Westside

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!

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.

Kid-friendly Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebrations around LA

In New Orleans, it's Mardi Gras. In Venice, Italy, it's Carnevale. In Austria they call it Fasching, and in England Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day, or just plain old Fat Tuesday. Whatever the name, it's a party; and with its traditions of masks, music, and bling, this party deserves to be shared with kids. We've collected LA's most family-friendly Mardi Gras celebrations below, and they're all FREE. Let the good times roll!

The Great Escape: Fun with Kids at an LA Escape Room

A new trend in group entertainment has hit LA, and it may be one you haven't wrapped your mind around yet: escape rooms. Certain assumptions would seem obvious from the moniker (you need to escape, right? From a room?), but in fact most of my friends seem to know very little about them. Personally, I was curious. And beyond my personal curiosity, I was even more interested to know whether an escape room might be an adventure to be shared with bigger kids who enjoy a little challenge and mystery. Well, it turns out that yes, yes it is a totally and utterly cool thing to do with kids. So get ready for the thrill of locking your kids in a room, and then watching them try to get out. For an hour.

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…?

Mostly Free Valentine's Day Activities: Cards, Crafts, and Things To Do

Valentine's Day is always on February 14, and yet somehow it seems to sneak up on our family each year in plain view, taking us by slow motion surprise. For weeks we've known that we need to come up with Valentine's Day cards for every kid in the class (and we all know what's happened to class sizes). Putting two and two together to make 27 construction paper hearts, though, always proves harder than we think. To avoid a late-night glue stick session on February 13, or a last minute defeated run to Target for a package of Dora and Diego cards, we have assembled a list of events to get help and inspiration for Valentine's Day card craft projects—before February 14. And the photo above? It speaks for itself.

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