Check Out LA’s Central Library

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Libraries rock. They are beautiful, filled with things to do (books!  story time!  play spaces!) and are indoors, which is key in LA with these recurring heatwaves. So, clearly your local library is a regular stop. But if you need a change of scene and a destination date, head downtown to visit one of the most amazing libraries in the country. Brimming with history, a great Children’s Room, activities and events—if you haven’t been, you’re due for a visit.

Central_Library_Los_Angeles

photo credit: Sheila Thomson via Creative Commons

The Los Angeles Central Library was first established in 1872. Yes, back when Los Angeles was the little pueblo that could, it already had a library. It’s gone through a lot of growth and change, most recently in 2001 the library was renamed the Richard Riodan Central Library and had a few nips and tucks (because we are in LA). With 538,000 square feet and 8 floors, it houses more than six million items and happens to be one of the largest publicly funded library in the world. So next time anyone tells you LA is full of surfers and surface, you tell them about our library!

Library Name Plaque Los Angeles
photo credit: Erica Groten

The library offers many WOW factors, so make “Look up!” your mantra throughout your visit. Besides the gazillion mosaic pieces located in the grand hall outside Children’s Literature, mouths will drop when viewing the globe light fixture.

Globe Light at Central Library Los Angeles

photo credit: Erica Groten

But, probably, you want to head straight to the kids books.

Entrance to Children Section Los Angeles Central Library
photo credit: Erica Groten

Kiddos and parents alike will have a tough time deciding what to look at first. There are so many choices, it’s like a Willy Wonka Factory of books. When your little reader finds a book that catches their fancy, they can sit down on one of the many seating choices.

Rest and read Los Angeles Public Libraryphoto credit: LWYang via Creative Commons

If you’ve got an ants-in-their pants toddler who isn’t ready to settle with a book, don’t fret. Ample play objects abound, like this kitchen set sitting in a sunny corner. Play hide and seek to see what you can find.

Central Library Los Angelesphoto credit: Erica Groten

And when playtime gets old, you can plop the kiddos onto seats at story telling. Check out their Kid’s Portal for the latest events, story times, and activities.

 Story Time Los Angeles Public Libraryphoto credit: Erica Groten 

When you’re ready to get back up and moving, it’s time to take in the sights. Take a walk around the library and have the kiddos point out all the art installations that are located everywhere. Look up, look down, look all around. You never know what you’ll find, or where you’ll find it.

Flower Light Los Angeles Public Library
Know Before You Go

Hours (as of May 3, 2021): Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m., closed Sat.-Sun & closed holidays.

Eating: Maguire Gardens, centrally located and facing Flower St., offers outdoor-seating, a grass area for picnicking and fascinating fountains to check out.

Parking: Even though public parking is not available at the library, there are plenty of lots around downtown and metered parking on the street. The library has even negotiated a special rate at the 524 South Flower St. Garage, validation rates are available only when the library is open to the public. Get your validation from the library information desk on the first floor. Present a valid library card to receive the discount.

Potties: Potties abound throughout the library and many offer diaper changing stations.

The Richard Riordan Central Library
630 West 5th St.
DTLA

Online: lapl.org

-Erica Groten

Why We’re Thankful to Be LA Parents

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When you sit down to your Thanksgiving meal and give thanks for all your blessings, give a moment to appreciate this amazing and diverse city we live in.  It’s the perfect place to raise kids!  We polled our writers to find out what they’re most grateful for about being parents in LA, then add in your two cents.  Then get out there and enjoy the sunshine, arts, culture, ocean and food that we all love.

Infinite Ingenuity

Well, all you need is one real winter on the east coast, getting your toddler all bunted, bundled, galoshed and mittened, only so they can tell you they need to go potty. But beyond the obvious (the weather), I've got to say it's the infinite ingenuity that seems to spring from the sunshine around here is what's so inspiring. Just when we thought we'd seen it all, some guy's making <a target="_blank" href="http://rockthebike.com/ice-cream-bike/">ice cream by pedaling a bike</a>. Or some kid is raising millions towards curing cancer by selling <a target="_blank" href="http://www.alexslemonade.org/">lemonade</a&gt;. I love raising my girls in a culture where creativity and passion driven pursuits runneth over. And all we need to roll out is a little sunblock. Cue Randy Newman. —writer Jolie Loeb <em>photo: Jolie Loeb</em>fuck
So, why are you thankful to parent those amazing kiddos of yours in LA? We can’t wait to hear from you in the comments below.

