Family Fun

death valley travel

Family Travel: Living it Up in Death Valley

“I’m allowed to eat the dirt?” my son asks, an incredulous look on his face. I nod and explain that the white ground we’re standing on is not dirt but, rather, salt, and the friendly park ranger said a wee taste was fine. With that, my son pops a pinch in his mouth and the rest of us follow suit. The family consensus? That is some salty salt. Such is...

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ski towns in the west

Best Ski Towns in the West

Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned skier, you’ll find some of the best ski areas in the American West. The rugged Rocky and Sierra Nevada mountains have light, fluffy snow and varied terrain. Equally fun: après-ski winter activities in ski towns steeped in pioneer and mining history. These are our picks for best-in-the-west ski towns for families. Best for Beginners: Northstar California Resort, Truckee, CA A gateway to the west...

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disney cruise line alaska

Family Travel: Cruising to Alaska

Invited to cruise to Alaska aboard the Disney Wonder, I was skeptical and a little frightened. I’ve long harbored a fear of ships and seaplanes, but, thanks to Alaska, I might end up on another cruise. Disney Wonder is luxurious and offers plenty to do – for parents and kids alike. And the routine and comfort on the cruise made me feel safe to go out and have some new...

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parks project los angeles

The Parks Project Eases a New Big Sister’s Transition

In March of 2014, just after my son was born, my daughter Eka and I started traveling to as many parks around the San Gabriel Valley as we could. Eka was 4 at the time and very attached to my wife. Our almost-daily trips began as a way to distract her from no longer being the center of her mother’s attention, but soon became a vehicle for my daughter and...

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nbc's this is us

‘This Is Us’ Star Lonnie Chavis Expands His #FixYourHeart Message

When NBC’s “This Is Us” star Lonnie Chavis discovered that a few people trolling his Instagram account were making fun of the gap in his teeth, he clapped back. Not with retaliatory words; instead, the 10-year-old sent a message that prescribes self-reflection and self-acceptance as antidotes to eradicating a culture of bullying and low self-esteem. “I could get my gap fixed. Braces can fix this, but can you fix your...

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date night in Los angeles

Date Night in Little Tokyo

Little Tokyo is the second oldest neighborhood in L.A., and is an incredible intersection of civic, cultural and culinary history. With almost 40 restaurants between First and Third streets and Alameda and Los Angeles streets, there are only a few other districts in the city with as many eateries. Though my wife and I have eaten in at least half of them over the years, we go to Suehiro Cafe...

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children's music in LA

Rapping With Raffi at Glendale’s Alex Theatre

Raffi’s songs – from “Baby Beluga” to “Bananaphone” – remain popular decades after their releases. The iconic children’s musician continues to make new music at the age of 70. He recently released his 25th album, “Dog On The Floor,” named for his puppy. It’s the third album in six years for Raffi, who returned re-energized after a 12-year hiatus between CDs. Every album, he says, lets him “take different chances...

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tweens in la

Tween Time in LA: Termite Art,Kustom Kars & Outliers

During the 20th century, the distinction between “high art” (by trained artists) and “low art” (by untrained artists) has blurred, and the breaking down of these art walls is explored in three current local museum exhibits. The Petersen Automotive Museum (petersen.org) is presenting “Auto-Didactic: The Juxtapoz School” (pictured) through June. Inspired by the influential underground culture magazine “Juxtapoz,” the exhibit showcases the eclectic work of 50 artists who helped to...

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Bob Baker Marionette Theater’s Curtain Closes – But Not Forever

The countdown is well underway to Nov. 23, which this year is Black Friday – and the final day for the beloved Bob Baker Marionette Theater at 1345 West 1st St., its home for 55 years. In true Bob Baker spirit, however, the final days will be fun. Once the “Hallowe’en Spooktacular” ends its run on Nov. 4, the theater will present “The Best of Bob Baker – Farewell Show,”...

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November Events

Our Top 7 Events for November

The holidays are fast approaching. Despite their onrush, let’s give November its due with our favorite November events for families. The month kicks off with Day of the Dead celebrations across the Southland, and you can join the 24th Street Theatre Nov. 2 for a night of merriment and remembrance – and music, food, face-painting and crafts - at its annual Dia de los Muertos block party. Real life heroes...

