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From matzo ball soup and bagels and lox to delicious pastrami on rye, we’ve rounded up the best Jewish delis around LA—just in time for Hanukkah! Get ready to clear your calendar and put on those stretchy pants, cause it’s time to nosh!

The Best Jewish Delis in Los Angeles

Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen

Mmmm…smell that? Follow the intoxicating aroma of pastrami and corned beef straight to Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen in Culver City. Wise Sons prides itself in making nearly everything in house using the finest ingredients around. Baked goods (like their Jewish rye) are baked at their offsite bakery and delivered multiple times daily for the freshest sandwiches in town. So whether you’ve got a hankering for the OG Rueben, a double-coated bagel with a shmear or some piping hot matzo ball soup, Wise Sons should absolutely be on your list of go-tos. Good to Know: They are offering Hanukkah catering. 

What to Order for the Kids: The classic smoked salmon bagel sandwich is fantastic and kids will love the turkey club on toasted challah.

9552 Washington Blvd.
Culver City
Online: wisesonsdeli.com

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Brent's Deli

A San Fernando Valley favorite, Brent’s Deli never disappoints. This family-owned business features two locales—the original in Northridge and a newer addition in Westlake Village. Brent’s offers high-quality meals, super friendly service and is widely known for its famous mile-high Rueben sandwich. They have a fantastic kid’s menu as well. Oh and parents—the Westlake spot houses Brent’s Bar which features specialty cocktails, craft beers and mimosa flights—you’re welcome.

What to Order for the Kids: Nothing's more comforting than Brent's matzo ball soup and a black and white cookie for dessert.

19565 Parthenia St.
Northridge 
Online: brentsdeli.com

Langer’s Delicatessen

Since 1947, Langer’s Delicatessen has been serving generation after generation of Angelenos and has proven to be a vital part of LA’s cultural heritage. Die-hard deli fans flock here for Langer’s famous hot pastrami sandwiches which some have deemed “the best in the world.” But the other food is fabulous as well—so awesome in fact that they’ve been honored with the prestigious James Beard Foundation Award—twice!

What to Order for the Kids: The pastrami and swiss can’t be beat, especially for first-timers.

704 S Alvarado St.
Los Angeles
Online: langersdeli.com

Wexler’s Deli

This LA favorite prides itself in using old-school methods to handcraft their amazing pastrami and smoked salmon that keeps patrons coming back for more. All meats and fish are smoked in house and are hand-sliced before your eyes ensuring the utmost freshness. The lox especially rivals some of the best in NYC. With locations downtown in Grand Central Market and a shop in Santa Monica, Wexler’s should absolutely make your Sunday brunch list. Good to Know: They are accepting Hanukkah orders now.

What to Order for the Kids: The O.G. with pastrami, mustard and rye is a simple yet delish intro for kids who’ve never dabbled in pastrami before. The grilled cheese with challah and cheddar is always a safe bet as well.

616 Santa Monica Blvd.
Santa Monica
Online: wexlersdeli.com

RELATED: 25+ Things to Do with Kids in Santa Monica

Mort and Betty’s

Mort and Betty’s maintains the culture and tradition of the incredible deli food you’ve grown up with, but they’ve gotten rid of animal products—making it one of the only vegan Jewish delis in town. Additionally, 5% of every purchase is set aside to help create a farm animal sanctuary. From dill pickle latkes and sliced mushroom brisket to carrot lox and vegan challah, you can find Mort and Betty’s at SmorgasburgLA in the Arts District downtown or you can order online and pick-up at various locations across the city. They are also taking Hanukkah orders now. 

What to Order for the Kids: The dill pickle latkes and chocolate Babka deliver major amounts of YUM!

Mort and Betty’s
Online: mort-bettys.square.site

—Jennifer O’Brien

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Visiting the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures with Kids

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Is there anything better than watching your favorite movies? Immersing yourself in those unique stories that make you double over with laughter, blubber like a baby, shriek in terror, or think of the world in a whole new way? The brand-new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures celebrates everything we love about cinema. With a dynamic array of exhibitions, interactive experiences, screenings and programs, the museum not only features an extensive look at the history of movies, but also hopes to inspire the next generation of filmmakers. Every exhibit is captivating in its own right, but here are some must-sees that will definitely excite kids at LA's newest museum.

Kids Will Love These Exhibits at the Academy Museum

photo: Joshua White via The Academy Museum Foundation

Temporary Exhibit: Hayao Miyazaki

The Hayao Miyazaki exhibition marks the first North American museum retrospective dedicated to this internationally beloved filmmaker whose animated movies have inspired all ages for over 50 years. The ethereal “Mother Tree” near the front of the exhibit instantly transports you into the magical mind of Miyazaki while "the retrospective incorporates all of Miyazaki’s animated feature films—like My Neighbor Totoro (1988) to the mystical, Academy Award®-winning Spirited Away (2001)—into a series of immersive environments that offer a journey both educational and experiential." The Hayao Miyazaki exhibition runs until Jun. 5, 2022.

photo: Joshua White via The Academy Museum Foundation

The Pixar Toy Story 3D Zoetrope

A must-stop for anyone with kids in tow is The Pixar Toy Story 3D Zoetrope. This thrilling installation features 214 maquettes, bringing your favorite Toy Story characters to life. Don't be surprised if your littles beg to watch the vibrant display over and over as Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Jessie and the rest of the gang whirl around, literally creating quite a show.

photo: Joshua White via The Academy Museum Foundation

The Art of Moviemaking Gallery

Wizard of Oz fans will fall in love with The Art of Moviemaking Gallery where Judy Garland’s famous ruby red slippers are on display (this is the actual pair she clicked together at the end of the film to return home to Kansas). This stunning exhibit also does a deep dive into the backstory and the craft of making the Wizard of Oz, featuring other prominent wardrobe pieces from the movie including Dorothy’s checkered dresses and the Cowardly Lion’s mane.

photo: Joshua White via The Academy Museum Foundation

The Encounters Gallery

The Encounters Gallery pays tribute to some of the most iconic characters in movie history. Parents and kiddos will undoubtedly geek out over getting to see R2-D2, C-3P0, E.T. and Okoye’s outfit from Black Panther up close, among other extra special items on display.

photo: Joshua White via The Academy Museum Foundation

The Identity Gallery

In the Identity Gallery, the Academy honors talented costume designers, hairstylists, and make-up artists. Guests have a rare opportunity to learn more about these intricate art forms that help transform actors into dazzling characters.

photo: Iwan Baan via The Academy Museum Foundation

Dolby Family Terrace

No visit to the museum would be complete without heading upstairs to the Dolby Family Terrace. This stunning glass dome features one of the best city views we’ve ever laid eyes upon–with completely unobstructed views of La La Land. So very meta.

 

photo: Joshua White via The Academy Museum Foundation

Interactive Experiences & Programs for Kids

The Oscars Experience simulates a thrilling walk onto the Dolby stage to accept an Oscar. It costs a little extra and requires a separate ticket, but we think it’s well worth it. Children are welcome to participate, but kids under 13 must be accompanied by an adult. Also, depending on their height, little ones may need an extra boost when accepting their Academy Award. A video captures your star-making moment and is then sent to your email to share with friends and family on social media.

Regarding future interactive experiences at the Academy Museum, Senior Director of Education and Public Engagement, Amy Homma says, “We will be offering programs where learners of all ages can feel connected to the art and history of film. Accessibility is at the heart of our efforts, and we want to make sure that little ones, caregivers, families, and folks of all abilities and interests have interactive ways to get connected to filmmaking.”

