Whale Watching Update: Where To See Whales with Kids in LA

Winter is prime whale watching season in Southern California, and there are several ways to spy on the giant mammals as they pass through on their 6,000-mile quest for Mexican romance. Each year, between December and April, roughly 20,000 Pacific gray whales migrate past our beaches, and March brings particularly high traffic because that's when the underwater procession starts to turn around. Pregnant, south-bound she-whales still trying to make it to Baja before the contractions start are blasted past by upwardly mobile young he-whales, finished with romance and headed for an appointment in the Arctic Circle. All that toing and froing is the inspiration for many a whale cruise and festival. With a little luck and clear skies, even a hike or sand sledding can turn into a whale watching activity.

Family Travel Bucket List : Kayaking California's Channel Islands on a Trip from Ventura

Despite its location so close to Los Angeles, Channel Islands National Park is one of the least visited parks in the country. Only accessible by boat, the Channel Islands’ isolation reliably staves off the hordes, offering an opportunity to enjoy a unique ecosystem in an untrammeled setting. Make the trip at the right time of year, and you could even spot some whales along the way. Visiting the Channel Islands offers a true getaway, just off the coast of Ventura.

LA's Christmas Boat Parades: Newport Beach, the Marina, and 9 More

Unlike certain other parts of the country that shall remain nameless (no need to go rubbing it in the noses of cities like, say, Boston), LA is all about outdoor activities at Christmastime - and nothing says "This is why I moved to Southern California" quite like a Christmas boat parade. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, boat owners gussy up their crafts and parade them up and down waterways for applauding spectators, who line the harbors and marinas from Dana Point to Ventura. Driving around looking at holiday lights is great; letting them float by you is even better...

Queen Mary's Dark Harbor: Are Your Kids Ready for this Scary Halloween Haunt?

No parent likes to contemplate it, but the day will come for our kids when trick-or-treating is no more. If your family is as hooked on Halloween as ours is, you'll want to find a way to keep the magic going, even once your baby starts to look really big to other people (particularly people opening their doors at night). Filling this void is the main reason for the many seriously spooky big kid haunts around the Southland—haunts like Universal Horror Nights, Knott's Scary Farm, and Dark Harbor. But how to transition? You can't just hit the brakes on collecting candy with Elsa and suddenly start running from chainsaw wielding zombies.

I had a theory (having visited a few of these fright nights) that Dark Harbor at the Queen Mary might be the perfect tween transition to a different way of celebrating All Hallows' Eve, and I committed so fully to this theory that I booked our whole family (and some friends) for an overnight on the haunted, haunting ship. And guess what? It worked! Three tweens I know had the time of their lives screaming with the spooks all night at the Queen Mary. The evening was enormous fun, and I think a few things we did to prepare helped stack the deck in favor of success.

Family Weekend Getaway: River Rafting with Kids in the Catskills

I've wanted to take my kids river rafting since my teenage son was a toddler, yet we never managed to get around to it—until this summer. After spending a wonderful day on the Delaware River in the Sullivan Catskills, my only regret is that we didn't go sooner.

With three kids ranging from 8 to 13, finding an outing we can all enjoy is sometimes a challenge. River rafting hit the mark beautifully, providing a completely unplugged experience that's fun for all ages. Plus, clocking in at just under two hours from New York City (and even less for Westchester residents), rafting in the Catskills is an easy day trip or a quick weekend getaway. We opted to make a weekend out of it, so we've got the scoop on where to go rafting and what to expect, plus where to stay overnight.

For more weekend getaway ideas, consult our Day Trips & Getaways Guide and sign up for our newsletters.

For Family Thrills, Try Whitewater Rafting—Just a Few Hours from Boston

Surrounded by the flat, meandering Charles, Boston has a reputation for some great kayaking and canoeing. But whitewater adventures? Not so much. However, in just a few hours or less, you can find real-deal rapids that rival many you might find in the southern mountains or even out west. Even better, southern New England is home to some experienced guide companies who run family-focused trips that introduce beginners to whitewater rafting with an eye toward safety, education, and fun. If you think your crew is game to try some whitewater rafting, here's a breakdown of three companies who operate trips in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and southern Vermont.

Fishing on Long Island: Where to Cast a Line with Kids

Ready to teach your little one how to cast a line? Fishing is not only a fun outdoor family activity, but also one with deep roots on Long Island with its maritime history and culture.

Surrounded by water, kids can drop a line in myriad waterfront towns, beaches, local piers, boats, and parks. We've rounded up a few of our favorite family-friendly fishing venues around Long Island where you can test your skills for hooking the catch of the day.

Looking for more summer seaside enjoyment? Make sure to visit our list of stunning Long Island lighthouses


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