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!
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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.
Kids, teens, and adults all love laser tag. A little bit tag, a little bit hide and seek, laser tag is great fun for a mixed-age group. Video games fans can get up off the sofa and jump right inside the game, with an adrenaline rush practically guaranteed. Players wear special vests and use laser guns; the vests light up when hit (so no arguments!), and no protective gear is required—you cannot feel the laser, and it is eye-safe as well.
Some SoCal multi-activity family fun centers (of the type, for example, that might have glow-in-the-dark mini-golf) offer small versions of a laser tag game; if you've played at one of these, it's time to ramp up your game at one of the major laser tag arenas below! A dedicated laser tag center is two to four times larger than the games at family fun centers, and usually offers multiple levels. There are also fewer extra activities to pull at your wallet. Arenas are dark (the better to see the lasers) and may have other effects such as fog and sounds or music—not to mention blacklights. If you are feeling competitive, don’t wear white.
Laser tag is a great activity for a birthday party, too. In case none of the arenas are convenient to you, we've also found some mobile laser tag companies who bring the guns and vests, barricades, and inflatables to you. Indoor or outdoor, daytime or nighttime, going to battle with your kids is just good, wholesome fun.
If your kids are fans of Pixar movies (and who isn't?), if they are into any element of STEAM (as in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math), then there's a treat waiting for them at the California Science Center. The Science Behind Pixar takes a never-before-seen look at the artists, engineers, and computer scientists at Pixar, and how they use STEM concepts in the creation of Pixar films. Videos, interactive computer activities, and hands-on physical activities use characters, scenes, and elements from Pixar movies to explain concepts and challenges and explore solutions created by Pixar staff. Lighting Nemo under water, getting Merida's hair to bounce as she runs, putting the gleam on Lightning McQueen—it's all in the hands of our kids.
Footgolf, you ask? Yes, footgolf! It is, indeed, a thing—a new thing, less than ten years old, and a fun thing played outside on golf courses that welcome families and mixed-age groups. As you might guess by the name, footgolf combines the sports of soccer and golf. And while your younger kids might find mini golf (let alone real golf) to be an exercise in frustration, footgolf is played with a standard size soccer ball, and any kid who has enjoyed AYSO soccer will likely enjoy shooting for the 21-inch footgolf hole. Footgolf also allows excellent skill building—and would make for a great end-of-season soccer team party!
School's out for summer! Camps, vacations, and family visits are scheduled—or maybe you prefer a local, relaxing summer with lazy days spent at the beach or working on our 100 Things to Do with Kids in LA list. No matter what your family style, all kids can benefit from a summer reading program. Public libraries often have programs; but did you know that there are several other free programs for all ages, with prizes, certificates, and sometimes extra activities?