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.
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Interested in getting a pet—or just spending time with one? The new Wallis Annenberg PetSpace in Playa Vista is all about building bonds between people and pets. While there are dogs, cats, and rabbits available for adoption, no pressure: this is also a family-friendly space to learn about pets and people, and maybe even get a little cuddle time if a pet isn't possible in your home.
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.
Picture your ideal Thanksgiving. Are you imagining a delicious multi-course meal shared with family and friends? Or are you imagining hours of shopping, prepping, cooking, cleaning, TV blaring football, and not enough time spent talking with people you don't see often enough? Perhaps you struggle because your space is too small for all the family you want to see? This could be a good year to try something new: Go out for Thanksgiving dinner—have your feast and eat it, too, while enjoying conversation with family and friends. And best of all, someone else cleans up afterward!
Corn mazes are created by a tractor in a growing field of corn—usually following a fairly intricate design. For large mazes, GPS is often used to create a picture that can be seen from the air. A mature corn maze is a true adventure, with walls of corn that are taller than most adults; children (and adults) can for sure lose their way! Most operators recommend kids be at least 5-8 years old before going in alone; use your judgment, of course. Closed-toe shoes are recommended for comfort (sneakers are best), as corn mazes involve walking on uneven ground and broken cornstalks. And if you head into the maze at dusk, be sure to bring a flashlight!
Love museums, but the prices make you think twice? If you have a large family, those tickets add up fast—which is particularly frustrating if you then need to beat a hasty retreat to avoid a meltdown. SoCal has some great museums that have free general admission every day of the year, including The Getty, California Science Center and The Broad. Also, active-duty military personnel can take advantage of the Blue Star Program at many LA and OC museums in summertime. As for the rest of them (once kids are old enough to have to pay), many LA and OC museums have monthly or even weekly free days or evenings, and we have collected a list below for easy reference. These times offer a great chance to bring the extended family, meet friends, or check out a place you have never been before—all for just the price of parking or Metro tickets. And if there's a meltdown? At least it's free.
Get ready to check off a bunch of boxes in one outing: outdoor time, local history, exercise, easy drive, and totally FREE—right down to the parking. This little known canyon in the Santa Clarita Valley offers hiking through a special piece of California's past, pulling together Native American history, Hollywood movie locations, and the site of the very first discovery of gold in California. All of this is set amidst a variety of native flora and fauna, with guided ranger activities and a nature center, making Placerita Canyon a great choice for a day's excursion.
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.)