The Best Duck Ponds Near Los Angeles

Read next

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then kids love it!  Here are our favorite duck ponds around Los Angeles that your kids will go quackers for, as all of them let your little ducklings get up close and personal with their feathered friends.

Anthony C. Bielsen Park & Lake Balboa at Sunset

photo credit: Andrea Conway Kagey

Lake Balboa at Anthony C. Beilenson Park
This popular South Valley park is open sunrise to sunset and is a popular attraction for both families and nature lovers. The centerpiece of the park is Lake Balboa, a 27-acre lake that, in addition to the beautiful scenery, acts as a preserve to the hundreds of ducks and wildlife that call it home. In addition to walking the 1.3 mile path surrounding the lake, you can also enjoy a leisurely afternoon of fishing or boating from any of the designated areas or launch ramps. With BBQ pits, picnic benches, playgrounds and bike rentals it’s easy to spend the whole day here. Just keep in mind that because Lake Balboa is a wildlife preserve, they ask that you do not feed these ducks in order to protect their migration habits. So leave the bread at home or use it to feed your own ducklings instead.

6300 Balboa Blvd.
Van Nuys
Online: laparks.org/

 franklin canyon ducks

photo credit: Tia Rescott via Creative Commons

Heavenly Pond at Franklin Canyon
Tucked away in the hills off Mulholland and Coldwater, Franklin Canyon Park is 605 acres of wilderness heaven. Located between Beverly Hills and the San Fernando Valley, Franklin Canyon is not only a piece of Hollywood history, but also home to the many ducks that reside at Heavenly Pond year-round. When looking for on-site parking, take your time driving through and stop fully at STOP signs, as patrons have been known to get tickets from the eye-in-the-sky cameras. Past the main parking lot there’s another lot closer to Franklin Canyon Lake. To the west of the lake, a stroller friendly walk will bring you to the small pond alive with ducks, turtles and koi fish eager to entertain your small flock of curious kiddos. Pack a lunch to enjoy at one of the few benches beside the pond or walk a little further east to the picnic grounds by the Sooky Goldman Nature Center.  If you choose to bring the four-legged family members along for the fun, the park asks that they remain on leashes so as not to disturb the wildlife.  Here are more of our tips for exploring Franklin Canyon.

2600 Franklin Canyon Dr.
Beverly Hills
Online: nps.gov

echo lake park

photo credit: Meghan Rose

Echo Park Lake
Eastsiders take refuge in glorious Echo Park where they bask in the sun, shade and gorgeous views of down town LA. This park tends to be busier later in the day so if crowds aren’t your thing plan to make it a morning affair. Although the fun is ample, the parking is not, so be prepared to circle the lake to find the perfect spot.

751 Echo Park Ave.
Echo Park
Online: laparks.org

Douglas Park

photo credit: Sandee T. via yelp

Douglas Park
This popular urban park in Santa Monica has a relaxing, fun vibe and is great for both toddlers and older kids. While the big kids “take to the streets” in the designated bike and scooter area, the toddlers toddle free within the fenced -n playground geared toward kids ages 5 & under. Across the beautiful green grass you’ll find 3 reflecting pools and a mini flowing river that double as a duck and turtle pond with a quaint little bridge ideal for taking pictures or playing “Pooh sticks.” A popular spot for weekend parties, this park has lots of family fun opportunities including a lawn bowling green, two lighted tennis courts and splash pad (open during the summer months). An onsite restroom and clubhouse available for reservations make this an ideal spot for birthday parties, too.

2439 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica
Online: smgov.net

photo credit: Diana A. via Yelpphoto credit: Diana A. via yelp

Polliwog Park
Encompassing 18 acres in Manhattan Beach, Polliwog Park is the largest park in the South Bay. The beautiful focal point of Polliwog is the large pond that is bordered on one side by a natural wildlife refuge and is a popular stopping ground for flocks of migratory birds. Dogs are welcomed, but for the sake of the feathered inhabitants, are required to enjoy the park from the designated dog run. In the summer be prepared to rock out with the ducks and geese of Polliwog Park as the park hosts evening concerts in the amphitheater overlooking the pond. While you may appreciate the exercise course for strength training, your little ones will love the 3 different play areas and running through the refreshing misters. Pack a cooler and take advantage of one of the 6 BBQs offered in the picnic area. After lunch take your flock on a tour of the grounds. In addition to the beautiful Rose Garden and the City’s Historical Museum, the southwest corner of the park is where you’ll find the Manhattan Beach Botanical Gardens, which is open to the public on a regular basis. Restrooms are readily available and ample shade is sure to make everyone happy. There are no parking lots on park grounds so your best bet is to find curbside parking along Redondo Avenue and Manhattan Beach Boulevard.

1601 Manhattan Beach Blvd.
Manhattan Beach
Online: citymb.info/city-officials/parks-and-recreation/parks-and-facilities/polliwog-park

Turtle Fun at CSUN Pondphoto credit: Andrea Conway Kagey

Currently Closed: Cal State University Northridge (CSUN) Pond
Although this pond may technically be on a college campus, the peaceful site is open to the public. Nestled within a protected historical site of Orange Groves, ducks, turtles and Koi fish happily coexist in this sweet little pond. Turtle and Duck food is available for a quarter from a feeder but bringing your own bread or Cheerios is OK, too. Though sunny over the pond, there is ample shade beneath the fragrant orange trees or inside the lovely gazebo adjacent to the pond. If the smell of oranges is just too tempting, go ahead and help yourself, the campus permits orange picking. When school is in session, parking on the campus is tough but there is ample street parking off of Nordhoff or the neighboring residential streets.

18111 Nordhoff St.
Northridge
Online: facebook.com/pages/CSUN-Koi-Duck-pond/148323345227016

photo credit: Andrea Conway Kagey

photo credit: Andrea Conway Kagey

Currently Closed: Los Encinos State Historic Park 
Open Wednesday-Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., this state park is a hidden valley gem. Luscious green grass, fragrant citrus trees, ample seating and BBQ pits make this park very inviting for long, lazy afternoons. Tucked away in a residential neighborhood at the corner of Balboa and Ventura Blvd in Encino, it’s more than just a duck pond. A historical site with rich California history, Los Encinos State Historic Park is also home to beautiful Rancho El Encino. This California rancho includes a blacksmith shop as well as the original nine-room de la Ossa Adobe, which are available for free guided tours by appointment. There’s also the two-story limestone Garnier building, which is open for self-guided tours during regular park hours. When you’re done learning about the past, come enjoy the present. Bring your quarters and grab a handful of duck food from the feeders surrounding the fenced in pond and let the little ones have fun feeding the many families of ducks that call this beautiful pond home.

