Buzz Over to the New Honeymee

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Just in time for the hottest days of summer, Honeymee, a honey themed soft-serve ice cream shop, has opened a new location on Sawtelle in Japantown, one of our favorite cool hoods. It’s the perfect place to take the entire family for a different kind of icy sweet treat. Savor the moment, as summer and your delicious soft serve milk ice cream treat will both bee gone before you know it!

Honeymee Sawtelle

photo credit: courtesy of Honeymee

To Bee or Not To Bee?
This land of milk and honey serves true milk ice cream made from California milk from a family-owned, certified Kosher dairy factory. They’re perfect for your kiddos because they don’t add any artificial colors or flavors, it’s gluten free and the ice cream isn’t too sweet. Their menu is oh-so-simple, but deciding what to get might take you longer than your average bedtime routines. If you bring the whole family, everyone can get something different to share and satisfy that sweet tooth.

Honeymee Sawtelle 2

photo credit: Judy Park

What to Get
You can experience the “Darling” if you’re down to try the authentic flavor of true milk ice cream and savor the creamy, icy texture as it melts in your mouth. But don’t go to Honeymee without trying the dreamy “Sweetie,” where your milk ice cream is drizzled with 100% natural liquid honey swirls. If you’re really feeling adventurous, get the “Honeymee” with a honeycomb chip. There are just six soft-serve items on the menu, but definitely something for everyone, including chocolate and sweet buns stuffed with ice cream. Recently added are their honey hot/iced tea items (in case we do get that rainy El Nino season they’re promising) and five flavors of honey milk shakes. Everything hits the sweet spot.

Honeymee Sawtelle 3

photo credit: Judy Park

Queen Bee Treatment
Good and good for you: if you’re into the health benefits of yogurt, Honeymee contends that their deliciousness also increases antioxidant levels along with other anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral benefits. So you can feel a little virtuous about this treat…or at least less guilty.  You can even browse through their selection of honey products while you wait. Aside from being totally picture-worthy for your Instagram account, they’re also giving out free ice cream every week to the best IG photo, so don’t leave the hashtag bee-hind. Get a stamp card (you’ll definitely return) and with every 10 stamps you get a free ice cream.

Honeymee Sawtelle 4

photo credit: Judy Park

Good to Know
Street parking is available, as is 45-minute validated parking in the underground garage inside the Olympic Collection Plaza. For kids with sensory food issues, the honeycomb can feel waxy, so skip it (for them, you’ll definitely want to try it for yourself!). Avoid the crowds by going in the early afternoon before the dinner rush. There’s limited seating, another reason to get there before the crowd swarms in. And keep those diaper wipes on hand because you’ll get plenty of sticky fingers.

Honeymee is new but is taking the city by storm with locations in Koreatown, Buena Park and Rowland Heights, in addition to this newest spot on Sawtelle.

Honeymee Sawtelle
11301 West Olympic Blvd., Suite 104
Japantown
Online: honeymee.com

Let us know what you and your kiddos think of Honeymee. Are you more of a “Sweetie” or a “Darling”?

—Judy Park

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There are loads of kid-friendly museums in LA. They offer plenty of ways and places for kids to play and explore, but some are so kid friendly that they lose their luster for big people.  That’s why we love these specialized museums that offer loads of interesting exhibits for parents and tots, all of which offer a hands-on experience where budding historians, musicians, artists and adventurers can delve into a specific topic.  And you’ll be learning right alongside them!

Autry National Center Gold Panningphoto credit: The Autry Center

Autry National Center of the American West
Cowboys & girls, Native Americans, gunslingers and goldrushers are part of our local history, and the Autry is the only museum in town devoted to Western history and culture. Here you can spend a weekend afternoon panning for gold, just like the 49ers did during the California gold rush. Or experience movie magic as lil’ silent stars saddle up and ride through the West, check out the hands-on sound effects station, pose for photos on a pretend horse and explore the museum through six different themed scavenger hunts. And there’s plenty of family fun activities all summer long like western line dancing or historical parlor games.  As you walk through galleries to hit the nicely dispersed kid-friendly exhibits, you’ll encounter loads of local history you never knew.

Hours: Tues.-Fri. from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Sat. & Sun. from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: $10/adults; $4 children; free for kids under 3; free for everyone second Tuesday of the month.

4700 Western Heritage Way
Griffith Park
323-667-2000
Online: theautry.org

Silk Road PAMphoto credit: Ryan P via yelp

USC Pacific Asia Museum
USC Pacific Asia Museum is a beautiful place to take kids to for viewing exhibitions on the arts and culture of Asia and the Pacific Islands. The quiet galleries are best for short walk throughs with younger kids, punctuated with longer play periods in the lovely garden courtyard, where kiddos adore meeting the giant koi. Save your biggest chunk of time for the Silk Road family gallery where travelers can try on a camel handler’s coat (or other costumes), unravel a silkworm cocoon, sit on a lotus blossom or touch real gold and jade. Mini spice merchants can explore and experience what life was like along the Silk Road (the trade route that linked Europe and Asia) and investigate a map, relax in the travelers’ tent, try an ancient dance, or even sit on a camel. Gather in the travelers’ tent for fabulous tales from along the Silk Road and a fun hands-on craft at 10:30 a.m. & 11:30 a.m. held on the second Sunday of each month, which happens to be free admission day. (Score!)

