space Oddity,” is coming to town to share his latest book, “The Darkest Dark.” Hadfield will appear from 7-8:30 p.m. Sept. 14 at Saint Timothy Church, 10425 W. Pico Blvd., L.A. Hadfield is also the author of “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth” and “You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes,” and...

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fun ideas for kids

A Kiss of Creativity Comes to Encino

A new art studio that caters to kids opened this spring at Encino Town Center, teaching arts skills while allowing children’s self-directed creativity to flourish. Petit Bizoo, “a small kiss” in French, serves ages 4 and up, and offers mommy-and-me classes for toddlers and unique workshops for adult art lovers as well. “I want to teach art and awareness to families, schools, adults and children. [To show them] that art...

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los angeles things to do

Frozen Fruit Co Launches Flagship Soft Serve Store In Santa Monica

There is a new frozen dessert player in Santa Monica, one that aims to change your entire perception of what soft serve should taste like and be made of giving families in Los Angeles things to do. The recently opened Frozen Fruit Co makes an entirely new type of soft serve made just from fruit. Dairy free, vegan, paleo and only sweetened with natural fruit sugars, it’s designed to be...

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summer activities

Girls’ Yoga Line ivivva Celebrates Summer

It’s not even 9 a.m. on a recent cloudy Saturday, but scores of wide-awake teen and pre-teen girls make their way onto the Santa Monica pier for the ivivva Coast-to-Coast Summer Festival 2016. Enthusiastic fans of the company’s athletic gear, designed especially for girls like them, they are dressed in lavender festival tanks and yoga pants or shorts. They’re here to move, dance, celebrate the summer and check out ivivva’s...

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things to do in la

Little Prince Movie Doesn’t Disappoint

Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s novella “The Little Prince” is undoubtedly one of the most well-known books for children, or adults, around the world. The book has been translated into more than 250 languages and dialects and has sold more than 80 million copies. With such a familiar and beloved book, there are major challenges for a film adaptation. With “The Little Prince,” these challenges are increased because the short book doesn’t...

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los angeles events

Support TreePeople’s Once Upon a Canyon Night Performance Series

Southern California is home to many outdoor summer festivals, but it is hard to find one quite as unique as Once Upon A Canyon Night. This performance series offers interesting shows, a lovely setting and a great cause. The Great Cause: The series serves as a fundraiser for TreePeople. It’s a low-key affair, with no proselytizing and no one going through the crowd asking for extra donations. All of the...

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fun things to do in la

A Brick-Tastic Time for LEGO Builders

Brick Fest Live isn’t a place where contractors compare building materials, it's the epitome of fun things to do in LA for builders of all ages. The building at Brick Fest Live involves the small plastic pieces commonly known as LEGOs. Fest-goers can race their custom-built LEGO cars in the Brick Fest Derby or play a game of mini-golf on the Brick-Links. They can showcase their LEGO video game skills,...

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fun ideas for kids

Say “Hello Friend!” To Your Musical Buddies, The Hollow Trees

For more than a decade, The Hollow Trees have been entertaining families with their music. You can call their sound “folksy” not only because their songs draw upon a variety of American folk and roots styles but also because of their warm and friendly sound. The L.A.-based band’s new album is even entitled, “Hello Friend!” The group’s co-founder, Gregory McIlvaine (aka Gregory Hollow Tree), recently filled us in about the...

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los angeles events

Celebrate Sharks, Crawfish and Frogs with Art, Food and Fun

An interesting array of aquatic creatures will be in the spotlight this August. Long Beach’s Rainbow Lagoon (Shoreline Village Drive and Linden Avenue) will see an influx of mini-crustaceans when the 23rd annual Crawfish Festival returns from noon-10 p.m. Aug. 6 and 7. Festivalgoers can feast on this Louisiana delicacy while enjoying Bayou-inspired attractions including an Orleans Second Line Parade, carnival games, live music, a Karaoke Lounge, dancing and a...

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positive parenting

Chat Room with Rosalie Tucker: Creating Cultural Empathy Through the Arts

Rosalie Tucker grew up loving the spotlight. Her passion for dance and performing began at age 5 and continued through college. While pursuing her bachelor’s degree in World Arts and Cultures and Choreography at UCLA, she discovered another passion – arts education. For Tucker, dance and theater were always the gatewayS to explore the larger issues of social justice and cultural understanding. As the Head of School and Teacher Programs...

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positive parenting

Making a Comedy Connection

Kent Skov knows a thing or two about comedy and fun ideas for kids. He founded the L.A. Connection Comedy Theatre in 1977, and has trained actors Matthew Perry and Will Ferrell, among others. The hilarious and venerable institution moved this summer from Sherman Oaks to a new location in Burbank, but will offer the same schedule of performances and classes – including Comedy Improv for Kids and Teens classes...

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fun ideas for kids

LA’s Great 8: Exceptional Outdoor Playgrounds

If you have grown tired of your usual haunts of fun ideas for kids and are looking to try more creative, unusual and adventurous playground options, you still have some summer vacation left to go exploring! Here are a few parks that stand out, including a couple of newly opened options to keep things fresh. Slip-Sliding Away While the recently opened South Park playground in Hermosa Beach (425 Valley Dr.)...

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This Special-Needs Camp Hires Counselors On the Spectrum

All over Los Angeles this summer, high school and college students are earning money and gaining experience as camp counselors. When college student and L.A. resident Carter Theiro shows up for work each morning and joins 130 camp counselors at a South Los Angeles camp, he brings a unique perspective to the job. Theiro, 19 and a student at Los Angeles Valley College, is on the autism spectrum. This is his third year as...

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parenting

Doc Talk: How to Handle the Heat Like a Pro

Whether your child is at the beach, on the ball field or just out playing in the park, heat-related illness is a danger this time of year. Parents often throw around the term “heat stroke,” but are usually using it incorrectly. There are many forms of heat-related illness. Heat Cramps/Edema/Syncope: It doesn’t have to be extraordinarily hot for children to develop cramps and muscle pain or swelling (edema) of the...

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los angeles attractions

L.A. Nature Pass Gives All-in-One for Zoo, Museum and Aquarium Fun

The Aquarium of the Pacific, the Natural History Museum and the L.A. Zoo have partnered to create the Nature Pass, a one-of-a-kind ticket package that offers discounted admission to these three local institutions. With a Nature Pass, families can save money while learning about animals that existed in the past and those that live today – on land, in water and in the air. You can see the Zoo’s cute...

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Mystery Solved! If it weren’t for those meddling kids…

I just experienced the most spectacular date night out with friends unique to all the fun things to do in LA, but unfortunately, I can’t tell you about it. Well, that’s not entirely true. I can tell you a little. Last month, my husband and I planned a “triple” date with friends and headed to the Westside to partake in Escape Key Entertainment’s interactive, live-action game. Up to six people...

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los angeles events

The Ford Theatre’s Fond Return

It’s a big new world at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre (2580 Cahuenga Ave. East, L.A.; www.fordtheatres.org). The performance space has re-opened after a huge renovation, and that means Big World Fun is back after a year’s absence. While the Amphitheatre has seen major improvements, Big World Fun is sticking with tradition, introducing children to music and cultures from around the globe. This summer’s six sessions start July 23 with...

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los angeles attractions

Car Museums Worth the Drive

I guess it’s only appropriate that here in the traffic capital of the world we have two excellent museums dedicated to the evolution of the car. The irony, of course, is that while the Petersen Automotive Museum is only about 11 miles from the Automobile Driving Museum, it could take you more than an hour to get from one to the other. On the bright side, you’ll have lots of...

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los angeles attractions

4 Classic Carousels for L.A. Family Fun

Want to share an American history lesson with your kids this summer without dragging them to a state capital? Take them for a whirl on an antique carousel. “When you take your kids on a classic carousel they’ll learn lessons about our country that go beyond mere words. You are allowing them to physically experience history,” says Barbara Williams, who was manager of operations for the Santa Monica Pier Carousel...

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fun ideas for kids

Kid’s Clubs Turn L.A. Malls into Community Hangouts

There was a time when people went to “the mall” to shop for fun things to do in LA, and – if you were a tween – for a place to hang out with your friends. You could stroll (indoors) from store to store, and maybe hit the food court. That began to change when The Grove opened in L.A.’s Fairfax district in 2002. Featuring open space with fountains and...

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summer activities

The Natural History Museum Goes Prehistoric

Southern California’s dinosaur invasion gathers speed in July. In April, “Dinosaurs Unextinct” came to life at the L.A. Zoo and you can still encounter the 17 life-size animatronic creatures there through the end of October. “Extreme Dinosaurs” appeared at the Discovery Cube OC in late May and will remain there until Sept. 4. This month, pterosaurs will be arriving at the Natural History Museum. The NHM’s new “Pterosaurs: Flight in...

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fun ideas for kids

Q&A With Secret Agent 23 Skidoo

True to his name, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo is a man of mystery with fun ideas for kids. But while his true identity remains rather elusive, he is well-known in the family music scene. Since his 2009 debut “Easy,” Skidoo has enchanted audiences with his signature “kid-hop” music, which melds smartly crafted raps with funk-happy grooves. His music is very much a family effort, with his wife Brooke (aka Bootysattva)...

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fun summer activities

Blackberry Crumble: A Sweet Taste of Childhood

Katie Shyne of Taste on Melrose shares fond memories and a Spiced Blackberry Crumble recipe. Doesn’t blackberry picking with your mom sound like a delicious way to spend a morning? Katie Shyne, executive pastry chef at Taste on Melrose, brings her childhood memory and a childhood favorite recipe to life in this Spiced Blackberry Crumble. “It’s one of the first things I learned how to make when I was a...

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summer activities

Summer Fairs for LA Families

Summer fun isn’t really limited to summer in Southern California. Major League Baseball? Those games are played into October. And we watch movies outdoors and go to the beach all year. But one kind of fun only happens in the summer, even here – the county fair! Summer fair season moves up the coast from Orange County to Ventura before heading east to Pomona. The 126th OC Fair commences July 15...

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Meet the Beatles

Since Beatlemania exploded in 1963-64, The Beatles have been a critical and popular success, selling more than 600 million records around the world. Once a bunch of upstart rock-and-rollers, their songs now exist as music the whole family enjoys. This August marks 50 years since the Beatles’ final tour. Their second-to-last concert took place at Dodger Stadium Aug. 28, 1966. The Grammy Museum is honoring this historic anniversary, and the group’s continuing legacy, with...

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special needs beach wheelchairs

Freewheeling At the Beach

A day at the beach is a quintessential SoCal summer family outing. And even if your child uses a wheelchair, you can hit the sand. Ashley Lyn Olson was paralyzed in a car accident at age 14, and has become a lifelong access advocate. In 2006, she launched wheelchairtraveling.com to encourage people in wheelchairs to “come access your world.” The northern California resident travels the globe and often hits the...

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community news

Community News: Getting In the Swing of Things

Imagine a picturesque Sunday morning. A cluster of fluffy cumulus clouds peppers a saturated blue sky as the vivid sun slowly stretches its legs across the horizon. The sounds of chirping birds and the click of a distant water sprinkler wallows in your ear. It’s as if Ansel Adams is supposed to capture this moment, but it’s only you and your seven iron as a ball rests 145 yards from...

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A Luxury KOA Adventure in Ventura Ranch

Before children, camping was a dirty adventure. We slept on the ground with only a thin layer of stuffed polyester protecting our bodies from the rocks. We cooked on grills powered by fires we painstakingly built from twigs and newspapers. We brought our own toilet paper and peed in nature. After my first son was born, lack of sleep meant I couldn't muster up the enthusiasm for the great outdoors....

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An Animated Look at the World of Autism

Lots of kids love Disney animated films, watching them again and again until their parents are driven to distraction – and have memorized most of the dialog. Owen Suskind’s parents, though, don’t complain about his Disney obsession. They credit it with helping bring him back to them. The documentary “Life, Animated,” in local theaters beginning July 1, lets us share that journey. Near the beginning of the film we see...

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Firework-free Festivities For the Fourth

The Fourth of July and fireworks are just about as synonymous as you can get. Look up that night and you can’t miss the sparkle. But what if you are looking to celebrate the holiday without the fireworks? Here are a few events where the fun isn’t fueled by pyrotechnics. Independence In Print It’s not every day that you have the chance to meet Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and John...

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fun ideas for kids

Shop Talk: Summer Friendly Products for Your Family

Days are long and the kids are out of school. Make it a summer to remember with these products for outdoor fun ideas for kids.

fun summer activities

Family Fun Yoga Festivals to Bliss up this Summer

So you are a yogi mom or dad and want to go to festivals and enjoy all blissful workshops by your favorite teachers, but you don’t want to have to get a sitter for the kids? I have the guide for you! At these family-friendly festivals, your kids will have just as much fun as you do. Wanderlust, July 14-16, Squaw Valley Featuring MC Yoga and DJ Drez, Gurmuk, Dharma...

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Teletubbies Returns with Upgrades and New Fun

Eh-Oh! Teletubbies TV series is back on the air! The preschool show that features characters with screens on their bellies and antennas sprouting from their heads has returned on Nick. Jr. The reboot features the same main characters –Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa, Po and their companion Noo-Noo – as the original, but will add some updates including Touch Screen Tummies, the Tubby Phone, The Dup Dup (which replaces the dome’s...

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summer activities

Stay Scholastic This Summer

  Since 2009, Scholastic has held its Summer Reading Challenge to keep kids excited about books. So far, kids have logged more than one billion reading minutes worldwide in the global online program. For this year summer’s program, the theme is “Be A Reading Superhero.” Besides logging their minutes online, kids will also get to unlock stories from authors who will reveal how they became reading superheroes.  As part of...

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positive parenting

Six Summer Essentials for Family Harmony

With a little advance planning, summer break with the kids at home does not have to be anxiety-filled. As the school year winds down, so do the hectic days of getting the kids dressed, getting lunches made and rushing out the door to make it before the first bell rings. Summer vacation gives parents and kids a respite from the demanding daily schedule. Oftentimes kids associate the end of the...

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summer activities

Party Time Together: Tips for Planning a Joint Birthday Party

The joys of summer are here. More sun, more free time and – for reasons all too familiar – more birthday parties. More and more, parents are sharing the load of party planning and saving some days of partygoing by arranging joint birthday parties. The practice is familiar to those of us with twins, but now pals at school and kids in the same playgroups with birthdays close together on...

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los angeles attractions

At 75, Knott’s Berry Farm Calico Ghost Town Makes the Old New Again

A rickety ride is revamped, a ghost town comes alive and a restaurant gets a bar at Knott’s Berry Farm. Knott’s Berry Farm has something both old and new this summer. Now through Sept. 5, the amusement park is celebrating the 75th anniversary of its Ghost Town with new experiences that take you back in time and thrust you into the future. Called Ghost Town Alive!, the new interactive experience...