What Parents Love About the New Village at Topanga

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What could possibly be special about another outdoor mall?  Or so we thought. Then the Village at Topanga opened in Woodland Hills on Sept. 18 and we realized mall builders still had a few tricks up their sleeves when it came to creating family ready destinations. Read on to find out the top 9 things we parents love about the Village.

The Village at Topangaphoto: HC C. via Yelp

1. Food, Wonderful Food
What we like is that there’s a great balance of healthy (Eatsa has bowls filled with satisfying servings of fresh and yummy ingredients), kid faves (Eureka! will gladden the hearts of burger and taco lovers with some superb salad choices thrown in the mix for parents), breakfast (Le Pain Quotidien is excellent with or without the little darlings and you can get the best bread to bring home for grilled cheeses later…), finger lickin’ BBQ (Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que) and kid approved standbys for the super picky eaters (Panera Bread‘s kids’ menu pleases everyone, pizza rocks at Pieology and the dogs at The Slaw Dogs will fill your Dodger Dog hole his winter).

2. Splish, Splash
After some delectable eats, grab your small fry’s hand and march over to the water-play area, because you’re never too old and in SoCal it’s never too cold to jump in puddles. If jumping in isn’t your style, plop down on the ledge, dangle your legs, and let the water soothe those hot tootsies.

Waterplay at The Village at Topangphoto: Rashmi V. via Yelp

3. Panting 101
Rover’s drooling and craving a water break. No worries: water and treat stops abound throughout the meandering pathways. Psst, most shops also provide water by their entrances.  The Village is super pet-friendly.

water station The Village Topangaphoto: Erica Groten

4. Birthday Bliss
They’ve got you covered with one-stop unique birthday party planning.  You can book a pottery class for your entire pack at Bitter Root Pottery, then move the celebration to the Birthday Table for dessert and presents. The Birthday Table, a permanent fixture here, is surrounded by off-beat, colorful chairs, and is the ideal, inexpensive solution to where to move the party after the party. Stop by Guest Services for help with the table booking.

The Birthday Table at The Village Topangaphoto: Erica Groten

5. Monkey Time
You really, really want to poke in one store for one little minute.  But the kids are so hyper they might break a few things.  It’s time to head to The Luckey Climber created by Thomas Luckey. No monkey or bambino will be able to stay away. The tykes can climb and climb and climb…while you grab a ring-side seat and splurge on frozen yogurt from Go Greek or a delectable treat from either Peet’s Coffee or SusieCakes.  Then, energy expended, they’ll let you shop for a few precious minutes.

The Luckey Climber at The Village Topangaphoto: Erica Groten

6. Book Exchange
We love this!  Books, free books, at the mall! 6 book exchanges have been placed throughout the plaza. And if you’ve spent enough cash this outing, don’t fret; the books are free for the taking. Next time, leave a book. Perfect timing for a little fall clean-out. The book exchanges range in shape, size, and design. Snap a pic and then have those budding builders create one at home with Play-Doh or LEGOs to place on your own lawn to start a neighborhood lending library.

Book Exchange The Village Topangaphoto: Erica Groten

7. Interactive Art Installations
Whimsical touches abound. Entrance the kiddos with a game of “find the umbrella” or the swings. Those are just two from the amusing collection. Everyone will have a magical time hunting for the imaginative art, and it sure makes a nice break from a regular mall’s non-stop commercialism.

swing tree at The Village Topanga photo: Erica Groten

8. Trolley Time
Want to mix things up? The trolley is the answer. Hop aboard for free rides to and from The Village at Topanga, Westfield Topanga  and Westfield Promenade. Why not have a meal at one location then have the trolley take you to the movie theaters at another site? Or just sit back and relax while taking in the scenery from a new perspective.  Sometimes tired kiddos or little train lovers need a break, and riding the rails while checking out new scenery can be just the (free) ticket.

Trolley The Village Topangaphoto: Rashmi V. via Yelp

9. Farmers Market
Every Sunday, 9 a.m. -1 p.m., lose yourself in tastes, smells, sights, and sounds. You can get school clothes, home goods a treat or two and now even stock up on fresh veggies for the week all at one spot. Just remember that due to health codes, this is the one time and place that pets are not welcome.