While the Academy Museum is starting small in to ensure best practices around their COVID-19 policies, Homma adds, “Our education studio is built to mirror a real working film artist’s studio and we will have plenty of interactive, skill-building workshops and classes in the future spanning all crafts, including production design, costume design and so much more.”

photo: Iwan Baan via The Academy Museum Foundation

Family Matinees

Every Sat. at 11 a.m., the Academy Museum hosts family matinees that are rated G or PG, unless otherwise noted. Certain months will have themes, for example  Oct. features are focused on Halloween, while November will highlight Indigenous stories by Indigenous and Native filmmakers. Homma says, “Bernardo Rondeau, Senior Director of Film Programs, is so thoughtfully curating the line-up of family matinees. I especially love that he is programming from an international lens, crossing genres, and including films from all decades of film history. These are a great way to start introducing little ones to films that might even be new to us.”

photo: Iwan Baan via The Academy Museum Foundation

Where to Eat at the Academy Museum

Fanny’s, named after Fanny Brice—the legendary movie, vaudeville, theater, and radio star portrayed by Barbra Streisand in her Oscar®-winning role in Funny Girl (1968)—is the Academy Museum’s restaurant and café and oozes old Hollywood vibes at every turn. With a lovely art deco bar and lounge, along with the restaurant and patio, Fanny’s serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. And during the day you can expect to find pastries and espresso for all those mid-morning and mid-afternoon pick-me-ups. In the coming months, they plan to expand their current menu to feature more kid-friendly offerings.

photo: Matt Petit via The Academy Museum Foundation

Academy Museum Store

Before you head home for the day, pay a visit to the Academy Museum Store where an exclusive selection of movie merchandise and Academy Museum branded treasures are available for purchase. From Oscars memorabilia and t-shirts to movie books and toys, the shop is a great place to pick up a little something for yourself or maybe even a gift for the upcoming holiday season.

Tickets: Advanced timed tickets are required and must be booked online. Free general admission for guests aged 17 and under is provided by a grant in honor of Sid Ganis. Adults are $25, Seniors (aged 62 and up) are $19 and college students are $15. The Oscars Experience is an additional cost of $15 per person ages 13 and up.

Hours: Open 7 days per week, 365 days a year. Sun.-Thurs. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Fri.-Sat. 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

COVID Policy: Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken up to 72 hours prior to arrival is required for guests aged 12 and up. Masks are required in all public spaces throughout the museum.

Also Worth Noting: Photos are welcome throughout the museum except where noted. All large backpacks and large purses (anything above 15 x 12 x 4 in.) must be checked at the coat check in the lower lobby.

Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
6067 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles
Online: academymuseum.org

—Jennifer O’Brien

Pro Tip: If the kids still have energy—they can always run around the grounds outside the museum and LACMA which is right next door.

 

feature image: Joshua White via The Academy Museum Foundation

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The Best Splash Pads, Water Parks & Pools around LA

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Editor’s Note: Because closures can occur with little notice, please contact individual parks before visiting. Websites are provided below. Have fun and stay safe!

When things heat up in and around Los Angeles, there are plenty of water play spots around town for your family to cool off besides the beach. Here’s our ultimate list of the best splash pads in LA—from the most fun free water playgrounds (we’re looking at you Tongva Park splash pad) to tricked out places to splash around including inflatable water parks and waterslides, these must-go spots will have you swishing and swimming to your heart’s content. Get ready for the best summer ever thanks to these epic waterparks, pools and splash pads around LA.

Splash Pads

Santa Monica: Tongva Park

Update: The splash pad at Tongva Park is currently closed for repairs. Stay tuned to the City of Santa Monica social media channels for reopening updates.

Escape the chaos of the nearby Santa Monica Pier for this urban oasis. Inside the park, head to Discovery Hill, which features a children's play area (with a sloped climbing wall and slides), shaded picnic area, and splash pad. The water area is built on a soft surface making it safe for little ones. 

Hours: Park is open daily 6 a.m. - 11 p.m., but splash pad hours vary due to efforts to reduce water usage during drought.

1615 Ocean Ave.
Santa Monica
Online: tongvapark.smgov.net

Beverly Hills: Coldwater Canyon Park

More stream than splash pad, this adorable grassy area in Beverly Hills has a gentle man-made creek for the littles to splash around in making it a popular hot spot for cooling off. Don’t mistake this place for the Coldwater Canyon Park up Mulholland—this one is right across from the fire station where Beverly Dr. and Coldwater Canyon meet.

The playground portion of this must-see spot offers tons of shade for those hot, sunny days and lots of lovely benches for parents to kick back and relax while their littles romp around.

Hours: Open daily from sunrise to sunset

1100 N. Beverly Dr.
Beverly Hills
Online: www.beverlyhills.org

Santa Monica: Annenberg Beach House

This oceanside facility is open to the public and here's where you get the best of everything this summer: a sandy play area plus a fantastic splash pad with lots of tables and chairs, all with a relaxing ocean view without worrying about undertow or riptides. Sounds pretty fantastic, amiright?

If you’re craving a pool experience, you can buy day passes for the historical beach house pool (half off on Mon.) but if you don’t feel like the extra work, just lay low at the pad.

Hours: The splash pad is currently open daily from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., while the pool is scheduled to reopen to the public on Jul. 1

415 Pacific Coast Hwy.
Santa Monica
Online: beachhouse.smgov.net

Whittier: Amelia Mayberry Park

Cool off at this 14-acre park in Whittier. It’s definitely a family favorite in the area.

Hours: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., daily

13201 Meyer Rd.
Whittier
Online: parks.lacounty.gov/amelia-mayberry-park

Azusa: Valleydale Park

Travel a bit further out to Azusa and you'll find this popular and spacious park. 

Hours: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., daily

5525 N. Lark Ellen Ave.
Azusa
Online: parks.lacounty.gov/valleydale-park

East LA: City Terrace Park

Located east of DTLA, the City Terrace Park is clean, offers a super spacious splash pad area and tons of shade which is essential when those toasty temps begin to skyrocket.

Hours: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., daily

1126 N. Hazard Ave. 
Los Angeles
Online: parks.lacounty.gov/city-terrace-park

Hacienda Heights: Los Robles Park

This small, undiscovered park is located in the quiet San Gabriel Valley neighborhood of Hacienda Heights.

14906 E. Los Robles Ave.
Hacienda Heights
Online: parks.lacounty.gov/los-robles-park

La Puenta: San Angelo Park

Get the details on San Angelo's splash setup and LA County's additional open facilities here.

Hours: The splash pad is open from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., daily

245 San Angelo Ave.
La Puente
Online: parks.lacounty.gov/san-angelo-park

 

Panorama City: Panorama Recreation Center

Update: Currently, the splash pad is closed with no reopening date as of yet. Check the rec center website and Instagram for further updates to come.

Dump buckets, waterfalls, and bubbling fountains make this seasonal splash pad a huge hit with the locals and beyond. There is a playground right next to the water play area so chances are your little frogs will be nicely worn out after hopping around this place for a while! There is limited shade so be sure to bring lots of sunscreen along with (required) bathing suits.

8600 Hazeltine Ave.
Panorama City
Online: www.laparks.org

Simi Valley: Rancho Tapo Community Park

All of LA can get hot, but places like Simi Valley really sizzle, so it’s not surprising that one of the city’s best splash pads is located there. Affectionately known by locals as "Lemon Park," this exceptionally well-maintained (read: clean!) spot also offers a playground, sports courts (they have bocce ball!), fitness equipment and 1/2 mile of trails for little hikers.

After you’ve sampled all the park’s amenities, take your brood under the giant mushroom sprinkler to cool down. Beating the heat has never been more peaceful. 

Hours: The splash pad is currently open from 11 a.m. - 7 p.m., daily. However, the pad will be closed from 2 p.m. - 3 p.m. every day for refiltration.

3700 Avenida Simi
Simi Valley
Online: www.rsrpd.org

Santa Monica: Virginia Avenue Park

This 9.5-acre park in the heart of Santa Monica is a beauty and a great place to bring a group of friends to spend the day. The park boasts two modern playgrounds, basketball courts, ample parking, a “patio” for picnicking and, of course, the splash pad.

Splashing is paramount here with water shooting from the walls and ground at alternating intervals accompanied by several water “cannons” that will be sure to keep everyone nice and wet. The park is also adjacent to the Pico Branch Library with a Whole Foods across the street (perfect place to pick up some picnic items) and hosts a weekly Farmer’s Market on Sat. 

Hours: Open daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. but subject to close due to drought restrictions.

2200 Virginia Ave.
Santa Monica
Online: www.smgov.net

Splash Pads & Pools

West LA: Stoner Park Splash Pool

If your older fish want more out of a cool-down experience than just a few misters, this spot has a pool with a splash pad attached so there’s a little something for everyone. The splash pad has fountains, sprays and water walls that line the front edge of the gradual entry pool providing non-stop fun.

Once the more adventurous of the bunch have acclimated to the cooler water temperatures (ideal for a hot day), they can shift to the pool (or the twisty water slide for ages 7 & up), which is 4 1/2 feet deep and allows for safe swimming.

Because of the pool, this splash pad has an admission fee of $3.50 for adults and $1 for kids. There’s a 1-1 ratio of adults to kids in the pool for kids under 7 and everyone must have a bathing suit to enter.