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fun ideas for kids

5 Tips for Healthy Summer Camp Lunches

Camp time is here. You want your kids to be well nourished and enjoy their lunch, but kids often get bored with the food parents pack, and parents have a challenging time coming up with new lunch ideas. Kids enjoy camp lunches that have balance, variety and include surprise treats. The treats are small, but are delicious and hit the spot.   Here are five tips to help you build...

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summer activities

Ready For Summer With Pie

When strawberries come into season in the spring, at my house we start out by just bingeing on them plain – or with maybe a touch of whipped cream. Eventually, we get around to some shortcake. Valerie Gordon of Valerie Confections – with locations in L.A., Echo Park and at Grand Central Market downtown – offers a recipe for another strawberry classic, strawberry-rhubarb pie. “Kids love pies,” says the mom...

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family travel

Shop Talk: 6 Family Travel Must-Haves

Road trips, getaways, flights and daycations. Here are some fun finds for the family’s next vacation. For more product reviews, visit NAPPAawards.com. Wish You Were Here Share vacation highlights with friends by sending customized postcards with the Get Postly app ($1.99 per card, www.getpostly.com). Snap a picture with your phone, upload it to the app, write a message and send. Available for iOS and Android.        Sweet Dreams...

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community news

Tour the Hyperion Treatment Plant and Environmental Learning Center

Who hasn’t wondered what happens after you flush the toilet? You and the kids can find detailed answers – and even see for yourselves – at the Hyperion Water Treatment Plant near Dockweiler Beach. If that sounds like a less-than-appealing prospect, consider this: The Hyperion facility processes 340 million gallons of wastewater daily and is one of the largest treatment plants in the world. The scale alone makes this marvel...

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family fun magazine

Swimsuit Shopping for Moms in LA

It's officially summer and the need for a swimsuit can no longer be ignored. Whether it’s an anniversary trip, beach day with the kids or a girls-only retreat, you may want to wear something new in the water. But for some Moms, the challenge of swimsuit shopping is one we'd rather avoid. Whether you struggle to find the right fit for your post-baby body or your focus on function has...

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Take the Family Out to Dodger Stadium

As the Dodgers battle for first place in the National League West and a drive to the playoffs, Dodger Stadium this summer is again one of the best places to enjoy a family outing. And this year the Dodgers are going even farther to make sure you have a good time and get value for your dollar. Of the 81 home games this season, 64 feature something beyond the game...

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los angeles events

Don’t Take Oceans for Granted

The United Nations recognized World Oceans Day, June 8, as a good opportunity to honor oceans around the globe and focus more awareness on their importance for the Earth’s environment. “Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet” is the all-too-true motto for the tribute. In Southern California, The Aquarium of the Pacific (100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach; www.aquariumofpacific.org) will offer activities from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. that will focus on ocean pollution and climate change, and the Aquarium’s newly opened exhibit “Vanishing Animals” shines a spotlight on preservation issues. Admission is $29.95 adults, $17.95 ages 3-11. Visit...

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los angeles events

Chat Room: Sandra Tsing Loh is Using Comedy to Lower the Bar for Moms

For years, I’ve enjoyed Sandra Tsing Loh’s hilarious commentary on public radio and witty writing about juggling work, life, marriage and parenthood. The Pasadena mom of two teen daughters is known for her books, including “A Year in Van Nuys” and “Mother on Fire,” as well as her weekly 89.3 KPCC radio segments “The Loh Life,” and “The Loh Down on Science.” I was excited to chat with her about...

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Shakespeare Sighted on L.A. Stages This Summer

William Shakespeare died 400 years ago, but the great playwright seems just as popular as ever. Whether you prefer Richard III to Henry V or Beatrice and Benedick to Romeo and Juliet, you’ll be able to spot his work on stages across L.A. this summer. Check each theater company’s website for specific performance information, and remember that these productions are not children’s plays, although children are welcome. Parental discretion is...

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los angeles events

Summer Concerts: Hear Music Here, There and Everywhere Around LA

During summer, music seems to be all around us in Southern California. As we seek out Los Angeles events, we have a wealth of family-friendly outdoor music series to attend, and some of them even are free! Here are some of the more notable places to hear music this summer. Warner Park For more than 40 years, The Valley Cultural Center has been presenting its free “Concerts on the Green.”...

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summer activities

Have a Hollywood Bowl Summer for Family Fun

With the kids out of school, summer activities are revving up and it is easier for the family to go out and enjoy a concert together. One great destination is the iconic Hollywood Bowl, and this season’s schedule includes a number of shows that will appeal to all ages. One of the Bowl’s first shows this summer is probably its most family-friendly. On June 3, 4 and 6, an all-star...

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los angeles events

A Free Family Festival as Eclectic as Its Namesake

Lummis Day is named after Charles Lummis, a man who arrived in Los Angeles from Ohio – on foot! – in 1884. An author, newspaperman and L.A. city librarian, Lummis was an early activist for Native American rights, but is best known for building his stone house by hand. The Lummis Home, which stands in the Highland Park area, is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In...

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Songs About Social Skills – And Us

Social skills are important in helping smooth our way through life – but they’re not something we talk about a lot. An album out this spring from SoCal singer/songwriter Kerry Fenster makes the conversation musical. “Songs About Us,” from the independent Muzic School label, is a collection of five tunes aimed at teaching social skills to children and young adults with developmental delays. The album was inspired by Fenster’s work...

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summer activities

Frozen Will Heat Up California Adventure This Summer

The Frozen phenomena reaches a new level when “Frozen – Live at the Hyperion” premieres in Disney’s California Adventure May 27. This stage version of the blockbuster film will, naturally, include songs by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, the dynamic duo who wrote the movie’s music. The show has been adapted by four-time Tony nominee Chad Beguelin and is directed by Broadway vet Liesl Tommy. The musical will be a...

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New Attractions: Dinos, Dragons And Grunion, Oh My!

Some interesting creatures are appearing around Southern California beginning this May – dinosaurs in Griffith Park and sea dragons in Long Beach. Visitors will do double takes when they spot a Triceratops, a Stegosaurus and a Citipati at the L.A. Zoo (5333 Zoo Dr., L.A.; www.lazoo.org/dinos). But these aren’t real, live prehistoric creatures. They’re amazing, life-size animatronic creations that are part of the “Dinosaurs: Unextinct At The L.A. Zoo” exhibit...

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family fun magazine

Picnic Perfection: Tips for Healthy, Safe and Delicious Meals On-The-Go

Whether you are headed to the zoo, a park, an amusement park or the beach, day trips provide excellent opportunities to spend time together, create memories and explore the areas surrounding Los Angeles.  These tips from our family fun magazine will keep you fed and maximize the fun. Bringing meals and snacks along for the ride will give you better control over food choices while helping to save money and...

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los angeles attractions

Great Wolf Lodge: A Den Away From Home

Our family got a chance to stay at one of the newest Los Angeles attractions, Great Wolf Lodge Resort and Indoor Water Park in Garden Grove this spring. This is the 13th GWL in the U.S., but the first in California. I had never heard of this family resort, but friends on the East Coast love having the option of an indoor water park in the middle of winter and let...

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fun things to do in l.a.

Animals Run Wild At The Movies This Summer

The Jungle Book was just the beginning of the menagerie of live-action and animated animals populating films this summer. On May 20, Columbia Pictures will set free The Angry Birds Movie. Adapted from the popular game, this film features the vocal talents of Jason Sudeikis, Blake Shelton, Josh Gad and Maya Rudolph in a story about pigs arriving on an island inhabited by birds – especially one very angry bird. The focus of Alice Through The...

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summer activities

LA Opera for All Ages

I used to think opera only appealed to an older audience. But my daughter, who is 10, has made me think otherwise. After participating in L.A. Opera’s summer camp two years ago, she expressed interest in seeing an opera performance at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. We obliged – with hesitation, I admit, unsure whether we could all sit through it – and were delighted to experience the opera through Avery’s...

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fun ideas for kids

New Kindie Music For Upcoming Summer Road Trips

Summer is just around the corner and fun ideas for the kids are top priority. You can feel it in the air and you can see it on the school calendar. One thing that summer often brings is a family road trip, and it is often nice to have some music to accompany you on the journey. Here are five recently released CDs that can make your summer drive more...

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Los Angeles Things to Do

Explore Los Angeles History Along the Arroyo

From noon-5 p.m. May 15, the six Museums of the Arroyo (MOTA) host their annual MOTA Day event, inviting the public to see a blacksmith ply his trade, dance like they did during Victorian times and discover the history of crime solving at the LAPD. Each of the museums offers a unique look into the past, and free admission, too. At The Autry’s Historic Southwest Museum Mt. Washington Campus (234...

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parenting

A Film About Family and Parenting

I had the pleasure of screening a new documentary by two talented Australian filmmakers about four kids and their families. The film showcased each child’s unique challenges and triumphs. There’s Gus, whose obsession with wrestling and his practice of his rough-and-tough techniques on his younger sister has his parents concerned; Ebony, who feels the pressure of an impending audition for a slot at a performing arts school; Graham, who struggles...

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Family Travel in Thailand, Costa Rica and Bermuda

Some vacations are packed with such unique cultural experiences and thrilling adventures that they change how you see the world. Sharing a home-cooked meal with a local family, learning about cultural customs and exploring a country’s natural attractions are enriching opportunities. Here are three destinations I think will help you create amazing family memories. Thailand You can learn a lot about Thailand by visiting Buddhist temples, royal palaces, vibrant street...

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Young Actors Take On Bullying With ‘The Intimidation Game’

While autism now impacts about one in 68 kids, bullying is pretty much universal. So a unique group of young actors are doing something about it in their own special way. The Miracle Project has been helping kids with autism and all abilities express themselves through theater and music since 2004. Under the direction of the indomitable Elaine Hall, the troupe creates and performs original musicals that forge friendships, educate,...

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fun ideas for kids

Shea Fontana Creates New Heroes For Super Girls

When a girl faces a super problem, who can she look to for inspiration? DC Comics is offering entertaining and fun ideas for kids as well as counting on an entire universe of superhero role models to empower and motivate young girls. DC Super Hero Girls focuses on a band of heroes – including iconic faces such as Wonder Woman, Supergirl and Batgirl – during their tumultuous teen years attending...

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activities for toddlers

Where to Find the Perfect Toy Truck Around LA

Hank is a 1-year-old gear jockey. He bounces with a kind of Strauss waltz-like ebullience when a wheel positions itself in his field of vision. I have no scientific data to back this up, but he seems to possess a nimble radar for all things automotive, almost like a shark sensing a floundering adolescent seal on a lazy current. Having witnessed my toddler son’s wide-eyed enthusiasm for all things with...

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Play Like a Ninja

LEGOLAND California Resort’s newest addition, NINJAGO World, opens May 5. Guests enter NINJAGO World, based on the popular Asian-inspired franchise, through a tall arch to begin their “ninja training.” LEGO building stations and other activities that test reflexes, balance and agility prep visitors for the park’s newest attraction, NINJAGO The Ride. The interactive 4D experience uses sensory technology, allowing ninjas-in-training to use their new skills by moving, flailing and waving...

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May Is For the Birds – and Bugs and Butterflies

Take flight this month at a trio of events that celebrate creatures that can fly (or crawl or slither). On May 7, the Audubon Society and other participating groups will present the second annual Bird L.A. Day, so grab your binoculars and head out for some bird watching. There will be Bird L.A. Day sites all around Southern California, from the Santa Monica Mountains to the Ballona Wetlands. You can...

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Kidspace Gardens Offer an Arroyo Adventure

Wondering what has been happening in the Kidspace gardens, which have been closed since early January? All will be revealed from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. April 30 and May 1 during the grand opening of the new Kidspace Arroyo Adventure. The museum has designed this new space to help children connect with nature and creative play and to offer outdoor fun for families. The Arroyo Adventure will be made up of...

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Los Angeles events - mom storytelling

Local Spoken-Word Shows Give Moms a Voice

In a yoga class recently, the teacher walked around the room filled mostly with moms, encouraging us to discard our self-consciousness and really belt out those ohms. “Our voices are not valued in this society,” she said. “You still need to value your voice.” But there is a rising wave of new voices storming the country. The voices are those of our mothers, sisters, brothers and fathers gathering to share...

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The Best View of Our Planet – From Our Planet

As we celebrate the Earth this month, the California Science Center offers visitors a unique look at the planet we are trying to protect. Presented in IMAX and IMAX 3D, “A Beautiful Planet,” narrated by Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence, gives moviegoers a never-before-seen glimpse of Earth from space and provides an increased understanding of our planet and galaxy. The film will screen five times daily, April 29-June 30. Made...

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MakersKit Opens First Retail Store on Melrose

Whether it's to save money, create a personalized gift or just for the fun of getting your hands dirty, DIY has gained buzz as the new thing to do. But being a “maker” doesn't always have to be an at-home experience. Case in point, MakersKit opened its first retail store on Melrose in L.A. April 10. MakersKit began as a way for co-founders Phillip Kuhn, Mike Stone and Jawn McQuade to share...

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Partake In April’s Puppet-palooza

If you become merry over marionettes, the month of April will make you ecstatic, because the Skirball Cultural Center and the Hammer Museum will present special puppet events. From 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. April 17, puppets will populate the Skirball (2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., L.A.; www.skirball.org) for the center’s Puppet Festival. This entertaining event will include art projects, live music, storytelling and performances by talented puppeteers. Kids can make their own...

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Discover Family Fun On The Broad Stage

When you say “The Broad,” most people think of the new Broad Museum that was unveiled last year to much acclaim. But there is another Broad in town that celebrates the arts. The Broad Stage, which opened in 2008 at the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center (1310 11th St. Santa Monica; www.thebroadstage.com), has consistently presented an impressive schedule of performances that appeal to audiences young and old. This month is...

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Jazzy Ash Chats About Waking Up With the Waves

The joyous sounds of music will fill the salty ocean air on the Santa Monica Pier on Saturday mornings throughout April. The popular concert series Wake Up With The Waves will return to entertain youngsters, and their parents, with a terrific lineup showcasing some of Southern California’s top family music acts, such as David Tobocman (April 16), Jazzy Ash (April 23) and the Hollow Trees (April 30). I had the opportunity...

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The Skirball’s New Show Is a Real Grand Slam

In 1835, the poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson famously wrote, “in the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” This idea frequently has been paraphrased to “thoughts of baseball,” and this being the 21st century, extends to sports fans of both genders and all ages. The Skirball’s new exhibit “Chasing Dreams,” which runs April 7-Oct. 30, is designed to lure these baseball lovers, and quite possibly also...

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Visit Book Fest and YALLWEST in April

New readers and longtime bibliophiles alike will uncover much to love at Los Angeles events this month. April presents both the 21st edition of L.A. Times Festival of Books and the second volume of the Youth and Young Adult Book Festival, better known as YALLWEST. The weekend of April 9-10, the USC campus (Jefferson Boulevard and Figueroa Street, L.A.) will be stacked with booksellers and book lovers. The Festival of...