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The Nutcracker Enters a New Realm

This holiday season, Disney is presenting a new cinematic incarnation of the famous “Nutcracker” tale. “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” is an epic live-action fantasy adventure with dazzling costumes, extravagant set design and impressive special effects. The all-star cast includes Keira Knightley, Mackenzie Foy, Richard E. Grant, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman and acclaimed ballet dancer (and San Pedro native) Misty Copeland. Hollywood’s El Capitan Theatre will host a special...

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l.a. factories

Go On Tour with Kids in L.A. Factories

Got a golden ticket? You’d need one to enter Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. But if you want to peek inside some of Southern California’s most interesting factories, usually all you have to do is ask. Local factories – which make everything from fresh marmalade to olive oil and, yes, chocolate – gladly open their doors to families looking to see the inner workings of their production process. Factory tours give...

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date with l.a.

Date with L.A.: Parisian Sensibilities in the San Fernando Valley

When I lived in Paris, one of my favorite pastimes was being an urban flâneur –  a stroller, lingerer, saunterer, if you will. With no hard-set agenda, I would walk around and see where the day took me. For this month’s Date With L.A., I decided to slip back into my flâneur shoes in the most unlikely of places: the San Fernando Valley. Given the French inspiration for this solo...

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Birthdays That are So L.A.

Kick your child’s star power up a notch on their special day the L.A. way, with a one-of-a-kind celebration served up with a touch of the delicious, the wild and a side of the fantastic. Why not knock a few things off the bucket list while they’re young, and let the adults come along for the enchanting ride? Around-the-World Adventures in Ice Cream The idea began, once upon a time,...

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malibu wine safari

Malibu Wine Safari Offers Grown-up Mother-Daughter Fun

When my three children were growing up, we visited kid-friendly L.A. attractions ranging from A-Z. The kids are grown now, but we still enjoy spending time together and chatting about life, sometimes even over a glass of wine. So, for this “Date with L.A.,” my daughter Christina took me on a mother- daughter trek to the Malibu Wine Safari at Saddlerock Ranch. Christina knew I’d fall hard for this adult...

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new lunchbox

EasyLunchboxes: Packing Meals is now a Breeze for Families

With her company, EasyLunchboxes (easylunchboxes.com), L.A. mompreneur Kelly Lester helps take the headache out of school-lunch prep. Created out of Lester’s own need to prepare lunches quickly, these containers were designed to hold healthy, portion-controlled meals for kids on the go.   “I love to eat and feed my family healthy food, but I don’t like spending time in the kitchen,” Lester says. Her sentiment rings true for busy people and...

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tennis in L.A.

Net Generation Brings Tennis to Kids Across L.A.

The 2018 U.S. Open Tennis Championships, which launched Aug. 27, are a prime time to inspire kids to get in the swing of tennis, a classic sport that can be played nearly anywhere – even at home.   Net Generation, a new youth initiative of the United States Tennis Association (USTA), makes it easy for ages 5-18 to learn about the sport and start playing in local schools, parks and tennis...

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Los Angeles VR Rooms

Local VR Rooms Transport You to Other Worlds

If you could strap on a headset and be transported to a different time and place, would you? With virtual reality, or VR, you can. In reality, you’re just moving around in a pod (a room about 12 feet square) but the 360-degree multisensory digital experience feels more real than real itself. And the ever-evolving VR technology is light years ahead of traditional family games. Here’s a rundown on a...

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Retro Row Helps New Yorker Adapt to Long Beach

Years ago, when my partner, an East L.A. native who is now my husband, coaxed me across the country, I was not sure how well this New Yorker would adapt. Luckily, moving to the very walkable “Retro Row” neighborhood in Long Beach turned out to be a dream come true. Shortly after our son’s birth, the local businesses kicked off Fourth Fridays on Fourth Street, featuring extended store hours, specials,...

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Black-Ish

Rainbow Edwards-Barris: The Real Bow Tackles Parenting in New Book

If you’ve ever watched ABC’s “Black-ish,” you know that though Rainbow Johnson’s character (played by Tracee Ellis Ross) is a medical professional and mom of five, she is far from a parenting expert. Creator Kenya Barris uses irreverent humor to tackle family matters and societal issues on the show, and Rainbow, despite her best intentions, often finds herself in the midst of a parenting dilemma. While “Black-ish” is a work...

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the darkest minds

Mia Cech Shines Brightly in ‘The Darkest Minds’

For Miya Cech’s first feature film, “The Darkest Minds,” she landed an unusual role: She plays Zu, a girl who can control electricity with her mind but doesn't really talk. "That was kind of hard for me, because I talk a lot," says Cech, 11. "You have to do everything with your face, and it’s so hard to be emotional when you can’t scream or yell." In the film, which...