Hours: Wed.-Sun. from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Cost: $10/adults; free for children under 12; free for everyone second Sunday of the month.

46 North Los Robles Ave.
Pasadena
626-449-2742
Online: pacificasiamuseum.org

NHMphoto credit: Judy Park

Natural History Museum
Although the Natural History Museum is well-known for their Dinosaur Hall and the animal dioramas from all over the world, it’s also a spectacular place to explore and learn more about LA’s natural environment and wildlife. Wander the Nature Gardens and get grubby in the Dirty Zone. Explore compost bins to see how pillbugs create soil, check out the soil sifter and discover how roots grow. Look for the silver trumpets and listen to nutrients moving through the oak tree’s xylem tubes. Bring an extra change of clothes for your kiddos after they play in the urban water feature, an absolute favorite among toddlers. In the Nature Labs you can meet live animals such as a Southern Pacific rattlesnake, brown rats and tarantulas, explore backyard sounds, find out how certain animal species became so successful in Los Angeles and learn how scientists identify different types of bugs.

Hours: Daily from 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: $12/adults; $9/youth (13-17); $5/children (3-12); free for children under 2; free for everyone first Tuesday of the month. (Except in July and August, and they make up for that with extra free Tuesdays in September; check the schedule for details.)

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

Grammy Museumphoto credit: Judy Park

The GRAMMY Museum
The GRAMMY Museum is perfect for mini musicians who are ready to rock. Explore 160 different genres of music on the interactive Crossroads table with headphones on the fourth floor. Let your future recording artist try out the wide variety of electronic instruments on the third floor as they participate in the music-making process with actual drum sets and electric guitars. Spend time in the eight recording studio pods and experiment with mixing music and creating loops. Check the website for special and temporary exhibits, including current exhibits for Michael Jackson and Taylor Swift fans. If your toddler needs a moment from that last tantrum, a stop at the “Shake It Off” lit-up dance floor will definitely do the trick! (This exhibit is so popular it’s been extended to October 4—try and get here before it goes because even kids who aren’t familiar with Tay-Tay love this area.)

Hours: Mon.-Fri. from11:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m., Sat. & Sun. from 10 a.m.-7:30 p.m., check for closures due to private events.
Cost: $12.95/adults; $10.95/youth (6-17); free for kids under 5.

800 West Olympic Blvd.
Downtown
213-765-6800
Online: grammymuseum.org

ESMoAphoto credit: Gloria Plascencia

ESMoA
The El Segundo Museum of Art is an art laboratory, an nontraditional space created by Brian and Eva Sweeney (parents of three) who originally needed a storage unit for their incredible art collection. With each new program labeled as an “Experience,” the once-a-month family day focuses on the current “Experience” on exhibit and allows the mini Matisse to completely immerse into the artist’s work. Your petite Picasso can take part in a special scavenger hunt and make art inspired by the paintings of the current artist on exhibit. Because the Sweeneys really wanted to create a place that can inspire and provide an opportunity for art education outside of the classroom, they have art making materials for all ages and ability levels on the second floor in the art lounge for kids (and parents) to explore their creativity.

Hours: Fri.-Sun. from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: Free

208 Main St.
El Segundo
424-277-1020
Online: esmoa.org

mug-shots

photo credit: Meghan Rose

3 More Museums For Career Explorations
These three spots are not only great hands-on fun for kids who know they want to be police, firefighters or pilots when they grow up, but they also teach kids and parents the history of police and fire departments in Los Angeles and how people learned to fly.

Los Angeles Police Museum—Kids can play in police cars and helicopters and even get their mug shots taken and spending some reflective time in jail.

Los Angeles Fire Department Museum and Memorial—Go back in time as a firefighter and check out memorabilia and vintage equipment. Then try on some firefighter jackets and boots on the second floor and drop by the Hollywood Fire Station next door to meet some modern heroes.

Santa Monica Museum of Flying—Let your little pilots test their flying skills on the K-3 mini flight simulator, interactive T-33 cockpit trainer and a Convair 240 nose. There’s enough buttons to push and levers to pull to delight the most tireless of toddlers.  Then stop by the viewing deck of the Santa Monica Airport for real-life action.

What’s your little adventurer’s favorite spot for hands on fun, where you find yourself learning things, too?

— Judy Park

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Once upon a time, story time took place at night, right before little bookworms drifted off to sleep. Nowadays, there are story times each and every day of the week in local libraries, bookstores and museums, with enough of a variety and age range to keep their love of reading going strong for years. From Beverly Hills to Manhattan Beach, these are our favorite story hours that bring books to life in every corner of the city.

bhlib3

photo credit: Meghan Rose

Beverly Hills Public Library
At the modern and inviting Beverly Hills Public Library Children’s Library, there are many, many things to love including the gorgeous space, toy filled Family Room and enchanting Enchanted Reading Room. But tops on the list are the amazing and varied story times led by some of the most enthusiastic librarians in town. There are story hours for everyone from non-walking babies on up through summer and after school reading programs for tweens and teens. All story times take place in the Little Theater in the Children’s Library and parking is available free for two hours. If you end up with a very hungry caterpillar, stop by the nearby (walking distance, we promise) Ice Cream Lab for a special made-before-your-own-eyes treat.

