The Valleys

Free (or Almost Free) Summer Movies for Families All Over LA

And... action! As summer kicks off, a familiar annual scene is playing out at locations throughout the Southland: the season of free, nearly free, and gloriously cheap outdoor summer movie series has started rolling. At museumsparks, beaches, and malls, indoors and outdoors, in the early morning and by the light of the moon, families can catch both recent blockbusters and timeless classics for free or close to it. (While free is awesome, we think a dollar is still pretty good!)

Below you can find our comprehensive guide to free (and darn close to it) summer movie screenings and festivals. Click on the event names for more details, including movie titles. And keep checking back, because we'll continue to post more listings as they are announced, throughout the 2017 summer movie season.

Memorial Day Weekend for LA Kids: Greeks, Scots, Music, and Fireworks

First and foremost, Memorial Day is about the members of the armed forces who gave their lives in our nation’s service. Their sacrifice is unimaginable, our debt to them beyond measure. To those lost, and to those who serve our nation and all it stands for, we salute you.

The weekend is not all somber reflection: Memorial Day also means a long weekend, and the unofficial start of summer. Festival is the word of the day: throughout the Southland folks gather to enjoy yummies and wild art, and to celebrate different cultures (including Greek, Scottish, and Topangan). Discovery Cube LA opens a new exhibit, and Discovery Cube OC flies in with two of its own.

And, of course, Memorial Day weekend closes with tributes to our fallen heroes. Ceremonies are being held at the Nixon Presidential Library, in Burbank and Canoga Park, and at Woodlawn and Forest Lawn Cemeteries.

Read on for some of our favorite picks for this three-day holiday weekend...

Memorial Day Parades Around LA and the OC

One thing about Los Angeles - it's not a one-parade town. If festivals are too stationary for you, if you need a parade to drum up an appetite for that Memorial Day BBQ, then you've got it made in the shade (as long as you've found a shady spot for your  chair) in Los Angeles and Orange County on Monday. The good news for the parade abstainers is that none of the parades on this holiday marches down a major thoroughfare (unless the 405 gets shut down - in which case Topanga is going to hear plenty of honking that isn't for peace). For parade fans, the patriotic fanfare never sounded so good.

Strawberries and Cherries and Stone Fruit, Oh My! Pick Your Own Berries in LA & OC

There is something magical about picking your own food. If you want to "get back to the land" within an hour of Los Angeles, there are myriad opportunities to go live a farmer's life for just a few hours and come home with your basket overflowing with berries. Whether you prefer strawberries, cherries, or stone fruit, picking your own berries is a fun (and tasty!) family activity that keeps on giving. Just three caveats: 1. Be sure to check the farm's hours and availability before heading out, as current conditions dictate the seasons; 2. Farms may charge small admission fees, and 3. Bring cash to pay for your harvest, because many places don't accept checks or credit. Then slather on the sun screen, don a wide-brimmed hat, and don't wear white, and bon appetit!

Travel Town in Griffith Park: Train Rides for Little Tank Engines

Have a train-obsessed kiddo? If riding back and forth on the Metro line isn't enough for your little engine, it's time to explore the train options in Griffith Park—the crown jewel of which is the park’s train-filled Travel Town Museum. The museum itself is free, and rides on the miniature trains costs less than $3 per person, making it a perfect place to visit with toddlers, or host a birthday party full of tank engine fans.

15 Great LA Parks for Birthday Parties Kids Will Rave About

Lucky for us, hosting mostly free kids’ birthday parties at the many glorious parks around Los Angeles is available year round; and with our famous weather, it’s a pretty safe perk to gamble on. From rustic to scenic to built-in activities, the city’s bounty is near limitless. And the best part: no sticky floor and dirty fingerprints to scour afterward. Be sure to check whether there are additional fees around parking or other rules; LA City parks, for example, require a permit fee for bounce houses (we have an entire post just on parks that allow bounce houses). Read on for some of our favorite party parks, with ideas for themes at each one. And check out these other parks with barbecue grills and parks with gated playgrounds, too.

Mother's Day Weekend Things To Do with LA Kids: Fire Service Day, Airport Day, and Brunch

Here's what Momma wants for Mother's Day: ice cream, firemen, and frappuccinos. All the rest is just whipped cream on said frap. Sure, there are other things that will be greatly appreciated. Ice show with world champions? Don't mind if I do! A magical musical movie screening? Are you a wizard reading my mind, Harry? And yes, I would be delighted to accompany you to brunch. Is there bacon at said brunch? More's the better.

Of course, every mom is different. One size does not fit all, which is why frappuccinos come in grande, venti, and some other size. Did I mention I'm a mom? I totally deserve this.

There are some other things going on this weekend: the final weekend of the Flashlight exhibit (with a free photo for Grandma or Mom), a breakfast with gibbons (see how well they treat their mamas), the Anaheim Baby Show (for Moms new to the momming business), and a bunch of clever craft activities that can double as gifts for Mom (aw, isn't that thoughtful!). There are even freebies for Mom, because, really, where would you be without her?  

Call your mom; send her some flowers, and keep reading for some of our most maternal picks for this weekend.

Rose Bowl Flea Market with Kids: You Can Do This

Pasadena is home to one of the world's most famous outdoor markets—a destination both tempting and daunting to bargain hungry parents. But guess what: a Sunday morning at the Rose Bowl Flea Market doesn’t have to mean dragging bored, sweaty, whining kids around rows and rows of breakables. A treasure-hunting expedition can be fun for the whole family! Picking through this renowned Pasadena flea is my absolute favorite thing to do, and, while I sometimes go solo so I can focus on finding great vintage decor and clothes, my toddlers and husband enjoy coming along, too. It just takes a little bit of refocusing to make this LA must-do locale a family-friendly day out.

Water Feature: 15 Water Playgrounds and Parks with Splash Pads in LA

Remember those great summer afternoons running through a sprinkler with the neighborhood kids? Over in New England and Nebraska that’s probably still happening, but in parched SoCal we really can't be turning on the hose to while away a lazy afternoon. Instead, packs of puddle-loving Angeleno kids splash through the heat at parks with free and fabulous water features, like the ones below. So if a pool or a water park sounds like too much work today, cool those kids down at a splash pad! After the rainy 2016-17 winter, all of these should be fully operational this summer with no more drought restrictions.

Mommy Freebies! Free Stuff for LA Moms on Mother's Day

Naturally, we hope that someone is making brunch reservations for you this Mother's Day. But what to do with the rest of the day? Well, there's nothing like feeling appreciated, and what says, "We appreciate you, Mom!" better than free admission (or a free meal or cocktail or Starbucks)? Check out these places around town where the free carpet is rolled out just for mamas on Mother's Day.

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