16756 Moorpark St.
Encino
Online: parks.ca.gov/?page_id=619

Photo credit: Andrea Conway Kageyphoto credit: Andrea Conway Kagey

Reseda Park
Located at the corner of Reseda and Victory Blvd, this park is a nice retreat in a busy part of town. A popular weekend spot, there is something to keep everyone in your family entertained sunrise to sunset. The little ones will have tons of fun in the fenced-in playground while the bigger kids enjoy the outdoor basketball, tennis or volleyball courts. When the summer heat gets too hot to handle, take a dip in the public pool or enjoy the picnic and grilling areas year round. A quick walk behind the 2 baseball diamonds will bring you right to the quaint duck pond overlooking the LA River. There aren’t any feeders at this pond so packing your own duck-friendly food is a must if lunching with the flock is on your agenda.

18411 Victory Blvd
Reseda
Online: laparks.org

—Andrea Conway Kagey

Read next

School may be out for summer but your work as master-of-all-things-fun has just begun. No need to panic! We know that sometimes you need a break; both to work and to relax. Go ahead and schedule that important meeting or much needed “me” time—we’ve got you covered. Check out our list of LA’s best indoor play places that offer drop-off sitter services for a little fun out of the sun for them, and a break for you.

photo: Shahrzad Warkentin

WeVillage: ‘Cuz it Takes a Village
Direct from Portland, this new Sherman Oaks child care center gets that parenting isn’t easy and that it takes —well, you know—to help your kids thrive. Catering to children from 6 weeks to 14  years old, WeVillage has what it takes to keep your mini-socialites and wallflowers alike entertained on an as-needed basis. Unlike other child care centers, WeVillage is flexible and works with your schedule. They’re open 6 days a week, with hours ranging from as early as 7:30 a.m. to as late as 11:30 p.m. on weekends, leaving you with no more missing-date-night excuses. Whether you just need a sitter for a morning, full day or unexpected week, they’ll be able to accommodate your needs and even keep your hungry villagers fed so you don’t have to worry about a thing. Reservations are required and can be made online. Prices vary based on age and can range anywhere from $14-$22/hour with discounts available for longer blocks. A monthly ($25/month) or annual ($175) membership fee is required, but you can try your first hourly visit before making a commitment.

13335 Ventura Blvd.
Sherman Oaks
818-233-8218
Online: wevillage.com/centers/los-angeles

photo: Pamper & Play

Pamper & Play: Sounds More Fun than “Work & Play”
Enjoy some oh-so-deserved R&R while your tykes run others ragged at this West LA work and play space. For $12-$15/hour you can sign your little buddy up for a group supervised play session while you take a break in the comfy parent lounge. No time for breaks? No problem. Use this tranquil adults only space to catch up on your email and enjoy the free WiFi and complimentary coffee while the experienced staff entertains your brood. Services are offered to tots as young as 8 months and up to 8 years old. If your kiddo needs a little extra TLC, consider the personal concierge playtime option that offers one-on-one supervision for $25/hour. Walk-Ins are welcomed during the week and on some weekends, but check their calendar to ensure you won’t be turned away due to a special event. Caregivers must remain on the premises while children play so make the most out of your designated time-out and recharge.

2279 Westwood Blvd.
Westwood
310-441-0797
Online: pamperplay.com

photo: Snooknuk via Facebook

Snooknuk: You Found Your Nook
Get creative with your childcare needs this summer and book your little performers a colorful play experience at Snooknuk Arts & Indoor Play Cafe. Whether a singer, a dancer or just a mess-maker, any kid can have a blast at this Larchmont local spot for creative cuties. Little Stars as young as 17 months can enjoy a variety of arts classes offered at this magical locale, but anyone from as young as crawlers to 10 years old is welcomed to enjoy the play area. Supervised play is available every weekday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. for $15/hour per child (toddlers & up). Parents are allowed to leave the premises during the supervised play visit, but they ask that you leave a deposit upfront of half of the cost of your booked session.

506 N. Larchmont Blvd.
Mid-City
323-498-5258
Online: snooknuk.com

photo: Kidspark Northridge via Facebook

Kidspark: All Day Help is Here
If your little movers and shakers need a wide open space to roam free, look no further than Kidspark Northridge. This 4,000 square foot facility is well staffed with experienced care givers that are guaranteed to show your rambunctious rugrats from 2-12 years old a good time. Kidspark offers hourly and daily rates and you can use them as a go-to kid-free option for as little or as much as you need, up to 20 hours per week and 10 hours a day. They have plenty of staff on hand to accommodate those last minute emergencies but it is a first come first serve facility, so best to call ahead or get an early start to ensure they’re not at capacity. $8/hour for the first sibling, add $5 for the second and an additional $3/hr for the third. Or go the daily rate at $48/day for one child and $78 for two siblings. A $25 annual family membership is required. Find them on Facebook or Yelp for a discounted membership rate.

9056 Tampa Ave.
Northridge
Online: kidspark.com

                                                                                     photo: Pint Size kids via Facebook

Pint Size Kids: Anyone Potty Trained Can Stay and Play
Your mini noise makers may be tiny in stature but there’s no mistaking that when it comes to energy they have some mighty big needs. Give yourself a break from all things mom and bring your little divas to Pint Size Kids for an hour or three while you take in some shopping, sipping or just enjoying of the peace and quiet. With one weeks notice via email or phone call, you can reserve a spot for your kiddo to make-believe their little hearts out at this cute and interactive play space where children are encouraged to use their imagination. Whether your playtime expert gravitates towards the grocery store, medical center, house or workshop, your imagineers are expected to work hard at playing. Drop off services are best for potty trained children ages 2 years old & up. The rates are $20 for the first hour and $12 for each additional hour per child up to 3 hours. Remember, this one isn’t a spur of the moment drop by, and prior notice of one week is required for drop off services.

13323 Ventura Blvd.
Sherman Oaks
310-339-7452
Online: pintsizekids.com

photo: We Rock the Spectrum

We Rock the Spectrum: This Spot Rocks For Everyone
If there’s one things kids of all shapes, sizes and needs know how to do it’s to have fun! The kind and caring staff at We Rock the Spectrum are there to make sure that when mom and dad need some time away, all the littles get to play. Open to kids with all abilities, this is a play place that even your most sensitive of rock stars won’t want to leave. Drop off child care is available starting at $12/hour and arrangements can be made for One-to-One Attendant care as well, based on individual needs. Some locations also limit the amount of time families without special-needs children are allowed to use their drop-off care services so check your location’s website before visiting.

We Rock the Spectrum has multiple locations throughout the LA area; check the website for locations and hours.
Online: werockthespectrumkidsgym.com/We Rock the Spectrum

What do you do when you need some alone time, and your kids just wanna have fun?