444 North Rexford Dr.
Beverly Hills
310-288-2211
Online: beverlyhills.org/exploring/beverlyhillspubliclibrary

Central Library LAPL

photo credit: Stefani T via yelp

Central Library Los Angeles Public Library
The historical Los Angeles Public Library Central Library not only features beautiful architecture for young scholars to view, but offers reading programs for kids of all ages, almost everyday of the week. There are too many to list, so check their website for a complete listing of what’s going on this month.  One of our favorites is the Family Hour on Saturdays from 2 p.m.-3 p.m. at the KLOS Story Theater, where kids get to explore different themes through stories, songs, poems and musical instruments. Making this a whole day trip is simple as the Library houses many exhibits and Grand Park is nearby.

630 West 5th St.
Downtown
213-228-7000
Online: lapl.org

Vroman's Bookstore

photo credit: courtesy of Vroman’s Bookstore

Vroman’s Bookstore
There’s something special about a bookstore like Vroman’s that has stood the test of time since 1894 (and survived the encroaching internet bookselling behemoths). The Children’s section upstairs is astounding with a selection curated with care. Every Wednesday and Saturday, the very funny and endearing Mr. Steve hosts a story time at 10 a.m. He’s been slinging books at Vroman’s for over 25 years and is consistently amusing, even for the adults. With an entire floor dedicated to young readers, the Children’s department is inviting and playful. Both you and your little ones can spend hours perusing their collection. Parking is available on the streets or in the back lot.  They also host amazing author’s events for kids here, where you’re sure to discover (and meet) a new favorite author.  Be sure to ask them about their upcoming events when you visit.

695 East Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena
626-449-5320
Online: vromansbookstore.com

Children's Book World

photo credit: Judy Park

Children’s Book World
The only bookstore in town dedicated entirely to babies, kids and tweens, Children’s Book World is the best kept secret on the Westside. All their books are perfectly categorized, so if you have a little Bob the Builder, you can head right for an entire shelf section dedicated to construction vehicles. It is literally (pun intended) a dream come true for your little ones. Every Saturday from 10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. they have a rotation of storytellers, author readings, musical performers and other entertainment for kids and families. The best part of it is, after the story time or an author reading, your child can get their books autographed or they can stay for hours and browse through the endless collections. Our favorite Saturdays feature the super-librarian Hillary George with her ukulele.

10580 1/2 West Pico Blvd.
West LA
310-559-2665
Online: childrensbookworld.com

page: a bookstore

photo credit: Kelly W via yelp

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This quaint little neighborhood gem offers a selection for book lovers of all ages. Children’s Story Time takes place on Mondays at 10:30 a.m., geared towards kids ages 2-6. On certain Saturdays, they also feature special readings and signings by authors of new children’s book releases. This bookstore is right by the pier and has nice boutique shops nearby, not to mention the beach, so you can plan for a full day of fun. Also, you can drop by Manhattan Beach Creamery for a sweet treat after you pick up some summer (or fall, winter or spring) reads.

904 Manhattan Ave.
Manhattan Beach
310-318-0900
Online: pagesabookstore.com

Babies-Talking-Books-And-Cookies-Classphoto courtesy of Chudney Ross

Books and Cookies
Of course we love Books and Cookies—they combine two of everyone’s all time favorite things.  The very best time to sample the scope of what they have to offer is at a story time, and they have plenty to choose from.  Movers & Shakers Story Time is on Mondays & Fridays at 9:30 a.m. and is great for active little ones who can’t sit still. They’ll get to read stories, play games, dance, play musical instruments or play with the parachute. Musical Story Time on Tuesdays & Thursdays at 9:30 a.m. takes your little musicians on a musical literacy adventure as they weave hands-on instrument play into storytelling and dance. Story Time Adventures takes off on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. where not only are the stories brought to life with song and props, lil’ explorers will get to go on adventures that tie into the theme of the books, from dinosaur egg-hunts to wild rumpus dance parties. All story times are 35 minutes and cost $10 at the door on a first-come first-serve basis for the first 12 families; arrive early to ensure you get a space.

2309 Main St.
Santa Monica
310-452-1301
Online: booksandcookiesla.com

Lollipop Dream

photo credit: Lilian K via yelp

Lollipop Dream
Aside from the plethora of princess teas and dress-up parties that Lollipop Dream offers, you can also find some fun, interactive story times on Tuesdays & Fridays from 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Cozy up with your young royals on their soft pillows and wander off to Never-Never Land. Their story time is a walk-in event with no RSVP necessary. It costs $5/child and face painting is included.

14006 Riverside Dr.
Sherman Oaks
818-981-7446
Online: lollipop-dream.com

Boone Gallery LACMA

photo credit: Judy Park

Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Inspire mini Picassos with a trip to the Boone Children’s Gallery at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Story time in the Gallery happens on Mondays & Fridays at 2 p.m. Admission is free with your free NexGen Membership (which is also free!). Get your little artists to do some Korean brush painting and check out current exhibits like the Metropolis II, before or after story time.

