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

Outdoor Fun

Summer Fun: New Features at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

By Yasmin Dunn Since its opening in April 2016, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios has delighted Potter fans with its whimsy and attention to detail. From the sweets at Honeydukes to the wands at Ollivander’s, you feel like you are stepping straight into the pages of the books. Fans of the series and the films will appreciate the new additions this year, which add even more...

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millennial dad

Ripe for Satire: A Taste of this Summer’s Farmers Market Scene

On a lazy, unseasonably chilly Sunday morning in L.A. this May, my 3-year-old son exclaimed, “Let’s go to the farmers market!” It was 7 a.m. My wife Kate and I, still half-comatose, were hardly through our first sips of coffee. We looked at each other as Hank continued his demands. Defeated, we shrugged, downed the rest of our coffee, packed up the family and headed out.  In L.A., we’re lucky...

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watermelon festival

Wishing for Watermelon in the San Fernando Valley

Where can you find more than 40,000 pounds of free watermelon? At the California Watermelon Festival (watermelonfest.org) July 28-29 at Hansen Dam Soccer Park Complex in Lake View Terrace. The San Fernando Valley has a lengthy watermelon history. A May 20, 1905, issue of the Pacific Rural Press is all about melon growing in the foothills of the Burbank-Glendale district. But the 56-year-old fest isn’t a bit stodgy, offering melon...

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L.A. After Dark: Summer Events for Kids at Night

It’s summer, which means it’s hot. OK, hotter. It’s not fun to go outside, but it is even less fun to stay indoors all the time. So, what’s a family with kids out of school to do? Go nocturnal! There is much fun to be had in and around L.A. after dark. Here are a few of our favorite nighttime things.  Odd Shopping and Such  One of the more hip...

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L.A. Playgrounds

7 L.A. Playgrounds Perfect for Unstructured Play

Right now, parents across the U.S. are feeling the subtle but ever-present tug of war between structured and unstructured time for their kids. The trend over the last few decades has been toward increasing amounts of scheduled activities for children in the interest of safety and student achievement. And despite a large body of recent research on the varied benefits and importance of free play, as well as unstructured play...

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kids in los angeles

Your L.A. Summer Bucket List

Southern California is filled with fantastic sites to visit this summer, and not all of them are expensive. As great as Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm and LEGOLAND are, you do not need to spend $400 to have a fun family outing (though in SoCal you should always bring money for food and parking).   You’ve certainly heard of some of these family hotspots, but when was the last time you actually...

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gardeners in los angeles

Make Your Summer Garden Grow in Los Angeles

Planting season in Southern California is not in summer. Gardeners here will tell you it’s best to dream and plan now and plant in fall, when temperatures are kinder to tender young plants. Still, summer is when kids are out of school and families have more time, so I checked in with Rachel Young, director of horticulture, and Rachel Lewellen, harvest garden coordinator, at Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge...

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Summer Parties in the Park

Griffith Park covers more than 4,300 acres. One of the largest urban parks in the U.S., this month it is home to two big family-friendly events. SoCal Moms will host Great Big Family Play Day (pictured) from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. June 5 near the Autry Museum. Entertainment will include a Luce Puppet Company performance, a Princess Sing-along and such local family music acts as Jazzy Ash, the BeatBuds and Love...

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mother's day in Los Angeles

5 Places to take Mom on Mother’s Day

You’ve made her breakfast (and cleaned up), given her flowers and maybe a card. Here are five great places you could take Mom next. The California African American Museum (caamuseum.org): Put a smile on Mom’s face and give her a green thumb with a free gardening workshop from 1-3 p.m. Decorate a pot and get take-home gardening tips. South Coast Botanic Garden (southcoastbotanicgaraden.org): Take a garden stroll, then listen to...

