Los Angeles

15 Great Barbecue Grills and Pits in LA Parks for Cooking Out with Family

Nothing says “summer” like barbecue. Many of our local parks are standing by with grills and pits to satisfy that craving for charred food. And the beauty of life in Southern California is that "summer" can be practically any time of year; the 15 parks below have year-round, mostly free barbecue facilities, ready for birthday parties, holiday celebrations, spontaneous picnics, or family dinners al fresco.

This Weekend's Fun for LA Kids: Superhero Day, Sandcastle Building, and Impossible Science

Summer’s not even close to over, and here’s how I know: a whole bunch of summery event series are just now getting started. So it can’t be the end if it’s the beginning (unless that’s some kind of circle of life metaphor). Big World Fun, the multicultural music and dance series for kids at the Ford, starts now. Movies on the Green, Warner Center's free weekly movie series, starts now. Several summer events just started last week (Sound in Focus, CCPT Children's Theatre in the Park, Orange County Fair). Others have yet to make their seasonal debut: We have to wait for Santa Monica’s Jazz on the Lawn, the second half of Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival (Two Gentlemen of Verona), the Getty’s Garden Concerts for Kids (did they really get Dan Zanes this year?!), and whatever Shakespearean nonsense the Actor’s Gang comes up with in Culver City (it will be hard to top last year’s Pokemon Romeo & Juliet!)

Also new this weekend: Impossible Science LIVE at Discovery Cube OC, All Star Comedy Festival featuring shorts from Hollywood's Golden Age, Comic Con 2017 (a tad far but worth the trip), and summery festivals in Santa Monica, Norwalk, and Cypress. There's a Back to School party at Toys R Us and a Back to School Health Fair in Pacoima... School?! No. Just no.

It is summer, burning bright like the stars in the sky, and its end is nowhere in sight. For a couple of weeks at least.

Keep reading for our favorite summer-is-still-going-strong picks for this weekend...

Weekday Picks: Lawn Games, Comic Con, and Marvel Action Heroes, July 17-21

Looking for a twist on Family Game Night? Two events on Friday can help by bringing the fun and games outdoors. Orange County Great Park invites families to take part in Friday Night Lawn Games, where croquet, bocce ball, ladder ball, and other favorites are set up on the Balloon Lawn for all to enjoy. Also that evening, the City of Santa Monica's Pop Up Park Night offers cornhole, disc golf, tug of war, and other games at Clover Park.

Thursday marks the start of two action hero-packed events: Comic-Con 2017 in San Diego and the last Southern California run of Marvel Universe Live in Anaheim. Of course, Comic-Con doesn't just feature action heroes; it's a four-day celebration of comic books, movies, TV, video games, anime, and other pop-culture phenomena. Many revelers come decked out in wildly imaginative costumes that give Halloween some serious competition, making for an extravagant show within a show. As for the Marvel event, families can watch Spider-Man and the Avengers team up with the Guardians of the Galaxy to fight evil.

Once you check out our picks for the week, head over to the Mommy Poppins Event Calendar and monthly GoList to help plan some more fun for the family.

Giant Balloon Animals Are on Display in Downtown LA

It’s July; the kids are bouncing off the walls, and there's still more than a month until school starts. You're beginning to think there aren't possibly enough activities in the world to keep your children entertained all summer long, when a can't-miss art installation opens in Downtown LA that's fun for the whole family.

Animal Soul, which is on display July 14-22, is composed of giant balloon creatures located at two DTLA venues: FIGat7th and the Wells Fargo Center. And if you're looking for an opportunity to have a meaningful conversation about art with your kids, artist Jason Hackenwerth believes his expansive exhibit fits the bill.

Little Damage in DTLA: Want Some Charcoal in Your Ice Cream?

When I became a parent, a mom friend told me that what I could look forward to was the return of the simple, perfect joy of an ice cream cone. The image of gleefully chasing an ice cream truck warmed my heart. But now that my kid is a teenager, that ice cream glee looks a little different. It looks like Little Damage, the social media phenomenon that has people standing in line for an hour on a DTLA street corner to eat a black ice cream cone, only AFTER they have photographed it and shared it with a few hundred friends. This summer, the ice cream that brings joy is charcoal flavored.

This Weekend's Fun for LA Kids: Festivals for Trains, Lotuses, Lobsters, and OC

I don't want to say Santa Monica's trying too hard, but hey, little hamlet, what are you trying to prove? We get it—fun times by the water, typically 10 to 20 degrees cooler than the rest of LA. Yay, you. But really now. The library, the college pool, the local museum; even the mayor is getting in on the act, being all "ride with me, what a fun town, we have bike lanes."

Of course, SaMo isn't the only game in town. LA is downright festive with all the festivals. Oceans and Orange Countychoo choos and Camarillo, luchadores lobsters and lotuses. This weekend you can pose with a big inflatable balloon sculpture thing; you can sample a sweet sundae; you can party with the PD. You can see many, many movies and listen to many, many concerts (in the great outdoors, no less).

Whether you're 310-ing it, or 323-ing it, or even 909-ing it, there's no better place to be than SoCal this weekend. (Or any weekend for that matter, let's be honest.) Let the festivities begin!

Keep reading for our most "we're not trying too hard, we're just that good" picks for this weekend...

Kids Bowl Free: Truly Free and Cheap Bowling for Kids All Over LA

My son went to a bowling party recently that sparked an obsession with the game. Ever the supportive parent, I soon found myself at bowling outings all around town on behalf of his newfound interest. And I realized something: bowling is a really great sport for kids. The ingrained turn-taking structure, team camaraderie, and relaxed competitiveness offer kiddos a dose of sportsmanship at a fun pace. Accommodations like gutter bumpers and starting ramps guarantee success for even the youngest bowlers. Seriously, bowling is like the unsung hero of children's athletics. And it must have been this idea that fueled the creation of Kids Bowl Free, a fantastic nationwide program designed to give youth a constructive way to beat the heat. Read on to find out how your kids can bowl free every day this summer.

Weekday Picks: OC Fair, Camarillo Fiesta, and Port of LA Lobster Festival

Blame the ending scenes of Grease: few things scream "It's summer!" to us more than a big carnival with all the attractions. This week, summer fair and festival season kicks into high gear, highlighted by the opening of the Orange County Fair. Sure, there's the huge Ferris wheel and a whole bunch of thrill rides, and lots of animals and entertainment (and sometimes animal entertainment); but, c'mon, it's really about the food—especially of the deep-fried variety.

Much farther north, the Camarillo Fiesta Street Fair starts with a carnival this week and adds on the street fair through the weekend, including a Kids Fun Zone and petting zoo. Of course, if feasting on crustaceans is more your family's style, you should check out the Port of Los Angeles Lobster Festival in San Pedro.

Here's a short list of some favorites for the week. Be sure to head on over to the Mommy Poppins Event Calendar and July GoList for more ideas.

10 Reasons To Visit Orange County Great Park Today

Some days call for adventure beyond the same old stomping grounds—like maybe taking a closer look at that intriguing giant balloon just off the 5 Freeway in Orange County. If your crew is primed for an outing beyond the local playground, head for Irvine to explore Orange County Great Park, home to so much more than a playground. Your day's adventure can include a carousel, exhibits, workshops, outdoor entertainment, and, of course, a ride up in the air on a giant, bucket-list-worthy, orange balloon.

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