Downtown

Along Came a Spider Pavilion: Big Spiders Are Back at the Natural History Museum

While some may ring in the Halloween season by smearing shrubs with 99-cent store fuzzy webbing and plastic spiders, the arachnid purists over at the Natural History Museum have a more organic approach. This weekend the screened pavilion on the museum’s South Lawn becomes seasonal home to more free-range, eight-legged tenants than anyone in his right mind could want – in short, an arachnophobe’s worst nightmare and an eight-year-old boy’s version of heaven.

Free Admission Days at 23 Museums in Los Angeles and Orange County

Love museums, but the prices make you think twice? If you have a large family, those tickets add up fast—which is particularly frustrating if you then need to beat a hasty retreat to avoid a meltdown. SoCal has some great museums that have free general admission every day of the year, including The Getty, California Science Center and The Broad. Also, active-duty military personnel can take advantage of the Blue Star Program at many LA and OC museums in summertime. As for the rest of them (once kids are old enough to have to pay), many LA and OC museums have monthly or even weekly free days or evenings, and we have collected a list below for easy reference. These times offer a great chance to bring the extended family, meet friends, or check out a place you have never been before—all for just the price of parking or Metro tickets. And if there's a meltdown? At least it's free.

September GoList: Best Things To Do with LA and OC Kids This Month

September is bitter-sweet. The relief of having back all those hours in the day is tinged with the loss of long, balmy summer evenings without homework or lunches to prepare. And who among us is ready to hear the word "Halloween"? No, better to look to the September weekends as an opportunity to pretend that summer is still with us. Luckily the weather and the SoCal fun generally cooperate! Read on for the best of September in LA, Ventura, and OC. We'll keep adding to our calendar daily and sending our weekly newsletter in time for each weekend, but here's your chance to plan ahead for these September favorites.

Angels Flight Opens Again, in Time for a Labor Day Ride!

UPDATE: As of 9/4/17 Angles Flight is again closed for repairs! The website says the closure will last "several days."

Anyone can root for the Dodgers or skirt traffic on the 405; proof of a real Angeleno is whether you've been on Angel's Flight. The quirky, ostensibly pointless little funicular train shoots straight up Bunker Hill and only makes sense to locals (a train in Downtown LA that travels 300 feet—uh, why?); transplants from other states generally don't even know it's there. For an LA native, though, a ride on Angels Flight is a must, whether or not you have any need to be on Bunker Hill. This is especially true this week, when the 116 year-old railway revs up its two little cars again after a long absence.

Kids Eat Free at Restaurants All Over Los Angeles

Ah, those three little words: kids eat free. Even if we suspect that a box of mac and cheese and a couple of chicken fingers have lured us into buying a $10 margarita, we don't regret the margarita for a moment if the kids ate free.

We’ve put together a list of restaurants throughout the Los Angeles area that offer free kids' meals at least one night a week (and up to four!). The restaurants vary from local joints to national chains, from the Valleys to the beaches, from Italian to Hawaiian, and from seafood to steakhouses—enough to satisfy picky and non-picky eaters.

Also check out our lists of birthday freebies with free meals for kids (and adults!), and, of course, kid-friendly happy hours on the Westside, in Silver Lake and Los Feliz, and in Orange County.

30 Ways To Keep Summer Going after School Begins

Whether you're relieved by the quiet or disturbed by the abrupt ending, most LA families are using those three little words (back to school) a whole lot earlier these days. Of course, dropping our kids off at school doesn't change the weather; there might be no child left behind at the beach, but it's still summer until close to Halloween. So if your family is not yet ready for summer to end, pick a few items off our Endless Summer List and go have some fun while the sun still shines!

School Start & End Dates: 2017-18 Academic Year Calendars for LA County Schools

Summer vacation ain't what it used to be. The majority of SoCal school districts now opt for an August start date, with only a few South Bay stragglers sticking with the old-school, New York style post-Labor Day start. And beware assuming that school starts and finishes roughly when it did last year, because schedules seem to change all the time. This year Alhambra is first out of the gate, leading the back-to-school race with a pool-party-pooper start date of August 10; Torrance kids still get the most out of summer with their September 7th first day.

Wondering where your district fits in, and how much time you have left for these 50 Free Things To Do in Summer? Bookmark our list below with start and finish dates for the 2017-2018 school year all over LA County. And if what you read makes you wonder about what other school options are available to you, maybe our school guide can help.

Public Swimming Pools with Extras Worth the Drive in LA and OC

Sure, there are miles and miles of beaches in SoCal, but sometimes you need a break from the sand and you want water that's a little less, well, wavy. Most of us are willing to go out of our way to find a pool that’s open to the public for recreational swimming and offers something special: Think slides, water play features, extended shallow areas for the little ones to splash in, or a beautiful, peaceful setting. Here’s our list of cool destination pools worth a drive in LA and OC. Most range in price from $1 to $12 per person, and several offer discounted season passes (check websites for details).

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.

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