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making it tv

‘Making It’ Show Expands Artist’s Territory

As an artist and sports enthusiast, Billy Kheel enjoyed flexing some creative muscle while taping NBC TV’s “Making It,” a competition crafts series that premiered July 31 and will feature six episodes. Each episode consists of two projects – a fast, timed round and a longer, themed challenge. Kheel is one of eight contestants from around the country vying for the title of “Master Maker” and a $100,000 grand prize....

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The Third Time Is Still Charming for Randy & Dave

SoCal-based songwriters Randy Sharp and Dave Kinnoin both have impressively lengthy resumes. The Grammy-winning Sharp has racked up seven number-one country singles while Kinnoin has written hundreds of songs for Disney, Sesame Street, and Henson TV. They’ve also reached great heights together as Randy & Dave. The duo’s first two albums earned 11 national family music honors. Their third collaboration, “Snorkle,” is another winning collection of catchy tunes twisted by...

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Parental Love Wins in ‘Far From the Tree’

As parents, we hold grand dreams for our children – even while they are still in utero – but these dreams can become hindrances when they do not fit the people our children actually become. The new documentary film “Far From the Tree” explores families who have children with wildly different realities –  autism, Down syndrome, dwarfism, a murder conviction – than their parents’ hopes for them, but the universal...

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Carnival Cruise Line and Los Angeles Dodger Kiké Hernández Bring Dr. Seuss to Kids

Carnival Cruise Line hosted a Dr. Seuss reading program on June 29, inviting more than 50 children from the Long Beach Boys & Girls Club aboard one of its ships in the Long Beach harbor. Aboard the ship, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Kiké Hernández donned a red-striped Dr. Seuss hat to read “What Pet Should I Get” to the excited youth. Before launching into character, Hernández asked the kids a...

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pixar pier

Pixar Pier Brings “Incredible” Fun to Life at Disneyland Resort

The arrival of “Incredibles 2” didn’t just kick off the summer movie season. The superhero family has given PixarFest a boost and the opening of Pixar Pier a bang! The Incredibles are the centerpiece to new additions at both Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure. Now that Pixar Pier is open to the public, here’s our take on how to make the most of a day to see it all, with...

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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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family travel

Staycation Inspiration: Laguna’s Coastal Canyon Escape

We cruised down Pacific Coast Highway, catching glimpses of coastal cliffs, waves dotted with surfers and rows of eclectic galleries that recall Laguna Beach’s early art colony days. For this quick “staycation” just an hour and a half south of L.A., our car was packed with two eager 5-year-olds and their mamas, keen on getting ever-so-slightly off the grid and surrounded by nature for the weekend – comfortably. OK, very...

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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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tweens in Los Angeles

Tween Time: Where There’s a Will, There’s a Play

Summer is a great time to play in a park, and a great time to see a play in a park – especially one from Shakespeare if your kids are old enough. Here are some local options this year for tweens in Los Angeles. Known for its inventive productions, the Independent Shakespeare Company LA (pictured, iscla.org) will perform “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Titus Andronicus” at Griffith Park’s Old Zoo...

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Date with L.A.

Leimert Park: An Artistic Getaway

Since my move to L.A. five years ago, I’ve heard countless stories about Leimert Park serving as a popular center for African American arts and entertainment. My previous Leimert experiences centered around stops to my favorite bookstore, Eso Won Books (4327 Degnan Blvd.), a necessity for book lovers and writers like myself, and grabbing delicious Jamaican food from Ackee Bamboo (4305 Degnan Blvd., #100). For my date, however, I wanted...

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Neighborhood Gallery Offers More than Art

Families in the Arlington Heights area of L.A. have a hidden gem in their neighborhood. The Underground Museum, an unassuming storefront art gallery, serves as a community center, farmers market, yoga and meditation studio and outdoor movie theater. Founded by the late painter and installation artist Noah Davis and his wife, Karon Davis, The Underground Museum opened its doors at 3508 W. Washington Blvd. in 2012 as an exhibition space...

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5 Ways to Inspire a Love of Music in Kids this Summer

I took my first piano lesson from my mother when I was 5 years old, and have made music my life’s work. I have taught so many gifted children and seen them overcome shyness and embrace the joy of music. Here are five tips for inspiring a love of music in your children this summer. Take them to concerts. There is nothing more musically inspiring than experiencing live music. Taking...

