Los Angeles

Fun & Free Things to Do with LA Kids This Weekend: JPL, Elmo & The Bolshoi Ballet: June 9 - 10

Step aside, Dance Moms; out of the way, Soccer Moms: it’s time for Science Moms to take center stage. That’s right, this weekend we are blinding you with science*. We've got astrophysics; we've got oceanography; we’ve got paleontology, environmental sciences, agriculture, and veterinary medicine. We’re looking at the science of celebrity (stretching it too far?) and taking you on a train ride, (cause, you know, engineering). We’ve even thrown in a little culture, just to class up the joint.

Sky’s the limit? Ha! Try the edges of our galaxy, or better yet, the very beginnings of our universe. At the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's annual open house, kids can chat with bona fide role models: working scientists. These are the folks who send probes to other planets, who use state-of-the-art technology to peer across the universe. The projects they work on today will inform the textbooks we read tomorrow. And they’re more than happy to talk to your kid about his battery made out of a potato.

If all this science talk has got your head spinning, why not set the rest of your body in motion as well**? Well, not your body exactly, but rather the ones belonging to the prima ballerinas of the renowned Bolshoi Ballet. This weekend the Bolshoi performs the quintessential ballet Swan Lake at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. (Happy now, Dance Moms?)

Keep reading for our utterly scientific list of the most super-fun events this weekend...

Fun & Free Things to Do with LA Kids This Weekend: Smurfs, Lummis House, and Free Donuts! June 2 - 3

The events this week are presented on a need to know basis. For instance, National Doughnut Day was started in 1938 to honor the women who served donuts to servicemen during WWI, but you don’t need to know that. All you need to know is that there’s a free donut in it for you. Do I have your attention now?

Charles Lummis went to school with Teddy Roosevelt; he walked from Cinncinnati to Los Angeles (and wrote a book about it), had a distinguished career as a journalist, and was an activist for Native American rights; but again, that’s neither here nor there. What does matter is that the festival housed in his namesake home is this weekend, with music ranging from tex-mex to hip-hop; dance from Irish step to Brazilian capoeira, and a backdrop of historic buildings.

Remember last week when the moon blocked the sun and we were all pitched into complete blackness and chaos and Cthulhu emerged from the bowels of the earth?  No? Not important. Anyway,  it’s happening again.  Minus the chaos, the blackness, Cthulhu  (though wouldn’t that be something!)  And minus the moon, because this time it’s Venus that’s bogarting our rays. You can read all about the Venus Transit, but here's all you really need to know: no looking at the sun without protective eye gear!

Is it too early to start thinking about Fathers' Day? (It’s on June 17, and yeah, maybe that is one you need to know.)  There are a number of free art projects your kids can do this weekend that would make great gifts:  check out the craftiness going on at the Petersen, Home Depot, Lakeshore Learning, (yes, maybe Dad wants a snazzy garden snail. You get what you get and you'll like what you get, remember?)

Read on for the events you need to know this weekend...

The Transit of Venus - Is It Another Solar Eclipse?

If you invested in a pair of eclipse viewing glasses or welder's glass last week for the solar eclipse, we have great news: you're about to get to use them again! As unlikely as it seems, we are to be treated to yet another once-in-a-lifetime celestial event in the sky over southern California, on the afternoon and evening of June 5, 2012. This time instead of the moon passing between us and the sun, our neighbor planet Venus makes a far rarer shadowy appearance known as the Transit of Venus - viewable in LA for the first time since 1882 (and the last until 2117!).

Things To Do in Death Valley National Park with Kids

Tell people you're planning a trip to Death Valley with kids, and you're likely to get a response that implies either admiration or an assumption that you're crazy. Or both. That's OK; Death Valley may not be the most obvious choice for a family vacation, but that is definitely part of the appeal. It's a valley full of "I've never seen that before!" with a hint of Old West ghost town.

Proposition 39: How Can Charters and Other Public Schools Share Space Equitably?

