The Valleys

Laser Tag: Must-Try Spots for Family Fun or Epic Birthday Parties

Kids, teens, and adults all love laser tag. A little bit tag, a little bit hide and seek, laser tag is great fun for a mixed-age group. Video games fans can get up off the sofa and jump right inside the game, with an adrenaline rush practically guaranteed. Players wear special vests and use laser guns; the vests light up when hit (so no arguments!), and no protective gear is required—you cannot feel the laser, and it is eye-safe as well.

Some SoCal multi-activity family fun centers (of the type, for example, that might have glow-in-the-dark mini-golf) offer small versions of a laser tag game; if you've played at one of these, it's time to ramp up your game at one of the major laser tag arenas below! A dedicated laser tag center is two to four times larger than the games at family fun centers, and usually offers multiple levels. There are also fewer extra activities to pull at your wallet. Arenas are dark (the better to see the lasers) and may have other effects such as fog and sounds or music—not to mention blacklights. If you are feeling competitive, don’t wear white.

Laser tag is a great activity for a birthday party, too. In case none of the arenas are convenient to you, we've also found some mobile laser tag companies who bring the guns and vests, barricades, and inflatables to you. Indoor or outdoor, daytime or nighttime, going to battle with your kids is just good, wholesome fun.

Spring Break Camps: 14 Kinds of Vacation Fun for LA Kids

Spring Break around Los Angeles is a moving feast; some districts have one week, and some have two. Some take vacation in March, and some in April. Add to the mix the complications of Easter, Passover, and parent work schedules, and Spring Break camp can be a tough knot to untie. Whether your family needs two weeks full time or a day here and there, we've chosen a few of our favorites that run the gamut. From the Valley to the sea, surfing to soccer, we think you'll find something worthy of a few days away from school among the camps below.

And if you're so on the ball that spring is already covered and you've moved on to summer, check out some of our favorite art, cooking, horse, and classic outdoorsy camps in our Summer and Vacation Camp Guide!

Glow-in-the-Dark Mini Golf: a Glowing Twist on a Classic Game

There's plenty to love about mini golf; it's a timeless crowd pleaser that can rescue a dull afternoon or set the stage for a great birthday party. But just when you thought you knew all you needed to know about this classic pastime, along comes glow-in-the-dark mini golf! That would be indoor miniature golf, lit with black lights. It's a whole new twist on an old-fashioned game, and it works day or night, rain or shine, little kid or teen. We found five cool spots around the Southland that crank up the day glow effects to set the stage for mini golfers. Be sure to wear white or clothes with glow-in-the-dark designs and take the family to one of these luminous, eye-popping destinations.

8 Waterfall Hikes Every LA Family Should Know

It's been a long, tough drought, and Angelenos are ready to celebrate the return of water. What better way than with a hike to one of our wonderful LA area waterfalls? Some of these beautiful hidden gems have been hiding their light under a dry bushel for a few seasons, but no more! Every one of the waterfalls below is back to its full glory this season; once dry creek beds are again rushing with water and sporting every shade of green on the color wheel. A hike to one of these Southland waterfalls is the stuff that family memories (and Facebook posts) are made of.

And if spring hikes are what your family loves, you'll probably want to try one of these wonderful wildflower hikes next!

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St. Patrick's Day for SoCal Kids: Parades, Parties, and Irish Events

Here comes Saint Patrick's Day; time to brush up the Irish brogue for the one time per year (unless you're really Irish) that you use it. The holiday falls on a Friday this year, which has resulted in a celebration spread over two weekends of paradesfestivals, and corned beef. So top o' the marnin' to ye; Erin Go Bragh; that shade of green looks bonny on you, and let's go find that pot o' gold!

Purim Festivals and Carnivals around LA

Not too sure what Purim is? Imagine something between Hebrew Halloween and Middle Eastern Mardi Gras, and you'll more or less have it. Jewish families know Purim as a time of uncharacteristically raucous rabbinical revelry, marked by costumes, noisemakers, interactive storytelling, triangular pastries, and enough drink (for the grown-ups) to muddy the lines between good and evil. Gentile families generally don't know it at all. But Purim is worth knowing. Its story has all the best elements: a party-hearty king, a beautiful and courageous queen, a resourceful good guy, and a bad guy so hateful that everyone drowns out his name with noisemakers at carnivals all over town. Check out one of the events below for classic Purim carnival activities, costume parades, and boisterous retellings of the Purim story.

And if you know of a celebration we've missed, please let us know!

Summer Camp Open Houses and Tours at LA Day Camps

The approach of spring, for many parents, is also the beginning of the season of worrying about how to survive summer vacation. Picking the right summer camp can be overwhelming, especially if your little ones will spend a big chunk of their summer there. Our Camp Guide is a great place to start gathering ideas, and we recommend searching the listings in our camp directory, too. But what can really help narrow down the field is checking out camps in person. That's where open houses come in. They offer a fun way to get information about activities, see how your kids take to the environment, and talk in person with camp directors to see whether you've found a good fit.  

Below is a list of open houses offered over the next several weeks; these are great opportunities to talk to the people who might be spending the day with your kids. Click on a camp name to get more information about the camp's programs.

Whale Watching Update: Where To See Whales with Kids in LA

Winter is prime whale watching season in Southern California, and there are several ways to spy on the giant mammals as they pass through on their 6,000-mile quest for Mexican romance. Each year, between December and April, roughly 20,000 Pacific gray whales migrate past our beaches, and March brings particularly high traffic because that's when the underwater procession starts to turn around. Pregnant, south-bound she-whales still trying to make it to Baja before the contractions start are blasted past by upwardly mobile young he-whales, finished with romance and headed for an appointment in the Arctic Circle. All that toing and froing is the inspiration for many a whale cruise and festival. With a little luck and clear skies, even a hike or sand sledding can turn into a whale watching activity.

5 Family Presidential Activities for Presidents Day in LA

Unlike other holidays, Presidents Day is not a day replete with family rituals; if your family does have a tradition, it's more likely to be hunting for the snow chains before heading off skiing than anything presidential. If you are staying in town for the three-day weekend, though, why not find an activity that makes sense out of Presidents Day? After all, you're more likely to raise a president yourself if you keep your eye on the ball! Check out these five special Presidents Day activities for LA's little POTUS-in-training; and maybe someday your kiddo will add a third presidential museum to the LA landscape.

Best Things To Do This Weekend with LA Kids: Valentines, Globetrotters, & Grammy Concert, February 11-12

We love you. We really, really love you. We love you cupcakes and puppy dogs. We love you whales and dragons and butterflies. We love you rock stars and flowers and noisy, bashing cars. We love you parades.

We want to make you Valentines to show you our love. We want to make other people Valentines to show you our love. We want to ride our bikes, dance flamenco, and do tricks with balls to show you our love. How do we love you? Let us write you a poem to show you how.  

So...   um... just wondering.... how do you feel about us? Maybe enough to keep reading for our most beloved picks for this weekend…?

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