Los Angeles

Great (and Cheap!) Ways To Beat the Heat Indoors Around Hollywood This Summer

It's 10am, and it's already insufferably hot outside. The kids have abandoned the back yard and are now climbing the walls, bored stiff by their "rainy day" (or should we say "indoor day") toys. What's a parent to do? If you live much east of the 405 like I do, then you have a love/hate relationship with the beach. I'm a lover at heart, but after a few continuous days of schlepping cross-town, my family and I have had it with the coast. We need other ways to get out of the home in our own sweltering neck of the woods - ways that aren't compromised by a random Sig Alert. Is our only option the nearest overly-crowded, overly-chlorinated public pool? No!

Fun & Free Things to Do with LA Kids this Weekend: Wee Rock! Mandela Day and Free Lollipops July 20 - 21

We will, we will rock you, singing, we will we will… oh, I’m sorry.  Was I supposed to be writing about this weekend’s events? There are quite a few I promise you: the circus, the OC Fair, events celebrating underwater explorers and Nelson Mandela - even Comic Con is going on this weekend. It’s just that dang earworm I got going; the Wee Rock festival is this Saturday at the Americana at Brand, and every time I think of it I get that song going in my head: we will, wee will, rock you (at the Americana)

They say the best way to knock out one of those pesky fellows is to replace it with another song. So what else do we have here? Free Lollipops at See's this weekend (on the good ship lollipop, it’s a sweet trip to my See's shop…) and  Baby Loves Disco in Long Beach (I’m hearing some Saturday Night Fever action - you should be dancing, yeah!).

We have some big names performing in free concerts this weekend: A Flock of Seagulls (and I ran, I ran so far away),  Billy Ocean  (get outta my dreams, get into my car… Hey, you, get into my car!)... The movie Big is showing at Oscars Outdoors (totally seeing that scene where they play Heart & Soul by jumping on the giant keyboard…).

Awesome, that did the trick. Earworm gone. Keep reading for some of our favorite picks for this weekend, because we will, we will rock you!

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus: Still the Greatest Show on Earth?

When we revisit the classic experiences of childhood, sometimes they lose their rose-tinted luster, while other times they are just as good, if not better than we remembered. The ice cream truck holds up well. Lemonade stands are still pretty darn neat, too. And, as it turns out, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus really does have a right to its boastful tagline, The Greatest Show on Earth.

Best Seafood Shacks: Roadside Beach Restaurants in Los Angeles

It's the end of a long and lovely day at the beach, and you can't quite brush the last of the sand off your shins. You're sunburned and pooped, with a mop of sea salty hair blown dry by the wind. Everyone's famished, but let's face it: a nice restaurant just won't have you and your bedraggled lot. What to do, oh weary surf dwellers? Why not head to a roadside fish joint. Lucky for us, we have a few fab and affordable ones along our slice of the coast.These eateries won't mind your flip flops, and the menu variety is sure to please everyone in your crew.

Fun & Free Things to Do with LA Kids this Weekend: Circus, Physics Garden & the OC Fair, July 13 - 14

It's all about the kids, isn't it? You do and do for them, find them the coolest water playgrounds, take them on picnics, treat them to the most delectable frozen delights, and take them to kids' clubskids' concerts, and kids run the bases. And just when you think you've done all you can do, you take a look at our summer guide and come up with a dozen more things to keep your kids happy and entertained. But what's in it for you? What does Momma get? How 'bout maybe a free blowout?

Of course, things work out best when kids and parents can enjoy the same things. Outdoor concerts (check), free movies (popcorn check), a Pirate Festival (aaarrrr! check), the Grease Sing-Along at the Hollywood Bowl (Sandy and Danny check), the OC Fair (deep fried check), Ringling Brothers and Barnum Bailey Circus (check with a big red rubber nose, shot from a cannon). Luckily our weekend calendar is filled to the brim with activities that everyone will love. And one that's especially for Mom.

Keep reading for some of our favorite picks for this weekend, and to find out about that free blowout...

5 Off-the-Beaten-Path Weekend Trips From LA

In my olden days (mid-'90s post-college), planning a road trip went something like this: "Friday night and nothing to do.  Hmm... Let's go to Vegas!" And within thirty minutes my friends and I would be on our way. Now I travel with a posse of children, so Vegas is not the first place that comes to mind when I'm considering a family-friendly weekend. Still, I love a good road trip, and LA is, as always, a fantastic base from which to branch out. Much more care is involved in my planning process these days, and it's a plus if the chaos of larger cities, theme parks, water parks, and too-trendy anything can be avoided. Are you like me - interested in taking the road less traveled, and perhaps a little more family-oriented? See if any of these strike your fancy.

Best Ice Cream (and Gelato) on the Westside

When I was young, the dazzle of summer included my Auntie Grace's homemade coffee ice cream and the thrill of helping to make it. Oh, the delicious anticipation of taking a turn hand-cranking the ancient ice cream maker, lifting the top, and hoping the cream inside had thickened enough to be scooped and swallowed. There's nothing quite like hand-crafted ice cream. But, of course, there's also nothing like summer laziness and letting someone else make the ice cream for you. Read on, hammock dwellers, for we've got the inside scoop on the most delectable ice cream (and gelato) on the Westside, most of which is made in-house. Come on in and have a lick.

Fun & Free Things to Do with LA Kids this Weekend: Bug Fair, Sanitation & Shakespeare June 29 - 30

First, let me reassure you that there is plenty going on this weekend. Bug Fair at Kidspace (creepy crawlies!) Dora and friends taking on the Pirate Piggies (no swiping, Swiper!) Superman's 75th birthday, (he's still every inch the man of steel!). We close the lid on the season of Sanitation Open Houses, and say good morrow! to free Shakespeare in Griffith Park. This weekend you can shake your hips with Elvis*, the Beatles** and Weird Al***, and take in free movies galore.

But that having been said, this is one of those neither/nor weekends. It doesn't quite stand on its own, as it marks the beginning of what is for many a vacation week, but it's too far removed from the actual event to truly merit the "holiday" moniker. (Unless you're in Santa Monica, where June 29 is the new July 4th). No one's going to ask you "what are you doing this weekend?" The question is "what are you doing for the 4th?"

So we're here to help. We've compiled a crackling list of the hottest fireworks displays to keep you in the red, white and boom spirit.  (You know what's better than watching fireworks? Watching fireworks on a boat.)

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

Gated Playgrounds: Westside Parks with Fences for LA Kids

I only have two kids, but at times I've had the likes of four or five. You know the drill: offer to take your friend's kids to the park, and the bodies multiply. Even crazier, all those little legs start running in multiple directions. Gah! Suddenly you're dashing around like a crazy woman wondering whom to rescue first: the kid dangling from the tree branch, or the kid who's booking it to the distant ball field to watch the Little League game? CLINK! "Foul Ball!" Thankfully, there are many area playgrounds with locked gates. (Oh, the peace that comes with children contained!) So, until they learn how to climb the fence, consider bringing your herds to these paddocks, err, parks on the Westside.


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