—Andrea Conway Kagey

Read next

If you’re making your list, checking it twice, and still coming up empty, it might be because the mere idea of new things makes you think of more things to clean and put away.  So ask for (or give other busy parents in your life!) the gift of TLC this holiday season. Check out our list of the best pampering services that make house-calls, which means no need to fight LA traffic to redeem something that makes the holidays a little more relaxing.  Best.  Gift. Ever.

pregnancy massagephoto:  Micagoto via Flickr

Knead Me Massage
Nothing says pampered more than massage. Getting to and from the massage, however, can be anything but relaxing. We know mamas with gift cards that are years old, because it’s impossible to scheudle enough free time to drive to the spa.  Gift the stressed-out diva in your life (or drop a hint to your honey that you’d like) a stress-free massage at home. Knead Me’s founder and licensed massage therapist Jennifer Carta felt affordable in-home massage sessions were seriously lacking in her neighborhood of Glendale and surrounding areas. So her mobile massage company was started with a purpose of providing a service that “goes wherever the need may be.”

Rates start at $85 an hour for individual and $170 for couples massages. Carta promises that the therapists are friendly but not chatty, so no worries about entertaining. And you don’t have to provide a thing, except for maybe your own cucumber water. Therapists bring their own tables that they set up and break down quickly and efficiently, making the most out of your scheduled appointment time. You can book for yourself or as a gift through the form on the website. (If buying as a gift make sure to mention it in the message section of the booking form.)


Online: knead-me.com

ophoto: Michael D. via Yelp

Hair Room Service
Do you know someone who never makes time to get their hair done? Gift them a day of beauty with celebrity artists right in their own home. Think of them as a salon that makes LA & OC house calls (office calls too for that matter). From hair cuts and updos to waxing, nails and makeup services, Hair Room Service is your fairy godmother of beauty.  Whether it’s a good old basic cut or a make up session to take the worry out of a big holiday party, the gift of beauty and good old me-time is something most Moms don’t get enough of.

Appointments are easy to make online via their website or you can email them. Services start at $65, and if you don’t know what your giftee would like, gift cards can be purchased online, customized and delivered to the gift giver or recipient via email. For specifics on their services and pricing check out their website.

info@hairroomservice.com
1-866-222-7566
Online: hairroomservice.com

13558997_10157105491010504_4279828043230466802_ophoto: Unwind Mobile Massage & Spa via Facebook

Unwind Mobile Spa
What about a group gift?  Create your own spa party with Unwind Massage & Mobile Spa. In addition to massages, they also offer facials, waxing, nails and even personal fitness sessions with a yoga instructor, joyous dance or guided meditation. Can’t choose between a facial or a massage? Yoga or Manicure? Unwind lets you combine treatments to create a specialized spa party for 1 or your whole gaggle of girlfriends who don’t get enough time together. Your Mom group can chip in together to get each other this party of pampering.

Unwind also offers services for couples, so it can be you and your honey’s special gift to each other. Gift cards are available on the website in any amount and are good for 1 year after purchase.

877-577-7228 or 310-684-3957 (Text available at this number.)
Online: unwindmobilespa.com

10257457_10152355939618189_4213760806237479237_ophoto: Haute Chefs la via Facebook

Haute Chefs LA
Want to enjoy (or gift) a special holiday meal where no one had to hover over a hot stove? With farmers market ingredients, Haute Chefs will create and deliver personal dishes that cater to your likes and dietary restrictions.  Individual meals of breakfast, lunch, dinner & snacks start at $100 and a family of 4 luxury meal delivery service starts at $150 (delivery fees may apply). Looking for more of a personal-chef-in-your-kitchen gift? They do that too. Chef Services for a dinner for 4 start at $400 (not including the cost of food). It’s the perfect gift for new parents.

For custom gift certificates based on the dinner option chosen, it’s better to call instead of email so as not to get lost in the holiday shuffle. After all, ’tis the season to eat and be merry!

info@hautechefsla.com
818-358-4391
Online: http://www.hautechefsla.com

jonikittphoto: Cheryl Himmelstein Photography

Practically Perfect
Stressing out about where all the new toys and gadgets from this Holiday season are going to go? Put a session with a professional organizer on your Santa wish list and make those worries (like the clutter) disappear. Professional organizers Joni & Kitt are both busy moms who know how hectic life can get. They also know that organizing the day-to-day clutter can make a world of difference in a busy household. Practically Perfect offers a range of services to help you tackle those small and large projects this New Year. Joni & Kitt can coach you to discover your own personal organizing goals, lead you in a DIY direction or offer full-service organizing.

Rates begin at $225 per hour-long session for Joni and Kitt’s services and vary based on the type of organizing zen you’re looking to achieve. Book now to ring in the New Year clutter free. Practically Perfect’s full-service organizing jobs sometimes require a 2 month wait-list.

Looking for less hands-on help and more guiding guru? Joni & Kitt offer virtual organizing help too—so you don’t even have to be in LA, and can gift this to your disoranized roomie from college. Gift cards are available and can be ordered online. For more info on rates and the type of services they provide, check out their website.

hello@practicallyperfectla.com
424-265-7752
Online: practicallyperfectla.com

14692135_1132194733524077_8804947156641789843_ophoto: Run Around Betties via Facebook

Run Around Betties
If free time to put your feet up is the only thing you truly want for Christmas this year, Run Around Betties is like hiring your very own personal assistant to do all those things you can’t find time for. Need someone to pick up the dry cleaning and do the grocery shopping? Call a Bettie. Wait for the cable guy while cleaning out the garage? Hire a Bettie. They’ll even scan your photos and upload your CDs into your computer if that’s the chore that’s been bogging you down. From errands to dog walking to party planning to personal shopping, you can hire a Bettie (or a Bob) for almost anything your busy household needs.

Betties are available all over Los Angeles and Orange County and are also there to offer help for the Office and Life (like light after school supervision and dinner prep) for those extra busy weeks. Services start at $25/hour, but can go up with weekend, holiday or last minute booking. All Betties are screened and given a thorough background check upon hiring and are required to sign a confidentiality agreement. Still not sure? You can meet your Bettie before they work for you.

Everyone needs a Bettie in their life, so if you’re stuck on gifts for teachers, coaches, friends, neighbors, pretty much anyone, last minute gifts cards can be purchased over the phone or via email for however many hours you wish. They’ll even mail your gift card to you in a box with a pretty ribbon (email cards are available, too).

betty@runaroundbetties.com
San Fernando Valley: 818-981-3398
Los Angeles: 424-672-3328
Orange County: 949-566-8893

549974_452584801480363_137795490_nphoto: Earth Car Wash via Facebook

Earth Car Wash
LA may have fun in the sun year round but it also has dust in the air and on our cars. What better gift to give that car nut in your family than the gift of a shiny clean car? Earth Car Wash comes to you and uses eco friendly chemicals and a minimal amount of water for the exterior of every car. And you can breathe easy knowing that they also exclusively use organic products for the car’s interior, making it safer for those tiny passengers with allergies and sensitive skin and noses.  For parents with ground in Cheerios and no time to have it taken care of, the gift of no-work and no-traveling to cleanliness is heaven sent.  (Or you know, sent by you, their intuitive, great gifter of a friend.)