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Celebrate Earth Day in L.A.

Environment, education, enjoyment and entertainment are a few of the “E” words that can be part of your Earth Day. The official date is April 22, but our world will be celebrated across Southern California throughout the month. Those looking for Earth Day entertainment can find it at a number of family-friendly festivals. And while these community events will be full of fun activities, don’t be surprised if you learn...

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Hangin’ In Harry Potter’s World

Universal Studios' new Hollywood attraction enchants with big adventure and small details. At last, Universal Studios has brought The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to Hollywood. For families that have imagined what it might be like to crash through the barrier between platforms 9 and 10 at King’s Cross Station and ride the Hogwarts Express into a world of magic, the April 7 opening is as eagerly anticipated as the...

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The Wild West and the Round Table

Young adventurers can enjoy a pair of colorful, historical Los Angeles events this month – one celebrating the days of the Wild West, and the other a taste of Elizabethan England. The 23rd annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival will hitch up its wagons in William S. Hart Park (24151 Newhall Ave, Newhall; www.cowboyfestival.org) from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. April 23 and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. April 24. This popular event gives visitors...

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Have a Hippo Encounter at the L.A. Zoo

Kids love to perplex us with the oddest questions. If yours have ever asked you, “What do hippos eat for lunch?” you can show them – with a visit to the Los Angeles Zoo’s Hippo Encounter. Since February, the Zoo has invited small groups of visitors in for up-close noontime visits with Mara the hippo and her baby, Rosie, on weekends and holidays. If you think that sounds fun, check...

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toys

New York Toy Fair – Unplugged

I made my annual trek to New York in February to attend the Toy Industry of America’s Toy Fair, a trade show that features hundreds of thousands of new toys, games and novelties from more than 1,200 exhibitors. It was worth braving the record-low temps and snow flurries of Manhattan for a sneak peek at the products hitting stores this spring or fall. Drones, robots and toys with integrated apps...

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Milk + Bookies Story Time Fundraiser Adds Celeb Readers

Milk + Bookies' 7th Annual Story Time Celebration is gearing up with new celebrity faces and a new open-door policy. In previous years the celebration and its arts and crafts, costumed characters, yummy treats and celebrity readers (who have included Tiffani Thiessen, Jack Black and JJ Abrams) was only open to those working with the non-profit organization. This time Milk + Bookies is extending an invitation to all L.A.-area parents to celebrate...

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6 Local Gardens For Families to Explore

Spring is upon us, and it’s a great time to get out and remember why we like the sun. It makes good things grow. Big Garden On Campus That’s true even in some of our most urban spaces. At the southeast edge of the sprawling UCLA campus in Westwood, for instance, lies the UCLA Life Sciences Mathias Botanical Garden. Occupying more than seven acres in a natural ravine, the garden has...

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Dan Zanes or Gustafer Yellowgold?

Can there be too much of a good thing? Southern California family music fans might be asking themselves that very question when they see that two top kindie music acts will be performing in town March 13. On one hand, there is Gustafer Yellowgold, that animated little guy from the Sun, who will appear in Santa Monica at McCabe’s (3101 Pico Blvd.; www.mccabes.com; $10) with his human musical partner Morgan...

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An Egg-Citing Theater Experience

Since Easter takes place March 27, it is not surprising that the egg figures prominently in this month’s events. Egg hunts, egg tosses and other eggy activities are happening throughout the month. Easter, however, isn’t the only reason the egg will be on your entertainment calendar. A play called Egg will be performed this month at two different Southern California venues: the Broad Stage in Santa Monica and Segerstrom Center...

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Music Center Spotlights SoCal High Schoolers

  The Music Center named 111 Southern California high school students as semifinalists in its 28th annual Spotlight program, a free nationally acclaimed scholarship and arts training program for teens. Spotlight provides opportunities for Southern California high school students to acquire the skills they need to pursue their artistic dreams in the performing arts, along with valuable workforce readiness skills. Semifinalists were named in acting, ballet, non-classical dance, classical voice,...

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Shamrockin’ and Egg Rollin’ In March

March may come in like a lion and go out like a lamb, but in-between is a time for bunnies and leprechauns. St. Patrick’s Day and Easter occur this month, and each comes with a number of fun celebratory events. Looking for a pot of gold? Head to the Thousand Oaks Community Center (2525 N. Moorpark Rd., Thousand Oaks; www.crpd.org) at 4 p.m. March 17 for the Leprechaun's Lucky Gold...

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Hop To IHOP For Free Pancakes

Among March’s many holidays is National Pancake Day. It might not be the best known March holiday, but IHOP restaurants make it a special occasion for several reasons. On National Pancake Day, which this year is March 8, the popular restaurant chain offers customers a free short stack of buttermilk pancakes. But IHOP is doing more than just dishing out free food. The promotion also helps raise awareness and funds...

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Four L.A. Museums To See For Free

For more than a decade, the Smithsonian has sponsored a free museum day that typically takes place in September. This year, however, they are doing something extra special and will sponsor a springtime Museum Day Live! that will take place March 12. First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech last year urging cultural institutions to reach out more to young people served as an inspiration to the Smithsonian. While this month’s Museum...

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Four Great Family Bike Trails

If your family's spring break is a "staycation" this year, make your time feel like a bona-fide getaway by slowing down the pace and enjoying a bike ride. Many of us have developed an intense spin class or other stationary riding habit in our day-to-day, but forget that biking outside – just for family fun – can be delightful. "You see a place in a totally different way when you...

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Six Local Farms That Welcome Families

We live in a state that is blessed with a year-round growing season, but spring is undeniably the best time to visit many of California’s small farms. Even here bountiful SoCal, many farms are closed to the public during the winter, and the summer months can be too hot and dusty to make for a pleasant outing. Spring, on the other hand – when goats are kidding, sheep are lambing...

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Meet L.A.’s Hummingbirds

Los Angeles is crammed with contradiction. We are plagued by some of the world’s ugliest traffic, yet Terry Masear, best-selling author of “Fastest Thing On Wings: Rescuing Hummingbirds in Hollywood,” says we’re also home to more beautiful hummingbirds than any city on Earth. Angelenos’ increased sightings of these flying jewels are due in large part to the conservation efforts of hummingbird rehabbers like Masear. Locals who put up feeders for...

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enrichment - Music - ETYKids5

Shop Talk: Music 101

Whether you’re a music listener, novice player or skilled musician, these treasures will fit nicely into your repertoire.

Nature Connects at South Coast Botanic Garden

Something unusual has sprouted in the South Coast Botanic Garden: Flowers that seem larger than life. Explore farther and you will also find butterflies, rabbits and other creatures that look real and unreal. This is the extraordinary work of artist Sean Kenney, who creates unbelievable sculptures out of LEGOs. His award-winning exhibition, “Nature Connects,” which will be at the South Coast Botanic Garden (26300 Crenshaw Blvd., Palos Verdes Peninsula; www.southcoastbotanicgarden.org)...

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Put A Little Adventure Into Your 2016

It's still early enough in the year to make plans for 2016. This month offers a couple of family-friendly Los Angeles events that could help you figure out what exciting things you could make happen this year. Looking for an interesting place to visit? The Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show on Feb. 27-28 (10 a.m.-5 p.m. Long Beach Convention Center, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach; www.travelshows.com/shows/los-angeles, $11-$16; free for...

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12 Great Books for Black History Month

Your child may be awash in historical stories of notable African- American heroes this Black History Month. We’d like to add to the conversation with our list of relatable stories that will help your child see themselves in children from different backgrounds. Here we present books that feature young characters of African descent, among others, and show them working together through fictional and a few lesser-known historical situations. This list...

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José-Luis Orozco Plays a Pre-Grammy Show

The 58th annual Grammy Awards will be announced Feb. 15. This year’s nominees for Best Children’s Album are Gustafer Yellowgold’s Dark Pie Concerns, Tim Kubart’s Home, Lori Henriques’ How Great Can This Day Be, Billy Kelly & Molly Ledford’s Trees and Southern California’s own José-Luis Orozco for ¡Come Bien! Eat Right! We asked Orozco about his Grammy nomination, his latest album and his mission for multicultural education. What was your...

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Have a National Parks Adventure Here at Home

Soar over red rock canyons, hurtle down steep mountain peaks and explore other-worldly realms in America’s most legendary outdoor places – guided by the pleasantly rugged voice of actor Robert Redford – when the IMAX film National Parks Adventure comes to the California Science Center beginning Feb. 12. The film promises an action-packed celebration of the 100-year anniversary of the National Park Service and a soulful reflection on what wilderness...

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The Globetrotters Come to Town

The distinctive sounds of “Sweet Georgia Brown” will be heard in Southern California this month as the Harlem Globetrotters mark their annual West Coast visit. Along with hearing that familiar tune (the team’s signature song since the early ’50s), fans will be treated to the team’s major hoops skills and on-court antics. This year marks a special tour for the Globetrotters, as the team is celebrating its 90th anniversary. Fact:...

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Favorite Characters Will Be Found At Legoland

One of the big surprise movie hits of 2014 (or the last decade, for that matter) was The Lego Movie. As with any mega-successful film, there is inevitably a sequel. While the full-length The Lego Movie Sequel isn’t scheduled to hit cinemas until the spring of 2018, the Legoland theme park will offer something special to keep Lego Movie aficionados happy until then. On Feb. 6, the Los Angeles attraction...

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Spring Break Family Travel

These all-inclusive getaways make your vacation even more relaxing. One of the best features of family travel at an all-inclusive resort is that it’s easy to plan. Lodging, meals and entertainment are all in one place. And with many options for all ages and varying interests, family members can either do their own thing or play together. “All-inclusive resorts give us freedom from thinking about planning meals, activities, excursions and nightly...

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Los Angeles events - Valentine's Day

A Dozen Valentine’s Day Ideas

Love is a many-splendored thing, and there are many splendid ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day in L.A. Whether you are looking to field Cupid’s arrows as a family, or hoping for a little couple time, your heart’s desires are close at hand. Here are seven Los Angeles events to enjoy with kids, and five to take in without. Hearts and Flowers Family Style 1. Love in the Time of Kewpies If you’re...

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Don’t Monkey Around This Lunar New Year

While the Gregorian calendar begins each year on January 1, the Chinese New Year falls this year on Feb. 8. It’s the 4713th Chinese Year, which marks the Year of the Monkey. The monkey represents the ninth animal in the 12 Chinese Zodiac signs. Chinese New Year (also known as the Lunar New Year in other Asian countries) will be celebrated throughout Southern California. The first big event is Monterey...

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Get Ready For a Cultural Free-For-All

The SoCal Museums is a group representing more than 20 area museums. This collection of regional cultural institutions covers a wide range of interests -- from Tyrannosaurus rex to TV sets, ancient masterpieces to astronauts and the Wild West to wildflowers. For the 11th year, the group has organized Museums Free-For-All Day, Jan. 30, where institutions admit visitors free. Participating institutions range from big names such as the Broad, Getty...

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Weaving an Inspiring Tale

Whether or not you make it over to The Getty Center for the “Woven Gold” exhibit showcasing the tapestries of French King Louis XIV, your family can enjoy a fun window into the world of the weavers thanks to “Thérèse Makes a Tapestry,” written by Alexandra S.D. Hinrichs, illustrated by Renée Graef and published by Getty Publications. Best for ages 6 and up, the book tells the story of Thérèse,...

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Karate Moviemaking For Kids

If you’re tired of listening to the “soundtrack” of your kids acting out improvised kung fu scenes in the living room, focus that energy in a productive direction by signing them up for Karate Moviemaking Class at the Pacific Martial Arts dojo (2614 Arthur St., Ste. D, L.A.). The course boasts knowledgeable teachers and plenty of fun ideas for kids. Taught in partnership with Coding For Treasure computer science center...

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Art Takes Center Stage at Night On Broadway

Night on Broadway will mark the eighth anniversary of Los Angeles City Councilmember José Huizar’s Bringing Back Broadway initiative – a 10-year plan to revitalize the historic Broadway corridor – with free entertainment and Los Angeles events for all ages along Broadway from 3rd Street to Olympic Boulevard from 5-11 p.m. Jan. 30. Seven of Broadway’s historic theaters will be filled with acts ranging from acrobats to performance art and...

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Families Can Get Moving at The Wallis

Continuing its partnership with L.A.’s Invertigo Dance Theatre, the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills is offering a new session of three public dance/movement courses on Fridays beginning Jan. 22. These three intergenerational courses—Invert/ED’s Tiny Tots Move and Groove, Dancing Through Life and Dancing Through Parkinson’s—provide toddlers and guardians, older adults and people living with Parkinson’s disease and other degenerative diseases an inviting environment specially designed...

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Free Visits To Our National Parks

On Aug. 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Park Service Organic Act. This law had nothing to do with farm-to-table products, but instead created the National Park Service. At the time, there were only 35 national parks and monuments. Today the National Park Service has grown to include 409 sites that encompass more than 84 million acres of land. To salute its centennial, the NPS will offer 16...

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Driving, Dreaming and Daytime Napping in L.A.

How to waste gasoline in style while putting your baby to sleep I’m leaping over speed bumps, cruising the potholed boulevards and aimlessly wandering the canyon roads. I have no destination and am often jammed in a traffic-laden city artery, but I have not an ounce of road rage, lane pain or street defeat. No, I’m delighted, because Hank is still asleep in the back seat. When you have a...

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Imagine The Future – Using LEGOs

Looking to get the New Year off to a constructive start? Consider participating in a competition organized by the South Coast Botanic Garden. The “Imagine The Future – LEGO Build” contest asks entrants to use LEGOs and imagination to look into the future and envision the world around us. You can sign up as an individual or a team. Participants will be divided into four age groups: Mini Builders (ages...

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Santa Monica’s Pono Burger Receives Green Business Certification

Pono Burger in Santa Monica has been certified as a Green Business by the Santa Monica Green Business Certification Program (SMGBC), making it one of only 13 restaurants currently certified. Chef Makani of Pono Burger has always been a proponent of community, sourcing all of her ingredients locally and working directly with farmers. “What we take into our bodies becomes part of us. That’s why we source our ingredients from...

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Some Enchanting Evenings

  This month, family audiences have the chance to spend evenings with two very different people at two different Los Angeles events. One is a real-life scientist, and the other a stand-in for a famous comedian from long ago. While one evening will be serious and the other silly, both should be entertaining nights out for older children and their parents. First, the silly. Frank Ferrante is an award-winning actor...

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Master Gardeners 90210

Your kids can get serious about spinach and become pros at peas with Junior Master Gardener classes in the demonstration garden at Greystone Mansion & Gardens, 905 Loma Vista Dr., Beverly Hills. Registration is underway for the eight-week course, which begins Jan. 10. Gardeners ages 6-12 can learn to grow a vegetable garden – and learn the benefits of locally grown, organic food – while developing critical-thinking skills and confidence....

