The Valleys

25 Things To Do around Thousand Oaks with Kids

Thousand Oaks, named (and incorporated) in the 1960s to honor the many majestic oaks in the area, may be the perfect SoCal suburb; it can feel as far from city or as close to city as you like. If you have little ones and live in Thousand Oaks, you probably know some of the must-see spots on our list below—but have you visited them all? So much to do! And when you've exhausted your options and are ready to travel elsewhere in the Southland or beyond, take a peek at one of our many city lists. From Culver City to Pasadena, Redondo Beach to Hollywood, Marina Del Rey to Burbank our lists have got you covered. We'll even guide you through Anaheim on your way in and out of Disneyland. But today, the rolling hills and cultural allure of Thousand Oaks.

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...

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.

The Griffith Park Ghost Train Is Back for Halloween 2017!

It's ba-ack!

If your family is a die-hard Halloween-loving crew, you probably never miss the fabulous, kitsch-as-a-witch Griffith Park Ghost Train—except last year when you sorely missed it. We certainly pined for it last October, when the all-volunteer crew of train enthusiasts at Los Angeles Live Steamers took a year off from their annual, spooktastic labor of love. But whether you love the ride or had never heard of it, we can all share in the wonderful news that the Ghost Train rides again in 2017!

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.

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!

Free, Kid Friendly Workouts for Mom or Dad at the Mall

The first time you throw your little ones in the backseat of the car and take them to the mall, it’s a magical, low-cost experience for all: Ice cream! Merry-go-round! Free air conditioning! A few hours later, you’ve got yourself a happy, tired family. The twentieth time? Not so much.

But don’t give up! Malls want you to come, and they’re willing to do you a favor or two to get you there. It may seem counterintuitive to head to the mall in search of free stuff, but, in the spirit of reeling us in, many malls offer kid-friendly, free workouts for moms. In other words, the mall is one of very few places where you can exercise without dropping a wad of cash on an expensive class and/or babysitter. I can’t promise that you won’t end up splurging on lunch or a new pair of skinny jeans (that’s the whole point of the free workout, isn’t it?), but the sweat sessions listed below are free to anyone with an iron will.

Free (and Almost-Free) Archery Classes for LA & OC Kids Who Love Bows and Arrows

A fair number of kids who see Brave or The Hunger Games end up curious about archery, and a fair number of their parents end up scratching their heads and saying, "Where do we do that??" Gymnastics, swimming—that's easy. But where to bring a would-be archer to string a bow and shoot some arrows? Less obvious, perhaps, but not as hard as you might think. And the even better news? It's usually free!

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.

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