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Night! Camera! Action! Los Angeles Summer Film Series Begin

Summer doesn’t officially start until June 21, but one of the joys of Southern California summers begins this month: outdoor movies. More series will kick off in June, but two of the most established and expansive are setting up their big screens now. Street Food Cinema hosts a 30th anniversary screening of “The Land Before Time” at Griffith Park May 19, and features “Raiders of the Lost Ark” May 29...

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L.A. Times Festival of Books: Book Some Time For A Literary Feast

The L.A. Times Festival of Books (events.latimes.com/festivalofbooks) April 21 and 22 is a utopia for book lovers. More than 150,000 folks annually flock to the free festival on the USC campus to listen to writers, meet authors and explore rows and rows of books. The Children’s Stage this year features authors Roda Ahmed (“Mae Among the Stars”), Danica McKellar (“Ten Magic Butterflies”), Junot Diaz (“Islandborn”) and Malcolm Mitchell (“The Magician’s...

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Rustle Up Some Family Fun

The Wild West is alive and well, at least in Old Newhall on the weekend of April 21-22. That’s when the free Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival (CowboyFestival.org) rides into William S. Hart Park, which is named for the actor/director from the genre’s silent era and is home to his historic mansion. From 10 a.m.-6 p.m. both days, families can ride a mechanical bull or horse, try panning for gold or...

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A Handful of Ways to Help Out on Earth Day

Earth Day is officially April 22, but there are many opportunities this month to give something back to Mother Earth. The 29th Annual Great Los Angeles River CleanUp will be held from 9 a.m.-noon three consecutive Saturdays. Help tidy the upper river including the Sepulveda Basin/Balboa Sports Complex and Glendale Narrows Riverwalk April 14, the middle river near Los Feliz Boulevard at Bond Park and Marsh Park April 21 and...

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Mother Nature vs Materialism with Netiya

One recent morning, my 7-year-old daughter got dressed for school and announced that she was wearing all purple. “Purple shirt, purple pants, purple boots, purple socks, even purple underwear!” she proclaimed proudly. “That’s awesome, Ave!” I said. “Nicely done!” Then she said something that broke my heart a little: “Do you think anyone will make fun of me for wearing all purple?” Oh man, I thought. It’s happening. My self-confident,...

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Quick Getaways: Adventure is just 2 Hours Away

Roar & Snore in San Diego If you’ve dreamed of getting snooze-close to elephants, giraffes, gazelles and antelopes but can’t swing a 22-hour flight to Africa, head down to the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park. The park’s Roar & Snore Safari features some exciting programs, including the Safari Sampler Sleepover and Happy Hoppers Sleepover. Happy Hoppers comes with a wild egg hunt, and Safari Sampler finds you on an...

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Kids in Los Angeles

Early Easter Egg-citement for Kids in Los Angeles

With Easter arriving April 1 this year, the Easter Bunny and the egg hunts will be showing up in March. We’ve put together a sampling of great Easter-inspired events happening this month.   Kidspace Children’s Museum (www.kidspacemuseum.org) will devote two days to egg hunts this year. On March 24 and 31, children can search for candy-filled eggs in the museum’s Arroyo Adventure at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. and 1, 2 and...

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st. patrick's day in Los Angeles

Four Ways to Feel Irish for St. Patrick’s Day

There is more to celebrating St. Patrick’s Day than dressing in green and looking for shamrocks, and luckily we have four family-friendly events where you can get into the St. Paddy’s spirit.  On March 16, you can find Lucky the Leprechaun in Malibu Bluffs Park and join him in his search for his pot of gold. Leprechaun Gold Hunts will happen at 10 and 11:15 a.m., with sign-ups available at...

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Outdoor Events in Los Angeles

Spring Into Nature

Celebrate the arrival of spring this month by celebrating the explosion of nature’s beauty that comes with it.   Learn about the wildlife living in urban L.A. at the Los Angeles Nature Fest taking place from 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. March 17-18 at the Natural History Museum (www.nhm.org/naturefest). You can meet an opossum, observe a rattlesnake or look for birds, make some nature crafts and ask museum scientists and nature experts some...