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An Exhibit Fit For A King … And Kids

The Getty Museum’s new exhibit “Woven Gold: Tapestries Of Louis XIV” might not sound like something kids would flock to. It marks the 300th anniversary of the death of fabled French monarch King Louis XIV and includes 14 huge, majestic tapestries on loan from Paris’ Mobilier National (the largest repository of Louis XIV’s possessions). Tapestries reached a pinnacle in popularity and creativity during Louis XIV’s reign, and the pieces in...

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fun ideas for kids

Great Cold-Weather Gear

Feeling that winter chill? Here are some finds that will keep you cozy as the temperature drops. For more product reviews, visit NAPPAawards.com.  

Toddler Town Debuts at AdventurePlex

Farm-to-table fun – designed just for toddlers – is coming to AdventurePlex, Beach Cities Health District’s 17,000-square-foot kids fitness and health facility in Manhattan Beach. Officially dubbed “Toddler Town,” AdventurePlex’s newest healthy play zone includes an interactive toddler-sized farm, market and beach home – each specially crafted to help introduce kids ages 5 and younger to the organic farm-to-table nutrition cycle through imaginative play. AdventurePlex will also offer a variety...

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Your Last-Minute Family DVD Holiday Gift Guide

As entertainment continues to move into the nebulous universe of “the cloud,” it is still nice to have a gift that you can hold in your hand. DVDs and Blu-rays remain fun ideas for kids stocking stuffers – particularly of the last-minute variety – and this year offers a varied assortment of titles, including some rather grand collections. Christmas Movies Christmas is the setting for Shelby, a warm-hearted family film about...

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Our Top Picks for Family New Year’s Eve

December 31st can be a day to reflect on the past year and to contemplate the year to come. Or it can be a day to have fun. For adults, the partying typically starts in the evening and culminates at midnight. For kids, staying up until midnight can be a challenge, or even ruled out by parents. Luckily, there are a number of Los Angeles events where children can ring in...

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Skiing Santas Ride Mountain High Free for Charity Event

Mountain High Resort will welcome skiers and snowboarders dressed in full Santa Claus costumes to join in Santa Day, a group ride in the name of charity, Dec. 20. The spectacle, which serves as a fundraiser for Protect Our Winters (POW), will begin at 9 a.m. on the West Resort’s Borderline trail with a group photo. Skiers and snowboarders who want to participate in Santa Day should register by Dec....

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Growing Arts Enrichment at The Wallis

Arts education programs at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts get a major portion of their funding through the GRoW at the Annenberg Foundation. And when Mark Slavkin stepped into his position as director of education at the Beverly Hills venue in January, there was plenty of growing to do. The Wallis, which launched its third season of programming in the fall, was originally intended as a space...

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Los Angeles attraction - Universal Grinchmas

The Grinch Comes to Universal City

Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal CityWalk have decked the halls for a wintry calendar of cool holiday activities.

A very, merry “Grinchmas” returns to Universal Studios Hollywood as the Los Angeles attraction celebrates the Who-lidays with The Grinch, his faithful dog Max and a roster of Whos from the town of Who-ville.

“Grinchmas” runs the weekend of Dec. 12-13, then continues daily from Dec. 18 through Jan. 3. The Universal Plaza, an elaborate...

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Knott’s Berry Farm Kicks Off the Holidays with Park-wide Cheer

The halls are fully decked at Knott’s “Merry” Farm, the 160-acre Los Angeles attraction located in Buena Park, home to Snoopy and the PEANUTS gang. In addition to its famous thrill rides, roller coasters and family attractions, Knott’s is offering a variety of family holiday activities. Holiday-themed performances include a world-class ice skating show, “Merry Christmas, Snoopy,” at the Charles M. Schulz Theatre, along with Charles Dickens’ "A Christmas Carol"...

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“Girl Meets World’s” Sabrina Carpenter Visits Neverland

Sabrina Carpenter has a lot to be excited about. The 16-year-old stars in the popular Disney Channel comedy “Girl Meets World,” and earlier this year she put out a major-label CD, Eyes Wide Open. But at the moment she is most excited about playing Wendy in the Lythgoe Family Production of Peter Pan and Tinker Bell – A Pirates Christmas at the Pasadena Playhouse. “I’ve always wanted to do theater....

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Get KURIOS at Dodger Stadium

Dodger Stadium has seen its share of acrobatic feats, but they are usually performed by baseball players. That will change when Cirque du Soleil sets up its big top in Chavez Ravine this winter to present its latest extravaganza – KURIOS. The show comes packed with the usual Cirque circus tricks and acrobatic feats, but it also has a story that will spark your curiosity. A 19th century inventor known...

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A Fleet of Holiday Boat Parades

Seasonal celebrations take to the seas this month as holiday boat parades set sail up and down the Southern California coast, from Ventura to Dana Point. We’ll chart a course, north to south, to help you navigate these great Los Angeles events. Let’s start up north at Ventura Harbor Village (1583 Spinnaker Dr., Ventura; www.venturaharbor.com). Ventura’s festively ornamented ships will launch the 39th annual Holiday Parade of Lights and Fireworks...

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The Petersen Revs Back Into Action

For the past year, there has been a major transformation taking place on the southeast corner of Fairfax and Wilshire on the Miracle Mile. After 20 years, the Petersen Automotive Museum (6060 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; www.petersen.org) has been getting an overhaul – inside and out. Now the work is complete and the Los Angeles attraction is ready to roll again. The building’s former Sixties-era beige walls now sport a “hot rod...

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Wilshire the Fire Dog Will Play ‘Nana’ in Peter Pan Panto

Wilshire The L.A.F.D. Fire Dog will play the role of “Nana” in this year’s Panto at The Playhouse production of Peter Pan snd Tinker Bell - A Pirates Christmas for one day only, Dec. 20, at The Pasadena Playhouse. Wilshire, a Dalmatian, has served as the Los Angeles City Fire Department Fire Dog since he was taken in as a rescue puppy by the firefighters at the Wilshire Boulevard fire...

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December Family Theater

December brings an abundance of Los Angeles events for theater lovers – and not all of it includes Sugar Plum Fairies. You can see Tinker Bell and Snoopy, gamblers, Grinches and many other interesting characters on L.A stages this season. Scrooge and Co. A Christmas Carol is a traditional favorite play to see this time of year, and Southern California is lucky to be home to two popular, long-running productions....

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Tree Makes Wishes Come True at CityWalk

Universal CityWalk and NBC4 Southern California are collaborating to present the first-ever “The Wishing Tree” event, inviting the public to pay it forward by making a wish for someone deserving. From Nov. 27 through Dec. 22, visitors to the Los Angeles attraction may place their wishes for friends and family next to the trees adorning Universal CityWalk’s “5 Towers” plaza. NBC4 viewers can also share their wishes online. Wishes will...

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Holiday fun

Holiday Recipes From Milo and Olive

When Erin Eastland was moving to Southern California from New York in 2005, it didn’t take her long to figure out that she wanted to call Santa Monica home. It helped that she and her family scoped out the city on a Wednesday. “We came upon the farmers’ market and I was like, ‘We’re done,’” says the mom of two, who is now executive chef at Milo and Olive, a...

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A Sneak Peek At Harry Potter’s Hollywood Home

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is coming to Universal Studios Hollywood in the spring, and the resort is putting out a series of virtual tour videos to give wizards and muggles alike an advance look at the attraction. The first, debuted this week, is an insider’s look at the land hosted by the Hogwarts Express conductor. The video, which can be viewed at Universal Studios Hollywood’s newly launched “The...

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LACMA’s Hot New Exhibit Is All Wet

Whether it is the drought or the El Niño forecast, water has been a constant topic of conversation in Los Angeles of late. Now there is a new reason to talk about water: the Rain Room at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (www.lacma.org). Created by acclaimed U.K.-based artist collective Random International, this unique, large-scale art exhibit is making its West Coast debut there and will be a Los...

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Science Center Exhibit Focuses on Global Harmony

The California Science Center, the GRAMMY Museum, and Global Wildlife Conservation have partnered to create the one-of-a-kind exhibit Earth in Concert: Protecting the Planet through Music. Featuring multimedia and interactive experiences, Earth in Concert examines the status of biodiversity in our oceans, grasslands and forests, while exploring how several artists and musicians have helped raise awareness of the global issues that present threats to our planet. Artists featured in the...

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Zoo Holiday Lights Burn Brighter in 2015

Last year’s L.A. Zoo Lights was such a success that the Los Angeles attraction has returned, bigger and brighter than before. Starting Nov. 27, the Los Angeles Zoo grounds (5333 Zoo Dr., L.A.; www.lazoo.org) will be lit from 6-10 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., 6-11 p.m. Fri.-Sun. (except Dec. 24 and 25) with hundreds of thousands of LED lights that bring the L.A. icon to life in a wonderfully different way. While the...

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Looking at The Broad With LeVar

The Broad has been the talk of the town since opening in September. Free admission makes the new Los Angeles attraction a welcoming place for all, including families. The up-with-the-times facility makes its audio tours available via a free mobile app, and one of them is geared just for kids and families. In “Looking With LeVar,” LeVar Burton (of “Star Trek” and “Reading Rainbow” fame) is your guide. The galleries...

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Descanso Gardens Celebrates With Buffet, Bling and Holiday Wreaths

Descanso Gardens invites families to celebrate the season with a memorable meal, a fab shopping experience and seasonal crafting. The season kicks off with Patina's annual Thanksgiving feast, and carries on through December: Thanksgiving buffet, 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Nov. 26: Patina chefs will create a lavish holiday buffet with traditional favorites and vegetarian options. Book early; seating is limited. $57 adult member, $24 child member (12 and younger);...

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It’s Star Wars Season At Disneyland

In the not-too-distant future, Star Wars will be a major presence at Disneyland. Plans are underway to create a 14-acre Star Wars world at that happiest of Los Angeles attractions. While the opening of this attraction still is on the horizon, Disneyland will offer a glimpse into what is to come when it opens Season of the Force Nov. 16. Located (appropriately enough) in Tomorrowland, this temporary exhibit lets guests...

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Ski Vacations Get a Lift

Innovative ski and snowboard lessons and pampering services are giving families more quality time on and off the slopes this season. Check out these services, and make your next ski vacation easier to manage and more fun for all. New to snow sports? The annual Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month in January (www.skiandsnowboardmonth.org) offers a lesson, rentals and lift ticket from $45. Terrain-Based Learning Learning to ski and snowboard...

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5 Baby Sleep Challenges During Holiday Travel

Traveling and parenting during the holidays can be strenuous enough without a baby. Add a little one to the mix and you have a recipe for disaster! Trying to get from one family get-together to the next can wreak havoc on your baby’s sleep schedule, leading to less sleep for everyone in the family. Read on to learn how to tackle the most common travel-related baby sleep challenges including plane...

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Actor Taye Diggs Celebrates Diversity With New Children’s Book

Helping kids of mixed race and culture celebrate their uniqueness with confidence was the focus of a recent Multiculti Mixer in West Los Angeles featuring a special appearance and book reading by actor Taye Diggs. The event was hosted by Multiculti Corner, a culturally diverse community of people with the intention to recognize, embrace, and celebrate what it means to be a part of a blended family. The co-host of...

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Get Away With a Holiday Heist

Wrap a Victorian parlor around a gangster hideout mixed with a pirate cave and you’ve got Kidd’s Jewelry Heist (www.kiddsjewelryheist.tumblr.com), a gem of a hangout in back of the venerable Dinosaur Farm toy store at 1510 Mission St., South Pasadena. More treasure hunt than bead parlor, this is a great place to host a holiday party or a gift-making get-together. Kelly Kidd opened the business in 2012, and expanded over...

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New Tunes On the L.A. Family Music Scene

News of a new release from Dan Zanes’ Festival Five Records would normally make it a full month for family music fans. Sonia De Los Santos, a member of Zanes’ band, is putting out her debut solo disc, Mi Viaje: De Nuevo León to the New York Island (My Journey: From Nuevo Leon to the New York Island). Sung primarily in Spanish, this lovely album features tunes from across the...

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Plant a Fall Fairy Patch

When Chris Young was growing up in Indiana, and later when he lived in New York City, there wasn’t much to do in the garden in the fall because freezing winter weather was on the way. But 10 years ago, he moved to balmy Los Angeles, where the shorter days and cooling temperatures of fall make it a great time to plant. The yard surrounding the Laurel Canyon home he...

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L.A. Winter Break Camps For Kids

The winter holidays bring plenty of cheer and fun ideas for kids, but also a two- or three-week break from school. Whether that has you scrambling for childcare, or just for a way to distract the kids from life’s many small screens, you are in luck. Because Los Angeles offers a flurry of winter camp possibilities that give kids a cool way to spend their vacation. And they’re not just...

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Blast Off To A Journey To Space

Attention, Space Cadets! The California Science Center (700 Exposition Park Dr., L.A.; www.californiasciencecenter.org) has a new exhibit that is totally out of this world. “Journey To Space: The Exhibition” offers a hands-on experience with the science of space travel that is unique among Los Angeles attractions. Visitors can experiment with drop towers to learn about weightlessness in space and find out how it affects the body during a long space...

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L.A. Zoo Offers New Family Classes

Have you ever wanted your family to explore the world of animals, learning about the many different ways they use their tails? Or how patterns on fur, feathers, scales and skin help animals avoid predators? Or why animals make their homes in unusual locations? Or which adaptations help certain animals survive extreme cold or heat? The L.A. Zoo introduces four programs to help children and their parents discover all this...

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Director Mark Krenzien Talks About ‘Journey To Space’

The new “Journey to Space” exhibit and IMAX film are set to open at the California Science Center on Oct. 29, but L.A. Parent readers were treated to a special visit and screening of the film Oct. 25. And Mark Krenzien, director of the film, was on hand to answer questions after the screening. L.A. Parent editor Christina Elston started things rolling: Could you tell us a little bit about...

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Kip’s Celebrates 70 Years of Toys and Smiles

Don Kipper started working at his father’s toy store, Kip’s Toyland, when he was 9 years old. Besides dusting and organizing shelves, his main duty was tying strings to balloons. Balloons and flags were the main items sold at Kip’s Toyland when it first opened in 1945. Don’s father, Irvin “Kip” Kipper, had just returned home from serving as a U.S. Army Air Corps pilot in World War II. During...

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A Big Day For Los Muertos Los Angeles Events

If Saturday’s Halloween festivities didn’t tire your family out, make it a weekend with Los Angeles events celebrating Dia de los Muertos on Sunday, Nov. 1. One traditional place to observe Dia de los Muertos is at El Pueblo Historical Monument on Olvera Street (125 Paseo de la Plaza, L.A.; www.elpueblo.lacity.org). Festivities will take place from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 31 through Nov. 2, with vibrantly decorated altars, live entertainment...

