Every Awesome Thing to Do This September in LA

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School may be back in session (fingers crossed!), but the fun still abounds in SoCal! Whether you want to feel the rumble of the engines at the Acura Grand Prix in Long beach, get lost in a corn maze at Underwood Farms, or go on a magical hunt for fairies in the Valley, there are plenty of playful things to do with your family this month in Los Angeles. Check out the list below!

Long Beach: See the Acura Grand Prix

Do you have tiny racers who can't get enough Lightning McQueen or Hot Wheels cars? Then take them to see some real live race cars in action at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. The weekend features several racing events, headlined by the NTT IndyCar Series‚ a sprawling race that includes the same cars and drivers that run in the Indianapolis 500 each year. Other racing events include North America’s top sports cars, drifting, historic race cars and jumping "Super Trucks."

Note: Bring some noise protection for little ears; these roaring engines can be super-loud, even for those kids who love claim to love them! Something like this should work great. 

Off the track, the sprawling Lifestyle Expo (included in the price of admission) showcases the latest in home, automotive and personal products inside the Long Beach Convention Center. There is also a Food Truck Experience that includes food trucks from all over L.A.; the Mothers Exotic Car Paddock (Sun. only); and race car driver autograph sessions from all racing series. Kids will want to check out the Family Fun Zone (located inside the Expo), which offers little adrenaline junkies fun activities including rock climbing walls and racing simulators. Kids 3-to-6 can even live out their race car-driving dreams in their very own race cars at a mini track.

When: Sept. 24-26
Cost: General admission tickets, which don't include seating, start at $34 per person; Reserved seating tickets start at $60

300 East Ocean Blvd.
Long Beach
Online: gplb.com

RELATED: Spend the Weekend in Long Beach with Our Must-Do Guide

Venice: Cuddle Kittens

Um, KITTENS! Need we say more? Any kid who loves cats will be in kitty-cuddling heaven at this Venice Beach pop-up. The  Tiny Beans Kitten Lounge showcases a roster of adorable (and adoptable) kittens whom you can pay to  hang with for an hour. The money, of course, goes back to the cats. The Lounge is an extension of West LA's Cat Cafe, which offers a similar experience (but with adult cats,) year-round and which has adopted out hundreds of kitties since its inception.

Even if you're not looking to find a forever friend, cuddling the kittens at the lounge helps socialize them and make them even better pets for the family who will eventually adopt. them. So it's a win-win!

Pssst: "Tiny Beans Kitten Lounge" has nothing to do with Red Tricycle & Tinybeans; it's the phrase that refers to the soft pads of kittens' paws.

When: Now through the end of Oct. (though this may be extended)
Cost: $35 for a one-hour session

1522 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Online: catcafelounge.com

DTLA: Free Dance Lessons Under the Stars

Spruce up your dance steps this month—under the stars, for free! Just show up to the Music Center Downtown, where Dance DTLA top instructors are offering free Fri. night dance lessons for anyone up for learning new moves (or perfecting old ones). In addition to the dance instruction, you'll find art-making workshops, food, drinks and more! All ages are welcome. 

Good to Know: Masks will be required, regardless of vaccination status.

When: Sept. 3 (Salsa) & Sept. 10 (Bollywood)
Cost: Free

Jerry Moss Plaza at the Music Center
135 N. Grand Ave. 
Los Angeles
Online: musiccenter.org/dancedtla

Irvine: Celebrate Rosh Hoshana at Pretend City

It's time to celebrate the festival of Rosh Hashanah—the Jewish New Year! Through stories, art and songs, children will learn all about this festive Jewish holiday. Optional activities include making shofars (horns) and getting artsy with apples (as well as eating them dipped in honey, as is the Rosh Hashana tradition). While they're there, kids will love exploring the museum, where they can pretend the day away in tiny grocery stores, little towns, and more.

Good to Know: Designed for kids under 8; Advanced reservations are recommended.

When: Sept. 8 (sessions are 10 a.m.-noon or 1-4 p.m.)
Cost: Included with museum admission ($13.95 per person; under 1 are free)

29 Hubble
Online: pretendcity.org

photo: Christi Anna/ A Faery Hunt

Los Angeles: Go on a Fairy Hunt

Any child who believes in magic should feel right at home at this immersive outdoor fairy hunt—an interactive walking performance that lets kids explore the outdoors in search of mythical creatures. Kids can dress up in their best fairy or superhero outfits and traipse into the forest (i.e. the park) along with a fairy guide. Along the way, they'll sing, dance and immerse themselves in the story while using their imaginations to decide exactly what happens next. 