Farmers Market at the Village Topanga

photo: Westfield Topanga & The Village via Yelp

The Village at Topanga
6600 Topanga Canyon Blvd.
Woodland Hills
818-594-8732
Online: westfield.com/topanga/the-village/home

Have you visited The Village? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! 

—Erica Groten

Parched? Get Wet at Casitas Water Adventure

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In LA summers are hot and getting hotter. Not very-warm hot, but surface-of-the-sun hot. Just the thought of summer’s upcoming heat makes you throw the air conditioning into overdrive. And with the drought, you don’t want to waste water in the backyard kiddie pool.  Rescue your melting family with a much needed cool-down at Casitas Water Adventure and they’ll be gurgling your praises.

lake casitas water

photo credit: Lake Casitas Water Adventure via facebook

Water, Water Everywhere
Hop in the car early in the morning, and head towards Ojai.  An hour and a half later (and a turn onto Casitas Vista Rd.), you’re at water nirvana where you can stay for the whole day.  As soon as you park, the kids will take off.  The first thing they’ll do is beeline for the zero-depth pool. The lagoon is 18 inches in depth, so even the youngest water babies can delight in the spraying water, tunnels, climbing structures, and slides. Join the fun as you pretend your new pirate ship needs defending. Help the wee ones navigate the “ship” and secure the leaking schooner. Insider Tip #1: Bring sand pails (rinsed to remove leftover sand) to add another layer of fun.

Seating Water Adventure

photo credit: yelp

Relax and Stay Awhile
After your dread pirates have defeated you, they’re ready for more adventures, but you’re ready for a rest.  Choose perfect seats from the abundance of lounge chairs situated around the site. Opt for a shady or sunnier spot. Be mindful of the signs since some areas (shady deck) are reserved for large groups. Insider Tip #2: Weekends get very busy; arrive early for better seating options or drop anchor during the week.

Lake Casitas Water Adventure

photo credit: Sandi D via yelp

A Lazy Trip Around a Lazy River
Ensure all first mates find their way to the crystal clear, 1,200 foot-long, lazy river. Capture one of the multitude of free inner tubes floating by. Found your ride? Great! Now get comfy and close your eyes as your cares drift away…until you are spurted awake in the jet spray zone, which will give the kids a case of the giggles. Another section has a small overhang that provides a fun waterfall to float under, but be prepared for a chill as it is very cold water! (Which will feel like extra heaven by August and the dog days.)  Turn this trip into a learning experience when you travel under the fog-filled area and explain about clouds, mist, and water droplets. Want to add an extra layer of entertainment? Try maneuvering your older ones, or have them angle you, through the waterfall or direct them into the eye of the jet spray.

Certified life guards abound around the river and the splash pool. Insider Tip #3: The water is amazingly clear, but not heated, so be prepared for a cold shock. Inner tubes are available all along the river, so don’t fret about giving one up for a while; you’ll get it back.

Picnic Table water adventure

 photo credit: Sandi D via yelp

Eats
Only baby food and water (no glass containers) are allowed inside the park, but don’t despair; bring a picnic lunch and leave it in a cooler in your car. When hunger hits, receive the return hand-stamp and eat lunch at one of the picnic tables outside the park. If you don’t want to pack a lunch or only want dessert, grab a grilled item from the snack shack or choose from a variety of ice cream delights that are offered. Plan to hang at the park until dinner? Dry off and head to Boccali’s Pizza and Pasta for a yummy meal. Insider Tip #4: Leave room for dessert, Boccali’s Strawberry Shortcake is not to be missed.

Lake Casitas Water Adventure

photo credit: Erica Groten

Know Before You Go
Ages: Open to everyone.

Parking: Parking outside the park is free, but is slim pickings and a short walk to the Casitas Water Adventure entrance. Not fun if you are carrying tots and supplies. Splurge and park inside the recreation center. Parking costs $10 during the week and $15 on weekends and holidays.

Life Vests: Free and located by the locker rooms. They are on a first-come, first-served basis.

Potties: You’ll find them in the locker rooms, by the gated entrance inside the park, which also house the bathrooms and showers. A changing table is available.

Lockers: Are available, for a fee.

Reservations & Cost: Single day pass is $12. Children under 12 months are free. A 2-day pass is $22. Reservations are $7.50 and are recommended for holidays or if you plan on arriving late on a weekend.

