Los Angeles

The Last Bookstore Is LA's Reading Playground for Kids Who Love Books

Getting kids excited about reading is one of the most important things a parent can do—so it's worth thinking outside the box. When kids start to grow tired of the pastel children’s section, take them downtown to The Last Bookstore, LA's unusual book playground. It is undeniably cool and, best of all, it makes reading seem edgy and funky, rather than something a bunch of lame adults try to trick them into doing. 

Weekend Fun for LA Kids: Ocean Festival, Comic Con, Little Tokyo, and a Dive-in

This is poor little sad emoji me, stuck in LA with nothing to do while all the cool kids go down to San Diego for the most awesome party of the year. I guess I'll just sit here twiddling my thumbs and maybe start planning school lunches for the coming year....

Are they gone yet? Phew! Is it me or is it a little easier to breathe suddenly with all those extra oxygen poachers gone? Good thing, too, because this weekend is going to be full of gasps and sucking in of air as we take in the wonder and thrills of just another weekend (yeah right!) in LA.  We are celebrating and festivalizing in the streets and in the seas. Looking for your favorite authors? Signatures coming up! Looking for pop stars under the stars? We've got Lalah Hathaway and the Psychedelic Furs, under the stars and for free, (plus a whole lotta other concerts too).

Movies? I'll show you movies: free and under the stars (and possibly in a pool). And sure, movies, but did we mention the live theater? Open air and free baby!  Or: based on your favorite books. Or perhaps you prefer your theater indoors with free childcare 

We've got discount nights and days in the parkBig Sings and grand performances, clean ups and field tripscounty fairs and faeries and pharoahs and puppeteers and who needs Comic Con anyway?

Keep reading for our favorite picks for the weekend, mostly free, mostly outdoors, and with 20% more oxygen!....  

25 Fun (and Educational) Things to Do for Free with Kids this Summer

Summer is all about going to the beach, eating ice cream, exploring the outdoors, and having family-friendly fun—no "reading, writing, and arithmetic" allowed...Right? Well, it turns out that there's a whole world of educational fun to be had while your family enjoys summer, from exploring marine habitats at the beach to learning about science while making your own ice cream.

Whether your summer vacation takes you to the forests of Yosemite or the beaches of Mexico, here's a list of 25 ways to keep kids learning—while having fun—all through their school vacation.

15 Parent and Me Swim Classes To Keep LA & OC Babies and Toddlers Afloat

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. And lucky for us and our tots, there are classes galore all around the Southland. We know some Great Private Swim Classes for LA Kids, but the classes below are all about taking the plunge alongside your wee one. Dive into our extensive list of area Mommy or Daddy and Me classes.

20 Easy (But Gorgeous) Hiking Trails To Do with Kids and Babies

By Shanti Hodges

Looking for a hiking trail near you? Great walking trails top our picks for fun summer activities and fall outings with kids. A hike is an opportunity for quality family time, exercise for kids, and of course, discoveries small and large, from bugs to waterfalls.

These getaway-worthy, family-friendly hiking trails are just a sampling of my favorite trails, highlighted in my new book, Hike it Baby: 100 Awesome Adventures with Babies and Toddlers. As founder of Hike it Baby, a nonprofit dedicated to helping families get on the trail with kids, I’ve been fortunate enough to sample nature trails across the country, including at our best national parks and campsites, and even those extra-special, smaller local parks that often offer the best hikes for toddlers and families with little kids.

Now I’m sharing 20 of my favorites, from Connecticut to Florida to Washington state, that are perfect for your next day trip or family vacation. Most are easy loop paths, but I’ve included some moderate trails and top destinations, such as Mt. Rainer and the Badlands. Many of these hikes are FREE, too. The list also highlights family-friendly perks like bathrooms, and benches for a rest or a nursing mom.

How To Navigate DTLA's Central Library with Kids

Built in 1926, Downtown’s Central Library is an LA landmark famous for its remarkable art, architecture, children and family programming, dedicated librarians, and extensive collections for any avid learner. It can be a remarkable place to visit with kids—with an important caveat.

A journey to the Central Library is different from a jaunt to your local branch. Over the last year or two, the homeless population has taken refuge here at an unprecedented rate, and this has noticeably changed the experience. That said, we still found there are many ways for a family to enjoy this historic and delightful facility with a few key pointers. 

Weekend Fun for LA Kids: OC Fair, AstroFest, and World Cup Finals

World Cup fans have it easy this weekend. Just two choices (that's France or Croatia for those of you keeping score). Pick a side; you root for one team or you root for the other. There is the question of where you watch the game—more than two choices there—but other than that? Easy peasy.

Everyone else, though, by gosh there are a lot of decisions to make. Do you go to the Orange County Fair?  Is your adventure defined by riding the rails or blasting off into space? How do you choose between a 24th anniversary or a brand new opening? I wouldn't call it an emergency exactly (unless you are fans of the 1970s hit tv show Emergency! in which case you definitely want to go to the latter).

Side with the Greeks. Side with the Trojans. Side with ice cream. (We all scream for ice cream.) You can walk the dinosaur, or walk like an Egyptian, or maybe just go for a walk on the beach. (With books) There are a whole lotta choices, and not one of them is wrong.

Following are some of our best picks for the weekend, the choice is yours....

Kids Bowl Free: Truly Free and Cheap Bowling for Kids All Over LA

My son went to a bowling party recently that sparked an obsession with the game -- and I've since realized that bowling is a really great sport for kids. The ingrained turn-taking structure, team camaraderie, and relaxed competitiveness offer kiddos a dose of sportsmanship at a fun pace. Accommodations like gutter bumpers and starting ramps guarantee success for even the youngest bowlers. Seriously, bowling is like the unsung hero of children's athletics. And it must have been this idea that fueled the creation of Kids Bowl Free, a fantastic nationwide program designed to give youth a constructive way to beat the heat. Read on to find out how your kids can bowl free every day this summer.

Drive-In Movie Theaters near LA for a Classic Family Movie Night

Looking for something different to do with the kids? Something bucket list worthy? How about the drive-in? Remember the double features, staying up late watching movies in your jammies under the stars, tubs of popcorn from the snack bar, and, as the night wore on, crawling into the pile of blankets mom brought? Today's kids don't need to miss out on this American institution; though not as popular as they once were, several area drive-ins are still operating, plus LA has a pop-up drive-in, too. Drive-ins are generally cheaper than movie theaters, often show double features, and let you bring your own food. We're fortunate in the Southland to have oodles of free outdoor movies in summer, but there is something uniquely magical about the drive-in.

(Be sure to check out our movie reviews before you go.)

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