5905 Wilshire Blvd.
Miracle Mile
323-857-6010
Online: lacma.org

storytime zimmer

photo credit: Zimmer Children’s Museum

Zimmer Children’s Museum
The Zimmer Children’s Museum is a great place for babies and young toddlers to burn off their energy and practice their crawling and walking skills. But it’s also a great place to cuddle and listen to a book. Story time at the Museum takes place in Bubbie’s Bookstore on the lower level every Thursday (with a few exceptions) at 11 a.m.; check their calendar for the current schedule. Then young adventurers can spend a few hours here going through all the exhibits. There’s even a lunchroom for when you and your little one need to take a little snack break. Admission is $7/person and kids under 1 are free.

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

Did we miss one of your favorite story times? Tell us in the comments below!

—Judy Park

Sew Many Classes, Sew Little Time

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Seams you’ve got a budding fashionista who wants to get those little hands on some needles and pins. With the fashion district just around the corner and all the fabric they could ever dream of for those doll dresses and superhero capes, sewing classes are calling out to your mini designers. Here are our favorite spots were your future Project Runway star can sharpen their sewing skills and those fabric shears.

Sew Creative Cafe Facebook

 photo credit: Sew Creative Cafe’s Facebook page

Sew Creative Cafe
With a real passion for getting the younger crowd crafting, Sew Creative Cafe offers ongoing (so you can get started any time, for as many or few classes as you like)  weekly classes in sewing, quilting, knitting and crochet for kids ages 6 & up. The classes are taught in a non-competitive way, allowing all the students to work on their own projects and encouraging learning at each student’s own pace, including how to fix mistakes and learn from them. Single one-hour and two-hour classes are offered as well as weekly summer camps for the creative camper. Prices range from $23/hour to $300/weekly sessions.

1726 Aviation Blvd.
Redondo Beach
310-376-0065
Online: sewcreativecafe.com

Cheryl Fudge Facebook

photo credit: Cheryl Fudge’s Facebook page

Cheryl Fudge
If your mini fashionistas are just starting to get their feet wet and aren’t too sure about the knitty-gritty of sewing and operating a sewing machine, give Cheryl Fudge a try, where everyone becomes a designer. The Open Design Studio lets you design anything from hair accessories to infinity scarves and they’ll handle the difficult part of sewing for you. They also offer a Doll Clothing class where students choose the pattern style for their American Girl doll and learn hand sewing skills. Don’t be surprised if you see a movie star’s kid bobbin along here… Other programs offered include the Summer Fashion Camp, Birthday Parties and Drop-Off Fashion Programs where you dine while your kids design. Prices range from $30/hour to $350/weekly sessions.

395 Santa Monica Place
Santa Monica
310-393-3333
Online: cherylfudge.com

The Unincorporated Life Facebook

photo credit: The Unincorporated Life’s Facebook page

The Unincorporated Life
The Unincorporated Life means serious business here for the hard-core fashion fans. For kids ages 6-12, the Fashion Design Class is the real deal, giving students complete access to their entire studio where a professional design team of fashion and graphic designers, writers, and photographers will assist them along the way. From creating a vision board and selecting the perfect designer fabric to conquering the basics of sewing and making exactly what your crafty designer sketched out, the results are amazing since they retain a 4:1 student/teacher ratio. Individual private lessons, birthday packages and a Fashion Design Camp that rivals that of the actual Project Runway are offered as well. Prices range from $200 to $1,200.

1150 North Western Ave.
Hollywood
323-655-0515
Online: theunincorporatedlife.com

Tanner's Sewing and Vacuum Center

photo credit: Tanner’s Sewing and Vacuum Center’s Facebook page

Many of the following sewing classes teach kids to use sewing machines and fabric scissors and are catered towards slightly older kids, but if your kiddo has a real interest and affinity, speak with the instructors as most will let dedicated younger kids attend.

Tanner’s Sewing and Vacuum Center
With a variety of sewing classes your kids can really sink their needles into, Tanner’s Sewing and Vacuum Center offers three-hour sewing classes on alternating Saturdays with themes like American Girl Doll or Tea Party for kids ages 8 & up. Little sewers will walk away with their own pillow-cases to sleep on at night or cute pajamas for their next slumber party. Three-day camps are also offered throughout the summer. Saturday classes are between 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., so bring a snack or lunch and wear closed-toe shoes.

6230 West 87th St.
Westchester
310-670-2429
Online: tannersewandvac.com

Sew Modern
Sew Modern lives up to its name with a beautiful storefront and modern fabric and patterns for your little DIYer to choose from. During the regular school year, their Kids Sewing Series for kids ages 8 & up teach about the sewing machine, safety, fabric, cutting, pinning and sewing straight lines all while making some cool projects like scarves, tote bags and pillowcases. They also offer week-long camps throughout the summer including Project Funway, Quilt Camp or Slumber Party Kids Mini Camp. Prices range from $170 to $475, all materials provided.

10921 West Pico Blvd.
West LA
310-446-4397
Online: sewmodern.com

Sew LA Yelp

photo credit: Shaerie M via Yelp

Sew L.A.
For the hipsters ages 8 & up, Sew L.A. is the place to be. They’ve got the latest and hippest fabric choices one can find outside of the LA fabric district. An After School Sewing for Kids & Teens! class is offered during the school year for students of all levels to pursue various sewing projects including sewing garments, bags, accessories, costumes and gifts, plus block printing, weaving and embroidery. They also offer 4-hour Project Workshops open to all levels where you can work on any project you wish with the guidance of an experienced instructor. Week-long Kids Sewing Camps are offered throughout the summer. Prices range from $65 (4-hour session) to $275, all materials provided except for the Project Workshops.