No worries about who is coming to you, because Earth Car Wash is a bonded, licensed and insured mobile car wash and detailing service with only in-house employees who have all been professionally trained and background checked. Packages start at around $30 and vary based on package, location and car type. Weekly/monthly packages are also available and they’ll even clean RVs and boats. Services are available in Los Angeles, Orange County and Las Vegas. Pre-paid gifts are available and it’s best to arrange those over the phone.

support@earthcarwash.com
877-557-7737

What would top your wish for a gift that would make your life easier? Let us know in the comments section below!

—Andrea Conway Kagey

Brighten up Your Holiday With LA Zoo Lights

Read next

If your holiday season got a little dim when the DWP Christmas lights in Griffith Park went dark, get ready to see the light! Back for it’s third year, LA Zoo Lights is getting bigger, better and brighter every year and is a worthy replacement guaranteed to electrify your holidays and become a family tradition for years to come.

GL-LAZooLightsphoto: LA ZOO LIGHTS/Jamie Pham

Favorites, Old and New
The dazzling display is back now through January 8 with even more lights, nights and 3D animations. Thousands of LED lights work together to create a magical display of “musical animals”, snowflake forests and twinkling tunnels. The oh-so-familiar to kids zoo becomes something entirely new to explore  with animations that delight both parents (some of the subtly changing light displays will give you college flashbacks) and kids (the laser music show).  All that, plus animals you can meet upclose AND Santa’s reindeer make this a festive outing that puts everyone in the holiday spirit.

Boys with Christmas Greetingphoto: Andrea Conway Kagey

Old favorites—like the dancing meerkats and singing frogs—are back, alongside enough new attractions to keep it completely fresh, like a laser show set to music and water behind the amphibian LAIR. Just look for the building with a giant illuminated snake on the roof. Park your strollers or wagons at the fence in front (it’s a tight squeeze when inside) and walk through the black light fun of the LAIR to visit the snakes, frogs and turtles before catching the laser show in back.

snake-lair-zoo-lightsphoto: LA ZOO LIGHTS/Jamie Pham

Psssttt…. Over Here By the Petting Zoo
There’s a new waterfall feature with animal animations that your little cubs sure won’t want to miss by the Petting Zoo. And what trip to the zoo would be complete without a live animal sighting? While most of the animals are asleep, there is a family of reindeer including two adorable babies, waiting for their picture to be taken. Another fantastic photo-op is the new shadow puppet installation where your pack of pups will enjoy romping, jumping and dancing behind the screen while you sit back and listen to live music filling the night air.  Did we say photo op?  It’s also a great rest your tired legs pit stop.

Zoo Lights waterfall 3D animationphoto: LA ZOO LIGHTS/Jamie Pham

Naps Needed for Night Owls
The self-guided walking tour of the Zoo Lights takes about 60-90 minutes, and you can wander wherever you like and at your leisure. Though with popularity in the attraction growing more each year and high stroller traffic probability, it’s best to plan ahead for a special late night out, even if you get here when the zoo re-opens for Zoo Lights at 6 p.m. Families with small children may have more luck navigating the crowds and lines on non-peak nights—Zoo attendance is lighter during the week.

Expect long lines at events like pictures with Santa and entrance into the LAIR (for crowd control). For those little, less-than-patient guests who are waiting for their turn with Santa, a view of the LAIR laser show can be visible from the Santa line bridge to bide the time. (Santa pictures are available at an additional fee starting at $24.99 from December 2-23.)

Musical flamingosphoto: LA ZOO LIGHTS/Jamie Pham

Don’t Let Hungry Turn Hangry
If a churro isn’t enough to satisfy the hunger of the holiday spirit, several of the zoo restaurants are open for business as well as bars throughout the event stocked with beer, wine and limited cocktails. There are no restrooms in the Zoo parking lot (where the long entrance line is) so be prepared for a mad rush to the bathrooms (just to your right) once through the gates. There are, however, plenty of restroom stops throughout the zoo and the further in you get, the shorter the lines seem to be.  Our tip: beeline in and head further in for a potty stop, then enjoy the zoo entrance when you exit, and the crush at the gates has dissipated.

disco-balls-la-zoo-lightsphoto: LA ZOO LIGHTS/Jamie Pham

Line Tips
In previous years tickets were sold with timed entry, making parking difficult. This year they have streamlined the entry process, making the free parking easier. On light nights, you can enter any time from 6-9 p.m. (the zoo closes at 10 p.m.).  On peak nights you can enter at 6 or 8 p.m. While parking is easier, this can lead to a longer entrance line and bigger crowds early on. Luckily, there are treats and hot chocolate for sale near the front gate (just no restrooms, as mentioned, so plan accordingly!) and the lines move fast as soon as they start taking tickets!  We recommend either getting there early, and staking out a place in line so you get in as soon as gates open, or if your kiddos can take it, eat dinner first and get here after 6:30 or 7 p.m., when you’ll still have plenty of time to see everything, yet you won’t have to wait in long lines or beg for potty access.

la-zoo-lights-treesphoto: LA Zoo Lights/Jamie Pham

For Party Animals
If you’re looking for something to do to ring in 2017, the Family New Year’s Eve event on December 31  is a wonderful festive night that’s not too crowded, but lets littles feel like they’re out late partying with the big people.  Kick off the New Year with a wild night at the Zoo with a DJ dance party, a ride on the conservation carousel, games and a buffet dinner complete with champagne (and sparkling cider for the kids) and the broadcast of the Times Square ball drop at 9 p.m. Tickets for this dazzling evening are $45 for children and $69 for adults (GLAZA members save $5 per ticket).

Zoo Lights colorful ballsphoto: LA ZOO LIGHTS/Jaimie Pham

The Price of Beauty
Ticket prices for this glowing event start at $14 for adults and $11 for children ages 2-12 Monday-Thursday. On weekends and peak nights (check the website for exact peak night dates) tickets are $18 for adults and $14 for children. Zoo members can take advantage of ticket discounts.

Tickets are valid only for the night purchased and all LA Zoo events occur on a “rain or shine” basis. In other words, if it rains, you can take in the twinkling lights under an umbrella or forfeit your tickets.

Boy with Lightsphoto: Andrea Conway Kagey

Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Garden
5333 Zoo Dr.
Griffith Park
323-644-4200
Online: lazoolights.org

What are some of your favorite bright spots in LA for the Holiday Season? If this gets you hooked on the wattage, here are our favorite holiday lights displays in town.

