Looking to hold an animal-themed birthday party? There are lots of places around LA where you can throw great a party, with animals, hosts, and treat bags; or you can just take everyone to the zoo or aquarium. But what if you would rather have a party at home—where you don't need to limit sibling and adult attendance, you won't have to deal with transportation issues, and you can serve your own food? There are several businesses offering a variety of animals and party packages, happy to bring the party to you.
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Every kid loves to jump around. While some kids channel that energy into competitive gymnastics programs at LA's gymnastics schools, others (toddlers particularly) really just want a place to bounce, tumble, climb, and swing. If you are looking for tumbling classes that are completely child-centered, fully non-competitive, and possibly closer to home (not to mention great options for birthday parties and summer camp), one of these kids' gyms may be just your speed.
There is more to SoCal than just Los Angeles; only slightly farther afield families can explore Ojai, play in Palm Springs, and indulge in Santa Barbara. A 150-mile jaunt up the coast from LA, Santa Barbara is chock full of fun and educational things to delight kids and adults. Day-trippers can make it an extra-special jaunt (or maybe just avoid traffic and parking) by taking Amtrak from any of the LA or OC stations then spending the day or weekend riding Santa Barbara's downtown and waterfront shuttles—or the water taxi—to enjoy the 26 local attractions below.
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.
Laguna Beach in Orange County is a beach- and art-lovers paradise, a land of scuba diving and gallery exploring. The town was originally created as an artists' colony, known to this day for its many art festivals, but Laguna has plenty of other great amenities and events, too, that make this town a great place for kids and the whole family. Whether you are a local, a daytripper, or just looking for a SoCal staycation to please all ages, heading to Laguna Beach is a great idea!
Sun, sand, sea...it must be summer! Summer is the perfect time to learn to surf - and a surf camp can teach your kids everything they need to know. There is more to surfing than just the mechanics of getting up on the board; there is also wave selection, ocean safety, and the all-important surfing etiquette that is best learned from someone in the know. And, of course, our SoCal Summer Camp Guide wouldn't be SoCal without a listing of surf camps!
At some point, just about every boy and girl will want to try fishing. Whether you plan to eat your haul or catch and release, fishing is a time-honored, relaxing way for kids and parents or grandparents to spend quality quiet time together—and it's a classic summer activity. Why not start with a free wharf fishing clinic, to learn fishing basics or ocean fishing, then head out to one of the spots below on your own!
Nothing is more fun on a too-hot day than some water play—just ask the kids. And if you want to give them a big surprise, take them to a water theme park. There are several water parks in Southern California, with large scale splash parks to please every kid from toddler to teen. Of course, if you're looking for something smaller, closer, or more low-key, you can always check out our list of water play features at city parks; but if you're looking to make a big splash, check out one of the SoCal parks below.