3153 Glendale Blvd.
Atwater Village
Online: sew-la.com

Sew Crankyphoto credit: courtesy of Sew Cranky

Sew Cranky
Although not offering regular weekly classes, Sew Cranky is a traveling road show of antique hand crank sewing machines. They do fairs, festivals and art workshops throughout southern California and young sewers who can’t wait to get their hands on a sewing machine can get a taste of them now at various Sew Cranky events.

Sew Cranky
818-606-0065
Online: sewcranky.com

Is there a sewing class that your DIYer can’t live without?  Have we missed any?  Let us know!

— Judy Park

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Lazy summer days in LA call for bringing the family to a Hollywood Bowl concert, Shakespeare in the park or a movie outdoors. Gather those blankets and picnic baskets and enjoy the balmy California sun with the kids in tow. We went all over the city to find the best picnics-to-go options that provide sustenance for your “selective” eaters while also giving you a romantic and delicious meal that you don’t have to pack!

Joan's on Third Picnic

photo credit: courtesy of Joan’s on Third

Joan’s on Third
Pick up a picnic box from Joan’s on Third filled with classic entrees that kids adore as much as you do, like buttermilk fried chicken or toasted pita triangles with housemade apple onion dip or hummus. Desserts are plenty and will keep your little one’s sweet-tooth more than happy throughout the evening from carrot cakes to bar cookies to cupcakes. Order 48 hours in advance from their picnic menu to ensure your picnic is ready or order online although certain selections may be limited. Or better yet, take a trip to the store and grab all the goodies that can fit into your basket, whether it’s the different varieties of cheeses or the fresh veggies and hot items they have available.

Joan’s on Third has locations in Mid-City and Studio City (and a new one coming soon to Santa Monica). Check the website for addresses and hours.
Online: joansonthird.com/marketplace-page/picnics/

Lemonade Picnic

photo credit: Vicky H via yelp

Lemonade
With over thirteen locations open (and counting), Lemonade is guaranteed to satisfy every picky-eater in the family. A salad for Mom, a braise for Dad and your mini concert-goer can choose from their endless choices of sandwiches, proteins and veggies on the side. Don’t forget macarons for everyone and their delicious variations of the classic lemonade. Every order comes in neat little to-go boxes; just make sure you grab all the plasticwares and napkins you’ll need. Pick something healthy that everyone adores (if you’re on the fence about what to get the kids, go for the mac and cheese: Lemonade’s version never fails to delight).

Lemonade has multiple locations throughout Southern California, check the website for specific spots, hours and menus.
Online: lemonadela.com

Marston’s Restaurant
Offering salads and complete meal options for foodies big and small, Marston’s Restaurant makes enjoying a picnic dinner at Pasadena Symphony and Pops as simple as making the order before 9 a.m. on Saturday and picking it up when you arrive for the show. Of course, if your mini picnicker loves their regular menu, they can pack those as well for you for an additional charge. And it’s not just for Pasadena Symphony and Pops patrons; these meals are great for evenings at the Levitt Pavilion (one of our favorite outdoor concerts in town) or an afternoon in the park. All the meals come with a choice of fudge brownie or chocolate chip cookie—the perfect ending to a perfect meal.

Marston’s Restaurant
151 East Walnut St.
Pasadena
626-796-2459
Online: marstonsrestaurant.com

Alcove Bess B Yelp

photo credit: Bess B via yelp

Alcove Cafe & Bakery
Alcove Cafe & Bakery offers a special theatre picnic menu with packages ranging from $38 for 2 people to $75 for 4 people. (When ordering for kids, we get the dinner for 2, with an extra order of hummus and another dessert or two!) Select the It’s All Greek to Me picnic package, which comes with a panini or wrap, salad, dessert and lemonade for a perfect light summer dinner or make it an extra special night with the Sweet Things package, enough sweets and delights for the whole family to share. And don’t forget to come back again for the Wine and Cheese Lovers Picnic to share with your sweetheart on a date night while the kids are at home with the babysitter. Call ahead to order or to customize your own basket.

Alcove Cafe & Bakery
1929 Hillhurst Avenue
Los Feliz
323-644-0100
Online: alcovecafe.com

Thyme Cafe & Market Picnic

photo credit: courtesy of Thyme Cafe & Market

Thyme Cafe & Market
For a gourmet dinner that feels like home cooking, order 24-48 hours in advance from Thyme Cafe & Market where they offer an extensive menu to choose from including refreshing kid-favorites like the Provencal potato salad or heirloom watermelon and tomato salad. Make it a party with a crudites platter added to dinner for 2, and the kids will sneak bites of your meal and you’ll all get your veggies. All meals are packaged in a plastic bag or cardboard traveler with utensils, salt and pepper. Don’t forget to grab the cold beverages for everyone in the refrigerated section of the store. Complete meals range from $20 to $24 per person.

