Things for families to do outdoors in and around L.A.

Outdoor Fun

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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.; Open from Nov. 10 through Jan. 18, this 7,200-square-foot rink presents...

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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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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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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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The Ford Theatre’s Fond Return

It’s a big new world at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre (2580 Cahuenga Ave. East, L.A.; 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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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 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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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 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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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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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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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.; 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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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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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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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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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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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; 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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6 Local Gardens For Families to Explore

Spring officially springs upon us March 20, and after an El Niño winter that brought at least a little rain, 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...

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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; at 4 p.m. March 17 for the Leprechaun's Lucky Gold...

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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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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;

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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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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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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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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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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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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; Ventura’s festively ornamented ships will launch the 39th annual Holiday Parade of Lights and Fireworks...

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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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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 ( offers a lesson, rentals and lift ticket from $45. Terrain-Based Learning Learning to ski and snowboard...

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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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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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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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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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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 ( 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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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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Youth Art Contest

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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; It is small enough that you can keep an eye on your child, and wild enough...

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You don’t need clear weather, or even cover of darkness, to star gaze at Griffith Observatory. PHOTO BY ERIN MAHONEY HARRIS

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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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;, has proven a successful gathering spot for concerts, yoga classes and other community events. The highlight of the 12-acre...

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