Hours: Opens May 23-September 19. Some weekdays in June, August, and September are closed; check the website for a full listing.  Some weekends sell out, so call ahead if you plan to arrive late. Daily hours are Sunday-Thursday from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and Friday-Saturday from 11a.m.-7p.m

Weekending: Ojai is 15 minutes down the road, so make this your first stop on your way to a weekend getaway!

Casitas Water Adventure
11311 Santa Ana Road
Lake Casitas
805-649-2233
Online: casitaswater.org

Give a shout out to your favorite local water park. We’d love to hear about the coolest (literally and figuratively) spots in the comments below.

—Erica Groten

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Got a little Indiana Jones at home?  If your budding archaeologist likes to bury toys in the backyard and use a toothbrush to remove the dirt, the California Science Center’s newest exhibit is for you. From now until September 7, 2015 selections from the Qumran dig, including the Dead Sea Scrolls, pottery, and coins, are available for viewing. Step back in history with this trip to Exposition Park.

Entrance of California Science Center

photo credit: Genevieve via flickr

Strolling To The Scrolls
Currently, this exhibit is the hottest ticket in town, so plan on long wait-times (even with a ticketed entry) to enter the exhibit during weekends and holidays. The long lines also extend to the actual exhibit with people jockeying for position to read the informational screens on the displayed items. Which leads us to Insider Tip #1: Go on a weekday!  If that’s not possible, try and get the first timed tickets of the day, when there’s less chance of a back-up inside the exhibit.

Dead Sea Scrolls Ancient Pottery Faces

photo credit:  Jim the Photographer via flickr

After a quick and interesting introduction, you’ll be directed to enter the exhibit. Don’t miss the display of these tiny pottery faces, which kids can try making at home with clay!

Roman Bath Dead Sea Scrolls

photo credit: Jim the Photographer via flickr

This Roman bath includes a seat, which is an instant visual hit with the kiddos. Not to mention the parents. Insider Tip #2: Keep an eye on the little ones. Some of the displayed items, like this, are perfect height for wandering hands and bodies.

Amphora that contained Dead Sea Scroll

photo credit: Jim the Photographer via flickr

The Dead Sea Scrolls were found in jars similar to the one displayed.

Dead Sea Scroll

photo credit: Ken and Nyetta via flickr

Finally: the Dead Sea Scrolls! At last you arrive at a large circular table. The user-friendly display allows for amazing viewing. Some pieces of the scroll are hard to read but don’t despair, each piece is translated, in a section to the right of the actual scroll, and next to the translation is an enlarged picture of the actual scroll being viewed. Insider Tip #3:  Don’t be intimated by the crowds and take your time to read the informational material. Also, bring reading glasses if you need ’em, the room is dimly-lit.

But Wait, There’s More
So you completed your quest, and saw the scrolls.  But you’re not done! Head to the 10 Commandments section, in a corner nook by the Dead Sea Scrolls, and let little darlings push buttons that aren’t yours. This interactive demonstration speaks the commandment of the pushed button, and at the same time displays the piece of scroll where it is written. It’s a great set up for a Charlton Heston movie night, later on.

After you are buttoned out, make your way to the final section: Masada. A replica of the Jerusalem Western Wall appears to the right along with paper and pens. Pretend you are in Israel and leave a written note in a section of the wall. When the show closes, all notes will be collected by the Israel Antiquities Authority and delivered to Jerusalem. This section also hosts a live camera feed of the actual Western Wall.

Outside the exhibit an interactive section greets you. Try your hand at reassembling potsherds or be a scribe and practice Hebrew writing.

Wallets beware! The only way out is through the gift shop.

jerusalem

Post-Scrolls
Inside Tip #4: Don’t miss the IMAX movie, Jerusalem 3D, for a huge dose of eye candyFor kids that  were bored by the pottery and papyrus, a 3D movie experience proves far more accessible.  And for kids that dug the exhibit, this reinforces all that they learned.

Still want more? Make it a day event and hit Endeavor and the ecosystems exhibits. The aquarium and touch ponds located on the 2nd floor are some of the favorite areas at the museum for kids of all ages.

The Parent 411
Ages: Open to everyone, but geared for kids ages 8 & up. While there are interesting bits for kids of all ages, toddlers and preschoolers will have a tough time keeping little hands to themselves and will be bored quickly, making the exhibit an exercise in herding, rather than learning, for parents.

