Los Angeles

What's Purim and Why All these Carnivals and Festivals?

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

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

These Bakeries Make the Best Birthday Cakes in Los Angeles

"Good things come in small packages" - or so my mother told me. And though she's always right, I'd argue that good things from bakeries come in large packages: as in, I'd take a whole cake over a cupcake any day, wouldn't you? If your little guy or gal has a birthday on the horizon, have a look at our long list of delectable bakery possibilities below, including vegan and gluten-free options. And just a heads up: though we've all been told that "good things come to those who wait," don't feel you must wait for a birthday to take home a confection! Oh go ahead, let them eat cake!

Wild West Meets Wine Country at this Southern California Guest Ranch

Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort is just a two-and-a-half hour drive from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles, but it feels like vacationing in another world. While it's possible to go horseback riding around Los Angeles, this quiet escape in the heart of Santa Barbara wine country takes that a step further on a 10,000-acre ranch boasting 50 miles of riding trails, a 100-acre lake, two 18-hole championship golf courses, tennis courts, and a heated pool and spa.

Empowering Kids and Parents After a School Shooting

By Susan Jara

It’s a terrifying scenario that has become all too familiar: A gunman walks into a school and starts shooting. Parents rush to the scene and wait in desperation to find out whether their child survived. Some of them do not.

The shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, is one of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history. Since the tragic 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, more than 400 people have been shot at schools, according to the New York Times.

As a parent watching these tragedies unfold over and over again, I felt powerless, frightened, and bewildered as to how to discuss these events with my children—and really, how to keep them safe going forward. Many parent friends say they’re afraid to send their kids through the school doors every day in light of these mass shootings. We wonder: Are the active shooter drills they’re participating in even helping?

“Every day I leave the house, thinking, ‘What if something happens at my school or at my child’s school,’ says Jill Murray, a mom and social worker in a high school near Newtown, Connecticut. “What if this is the last time I see my son?”

So I sought the advice of experts to help guide myself and other parents through this. What can we do to keep them safe, and what can we do to prevent anxiety from taking over?

14 Best Indoor Birthday Party Ideas for LA Kids

There is a special kind of stress—both emotional and financial—that planning a birthday party can cause if you have kids born between the months of November and March. Oh sure, everyone struggles with the great birthday party question, but those moms who gave birth in LA in August are pretty safe claiming a corner of a public park or throwing down some blankets on the beach. If you have a December baby, you may have tried that, but at some point probably cried "Never again!" LA might not have a proper winter, but it has a proper Indoor Birthday Party season, if only for the sanity of the parents. Allow us to share some of our favorite options for entertaining the masses without stressing about the weather.

Camps by the Day: Book One Day at a Time for the Beach and Beyond

My family doesn’t do a lot of camp. I have two children who loath having their time scheduled, and I am mostly home with them, so in the summer I let them loaf. We all enjoy not having a schedule, and, let’s face it, camp can be pricey. We peruse Mommy Poppins’ Event Calendar, where I always find something fun and usually free. Inevitably, though, the point arrives when somebody, maybe even everybody, is a bit bored—or, in the case of the camp director (me), tired. Also, I do work part time, so I can’t always be in charge of the entertainment. This is a recipe for that most dreaded of all childhood diseases: too much screen time. That's when camp starts to seem like a really good idea, and I regret not having signed up. Even the kids sometimes yearn for something scheduled, because most of their friends aren’t around; they're at camp.

So what to do with a couple of bored couch potatoes? It’s summer. Send them to the beach, the beach, the beach! This is a no brainer. People travel from far away to spend their summers by our shores. We are already here. It would be crazy not to take advantage of this most glorious natural resource. Slather on the sunscreen, get some UV sunglasses, maybe even invest in a wet suit, but make sure those kids get some time in the surf and sand! Of course, if the beach is not your cup of tea, we also know a few other places that don’t require advance planning and will welcome your children for the day. As the summer progresses you may even find more, because sometimes a camp that books by the week becomes more flexible if it doesn’t fill all its places.

Here are 10 you can count on:

Best Things To Do Presidents Day Weekend: Scots, Lunar New Year & Founding Fathers

This weekend is about more than just the long weekend (though it is a long weekend). This weekend asks us to examine the power of the individual, to do goodto excelto achieve greatness.

Whether your skill is slam dunkingtrick shotting, or sheep herding, whether your area of expertise is geekdom or slime or onomatopoeia, this weekend reminds us that we can all rise up and achieve great things.

On Monday in particular, we look at the American presidency and the power of one individual to impact the lives of so many. LA is lucky to have two presidential libraries in the region, both of which offer up free observances of the holiday. Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you are going to do with your kids on this long weekend. 

Read on for our most statesmanlike picks for this weekend …

10 Chinese Lunar New Year Festivals for Families around Los Angeles

Time to say Gung Ha Fat Choy to our kids, wish them a happy Year of the Dog, and bring them to a Chinese New Year festival! LA families have several opportunities to greet the Lunar New Year, from low-key neighborhood events to Chinatown's century old grand scale festival. One thing they all have in common is beautiful imagery, so bring a camera and get ready for the Year of the Dog at one of the family-friendly events below.

Roller Skating Rinks Are Still Great Spots for SoCal Family Fun

If you grew up in the 70s and 80s, you probably have great memories of rockin' and rollin' at the roller rink. Birthday parties, end of year school trips, disco evenings, or just plain having fun inside on a hot or rainy day—roller rinks were the best. Even though inline skates are the outdoor skate of choice these days, we can still put on some quads at these LA- and OC-area roller rinks. Take the kids for a taste of your childhood. And, Mom and Dad, you can go ahead and skate too. It is great exercise and just as fun as you remember.

Dinosaurs Invade a Shopping Mall in Redondo Beach

Part museum, part play space, Wonder of Dinosaurs at the South Bay Galleria is a tantalizing collection of animatronic dinosaurs of all varieties, in the setting of a mini amusement-park-toy-shop combo that offers a full day of family friendly exploration (and shopping). Spanning two floors of retail storefront, this dino destination has such wow-worthy draws as Triceratops bouncies (some reserved for the many birthday parties being held on the premises) and a movable dinosaur with reigns for riding like a horse. This natural history museum of play gyms, Wonder of Dinosaurs is a welcome addition to the many kid-friendly places in Redondo Beach.


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