—Andrea Conway Kagey

A special thank you to the LA Zoo for providing tickets to see this dazzling display up close. 

Read next

Discovery Cube Los Angeles constantly keeps kiddos on their toes. From their sneaky educational fun (kids will be begging to play the recycling game over and over) to their rotating exhibits, there’s always something new to explore. Like now, when everything is awesome for LEGO builders big and small, with the October opening of the new exhibit LEGO Travel Adventure.

Lego Exhibitphoto: Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

No Passport Needed
Just brave the freeways and make your way to Hansen Dam and head up to the second floor of the LA Discovery Cube to spend the day in the hands-on exhibit. Imagineers are encouraged to think creatively, plan, and build vehicles to move through all types of terrain including mountains, oceans, jungles, deserts and more.  There are LEGOS of all sizes and at activity tables that let kids of all ages and abilities take part in the build: you’ll see kids from 2-12 happily digging into serious LEGO play (and work!).

lego-travel-adventurephoto: Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

Imagination Station
Whether your LEGO maniac is a builder or a pretender, there is something for everyone to enjoy on their travel adventure. Go method and suit-up as a pilot, ship captain or race car driver to gain inspiration for your vehicle.

boy with Lego boyphoto: Andrea Conway Kagey

LEGO Does Littles Too
Once those creative juices are flowing, your LEGO wiz kid can build with bricks from popular LEGO sets. Even the tiniest of LEGO fans can join in on the fun with the oversized foam Duplos begging to be built sky (or toddler) high.

Duplo babyphoto: Erin Hedge-Ray

Get Your Build On
No need to stay practical with your imagination, this exhibit insists you think outside of the toy box. Builders are encouraged to create vehicles of all shapes and sizes that will fly, drive or float. When all of the finishing touches are in place, feed that need for speed at the testing ramp where your pit crew can race their creations against one another. Your eager drivers will have to take turns at one of the two racing ramps.

boys at rampphoto: Andrea Conway Kagey

Virtual Reality
Little hands getting tired from all of that stacking? Give those fingers a rest and take the “Travel Challenge” to build a virtual LEGO vehicle that will travel through lava, swamps, rivers and oceans.  Your pint size explorer will love both driving and going along for the ride in the back seat of this virtual adventure.

virtual Lego adventurephoto: Andrea Conway Kagey 

Past Meets Present
When your kiddos are done creating the transportation of the future, make room in your adventure for a quick trip to the past. Marvel at the creations by LEGO Master Builders and learn about the building of the first Model T and the Wright Brothers flight at Kitty Hawk.

Kitty Hawk Master Buildphoto: Andrea Conway Kagey

Photo Ops
Time will fly as your junior explorers investigate every corner of Travel Adventure. But make sure you have those cameras ready when your inventors find the kid-sized race car made entirely out of LEGO Duplos. It makes for quite the photo (op) finish.

Race Carphoto: Andrea Conway Kagey

Know Before You Go
The Discovery Cube Los Angeles has plenty to offer inquiring minds, so leave time to explore after your LEGO adventure is over. This STEM focused museum has exhibits for all ages and is open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. All exhibits, minus the short films, are included in ticket price which start at $12.95 and can be purchased online or at the door. The current LEGO Travel Adventure exhibit will be there through January 16, 2017.

Lego Exhibitphoto: Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

Located in the Hansen Dam Recreation area, parking is free and there’s even a playground next door to the museum just in case your little Einsteins still need to run off some of that conserved energy before getting back in the car. Bean Sprouts café offers a varying menu of healthy eats for bigs and littles alike, but packed lunches are also welcomed inside the museum at the dine-in area or outside patio. The Cube is stroller friendly for museum lovers of all sizes but stroller parking is available at the front of the museum near the toddler play area, if you want to park before exploring.

Discovery Cube L.A.
11800 Foothill Blvd.
Los Angeles
818-686-2823
Online: discoverycube.org/la

What’s your family’s fave LEGO spot?  Let us know in the comments section! And if you’re looking for more LA LEGO action, check out these local play places for LEGO lovers.

—Andrea Conway Kagey

Psst…We Know Where to Find Dinos in LA

Read next

You won’t have to dig too hard to find Jurassic sized fun for your little dino lovers all over Los Angeles. With two new exhibits this summer, in addition to some old faves, you can hunt for fossils, ride a T-Rex and find dinosaurs at playgrounds, museums and even the zoo.

photo: Andrea Conway Kagey

Natural History Museum
Every dedicated dino expert knows that the Natural History Museum Great Hall of Dinosaurs is the place to visit to dig up all of the facts on these prehistoric wonders. The 14,000 square foot renovated Dinosaur Hall at the NHM brings paleontology alive by displaying completed skeletons and fossils of dinosaurs from all over the world, representing each period of dinosaur life. When you’re done studying up on the life cycle of the T-Rex, take your super-silly-sauruses to Level 2 where they can watch real life paleontologists prepare actual fossils in the Dino Lab. If interactive is more your thing, check out the Dinosaur Encounter show (times vary; this summer you can catch it Thursday, Saturday & Sunday several times a day) that uses large-scale puppets to bring the T-Rex and Triceratops to life, capturing the imagination of any die-hard dino-fan. All of these dino-tastic attractions are part of the permanent exhibits at NHM and included in admission.

But wait, there’s more!  Starting July 3, your kiddos curiosities will soar upon meeting the incredibly diverse winged reptiles of the Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs exhibit. This prehistoric attraction will be visiting NHM until October 2, 2016 and will include rare fossils from all over the world in addition to life-size models, videos and interactive exhibits of the earth’s first flighted bird. Tickets to the NHM are $12 for adults and $5 for kids over 2. To visit the temporary Pterosaurs exhibit with a timed ticket entrance, expect to spend a little bit more with a $22/adult, $10/child ticket that covers both the Pterosaurs and general Museum entrance. Make sure to check the website before visiting for information on parking, which can be tricky on USC football game days.

900 Exposition Boulevard
Exposition Park
213-763-3466
Online: nhm.org

photo: Andrea Conway Kagey

Dinosaurs: Unextinct at the LA Zoo
Lions, tigers and dinosaurs? Oh my! Go back in time with the LA Zoo to a lost world when dinosaurs roamed the earth. For the price of Zoo admission ($15-$20) plus an additional $5 a person you can visit “Unextinct at the LA Zoo.”  This Dino event brings animatronic dinosaurs to life, displaying them in their natural habitat among a lush landscape of the earliest trees and plants. Stand in awe in the middle of these life-sized replicas of an array of dinosaurs, ranging in heights up to almost 22 feet and 6,700 pounds!

