10 Best Beaches for Kids and Families in Los Angeles & Orange County

Truth be told, I rarely took my kids to the beach when they were toddlers. Sand-filled diapers, a defiant second child making beelines for the big waves, and little legs too tired to walk back to the car - who needs it! Direct me instead to the nearest tidy playground with a locked gate, please! But hindsight being 20/20, I realize I overreacted. After all, sand washes off and little legs often surprise us in their resilience. What's more, toes in wet sand (yours included) make for the biggest grins and giggles, and afternoons well spent. So go on, gather the shovels, sandwiches, and sunscreen, and go west, young families. Beachy adventures await.

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!

12 Restaurants Open on Christmas Day in Los Angeles and Orange Country

The tree is trimmed; the presents are wrapped, and the cookies are baked and boxed. Hmm. Now, what to make for Christmas dinner. Our suggestion? Reservations. That’s right. Many Southland restaurants will be open and happy to serve you on Christmas Day. You’ve already done so much to get ready for the holidays. Instead of once again slaving over that hot stove, pile your family and out-of-town guests into the car and give yourself the gift of dining out. That way you can kick back and enjoy the day!

Breakfast with Santa Claus: Where LA Kids Can Share a Bagel with Father Christmas

Doing lunch might work for some LA types, but Santa Claus does breakfast. So before you take a train with Santa, light a tree with Santa, see The Nutcracker with Santa, do some holiday shopping with Santa, wave to Santa on a boat, call Santa on the phone, or take funky LA photos with Santa, first you, your kids, AND Santa all need a good breakfast. The holidays are a busy time of year after all.

Most (though not all) of the events below require reservations, and some fill up surprisingly early. It's worth making the effort, though, if for no other reason than to see how good some people's table manners can be when the man at the head of the table is wearing a red suit and wielding a list.

Beyond Splash Pads: 6 Places for Year-round Water Play in Los Angeles

Labor Day has passed, but around here the weather doesn’t follow the calendar. It can be hot anytime in Los Angeles, so there’s good enough reason to look for splash pads, pools, and beaches anytime the mercury rises. In summer, you can always rely on our list of splash pads in Los Angeles as well as the water play parks in Orange County, but what about the rest of the year? There is always somewhere to beat the heat in LA. The following six places offer water activities at any time of year, whether you have older children who can visit on the weekends or little ones that are able to splash around mid-week.

Indie Toy Stores: Shopping for LA Kids Where the Play Is the Thing

Toys. Kids love ‘em; parents wish they would put them away. But toys are cool, and while it used to be that some of us wished children would ask for books instead of toys, in this the age of electronics, I think we can all agree that a good old-fashioned manipulative beats a device with a screen any day. I hate to think that toys are going out of style, but 2015 is the year that 5th Avenue’s iconic FAO Schwartz, closed its doors for the last time. New York will never be the same. Time for us to rally and support the local toy stores we love, if we want them to be here next year—particularly the ones where you know you can run in and find an unusual gift just when you need it.

10 Beach Playgrounds in LA & OC, from Santa Barbara to San Diego

Summertime and the living in Southern California is easy. While parents all around the country are looking for seasonal vacation destinations, those of us lucky enough to live in SoCal are already here. There is nothing quite like our local beaches, and no better way to spend the summer months than on our shores.

Of course, taking very young ones to the beach can feel like a lot of work. Vigilance is especially necessary when the ocean looms, and keeping the kids in shallow waters is a full-time job, albeit a fun one. Who doesn’t love digging for sand crabs, building drip castles, and running screaming from the surf? Sometimes, though, it is nice to enjoy the beach in a more relaxing, contained manner. Fortunately, many of our beaches from Santa Barbara to San Diego have playgrounds, which is the perfect way to experience the beach without even needing to get your feet wet.

Hang Ten! Summer Surf Camps for LA Kids

Sun, sand, must be summer! Summer is the perfect time to learn to surf - and a surf camp can teach your kids everything they need to know. There is more to surfing than just the mechanics of getting up on the board; there is also wave selection, ocean safety, and the all-important surfing etiquette that is best learned from someone in the know. And, of course, our SoCal Summer Camp Guide wouldn't be SoCal without a listing of surf camps!

Free WiFi: A Dozen Neat Places Parents Can Connect to the Internet, from LA's Westside to Downtown

If connecting to the internet while on the parental go is the glue that holds your world together, then you probably already know plenty of family-friendly places with free WiFi; we won't waste your time mentioning obvious coffee shops and libraries (right?). You've likely also caught on that many places offering kids' classes let parents catch up on email while little athletes take gymnastics or fencing class. You might even know that several ice rinks and bowling alleys have free WiFi for waiting parents. But how about some fun, unexpected places with free WiFi that you might not know about? Parents on the Westside, in Hollywood, or Downtown will want to know about the internet hotspots below.


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