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Water Play, Safety and Summer Fun at Great Wolf Lodge

My son loves to cajole me and my husband into having in-home campouts. As the clock ticks past his bedtime, he’ll run to his room, grab his blanket and pillow, then run back into the living room or our bedroom and sing: “We’re camping out!” For his birthday last weekend, we decided to take him and one of his best buddies for a little in-door “camping” fun beyond the confines...

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Discover A New Kung Fu Panda, Lego Jedis & The Incredicoaster

The summer months find folks flocking to Los Angeles theme parks, and this summer you will have several new reasons to join the crowds. The new Pixar Pier opens June 23, taking over a large section of Paradise Pier at Disney’s California Adventure. This permanent attraction includes neighborhoods inspired by “The Incredibles,” “Toy Story,” “Inside Out” and other Pixar creations. Don’t miss the high-speed Incredicoaster, which updates the California Screamin’...

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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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kids fashion los angeles

Grey and Ray: Remodeling Fashion for Boys

Heidi Lieberman and Gudrun Kosloff are refashioning boys’ clothes one stylish outfit at a time. These creative collaborators met when their sons were in preschool and bonded over a shared frustration: Where are all the fun clothing choices for boys?   Faced with so many cute options for little girls and nothing for their sons, they decided a change was necessary. “Boys can express themselves through clothes just like the girls,”...

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The Drawbridge is Down at the New Legoland Castle Hotel

Legoland’s new Castle Hotel will immerse you in an enchanting world of royal princesses, magic wizards and dragons. Inspired by the popularity of the kingdom-themed rooms at the original resort next door, the hotel is a few short steps from the park entrance – though you’ll probably be hard-pressed to get your kids to leave the lodgings. In fact, good luck getting past the lobby. While you check in, your...

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Atwater Village: Hip and Down-to-Earth

When L.A. Parent invited me to write this inaugural “Date with L.A.” column – a monthly feature that will encourage parents to enjoy a day or night in L.A. – without the kids – I yelped with joy. L.A. is my hometown; it’s where my family is centered, the place that holds my memories. I hope this column serves to highlight some familiar places, some new places and some places...

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DIY Cardboard Castle

Transform Your Cardboard Boxes into a Dream Castle

What child doesn’t love a good play castle? During a recent photo shoot with local children here at L.A. Parent, we watched as kid after kid was drawn to a little plastic castle sitting on a corner table. There’s just something about castles – they stir up images from children’s books and invite little fingers to explore the castle’s nooks and crannies. Thanks to “Home & Family,” you don’t have...

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family travel

Family Travel: Ojai Rising

There’s something in the air in Ojai for family travel. Or, perhaps, in the earth. Whether it’s the sedative effect of spring’s sweet citrus harvest wafting over the breeze, the breathless awe of sunset’s famed “pink moment” against the Topa Topa Mountains, or the unseen pull of an actual electromagnetic vortex, Ojai has long drawn artists, spiritual seekers and those of us looking to escape L.A. for a spell. “When...

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Jess Penner and her “Imagination”

With three solo albums, plus songwriting for TV shows, films and commercials, Jess Penner has had a busy career. She recently released her first children’s album, the enchanting eight-song CD “Imagination,” and offered some thoughts recently about her music and being a mom of three – two of them under 2. Was it an easy shift to making children’s music? Yes! I have always been very intentional about making music...

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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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disney's aulani

A Plunge Into Culture at Disney’s Aulani Resort

On a visit to an island, you expect to see lots of water. My family certainly did on a recent visit to Ko Olina, on the western side of the Hawaiian island of Oahu. But during our stay at the Aulani Disney Resort and Spa, we were also surrounded by a dose of Hawaiian culture. In the Aulani’s Maka’ala (eyes wide open) lobby, we found floor-to-ceiling windows, polished wood and...

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Family Travel Tips: Hawaii Island-By-Island

The Hawaiian Islands are just one flight away and have so many things to do. Here are the island-by-island highlights. Hawaii Island You can enjoy free Polynesian dance performances on the streets, at libraries, shopping centers and even churches year round, and the world’s most recognized hula competition, the Merrie Monarch Festival (www.merriemonarch.com), takes place here. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is off limits to young children, but kids will enjoy...