Parking: Parking costs $10 per car, or choose the Metro Expo Line at the Expo Park/USC station. The Science Center is an easy walk (0.2 miles).

Potties: Potties abound throughout the Science Center and many offer diaper changing station.

Tickets & Cost: Tickets for this exhibit are required and can be purchased through the California Science Center’s website. Prices range from $12.75-$19.75 for the exhibition alone, or $16.25-$26 for the exhibition / IMAX movie combo.  Discounts are available for members.

Hours: Open daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily through September 7, 2015.

Eats: Casual dining is located on the first floor. Choose from grilled items, fresh fruit, and salads. Plenty of seating, inside and outside, to choose from.  Or bring a picnic and dine al fresco in the Rose Garden.

California Science Center
700 Exposition Park Blvd.
Exposition Park
Phone: 323-724-3623
Online: californiasciencecenter.org

Have you been to see the Dead Sea Scrolls? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

—Erica Groten

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Looking right behind you – yes, right there, hidden in plain sight.  It’s art!  Los Angeles offers fantastic eye opening sculptures with a pinch of whimsy, a dash of craziness, and a spoonful of LA style. Visit one or many… you can visit one if you happen to be in the ‘hood, or we like to take the kiddos on an treasure hunt:  create a page filled with fun items to look for on your outing and include these sculptures. Here are some to get you started: Find something that begins with the letter of your first name. Find a drumming bunny.  Find something brown. Find something rough. Find a ballet clown.  Find a squirrel. The rest are up to you.  Have fun hunting!

Tulips Sculpture

Beverly Hills

Hymn of Life: Tulips created by Yayoi Kusama 2007
Put a smile on your face by dropping by this playful, color-bursting sculpture located in the Beverly Gardens Park. No climbing is the rule, but don’t despair, bring Play-Doh and let your little Michelangelos get to work creating what they see. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy in the park, and then finish the day off with a ride on the Beverly Hills Trolley (which you can catch from the Southeast corner of the park by Rodeo Dr. and Dayton Way). Once you’re back at the park, walk just north of the park to a quiet residential neighborhood and see if you can find the real life Witch’s House! The Spadena House was built on a film studio lot in 1921 and relocated to its current location in 1934. Currently it is a private residence. Insiders Tip: For those left hungry or thirsty by the adventure, nearby is Urth Caffe, where you can grab some organic drinks and sweets.
Potties & Parking: Metered parking and public restrooms are available.

Beverly Gardens Park
N. Santa Monica Blvd. and N. Rexford Dr., Beverly Hills

Also at the Beverly Gardens Park…

Rabbit Sculpture Los Angeles

The Drummer created by Barry Flanagan 1989-1990
Does life imitate art? The answer is “nope” when it comes to this sculpture of a giant rabbit happily drumming away. No matter, the kiddos will whoop for joy over this art piece in the Beverly Gardens Park. Hand out musical instruments and now the official bunny band begins. March around the base and let the kiddies imagine the music created by the bun bun leader.

Lenin with Mao on his Head Sculpture

Los Angeles

Miss Mao Trying to Poise Herself at the Top of Lenin’s Head created by The Gao Brothers 2012
It’s big! It’s shiny! It’s…It’s…what the HECK is that? Yep, it’s a massive Lenin head. Touch it, walk around the base, discuss it and be thankful it’s not in your living room. Comments will abound since everyone will have something to say. Have the kiddies say one thing they like and one thing they would change about the art. After sculpture viewing and discussion, head to Sycamore Kitchen across the street for sumptuous snacks that everyone in the family will devour.

400 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles

Metal Sculpture Los Angeles

Airplane Parts created by Nancy Rubins 2006
This massive artwork at The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA),  was created using old airplane parts. Who wouldn’t want to stare up and around trying to see inside every crevice? The structure is 25 feet tall and 65 feet across. Then don’t forget to go inside and tour the museum. Have budding Frank Gehrys in the midst? When you get home, break out the construction paper, glue, cardboard, pasta and even Legos and let the bambinos try to come up with their work with their own flair. Give awards for the funniest, the tallest structure, and the most colors used.  Insider’s Tip: Don’t miss Sunday Studio: a free, quarterly event. Find interactive art experiences, music, and snacks. Check the website for dates.
Parking: Park at the Walt Disney Concert Hall for $9, with museum validation, ($20 deposit required, $11 refunded upon exit). Enter the parking garage on 2nd street between Grand Ave. and Hope St.

