Kids

School Start & End Dates: 2019-2020 Academic Year Calendars for LA County Schools

Summer vacation ain't what it used to be. The majority of SoCal school districts now opt for an August start date, with vanishingly few stragglers sticking with the old-school, post-Labor Day start. And beware assuming that school starts and finishes roughly when it did last year, because schedules seem to change all the time. 2020 is a leap year, and that extra day may impact the school calendar as well.

This year Alhambra is first out of the gate, leading the back-to-school race with a pool-party-pooper start date of August 9; but in a radical change of course, Torrance goes from last man standing to a late August start. Hermosa Beach is now the only district on our list with a September start date, with classes beginning on September 5. 

Wondering where your district fits in, and how much time you have left for these 50 Free Things To Do in Summer? Bookmark our list below with start and finish dates for the 2019-2020 school year all over LA County. And if what you read makes you wonder about what other school options are available to you, maybe our school guide can help.

10 Budget-Friendly Staten Island Birthday Party Spots for Kids

Although we have a ton of ideas for kids' birthday parties for every budget in New York City, celebrations in Manhattan or Brooklyn typically cost more than they do in other boroughs, especially when compared to Staten Island. You might not already know it unless you live on Staten Island, but this borough offers a ton of great, affordable birthday party options—ice skating, roller skating, bowling, museums, park and zoo parties, and even a few surprises.

If you're not a Staten Island resident, getting to the island for a party may take a little more effort and planning to schlep a group of kids on the ferry (which will probably be totally cool to them, by the way) or by car, but with the cash you'll save, it just might be worth it. And if you do live on Staten Island, read on for a few ideas to bookmark for your next birthday party.

20+ STEM Summer Camps for New Jersey Kids

When you think "summer camp," you might picture canoeing on a lake, playing capture the flag, and eating s'mores by a campfire. But camp can also be about coding, constructing robots, and building with Legos. We've rounded up more than 20 New Jersey STEM camps that promise a summer of fun for budding scientists, engineers, and computer programmers. Find more New Jersey summer camps in our Camp Guide and Full Directory of Listings

The NYC Public School Calendar for 2019-2020 Is Here

If you've got a child in public school, you live by the school calendar. Many local NYC preschools follow the public school schedule too. The New York City Department of Education's calendar for the 2019-2020 school year was (finally!) just released, and you'll want to bookmark it now, for next year's family vacation plans and, if you're really on the ball, to help with advance planning for school break camp coverage

With the exception of the occasional unplanned snow day or case of the sniffles, these are all of the dates you can count on your kiddos being out of school during the 2019-2020 school year.

Trash & Recycling Fun: Sanitation Yard Open Houses for Kids Who Love Garbage Trucks

Vroom Vroom! Does the sound of the garbage truck coming down the street send your kids running to watch? Spring kicks off city yard open houses and recycling fair season, and these events are hugely popular with kids of a certain age. If your kiddos have any curiosity about what goes on in a garbage truck, this is their chance to satisfy it, at one of the most eagerly awaited free activities in LA. Public tours (also detailed below) are often available throughout the year (call first); but the spring open houses are a must-do for little one who live for the roar of the garbage truck.

Easy Day Hikes Near NYC for Families To Explore

When the weather is fine, there are few things New Yorkers like better than a day outside with the family. Although NYC has incredible parks and playgrounds to explore, sometimes it's worth taking a day trip outside the city limits.

So pack a cooler and a picnic blanket and find your new favorite kid-friendly hiking destination among this list that takes you to the Hudson Valley, New Jersey, Long Island, and even some memorable parks within the five boroughs. Each of these hikes has something special to offer, and best of all, they are kid-tested and kid-approved! 

Best Destination Sandboxes at Local Parks for NYC Kids

There's no denying it—kids love diving into a sandbox, running their shovels and hands through the grains of sand, dumping a full bucket over and generally getting their hands dirty.

Though NYC parents might get grossed out at the thought of what could be lurking in our uncovered, urban sandboxes, it's hard to refuse one of a preschooler's most beloved sensory experiences. So pull up a bench (and your cup of coffee; you'll be here a while!), and check out these eight toddler-tested, mom-approved NYC sandboxes. We've done our best to find the cleanest ones across the city. Besides, you can always wash their hands in the nearby sprinklers or park bathrooms when you're finally able to get them out.

And hey, you don't have to hoof it out to the local beach to reach this sand, which just means more time for other NYC kid activities. Find more destination playgrounds in our NYC Parks & Playgrounds Guide.

From Parties to Scouts, Why Annenberg PetSpace Is Such a Great Place To Bring Kids

We just got word that Annenberg PetSpace's new summer camp is already full for the season—that didn't take long! But even if you missed it, there are still a whole bunch of wonderful reasons to bring kids to explore this unique, critter-focused community space, many of which are free. The center has educational programs and play opportunities that include story hours, classes, scavenger hunts, birthday parties, and more—all created to strengthen the bond between pets and people. If you thought Annenberg PetSpace was just an adoption center, get ready to take a closer look.

Best Playgrounds in Chicago: Destination Play Zones Worth the Trip

Chicago families are lucky to have a world-class parks system with hundreds of great playgrounds. Thanks to a city initiative, over 300 playgrounds in Chicago have been refurbished or newly built since 2013, with the goal of ensuring that every Chicago kid has a place to play within a ten-minute walk of home.

But even in a city packed with great parks, some Chicago playgrounds are a cut above the rest. The spots on our best-of list have plenty of space to climb, slide, swing, and play, while also offering something special or unique that makes them worth the trip. Check out our Chicago playground hall of fame, and get out to play at a new-to-you park this weekend.

Free Cinco de Mayo Celebrations that Are Great for Families

First let's set the record straight: Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day. What the day actually celebrates is an underdog Mexican victory over a French military attack on Puebla, Mexico in 1862. The holiday is mostly observed in Puebla and in Southern California, where there's little mention of the French, but much swinging at piñatas and dancing to mariachis. After all, by the first weekend of May, who needs more excuse than that to revel in the sunshine? Many of the Cinco de Mayo events you'll see advertised are pub crawls, but we've hunted down celebrations the whole family can enjoy.

There are free Cinco de Mayo fests throughout LA and the OC, starting as early as a week before, so get in the spirit to dance, watch parades, and (of course) eat.

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