Hollywood

Halloween Festivals and Theme Park Haunts LA Kids Can't Do Without

I have a mama friend who refers to this time of year as the High Holidays, and she ain't talking Yom Kippur. She's also not wrong; there really is no higher holiday on the kid calendar than Halloween. And Southland families can enjoy a long slow build to All Hallows' Eve with more spooky celebrations, haunted happenings, and evil events per capita than any other urban area. Little ghouls and goblins have their pick of pumpkin patches, haunted houses, corn mazes, and ghost trains—but wait; there's more! SoCal theme parks get all creepy at this time of year, too, and the annual festivals below scream Halloween like nobody's business.

Where Kids Eat Free: 21 LA Restaurants that Offer Free Meals for Families with Children

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.

Best Petting Zoos around LA Where Kids Can Get Their Animal Fix

Kids of all ages love animals, from babies barely aware that the cow goes "moo" to older kids who can somehow spit out the full Latin name of a rare South American pig most adults don't know exists. So it's very special when children get the opportunity to go beyond the classic zoo to meet critters in closer quarters, and even get their hands on them (gently, of course). 

Classes for Kids with Special Needs in LA: After School and Weekend Sports Activities

I have a child on the Autism Spectrum, or, as I like to call it, the Anxiety Spectrum. Every quirk and disability on the Spectrum—from OCD to sensory issues to ADD to dyslexia—goes hand in hand with lots of anxiety. So if you're like me, you can't simply throw your little one into any ol' extracurricular activity and assume it will go well. Noise levels, group-think, verbal directions, physical coordination... these can be overwhelming challenges for some children.  

Over the last few crazy years with my family, I've discovered many classes and sports around town for special kiddos. And while I'm no PhD-degreed expert, parent-to-parent I would like to share some ideas with the Mommy Poppins community as we immerse ourselves in another school year.

Free Admission Days at 20+ 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. 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 for easy reference. Go ahead, 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. 

Best Pumpkin Patches for LA, Ventura, & Orange County Kids

The time has come to surrender to the Great Pumpkin. Mind you, the big guy is spoiled for choice around the Southland in Halloween season. We won't presume to call one pumpkin patch more sincere than the others, but LA’s pumpkin patches (and pseudo pumpkin patches) run a satisfying gamut from small to large, folksy to commercial. Whether you're hoping for a hit-and-run Halloween photo or a day's outing in autumnal reverie, your destination is below...

Best Kid-Friendly Hotels for a Los Angeles Family Vacation

Finding bliss and relaxation on vacation is so much easier when the kiddos are happy. Whether you're visiting Los Angeles, housing out-of-town guests, or indulging in a staycation (though we can recommend some kid-friendly hotels all around the world), why not choose a hotel that caters to the smallest guests? These LA resorts offer a little slice of paradise, family-friendly amenities, and unique experiences that might make you want to ditch that faraway destination and spend the weekend in SoCal. The best part is watching the kids have a blast, too.

Boney Island Is Back from the Dead and Haunting the Griffith Park Ghost Train this Halloween

When Boney Island ended its run after 19 years in a residential Sherman Oaks neighborhood, fans of the pun-tastic haunt were heartbroken. But mourn no more (unless that gets you into the Halloween spirit, of course). Boney Island is teaming up with the Griffith Park Ghost Train to create a double-feature event that isn't too scary for little kids but is definitely a treat for everyone.

These Great Bilingual and Language Immersion Preschools Make LA Tots Polyglots

We've all heard that children have a much easier time learning a second language than adults do, but it's not always easy to provide the opportunity. If a parent or grandparent speaks another language, having the language reinforced in a community setting can increase a child's interest in playing along. If there is no other language at home, a bilingual preschool may be the only way to give your child the gift of a second language. Immersion preschools can also help to prepare a child to attend one of LA's bilingual elementary schools

The schools below are organized by language; scroll to the bottom to see them on a map. (We know some great language immersion preschools in Orange County, too!)

7 Spooky Halloween Haunts for Kids Ready for a Big Kid Scare

There is nothing like the wholesome thrill of introducing a Tigger-clad child to the joys of a night spent ringing neighbors' doorbells in return for candy. And what goes on at most of LA's theme parks in October is, indeed, nothing like that wholesome thrill. It may seem like Los Angeles celebrates a night that's all about children with an awful lot of entertainment that is clearly not for children, but these frightful haunts keep the Halloween fun going for older kids, for teens, and even for adults who indulge in guilty gruesome pleasures. But how to know which haunts are best for which ages? We've braved a few of them to share our reviews of just how scary is scary.

Looking for something not quite so scary, and a good deal cheaper? Check out these haunts that are mostly free and in private yards.

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