Hours: Pool and water slide hours vary, so be sure to check the daily operations website for updates before you go. Currently, the hours are as follows: on weekdays 12 p.m. - 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. - 7 p.m.; on weekends 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.

1835 Stoner Ave.
West LA
Online: www.laparks.org

San Dimas: Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park

This sprawling park has everything—from fishing and hiking to bird watching and swimming. Physical distancing is a must and face coverings are required outside of water. Also, no water toys, tents, umbrellas, or sun shelters allowed in or out of the water. 

Hours: Thurs.-Sun. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

120 E. Via Verde Dr.
San Dimas
Online: parks.lacounty.gov/frank-g-bonelli-regional-park/

Glendale: Pacific Park Community Center

Update: At press time, the Pacific Park splash pad is still closed. We are expecting an update at the end of Jun. if it will reopen later this summer.

Hot time, summer in the valley! Take the littles to Pacific Park’s water play area for splash-pad shenanigans that will keep the whole family cool as a cucumber. Once everyone is sufficiently water-logged, dry off and head over to the Pacific Park library for some air-conditioned book browsing.

501 S. Pacific Ave.
Glendale
Online: glendaleaquatics.org

Lawndale: Alondra Community Regional Park

At 53 acres, and located halfway between Hawthorne and Torrance in Lawndale, this park features a duck pond, scooter paths, a playground, the occasional visit from an ice cream man, and a splash pad that is full of entertainment for the entire family. If you have a big kid in tow, they may even enjoy the skate park or the full-size swimming pool. But if parents are simply looking for easy (and free!) enjoyment, stick to the splash pad — it’s hours of soaking wet fun.

Hours: The splash pad is open from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. daily

3850 W. Manhattan Beach Blvd.
Lawndale
Online: parks.lacounty.gov

Los Angeles: Swimply

Don’t have a pool of your own, but really wish your family could experience a swim day in the privacy of a backyard? That’s where Swimply comes in–just think of it as the Airbnb of the pool world. Simply log in, enter the city where you’d like to go swimming, as well as the date and number of hours you’d like to use the pool. You’ll discover tons of fabulous private pools that homeowners are willing to rent out to you on an hourly basis. Once your reservation is confirmed, you communicate directly with the host to get the address, directions, wifi instructions and any other pertinent information you need. See, easy peasy!

Online: swimply.com

Waterparks & Other Ways to Cool Down

https://www.instagram.com/p/CPbKoazq67B/?hidecaption=true

Newport Beach: Newport Dunes Water Park

SoCal’s largest inflatable water park is totally worth a drive to Newport Beach. Kiddos will go bananas exploring over 13 giant inflatables, including places to whoosh down waterslides, scale ginormous icebergs and even spot dolphins, sea lions and sea turtles from atop an inflatable perch.

Good to Know: Children under 8 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who is at least 18 and over. For their safety, it is not recommended that children younger than 5 participate in the inflatable water park.

1131 Back Bay Dr.
Newport Beach
Online: newportdunes.com

Buena Park: Knott's Soak City

This 15-acre adventure park right next to Knott’s Berry Farm is the ultimate summer destination for pint-sized thrill seekers. With 23 speed, tube and body slides, a family raft ride, a wave pool, a lazy river and a three-story beach house with over 200 water guns, nozzles and sprayers, this is the one of the best picks to keep kids cool (and tired out) this summer.

Hours: 10 a.m. - 7 p.m., daily until Sept. when hours change to 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. daily until Sept. 6

8200 Beach Blvd.
Buena Park
Online: knotts.com/soak-city

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LA River Recreation Zones

The LA River Recreation Zones in Elysian Valley and Sepulveda Basin are open and ready for some kayaking fun! You may bring your own kayak or rent from one of several organizations in the area that provide rentals to the public. In addition to kayaking, the area is great for fishing, bird watching and walking.

Hours: Open sunrise to sunset, daily–conditions permitting

Online: lariverrecreation.org

–Jennifer O’Brien

featured image via iStock

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Get all your favorite fruits and veggies (think sweet red peppers, corn on the cob, crisp apples and more), while supporting local farms in Southern California. Read on for our roundup of the best farm boxes available for pickup and delivery in Los Angeles.

Coldwater Farm Hub

Launched by a husband and wife at the beginning of the pandemic (literally 11 days after LA initiated it's "Safer at Home" order), Coldwater Farm Hub connects local farmers to the community by providing curated and pre-packed farm boxes. The family-run farms they support don't use pesticides or chemicals.

How it Works: Orders may be placed in advance and can be picked up from the family’s farm tent in the Sherman Oaks neighborhood every Sun. between 7 a.m.–10 a.m. In addition to Farm Boxes, they also offer fresh nuts, breads, cheese and more, which can be purchased a la carte.

Price: The Mini Farm Box cost $30 and includes 4-6 vegetables/fruits and 3 baskets of strawberries or a dozen eggs. The standard Farm Box costs $45 and include one dozen eggs, along with fruits and veggies.  

Online: coldwaterfarmhub.com

County Line Harvest

Providing some of the freshest and most flavorful produce around, County Line Harvest runs its SoCal operations out of Thermal, California. Their CSA boxes are filled with a diverse array of certified organic, seasonal veggies that rotate weekly based on what’s available in the field.

How it Works: Customers can order directly through the County Line Harvest website and arrange to pick up their boxes curbside at County Line Harvest pop-ups around LA. You can also arrange for pickup or delivery through these local retailers

Price: The Family CSA Box is $40 and includes a mix of salad and cooking greens, baby roots, culinary herbs, and a rotating lineup of specialty seasonal crops. The Original CSA Farm Box is $25 and includes 12 freshly hand-harvested selections.

Online: countylineharvest.com

 

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Huarache Farms

Unlike other traditional CSA programs, Huarache Farms has launched CSA boxes with greater flexibility. Customers get to order items they want on the weeks they want them from a weekly menu available online. There is no minimum order amount, and offerings are based on what’s in season and current availability. 

How it Works: You can order your custom CSA box every Tues. starting at 11:30 a.m. Deliveries are available for certain areas but customers can also pick up boxes at the Atwater Village Farmers’ Market on Sun. between 10 a.m.–2 p.m.

Price: Items are priced individually. Delivery fees are free for all orders over $30, otherwise fees vary anywhere from $2–$5 depending on location.

Online: www.huarachefarms.com

 

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Flamingo Estates

In partnership with various farms in the area, LA-based Flamingo Estate offers choice selections of locally-grown organic seasonal fruits and vegetables. Enjoy a rotating selection of the week’s harvest, including heirloom lettuces, root vegetables and more. Along with the produce, you'll also get creative recipes (like smashed beets with herby ranch!) from the Chef at Flamingo Estate. But that's not all—don't miss out on the candles, facial mists, soaps and olive oils that also available for purchase from the famed estate. 

How it Works: Orders need to be placed by 9 p.m. on Wed. for Fri. delivery. Delivery is every Fri. from 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

Price: Purchases start at $25 for a medium box that feeds up to 2 people for the week. The large box costs $40 and feeds a family of 5 for a week. Choose the Organic Orchard Box for $45 and you'll receive a rotating selection of the best fruit from Windrose Farms or try the Organic Artisanal Mushroom Box for $25 that includes approximately 1lbs of Blue Oyster (Pleurotus Ostreatus), Pink Oyster (Pleurotus Djamor), or other surprises depending on the season.

Online: flamingoestate.la

Good Life Organics

Good Life Organics delivers organic, high-quality produce to customers with weekly deliveries from local farmers. They also donate 5 percent back from every box to local participating schools.

How it Works: Depending on your needs, you can choose weekly or every-other-week boxes. The subscription includes 5-12 types of seasonal foods and varies week-to-week but you can catch a preview of what's coming via this link. Order by Wed. by 5 p.m. to make this week's selection. You can add on avocados, carrots, extra fruit and fresh herbs to your box. There are delivery and pick-up locations all around town.

Price: A Half Box includes 8-12 varieties of fruits and veggies for $29.50 while the Family Box costs $51.50 includes 12-19 varieties of the good-for-you produce. They also have specialty boxes including the Fruit Lovers for $51.50 and their Snack Size for $18.95 which is perfect for school lunches and you guessed it, snacks.