If the awe inspiring size of these giganto-sauruses isn’t enough for your super dino fans, the exhibit also offers a Fossil Dig where they can brush away sand to uncover “bones” made from a fiberglass mold of an actual dinosaur fossil. Get your cameras ready for the many Jurassic-sized photo ops and try your hand at walking the dinosaur with the Stegosaurus robot that you can control. Make sure to download the free “Dinosaurs: Alive at the LA Zoo” augmented reality app and complete the quiz to win a prize at the Dino gift shop. Don’t wait too long to partake in this colossal adventure; the Stone Age scene is extinct as of November 1.

5333 Zoo Dr.
Griffith Park
323-644-4200
Online: lazoo.org/dinos

photo: Wonders of Dinosaurs

Wonder of Dinosaurs
Sure you can study them and dig for them, but what if you just want to play?  You can play in and with the dinosaurs at this Redondo Beach self-guided exhibit that combines animatronic dinosaurs with inflatable bouncers, mazes, mini-golf and more. For the next 2 years, you can visit this family friendly exhibit within the South Bay Galleria. Also available for parties, this wonder-filled exhibit even has robotic dinosaur rides. Appropriate for ages 2 & up, your pack will enjoy watching the moving and static dinosaurs as well as getting out their own roars and giggles in the inflatable dino-themed bouncers (don’t forget those socks). There’s even prehistoric fun to be had by mom and dad in the inflatable dino maze and mini-golf game.

Most activities are included in admission prices ($8-$16) but face painting, dino photo-op and fossil and gem bags cost extra. Only infant strollers are allowed on the floor and all other strollers can be parked in designated areas. If you’re planning to visit this lost world of fun, please note that prices are slightly higher on weekends. All kids permanently dependent on wheelchairs are admitted for free and Wonder of Dinosaurs donates part of proceeds to a California charity dedicated to the needs of disabled children.

South Bay Galleria
1815 Hawthorne Blvd.
Redondo Beach
Online: wonderofdinosaurs.com

photo: Sarah G. via Yelp

Fossil Reef Park
Sometimes you just want to play and play and play.  A weekend jaunt to Laguna is as good as a trip back in time. Jurassic imaginations will be sparked with endless inspiration at this Laguna Hills Prehistoric Playground. Fossil Reef Park is a paleo-adventure playground that reflects the historical significance of the area. Your junior dino-digger will be enthralled with the playground bridge that has imprints of actual fossils over 15 million years old. Under the bridge, a replica of a Hadrosaur fossil is embedded into the bridge wall, along with fossil pieces of a saber toothed cat, duck-billed dinosaur and mammoths. With a bowhead whale skeleton to climb and two separate play structures to explore, Fossil Reef Park is guaranteed to keep your tiny T-Rex busy. This multi-level playground can make it difficult to keep track of the youngest of your crew on a busy day but there is a separate toddler area within the playground and lots of green for running and picnicking. If your toddler tires when walking on those little legs, pack the stroller for this adventure as the parking can be a bit far.

Then when they’re all tuckered out, you get to enjoy exploring and eating in beautiful Laguna Beach.

Laguna Hills Community Center
25555 Alicia Pkway
Laguna Hills
Online: ci.laguna-hills.ca.us/203/Prehistoric-Playground

photo: Downtownsm.com

The “Dinosaurs of Santa Monica”
If you want to stay closer to home and get a glimpse of the dinos in their natural habitat (shopping?), play a casual game of “eye spy a dinosaur” with your pint-size paleontologists as you walk the streets of Santa Monica. A free public art display at the 3rd Street Promenade, the “Dinosaurs of Santa Monica” are made up of six stainless steel and copper topiary fountains that bring a prehistoric charm to the modern day restaurants and shops. Look for these prehistoric finds on Third Street between Broadway Avenue and Wilshire Blvd. It’s a fun side adventure after a day at the beach, a shopping or movie outing on the Promenade or as part of a train trip to the sea.

3rd Street Promenade
Santa Monica
Online: publicartinpublicplaces.info

photo: Andrea Conway Kagey

Cabazon Dinosaurs
Next time you head to the desert, you definitely need to stop and meet these guys. (You may recognize the famous dinosaurs from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.) The Cabazon Dinosaurs have been a staple along I-10 since the early 1960’s when Dinny (pronounced Dine-y), the 150 ft. long Apatosaurus, was built to attract patrons to the now permanently closed Wheel Restaurant. In 1981 Mr. Rex, the 3 story T-Rex, joined him. Visitors are free to climb atop Dinny to a cute, kitschy gift shop but to get inside the mouth of the towering T-Rex you have to enter through the museum side which has an admission fee: $10 for adults and $9 for kids ages 3 & up.

Dino Mouthphoto: Andrea Conway Kagey

When you’re done snapping pics atop Mr. Rex’s big toes, follow the signs behind the giant dinos to the Creationist Museum in the back where dinosaurs and wild animals cohabit peacefully among desert plants. This museum boasts a couple of animatronic rides with gentle movements for timid tots, but at $2 a ride in addition to the admission fee, you may want to proceed straight through to the “fossil dig” sand pit and “gem stone” panning activity which are included with admission. Strollers are welcomed on the dino paths but be aware of the lack of shade and sandy trails.

50770 Seminole Drive
Cabazon
951-922-8700
Online: cabazondinosaurs.com

What are the dinosaur attractions that make your little ones ROAR? Share with us in the comments!

—Andrea Conway Kagey

Read next

Summertime means hot days, cool treats, and sticky fingers covered in melty, soupy not-so-iced cream. But there’s a new treat in town, and Little Spoon’s delicious, frozen and packable dessert are ones that you can bring along for beach days, road trips, birthday parties and lazy park afternoons. With no fuss and half the mess of ice cream, frozen pudding by LA’s Little Spoon will make you and your puddin’s pop with joy.

                                                                                             photo: little spoon

More Than Just Your Average Pudding
Little Spoon pudding cups aren’t your mama’s snack pack. Chef Hannah Canvasser (co-founder of the new LA company with Jason Kessler) transforms her handmade delicious pudding into a creamy, rich frozen dessert mixed with fun, all-natural inclusions like graham crackers, marshmallow cream and vanilla wafers. With palate pleasing flavors like Nana Banana (just like grandma used to make), Caramel Latte (coffee hour transformed) and Campfire Chocolate (cold and creamy s’mores), this pudding perfection is appealing to both the budding foodie and pintsize sweet tooth alike. An all-inclusive pudding pioneer, Little Spoon currently offers 5 flavors including both vegan (Coconut Cream Pie) and gluten-free (Brown Sugar Vanilla) options.

