Los Angeles

10 Best US Airports for Traveling with Kids

There are all sorts of things to look forward to when we travel, but the airport is not generally one of them. If flying with kids conjures up images of agonizing lines, stressful bathroom visits, and long walks down grimy hallways with cranky toddlers, maybe for your next trip you should try rerouting through one of the airports below. These 10 US hubs have all gone the extra mile to make an airport into a destination kids will remember as part of the adventure. If your trip starts, finishes, or lays over at one of our favorite kid-friendly terminals, you can look forward to play areas, interactive exhibits, rides, and more to keep ahead of the turbulence.

Holiday Volunteering: Helping LA Kids Find Their Spirit of Giving

Sharing traditions with our children makes the holidays all the sweeter. The pies we bake, candles we light, songs we sing, and the gifts we give enrich the rhythm of this festive season. Volunteering to help those in need is another tradition we can offer to our kids. Giving our time and attention to our communities, whether we're dishing up food or singing Christmas carols, is often the best gift of all. And setting up our kids for a life of sharing and empathy is a gift we give to them and to the world they inherit.

10 Ways To Take Photos with Santa Claus Like an Angeleno

Mall Santas have a special place in many of our hearts (and in most Southland shopping centers), and the holidays really aren't complete without a round of Miracle on 34th Street. Still, we're not raising little Manhattanites; we're raising Southern California babies, and that calls for an outside-the-box kind of Santa Claus photo. If you're in search of quantity, Santa can be found in every mall, at every Christmas tree lighting, at any number of holiday shopping events, and even at one or two Nutcracker performances. But for some real Angeleno quality, snap a photo with Santa at one of these fun, funky, and totally LA Father Christmas experiences.

Weekend Fun for LA Kids: Zoo Lights, Surfing Santas, Doo Dah, and Mariachis

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go. I mean everywhere. The malls you expect. Mallsmallsmalls. Look at those trees! And town centers, more or less like malls, I guess. And on the stages, the seasonal theatrical productions are starting. Don't forget the zoo, day and night. And the beach! Who knew: Santa's a surfer dude!

Like a good Santa, he is bringing toys to all the girls and boys. So whether you're hoping to see Shopkins  or tiny trains under the tree, whether you're a super fan of  Minecraft or My Little Pony (or even Moby Dick), this weekend Santa has something in his magic bag of tricks for you.

Too early, you say? Can’t possibly be time to deck the halls? If you need further proof that Yuletide is upon us, all you need do is open your windows and check out all that snow. Ho ho ho indeed!

Keep reading for our holliest, jolliest picks for this weekend.

Eataly LA: A Taste of Italy without the Airfare

For those who pine for fresh pasta, Neopolitan pizzas, and every Italian delicacy that never pops up at Trader Joe's, there's good news. Eataly L.A., the latest outpost of what has been called the Disneyland for Italian food (and has become a New York institution), opened its first North American location west of Chicago last week in the newly redone Westfield Century City shopping center. Eataly now has 39 locations throughout Italy and around the world, and just five of those can be found in the US. Eataly L.A. has three floors (the third is an as-yet unopened restaurant) and offers a little bit of everything: a grocery store, sit-down restaurants, prepared food counters, cafes, and fresh food for home preparation. There's even a cooking school (La Scuola), and foodies who don't want to cook for themselves can watch fresh food being made as well as sample olive oils, balsamic vinegars, and pestos.

So what should kids try? Even picky eaters who hesitate to try Italy's more adventurous fare will be able to find some satisfying pizza and gelato to excite their palates, whether you want to eat in-house, grab a quick bite, or purchase food to make at home.

The Nutcracker: Holiday Performances of the Classic Ballet for LA & OC Kids this Christmas

Most of the year, most of us parents don't attempt to take our children to full-length ballet productions, but Christmas just doesn't feel like Christmas without one good Nutcracker. And if one good Nutcracker begins to make it feel a lot like Christmas, then LA, Orange, and Ventura counties are evidently hitting Uber-Christmas in the coming weeks with more than two dozen professional Nutcracker productions.

Incidentally, we've got answers to the two questions posed most often by LA parents in search of a Nutcracker Ballet for their families: Yes, there is a condensed version staged specifically for kids, offered by the Pacific Ballet down in Costa Mesa or Classical Ballet Theater in Palos Verdes; and yes, there are local productions performed with full orchestra - at the Long Beach Terrace Theater, the Broad Stage, the Dolby Theatre, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, and the Anaheim Ballet. There is even the odd Nutcracker Tea or two—in case you were wondering.

Cavalia Odysseo: Horses and Acrobats Play in a Big White Tent in Camarillo

There is nothing like Cavalia. The touring production Odysseo by the Cavalia team feels like the dreams we might have if we lived among wild horses and gypsy acrobats. And dream really is the key word: from the first moment until the last, herds of horses, flocks of aerialists, and scenic displays of epic proportions fill the stage with sequences that transport the audience to a magical dreamscape beyond most of our imaginings. You'll be rubbing your eyes to work out how they fit this world in one tent.

If someone in your house loves horses, this show is truly a must; if horses don't normally move you, Odysseo will change that. If these words seem overly effusive, rest assured that they don't begin to do justice to the spectacle taking place daily in that big castle-like tent next to the 101 freeway in Camarillo.

Christmas Trains: All Aboard the Polar Express for Kids in LA, Ventura, & Orange County

Trains in Los Angeles are more or less novelties all year round, which means they hold onto that wonderful Thomas-the-Tank-Engine, Polar-Express mystique far longer for LA kids than for urban kids who take the A train regularly. And for anyone who loves trains, Christmas trains offer the ultimate "old world charm" rail experience. Add an appearance by Santa Claus and a few Christmas trees, and you have a recipe for a memorable holiday experience. Some of the dates are limited, though, so booking ahead when possible is the best way to make sure this train doesn't pass you by. All aboard the Santa Express!

Weekend Fun for LA Kids: Veterans Day, Reptiles, American Indians, & Tree Lightings

You had a week. One week post Halloween without tinsel, candy canes, or holiday cheer. Now it's nothing but tree lightings, Clausian breakfasts, and ornamental crafts 'til the end of the year.

We tease, of course. As the skilled multitaskers all parents must be, we can spread our attention over multiple holidays, those near and dear as well as those farther down the road. This weekend we are paying tribute to our nation's veterans with parades and ceremonies throughout the Southland,

We can find time to appreciate American Indian Arts, to dance like no one is watching, and to roar with our teenage dreams. To go back in time and to catch them all. And always, always, we can find time for a double shot of caffeine.

Keep reading for the multitude of choices worthy of your attention this weekend...

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