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Los Angeles Nature Centers

Getting ‘Centered’ at L.A.’s Nature Centers

It has been one of those weeks of endless traffic, of arguing over screen time, of too much social media and disheartening news reports. So, on a crisp, clear Sunday, I head to Eaton Canyon Nature Center in Pasadena. It is a rare morning when I am alone, so I decide to scope out this location and its hikes to see if it would be a good place for my...

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Los Angeles black history month events

Six Ways to Celebrate African American History Month

February is African American History Month. Here are six of our favorite ways to celebrate:   At 10:30 a.m. Feb. 3, Children’s Book World (www.childrensbookworld.com) in West L.A. welcomes storyteller Michael D. McCarty for a free storytelling session with tales reflecting African American history. Kids will be tapping their toes while learning about jazz and African American composers at the free story time and dance party at John C. Fremont Branch...

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Where to Have a Wheel Interesting Time

Whether you are a fan of small cars or big trucks, gear up for fun this month. The Petersen Automotive Museum (6060 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; www.petersen.org) offers a new exhibit that spotlights a unique area of the auto world – kids’ race cars. “Sidewalk Speedsters: The Grown-Up World of Children’s Cars” features a cool lineup of child-size competitive cars. Although these cars might have started off as toys, they have...

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millennial dad

Surprises Behind the Orange Curtain: Good Coffee and Gated Adventure Parks in the OC

This month’s column is an exploration of Bizarro World. I’m talking about that other dimension just south of the Habra-Mirada Line: Orange County. Although the OC is just a 30-minute drive from LAX (traffic permitting), we Angelenos tend to look down on the suburban sprawl just south of us. Perhaps the annual trip to Disneyland or Laguna Beach is the only time you venture behind the “orange curtain,” but I’ve...

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rose parade

You Can Still Smell the Roses

Going to see the Tournament of Roses Parade is a memorable – and daunting – experience. To get a curbside view, you must arrive before dawn, if not earlier. If you want a reserved seat, tickets cost $55-$100 and you have to snag them before they sell out. (By the way, tickets for the 2019 parade will be available at www.sharpseating.com Feb. 1.)   However, you can get a great view of the floats without the fuss by visiting “Post Parade: A Showcase of Floats.” After the parade...

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kids outdoors

The Art of Getting the Kids Outdoors in the Los Angeles Area

Our family is very fortunate in having cousin Hannah, the matriarch of the family, turn 92 recently.  Hannah’s four children are now in their 60s and her grandchildren are now having children. Our littlest cousin and her newest great granddaughter, Sloan, was just born a few months ago.  One of the mantras that Hannah has always told each of us as we began having children was that whenever our children...

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snow in los angeles

Snow Will Blanket Los Angeles This Month

Southern California is known as the land of sun, but in December we import a little snow. If you are looking to have a blast of wintry fun, there are plenty of places to have a (snow)ball.   Just a mile or so away from Dodger Stadium, where the boys of summer play, you can play winter games at Snow Day L.A. (The Old Lodge, 2002 Stadium Way, L.A; www.snowdayla.com) from...

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family fun los angeles

All Aboard the Christmas Express

While it is well known that Santa Claus travels by sleigh, you might have second thoughts given all of the train-related events occurring this month.   The Fillmore & Western Railway Co. (351 Santa Clara St., Fillmore; www.fwry.com) has four Christmas train options on its December schedule. Hop aboard the Christmas Tree Train and take a ride with Santa to pick out a pre-cut tree, dine with Santa on the aptly named Dinner with Santa...

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la families

Wilmington’s Wild Winter Weekend

If you are looking to pack as many winter holiday happenings as you can into one geographically compact weekend, visit the Wilmington/San Pedro area the first weekend of December.   For those who like their Christmas with a dash of history, Wilmington hosts a pair of yuletide events Dec. 2 and 3 that offer a glimpse into Christmas past. A Victorian Christmas Celebration will be happening at the Banning Museum (401 E. M St.;...