Thyme Cafe & Market
1630 Ocean Park Blvd.
Santa Monica
310-399-8800
Online: thymecafeandmarket.com

Hotel-Bel-Air_Bel-Air-Picnics

photo credit: courtesy of Hotel Bel-Air

Hotel Bel-Air
The Bel-Air Picnics are year-round for non-guests as well as those staying at this historic spot. It’s our favorite elegant picnic that makes it special for grownups, but offers kid-friendly treats as well. Select a la carte items from the special picnic menu or upon request, the full restaurant menus as well. Grab a gourmet version of the grilled cheese sandwich featuring two kinds of cheeses and smoked caramelized onions on rye bread or house-made soft Bavarian pretzels while you chomp down on an assorted charcuterie and salumi platter. Finish off with some chocolate-dipped strawberries for the entire family. Individual items range from $8 to $34 with all to-go packaging and disposables provided. All orders can be picked up at the hotel’s front desk, restaurant hostess stand or even brought out to the valet area—it doesn’t get easier than that.

Hotel Bel-Air
701 Stone Canyon Road
Bel Air
310-472-1211
Online: dorchestercollection.com/en/los-angeles/hotel-bel-air/belairpicnic

The Albright Picnicphoto credit: Danny N via yelp

The Albright
With a completely different menu from their regular restaurant menu, The Albright offers a Summer Harvest Picnic and a Pier Provisions Basket, both of which include children’s add-on options. Grub on Mary’s farm fried chicken or a BLT while pleasing those young taste buds with lightly-breaded chicken tenders or homemade fig jam sandwich. Children’s add-ons include baby carrots with homemade Ranch dressing, s’mores cookie and organic milk. Make your orders 48 hours in advance. Prices are $45/adult and $7/child, all disposables are provided. For both convenience and taste, this is our favorite spot to pick up a beach picnic or dinner to devour while catching a concert on the pier with the kids.

The Albright
258 Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica
310-394-9683
Online: thealbright.com

Stir-Market--Eastside-Brown-Rice-Bowl-(640x480)

photo credit: courtesy of Stir Market

Stir Market
If you forgot to order dinner ahead of time for a movie night at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery (or any other Hollywood adjacent outing), Stir Market requires only a 4-hour notice and all picnic orders can be made online. Their summer picnic menu are great for sharing and they prepare vegetables in the most delightful way for your pint-sized foodies, like the golden apricot summer salad. Grab their cool grape coconut water and tuck in some of their amazing packaged desserts (words do not do justice to their marshmallow krispy bars) in the picnic basket to keep the kids happy. Prices range from $42 to $60.

Stir Market
7475 Beverly Blvd.
Mid-City
323-879-8283
Online: stirmarket.com

GC-Marketplace-Bento-Box

photo credit: courtesy of GC Marketplace

Hollywood Bowl To-Go

In a kid-friendly pre-packaged “bento box,” the American Concerto from GC Marketplace offers Picnic Style Fried Chicken, Orichetti Pasta with Sweet Peppers and Basil Pesto, Cole Slaw Vinaigrette and Summer Fruit Salad, sure to make you wish there were leftovers. All disposables are provided, just make sure you order by 2 p.m. on the day of the event. Bento boxes range from $15 to $45.

GC Marketplace
3315 Cahuenga Boulevard West
Hollywood
323-645-5269
Online: gcmarketplace.com

The Patina Restaurant Group restaurants at the Hollywood Bowl also offer picnic baskets for all patrons and will deliver to your box if you have a box seat. Just order by 4 p.m. the day before your concert. For growing gourmands, they will have specially-themed items throughout the season to coincide with special events including the “Hills are Alive” Bavarian pretzels, the Bugs Bunny carrot cake or a moon pie for E.T.’s evening.

The Patina Restaurant Group
2301 North Highland Avenue
Hollywood
323-850-1885
Online: hollywoodbowl.smartertakeout.net

What’s your go-to spot for food to-go for your summer picnics?

— Judy Park

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If you’re looking for a down-to-earth beach & play destination that’s family friendly and not a tourist trap, you’ll find it at the Redondo Beach Pier. Spending a day here lets little ones explore sandy beaches, wildlife, a nostalgic arcade, glass bottomed boat and kite heaven while everyone indulges in seafood and endless desserts. Take a look at our guide to spending an insider’s day out on the Redondo Beach Pier.

Fun Factory Redondo Beach Pier

photo credit: Maila H via yelp

Play and Explore

Redondo Fun Factory
Stop by the Fun Factory for a trip down memory lane where they have all the classic arcade and carnival games. Your trip might not be complete without a spin on the Tilt-a-Whirl, but we don’t recommend going on it after a meal—some kids get dizzy just watching the ride! Tickets are $2 on the weekends and $0.50 on rainy days. Your quarters will go a long way here and kids can easily be entertained for hours. Kids crack up at the outdated prizes you can win. Hey, who doesn’t need a new wall clock or toaster oven from the 80’s?

123 International Boardwalk
310-379-8510
Online: redondofunfactory.com

Redondo Beach

photo credit: tiarescott via Creative Commons

Redondo Beach
Bring all your beach gear and lounge for as long as you want at Redondo Beach, right by the pier. On a busy weekend, you might see the entire beach covered with umbrellas and families sunbathing and snacking away, but you’ll still be able to find a nice area to set up. The sand may be a bit rough, but your little engineers can build sand castles and chase each other down into the water while you relax with ease of mind since there are plenty of lifeguards on duty.