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Plaza
250 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles

Bronze Sculpture Headless Worker

Corporate Head created by Terry Allen and Phillip Levine 1991
Raise your hand if you can relate. Yep, the grind got this one. A visit to this sculpture usually ensures that viewers will be attacked by the giggle monster. For kids young and old who enjoy the quirkiness life has to offer. The inscription on the floor reads: “They said I had a head for business. They said to get ahead I had to lose my head. They said be concrete & I became concrete. They said, go, my son, multiple, divide, conquer. I did my best.” After, pop over to the Grand Central Market for some yumminess.
Parking: Underground parking available; prices vary depending on day and time of arrival.

Ernst & Young Building
725 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles

the dance door

The Dance Door created by Robert Graham 1978
Who puts a giant bronze door in the middle of a walkway? Who cares, since this will have you singing “I can go in, I can go out, I’m in, now I’m out…”  Running, dancing, hopping, or walking through it can set the imagination on fire. I’m in the future, I’m in the past. I’m at the beach. I’m back at home taking a nap. Insider Tip: Located between The Music Center and City Hall (in the Mall), the Court of Historic Flags is a must see. 18 historic flags from United States history are displayed proudly.

The Music Center
135 N Grand Ave., Los Angeles

Topiaratops

Santa Monica

Topiaratops at 3rd Street Promenade created by Claude & Francois LaLanne, 1989
Kiddos and adults will delight at the sight of this giant triceratops topiary. Now say that three-times fast!  What’s not to love about a triceratops topiary shooting water out of its mouth? This is a very family-friendly and dog-friendly walking street, which is perfect for an outing and for adding to those 10,000 daily steps. Plenty of restaurants and restrooms abound. Santa Monica even has an Ambassador Program. The Ambassadors help provide directions, information, and assorted other items. Ambassadors can be recognized by their pink shirts and wide brim hats. Insider tip: An ambassador monitors the restroom in Parking Structure 4. 

3rd Street Promenade, Santa Monica

Art Tool
Art Tool created by Carl Cheng 1988
This ginormous roller stamp is super lucky to live at the Santa Monica Beach, just north of the pier. Who wouldn’t want to live on the beach for free? Have the kids tell you what would happen if the tool was pulled across the sand. What carving is their favorite? How many kids tall is it? Pack a picnic lunch and grab some sun and sand or mosey up to the pier for some eats.
Potties & Parking: There are five parking lots near the pier: Two north, three south and the Pier Parking Deck. Also located some short term metered lots about a $1 per hour. Restrooms open every day from 5:00 am to dusk.

The Santa Monica Pier
200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica

Wheels

Wheels created by Anne Marie Karlsen 2010
This brightly colored mural forces you to stop and look.  Look at the material it was made from. How would it be described? Does the sun change the aspects of the shapes?  Count the floors of the building. How many cars will fit in all of those spaces? Have everyone try to find their favorite color(s). Are we done yet? YES! Now stroll over to Santa Monica Place N’ice Cream and treat everyone to their favorite colored organic gelato or sorbet.

Santa Monica Place
Santa Monica Place Garage exterior, facing 2nd Street
395 Santa Monica Place, Santa Monica

Ballerina Clown Statue

Venice

Ballerina Clown created by Jonathan Borofsky 2008
We love LA!  What other city would put a man’s clown face on top of a ballerina body, create it large enough for it to hang on the side of a building and then actually attach and hang it from the side of a building? This one is a definite head-turner. Ballerina Clown is 30 feet tall and…are you ready…mechanized, which allows the right foot to move forever to an unknown beat!  What’s not to love? Gaze up at this site, until you can’t gaze anymore and then hit The Rose Café and Market for breakfast, lunch or just one of the amazing pastries.

Renaissance Building
255 Main Street, Venice

What are your favorite public art installations? We’d love to hear about your adventures finding public art in our city in the comments below.

