Local libraries are a key part of the parenting experience, and most of us are aware of the goings-on at our nearest branch—from toddler storytimes, to homework help, to family movie nights. Some savvy parents are even on top of the many extra perks that come with a library card. But what about venturing beyond the local branch? With so many libraries in the greater Los Angeles area, some are really exceptional and merit a visit even if they're not your local. The 10 SoCal libraries below all boast something extra that makes them worth a drive.
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Vroom Vroom! Does the sound of the garbage truck coming down the street send your kids running to watch? Do they dream of grabbing a ride? Earth Day kicks off city yard open houses and recycling fair season, and these events are hugely popular with kids of a certain age. More than 6,000 residents attend an open house in an average year. If your kiddos have any curiosity about what goes on in a garbage truck, this is their chance to satisfy it.
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.
Thinking of sending your child to sleepaway camp for the first time? Are you excited, but nervous too? Sleepaway camps are used to dealing with homesick kids, and they offer some good advice: send mail and care packages for the daily mail call; no electronics (kids will be busy and exhausted with physical activity - camp is meant to be different than home); no phone calls (it makes homesickness worse); and chose a camp that fits your child's interests (horses? water play? nature? adventure?). Some camps let campers choose their activities from a large selection, so kids can do what they enjoy most, while others provide a schedule for campers to try every activity—think about which style is best for your child. Prices vary greatly—from less expensive ($) to most expensive ($$$$).
Of course, if your family is not ready for a sleepaway camp just yet, be sure to look at our Summer and Vacation Day Camp Guide!
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. And best of all? Admission is free!
Has your LA kid caught the acting bug? Does he or she love to perform and sing? Musical theater camps can provide the outlet, with instruction, rehearsals, and a final performance or a recital. Most performing arts camps around Los Angeles and Orange County, California, offer a specific show each session, so you can pick your week based on the show or theme that mosts interests your kid, tween, or teen. Several of the summer theater camps below run for two or more weeks, giving campers plenty of time to learn and rehearse before the big show.
Each of these LA summer camps offers something unique—it might be location, depth of offerings, small camp sizes, or after-hours care. If you're hoping to find something close to home, be sure to check out your local Parks and Rec offerings. And if your child is not interested in performing, maybe a movie or animation camp would be ideal. Whatever your camper's interests, you're sure to find fresh ideas in our Summer Camps Guide.
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.
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.