Outdoors

Cut Your Own Christmas Tree This Year: Southern California Tree Farms

Ah, childhood in New England. I remember the hip-deep snows of December, building snowmen until my fingers froze, and drying my hand-knit mittens by the fire. Fast forward to my boys’ childhoods in LA, and I wonder: What will they remember? Sand sledding at the beach and wearing shorts on Christmas day? Will they never make snow angels in their best friend’s backyard?

Thankfully, one winter tradition we can carry on here in the Southland is cutting down our own Christmas tree. If you’re willing to cross county lines, you, too, can experience this classic holiday outing. If living Christmas trees aren’t your thing, and you want something other than a pre-cut or artificial tree, get ready to set hacksaw to tree trunk, watch the tree fall gently to the ground, and smell the sap on your hands as you sing carols on the car ride home. We have compiled a list of area tree farms to help you get started.

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...

Billy Johnson Playground Reopens in Central Park After Renovation

The Billy Johnson Playground in Central Park has reopened after a months-long rehabilitation and reconstruction project, bringing with it not only the re-opening of the iconic, long, curving granite slide, but also a second granite slide that's accessible for smaller kids.

While the original slide helped land the playground on our list of 100 things to do with city kids before they grow up, the renovation adds a few new noteworthy features to one of our favorite playgrounds in Central Park.

The Best Places to Go Sledding in Westchester with Kids

The snow season is upon us—and while you may be considering the practical aspects of snow fall, like shoveling, commuting changes, and other (hopefully minor) disruptions and annoyances, kids see powdery snow blanketing the yards, sidewalks, and cars, and all they can think of is ... SNOW DAY!

We've rounded up the most popular sledding destinations across the county, along with some helpful tips for keeping little ones safe while they sled. 

Be sure to check our Winter Fun Guide and Indoor Activity Guide for more ideas to keep kids busy this winter. Our Event Calendar is also full of kid-friendly events and activities happening around town.

Watchung Reservation Sensory Trail Caters To NJ Kids of All Abilities

Sensory play—any activity that stimulates any one or all of a child’s five senses—is a crucial part of development. And for children who have difficulties processing all the different sensations that they receive from their senses, sensory stimulation can be even more valuable.

Enter the Watchung Reservation Sensory Trail in Mountainside. The first of its kind in Union County, the trail, located in Union County's largest park, is designed to provide sensory stimulation and interaction for all kids, with an emphasis on special needs children and their families. According to Union County park officials, it is the most extensive sensory trail in the U.S.

On a recent visit with my 5-year-old, we set out to determine if this sensory-friendly trail would stimulate all five of our senses. Read on to find out what we saw, heard, smelled, touched, and yes, maybe tasted, too.

Check out our Fall Fun Guide to find more easy trails along with other seasonal fun.

Thanksgiving Day Runs for Long Island Families

Before the Thanksgiving festivities begin (not to mention the eating frenzy), why not get the whole family up and moving with a good old-fashioned turkey trot. These runs and walks are held in NassauSuffolk, and the East End around the time of the holiday and many are open to all ages, often featuring a "fun run" just for kids.

Many of these races start bright and early, so even if you’re the one putting the turkey in the oven or have to hit the road by noon to get to grandma’s, you still should be able to fit in a holiday trot. For more seasonal adventures, check out our Long Island Events Calendar and our November GoList.

Sand Sledding: Winter Fun on the Sand Berms at Venice Beach

November is time to hit the berms!

Rumor has it that in some parts of the country sledding involves getting cold and wet. How very... un-Californian. Oh, sure, there are places near LA to go sledding on snow if that's your thing, but we're raising California kids—and that means beach sledding. Every winter a few Los Angeles area beaches get their annual sand berms—intended as protection against winter storms and violent surf. Or so they say. The real purpose is clearly to lay the groundwork for the ultimate SoCal winter sport.

Best Outdoor Ice Skating Rinks in LA, from Downtown to the Valleys to the Beach

One thing Angelenos love doing during the winter months is pretending that it’s winter, and the most fun way we do it is by turning parking lots and other open spaces into outdoor skating rinks for the holidays. Whether your family is trying skating for the first time, or you've got budding athletes looking for a change of scenery from indoor skating lessons, nothing says Southern California quite like the sight of kids and families in tank tops and mittens gliding merrily in the sunshine.

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