Good to Know: Masks and physical distancing are encouraged; Advanced tickets are required.

When:  Sept. 12 at Crestwood Hills Park; Sept. 18 at Los Encinos State Historic Park; Sept. 25 at Corriganville Park
Cost:  $15

Various Locations
Los Angeles
Online: afaeryhunt.com

photo: Steve Lorentzen

Costa Mesa: Enjoy New Orleans Jazz

The Big Easy comes to Orange County with this bustling jazz band that littles will love. Jazzy Ash and the Leaping Lizards was founded by singer and arts educator Ashli St. Armant, and the lively group makes it a mission to introduce jazz to young audiences. The songs encourage kids to move and dance while celebrating New Orleans music as part of American folk music heritage.

Good to Know: There will be pre and post-show food and activities from noon-3 p.m., including food trucks, balloon twisters and more.

When: Sept. 18 at 1 p.m.
Cost: $15

Julianne and George Argyros Plaza at the Segerstrom Center
600 Town Center Dr.
Costa Mesa
Online: scfta.org/events

photo: Bob Baker Marionette Theater

Los Angeles: Re-Opening Revelry at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater

After 16 months of closure, the Bob Baker Marionette show is back! In case you've never been, this isn't your average puppet show. The theater has been running continuously since 1963—closing only for the pandemic. Founder Bob Baker (who passed away in 2014) started doing puppetry as a teenager in the 1930s. Using hundreds of intricately designed puppets that appear on stage with the people who pull their strings, the theater's mission: is simple: "To provide unique theatrical experiences; to educate, to celebrate, to rejuvenate puppetry." The "Re-Opening Revelry Show" is a musical celebration of the marionette's favorite things—from birthday cakes and picnics to holidays and seasons.

After the show, stick around for ice cream! For more than 60 years, it's been a Bob Baker tradition to end each performance with a sweet treat—and this year is no different. As you are exiting the theater, be sure to pick up your free bowl of chocolate, vanilla or strawberry ice cream (non-dairy options are available, too!).

When: The Re-Opening Revelry show runs weekends through Sept. 12
Cost: $20 per person; kids 2 and under are free (as long as they are sitting on your lap)

4949 York Blvd.
Los Angeles
Online: bobbakermarionettetheater.com

Beverly Hills: Treasure Hunt for Painted Pianos

In case you haven't seen the smattering of painted pianos placed thoughtfully throughout Beverly Hills just waiting for people to play them, there's still time. One of the world’s largest annually recurring public arts projects, the Sing for Hope piano installation places artist-designed pianos in parks and public spaces, with all invited to sit down and play a while (hang out and you may even catch an impromptu concert by professional musicians (like this amazing Rolling Stones rendition by a pint-sized pianist!). There are 16 pianos in all; wander around and try to spot on—or use this map to guide you.

When: Now through Sept. 6; Pianos available for open play 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Cost: Free

Beverly Hills
Online: singforhope.org/beverlyhills

photo: George J Vennes III/ Santa Monica Playhouse

Santa Monica: When the Fairy Tale Ends

Wondering what happens after happily-ever-efter? Now's your chance to take your fairy tale-loving littles to a show to find out. Join Mother Goose, Hansel, Snow White, the Little Mermaid, and Alice—along with some other special guests—at the Santa Monica Playhouse for an immersive fairy tale experience. "Ever After, Take 2" is the theater's first live production since the lockdown, and will lead audience members on an interactive journey to help get the fairy tale world back on track. Kids are encouraged to come in costumes.

Good to Know: Proof of vaccinations will be required for all adults entering the theater. Temperatures will be taken upon entry, and masks must be worn, regardless of vaccination status.

When: Fri. at 6 p.m. through Sept. 24
Cost: Adults, $15; Kids 12 and under, $12.50

1211 4th St.
Santa Monica
Online: santamonicaplayhouse.com

photo: Shannan Rouss

Santa Monica: Cayton Children's Museum

After more than a year of being online and months of outdoor-only workshops, the Cayton Children’s Museum has reopened its indoor space (with enhanced protocols to keep staff and visitors safe). Designed to inspire creativity, community values, and self-discovery, the Cayton lets kids create art n the studio, climb aboard a life-size rescue helicopter, pretend to help beloved pets at the Animal Hospital, and more.  