– Erica Groten

Photo Credits: Willem van Bergen via flickr, Rocor via flickr, allegro Takahi via flickr, Mike Knell via flickr, Gary Minnaert via flickr, Sheila Thomson via flickr, Gareth Simpson via flickr, Ed Uthman via flickr, Inazakira via flickr, Joselito Tagarao via flickr, Dakine Kane via flickr

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It starts when they are toddlers and grows as they grow. That irresistible need to make noise, lots and lots of noise. Your pride turns to horror as they gleefully assemble their “instruments”: pots, pans, spoons, forks, your grandmother’s china… The cure is not a bottle of headache medicine or a meditative moment.  Let them do what they were born to do: run, be merry, and LOUD (just somewhere else). In short, take them somewhere that welcomes the sound – a drum circle.

DRUM CIRCLE-5

Culver City Drum Circle
Looking for a place to sit back, relax, and enjoy snacks that have been provided by someone else? If you answered yes, then this drum circle is for you. Bring chairs and drums or shakers if you have them;  if you don’t, don’t fret, there are usually plenty of those music makers to be shared. Snacks and drinks provided. This circle is open to everyone.
Reservations: Suggested. You can RSVP here.
When: Last Saturday of the month, from 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Cost: Free, donations accepted

Media Park (under the Pavilion)
9070 Venice Blvd.
Culver City, Ca 90232
Online: meetup.com/Culver-City-Drum-Circle

DRUM CIRCLE-2

Free to Be Me Hermosa Beach Community Drum Circle
Late summer only means one thing: the kids have officially become couch zombies. What’s a parent to do? Round them up and head to a facilitated drum circle at the beach. Plop your blanket or beach chairs on the sand, grab one of the hand-painted drums and feel the rhythm start to flow.  All ages are welcome. Insider tip: Too hot?  For those needing shade, head under the pier.
When: Third Sunday of every month, from 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Cost: Free, donations accepted

On the north side of the pier, on the sand.
Hermosa Beach, Ca
Online: freetobemedrumcircle.com

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Remo Recreational Music Center
Too hot to head outside?  Cruise on over to REMO Recreational Music Center. You won’t find anyone telling your little ones “no touching”; in this facilitated drum circle “please bang louder” is more like it. Drums and percussions, provided by REMO, litter the floor and kids have a field day trying to decide which one to use. Get comfy, there are loads of chairs and plenty of floor space to claim as your own. If your kiddo is an aspiring singer, open mic time is offered during the drum session. All ages are welcome. Insider Tip: For those with sensitive hearing, don’t say no, REMO provides ear plugs.
When: Every Saturday 9:30 am – 10:05 am & 11:00 am – 11:45 am; first Sunday of the month 11:00 am – 11:45 am
Cost: Free, donations accepted
Parking: In the back of the building and across the street.

7308 Coldwater Canyon
North Hollywood, Ca 91605
Phone: (818) 982-0461
Online: remormc.com/calendar

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Torrance Beach Drum Circle
It’s like Cheers – everyone knows your name everyone is always glad you came. Bring your smile, blankets or beach chairs. There are usually plenty of instruments to share and it doesn’t matter if you play or sit and listen.  Your kiddos will thank you for taking them and you’ll instantly feel part of the family. Wet or rainy weather is the only time the circle is cancelled. All ages are welcome. Insider Tip: Keep those peepers peeled, it’s not uncommon to see a pod of dolphins.
When: Every 2nd Sunday of the month, from 1:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Cost: Free, donations accepted
Parking: The Torrance Beach Parking area

300 Paseo De La Playa
Redondo Beach, Ca 90277
Online: facebook.com/pages/Torrance-Beach-Drum-Circle/249121861823812

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Venice Beach Drum Circle
Visiting Venice Beach for the day? Don’t miss this local attraction.  While it’s not a set event, this circle appears every Saturday and Sunday (usually without fail) and attracts serious (and not so serious) drummers, dancers, and chanters from all walks of life. Bring a musical instrument and join in.
When: Every Saturday and Sunday, noon-ish to dusk-ish
Cost: Free

By the end of the boardwalk in Venice Beach
Where Brooks Avenue meets Ocean Front Walk
Online: facebook.com/VeniceBeachDrumCircle

-Erica Groten

What is your experience with drum circles? Have you visited one of these? Do you have a circle that needs a shout out? Let us know.

Photo credits: DrStarbuck via flickr, theilr via flickr, Sabina Sandoval via facebook, Erica Groten, Tim Griffin via flickr, and Vmiramontes via flickr