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Sharpen Your Crayons for The Big Draw

This October, Ryman Arts once again presents that big blast of creativity, popular among Los Angeles events, known as Big Draw LA. Throughout Southern California, there will be all types of events where people can express their artistic inclinations. Some will be for children, some for adults and some for everyone. You can even organize your own event! Big Draw LA’s biggest draw is “Make Your Mark In The Park,”...

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Kids’ Imaginations Keep Story Pirates Afloat

We were a few minutes late for the Story Pirates’ performance Saturday at Pepperdine’s Smothers Theatre. Fortunately, so were the actors. As we took our seats, the one member of the troupe on hand was explaining that the rest of the actors hadn’t yet arrived. And suddenly, they did. The first burst onto the stage to say that a seagull at the beach had stolen his bagel. The second came...

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The Accidental Birth of a Family Music Band

Stephanie Richards and Brian Arbuckle didn’t set out to make children’s music. When the Los Angeles-based couple recorded the songs for their debut album, Wanna Play, as Sunshine Collective, they just wanted to make an album for themselves so they could, according to Richards, “re-connect with our creative instincts after years of writing for publishing pitches. We had given ourselves total freedom and had a lot of fun.” When friends...

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Nickelodeon’s Spooktacular Lineup

We headed to the Nickelodeon Animation Studio in Burbank earlier this week for a Halloween Party. But this wasn't just an ordinary party; guests enjoyed Halloween-themed activities and treats, a meet and greet with Bella and the Bulldogs/Liar Liar Vampire star Brec Bassinger and the Game Shakers cast members Kel Mitchell, Cree Cicchino, Madisyn Shipman, Benjamin “Lil P-Nut” Flores Jr. and Thomas Kuc, plus got a sneak-peek of this month’s...

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A New Take on ‘Community’ Theater

The Center Theatre Group will stage a production in Grand Park this month that gives “community theater” a new meaning. Popol Vuh: Heart of Heaven is a unique collaboration between CTG, the local Chicano theater company El Teatro Campesino and members of the Boyle Heights community. Popol Vuh is the legendary tale of the Mayan creation myth, and this production adds some distinctly L.A. elements to the storytelling. The show...

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New Gluten-Free Breads at La Brea Bakery

Due to the large demand for gluten-free breads nowadays, La Brea Bakery (www.labreabakery.com) which first opened in Los Angeles 26 years ago, has recently introduced its own gluten-free breads. Best known for its artisan breads, La Brea Bakery was looking to offer customers something that was tasty and healthy, thus the creation of the new breads. To begin, the bakery is offering two classic flavors. The first is the White...

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An Animal-Style Holiday Deal for Families

Animal-loving families will love the new two-day combo ticket offered by the L.A. Zoo and Aquarium of the Pacific this fall. Available October through December, the ticket includes admission to both Los Angeles attractions (on one day or separate days) for just $39 adults, $26 ages 11 and under. The deal comes just in time to give families a double holiday treat. In October, Boo at the L.A. Zoo offers...

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Jack O’Lantern Spectacle On The Rise This October

Last year, the RISE Of The Jack O’Lanterns premiered at Descanso Gardens, creating a memorable wonderland of exquisitely carved pumpkins and placing it among families favorite Halloween Los Angeles events. The good news is that the Halloween spectacular is returning to Descanso Gardens, and the better news is that The RISE of the Jack O’Lanterns will also populate Arcadia’s Santa Anita Park with uniquely engraved gourds. These spectacular installations feature...

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Our Favorite Halloween Happenings

Kids are doubly excited about Oct. 31 this year. Because Halloween falls on a Saturday, there’s no school to interfere with Halloween merriment. However, there also is no reason to wait until Oct. 31 to start your holiday festivities. Amusing Haunts Southern California amusement parks aren’t waiting to start their Halloween celebrations. At Disneyland (www.disneyland.com), Mickey’s Halloween Party begins on select nights starting Sept. 25 and concluding Oct. 31. This...

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Creepy Features Come to Cinemas In October

Everyone gets into the Halloween spirit this month, and several films will be in theaters to help families looking for fun ideas for kids celebrate. The frightfully fun flicks begin Sept. 25, when you can check back into Hotel Transylvania. The Sony Pictures animated movie was a monstrous success in 2012 and Hotel Transylvania 2 hopes to follow in its Frankenstein-like footsteps. This time, Drac (Adam Sandler) must deal with...

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A Conversation with “Humpback Whales” Director Greg MacGillivray

10-year-old Theodore is a student in the San Gabriel Valley. He was chosen as the winner of this year's Kid Critics Challenge hosted by L.A. Parent, the California Science Center and  MacGillivray Freeman Films. As the winner, Theodore was given the opportunity to interview the director, Greg MacGillivray.  By Theodore - Age 10 Like an ocean-based Ansel Adams, veteran filmmaker Greg MacGillivray uses the latest in visual technology to offer viewers a glimpse...

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Mendocino Farms Opens New Location At The Point In El Segundo

Mendocino Farms, Southern California’s sandwich destination with a mission of helping guests “Eat Happy,” opened its 11th restaurant, at 840 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Ste. 100, El Segundo, Sept. 5. Mendocino Farms features a dynamic chef-driven menu that changes with the seasons and offers guests a high-quality dining option at affordable prices in a warm, kid-friendly environment. A true neighborhood gathering place, the family-friendly space has a warm, spacious atmosphere with indoor...

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Don’t Miss Museum Day Live!

For the 11th year, Smithsonian magazine has organized Museum Day Live!, a day where museums and cultural institutions across the U.S. waive their admission fees and let folks in for free. More than 1,300 venues will be participating this year, representing all 50 states. And the event, Sept. 26, will add generously to the list of things to do in L.A. that day. In Southern California, participants range from A...

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Venture Into Descanso’s Ancient Forest

Descanso Gardens opens up a new floral area Sept. 26 that takes visitors back into the past – way back. The Ancient Forest lives up to its name as one of those unique Los Angeles attractions, housing plants that have hardly changed since the days of the dinosaurs. This new space, located near the Lilac Garden, will be home to nearly 175 cycad plants representing 66 species. These palm-like seed...

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Greet Gumby In Glendora

The Gumby Festival returns to Glendora Sept. 19-20 after a triumphant inaugural event last year. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the popular green character, and the festival's Los Angeles events will salute this milestone with a special birthday celebration Sept. 19. Gumby fans attending the festival, which runs from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. both days at Citrus College (1000 W. Foothill Blvd.) can also have fun exploring a Gumby...

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A Doggone Great Day For Needy Pets

The Westwood Recreation Center (1350 S. Sepulveda Blvd., L.A.) will be a barking lot from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sept. 19 when the Doggie Street Festival (www.doggiestreetfestival.org) comes to town. This pet celebration and adopt-athon, which has taken place in cities across the U.S., offers Southern California animal lovers the opportunity to come together for a day of pet-related fun, and perhaps give a deserving dog or cat a new home....

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Get Ready to Clean L.A. Beaches, Matey

Even pirates would rather land on a clean beach than on one littered with trash. You can help make the beach more pirate (and family) friendly, then indulge in some pirate talk, during Coastal Cleanup Day Sept. 19. This is the 30th year that the California Coastal Commission has organized this gem among environmental Los Angeles events. In its first year, just about 2,500 Californians participated. Last year, nearly 67,000...

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Natural History Museum Welcomes Mummies, Spiders

It isn’t October yet, but Halloween is in the air at the Natural History Museum (900 Exposition Blvd., L.A.; www.nhm.org), which is geared up for two creepy Los Angeles events. On Sept. 18, the museum is unwrapping a new exhibit: “Mummies: New Secrets from the Tombs.” More than 20 mummies will be on view – many being displayed in public for the first time. Visitors will be able to use...

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Dara the Bow Girl: Master Chef Jr. Finalist and Kid Cook

MasterChef Junior premiered in September 2013, and while contestants aren’t asked to wear the traditional chef’s toque, one did sport some distinctive head gear. Dara “the Bow Girl” Yu, who went on to become the runner-up that season, was there with her trademark hair bow, dazzling the judges with dish after dish. Yu, who started cooking when she was 7 or 8 and is now 14 and taking advantage of...

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Great Weekend Getaways for Families

School is back in session, but the days are still long and sunny. With tourist season winding down, now is a great time to take a study break and enjoy a weekend family getaway. Wide-Open Spaces Drive just a couple hours east from Los Angeles to Joshua Tree National Park, where you can escape the city lights and hike, bike and climb your way around almost 800,000 acres of unique...

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Life and Music are Simpatico for Renee Stahl

Most kids music fans know the name Renee Stahl. The L.A.-based musician is the “Renee” in the duo Renee and Jeremy, which released three full-length albums in the past decade, along with one holiday EP. Stahl’s new album, Simpatico (www.reneeandfriends.com), is her first solo project, but she is far from alone on it. Jeremy Toback (the “Jeremy” in Renee and Jeremy) duets on a tune, and Lisa Loeb, Casper Babypants...

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New Warner Bros. Studio Tour: That’s Entertainment!

In Los Angeles, the entertainment industry is part of our day-to-day life. We drive around and see bright yellow signs that indicate a production company’s “basecamp.” Something is always being shot somewhere in our neighborhoods. Movie premiere activity shuts down the major thoroughfares of Hollywood, harnessing the attention of curious onlookers. This fanfare fascinated me when I first moved here, but through the years the fascination fizzled and I became...

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Baritones Meet Beach Chairs During Free Opera Opener

Grab your opera glasses – and a beach chair – and head to the scenic beach near Santa Monica for L.A. Opera’s “Opera at the Beach.” Here’s your chance to see L.A. Opera’s season opener, Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, staged by Woody Allen, and Pagliacci, directed by the legendary Franco Zeffirelli. And it’s free! This double bill will be broadcast live in high-definition video from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion to the...

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Places to Eat - Atticus Creamery & Pies

Pie À La Mode Near the Farmers Market

After L.A. Parent’s 35th Birthday Bash, held Aug. 2 at The Original Farmers Market, my co-workers and I decided to continue the celebration at Atticus Creamery & Pies, which opened its second L.A. location nearby at 6015 W. 3rd St. The family-owned shops offer natural, freshly made ice cream with unique flavors such as Salted Chocolate Bacon Brittle, Honey Honeycomb and Cereal & Milk. Their layered pies with flavors including...

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Highlights from D23 Expo 2015: The largest Disney Fan Event in the World

Fans from around the world came together Aug. 14-16 to celebrate 92 years of The Walt Disney Company. The latest films from Walt Disney Studios, merchandise from Disney Consumer Products, attractions at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts – and all things Disney you can think of – were showcased at D23 Expo 2015, held at the Anaheim Convention Center. A giant Buzz Lightyear balloon soaring outside the convention center to...

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The Crayons Come Home to LACMA

What would your child’s world look like if his crayons suddenly just quit, and he had to convince them to resume their colorful work? And what about those crayons that have gone astray, lost under the sofa or stuck in the dryer? Would your child go on a mission to rescue them? Your family can meet a man who has pondered these issues in depth when Drew Daywalt, who wrote...

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Families Can Enjoy A Sweet Time At The Bowl

Going to the Hollywood Bowl (2301 N. Highland Ave., L.A.; www.hollywoodbowl.com) is always a special occasion, but this year there are some tasty treats for families among the fun summer activities. At 8 p.m. Aug. 14-15, everyone will be asking: “What’s up, Doc?” For the 25th year, Warner Bros. presents its Bugs Bunny At The Symphony concert. Classic cartoons starring Bugs and his Looney Tunes pals will be projected on...

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Mammoth Changes At The La Brea Tar Pits

Sometimes, what’s old can be made new again. This summer, the La Brea Tar Pits (www.tarpits.org) has premiered a new attraction that looks back to the ancient past. Titans of the Ice Age: The La Brea Story in 3D uses modern technology to take a look at Pleistocene era. Through state-of-the-art CGI animation, the movie brings to life this long-extinct world with splendid images from timeless places including Yellowstone National...

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Your Family’s Summer Bucket List

We may already be getting bombarded with ads for back-to-school sales, and the days of summer seem to dwindle even as the mercury keeps rising, but there’s still time to squeeze in some serious summer activities that will make the family smile! From stargazing to seaside bonfires and muddy daredevil adventures, here are some uniquely SoCal opportunities to enjoy the last few weeks of vacation. Adventure at Club Mud Adventure...

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Humpback Whales: Kid Critic Reviews!

In June, we partnered with MacGillivray Freeman Films and the California Science Center to offer an exclusive free screening of the IMAX film Humpback Whales 3D at the California Science Center’s IMAX Theater. The screening included a Q&A with the film’s Director Greg MacGillivray, and was moderated by NPR “Film Week” Critic, Claudia Puig. After the screening, kids between the ages of 5 and 15 were invited to submit a review of the film. Ten Kid Critic finalists were chosen, including one...

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Getting In Tune With Lisa Loeb

Music fans first became familiar with Lisa Loeb through her hit song, “Stay (I Missed You),” which premiered on the Reality Bites soundtrack. That tune marked the first time an unsigned act scored a number-one single, and its success helped Loeb garner a deal with a major label. Her Geffen Records debut, Tails, went gold, and her third album earned her a Grammy nomination. Besides music-making, Loeb has been involved...

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August Offers Unusual Film Adventures

After spending the summer going to see films such as Inside Out and Minions, what should families look for in August before the kids go back to school and time for fun summer activities is over? There are several intriguing movies coming out this month that promise to be entertaining as well as educating. Top Spin takes a look at the world of competitive ping-pong through the lives of teenage...

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Wake Up: A Millennial Dad’s Guide to Los Angeles Coffee

I’m tired. My son, Hank, is now 10 months old and wakes up every morning at 5:30. I used to wake up at 8:30 a.m. Those days are over. Now my alarm clock is a howling cry from the next room. Now it’s all about this little angel – and yet all I can think about is the devil’s bean. And here’s the rest of my morning: a diaper change...

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Get Giddy Over The Getty’s Garden Concerts

In what has become a Southern California August tradition, The Getty (1200 Getty Center Dr., L.A.; www.getty.edu) will host a great trio of free family music concerts. This year’s series of fun summer activities sets sail Aug. 1-2 with Jazzy Ash, celebrating the release of her new album, Bon Voyage. Although based in Orange County, Ash creates music infused with the spirit and sound of New Orleans. This musical gumbo...

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Ice Cream Month Isn’t Over at Baskin-Robbins

A Sweet Deal from Baskin-Robbins to end National Ice Cream Month July is National Ice Cream Month, and Baskin-Robbins (www.baskinrobbins.com) is wrapping it up by offering a cool discount. For one day only— on Friday, July 31— Baskin-Robbins is offering a 31percent discount on all ice cream sundaes at participating Baskin-Robbins locations in SoCal. Ice cream lovers can choose Classic Two-Scoop Sundaes, Brownie Sundaes, Banana Royale Sundaes, Classic Banana Splits...