Chalk Festival Redondo Beach

photo credit: Julia K via yelp

Festival Days
If you don’t mind crowds, head to Redondo Beach Pier when there’s a special event for some extra fun. In early March there’s the Annual Festival of the Kite and September has the Annual Back-to-School Chalk Art Festival. Throughout the summer, there are free outdoor movies (Fridays in June) and free concerts (Thursdays and Sundays in July & August). Check the event listing online for specific dates.

Pelicans Redondo Beach Pier

photo credit: Whit Andrews via Creative commons

The End of the Pier
Take a stroll along the Pier to see what kinds of fish are being caught—there have been plenty of stingray sightings this year, too. You also won’t miss the gigantic pelicans that hang out in the area, sometimes stealing a fish or two from the local fishermen. They love posing for photos, but don’t get too close for a selfie.

100 Fisherman’s Wharf
Redondo Beach, CA
Online: redondopier.com

Getting Pearls Redondo Peach

photo credit: Kobe Pearl & Gem Co.’s Facebook page

Kobe Pearl & Gem Co.
Stop by Kobe Pearl & Gem Co. and let your little explorers hand select their own oysters with cultured pearls inside. If they’re super lucky, they’ll even find the rare black pearls. Get the pearls set into a necklace or earrings for them as souvenirs.

100 Fisherman’s Wharf, Suite D
310-374-8518

Sunshine Kite Redondo Beach

photo credit: Judy Park

Sunshine Kite Company
The younger crowd will enjoy the sight of the Sunshine Kite Company with all its pinwheels and kites on display, spinning in the breeze. It’s guaranteed that your wild thing will want to touch each and every one of those pinwheels even if they look the same to you. The older ones (ages 6 & up) can catch a free yo-yo class here every weekend at 3 p.m.

110 Fisherman’s Wharf
310-372-0308
Online: pierkites.com

Submarine Redondo Beach

photo credit: Nicole B via yelp

“Looking Glass” Semi-Submarine
Take a 30-minute undersea tour in the “looking glass” semi-submarine where the upper deck allows you to check out the sea lions lounging about the abandoned docks while the lower deck lets Nemo-lovers view all the beautiful fish in the sea. The best time of day to go is in the mid-morning to early afternoon, when the sun lights up the sea bed. The boat is located inside the Redondo Beach Marina by the neon yellow paddle boats (another fun outing!), north of the fish markets.

150 International Boardwalk
310-909-3179
Online: fastkayak.com/lookingglass.html

Quality Seafood Redondo Beach

photo credit: Jay V via yelp

Restaurants

Quality Seafood, Inc.
If you want to eat like a local, grab lunch at Quality Seafood, Inc. along the International Boardwalk where everyone can choose their own seafood selection.  Choose from Dungeness crabs, lobsters, shrimps, oysters, you name it, and have them steamed, grilled or fried. If kids don’t like to see their fish whole, they might prefer the fresh clam chowder. Tables are hard to come by here as it’s mostly self-serve. The key is having someone “claim” a table while another stands in line to order. Don’t forget to get newspaper to use as your placemat and some mallets to let your little seafood lovers hack away at crustaceans. They’ll enjoy this part way too much, but at least you’ll be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor. If you really want to do what the locals do, bring your own condiments. And baby wipes.

130 S International Boardwalk
310-372-6408
Online: qualityseafood.net

Seafood Soup Redondo Beach

photo credit: Christopher H via yelp

Pacific Fish Center & Restaurant
If this all sounds like too much work, head over to Pacific Fish Center & Restaurant where you can order from a large variety of fresh seafood, including a beautiful platter of sashimi, and enjoy a nice view of the ocean.  The meal comes complete with bibs for everyone, much to the delight of the younger members of the family, who like to see parents wearing baby accessories.

131 Fisherman’s Wharf
310-374-8420

Churros Redondo Beach

photo credit: Kristen S via yelp

Dessert Spots

Pier Bakery
Pier Bakery has the best foot-long churros in town, hand-rolled in cinnamon and sugar, served hot and crispy on the outside and soft and doughy on the inside. Even if your little sweetie pie didn’t leave room for desserts, the churros will be devoured in no time.

100 Fisherman’s Wharf, Suite M
310-376-9582

Funnel Cake Redondo Beach

photo credit: AngryJulieMonday via Creative Commons

Charlie’s Place
If you haven’t been to a local fair lately, Charlie’s Place is the place to be as they serve delicious strawberry funnel cakes, topped with strawberries and whip cream, perfect for the family to share for a late breakfast, lunch, snack or pre-bedtime treat.

200 Fisherman’s Wharf
310-372-2567

Gelato Redondo Beach

photo credit: Nejib B via yelp

Bella Gelato
On a hot day, something cold sounds better than a fried treat. Head on over to Bella Gelato where they have more than twenty different selections. The white chocolate Nutella is a must try.

100-A Fisherman’s Wharf
310-937-7788

Good to Know

The Pier isn’t exactly a dog-friendly place, so it’s best to leave your pets at home. Paying for parking at the Pier is so simple, the pay machines even provide a reminder option, sending you a text message reminder fifteen minutes before your time expires.

What does your perfect day out at the Redondo Beach Pier look like? Tell us in the comments below!

