West LA

Ultimate Halloween Event List: 35+ Best Celebrations in LA for Free or Spooky Fun

Why are most of the Halloween events below free? We spend on the Halloween costume (and a second one if we buy too early), and the pumpkin (and a second one if we buy too early), and the Halloween candy (and oh do we pay if we buy too early)—has anyone else reached their limit with spending money on this mother-of-all kids' holidays? We've sniffed out a whole bunch of free spooky fun, plus a few of the key Halloween activities that might be worth paying a little extra for. The following 35+ events are the Halloween parties not to miss—the scream of the crop!

Things To Do in LA this Weekend: Boo at the Zoo, Children's Book Fest, Mark in the Park

It's beginning to look a lot like pumpkins, everywhere I go. And so it begins! The Harvest. The Corn Mazes. The Patches. We are on a crazed, giddy run to the end of the month.

But don't get spooked! Yes, there are scary things afoot. Yes, you can choose the dark and shadowy path. But you can also choose to welcome the season with laughs (and science!). You can fear the night or you can get in on the fun. Halloween is what you make it, and LA makes it easy to choose family-friendly. Or not.

Public service announcement for purists who wait to celebrate Halloween until, well, Halloween: There's still lots to do! This weekend sees festivals Greek and Southeast Asian, Manhattan Beachian and Encinoish. You can buy a ticket to the 20s, catch a plane, train, or (very small) automobileThe streets of Los Angeles are open wide, and you can make your mark in Grand Park. So go out there and scare up some fun.

Keep reading for our favorite treats for this weekend, no trick!

Kids Eat Free: 21 LA Restaurants with Free Meal Deals for Families

Kids eat free: three little words that make a restaurant dinner feel possible. Even if we suspect that a box of mac and cheese and a couple of chicken fingers have lured us into buying a $10 margarita, how can we regret that margarita if it comes with a free kids' meal?

We’ve put together a list of restaurants throughout the Los Angeles area that offer free meals for kids at least one night a week (and up to four!). The restaurants vary from local joints to national chains, from the Valleys to the beaches, from Italian to Hawaiian, and from seafood to steakhouses—enough to satisfy picky and non-picky eaters.

Also check out our lists of birthday freebies with more free meals for kids (and adults!), and, of course, some kid-friendly happy hours on the Westside, in Silver Lake and Los Feliz, and in Orange County.

Best Pumpkin Patches for LA, Ventura, & Orange County Pumpkin Picking

Ready to talk pumpkin patch? Yes, the time has come to surrender to the Great Pumpkin—who is, frankly, spoiled for choice around the Southland in Halloween season. We would never 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 pumpkin picking destination is below...

16 Parent and Me Swim Classes for Water Babies and Toddlers in LA & the OC

Kids dig water, and the younger we start them in it, the earlier they build the skills needed to swim confidently and safely. Mommy and Me – or Daddy and Me – classes are a fun and bonding introduction to a lifelong love of swimming. We know some great private swim classes for LA kids, but the group lessons below are all about getting in the pool alongside your baby or toddler. Dive into our extensive list of area Mommy or Daddy and Me classes.

Trash & Recycling Fun: Sanitation Yard Open Houses for Kids Who Love Garbage Trucks

Vroom Vroom! Does the sound of the garbage truck coming down the street send your kids running to watch? Spring kicks off city yard open houses and recycling fair season, and these events are hugely popular with kids of a certain age. If your kiddos have any curiosity about what goes on in a garbage truck, this is their chance to satisfy it, at one of the most eagerly awaited free activities in LA. Public tours (also detailed below) are often available throughout the year (call first); but the spring open houses are a must-do for little one who live for the roar of the garbage truck.

Spring Break Camps: 14 Fun Solutions for April Vacation around LA

Spring Break around Los Angeles is a moving feast; some districts have one week, and some have two. Some take a 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!

Celebrating Purim at Carnivals All Over Los Angeles

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 community carnivals all over town. Check out one of the events below for classic Purim activities, costume parades, and boisterous retellings of the Purim story.

And if you know of a celebration we've missed, please let us know!

10+ Preschools with Last Minute Options for Westside Kids—No Waiting Lists!

Before we became parents, we may have thought this business of LA parents asking expectant mothers what preschools they'd applied to was a joke. Then we found out it's only kind of a joke; there really are parents who focus on preschool applications as soon as the contractions stop. Then there are the parents who are reading this post. There really are preschools that feed the frenzy with a waiting list that starts before a child can talk; and then there are the preschools that are in this post. Whether you've procrastinated, just moved to town, didn't get the acceptance letter you wanted, or just woke up one day and realized that your baby isn't a baby anymore, it's possible to figure out preschool at the last minute—even on the Westside of LA. You could try your luck for an opening at one of LA's newest preschools, but more likely you need to know about the great preschool options below that don't have extended waiting lists, and just might rescue your family at the very last minute.

Trash & Recycling Events: Sanitation Yard Open Houses for Kids Who Love Garbage Trucks

Vroom Vroom! Does the sound of the garbage truck coming down the street send your kids running to watch? Do they dream of grabbing a ride? Earth Day kicks off city yard open houses and recycling fair season, and these events are hugely popular with kids of a certain age. More than 6,000 residents attend an open house in an average year. If your kiddos have any curiosity about what goes on in a garbage truck, this is their chance to satisfy it.

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