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Meet a 750-pound Velociraptor at Universal Studios

The ferocious predatory Velociraptors that gained notoriety in the Jurassic Park movies and sprang to life in “Jurassic Park—The Ride” at Universal Studios Hollywood have now been unleashed in the park’s “Raptors Encounter” experience, allowing visitors to engage in a daring face-to-face standoff with these free-roaming carnivores. Tipping the scales at 750 pounds, towering 15 feet in height and 13 feet from tail to snout, the aggressive Cretaceous-era dinosaurs will...

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Enter the State Parks Young Artists Poster Contest

If you love taking your family outdoors for inspiration, you can’t do better than Southern California’s state parks. Have your kids turn that inspiration into artwork, and they could win a $50 Subway gift card and some cool State Parks swag. The California State Parks Foundation is looking for poster art that showcases why state parks are important to California kids. Entries into the Summer Youth Art Contest will be...

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things to do in L.A. - PINZ

PINZ Bowling Center To Debut Refurbished Lanes and Community Program

PINZ Bowling Center in Studio City will host a ceremonial “first bowl” to break the ribbon on a $250,000 revamp of its 32 lanes, and launch a new “Bowling Birthdays Are Best!” program to raise charitable contributions to benefit kids and families in the San Fernando Valley. The festivities, kicking off at 3 p.m. Aug. 5, will include civic and community leaders, Los Angeles police officers and firefighters, and an...

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children's music calling all the elephants

Musicians Dave Kinnoin and Randy Sharp Come A-Calling

For his latest album of children's music, local musician Dave Kinnoin invited L.A.-based songwriter Randy Sharp to collaborate. The result is Calling All The Elephants, a fun musical outing spiced with colorful characters and clever wordplay. Kinnoin, who has won more than 20 awards for his prior eight children’s albums, and Sharp, who has seven number-one country singles to his songwriting credit, talked about working together and creating Calling All...

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11 Spots for Cool Summer Fun

It’s easy to get excited about summer and the promise the season holds for outdoor fun, but let’s face it, by July we’re all starting to wilt a little. When you and the kids find yourselves seeking relief from SoCal’s relentless sunshine, head to these shady, splashy and air-conditioned respites for fun summer activities. Hike to a Waterfall Shady hikes with running water are not easy to find during parched...

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Summersounds Reflects the Sounds of the World

What are you in the mood for this summer? A Brazilian Samba? Hawaiian Hula? Maybe a little funky New Orleans Jazz or the exotic sounds from the Middle East? Your family can enjoy any or all of these types of music at the Hollywood Bowl’s Summersounds program, one of the most anticipated Los Angeles events of the season. The four-week series, geared for ages 3-9, spotlights a different music style...

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William Shatner to Narrate Sprout Remake

Sprout, the 24-hour preschool network, has brought back a revamped version of British stop-animation classic Clangers, a television show that aired on the BBC in the 1960s. The new series is true to the original, which is about a family of adorable pink long-snouted creatures who speak using whistling sounds rather than words. The creatures live on a teeny planet somewhere in outer space, making actor William Shatner (“Star Trek’s”...

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A Summer Of Jaguars, Jellies and Donuts

Some new attractions in captivity this summer are worth checking out. At the Aquarium of the Pacific (www.aquariumofpacific.org), you can explore the colorful, mysterious world of sea jellies (commonly known as jellyfish). These unusual creatures can exist with a heart or a brain. The aquarium is spotlighting these colorful gelatinous invertebrates in exhibits throughout its indoor galleries, so you can see all types of jellies and even get the chance...

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A Different Drummer

Justin Lack opens a rocking music school for kids in North Hollywood. In a small studio in North Hollywood, a young guy who could only be a musician is moving gear into the newly cleaned out space. “It’s always been my goal to run my own music school,” says Justin Lack. “I want to teach kids my way, which is as much music appreciation as learning a specific instrument. It’s...

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Despicable Me Sidekicks Take Center Stage in ‘Minions’

When I asked my teenage daughters if they wanted to join me for the press screening of Minions over the weekend, I was pleasantly greeted with an enthusiast “YES!” So, the three of us headed to the AMC in Century City, where we enjoyed a meet-and-greet and photos with Kevin, Stuart and Bob, the lead Minions in Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment’s prequel to Despicable Me, which opens in theaters...

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Nintendo Debuts New Titles at E3

The National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) team attended E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) June 16-18 at the L.A. Convention Center. At the gaming industry’s annual trade show, throngs of eager gamers get their first peek at thousands of new titles and technologies. We met with NAPPA favorite Nintendo, and learned about dozens of upcoming releases for the Wii and handheld 3DS. Here are a few that we’re super excited for this...

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Dodgers Make a New Pitch to Families and Fans

If I made a list of fun summer activities, watching a game at Dodger Stadium would be near the top. The smell of freshly cut grass, the cool air, the view of the mountains over the centerfield fence and the wafting aroma of Dodger Dogs all say “summer time” to me. The Dodgers hope they say the same to you. This season, the Dodgers have added a number of activities...

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Yoobi Opens First Retail Store in Arcadia

"You buy. Yoobi gives." Just 12 months ago, Yoobi, headquartered in El Segundo, launched its line of school, home and office supplies in all 1,800 Target stores. If you haven’t noticed the vibrant and colorful items in the school supplies aisle, you’re missing out. But Yoobi is more than just a school supplies brand; it values education and wants to give back to students and schools in need. The company...

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Summer Activities: It’s Pool Party Time!

Take advantage of the summer heat – and keep the party mess outdoors – by making your child’s next party a pool party. I've helped Los Angeles parents throw countless pool parties through my job as a professional mermaid and lifeguard. Here are some of my best tips for hosting poolside events for kids. Choose your theme and entertainment. Swimming mermaids and activity-leading pirates (which is our specialty at Sheroes...

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los angeles events humpback whales screening

Los Angeles Events: The Humpback Whales Kid Critics Challenge

Hosted by L.A. Parent, MacGillivray Freeman Films, and the California Science Center Calling all future film critics! Kids and their families are invited to join L.A. Parent, MacGillivray Freeman Films, and the California Science Center as we dive into the mysterious world of one of nature's most awe-inspiring marine mammals, the humpback whale. Come see an exclusive free screening, one of many Los Angeles events, of the IMAX film Humpback Whales 3D on Saturday, June 27, 2015, at the California Science Center's IMAX Theater. Interactive family whale...

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With Disney’s Playmation, the Game Jumps Off the Screen

As a child, I would have never imagined play quite like this. As part of the digital generation, I am used to screen-based games that keep players in their seats. But a new gaming system called Playmation, unveiled by Disney Consumer Products in L.A. in early June, aims to get digital kids up and moving. Created in partnership with Hasbro, Playmation employs toys and wearable gear powered by smart technology...

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Mario Lopez Steps Up to the Plate and Encourages Families to Participate

Through July 24, families, players and fans have the chance to win a trip to the Little League Baseball World Series in South Williamsport, PA by entering the Canon Little League Photo Contest. Dad and TV host Mario Lopez will be there to unveil the winning photos, which will be displayed in the World of Little League Museum. Lopez, a former little league player and huge baseball fan, calls the...

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fun summer activities Alex's Lemonade Stand

Make A Stand Against Childhood Cancers

The lemonade stand is something of an American institution and high on the list of  fun summer activities for many. All that’s required are some kids, a table, a handmade sign and a pitcher of lemonade. Who hasn’t passed by one? Maybe you even stopped and bought a glass. This month, there is a good reason to patronize a lemonade stand. From June 12-14, The Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation hosts...

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Say Hello Again To Hello Kitty

The Japanese American National Museum’s Hello Kitty exhibit closes May 31 (after being extended a month), but that doesn’t mean Hello Kitty fans will have to bid farewell to their favorite feline character. They can look forward to Hello Kitty’s Supercute Friendship Festival, highly anticipated among Los Angeles events this summer,  at noon and 7 p.m. June 12, 2 and 7:30 p.m. June 13 and noon June 14 at The...

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Matilda the Musical: Cultivating a New Generation of Theater Fans

It was Annie that did it for me. I saw the beloved musical in London’s West End and became a musical theater fan for life. Though my dream of playing one of the orphans never came to fruition (I soon figured out you need talent for that), my love for theater never waned. Kids in Los Angeles can fall in love with theater the way I did so many years...

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Top Fun Summer Activities for Families

In Southern California, summer is hot. And dry. Fortunately, it isn’t boring. You can find plenty of fun summer activities – often free – and if you venture out after dark, you can beat the heat as well. Summer Music One enjoyable way to spend a summer night is to sit back and listen to music, and a number of communities and venues present free or low-cost music series. Burton...

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fun summer activities theatricum 2015

A Nest of Creativity in the Topanga Woods

Tucked away off of Topanga Canyon Boulevard, Theatricum Botanicum is a bucolic oasis of artistic endeavors. Founded by actor Will Geer in the 1970s, it is home to fun summer activities including a repertory theater company, concerts, numerous classes and camps and, of particular interest for the L.A. Parent crowd, Family Fundays. For more than 20 years, Family Fundays has showcased children’s theater and music. The longstanding tradition continues this...

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Summer Activities: Shakespeare Takes Center Stage

What is it with Shakespeare and summer? Productions of the Bard’s plays staged each gear go far beyond A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and this summer is no exception. Some plays are more family-friendly then others, so it is always recommended to look into each production’s appropriateness to find which make the best summer activities for families. The always-adventurous Cornerstone Theater Company (www.cornerstonetheater.org) will bring its latest production, California: The Tempest,...

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Fun Summer Activities: Ford JAM Sessions

The Ford Amphitheatre is closed for major renovations, but that doesn’t mean you will have to miss out on fun summer activities like the Ford’s popular JAM Sessions. This year, the free, interactive experiences will take place in a variety of locations around Los Angeles: Old Town Newhall, Main Street between Market Street and 6th Avenue Lopez Adobe, 1100 Pico St., San Fernando Las Palmas Park, 505 S. Huntington St.,...

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summer activities kids bowl free

Beat the Heat With Bowling

Looking for summer activities that will keep you indoors when the mercury soars? For the eighth straight year, kids can bowl free during Kids Bowl Free. Children ages 15 and younger can sign up at www.kidsbowlfree.com, and they’ll be able to bowl two free games every day this summer at participating bowling centers. More than eight million kids have participated in this program Canoga Park’s Winnetka Bowl, Tarzana’s Corbin Bowling...

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Skirball Hosting Rock Inspired Sleepover

Inspired by the “Bill Graham and the Rock & Roll Revolution” exhibit, the Skirball will host a “Graham-tastic” family sleepover June 13. Families and friends can engage in interactive activities while learning about the rock & roll era. The night features an interactive tour of the exhibition, including a dance party during a liquid light show. After they decorate and string their own handmade guitar made by local artist and...

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New Holocaust Art Exhibit is a Multigenerational Project

“The Art and Life of David Labkovski” exhibit on display at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust through June 14 doesn’t just depict Jewish life in Europe before, during and after World War II. It preserves a unique perspective for new generations. And it took multiple generations to make the exhibit happen. Leora Raikin, an artist and lecturer on African folklore embroidery, had a collection of her great uncle...

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Take A Cinematic Journey To Tomorrowland

There are several Disney films based on amusement park attractions – and several Disneyland attractions based on films. In the park’s Tomorrowland, movie-based rides include Star Tours, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage and Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters. For the first time, Disney is giving an entire land – Tomorrowland – the cinematic treatment. And this leaves questions. With ride-based films such as Pirates of the Caribbean, it was easy to guess...

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Prepare to Dive! Interactive 4D Ride Opens at Knott’s

Knott’s Berry Farm welcomes a new family attraction, an 18,040-square-foot 4D ride that is the first Los Angeles attractions of its kind. Voyage to the Iron Reef uses a 600-foot track and 11 screens to take riders on a cutting-edge, high-tech journey underneath the “Boardwalk” and into the deep sea. Riders will climb aboard four-person submarine-inspired vehicles, with glasses in hand, for a four-minute interactive adventure passing through underwater forests...

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Springfield Comes to Universal Studios Hollywood

The Simpsons' town of “Springfield” has officially opened at Universal Studios Hollywood near the theme park’s award-winning attraction, The Simpsons Ride. Fans can walk through the replicated town and experience landmarks such as Springfield Elementary School, Comic Book Guy’s Android’s Dungeon, the cooling towers of Mr. Burns’ Nuclear Power Plant, the Springfield Police Station, the Aztec Theater and the Kwik-E-Mart. The Springfield experience also features Moe’s Tavern, a Duff Brewery...

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The Arroyo’s Awash With Free Museum Fun

The Arroyo Seco is a canyon and seasonal river that runs from the San Gabriel Mountains west through Pasadena, and joins the L.A. River north of Dodger Stadium. Along the course of this “dry stream” (which is what arroyo seco means in Spanish) are the Los Angeles attractions that call themselves Museums Of The Arroyo. On May 17, you can visit them all – free. The Gamble House, Heritage Square,...

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Box Lunch

One of my fondest childhood memories is of my mom packing picnic lunches in lacquer Japanese bento boxes. I loved having a variety of small bites compartmentalized and displayed neatly in front of me. On a recent visit with my family to Sushi Roku in Pasadena, I was delighted to discover their new Okosama (kids’) menu, featuring Japanese favorites in bento boxes for diners ages 10 and under. This top-rated...

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Three Great Multi-generation Vacations

As families plan their summer activities and vacations, more are packing for multiple generations. More than one third of families surveyed last year by AAA said they were planning to take a multigenerational trip in the next 12 months, and it is easy to see why. Bringing the grandparents and the kids offers a great chance to relax, reminisce and make memories. Choose a “group leader” from among the family...

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Visit the LA Zoo for a Kindness Safari with KIND Snacks

Our friends at KIND make it a point to give back and demonstrate kindness in everything they do. On Saturday, May 16, from 11am to 4pm, local team members from KIND will be hosting a kindness safari for families at the LA Zoo (and in 18 other cities across the country). The event will provide visitors that day with the following: - A scavenger hunt booklet with interactive kindness activities inspired by...

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Things To Do In L.A.: Magical Times On Stage In May

Several interesting family productions hit local stages this month, offering a nice selection of fun things to do in L.A. The hit musical Matilda is coming to the Ahmanson Theatre, and South Coast Rep in Costa Mesa will have a pair of intriguing productions: Peter and the Starcatcher and OZ 2.5. All three plays are taken from popular fiction. Matilda, which runs May 29 through July 12, is an adaptation...

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Los Angeles Events Big Sunday 2015

You Can Be A Big Part of Big Sunday

May Los Angeles events begin in a big way as Big Sunday Weekend takes place May 1-3. Now in its 17th year, Big Sunday ranks as one of the largest regional service events in the U.S. Last year, approximately 50,000 volunteers participated in more than 500 projects in more than 100 cities throughout California. This year offers another wide selection of projects that people, young and old, can be part...