Online: goodlifeorganics.org

Farm Fresh to You

Farm Fresh to You partners with local farms and artisans to deliver the season’s best mix of 100% certified organic produce and specialty farm products right to your door. Each box comes with delish recipes, tips on keeping produce fresh and the option to customize your order online. There’s even an option to donate a box to a local food bank in need.

How it Works: Choose your style of box, make any changes or customize your selections, add-on hand-crafted jams, pasture-raised eggs and artisanal olive oil if you would like, and then order for delivery. You can change your subscription frequency, pausing weeks you don't need it or are away on vacation, or the size box you would like.

Price: The Mixed Fruit & Veggie Box is $27.50 up to $61 for 6-8 people; a traditional CSA Box is $35-$49 while their Snack Pack starts at $38 for 5 people.

Online: farmfreshtoyou.com

Underwood Family Farms

It’s no doubt your family has visited Underwood Family Farms before or perhaps your kids have taken a field trip there. Not only is it an idyllic spot to escape from city life, it’s also a working farm that offers farm produce boxes for pick-up and delivery. Box contents change every two weeks but you can view what you'll be receiving on the Healthy Harvest Box page.

How it Works: Order online at least 48 hours in advance to reserve your CSA box. 

Price: Healthy Harvest Boxes are $45 each and can be picked up at the Moorpark or Somis locations, or can be shipped directly to your home via FedEx.

Online: underwoodfamilyfarms.com

South Central Farmers' Cooperative

The South Central Farmers’ Cooperative is a grassroots economic development of the South Central Farmers’ Health & Education Fund, committed to empowering local communities and giving community members access to high quality organic produce all from a single farm in Bakersfield.

How it Works: Choose from one time, monthly or yearly box subscriptions. Orders are available for home delivery on Sun. in the LA area or may be picked up at a various locations from Culver City to DTLA. Orders must be placed by 9 p.m. on Fri. to be fulfilled by the following Sun.

Price: The boxes are offered on a sliding scale meaning each item has two different prices. They encourage subscribers to purchase at the highest level they can afford to help sustain the farm. Full-size and mini CSA boxes are available with one-time Mini Boxes starting at $17 (or $19 if you can afford it). 

Online: scfcoop.southcentralfarmers.com

 

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Tamai Family Farms

Based out of Oxnard for over 50 years, Tamai Family Farms provides local and sustainable produce at affordable prices for everyone. 

How it Works: Order your box at least 36 hours in advance and add-on a smorgasbord of fruits, veggies, and herbs. Delivery as well as pick-up options at various participating farmer's markets. 

Price: A large Family Box is $25 and includes Swiss chard, kale, romaine, parsley, cauliflower, broccoli, and 3 pack of strawberries and goes up to $65 for Gloria’s Bag, which includes a bounty of fruits, veggies, and herbs packed in a reusable bag. 

Online: tamaifamilyfarms.com

–Jennifer O’Brien & Kim Orchen Cooper with Kameron DeWulf & Andie Huber

feature image Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash

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5 Fab Fall Weekend Getaways from LA

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Summer is the perfect time to hit the pool, but if you don’t have one of your own–not to worry! We’ve rounded up some fabulous Airbnbs near LA and San Diego with swim-worthy pools that will make your family vacation one for the memory books! Whether you can afford the time and go on a little road trip or want an Airbnb rental nearby, check out our list of fabulous southern California vacation rentals with the coolest pools.

photo: Airbnb

West Hollywood

This Moroccan hideaway in the heart of West Hollywood will make your family feel as if they’ve been transported to an exotic land. With an infinity-edge pool and spa, billowing palm trees and dramatic canopy beds next to the water, this vacation rental is truly an oasis in the middle of the urban jungle.

Sleeps: 8
Cost: $850/night
Online: airbnb.com

Mid City

When you are looking and googling for an "Airbnb near me" look no further than this 1919 cozy craftsman cottage located in Mid City. The house is stylishly decorated and appointed with oodles of amenities. The pool area features a lovely back garden and fire pit for making s’mores while the sun goes down.

Sleeps: 4
Cost: $282/night
Online: airbnb.com

photo: Airbnb

Mulholland Corridor

There are views. Then, there are VIEWS! This gorgeous home, high in the hills of the Mullholland Corridor, will take your breath away. The outdoor area featuring a solar heated pool and spa and plenty of places to lounge overlooks the lights of the city and mountains.

Sleeps: 6
Cost: $734/night
Online: airbnb.com

photo: Airbnb

Hollywood

Ever dreamed of staying in a home once owned by film actress Jean Harlow, as well as former President Ronald Reagan? This is your chance! This stunning, historical Hollywood home known as “Whitley Heights” is the quintessential glam getaway with a fascinating past. The heated infinity pool and spa will delight kiddos, and grown-ups will enjoy having cocktails on the veranda while admiring beautiful views of the city.

Sleeps: 8
Cost: $795/night
Online: airbnb.com

photo: Airbnb

Sherman Oaks

This Cape Cod stunner located in Sherman Oaks is an entertainer’s paradise with a gorgeous chef’s kitchen and den overlooking the pool area. The pool and jacuzzi can be heated upon request and there are plenty of places to lounge outside surrounded by lush greenery.

Sleeps: 16
Cost: $780/night
Online: airbnb.com

Anaheim

Just a 9-minute drive from Disneyland, this Anaheim abode is tailor made for families and Disney fanatics alike. With a heated pool and spa area decorated with Disney characters and a game room filled with arcade machines, foosball, a ping pong table, basketball shooter and even a free claw machine, this is pretty much kid heaven.

Sleeps: 8
Cost: $520/night
Online: airbnb.com

RELATED: 16 Little-Known Secrets of Disneyland Resort

photo: Airbnb

Buena Park

Just minutes from Knott’s Berry Farm, South Coast Plaza and Disneyland, this two-story home is a family getaway dream. With a heatable saltwater pool and hot tub, a rock slide, waterfall, spacious BBQ area, and even a putting green, you’ll have everything you could ever need to keep littles entertained this summer.

Sleeps: 14
Cost: $468/night
Online: airbnb.com

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photo: Airbnb

Escondido

The lovely and extremely spacious home in Escondido has tons of amenities for all ages. With a beautiful pool, outdoor BBQ area, fire pit, a basketball court, air hockey, basketball arcade and pool table, everyone in your brood will have something fun to do.

Sleeps: 16
Cost: $507/night
Online: airbnb.com

photo: Airbnb

San Diego

Appropriately described as a “lush lagoon oasis,” this San Diego home features a beautiful pool, hot tub and waterfall. And when you’re done swimming, you’ll definitely want to check out the massive observation deck where you can soak in unobstructed views of downtown San Diego, the Harbor and Point Loma. This one’s definitely worth the road trip!

Sleeps: 8
Cost: $467/night
Online: airbnb.com

RELATED: 8 Beautiful San Diego Nature Preserves to Explore with Your Kids

photo: Airbnb

San Diego

This San Diego home will make you feel like you're staying at a swanky boutique hotel in Palm Springs. With a heated pool, spa and cozy cabana area, this place is exactly what California vacation rentals are about—the epitome of relaxation.

Sleeps: 5
Cost: $557/night
Online: airbnb.com

feature image via iStock

—Jennifer O’Brien

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Where to Shop, Eat & Play in Studio City

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Over the hill and far removed from the hectic (and sometimes cuckoo pace of Hollywood) is Studio City. Tucked between Sherman Oaks, North Hollywood and the Cahuenga Pass, Studio City has become a popular spot for parents to raise their growing broods thanks to the easy walkability, incredible restaurants and shops, plus some top-rated schools. It’s no wonder so many families call it home! Whether you’re a resident or just a valley visitor for the day, scroll below for the best things to do in Studio City—plus some exciting new developments coming this summer.

Where to Shop

 

Studio City Farmers Market

Every Sun. rain or shine, Angelenos flock to the Studio City Farmers Market. Featuring locally grown produce, artisan foods and crafts, this is the place to be and what’s even better is that profits are given directly back to the community. During your visit, you’ll find everything from grass-fed beef and fresh seafood to prepared foods, artisan breads, olive oils, honeys, and of course, colorful fruits and veggies.

Littles will dig the pony rides, petting zoo, train rides and bouncy slide. To keep things COVID-safe, the market currently has just one entrance on Laurel Canyon with an exit at Radford. This market to be a hotspot for celeb spotting as well—though kids may only be impressed if it's Waffles + Mochi.

Hours: Sun. 8 a.m.-2 p.m.

