Marina del Rey / Playa Vista

Best Kid-Friendly Hotels for a Los Angeles Family Vacation

Finding bliss and relaxation on vacation is so much easier when the kiddos are happy. Whether you're visiting Los Angeles, housing out-of-town guests, or indulging in a staycation (though we can recommend some kid-friendly hotels all around the world), why not choose a hotel that caters to the smallest guests? These LA resorts offer a little slice of paradise, family-friendly amenities, and unique experiences that might make you want to ditch that faraway destination and spend the weekend in SoCal. The best part is watching the kids have a blast, too.

LA's Best Gyms and Tumbling Classes for Kids Who Love To Bounce

Every kid loves to jump around. While some kids channel that energy into competitive gymnastics programs at LA's gymnastics schools, others (toddlers particularly) really just want a place to bounce, tumble, climb, and swing. If you are looking for tumbling classes that are completely child-centered, fully non-competitive, and possibly closer to home (not to mention great options for birthday parties and summer camp), one of these kids' gyms may be just your speed.

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

Don't be scared off by sand-filled diapers or tired little legs; there is nothing quite like a day at the beach for summer memories. But in the years when making it happen feels challenging, you want to be sure you've chosen a beach worth the effort. That may mean heading for a beach with a playground (we know some good ones), or it may just mean the most idyllic SoCal family beach you can find. That describes the dozen beaches below. So gather the shovels, sandwiches, and sunscreen, and go west, young families. Beachy adventures await.

4th of July Fireworks Cruises for Families in LA and OC

We landlubbers love our fireworks, don't we? Well, if you think the view from the shore is stunning, try witnessing the spectacle from a boat. That's a holiday memory your kiddos won't soon forget. Several small cruise boats set sail this Independence Day, with 2-3 hour tours to delight you and your first mates. Snuggle on deck under a blanket and watch the sky come alive as the water sparkles below. Read on to find a boat leaving a port near you.

The Annenberg PetSpace: LA's New Spot To Play with Puppies and Kitties

Interested in getting a pet—or just spending time with one? The new Wallis Annenberg PetSpace in Playa Vista is all about building bonds between people and pets. While there are dogs, cats, and rabbits available for adoption, no pressure: this is also a family-friendly space to learn about pets and people, and maybe even get a little cuddle time if a pet isn't possible in your home. And best of all? Admission is free!

15 Great Barbecue Grills and Pits in LA Parks for Cooking Out with Family

Nothing says “summer” like barbecue. Many of our local parks are standing by with grills and pits to satisfy that craving for charred food. And the beauty of life in Southern California is that "summer" can be practically any time of year; the 15 parks below have year-round, mostly free barbecue facilities, ready for birthday parties, holiday celebrations, spontaneous picnics, or family dinners al fresco.

Kids Kayak the Marina for Free All Summer with Kayaks 4 Kidz

Note that due to construction at Mother's Beach, Kayaks for Kids will not be offering its usual classes in the 2018 summer season.

They say there's no such thing as a free lunch, but what about a free kayak lesson? I've wondered for years about that free kayaking class for kids in the Marina, which we shout out on our list of 50 Free Things for Kids To Do in LA this Summer. It seems so unlikely—like there must be some catch. Does someone actually offer kids a chance to spend a couple of hours kayaking the Marina for free on alternate Sundays all summer long? Has this program really existed for 15 years, teaching hundreds of kids to kayak, without most Angelenos even noticing it's there?

10 Kid-Friendly Happy Hours in Santa Monica, Marina del Rey, & LA's Westside

Let the parent who has never yearned for a drink and a cheap kids' menu cast the first stone. While Happy Hour was indeed invented as a way to sell alcoholic beverages during a restaurant’s slow period, and mostly conjures images of a not-so-kid-friendly array of inebriated partiers, it can also mean great deals on meals. Many restaurants have Happy Hours that cater to (or at least accommodate) family dining. Here on the Westside, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to late-afternoon or early-evening discounted dinners. As a rule, Happy Hour is mostly a Monday through Friday 4 to 7pm proposition, but the terms are constantly changing, so it is best to call or check a restaurant’s website before settling into a booth. And while you’re checking, it's wise to be sure that you're heading somewhere kid-friendly. Some restaurants are more about the booze than the burgers, and that’s not going to work with kids. The places we've found (and selflessly tested) below are all spots that a family can enjoy together.

Weekday Picks: Horses, Puppets, Stars, and Holiday Festivals, Sept. 26-Sept. 30

As September comes to a close, horse jumping comes to Long Beach, and holiday festivals come to Costa Mesa and Ventura.

The Longines Masters makes its one stop in the US as part of the Grand Slam Indoor of Show Jumping in Long Beach beginning Thursday. Organizers say it's the first prominent event in the international equestrian scene to take place in the Los Angeles area since the 1984 Summer Olympics. Beyond the competitions, the event includes a Kids Corner with educational and fun activities, to draw in a new generation to the world of show jumping.

For those wanting to get a jump on their fall and winter holiday shopping, the Sugar Plum Arts & Craft Festival at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa and the Harvest Festival Original Art & Craft Show in Ventura both open their doors at the end of the week. Kids are likely to appreciate the crafting demonstrations, including woodworking and glass blowing. Meanwhile, smaller local events include a Puppet Musical: Jack and the Beanstalk in Marina del Rey and Garvey Nights, a night of astronomy and star-gazing in Monterey Park.

For more ideas, visit the Mommy Poppins Event Calendar, as well as our picks for the month in our September GoList. Our favorite outings this week follow...

Favorite Surf-Free Beaches for Little Kids in LA and Orange Counties

The beach is made for kids—the sand, the sun, the surf. That last thing can be a worry, though, when it comes to toddlers and smaller children. Parents are forced to play defense all day to prevent their little ones from being tossed, turned, and dragged by turbulent waves. Knowing some beach safety rules is a good start; but there are a few beach areas in Los Angeles and Orange counties that offer the best of all worlds: the sand and sun plus shallow, gentle expanses of water perfect for wading.

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