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Farm Fresh for Families

Farm-to-table dining is now affordable and convenient for busy Los Angeles families. Mendocino Farms, founded by husband and wife team, Mario del Pero and Ellen Chen, offers organic, healthy and farm fresh sandwiches, entrée salads, soups and side salads using only the best locally sourced ingredients. Chef Partner Judy Han has crafted a menu based on traditional sandwiches with modern twists like the Pork Belly Banh Mi, the "Not So...

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fun ideas for kids free comics 2015

Get Yourself Some Free Comics May 2

Comic book lovers can enjoy some of their favorite things in life – for free – May 2 during Free Comic Book Day. Diamond Comic Distributors and The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund have teamed up with the literacy organization Every Child a Reader and The Children’s Book Council for this nationwide event full of fun ideas for kids. This feast for freebies features a dozen kid-friendly titles, including SpongeBob,...

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Circle of (Drought-Tolerant) Life

Twenty-five percent is a number that might have you thinking about your yard a little differently this year. That’s how much Gov. Jerry Brown has ordered urban areas in California to cut back their water use, inspiring visions of brown lawns and prickly cactus. Rachel Young wants to change that view. She is director of horticulture and garden operations at Descanso Gardens in La Cañada-Flintridge, where a new Center Circle...

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Crafting Community Builds Family Bonds and Fun Ideas For Kids

Karen Kimmel and Stacy Bernstein, founders of Crafting Community, are on a mission, a creative one. Their goal, “to cultivate immersive design experiences where families can play, grow and be together,” is the driving force behind their growing organization. On their website, www.craftingcommunity.com, Kimmel and Bernstein emphasize that “creativity is an essential tool for life and so we find ways to encourage and inspire the creative spirit through art, curated...

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Dig the Tunes in Earthworm Ensemble’s Backyard Garden

Just in time for spring, Earthworm Ensemble offers new set of songs about such “earthy” topics as nature, the environment and the lives of animals and humans. Backyard Garden packs a rich bounty of rootsy music into its 13 tracks. “We wanted to share our ideas on day-to-day things we can do to keep planet Earth green, and especially to get parents and kids to engage in further conversations and exploration,”...

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New Star Wars Display Unveiled at LEGOLAND

What’s 13 feet high, eight feet wide, weighs 1,900 pounds and is one of the newest Los Angeles attractions? If you guessed the new Death Star Model Display at LEGOLAND California Resort, you’re correct! Made with more than 500,000 LEGO bricks and unveiled in early March, this interactive display is the largest to be added to Star Wars Miniland, which first opened to guests in 2011. Patterned after the version...

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Get Thee to the Ball

Sound the trumpets! Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella has come to town as a royal treat among Los Angeles attractions, and is playing at the Ahmanson Theatre at the Music Center through April 26. I recently saw this family-friendly Tony award-winning Broadway musical, which puts a modern spin on the classic fairy tale. In this version, Cinderella, played by Broadway superstar Paige Faure, is sugary sweet as ever, but has a...

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Figaro for the Family

I’m not going to pretend that I’m a regular at the opera, or that I’m familiar with even the most popular of arias. I wish I were that civilized but, truth be told, it’s all Greek – or should I say Italian – to me. However, like any good parent, I want to expose my child to as much culture as possible, and with so many great Los Angeles attractions,...

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Kids Can Rock Out With Hard Rock’s New Menu

Kids not only get a lesson in rock history while dining at Hard Rock Café, but also a lesson in healthy eating. The restaurant, known for its impressive display of rock memorabilia and music videos (and now fun ideas for kids), has launched a new kids’ menu that’s sure to be a hit with little rockers across the country. The “Roxtars” menu offers the usual kid fare – burgers, mac...

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Los Angeles Attractions Dead Sea Scrolls

Los Angeles Attractions: A New Look At The Old World

The California Science Center (700 Exposition Dr., L.A. ; www.californiasciencecenter.org) continues its look into the ancient past, following its popular exhibit about the ancient city of Pompeii with “Dead Sea Scrolls: The Exhibition.” While kids might think of “scroll” as something you do on a computer or cellphone, the scrolls here are old manuscripts. And by “old,” we mean 2,000 years old. The Dead Sea Scrolls include parts of the...

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Fun Ideas For Kids – Pizza Party Extraordinaire

CPK Made This Mom a Party Pooper No More I’ve got to be honest. Throwing birthday parties is a parental duty of which I’m not particularly fond. There’s so much pressure in the planning, the execution and the clean-up. So here’s my set of criteria for planning these annual events. The party must be: Not. At. My. House. Enjoyable for both children and parents Quick, easy and painless Affordable With...

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Zoo Outreach Program Makes Special-Needs Classrooms Go Wild

A classroom for students with mild, moderate and severe learning disabilities turned into a zoo for a day at Granada Hills Charter High School as the Los Angeles Zoo brought critters and crawlers with their Special Needs Education Outreach Program. Students with disabilities were able to interact with live animals while learning about their habitats from tactile biofacts. The trained zoo docents are certified in the handling of the animals...

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A Whole Lotta Hogwarts

Have you ever wondered whether a Thestral could beat an Acromantula? Hungered for a stoat sandwich? Searched for a vanishing cabinet? Shown more interest in the Quidditch World Cup than the Super Bowl? Looking for unique things to do in L.A.? Then Potted Potter is right up your Diagon Alley. The show comes to the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts (9390 Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills; www.thewallis.org) beginning...

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Megatron Rings In the New Year at Universal

Universal Studios Hollywood is celebrating the Lunar “Year of the Ram” Feb. 13-28 with a Mandarin-speaking MEGATRON character from “Transformers: The Ride-3D” and the blockbuster Transformers films. The celebration, one of several Los Angeles events marking the Chinese new year, will be held in the new Art Deco-inspired grand courtyard in Universal Plaza, at the heart of the theme park. The polygon-shaped piazza will display a dozen lampposts each featuring...

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Holy Cow is Right!

Nestled out yonder in Santa Monica is Holy Cow BBQ, a new eatery specializing in good ol’ fashioned barbecue with a California flair. Founder and barbecue aficionado Rob Serritella, the guy responsible for Los Feliz eatery MESSHALL, opened this Texas roadhouse-style kitchen in late 2014. The farm-to-table restaurant seeks out local, organic, sustainable and natural foods (that’s the “California flair” part). Everything is carefully smoked, resulting in a menu filled...

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Plan a Tropical Family Spring Break

Three Fun Island Destinations Offer Fun Ideas for Kids With spring break around the corner, a tropical family getaway might sound like just the ticket. There are plenty of excellent options fun of fun ideas for kids, but the Hawaiian islands, Puerto Rico and Nassau, Bahamas, are especially great for parents with kids in tow. San Juan, Puerto Rico Puerto Rico has miles of white-sand beaches near a lush Caribbean rainforest,...

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A Winning Concert of GRAMMY Nominees

The Children’s Recording Arts Alliance has once again organized a benefit concert showcasing all five acts nominated for a GRAMMY award for Best Children’s Album this year. Brady Rymer, The Pop Ups, The Okee Dokee Brothers and Secret Agent 23 Skidoo will perform tunes from their honored albums, while the fifth nominee, Neela Vaswani, will read a selection from the audio book I Am Malala. The concert, much anticipated among...

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Local Museums Are Having a Free-For-All

Some New Year’s resolutions are challenging. How many people, for example, pledge to go to the gym more often (and how many succeed in their goal)? But if you’ve pledged to soak up more local culture in 2015, that resolution is easy thanks to great Los Angeles events. Just take part in Museum Free-For-All Jan. 31, when more than 20 museums across Southern California offer free admission. Participating museums range...

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George Lucas and William Shakespeare Create ‘Strange Magic’

As the filmmaker who dreamed up Star Wars, George Lucas knows a thing or two about magical movie worlds and fun ideas for kids. For his latest film, he used Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream as inspiration for a story of fairies, goblins and elves who battle over a potent love potion. Strange Magic is an animated movie full of magic, mystery, misadventures and music. Music, in fact, serves as...

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Los Angeles Events: Anne Frank Oratorio

L.A. High School Students Set Anne Frank Story To Music

One hundred twenty five students from Ramón C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts in downtown Los Angeles have turned the moving story of holocaust victim Anne Frank into an hour-long musical composition that will debut in free performances Jan. 22 and 23 in the high school’s main auditorium. Under the guidance of singer Alice Kirwan Murray, lyricist Doug Cooney and composer Jonathan Beard of the Los Angeles Master...

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Wicked: Elphaba and Glinda Return to the Pantages to Charm Audiences of all Ages

The first time Wicked was in Los Angeles, my daughters were both in elementary school and I organized a mother-daughter day at the Hollywood Pantages with 11 other families. We moms still talk about that day with great fondness. During every mesmerizing set, we would look over at our little girls’ faces and see them spellbound. Our group walked out of the theater knowing we had not only just seen...

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Find New Snow Options For Families On Local Slopes

An increase in families skiing, women skiers and the use of technology on the slopes has prompted mountain resorts to breathe fresh air into snow sports lessons and slope-side activities. Mammoth Mountain, Eastern Sierras (10001 Minaret Road; 800-626-6684; www.mammothmountain.com; App: Mammoth Mountain) Heard the big news? The Mammoth Mountain Ski Area – owner of Mammoth Mountain and June Mountain – recently acquired Big Bear Mountain Resorts (Bear Mountain and Snow...

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The Do-Right Thing At The Paley Center

This winter you can visit Frostbite Falls by heading to Beverly Hills, where The Paley Center for Media (465 N. Beverly Dr.) is playing host to an exhibit showcasing the playfully animated work of Jay Ward. During the 1960s, Ward and his crew created some of the most memorable characters ever to populate America’s cartoon universe. There were Rocky and Bullwinkle (whose hometown is Frostbite Falls) and their nemeses Boris...

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The 12 Stages of Christmas: Six Nutcrackers – and Six That Aren’t

December is as packed with family-friendly theatrical productions as Santa’s sleigh is with presents. The most popular show this time of year is The Nutcracker and Southern California certainly is chock-full of opportunities to see it – some with an extra twist of fun. But there are a number of other festive shows that are also worth a look. Six Unique Nutcrackers Debbie Allen once again will serve up The...

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The L.A. Zoo Will Glow For the Holidays

The holidays will be celebrated in a big way at the Los Angeles Zoo (5333 Zoo Dr., L.A.; www.lazoo.org), which will host two separate seasonal attractions. For the first time, the park will illuminate the night with Zoo Lights, an electrical display of millions of lights that depict a colorful menagerie of zoo animals, some of the them doing kooky things. There will be a hippo driving on a freeway...

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Make a Point of Visiting Dana Point

Dana Point was a popular port for trading in the1800s. Today, the harbor is the hub for recreational activities, marine research and festivals. Family-friendly luxury resorts and close proximity to L.A. make Dana Point a relaxing weekend getaway. Eat The harbor-side Coffee Importers Scoop Deck & Deli (34531 Golden Lantern St.; 949-493-7773; www.coffeeimporters.com) has an extensive breakfast, lunch, snacks and smoothie menu for less than $10 per person. House-made granola,...

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Meet The Squeegees – Again

The Squeegees are not newcomers to the Southern California family music scene. The group released their first album, Meet The Squeegees, in 2008. It was re-released a couple years later, and their new album, Veggie Soup, is a slow-cooked follow-up. It is worth re-introducing yourselves to the band because there have been a number of changes since their debut album. Samantha Tobey from the original duo fronts the band with...

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‘Big Hero 6’ Offers Big Laughs and Big Action

The big Disney film Big Hero 6 is an imaginative action-comedy about a teenage boy, his group of misfit friends and an inflatable robot named Baymax who isn’t the big softie he looks to be. The movie, according to co-director Don Hall, is a mash-up of Disney’s humor and humanity and Marvel Comics’ superhero action adventures. If you aren’t familiar with the comic Big Hero 6, you aren’t alone. It’s...

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Beyond the Beach In Carpinteria

While beautiful silky-sand beaches may be the primary reason for visiting Carpinteria, it’s also fun to explore the laid-back city’s parks, unpretentious downtown and seaside neighborhoods. The electric Seaside Shuttle costs 50 cents per ride, and makes a loop around town and to the Amtrak platform, offering a car-free option for your visit. Eat Show up at The Spot (389 Linden Ave.; 805-684-6311) in your bathing suit and flip-flops (or...

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Party-Time Treats

Food can be a fun part of any party, but can be a real headache if you’re the one doing the planning. Keep it simple (and fun for you) with these great recipes from Home & Family’s Tanya Memme. Tanya’s Birthday Party Popcorn! Everyone loves popcorn! Be a hero at your child’s next party with this!  It takes minutes to make, is easy on the wallet and kids love it....

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Play Date: Wild and Woolly Fun

In our urban jungle, there is plenty of wildlife of a more natural variety. If you and the kids are ready for a safari, check out these rescue and conservation centers for creatures both wet and dry. The mission of The Gentle Barn (15825 Sierra Hwy., Santa Clarita; 661-252-2440; www.gentlebarn.org) is “teaching people kindness and compassion to animals, each other and our planet” – a noble goal, to be sure....

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Ooh La La! Let’s Make Art in L.A.

Artist Hervḗ Tullet, bestselling author of “Press Here” (Chronicle Books, 2011) is coming to MOCA and LACMA this month to shake things up, squish stuff together and fire the imaginations of your children while promoting his latest interactive book, “Mix It Up!” Not familiar with these popular books or the creative mind behind them? Even this adult found it hard to resist the urge to tilt, turn and touch the...

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World City Spins Music and Dance From Around the Globe

During the past dozen years, the Music Center’s World City program has introduced kids to more than 75 different cultures at the intimate, outdoor W.M. Keck Children’s Auditorium (111 S. Grand Ave., L.A.; www.musiccenter.org). This year’s World City offers another stellar international lineup of interesting acts. Season 13’s seven-concert series begins Oct. 11 with a trip to Brazil when Los Masis and Bolivia Corazón de America perform traditional music and...

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Wallis Annenberg Center Kicks Off Season of Family Entertainment

Located in the heart of Beverly Hills, the new Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts is the first and only performing arts center in Beverly Hills. The venue, which opened its doors in October 2013, transformed a Beverly Hills city block into a vibrant new cultural destination in the heart of Los Angeles with two distinct, elegant buildings: the historic 1933 Beverly Hills Post Office, now called the Paula...

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There’s More to These Playgrounds Than Meets The Eye

When you look at a playground, you might see swings or a jungle gym, but children with disabilities see a fun place that’s inaccessible, excluding them from opportunities to play. Unless, of course, they are visiting one of Shane’s Inspiration’s universally accessible playgrounds, created to bring together children – with disabilities and without – through play. You can find them as far away as Russia, Israel and Ecuador and as...

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A Sneak Peak At Fall Films

October’s films features a pair of protagonists – Alexander and Manolo – who aren’t having very good days. Alexander is the title character in Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Inspired by the popular Judith Viorst book (which also was adapted into a 30-minute TV musical ) this live-action version, which Disney will release Oct. 10, involves a “no good, very bad day” experienced by Alexander’s...