Studio City Farmers Market
2052 Ventura Pl.
Studio City

Online: studiocityfarmersmarket.com

More Place to Shop around Studio City

  • Classic Toys: This retro-esque toy shop has all the toys you loved as a kid like pinwheels, kaleidoscopes, pick-up sticks, jacks, marbles, PEZ dispensers, and so much more. Great for presents for your kids, your kid's bestie, and who are we kidding, a piece of nostalgia for yourself as well. 
  • Kit Kraft: For crafts, supplies and all things DIY, head to Kit Kraft—a family-run business that has been located on Ventura Blvd. since 1954. PS: Check out their fun tutorials on sand art, wire wall art and more.

Where to Eat

Aroma Coffee & Tea Co.

This all-day dining hotspot on Tujunga has a been a local favorite for over 20 years. Once a private bungalow, it’s no wonder Aroma captures the charm and warmth of dining at someone’s home. Grab a seat on the wraparound patio and listen to the soothing sounds trickling fountains as you enjoy a delicious meal or just grab a cappuccino on your way out. At night, the space become even more magical with twinkling fairy lights abound, so it pays to visit for dinner as well.

Aroma Coffee & Tea Co.
4360 Tujunga Ave.
Studio City

Online: aromacoffeeandtea.com

McConnell's Fine Ice Creams

Luckily, you no longer have to trek to Santa Barbara for a double scoop of McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams. With an adorable shop now in Studio City, locals can enjoy what folks in Santa Barbara have known for over 70 years—the taste of delicious ice cream that’s sustainable, organic and what some have deemed the “best ice cream in the world.” The menu features a fantastic array of flavors ranging from the usual suspects of mint chip and salted caramel chip to limited releases like peanut butter and jelly sando or honey and cornbread cookies.

McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream
12073 Ventura Pl.
Studio City

Online: mcconnells.com

Cocoa & Candy

If your sweet tooth leans more in the candy direction, have we got a place for you. Cocoa & Candy in Tujunga Village is a boutique candy shop filled with drinking chocolate, carefully curated candy, as well as old family favorites (hello, Everlasting Gobstoppers!). They have just about every kind of candy you can imagine with many imported, harder-to-find options as well. It’s a great shop to grab a unique gift for others or to pick up a little something for yourself. Go ahead…we won’t tell.

Cocoa & Candy
4375 ½ Tujunga Ave.
Studio City

Online: cocoaandcandy.square.site

More Places to Eat around Studio City

Grabbing breakfast, lunch or dinner is a no-brainer at any of these favorite kid-friendly dining hotspots. 

  • Granville Cafe: Family-friendly spot dishing out American comfort food that's made from scratch. Don't miss out on the kid's menu called, "Little Villager Menu"—a steal for $7.50.
  • Carney's Express Limited: In addition to having some of the best hot dogs in town, Carney's serves up epic burgers and fries, all in a vintage railcar.
  • Your Good Neighbor Restaurant: All-day breakfast and lunch are always a win-win for dining with kids and this could very well become your weekend go-to spot. Make sure to save room for dessert! 
  • Casa Vega: This iconic Mexican dining spot is always fun for a special occasion for kids and adults alike. 
  • Sharkey's Woodfire Grill: For modern Mexican food, we can't get enough Sharkey's. Pick up their "Family Meals"—Fajita Taco Fiesta for 4—or order from their kid's menu. Either way, we love their use of natural and organic ingredients, resulting in some of the tastiest meals around. 

Where to Play

Fryman Canyon Park

Fryman Canyon Park is a favorite hiking spot of Studio City residents featuring 122 acres of breathtaking views and a fitness course. There’s also easy access to the Betty B. Dearing Mountain Trail—a 3-mile loop that connects to Wilacre Park, Franklin Canyon and Coldwater Canyon Park. At an elevation of 450 feet, you’ll definitely get some stunning valley views that are worth the climb. Parking is available in the trailhead lot, but usually gets crowded on weekends so be sure to arrive early.

Fryman Canyon Park
8401 Mullholland Dr.
Studio City

Online: mrca.ca.gov/parks/park-listing/fryman-canyon-park/

Weddington Golf & Tennis

Whether you have budding tennis players or golfers in your abode, Weddington Golf & Tennis is one of the best places in the valley to play both. Weddington Golf is lovely a 9-hole, par 27 course that also features a 25-stall driving range, practice putting green and chipping practice area. Weddington Tennis offers private lessons to players of all ages and is open to the public with 16 courts for rent, 7 days a week. The facility can also help set you up with tennis coaches who can help you level up your game.

Weddington Golf & Tennis
4141 Whitsett Ave.
Studio City

Online: weddingtongolfandtennis.com

More Places to Play around Studio City

Looking for more things to do in Studio City? We also love:

  • We Rock the Spectrum: An all-ages play space, that also offers fun classes, special school's out sessions, and more. 
  • Beeman Park: A large playground with swings, an outdoor mini-gym to work up a sweat, plus open grassy fields make this spot a perfect pit-stop during the day.
  • iFly Hollywood: Have a burgeoning daredevil on your hands? Then the sky's the limit (sort of) with this indoor skydiving space located at Universal CityWalk.  
  • Universal Studios: Check out the magic of Hollywood (and Butterbeer) by spending the day at this unforgettable theme park. 
  • PINZ Bowling Center: Nothing says good, retro fun like a bowling ally that's been serving up strikes since 1950.
  • Meet up with the Treepeople for epic moonlit walks.
  • LA River Walk: Take a stroll along the LA River's Valleyheart Greenway and check out the Great Toad Gate, Butterfly Bench and Rattlesnake Wall—all designed by 4th & 5th-grade students.
  • Get a day pass and take a dip at the pool at The Sportsmen's Lodge Hotel.
  • The Coop Los Angeles: This modern play and party space gives the kids a fun environment to play while you enjoy free wifi and cappuccinos. 
  • The Playroom: Stay tuned as this go-to play and party space is relocating and is planning some new and exciting additions.
  • Genius Kids Club: This cool spot offers creative arts and crafts classes as well as science classes for kids ages 10 months to 10 years old.
 
 

New Developments

While we already can't get enough of The Sportsmen's Lodge Hotel for their resort pool day passes, when you are ready to eat and shop, head to the area's newest development at the corner of Ventura Blvd. and Coldwater Canyon to visit The Shops at Sportsmen’s Lodge. Here you'll find some favorite Red Tricycle spots like Civil Coffee, Roberta’s Pizza (here's why we love this pizza spot), SALT Optics, Tocaya, Tuesday’s Sweet Shoppe, Ushi Ushi, cult-worthy ice cream maker Van Leeuwen, and Vuori. Expected to open this summer. 

 

—Jennifer O’Brien

featured image: istock

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Where to Pick Strawberries Near LA

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Strawberry-picking season has officially begun in Los Angeles (the season runs from Mar. through Jun.) so it’s time to don your sun hat and make delicious plans for all the juicy fruit you and the kids will be hauling home. Read below to find the best places to pick strawberries near LA, or if you aren’t into doing the picking yourself and just want to pick-up the freshest berries, we’ve got you covered too.

Underwood Family Farms

Underwood Family Farms is the place to go if you are looking for more than strawberry-picking fun. Wagon rides, an animal center, a retail shop filled with goodies like honey and fresh cut flowers, seasonal events, plus the ability to pick some seasonal vegetables along with the sweet stuff makes this destination a fun, full-day outing for most families. Pull wagons (first come, first served) are available to transport your haul from the fields. 

Pro Tip: Check their Instagram page for strawberry picking updates (the fields were recently closed due to cooler temperatures and to allow more fruit to ripen). 

Hours: Open daily from 9a.m. - 6p.m. The farm may limit admissions at any time to maintain safe social distancing between patrons.
Cost: Weekdays, $6 per person; Weekends, $8; Special pricing on certain weekends. Kids under 2 are free.

Moorpark & Somis Locations
Online: underwoodfamilyfarms.com

Tanaka Farms

Since 1940, Tanaka Farms has been a real working farm and has produced some of the sweetest strawberries in SoCal. This year, they are offering strawberry picking as part of their u-pick wagon rides that includes: a ride around the farm, the chance to pick strawberries plus one veggie or, if strawberries aren't available at the time of your arrival, they'll substitute another vegetable or two depending on crop availability, plus a walk through their education exhibition. If your heart is set on strawberries, know that you can always pick up some pre-harvested strawberries (along with other yummy treats like jams and nuts) from the drive-thru produce market stand that is open daily.

