Ever think of taking a day off work and playing hooky with your kids? You should this month! August is chock full of weekday events and unique experiences you should fit in before the freedom gates of summer clang closed. From chasing dancing fairies through Descanso Gardens to leaping across giant indoor trampolines and handcrafting your own churros, this list of activities will give you and your kids a summer day to remember before it’s back-to-school time.
Take it back to the ’50s and cruise into the retro Vineland Drive-in Theater (vinelanddriveintheater.com) in City of Industry. Bring blankets, pillows and your favorite healthy snacks or go all out at the concession stand and snag a 170oz. popcorn that comes with one free refill. Your kids can talk and laugh as loud as they want without disturbing your neighbors! Tickets are $10 for ages 9 and up, $3.50 for ages 5-8 and free for ages 4 and under.
Or take in the seven-story 3D screen at the California Science Center IMAX Theater (californiasciencecenter.org) in Exposition Park. This summer’s films include “Superpower Dogs 3D,” “Volcanoes 3D” and “Apollo 11: First Steps Edition.” All support the center’s mission “to stimulate curiosity and inspire science learning in everyone.” Tickets: $8.95 for adults, $6.75 for ages 4-12.
Explore the wonders of our universe through exciting live shows at Griffith Observatory’s Samuel Oschin Planetarium (griffithobservatory.org). This unique 290-seat theater boasts comfy seats, an incredible sound system and an engaging storyteller who narrates films projected on the domed ceiling. Screenings of “Centered in the Universe,” “Water is Life” or “Light of the Valkyries” are scheduled every 60 to 90 minutes each day the Observatory is open. Tickets are $7 for ages 13 and older, $3 for ages 5-12 and free for ages 4 and under (who are admitted only to the first show each day).
A day off work is a great chance to hit a Tiny Tot Tuesday screening at the ornate El Capitan Theatre (elcapitantheatre.com) in Hollywood. Early-morning screenings of current releases (usually 10 a.m.) at this classic movie palace feature house lights up and reduced sound to cater to the youngest fans. Prices range from $11-$28 for ages 4 and up.
Find affordable film fun at the Cinepolis Summer Kids Series (cineapolisusa.com) in Westlake Village before it ends in August. Each $6 ticket buys admission to a 10 a.m. Tuesday or Thursday screening, plus a snack pack with popcorn, fruit gummies and a small drink. See “Minions” Aug. 6 and 9 and “The Lorax” Aug. 13 and 15.
Score free tickets to see a taping of your kids’ favorite TV show through tvtickets.com. Being a studio audience member during “All That,” “Raven’s Home” or “Fuller House” will give them a cool behind-the-scenes Hollywood experience to tell their friends about this fall. Tapings happen all over town and are generally posted 30 days prior to the show date.
Find nighttime fun at Descanso Gardens (descansogardens.org) in La Cañada Flintridge. The Ensemble Shakespeare Theater brings a fully immersive production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to the gardens Aug. 16-17 and 23-24. Follow quarreling lovers, dancing fairies and a bewildered donkey through the gardens on an adventure filled with laughter and love. Tickets are $35. Descanso stays open extra late for its “End of Summer Celebration” Aug. 28. “This is one of my favorite events because it’s really light out, and it’s warm and there’s music everywhere,” says Descanso staffer Jennifer Errico. “It’s just a really nice way to say goodbye to summer.” End the night peeking into telescopes for some stargazing in the Oak Woodland. $9 adults, $6 ages 13-17, $4 ages 4 and under.
Hungry? Enjoy beautiful city views as you munch on delicious gourmet food (and introduce the kids to new tastes) at the Hollywood Night Market (hollywoodnightmarket. com) from 5-10 p.m. Thursdays at Yamashiro Restaurant. Admission is free for this summer market experience that’s listed among the world’s top markets by Travel and Leisure. Check out more than 30 local vendors that include food trucks, boutique retailers, live music and interactive art.
Forget about Taco Tuesdays. Taco Friday at the Blvd Kitchen cooking center (theblvdkitchen.com) in Sherman Oaks is where it’s at. From 6-8 p.m. Aug. 23, make gringo tacos with homemade corn tortillas, guacamole and salsa. Then make your own churros for dessert! Reserve your spot for $65 for adults and $20 for ages 5-7.