Pudding in a circlephoto: Schuck Photography

Pudding A-Go-Go
The idea that makes Little Spoon pudding packaging ingenious for parents is that while you buy it frozen, there’s no need to eat it that way. Enjoyed frozen or thawed, this is one cool treat that is meant to be savored, not devoured. Unlike the classic summertime favorite, frozen pudding doesn’t melt. Instead of a chocolate puddle and endless tears of disappointment, you’ll still have a delicious cup of cool, thick pudding to enjoy at your leisure.

Thanks to the cute, single-serving cups, this frozen delight travels with you to all of your family adventures, making it easy to toss a pack or two in lunch boxes, camp snack packs, beach bags or coolers.  The delicious melt factor also makes them perfect for summer birthday parties, where kids often get a big scoop of the frozen stuff, just to set it down and come back to find a flavored puddle of cream.  Which means tears, and a second bowl.  That will also melt in minutes…

photo: Andrea Kagey

Pudding Party
Right now, Jason and Hannah have no immediate plans for a storefront of their own. Instead they’re focusing on bringing the pudding to you by way of private parties and events. When they’re not livening up a party, you should expect to find their custom-made freezer cart and vintage cooler at street fairs around town like Abbot Kinney First Fridays and Smorgasburg LA.

littlespoonphoebeandcartphoto: little spoon

Special Delivery
Can’t wait for an event to get your pudding fix? Check out their website to see where they’re carried and head to one of the several gourmet food markets from Santa Monica to Pasadena that sell Little Spoon to big fans. You can also have it delivered right to your door (or anywhere else in the US) in a convenient pack of 8 pudding cups, completely frozen in a reusable freezer tote. Thanks to Little Spoon, beach days just got a lot sweeter.

Online: littlespoonpudding.com

Little Spoon freezer bagphoto: Andrea Kagey

What’s your favorite summer sweet indulgence? Share it with us in the comments!

—Andrea Conway Kagey

Read next

Opposites attract for one spectacular view on Sunday, September 27th when the sun and the moon tango in the sky for a rare total lunar eclipse. Grab some blankets and hot chocolate and take your little Galileos out for an unforgettable view of the night sky. Check out our suggestions of best places to sneak a peek at this “sheer lunar-cy” with or without telescopes.

Family Fun Griffithphoto credit: Kolleen G. via Yelp

Stargazers Unite
Griffith Observatory
The popular Observatory will be hosting a free Lunar Eclipse Presentation on Sunday, September 27 with astronomy staff members explaining the phases of the eclipse to the crowd as they happen. The event will run from 6:30-9:45 p.m. and if a beautiful night under the stars isn’t enough, the Observatory will also have a pianist at a grand piano playing “moon themed music.” (Moonlight Sonata, anyone?) Take note, however, that parking is limited at the Observatory itself and the winding side street has been known to cause quite the traffic jam on popular nights, especially if there is a concert at the Greek Theatre. We suggest arriving quite early for a prime viewing spot and stress free parking or take the Metro Red Line (Sunset/Vermont) and the DASH Observatory Weekend Shuttle; they’re expecting an enormous crowd and parking will be challenging. If you can’t make it to the Observatory but still want to partake in the commentary, they’ll be live streaming the lunar eclipse on Griffith TV via their website.

2800 East Observatory Rd.
Griffith Park
213-473-0800
Online: griffithobs.org

Santa Monica Mountains Starsphoto credit: Santa Monica Mountains National Rec Area Facebook Page

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
Head up to the Santa Monica Mountains and join Focus Astronomy for a special lunar eclipse viewing party. They provide the telescopes, you provide the inquiring minds. Telescopes will be available for viewing and photographing the eclipse until 10 p.m. When the sun sets they’ll train the telescopes to the moon as it rises over the hills. This free event is from 5-10 p.m. Contact the Visitor Center for more information at 805-370-2301.

Rancho Sierra Vista
4121 Potrero Rd.
Newbury Park
805-370-2301
Online: nps.gov/findapark/event-listing.htm?eventID=27035

Santa Monica Sidewalk Astronomersphoto credit: Dennis E. via Santa Monica Sidewalk Astronomers Website


Take to the Streets

Santa Monica Sidewalk Astronomers
Look for these star guides on the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica. They’ll have their telescopes set up for your galactic crew to view. And if your pint-size Copernicus catches the astronomy bug then Barnes and Noble is nearby for all of your star-reading needs. Or drive a little further up the boardwalk to Venice Beach where you’ll find more Sidewalk Astronomers near the Rose Avenue outfall. Either way, you can’t beat a starry sky over crashing waves.
Online: nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov/club-view.cfm?Club_ID=700


Burbank Sidewalk Astronomers
You can find some of the Burbank Sidewalk Astronomers set up at the Asia Pacific Museum in Pasadena where they’ll provide telescopes for the public. Keep an eye on their website for details and updates.
Online: home.earthlink.net/~sidewalkastronomers/index.html


LA Sidewalk Astronomers
Take the metro to the North Hollywood stop and enjoy people watching and star gazing alike. The LA Sidewalk crew will be set up near the NoHo Metro station.
Online: nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov/club-view.cfm?Club_ID=1224

Party in Your Backyard
The sky should be clear enough on the 27th to enjoy the eclipse from the comfort of your own backyard—even without a telescope. Here’s an approximate time frame for Los Angeles of what to expect from the cosmos:

6:45pm: Moon rises (Moon in partial eclipse)
7:11pm: Totality begins (Moon is totally covered in shadow)
7:47pm: Maximum eclipse
8:23pm: Totality ends (Moon emerges from shadow)
9:27pm: Umbral eclipse ends

Lunar Eclipsephoto credit: NASA Moon Images Flickr album/Bob Gent

Party in the Forest
Worried about getting a clear view of the sky from your personal city scape? Pack your binoculars and try one of these LA starry views for a cosmic retreat.  All are spectacular star watching spots on this or any night.

  1. Templin Highway, Angeles National Forest
  2. Saddleback Butte State Park, Antelope Valley
  3. Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve, Antelope Valley
  4. Topanga State Park, Santa Monica Mountains
  5. Malibu Creek State Park, Santa Monica Mountains
  6. Mount Wilson, Angeles National Forest
  7. Frazier Park & Mount Pinos, Los Padres National Forest

Don’t see your favorite star gazing spot listed above? Share it with us in the comments!

—Andrea Conway Kagey

Members Only: Summer Membership Steals

Read next

This summer spend your time in the sun making memories instead of watching your wallet.  Check out our list of summer deals for kids in LA, from deeply discounted summer-only memberships at children’s museums to cheap beach parking to summer ticket packs, that are sure to keep your fun-loving family on the move and in the money through the dog days.

photo credit: Andrea Conway Kagey

Kid Museums with Special Summer Memberships

Zimmer Museum
The Zimmer is the perfect place to take future Einsteins to be creative and feel inspired by the hands-on exhibits.  For the first time ever, the Zimmer is offering a special $55 Summer Fun Membership.  From June 1-September 30 you and your mini thinkers and tinkers can enjoy unlimited fun (and admission) to one of your kiddo’s soon-to-be favorite museums.  The Summer Fun Membership offers free unlimited admission for 1 named adult and all children/grandchildren in the same household as well as 1 one-time use guest pass and 1 one-time use class pass. You’ll also receive discounts on summer classes and be included in the Exclusive Members Only Hours and Members Only Evening (July 7).