Californians are always talking about this proposition or that, trying to make sense of the way we do politics out here. Proposition 39, because it has to do with school and space for all children, can elicit intense feelings of fear, competition, and defensiveness in parents - and confusion in everyone else. What is Prop 39 and why do public school parents get so worked up about it? We'll attempt to explain the whats and whys of Prop 39, in order to help readers consider how we, as adults, can address an issue we emphasize with our children: how to share and be fair.

Fun & Free Things to Do with LA Kids this Weekend: Bugs, Banjos and a Solar Eclipse, May 19 - 20

From Bugs to Banjos, Los Angeles has it all this weekend.

Reminding us that LA is just a collection of small towns, locals can celebrate at neighborhood festivals in Santa Monica and Hollywood.

Think you’re alone in your hobby?  Not in this town! We’ve got festivals this weekend that celebrate interests of all kinds!  Whether you’ve got a bee in your bonnet for bugs, or you’re silly for strawberries, there are tons of other eccentrics folks who think they're swell, too. There are hoedowns for those who sing the praises of strings, both the fiddling and puppet-wielding variety.  And if you’re all about getting out and moving, you can find like-minded folk traveling by foot and by sea.

Think your hobby eclipses them all? You might be right, if you’re gazing skyward. We’ve got two places to view this weekend's solar eclipse, (just don’t look directly at it!)

Keep reading for our favorite picks for this weekend.

What Is an Annular Solar Eclipse, and How To View It

Even if you're not entirely sure what an annular solar eclipse is, you probably suspect that the event in the sky on Sunday, May 20, is something pretty exciting. Just the words "solar eclipse" bring to my mind images of my entire family huddled around a small rectangle of tinted glass (purchased specially for the occasion), waiting to watch the moon cast its epic shadow across the sun. Now add the word annular - a word most of us rarely use - and one can only assume that this eclipse must be even more extraordinary than most. And one would assume right.

Santa Monica Food Truck Lot - A Family Night Out

Santa Monica’s Tuesday Food Truck Night at the California Heritage Museum is the ideal venue for a stress-free dinner with children; plus, as an added bonus, you can cross off item #80 on our LA with Kids Bucket List!

Inspired by reading Pamela Druckerman’s Bringing Up Bebe, about French children’s perfect eating habits, I resolved to expand my own son’s limited palate. I mean, these children eat foie gras in preschool while my son turns his nose up at anything besides goldfish crackers and squeezable fruit crushers. Visiting the food trucks seemed like the perfect scenario for venturing into new culinary territory. As my very male son loves all vehicles, I thought that being served directly out of vehicles might entice him to try something new - and there is free parking on site.

Virginia Beach with Kids: 25 Things to do on a Family Vacation

The long stretch of soft sand that makes up the oceanfront of the coastal city of Virginia Beach has made it a perennial favorite summer getaway for East Coast families and travelers. The three-mile-long boardwalk and Atlantic surf have kept kids entertained for ages.

The length of the beach translates into always being able to find a spot for your towel and beach umbrella, even at the height of summer, and the decidedly G-rated atmosphere in Virginia's largest city, including a ‘no cursing on the beach’ rule, means there's plenty of family-friendly activities and spirit. Take the kids bike riding, for a round of mini golf, or to the aquarium. 

With hotels that accommodate a range of budgets, no-frills eateries, and free entertainment, this is a top pick for families craving a beach vacation. Colonial Williamsburg is also nearby, or you can tack a Virginia Beach stop onto a visit to Washington, DC with the kids or another Virginia city, such as Richmond. Here’s what to do, where to eat, and where to stay in Virginia Beach.

Palm Springs Weekend Getaway: A Quick Trip to Slow Down

While it's a quick drive to Palm Springs from LA (or an easy flight from anywhere with its international airport), once we arrive we immediately slow down. We wander. We check out a museum or botanical garden; we eat ice cream. And always, we lounge by a pool. A weekend in Palm Springs helps us re-connect with each other without the hassle of air travel, without needing to plan long and hard. It's an easy way to re-charge our batteries, worn down from city life.

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