Cool your taste buds with nitro-artisan ice cream at Supercool Creamery (supercoolcreamery.com) in Los Feliz. This ice cream shop offers dessert and a show with flair and personality. Its nitrogen freezing process and commitment to the handmade scoop – with a puff of smoke and a fun entertainer behind the counter – makes this ice cream experience unlike any other, wowing kids as they watch their dessert materialize before their eyes.
Decorate your own cupcakes and cakes at Duff’s Cakemix (duffscakemix.com) in Beverly Grove. They provide everything you need – fondant, frosting, candies, tools, fully baked cupcakes and cakes and help from the staff – to personalize your dessert. Walk-ins are welcome on a first-come, first-served basis. A six-cupcake kit is $28, a 6-inch three-layer cake is $36 and the studio fee is $12 per person.
Soak up the sun by the pool and the beach at Annenberg Community Beach House (annenbergbeachhouse.com). Located on five acres of Santa Monica State Beach, the grounds include a playground, courtyard, view deck, beach areas and volleyball courts and are open to all with no membership required. “It’s our 10th anniversary this year, and we’ve seen so many families grow up here,” says manager Nan Friedman. “It’s a great place for making family memories.” Pool passes are $10 for adults, $4 for ages 1-17 and are half price on Mondays (a great day for playing hooky).
Don’t have a pool at home? You and the kids can still have a swim in your own private pool with Swimply (swimply.com), also known as “the Airbnb of pools.” Browse through a list of privately owned swimming spots near you and reserve the one that suits you and your family. Some of the pools include hot tubs, grills and other amenities, and you can find pool rates starting at $25 per hour.
If you feel like a splurge, book a daycation with your kids at a luxurious hotel with Resort Pass (resortpass.com). Spend as little as $25 for a day pass that gives you access to pools and other amenities at your chosen resort, or splurge on a spa pass or cabana for extra shade. L.A.-area partners include Mr. C Beverly Hills, Sunset Tower Hotel and the W Hollywood Hotel.
It’s hard not to have fun jumping around the expansive land of indoor trampolines that is Sky Zone (skyzone.com) in Van Nuys – and you’ll burn a ton of calories. The big kids (and parents) will have fun jumping into foam blocks and practicing their slam dunks, while your little ones enjoy a safe play area in the exclusive Toddler Zone. Tickets are $20 for 60 minutes, $29 for 120 minutes.
At iFly Hollywood (iflyworld.com) in Universal CityWalk, your child will feel like a superhero – minus the danger. Geared with a flight suit, helmet and the help of a highly trained instructor, your kids will enjoy flying over a cushion of controlled air. Flyers can be as young as 3 years old, and the basic first-time flyer package starts at $59.95. (There are also virtual reality packages for flyers ages 6 and up.)
Journey back to the ’80s and ’90s and share the games of your youth with your kids. Neon Retro Arcade (neonretroarcade.com) in Pasadena and Northridge is filled with old-school games, including Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Street Fighter 2 and a ton more. “Kids love that the games are set to free play (with paid admission), so they never run out of credits and enjoy seeing where the games they play today got their start,” says co-owner Mia Mazadiego. “We love being a venue that brings generations together through fun!” $10 per hour or $25 all day.
Enjoy a clean, cool indoor play place that caters to kids and their adults at the Coop (thecoop-la.com) in Studio City. Your kids can play in the giant ball pit, explore the rope-climbing tube and go down the giant spiral slide. There’s also an electronic dance floor, a bouncer, a reading nook, a dress-up area and toys and books aplenty. “We created the Coop to be a bright, fun, inspiring place for kids and adults alike. The fun is endless, and we are always adding new toys and experiences to keep the space fresh and exciting,” says owner Juliet Boydstun. Meanwhile, adults can enjoy the lovely outdoor garden, free wifi and a cappuccino bar. Admission is free for parents and caregivers, $12 per child.
And there you have it! Pick your favorite ideas, bundle up your cozy blankets, grab your swimsuit and your dance pants and enjoy the last bit of summer with your kids before it ends. u
Emmanuelle Roumain is a writer, L.A. native and journalism student who has been trying to find an excuse to play hooky for years.