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maui travel

Maui Three Ways: The Valley Isle in All Its Splendor

Every year, when we start thinking about where to go for our annual family getaway, my husband puts his vote in for his favorite spot: Maui. The Valley Isle is a great place for families, but Maui has a diverse landscape. The resort areas of Kaanapali and Kapalua to the west and Wailea to the south all offer gorgeous beaches and great swimming and snorkeling. The fun part is deciding...

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vacation cruise with kids

Cruising Out of L.A.

If you’re looking to take to the sea for your next  vacation cruise with kids, 2018 is the year to do it. A number of cruise lines have added new and renovated ships, expanded services for kids and unique fun just for families. Many of these ships depart from San Pedro’s World Cruise Center, the Long Beach Cruise Terminal at the Port of L.A. and the not-too-distant Port of San...

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orlando family travel

The Magic of Orlando Stretches Beyond Disney

I’ve been visiting Orlando once or twice a year since my mother moved there 20 years ago, and while Walt Disney World held its magic during those early years – and then again when I became a mom, watching my little boy’s eyes light up with wonder – these days, my family and I rarely make it to the home of the Magic Kingdom. As L.A. residents, we’ve got Disneyland...

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Family Travel Products We Love

When your family is on the go, you’ll be ready to snack, sun (safely), play and give the kids a boost with these travel-friendly finds.

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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After the Wildfires, Show Ojai Some Love

Many SoCal residents who view it as a great nearby getaway breathed a sigh of relief when Ojai was saved from the Thomas fire. While the quaint downtown was spared, many locals lost their homes and businesses in blazes that scorched nearly 282,000 acres in Ojai and beyond. The community continues to welcome visitors back to their beautiful valley, and the hotels of Ojai have banded together to raise funds...

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L.A. museums

King Tut vs. Genghis Khan at L.A. Museums

Two historical figures of mythic proportions are visiting Southern California, and you can visit them at L.A. museums.   Find out what’s up with King Tut at the California Science Center (www.californiasciencecenter.org) when the “KING TUT: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh” exhibit opens March 24. This massive new exhibit, which runs through Jan. 6, presents 150 real artifacts from King Tut’s tomb. This represents the largest assembly ever on public display...

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john august

L.A. Parent Chat Room: Meet Screenwriter and Author John August

You may know L.A. local John August from his screenwriting credits, which include “Big Fish,” “Charlie’s Angels” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” But, now he’s notched up a new credit: middle-grade novelist. “Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire,” an engaging and exciting blend of magic, mayhem and mystery, introduces readers to 12-year-old Arlo, a newcomer to Pine Mountain, Col. Arlo soon makes friends and is invited to join...

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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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County Library Users Get Free Film Access

The County of Los Angeles Public Library is now offering library card holders free access to Kanopy, a film streaming service with more than 30,000 titles. The Los Angeles Public library system acquired Kanopy early last year, making it possible for nearly every Angeleno to now have access to this service. Kanopy is an on-demand video platform that allows users to experience a curated collection of more than 30,000 films...

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this is us

Mackenzie Hancsicsak of ‘This is Us’: Tackling Big Issues With Her TV Family

On a recent morning, sandwiched between a hair appointment, a Golden Globes gifting suite and a wardrobe fitting at Paramount Studios is Mackenzie Hancsicsak’s interview with me at the L.A. Parent office in Woodland Hills.   The 10-year-old has grown used to the schedule that her role as young Kate Pearson on the Screen Actors Guild Award-winning NBC series “This is Us” demands – and to navigating a range of emotional...

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Los Angeles children's music

Los Angeles Children’s Music: Get With The Not-Its

This year represents a big year for the Not-Its. Not only is the band working on its next album, but 2018 also marks the group’s 10th anniversary. Part of the vibrant Pacific Northwest children’s music scene that includes acts such as Casper Babypants and Recess Monkey, the Not-Its are coming to Southern California to perform a 2 p.m. show Feb. 11 at Torrance’s James Armstrong Theater. Tickets are $10-$20. The...

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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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Playa Del Carmen

Family Travel: Magical Mahekal in Playa Del Carmen

There are places in the streets of modern-day Playa del Carmen, along the Caribbean shoreline in Mexico, where it is possible for families to take a step away from the bumping music and partiers and into the richness of Mayan history. There are quiet cobblestone paths and white-sand beaches that pave the way from layers of aquamarine ocean to jungles thick with the same sounds of birdsong and chatter familiar...

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 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 and...

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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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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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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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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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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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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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7 Don’t-Miss Events for December

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

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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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.

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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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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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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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 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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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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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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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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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 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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