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Local Boy Has a Key Role as The Boxtrolls Pop Up In Cinemas

The Boxtrolls is certainly a grown-up feat. The latest work from Laika Studios builds on the company’s previous films (Coraline and ParaNorman). Combining stop-action animation with CG technology, the studio created a visually stunning, darkly comic “hybrid” motion picture that was selected for screening at the prestigious Venice Film Festival. Based on a story in Alan Snow’s massive graphic novel “Here Be Monsters,” this Focus Features release tells a tale...

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Julian Is the Apple Of Our Eye

Autumn is prime time to visit Julian, an historic gold-mining town an hour east of San Diego that is home to numerous apple orchards. A handful of these are open to the public for apple and pumpkin picking. Eat Housed in a 1920s cottage, the family-owned and operated Julian Grille (2224 Main St.; 760-765-0036; www.juliangrille.com) has extensive lunch and dinner menus. Try the Reuben sandwich or the pecan-breaded chicken topped...

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Creation Classes and Workshops For Little ‘Makers’

The “maker” movement, a DIY wave that has swept the country, has plenty to offer kids and families. If your child loves to make art, repurpose used materials into new inventions, design robots, or build giant structures for the sole purpose of knocking them back down, here are some options that are sure to challenge and delight. What happens when you get a group of enterprising artists and environmental designers...

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Extracurricular Activities

No need to hit the classroom for a dose of learning. This month offers a host of events that offer a knowledge boost – and fun! For the 10th year, the Smithsonian is hosting Museum Day Live! On Sept. 27, museums across America – including the Zimmer Children’s Museum, the Grammy Museum, the California Science Center, the Craft and Folk Art Museum, the Pasadena Museum of California Art and the...

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The BeatBuds are Your New House Band

Whether you know them as Jonathan Jonah and Matthew Shapiro, Jonny Jingles and Matty Maracas or just the two dudes in the BeatBuds, these two guys are all about the music. For the past few years, this local duo has been a popular presence in the local family music scene. Besides playing all around Southern California, these two childhood friends also have also started doing in-home jam sessions. In these...

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Making Nature Visits Easy in the Audubon Center

I often want to spend time outdoors with my son, to let him poke around the leaves, jump, run, climb and get dirty – but without the crowds and without a big production. One of my favorites spots in Los Angeles is the Audubon Center at Debs Park (4700 North Griffin Ave.; 323-221-2255; www.debspark.audubon.org). It is small enough that you can keep an eye on your child, and wild enough...

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Full-Time Fun In Half Moon Bay

Located along scenic Route 1 between the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Half Moon Bay is a small coastal community set amidst redwood forests and agricultural fields, and also the oldest settlement in San Mateo. Eat No need to fork over big bucks for an amazing meal with ocean views. Open for lunch and dinner, Sam’s Chowder House (4210 N. Cabrillo Hwy.; 650-712-0245; www.samschowderhouse.com) is a great place...

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Where to Find L.A.’s Coolest Ice Cream and Gelato Shops

Considering our year-round sunny weather, it’s no wonder Los Angeles has a seemingly endless array of ice cream parlors, gelaterias and FroYo shops. If you’re ready to venture beyond the shop on the corner for something truly special, here are six spots that are absolutely worth a try. Scoops original location is on hip-as-can-be Heliotrope Drive (712 N., Heliotrope Dr., L.A.; 323-906-2649), where they dish up creative ice cream flavor...

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Hot Music Blossoms In The Getty Garden

Family music fans will flock to The Getty Center this month for the museum’s free Garden Concerts for Kids. In its sixth year, the summer music series presents another stellar lineup, with each of this year’s trio of acts offering something uniquely educational along with their entertaining music. Kicking off the series of 4 p.m. shows in The Getty’s Central Garden (1200 Getty Center Dr., L.A.; www.getty.edu) will be Mister...

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Not Your Standard Fairy Tale Musical

Aladdin sings One Direction, Snow White covers Katy Perry’s “Firework” and the Sheriff of Nottingham goes Lady Gaga in the amusing musical mash-up that makes up the Princess And Pirates Sing-A-Long Concert. Running Fridays through Sundays through Aug. 10 at the Kirk Douglas Theatre (9820 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City; www.princesspirateslive.com), this comical musical production is the latest theatrical creation of Lythgoe Family Productions, the folks behind the popular holiday...

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A Mom Reporter’s UCLA Daytrip

Los Angeles is composed of many interesting and unique neighborhoods. We decided to spend the day in Westwood, specifically at UCLA. We wanted to visit two interesting places that would have a lot of activities for our 3½-year-old son. In the morning, we went to the Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden (100 Stein Plaza Driveway; 310-825-1260; www.botgard.ucla.edu). In the afternoon, we headed over to the Fowler Museum (UCLA North Campus,...

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Grown Up Tastes for Little Diners

Plan Check Kitchen + Bar, known for its modern American comfort food, unique cocktails, premium whiskeys, and craft beers, launches a new children’s menu this month with slight variations on its grown up offerings. Younger diners can choose from favorites such as burgers, fried chicken, grilled BBQ chicken skewers, mac n’ cheese, cruller donuts, and root beer floats. All selections are served up the Plan Check way with distinctive renditions of...

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International Plates for Picky Palates

My child, once a baby who gummed anything I put in front of him, has become a quintessential picky toddler. Every suggestion is met with a cheerful, but firm, “No,” and I’ve watched his culinary world narrow into a rotating Lazy Susan of hot dogs, chicken fingers and fish sticks. This is something I swore I would never allow. Experts say to keep presenting toddlers with new foods, and not...

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New Veggie Options at Stonefire Grill

If you’re a busy parent who appreciates quality restaurant food at family-friendly prices, you’ll want to know about Stonefire Grill, a family-owned restaurant chain with seven locations in L.A. and Orange counties. Known for their mesquite BBQ chicken, cracked pepper garlic tri tip, lemon garlic salmon, made-to-order pizzas and an array of healthy salads, the restaurant has introduced several new items focusing on lean meats and vegetarian options: Sandwiches Slow...

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Skiing and Splashing at Lake Arrowhead

Lake Arrowhead is a privately owned lake with limited public access, but don’t let that stop you from visiting this beautiful hamlet in the San Bernardino National Forest. Plenty of family-friendly activities, an upscale, lakeside village and close proximity to L.A. make it a delightful weekend getaway with the kids. Eat Enjoy lake views while dining at the dockside Belgian Waffle Works (28200 CA Hwy. 189, Suite 150; 909-337-5222; www.belgianwaffle.com),...

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Telling Tales: Secrets For Sharing Your Story So Kids Will Listen

Once upon a time, when my little girl was 5, our family took a trip to Paris. While my husband was out handling the business part of our business vacation, Lauren and I went to visit the Louvre. It was a November weekday and the museum was wonderfully uncrowded – except for a large tour group from Japan blocking our view of the Mona Lisa. Determined that we would gaze...

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Seeing Stars: Where to Take In Views Of the Night Sky

When Angelenos talk about seeing “stars,” they often mean the type on the red carpet. But there’s not an actor or actress alive who can hold a candle to the magnificence of the night sky. The universe might not appear as sparkly and vast here as it does in less-populated areas, but there are still plenty of opportunities to gaze up in wonder at the constellations, planets and moons. The...

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A Midsummer’s Shakespeare

By Michael Berick For a man who died nearly 500 years ago, William Shakespeare remains a remarkably popular playwright. His work is staged constantly in Southern California and around the world. Summer is a particularly prime time to catch a Shakespeare play, and there are several outdoor productions that appear especially intriguing. The Independent Shakespeare Company (www.facebook.com/indyshakes) has been doing interesting productions in Griffith Park’s Old Zoo since 2010, and...

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Rustic Mountain Fun at June Lake

By Mimi Slawoff June Lake is small and rustic compared to posh neighbor Mammoth Mountain, but star-filled night skies, towering granite domes and four sparkling alpine lakes make this eastern Sierra town a gem. Eat In the Jones family since 1977, the homey Silver Lake Lodge and Cafe (6957 Highway 158; 760-648-7525; www.silverlakeresort.net) overlooks Silver Lake, a popular trout-fishing hole. The cozy diner, open for breakfast and lunch, serves big...

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Where to get Wet: Splash Pads, Fountains and Water Play

By Erin Mahoney Harris From squirting splash pads to burbling brooks, these Los Angeles parks, plazas and playgrounds offer refreshing relief on a hot day – and we’re sure to have plenty of those in store this summer. Downtown’s crown jewel, Grand Park (227 N. Spring St., Los Angeles; 213-972-8080; www.grandparkla.org), has proven a successful gathering spot for concerts, yoga classes and other community events. The highlight of the 12-acre...

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Randy Kaplan Talks About the Tasty Tunes That Fill His New CD, Jam On Rye

By Michael Berick It seems like Randy Kaplan hasn’t met a musical style that he doesn’t like. The Los Angeles-based musician filled a shelf with awards (including a NAPPA Gold) for his last CD, Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie, where he reworked old blues tunes into songs for kids. Kaplan stocks his new album, Jam On Rye, with the sounds of rock, folk, jazz, bluegrass and even a Broadway show tune....

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Museum Tips For Special-Needs Families1

Museum Tips For Special-Needs Families

Museums of all kinds can be great experiences for kids with special needs. A little planning and a few extra steps can make your visit great. by Julee Brooks For families of children with special needs, the thought of visiting a busy public space such as a museum might seem daunting. There are things, however, that families can do before, during and even after a visit to make it more...

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Let's Go Flying, Fishing

Flying, Fishing and Disc Golf in Wrightwood

Who needs snow? This year-round destination offers plenty of family adventures. by Mimi Slawoff Although best known for the skiing and snowboarding at Mountain High (www.mthigh.com), Wrightwood is a year-round destination with a variety of family-friendly adventures. Hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking, ziplining and disc golf are among the fun things to do with kids in this small mountain town about a 90-minute drive from L.A. It doesn’t have a single...

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This Local Girl Will Bop

This Local Girl Will Bop Around the World

New Kidz Bop kid Ashlynn Chong, from L.A., dishes about being new to the crew. by Michael Berick Ashlynn Chong is proof of the adage, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” When she was 9, she auditioned to be in Kidz Bop Kids – the youth singing group that has sold more than 14 million CDs worldwide. She didn’t make the cut. Last year, the 12-year-old Los...

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Quiet Ojai

Quiet Ojai Offers Laid-Back Fun Kids Will Love

Let's Go columnist Mimi Slawoff offers a guide to this quaint town that's just a short-and-pleasant drive away. by Mimi Slawoff Tucked away in a valley 65 miles northwest of Los Angeles, Ojai is easy to miss unless you know about it. With its farms, mom-and-pop boutiques, restaurants and inns – no two alike – this laid-back, picturesque town (population about 7,500) is well worth the pleasant drive. Downtown consists...

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Coffee With Kids In Sliver Lake

Visit this fun neighborhood with the kids for coffee, shopping, snacks and play. by Erin Mahoney Harris Silver Lake might have a reputation as a hipster haven, but it’s become increasingly welcoming to families with young children as well, particularly with the opening of the lovely Silver Lake Meadow and the proliferation of family-friendly boutiques, coffee houses and cafes. LAMILL Coffee Boutique (1636 Silver Lake Blvd.; 323-663-4441; www.lamillcoffee.com) has been...

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Star Gaze

Star Gaze and Off Road In Borrego Springs

Enjoy desert excursions, karaoke, comfort food and other family fun just a three-hour drive away. by Mimi Slawoff Borrego Springs, in east San Diego County, is a quiet little town surrounded by the 600,000-acre Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. In place of fast food chains and big resorts, the main drag, Palm Canyon Drive, boasts mom-and-pop boutiques, art galleries and diners. Streetlight-free for miles, it is a Certified International Dark Sky...

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Desert and Hollywood Fun

Desert – and Hollywood – Fun In Palm Springs

Time travel to celebrity getaways, take a jeep into the desert and meet the local wildlife on this family getaway. by Mimi Slawoff In the desert about 110 miles east of Los Angeles, Palm Springs is the ancestral home to the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, and its serenity was first discovered by Hollywood in the 1920s. It served as a rendezvous spot for Clark Gable and Carole Lombard....

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Escape the City in Big Bear

Escape the City In Big Bear Lake

There’s plenty of off-season family fun to be had at this snow and ski resort. It’s a rejuvenating retreat. by Mimi Slawoff On a drive to Big Bear Lake shortly after your ascent to the resort begins, the landscape changes dramatically from clogged freeways to mountain vistas, with whiff s of pine drifting in through open car windows. Fresh mountain air, year-round recreation and diverse culinary options are about a...

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Go Danish or Western

Go Danish or Western in the Santa Ynez Valley

From the quaint town of Solvang to the rustic trails near Alisal Guest Ranch, your family can have a world of fun. by Mimi Slawoff Located in northern Santa Barbara County, the Santa Ynez Valley contains six distinctive, rural communities with a total population of about 20,000. The most unique and picturesque is Solvang (Danish for “sunny field”), a Danish community. Only about 125 miles from L.A., it feels worlds...

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Hidden Beaches

Hidden Beaches, History and Family Fun in Oxnard and Ventura

Plan a day trip or weekend getaway filled with beaches, music, museums and sports the kids will love. Published: 08/05/2013 by Mimi Slawoff Situated between sultry Malibu and posh Santa Barbara, Ventura County is a rather underrated coastal and cultural destination. But sandy beaches, a plethora of recreational activities, year-round festivals and historic districts make Oxnard and Ventura an ideal family day trip or weekend getaway. Ventura is also the...

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Kayaking

Feeding Family Ties In San Diego

This nearby getaway destination offers the perfect combo of relaxation and family fun By Ron Epstein By the time our girls were each around 4 years old, we realized that they were pretty self-sufficient travelers – and that they enjoyed going places. So we bought them their own luggage, showed them how and what to pack, and let them choose things to do on long car drives or plane rides....

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Barney Saltzberg

Barney Saltzberg Takes His kids’ Music Around the World

Author, illustrator and songwriter Barney Saltzberg appears at Theatricum Botanicum on the heels of a tour of China and Russia. by Michael Berick Barney Saltzberg is a quadruple threat of creativity – an author, illustrator, songwriter and performer. The native Angeleno has written nearly 40 children’s books and recorded four CDs, including Crazy Hair Day, which features guest appearances from Jackson Browne, Peter Himmelman and Dustin Hoffman. Besides making appearances...

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A Local Crop of Kids’ Books

Shop these independent stores for personal recommendations and great family fun By Ronna Mandel If you only shop online, you’re missing out on input from some of our city’s most enthusiastic and knowledgeable kid-lit experts. To find bookstores that felt “just right” for this roundup, I channeled Goldilocks and made tracks for the independents – the magical, privately owned bookstores located throughout Los Angeles. Pages, A Bookstore: 904 Manhattan Ave.,...

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