The Valleys

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...

Corn Mazes and Haunted Mazes for LA and Orange County Kids

Fall is here! The kids are settled into the new school year and thinking about Halloween costumes. Honeycrisp apples are in stores, and area apple orchards are open for apple picking. If you're looking for even more fall and harvest family fun, try a corn maze.

Corn mazes are created in a growing field of corn. A tractor makes the maze design in the field; for large mazes, GPS is often used to create a picture that can be seen from the air. Be aware that a mature corn maze has walls of corn that are taller than most adults, and that children (and adults!) can get lost in them. Most operators recommend kids be at least 5-8 years old before going in alone—use your judgment, of course. Closed-toe shoes are recommended for comfort (sneakers are best), as corn mazes involve walking on uneven ground and broken cornstalks. And if you plan on heading into the maze at dusk, be sure to bring a flashlight!

Fun and Free Things To Do with LA Kids Labor Day Weekend

Well, after many fits and false starts, folks trying to bring our season of fun to a ridiculously early close (I’m looking at you, Glendale), and a whole lotta bellyaching about how it’s not fair (um, that would be me), the time has come to acknowledge: summer break is over. It’s Labor Day weekend, and, while it may mark the end of summer, it’s also known in some circles as the biggest weekend of them all. We’re going to fill every moment with fairs and festivals, (hello, Sailor!), cook-offs and concerts, and enjoy the last hurrah of many of our favorite summer series.

And never fear, while your white-wearing days may be over, the fun is just beginning. Check out our September GoList if you doubt me, for the scoop on the awesome awesomeness ahead. (Not to get all spoilery on you, but get ready to be blown away by mouth-watering lobster, festivals galore, the return of the butterflies, and the block party of the century.)

Now get out there and enjoy summer's last gasp, because the best is yet to come. And we're going to have every last bit of it on our calendar.

Keep reading for our favorite picks for the weekend...

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.

Click through to the full listings, and you can automatically add them to your personal calendar.

26 Ways To Keep Enjoying Summer 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!

2016-17 Academic Year Calendars for Los Angeles Area Schools

Summer vacation ain't what it used to be. The majority of school districts now opt for an August start date, with only a few stragglers sticking with the old-school, post-Labor Day start. Don't just assume you know when school starts based on last year, as there's always a bit of shuffling of the schedule. This year Glendale leads the back-to-school race with a party-pooper start date of August 8, while last out the gate is Torrance, at a more traditional September 8.

Wondering where your district fits in, and how much time you have left for these 50 Free Things To Do in Summer? Read below for our list of start and finish dates for the 2016-2017 school year in and around 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.

Free Admission for Active Duty Military Families with Blue Star Museums

Free museum admission is not just for kids in the summer months. More than 2000 museums across the country have joined the Blue Star initiative, offering free admission to active military personnel and their families* all summer long, from Memorial Day (Monday May 30 through Labor Day (Monday September 5). Spread the word; if you don't have active military in your own family, let your friends know that from the GRAMMY Museum to the Santa Monica Aquarium and a whole slew in between, the men and women who protect all of our families can treat their families this summer.

50 FREE Things Kids Can Do in LA this Summer

Summer's great, isn't it? So much time, so much to do. All the things that can't be squeezed into the cursedly short time between school, homework, and dinner can be enjoyed at leisure, without stress of school night bedtimes. Summer means not a care in the world—except how to pay for all this frivolity, right? 'Cause we sure aren't getting a whole lot of work done! The answer? Summer freebies. Become an expert on how long your kids can get in free to Southland activities. Hit all the free museum days. And then start working your way down this list of totally free things to do with LA kids over the summer!

Free Summer Concerts and Outdoor Concert Series in LA and OC

If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Or better yet, get out of the house. Summer in the Southland means outdoor concerts galore (and many are free!) at a host of local parks, museums, and public spaces from the coast to the hills to the Valleys. Go on, get out. Throw down a blanket, spread out the snacks, uncork the wine, and watch the kids boogie under the evening stars as you sway to some cool and breezy melodies.

Water Parks Where LA and SoCal Kids Can Get Their Water Slide Fix

Nothing is more fun on a too-hot day than some water play—just ask the kids. And if you want to give them a big surprise, take them to a water theme park. There are several water parks in Southern California, with large scale splash parks to please every kid, from toddler to teen. Of course, if you're looking for something smaller, closer, or more low-key, you can always check out our list of water play features at city parks.

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