Pro Tip: Reservations are required—no walk-ups or on-site registration. Check their Instagram page for the latest updates on crop availability.

Hours: Wagon rides are available 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.; The Drive-Thru Produce Market Stand is open daily from 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Cost: $20 per person; kids under 2 are free.

Online: tanakafarms.com

Kenny's Strawberry Farm

For the past 10 years, Kenny's has been delivering glorious strawberries to SoCal. Open by reservation this year, don't forget to save time and space in your belly for a visit to Kenny's Farm Kitchen for ice cream bars made by DOH Creamery. 

Pro Tip: Check their Instagram page for the latest updates.

Hours: 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Cost: $16 for a large bucket; $7 for a small bucket

953 Rainbow Valley Blvd.
Fallbrook, CA
Online: kennysstrawberryfarm.com

Carlsbad Strawberry Company

If you're up for a drive, Carlsbad has the perfect climate for growing some of the juiciest strawberries around. The Carlsbad Strawberry Company's u-pick fields are now open now and offer a fun and safe way to get out of the house with your family for the day. In addition to picking your own, they also have a sunflower maze and an open air produce market. 

Pro Tip: While no advanced reservations are required, availability is not guaranteed. Check their Instagram page for the latest updates.

Hours: Fields are open daily from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. at 1050 Cannon Rd. only. Their strawberry stands are also open from 9a.m.–4 p.m., every day.
Cost: $10 admits 1 person and you get 1 small bucket. If you simply want to take pictures or wander the fields without picking, tickets are $5. Kids under 5 are free.

Online: carlsbadstrawberrycompany.com

Pick-Up Strawberries

Terry Berries: Everyone can agree that just-off-the-vine strawberries taste the best but if you can't pick them yourself, swing by these locations for harvested-for-you berries. Terry's Berries, an offshoot of Terry's Farm, is located in Ventura, CA has been doling out strawberries since 2003. To stay up-to-date with availability, join their newsletter and follow their Instagram page.

Hours: 11:00 a.m.–5:30 p.m. (or until sold out); closed Wed. & Sun.

Ventura, CA
Online: terrysberries.com

Thacker Berry Farms: Serving California for over 25 years, this 5-star reviewed strawberry stand has some passionate fans, claiming the juiciest strawberries around. With 10 locations in and around Los Angeles County and North Orange County, you are sure to be close to one of their stands for a quick pick-up. 

Hours: 10 a.m–5:00 p.m.; closed Sun.

Various Locations
Online: thackerberryfarms.com

feature image courtesy of Minh B. via Yelp

–Jennifer O’Brien & Andie Huber

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National Parks to Visit near Los Angeles

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In honor of National Parks Week, we’re celebrating all the amazing national parks in California just a short drive—and in one case, a boat ride—away from LA (plus some cozy cabins to stay in case you want to extend your trip). From Joshua Tree to Yosemite National Park, there aren’t better places to lace up those hiking boots, get outside, and explore these national treasures provided by mother nature. Check out the list below and be prepared to be blown away by the bucket-worthy beauty just a few hours outside our door.

Joshua Tree National Park

Anyone who’s been to Joshua Tree National Park will tell you it’s simply magical. Located about 2.5 hours east of LA, this beloved desert hotspot casts it spell on visitors every year as they enjoy world class hiking and rock climbing in a tranquil desert landscape filled with giant boulders and twisty, alien-like Joshua trees. For a full day of fun, plan to arrive early to snag parking and bring lots of water and sunscreen. Kiddos will love staying for the park’s mind-blowing sunsets and incredible stargazing later on.

Airbnb Nearby: The Joshua Tree National Park entrance is only a 15 min. drive from this family-friendly oasis in the desert. With 3 bedrooms (one of which has two single beds), there’s plenty of room for the whole brood to spread out and relax. The backyard is perfect for a BBQ and kiddos can soak in the starlit desert sky from the hot tub.

Channel Islands National Park

Channel Islands National Park is a 2-hour drive from LA and then a 1-3 hour ferry ride via Island Packers (the official boat Concessionaire for the Channel Islands National Park), departing regularly from Ventura and Channel Islands Harbors in Ventura and Oxnard, CA. A chain of five islands–Santa Cruz, Anacapa, Santa Rosa, Santa Barbara and San Miguel–make up this unspoiled, primitive destination that’s begging to be explored by adventurous families. All five are filled with breathtaking scenery, but Santa Cruz tends to be the most popular with family-friendly activities like whale watching, hiking and kayaking through mysterious sea caves. Be sure to bring plenty of food and water for your trip as there are no concessions available on any of the islands.

Airbnb Nearby: There are no Airbnbs on any of the Channel Islands, but camping is welcome. If you’re heading back to land after a day of long day exploration, this adorable house in downtown Santa Barbara is just the ticket. It sleeps up to six guests, offers a chef’s kitchen, a sunny backyard and is within walking distance of State Street’s vibrant eateries and shops.

Cabrillo National Monument

Located in San Diego, the Cabrillo National Monument commemorates the 1542 landing of the first European expedition to explore the west coast of the United States. This amazing SoCal destination not only offers kids an important history lesson, but also gives them a swell opportunity to see migrating grey whales; tide pools filled with octopuses, crabs and bat stars; stunning views of San Diego and Tijuana; and gives them a chance to climb to the top tower to the Old Point Loma Lighthouse.

Airbnb Nearby: A short drive from the Cabrillio National Monument, this lovely ocean beach getaway is perfect for a larger family with 3 bedrooms (including 4 bunk beds). Enjoy dinners on the rooftop deck with beautiful views of the surrounding neighborhood and Pacific Ocean.

Death Valley National Park

Known for being the hottest and driest place in North America, Death Valley National Park is an unexpected gem for a family vacation. During the warmer months, your desert adventures will be much more comfortable if you go before noon or wait until after sunset. Littles will love exploring the beautiful canyons surrounded by the glow of the mountains. But the real draw here is Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America, where you can walk out onto the salt flats. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind experience. And die-hard Stars Wars fans can “visit Tatooine” by checking out park locales like Artist’s Palette, Golden Canyon and the Mesquite Sand Dunes where some of the most iconic scenes were shot for Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.

Airbnb Nearby: Just 1 mile from Death Valley National Park, this newly remodeled bungalow can comfortably fit up to six people. Located inside a lovely RV park and campground, this property features a mineral springs swimming pool and several trails for viewing ponds and local habitat.

Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument

If you’re heading to Palm Desert in the near future, the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument should be added to your list. We suggest starting off your excursion with a stop by the visitor’s center to grab a map of hiking trails in the area. Many are moderate level hikes that feature eye-popping vista views, gorgeous wildflowers and magnificent birds that kiddos will love. The San Jacinto Mountains are also home to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway which transports guests by from the desert floor up 6,000 feet to alpine forests in less than 15 minutes.

Airbnb Nearby: Less than 20 minutes away from the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, this 3-bedroom Palm Desert hideaway is within walking diatnce to El Paseo and numerous mountain biking trails. The spacious backyard features a shimmering pool, basketball area and plenty of room to lounge and relax in the desert air.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Side by side just east of Fresno, are Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks–homes to the world’s largest trees. An absolute must on your national park in California list, you’ll feel as though you’ve entered a land only dreamed about in fairytales. At Sequoia, families can visit The General Sherman–a 275 ft. tall redwood tree that’s the biggest in the world. The Congress Trail, Big Trees Trail and Moro Rock are super popular with tourists here as well. At Kings Canyon, be sure to check out Grant Grove–a special grove with huge sequoias grouped in a 90-acre area. It's truly one of the most extraordinary places on earth.

Airbnb Nearby: Set on a picturesque mountainside, less than three miles from the entrance to Sequoia National Park, this brand new home accommodates 4 guests and features a stunning wraparound deck with unobstructed views. In the mornings, sip coffee on the deck while watching deer frolic. In the evenings, sip cocktails and make s’mores around the cozy firepit.

Pinnacles National Park

If you’ve ever wanted a chance to see North America’s largest bird, the California Condor, then Pinnacles National Park in Central California is the place to do it. Take a scenic hike along Condor Gulch and High Peaks Trail and keep your eyes to the sky above–you just might spot one of these magnificent creatures. Junior spelunkers will also enjoy exploring talus caves like Bear Gulch Cave and Balconies Cave if they’re open during your visit.

