In midsummer, when the heat feels unbearable, it can be tough keeping up with outdoor adventures. Kids (and parents) want to hang out in their air-conditioned homes (if they have A/C), and all this lounging at the house can raise summer doldrums to new heights.
If you’re looking for fun ways to keep your family cool and connected to the outside world, check out one (or all) of these 10 indoor spots.
1. Cool observations
Overlooking the city from its perch atop Griffith Park, Griffith Observatory has been expanding the imaginations of kids and adults since 1935. “The observatory is in the business of transforming perspective,” says Griffith Observatory Director Edwin Charles Krupp, Ph.D. Watch your kiddos delight in new discoveries — planetarium shows, museum exhibits and, of course, the telescopes.
Planetarium shows are daily with a live lecturer, spectacular special effects and the exhibit with guides ready to answer questions. When it comes to exploring the universe, Krupp says, “All of these experiences expand the imagination and allow kids to think of things they hadn’t before.”
2. Cool discoveries
At Discovery Cube, families can explore the natural world and more while cooling off inside the center. With locations in Sylmar and Santa Ana, the center allows kids to immerse themselves in science-based activities that encourage curiosity and a love of learning. “We have hundreds of activities that are age-appropriate,” says Erin Warady, vice president of marketing at Discovery Cube.
Play news anchor in a broadcast studio, watch the working train model with real L.A. topography chug along and visit the summer exhibit “Emotions at Play.” This interactive exhibit is based on the Pixar film “Inside Out” and centers around socio-emotional awareness. Warady says the beauty of visiting is that the cube provides an all-ages hands-on experience where kids and parents can work together.
3. Cool on skates
When temperatures increase, the desire to stay active decreases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends roller skating as an activity for keeping kids physically engaged. “Roller skating is good physical fun,” says Adrienne Van Houten, manager of the Moonlight Rollerway in Glendale.
Roller rinks abound across Los Angeles County, and it’s an inexpensive way for families to spend quality time together. Van Houten says there’s something for all ages at the rink, including daily all-skate times, lessons for young kids and even special summer events.
4. Cool waters run deep
Tucked away under the Santa Monica Pier, Heal the Bay Aquarium’s primary goal is to educate kids about marine life and conservation. “We have sea urchins, sharks and ray tanks all open for touching,” says aquarium Director Marslaidh Ryan.
All animals and vegetation are native to the Santa Monica Bay, and Ryan says that when a child touches a marine animal for the first time, a deep association is made. “It’s a benefit you can’t achieve virtually or by simply looking into a fish tank,” she says. With videos, exhibits and personal interaction, the space takes about 30 minutes to explore.
5. No cool like library-cool
With 73 library branches in the city of Los Angeles, you might want to “book it” to your local branch of The Los Angeles Public Library. “There are a lot of family fun things you can do together around books and reading,” says Joanna Fabicon, senior librarian.
This year’s Summer with the Library’s theme is “Express Yourself,” which encourages kids and adults to use their voices in a creative way. This includes activities in art, music, dance, writing and even skateboarding. Register your kids (or your entire family) online or in person and begin earning badges for prizes.
The Library Foundation of Los Angeles works with all 73 locations to support free programs, resources and services for adults and kids. Check out the website for more novel ideas you and your family will love.
6. Cool escapes
Want to step out of your hot summer reality and into a much “cooler” one? Dreamscape Immersive at the Westfield Century City mall has four family-friendly, virtual-reality adventures. “It’s like stepping through the screen and into a movie where you become the hero of your own story,” says Jeanne Zacarias, marketing director of Dreamscape Immersive.
Breaking ancient curses (ages 10 and up) and riding dragons (ages 8 and up) are a couple of quests this VR facility offers. Zacarias says it’s a special experience because kids and families can expect to work together on different storylines.
7. Cool make-believing
With open play locations at My Lil’ Town in West Hills and Granada Hills, you can take your child to a town built especially for them! Owner Greg Mkrchyan says that My Lil’ Town was created as a play-to-learn space: kids can explore a pretend city with a police station, bank, library and supermarket and role play a variety of occupations.
8. Cool (or cold) as ice
Need an activity to remind you winter is around the corner? Bring your coat and enjoy a day on the ice at Iceland Ice Skating Rink, located in Van Nuys. Ice skating can improve posture, flexibility and coordination, and when the whole family participates, it increases that good ol’ family bond, too.
9. Retro cool
At Neon Retro Arcade, introduce your kids to more than 40 retro, cabinet-style video games, including Asteroids, Donkey Kong and Galaga — all your favorites that made saving quarters worth it when you were a kid. Owner Mia Mazadiego explains that this family arcade (located in Old Town Pasadena) is admission-based, so guests can pay $15 for an hour or $25 for a full day of gaming.
“All games are on free-play, and with the day pass you can grab lunch and come back,” Mazadiego says. “Enjoying time together here in a unique place is so much fun for everyone.”
10. Cool journeys
Inspiring a love of science at every turn, the California Science Center will take you on remarkable journeys with its educational 3D IMAX movies, exhibits on how life is created in “Life! Beginnings” and fire-safety demonstrations in the “Fire! Science and Safety” exhibit. The science center’s newest exhibit is the world premiere of “Angkor: The Lost Empire of Cambodia” — an international touring exhibition featuring more than 120 ancient artifacts, half of which are on tour for the first time.
To extend your time inside the center, make sure to stop by the space shuttle Endeavor exhibit.
Tonilyn Hornung is an author and freelance writer who lives with her husband, son and many furry friends.