Los Angeles

Fun and Free Things To Do Thanksgiving Weekend with LA Kids, November 23-26

In recent years, Thanksgiving was all about cute mash-ups (remember Thanksgivvikuh?), Black Friday shopping, and outrage over Thursday-is-Not-Friday-But-the-Middle-of-a-Holiday sales. This year, Hanukkah is buried unobtrusively in December, and many major retailers are promising to stay closed on Thursday. (You go, Lakeshore LearningHome Depot, and Barnes & Noble! As for the rest of you, time out with no pumpkin pie.)

We've found a few family friendly venues open on Thanksgiving, where you can enjoy a little morning cardio, a visit with animal friends, and maybe a good meal. (Make sure you check the hours for the day; some places are closing early.) You can make your Friday about shopping, or you can gather the family for a flick, whether new or timeless. Once again, Saturday is the new Friday, and it's all about the local.

We here are thankful for much, and hope you feel the same way. We're thankful for our beautiful climate, which lets us sled on the sand as easily as on the snow. We're grateful for the truly unique shows, spectacles, and experiences that come our way this time of year. We're grateful for the health and well-being of our loved ones, and we're grateful for you, our readers. Happy Thanksgiving, guys!

Keep reading for some of our best finds for fun this Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and, thankfully, Thanksgiving weekend...

Enchanted: Forest of Light Is Descanso Gardens' Christmas Walk in the Woods

If you are one of the many Angelenos whose paths rarely lead them through La Cañada-Flintridge, then perhaps you've never visited Descanso Gardens. It would be understandable; most of us need to drive a befuddling combination of highway numbers to get there. Well, 'tis the season to download Waze and get there, because Descanso's holiday light display, Enchanted: Forest of Light, is worth the drive and then some. Home holiday lights are lovely and cheery. Boat parades are delightful and so SoCal. But Descanso's holiday woodland light show is an experience unto itself and one to bundle up the kids and make time for.

Amazing, Kid-friendly Features at these Airports Make Family Travel Suck Less

There are all sorts of things to look forward to when we travel, but the airport is not generally one of them. If flying with kids conjures up images of agonizing lines, stressful bathroom visits, and long walks down grimy hallways with cranky toddlers, maybe for your next trip you should try rerouting through one of the airports below. These 10 US hubs have all gone the extra mile to make an airport into a destination kids will remember as part of the adventure. If your trip starts, finishes, or lays over at one of our favorite kid-friendly terminals, you can look forward to play areas, interactive exhibits, rides, and more to keep ahead of the turbulence.

Holiday Volunteering: Helping LA Kids Find Their Spirit of Giving

Sharing traditions with our children makes the holidays all the sweeter. The pies we bake, candles we light, songs we sing, and the gifts we give enrich the rhythm of this festive season. Volunteering to help those in need is another tradition we can offer to our kids. Giving our time and attention to our communities, whether we're dishing up food or singing Christmas carols, is often the best gift of all. And setting up our kids for a life of sharing and empathy is a gift we give to them and to the world they inherit.

10 Ways To Take Photos with Santa Claus Like an Angeleno

Mall Santas have a special place in many of our hearts (and in most Southland shopping centers), and the holidays really aren't complete without a round of Miracle on 34th Street. Still, we're not raising little Manhattanites; we're raising Southern California babies, and that calls for an outside-the-box kind of Santa Claus photo. If you're in search of quantity, Santa can be found in every mall, at every Christmas tree lighting, at any number of holiday shopping events, and even at one or two Nutcracker performances. But for some real Angeleno quality, snap a photo with Santa at one of these fun, funky, and totally LA Father Christmas experiences.

Weekend Fun for LA Kids: Zoo Lights, Surfing Santas, Doo Dah, and Mariachis

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go. I mean everywhere. The malls you expect. Mallsmallsmalls. Look at those trees! And town centers, more or less like malls, I guess. And on the stages, the seasonal theatrical productions are starting. Don't forget the zoo, day and night. And the beach! Who knew: Santa's a surfer dude!

Like a good Santa, he is bringing toys to all the girls and boys. So whether you're hoping to see Shopkins  or tiny trains under the tree, whether you're a super fan of  Minecraft or My Little Pony (or even Moby Dick), this weekend Santa has something in his magic bag of tricks for you.

Too early, you say? Can’t possibly be time to deck the halls? If you need further proof that Yuletide is upon us, all you need do is open your windows and check out all that snow. Ho ho ho indeed!

Keep reading for our holliest, jolliest picks for this weekend.

Eataly LA: A Taste of Italy without the Airfare

For those who pine for fresh pasta, Neopolitan pizzas, and every Italian delicacy that never pops up at Trader Joe's, there's good news. Eataly L.A., the latest outpost of what has been called the Disneyland for Italian food (and has become a New York institution), opened its first North American location west of Chicago last week in the newly redone Westfield Century City shopping center. Eataly now has 39 locations throughout Italy and around the world, and just five of those can be found in the US. Eataly L.A. has three floors (the third is an as-yet unopened restaurant) and offers a little bit of everything: a grocery store, sit-down restaurants, prepared food counters, cafes, and fresh food for home preparation. There's even a cooking school (La Scuola), and foodies who don't want to cook for themselves can watch fresh food being made as well as sample olive oils, balsamic vinegars, and pestos.

So what should kids try? Even picky eaters who hesitate to try Italy's more adventurous fare will be able to find some satisfying pizza and gelato to excite their palates, whether you want to eat in-house, grab a quick bite, or purchase food to make at home.

The Nutcracker: Holiday Performances of the Classic Ballet for LA & OC Kids this Christmas

Most of the year, most of us parents don't attempt to take our children to full-length ballet productions, but Christmas just doesn't feel like Christmas without one good Nutcracker. And if one good Nutcracker begins to make it feel a lot like Christmas, then LA, Orange, and Ventura counties are evidently hitting Uber-Christmas in the coming weeks with more than two dozen professional Nutcracker productions.

Incidentally, we've got answers to the two questions posed most often by LA parents in search of a Nutcracker Ballet for their families: Yes, there is a condensed version staged specifically for kids, offered by the Pacific Ballet down in Costa Mesa or Classical Ballet Theater in Palos Verdes; and yes, there are local productions performed with full orchestra - at the Long Beach Terrace Theater, the Broad Stage, the Dolby Theatre, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, and the Anaheim Ballet. There is even the odd Nutcracker Tea or two—in case you were wondering.

And when you've had your fill of Sugarplum Fairies, we can direct you to a whole bunch of other kinds of holiday shows and concerts

Cavalia Odysseo: Horses and Acrobats Play in a Big White Tent in Camarillo

There is nothing like Cavalia. The touring production Odysseo by the Cavalia team feels like the dreams we might have if we lived among wild horses and gypsy acrobats. And dream really is the key word: from the first moment until the last, herds of horses, flocks of aerialists, and scenic displays of epic proportions fill the stage with sequences that transport the audience to a magical dreamscape beyond most of our imaginings. You'll be rubbing your eyes to work out how they fit this world in one tent.

If someone in your house loves horses, this show is truly a must; if horses don't normally move you, Odysseo will change that. If these words seem overly effusive, rest assured that they don't begin to do justice to the spectacle taking place daily in that big castle-like tent next to the 101 freeway in Camarillo.

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