Good to know:

  • The Zimmer is closed on Saturdays.
  • Free parking is offered on a first-come-first-serve basis in the lot on the west side of the building.  If this lot is full, try the pay-to-park lots on Wilshire east of La Jolla or the 1-hour metered parking or 2-hour residential street parking around the museum.

Zimmer Museum
6505 Wilshire Blvd.
Miracle Mile
323-761-8984
Online: zimmermuseum.org

photo credit: Sheryl Wachtel

KidSpace

This Pasadena imaginarium has a new 3-month membership program that will keep your kiddos out of your hair—and you out of the red—all summer long.  A hands-on sensory museum with interactive physics experiments, water features and creepy crawlies, KidSpace adds just enough education to your brood’s vacation from school.  The 3-month, $69 membership comes with unlimited admission for up to 4 kids in addition to one designated care giver or nanny for free.  Aside from the sweet discounts you’ll score in the Busy Bee Learning Store and Café, you’ll also get the invite to the coveted Members-Only events, early admission to special events and Free entry for Twilight Nights hosted by the museum.   Just check the website before packing the kids in the car, the museum closes on select Saturdays to accommodate UCLA football games held at the neighboring Rose Bowl Stadium.

Good to know:

  • Kidspace has exhibits that entertain and inform kids from 1-10, so it’s a perfect spot for families with kids who cover a range of ages.
  • Also, they have plenty of water features that keep kids cool in the SGV summer heat.

Kidspace
480 North Arroyo Blvd.
Pasadena
626-449-9985
Online: kidspacemuseum.org 

photo credit: Andrea Conway Kagey

 

See Wild Animals For Less With Summer Discounts

LA Zoo and Botanical Garden
If your little monkeys are driving you bananas this summer then plan a trip to the LA Zoo to take advantage of their Family Fun Fridays.  On Fridays from June 5-September 25, you can save cash by buying a family four-pack of 2 adult and 2 children tickets for just $54 (regular price $66).  Walk that extra $12 over to the gift shop and splurge on some new animal print swag, because your family four-pack also comes with a 10% discount on retail merchandise at any Zoo gift shop on the day of your visit.

Know before you go:

  • Tickets are only available online, so purchase and print before you come.
  • Not valid on July 3, 2015

5333 Zoo Drive
Griffith Park
323-644-4200
Online: lazoo.org

photo credit: Jamie Pham

Aquarium of the Pacific
What better way to end the weekend than spending a relaxing evening with the fishes of the Aquarium of the Pacific at one of their Discounted Late Nights events.  During Sundays in the summer, the Aquarium will extend hours until 8:30 p.m. and admission after 5 p.m. will be $14.95 for adults and children alike (a $14 savings on each adult ticket).  Visit the fish, pet the sharks and check out the short films in the Ocean Theater. Your little fishes will be happy to stay up a little later for this special evening, and since it’s summer, they don’t have to head to school Monday morning!

100 Aquarium Way
Long Beach
562-590-3100
Online: aquariumofpacific.org

photo credit: Aquarium of the Pacific

Deals That Will Keep You Wet All Summer

Santa Monica Day Beach Parking Permits
Beaching with even the littlest of surfers can be a real handful (of sand toys, sunblock and sandwiches) which is why parking close to the sand is such a must-do with tots in tow.  Use that extra gas money you’ll save circling for parking and put it towards the $27 monthly Day Beach Parking Permit you’ll love using while soaking up the rays at the Santa Monica Beach.  The permit can only be purchased in person at the office of Planning & Community Development and proof of California residency and a current CA vehicle registration is required. The permits are valid sunrise-sunset every day of the month you’re registered and is valid at most City of Santa Monica beach lots, excluding the Pier deck and the Annenburg Beach House.  Now you can hit the beach every day!

Good to Know:

  • Sold in person only.
  • Check the site for the list of lots that accept the permit.  Day Beach Parking Permit is not valid at meters, on-street parking or in the parking structures.

Traffic Services Division
168 Main Street, Rm 212
Santa Monica
310-458-8466
Online: smgov.net

photo credit: Anna Fox via Flickr

LA City Pools
Catch some rays and save some change this summer when you purchase summer passes for any LA City Pool.  A pass is available to youth, seniors and persons with disabilities at $25 for 30 entries during the recreational swim hours.  Since these passes are for specific scheduled swim times it’s best to check your local pool for the hours that they’ll apply. (Adult lap swim passes are also offered at the discounted rate of $87.50, good for 30 lap swim entries, but can only be used during lap swimming hours.)

Online: laparks.org


Santa Clarita City Aquatics
Santa Clarita can get hot, hot, hot and that’s why this summer the City of Santa Clarita Aquatics is offering summer recreational swim passes good for all season long from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  At $65 for adults and $45 for kids, the whole family can enjoy splishing, splashing and water sliding with unlimited access to recreational swim at all city pools including the Aquatic Center Slide Pool.

Good to Know:

  • Only valid at the recreation pools, not the lap pools.
  • For more information on what the recreational swim pool hours are, call the Aquatics office at 661/250-3766.
  • The amazing Aquatic Center pool is worth the drive: even if you’re not a resident you might want to consider a pass and visiting here one a week this summer!

Online: santa-clarita.com

photo credit: Erin H. via yelp

Casitas Water Adventure
Kick back, relax and float the Lazy River while your water babies dive-in to the fun of Casitas Water Adventure.  Single Splash Passes are $12/guest on individual visits but for $65 per guest you could enjoy the Lazy River and water playgrounds all season long with no blackout dates.  Little pirates will ARRR-preciate the multi-level jungle gym complete with waterfalls, bridges and slides harbored within an 18” deep lagoon.  With 2 water playgrounds to explore and a splash pad for the littles, Casitas Water Adventure is sure to wear out even the most energetic California kid. You can make this your regular weekend getaway all summer long.

Good to Know:

  • Aside from water bottles, no outside food is allowed in the water park but picnic benches are located just outside for those post car-ride snacks.
  • Learn more insider tips about this little known cool spot at our in-depth look at visiting the water park.

Lake Casitas Recreation Area
11311 Santa Ana Rd.
Ventura
805-649-2233
Online: casitaswater.org

photo credit: Amy Kim 

What are your favorite summer deals around town?  Let us know in the comments section!

—Andrea Conway Kagey