Airbnb Nearby: Been dreaming of staying on a 1,000-acre working ranch? We know you have and The Tumbleweed Hotel is your opportunity! With 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, kids will love scampering around the property while enjoying the hiking trails, tennis courts, basketball courts and visiting with the farms animals, including an adorable miniature horse named Fritz.

Muir Woods National Monument

Home to a cathedral of gorgeous redwood trees that are 250 ft. tall and are between 400-800 years old, Muir Woods National Monument is a very special place that every family should experience. There are six miles of trails to explore and most hikes are generally short–making it an easy trek for little feet. But it’s the serene atmosphere here that will leave you with a complete feeling of zen–that is until you get back your car with the  kids.

Airbnb Nearby: A tranquil forest retreat if we’ve ever seen one, this gorgeous home in Mill Valley is just minutes from Muir Woods National Monument and features 2 bedrooms and a cozy loft made for adventurous kiddos. Surrounded by a lush forest landscape and offering breathtaking views of the valley and Bay, this vacation paradise is sure to rejuvenate the soul.

Yosemite National Park

Located in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, Yosemite National Park welcomes millions of visitors each year who come to celebrate the park's iconic beauty. There are so many bucket list things to see–whether it’s the park’s majestic waterfalls, gigantic peaks, or intriguing wildlife like Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep. Half Dome, El Capitan, Horsetail Fall, Glacier Point and Tunnel View should be on your to do list as well. Pint-sized daredevils will also dig the opportunity to go ziplining and river rafting.

Airbnb Nearby: A quick 20-minute drive to the Yosemite Valley floor, this light-filled, airy home is a perfect place to kick up your feet and relax during your visit to Yosemite National Park. Vaulted ceilings, a modern kitchen and a lovely deck help make your stay feel like a true vacation.

—Jennifer O’Brien

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5 Best Fall Getaways from LA

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Sure, LA weather is pretty perfect this time of year, but it doesn’t exactly scream fall with 80-degree temps and palm trees on every corner. If you’re looking to experience some bona fide sweater weather (and could use a change of scenery), here are five weekend getaways from Los Angeles that are perfect for this time of year. Read on for all the details, including the latest updates on Covid-related safety measures.

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Big Bear Lake

Drive Time: Big Bear Lake is only 90 miles from LA, but the last 31 miles of the drive are along a 2-lane, winding mountain road, which means your journey will take you about 2.5-3 hours.

Why We Love It: With Big Bear’s “Falltacular” in full swing, it’s the perfect time for families to soak in the crimson, orange and golden hued leaves which it’s famous for this time of year. Enjoy tons of exciting (and socially distanced) outdoor adventures like hiking, mountain biking, Segway tours, and even riding Snow Summit’s Scenic Sky Chair with breathtaking panoramic views of Big Bear Lake and the North Shore ridgeline. If horses are more your giddy-up, check out the Baldwin Lake Stables where you can book different types of tours around the valley’s east end. Another swell way to take in the gorgeous fall foliage is from the water. Rent a kayak, paddle board, canoe or book one of the magnificent sailing experiences led by certified captains around Big Bear’s beautiful shorelines and hidden coves.

While you’re in town, be sure to stop by the Gold Rush Mining Co. where littles can pan for gems and treasures of their very own. Or maybe you have pint-sized thrill seekers who’d jump at the chance to zip down the Alpine Slide, ride the Mineshaft Coaster or take a whirl around the track on high-speed go-karts at Big Bear Speedway.

Most of Big Bear’s restaurants are open with some offering outdoor dining options or take-out and delivery for visitors. We say take a night off from cooking and support these great local businesses which could really use the help right now.

Where to Stay: There are cabin rentals galore—most of which are taking extra safety and cleaning precautions during this time, as well as the spacing out of guests. Please doublecheck with the property before booking to ensure they have indeed reopened. The Lodge at Big Bear Lake is also open to visitors and features reasonably priced rooms and walkability to the Village.

Tips: To avoid overcrowding on hiking trails and biking trails, Big Bear asks visitors to consider an earlier start time in the day. 

Big Bear visitors are also required to wear face masks in all common areas, indoor public spaces and anywhere social distancing cannot be practiced.

Big Bear Lake
Online: bigbear.com

 

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Solvang

Drive Time: Approximately 40 miles past Santa Barbara, the road trip to Solvang takes around 2.5-3 hours.

Why We Love it:
 Known as the Danish Capital of America, Solvang oozes charm from every hygge-filled pore. From delightful windmills and to-die-for pastry shops to adorable playgrounds and the Hans Christian Andersen Museum (now open with restrictions), boredom is not an option. The whole family can pedal around on four-wheel Surrey bikes (rental places have special cleaning protocols in place) or hop aboard a horse-drawn trolley for a tour and some history of this special little town. Be sure to stop by Ostrichland USA for quality outdoor time with some feathered friends, take a peek at Hanson’s Clock Shop for cuckoo clocks galore, sample one of Solvang's famous aebelskivers (yum!), and check out the family-friendly outdoor patio at Dana V. Wines Tasting Room for a little vino – yep, we’ve got your back, parents.

Local restaurants have expanded their outdoor seating to accommodate guests and offer take-out and delivery services as well during this time.

Where: to Stay: The majority of Solvang’s hotels and inns are open to the public and have instituted strict cleaning and safety protocols, but please double check availability ahead of time. For a true Danish experience, we highly recommend checking out The Landsby. The atmosphere is beyond welcoming and the outdoor fire pits are perfectly cozy (and socially distanced) for gathering with your family on crisp fall nights. Plus, its central location makes it easy to walk to just about anywhere. The Atterdag Inn is another great option at almost half the cost of The Landsby. Though not quite as charming, it’s perfectly comfy and comes complete with a free continental breakfast at a local Danish bakery.

Several apartments and private homes are also available for rent around the surrounding Solvang area through booking sites like VRBO and Airbnb.

Tips: If your kiddos are prone to motion sickness, DO NOT take the winding San Marcos Pass shortcut (aka State Route 154), even if your GPS is advising you otherwise. You’ll thank us later.

Face coverings are required while out in public and especially anywhere indoors.

Solvang
Online: cityofsolvang.com

 

 

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Catalina Island

Drive & Ferry Time: First, you’ll need to make the drive from LA to the Long Beach Downtown Landing where you’ll board a ferry to Catalina Island. Drive time usually comes in around 30 minutes and the ferry from Long Beach to Avalon takes about an hour. You may also catch the ferry from San Pedro if you prefer, but they only run a couple a day from that location. The ferry company, Catalina Express, has put robust safety and cleaning protocols in place to help its passengers stay well during their voyage.

 

Why We Love it: Smaller crowds, a slower pace and lower hotel rates make fall the perfect time to visit Catalina Island. For the health of its visitors, the island has also made a new KeepWell CommitmentÔ with enhanced cleaning, hygiene and safety protocols across all businesses. Lobbies and public spaces have been thoughtfully rearranged to dissuade crowding and help people social distance. If you feel like taking a dip, Catalina’s stunning ocean waters are still warm this time of year for swimming or snorkeling, and you might even spot divers on the hunt during lobster season that kicks off in October. Other kid-friendly highlights include eco tours to see the famed bison who roam the island, a zipline 500 feet above Descanso Canyon, glass-bottom boat tours that explore the marine life surrounding the island, submarine tours and a stop at the award-winning Catalina Island Miniature Golf Course for some friendly putting competition. The best part is you don’t need a car – pretty much everything is within walking distance or can be reached by taxi, trolley, golf cart or bike rental. Due to social distancing guidelines, most activities and tours require advanced reservations, so be sure to contact the business you’re using ahead of time.

Most local restaurants are now offering outdoor and beach dining or take out. Feel free to utilize their call ahead ordering when available.

Where to Stay: We’re big fans of the beachside Pavilion Hotel since it’s one of the rare places on the island where you can snag a room with two queen beds. It also has a delightful fire pit area and is conveniently located just fourteen steps from the sand.

Tip: Just beyond the famous Catalina Casino, be sure to check out one of the last private beaches in California that’s open to the public – Descanso Beach. Because it’s private, adults are legally allowed to enjoy a cocktail (or two) on the beach! Cheers!

Catalina Island
Online: visitcatalinaisland.com

Julian

Drive Time: Julian is located about 116 miles southeast of LA, which translates to a 2.5 hour drive with the kiddos – but that’s what the license plate game is for, right?