—Judy Park

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Spring means nature is in full bloom, and spring break means you have the time to take advantage of that fact.  Nothing beats letting your little ones’ hands get dirty—on purpose—in the most delightful way while they learn a thing or two about the birds and the bees or flowers and trees. (Not that kind of birds and bees, not yet!) Here are some day-trips and local excursions that will have you singing about spring.

boy_eating-strawberryphoto credit: Jessica Lucia via Flickr

Strawberry Fields Forever
Take a guided Strawberry Tour around the Tanaka Farms on a tractor-pulled wagon where you’ll not only learn about the history of this organic family farm, but you’ll also get to taste the sweetest fruits and vegetables, freshly harvested and washed. It’s the sneakiest way you can get your picky eaters to eat sugar snap peas or whatever vegetable is in season. The last stop of the tour in the strawberry patch will allow your little farmers to pick their own pound of strawberries to take home. And yes, feel free to eat as you pick.

Good to know: Wear comfortable shoes you won’t mind getting dirty and bring sunscreen and hats. Book an earlier time in the day if you want to avoid the heat. Reservations are required on weekdays and check tour dates and times due to changes in weather conditions.

Strawberry Tours are available daily March 19-July 3 from 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and tickets: $18/person; free for kids under 2.

Tanaka Farms
5380 3/4 University Dr.
Irvine
Phone: 949-653-2100
Online: tanakafarms.com

child_hand_holding_caterpillar

photo credit: woodleywonderworks via Flickr

Adopt A Caterpillar
Witness your own very hungry caterpillar’s metamorphosis into a beautiful painted lady butterfly by adopting one from Kidspace Children’s Museum during their Caterpillar Adoption Days held from March 21-May 3. Purchase a caterpillar and a care guide for $4 or a cup of 5 caterpillars for $18, while supplies last. Relive those memories of reading that childhood classic and return with your butterfly to be released for a grand finale during the Grand Butterfly Release on May 2 & 3.

Good to know: Bring water shoes, a towel and a change of clothes to take part in the water features while you’re at the museum. Check their website for information on early or full closure dates, field trip levels and road closures or heavy traffic days before you make the trip.

Open weekdays from 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. and weekends from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., admission is $11/person; free for kids under 1.

Kidspace Children’s Museum
480 North Arroyo Blvd.
Pasadena
Phone: 626-449-9144
Online: kidspacemuseum.org

honey comb

photo credit: Various Brennemans via flickr

Get Your Buzz On
Let the bees work for you while you take a break at a honey tasting at Bennett’s Honey Farm in Fillmore, between Ventura and Santa Clarita. Check out the glass-enclosed honeycomb and see if you can find the Queen Bee. Your kids will love to play Pooh and dip their spoons into a dozen variety of honeys and actually taste wildflowers or eucalyptus coming through in the golden syrup. Let them be the busy bees that they are and see if they can guess all the different flavors.

Good to know: Definitely try the avocado and orange blossom varieties, which are customer favorites.

The farm is open daily from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Bennett’s Honey Farm
3176 Honey Ln.
Fillmore
805-521-1375
Online: bennetthoney.com

girl_sitting_koi_pond_descanso_gardens

photo credit: Nancy L. via yelp

How Does Your Garden Grow?
Officially leave winter behind and welcome springtime in the beautiful Descanso Gardens where your curious explorers can wander, enjoy the scenery and be free. Take them on a weekend garden walk to meet and greet the blossoming cherry trees (March) or the flowering lilac gardens (April). Check out the Cherry Blossom Festival (March 21-22) where your little sprouts can learn origami from an origami master or Tomatomania (March 28-29) and take home a few different tomato seedlings and heirloom varieties to grow on their own.

Good to know: There’s the Enchanted Railroad where little conductors (and adults) can take a ride on a 1/8 replica of a diesel train, which travels a section of the Gardens, but hours of operation are limited. For special event days, arrive early because the parking lot will get full rather quickly. Admission is free every third Tuesday of the month.

Open daily from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., admission is $9/person; $4 for children from 5 to 12 years old; free for children under 5.

Descanso Gardens
1418 Descanso Dr.
La Cañada Flintridge
Phone: 818-949-4200
Online: descansogardens.org

petting_the_goats_amys_farm

photo credit: Amy O. via yelp

Get Your Farm Fix
Visit Amy’s Farm in Ontario and you’ll get more than just a petting zoo. Your little farmers will get to feed the pigs with their farm-grown veggies and even get to try their hands at milking a cow. Lucky duckies might even get to pet newborn bunnies or goats. Experience this farm life with all five of your senses and you’ll find new meaning the next time your family sits down for a farm-to-table meal.

Good to know: This is a bona fide farm, so keep in mind that you will be walking in dirt and mud. Best to keep those strollers at home and carry an infant on a sling. Be prepared for your kids to do their business in an outhouse and bug repellents will come in handy here.

Open Mon.-Sat. from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., admission is $8/person; free for kids under 2.

Amy’s Farm
7698 Eucalyptus Ave
Ontario
Phone: 909-393-2936
Online: amysfarm.com

You’ll be wishing Spring Break was longer after taking these field trips. Share your best action spots to bring the kids for a fun-filled Spring in the comments below.

— Judy Park