Good to Know: Since this is, after all, a children's museum—and therefore designed for little fingers to explore and touch—Cayton staff has implemented extra cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces and placed hand sanitizing stations all over the museum. All attendees over the age of two must wear a face masks. Advanced reservations are recommended and can be made online. 

When: Wed.-Sat., 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m-5 p.m.
Cost: $16; under 1 are free 

photo: DIsneyland

Anaheim: Halloweentime at Disneyland & California Adventure

You may still be in flip-flops mode, but it's time to break out the Halloween costumes and trick or treat buckets, because spooky season comes early at the Happiest Place on Earth! After a yearlong hiatus due to the pandemic, both Disneyland and California Adventure are doing it up, Halloween-style, beginning Sept. 3. At Disneyland, that means extra fun around the park, including tributes to Disney villains, spook-ified rides (like the Haunted Mansion Holiday), a special spooky fireworks show (on select nights), and the Main Street Pumpkin Festival, which features hundreds of hand-carved pumpkins up and down Main Street. At California Adventure, expect equally fun and ghoulish decor, special food items, a ghoulish soundtrack that'll follow you all through the park, and a dressed-up Guardians of the Galaxy ride.

For even more treats (literally), get the whole family dressed up and head to the Oogie Boogie Bash, Disney's own Halloween party featuring a trick-or-treat trail that brings visitors into the immersive worlds of Disney's most infamous villains—from Maleficent to the Evil Queen. The Bash (which requires its own ticket and is not included in general DL admission) also includes a special parade, photo ops, and limited-capacity after-hours park access. The Oogie Boogie Bash takes place 6-9 p.m. on select nights. 

When: Sept. 3-Oct. 31
Cost: Prices start at $98 for kids 9 and under; $104 for 10 & up; kids under 3 are free. Tickets to the Oogie Boogie Bash start at $114 per person.

1313 Disneyland Dr.
Online: disneyland.disney.go.com

photo: Underwood Family Farms

Moorpark: Celebrate Fall at Underwood Farms

Time to get lost in a corn maze again! Underwood Family Farms will once again offer its a full roster of activities for its annual fall festival—including a sprawling corn maze (that takes an average of 30 minutes to complete!), tractor and mini train rides, animal shows, hay pyramids, a gigantic pumpkin patch, petting zoo, carnival-style food, and live entertainment. With 50 acres of open space, it's the perfect place to social distance. Want to give your kids a taste of nature? The pick-you-own fields will also be open for those who want to go home with more than just a pumpkin. 

Good to Know: Save time in line and purchase advance tickets if you are attending on the weekend.

When: Sept. 25-Oct. 31, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Cost: $10 weekdays; $16 weekends. Children under 2 are free. 

3370 Sunset Valley Rd.
Online: underwoodfamilyfarms.com

photo: Melissa Heckscher

Oak Glen: Apple Picking Season Begins

First comes summer... then comes apples! Sept. marks the beginning of apple-picking season at Oak Glen and Yucaipa, so if you've never experienced the joy of watching your kids run free in an apple orchard, or take a bite out of a freshly-picked Gala, now's the time. A perfect day trip from LA, Oak Glen is about 90 minutes from DTLA and offers a cooler climate, perfect for appreciating fall's finest fruit. Whether you want an intimate picking experience, or a country fair sort of feel, there are several different spots to choose from.

For all the details, check out our guide to all the apple farms in the region: Where to Go Apple Picking Near Los Angeles.

When: Now through Nov., or until the trees are bare
Cost: Varies (about $3-4 per pound of apples picked)

Willowbrook Farm
12099 South Oak Glen Rd.
Oak Glen
Online: willowbrookapplefarm.com

Riley's at Los Rios Rancho
39611 S. Oak Glen Rd.
Online: losriosrancho.com/

Stone Soup Farm & Heritage Orchard
12131 S. Oak Glen Rd.
Oak Glen
Online: stonesoupfarmca.com

Stone Pantry Orchard
11993 S. Oak Glen Rd.
Online: stonepantryorchard.com

—Melissa Heckscher

Feature image via flickr


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