Why We Love it: A visit to the quaint mining town of Julian really makes it feel like autumn. Known for its apple orchards, outstanding homemade apple pies be sure to grab a slice of the incredible apple pie Julian is so well known for. Lucky for you, there are numerous bakeries and restaurants in town to choose from – although the caramel Dutch apple pie at Julian’s Pie Company is a definite fave. Sadly, the 2020 apple picking season has officially ended with crops having been picked over already, but never fear, there are plenty of other groovy things to do around town. For kiddos who love mining, stop by the Julian Mining Company for some gold panning, gem sluicing and tomahawk throwing fun. Or stop by the Oasis Camel Dairy for a private tour where your families can feed camels and mini sheep, as well as take camel rides for an additional fee. There are also plenty of gorgeous parks to lay down a picnic blanket and enjoy lunch with your brood.

Where to Stay: Founded in 1897, The Julian Gold Rush Hotel is the oldest continuously operating hotel in Southern California and makes you feel as though you’ve hopped in a time machine back to the olden days. With no TVs (gasp!), antique furniture and complimentary two-course breakfast in their outdoor courtyard, your family will feel unplugged and reconnected in no time. If you’d like something a little more to yourselves, there are many cabins and cottages for rent in the area as well.

Julian
Online: visitjulian.com

 

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Idyllwild

Drive Time: Idyllwild is 108 miles from Los Angeles with a little over 2 hours of quality car time with your precious little angels.

Why We Love it: Idyllwild is an adorably artsy town nestled in the San Jacinto Mountains. Filled with pine trees, fresh air, art galleries and stunning wildlife, there’s plenty of fun to be had. From fishing at Lake Fulmore to exploring the kid-friendly hiking trails at Mount San Jacinto State Park, Taquitz Peak and Devil’s Slide Trail, you’ll work up quite an appetite for dinner. And speaking of dinner, Idyllwild is filled with lots of lovely little restaurants that are featuring socially distanced patio seating or are offering take out. Two of our favorites are the Mile High Café and La Casita.

Where to Stay: The Quiet Creek Inn is a tranquil respite featuring quaint individual cabins that can fit the entire family. Located along the river and within walking distance to eateries and great shopping, it’s one of our favorite places to stay when visiting Idyllwild. All cabins feature fireplaces, private decks and kitchenettes. The inn has also established enhanced cleaning and safety protocols during this time to make guests feel right at home during their stay.

Tip: Idyllwild’s mayor is Golden Retriever named Max II. You read that right. Years ago, the town held a fundraiser that allowed people to run their pets as candidates for mayor. Charging $1 per vote, all proceeds went to the non-profit organization, Idyllwild Animal Rescue Friends (ARF). Max won and when he later passed away and Max II took over in his place. Max II is in town daily visiting with his constituents, but visitors can usually call and arrange a personalized meet-up if they so desire.

Idyllwild
Online: idyllwildchamber.com

–Jennifer O’Brien

featured photo: Harold Litwiler via flickr

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Where to Find the Best Birthday Cakes & Treats in LA

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Birthday parties may look and feel a bit different these days, but that’s no reason to miss out on the very best part: the cake! The city’s best bakeries are ready to make your kiddo’s celebration as special as ever with delicious flavors, almost-too-pretty to eat designs and health protocols in place to keep customers and employees safe. Plus, buying one of these creations is a great way to help support local businesses. So we say, “Let them eat cake!”

 

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Sweet Stacks Cakery

If you’re looking to support an amazing black-owned business that creates mind-blowing cakes, look no further than Sweet Stacks Cakery in Rancho Cucamonga. Celeb cake designer and owner, Dejenia Boyd, is a self-taught master at creating whimsical cakes that practically come to life on the table. All cakes are made from scratch in classic flavors, as well as custom new flavors upon request.

Tip: Sweet Stacks Cakery also offers kids cake making classes from time to time, so be sure to inquire if you're interested.

Sweet Stacks Cakery
Online: sweetstackscakery.com

 

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Top Tier Treats

For super artistic birthday cakes made from scratch, look no further than Top Tier Treats (formerly known as Jamaica’s Cakes with the same owners).  Using the highest quality ingredients, Top Tier never shortcuts their customers by using shortening or freezing cakes ahead of time. The name of the game here is fresh, and almost any idea or request can be accommodated when it comes to the cake’s design. We’d say that’s pretty much license to let your little ones’ imaginations run wild.

Tip: Currently, Top Tier has limited hours, Mon. - Sat., 8a.m. - 4p.m. and items are available for curbside pickup, delivery or takeout with only one family in the bakery at a time.

Top Tier Treats
11511 W. Pico Blvd.
310-478-1971
Online: toptiertreats.com

 

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Amriel’s Cakes

With her background as a crazy talented pastry chef for Charm City Cakes, it’s no wonder Amriel Perches is now running her own fab cake making business, Amriel’s Cakes. With an eagle eye for the smallest details, her cakes have all of Instagram drooling. From a two-tiered cake strewn with exquisite, life-like butterflies to ones featuring kiddie favorites like Paw Patrol, Iron Man and Elsa, Amriel’s creations are works of art themselves. 

Tip: To place an order, check the highlights section of her Instagram page labeled “How to Order” and send your order to cakes.amriel@gmail.com.

Amriel’s Cakes
Online: instagram.com/amriels_cakes

 

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Susie Cakes

Two words: chocolate heaven. That’s the best way we can describe Susie Cakes’s famous Old Fashioned 6-Layer Chocolate Cake, which is one of the very best in the City of Angels. If you have pint-sized chocolate fans at home, we can’t recommend this cake enough. Now, even though we think this particular cake reigns supreme, the myriad other delish flavors on Susie Cakes’s menu like Luscious Lemon or their Vanilla Celebration Cake are incredible as well. Basically, you can’t go wrong with any choice you make.

Tip: Pick-up and Delivery are available and orders can be placed ahead of time online or by contact the location nearest you.

Susie Cakes
Multiple locations
Online: susiecakes.com

 

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Dip’d N Drip’d

When you don’t feel like serving a gigantic cake for a birthday celebration, cake pops can be a swell alternative – especially when it comes to feeding smaller tots. Think less mess and a lot less sugar rush. Dip’d and Drip’d are total pros at the cake pop game, whether you need Frozen themed pops for your Olaf obsessed littles or basketball pops for the tiny ballers in your life. Cake pops can be created on sticks, mini ice cream cones or even as small standalone treats.

Tip: To place an order, email dipdndripd@gmail.com.

Dip’d and Drip’d
Online: instagram.com/dipd_n_dripd

 

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Flour Shop

Amirah Kassem gained legendary fame on social media for her wildly popular explosion cakes. With six rainbow vanilla layers, cream cheese frosting and a fantastic sprinkle surprise bursting from the center, her cakes became an instant hit with celebs and dessert lovers alike at her flagship New York City Bakery. Lucky for us, a pandemic didn’t stop her from opening a West Coast location in the heart of Beverly Hills this past August. Now, Angelenos can her joyful creations as well.

Flour Shop
9495 Santa Monica Blvd.
Beverly Hills
424-389-8889
Online: flourshop.com

 

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Cake Monkey

Cake Monkey produces simply beautiful full-size cakes for any occasion is that’s your jam, but we especially love them for their unique mini layer cakes that serve one person each. These especially come in handy during pandemic times when people might be looking for individualized portions of foods to be safe. These yumtastic 3” tall mini cakes are available in an array of mouthwatering flavors from chocolate caramel and confetti to banana crunch and raspberry red velvet.

Tip: On your way out, don’t forget to grab one of the shop’s famous cakewiches which will immediately transport you back to your childhood.

Cake Monkey
Mid-City and North Hollywood
Online: cakemonkey.com

 

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Cake and Art

Cake and Art’s stunning cakes are not just scrumptious, they are truly inspired works of art. Beloved by the Hollywood community for over 43 years, Cake and Art can literally create just about anything you can dream up – the only limit is your imagination. So whether your kid wants a two-foot tall breakdancing unicorn made of fondant or a 3-D cake that resembles their pup at home, there’s not much these artists can’t pull off.

Tip: Currently, the shop is operating with limited hours, Mon. - Sat., 11a.m. - 3p.m. and orders are available for pickup.

Cake and Art
8709 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood
310-657-8694
Online: cakeandart.com

–Jennifer O’Brien

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