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fall camping los angeles

Fall Camping at El Capitan

For Angelenos, camping in the fall is an opportunity to cozy up to nature after the crowds have gone back to their grind. November is our family favorite and this year, Park Rangers Tony Annia and Rick Humphrey from El Capitan State Beach, or “El Cap” as locals refer to it, gave us some advice on how to make the most of our annual trip there. Keep things simple during...

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kid-friendly beaches

Best Kid Friendly Beaches Along the Highway 1 Discovery Route

In our land of endless summer, fall is a great time to hit the beach with the family. Pack up the sunscreen and head to one of these beaches along the North Coast of the CA Highway 1 Discovery Route, (H1DR). Each beach community has something unique to offer. Ragged Point Beach:  Ragged Point Beach is a remote beach that is just waiting to be discovered. The steep but short...

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kid-friendly winter sports

10 Winter Sports for California Families

Most of us think of our SoCal home as an oasis of beaches, palm trees and sunshine. But there are plenty of winter sports available in the L.A. area – or not too far afield. From the time my three kids were tots, we went sledding in Frasier Park and skiing in Big Bear and Mammoth Mountain. As my kids got older, mountain resorts became our winter playgrounds for snowshoeing,...

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holiday events in LA

Brighten Up Your Holiday Season with Light Shows

Lovers of holiday light shows can find electrifying experiences at the L.A. Zoo and Descanso Gardens this season.   Illuminating L.A. nights from 6-10 p.m. Nov. 17-22 and Nov. 24-Jan. 7 (closed Dec. 24-25) will be L.A. Zoo Lights (5333 Zoo Dr., L.A.; www.lazoolights.org). Since its 2014 debut, this light display has earned nationwide attention and is listed as one of the “Best Zoo Lights 2016” in the USA Today's Readers'...

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agents of discovery

Agents of Discovery Partners for SoCal Explorer Campaign

Nothing captures the imagination like a good mystery, so if you’re looking for ways to get your kids off the couch, consider your local parks—with a twist. As part of the SoCal Explorer Campaign, 20 Southern California parks have teamed up with Agents of Discovery, an educational technology platform, to create mobile reality games aimed at getting kids 15 and younger excited about exploring the outdoors. The campaign, which will...

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mt wilson observatory

Happy Anniversary Hubble: Mt. Wilson Observatory Celebrates 100 Years of Space Exploration

One hundred years ago, on Nov. 1, 1917, Edwin Hubble used a 100-inch telescope to prove that the universe not only stretched beyond the Milky Way, but that it is expanding. The mighty Hooker telescope was named after the Los Angeles businessman John D. Hooker, who wanted his name attached to the largest telescope ever built. The telescope held this distinction until 1949 and was later instrumental in the discovery...

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events for dogs in la

Welcome to the Dog Days of October

Events for dogs are running wild this month. On Oct. 21, Best Friends Animal Society will host its “Strut Your Mutt” fundraiser in Exposition Park. Participants can choose a short or longer walk, and humans and canines can enjoy a craft tent and the “Bobbing for Biscuits” competition. To “strut your mutt,” sign up online (for $15) or at the park (for $20). Funds raised will support BFAS and other...

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L.A. Neighborhoods

7th Annual Found L.A.: Exploring L.A. Neighborhoods

L.A. County is a mammoth of a place, with some 10 million people and counting. It is made up of more than 4,084 square miles of hills, valleys and highways. With its multitude of L.A. neighborhoods and famous and obscure sites, getting to know – really know –  this place can take a lifetime. If you and your family are ready to sink into the folds of the real L.A.,...

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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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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 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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; www.debspark.audubon.org). It is small enough that you can keep an eye on your child, and wild enough...

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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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Fountains, Water Play and Splash Pads in LA: Where to Get Wet

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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