There's plenty to love about mini golf; it's a timeless crowd pleaser that can rescue a dull afternoon or set the stage for a great birthday party. But just when you thought you knew all you needed to know about this classic pastime, along comes glow-in-the-dark mini golf! That would be indoor miniature golf, lit with black lights. It's a whole new twist on an old-fashioned game, and it works day or night, rain or shine, little kid or teen. We found five cool spots around the Southland that crank up the day glow effects to set the stage for mini golfers. Be sure to wear white or clothes with glow-in-the-dark designs and take the family to one of these luminous, eye-popping destinations.
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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?
Sitting at the heart of Orange County, Irvine is all grown up from the sleepy suburb founded in the early 1970s. With 250,000 residents, UC Irvine, and the headquarters of many well-known companies—even In-n-Out is headquartered here!—it is consistently rated as one of the safest and best cities to live in by national publications. With all this going on, there must be something to do, right? And is there ever!
If you're looking for an outing in your own backyard, are making a weekend around a sports tournament (Irvine’s parks play host often), or just fancy a drive somewhere new, there are lots of places to explore around Irvine.
It's one of the most iconic symbols of our city, but have you ever hiked to the Hollywood sign? Sure, you can't get close enough to touch it, but you can hike to the top of Mt. Lee, reaching a vantage point above and behind it, and enjoy one of the most amazing views of the Griffith Observatory, Downtown LA, and Hollywood. The most kid-friendly route follows the wide, graded Hollyridge Trail to a paved road (closed to cars) up Mt. Lee. Roughly 3.5 miles round trip, it is not too much for most kids; there are generally plenty of preschoolers out on the trail. The entire hike follows fire roads and paved road, so even a stroller can make this trip—if you don't mind pushing it up about 800 feet of elevation gain, and controlling it on the way back down.
If you're raising a kid who loves a good rush of adrenaline, and roller coasters barely scratch the surface, maybe it's time for a family outing in the tree tops. Zip lining is a thrilling, exciting, and safe activity that is great for adventurous kids and their parents. There are several zip line locations around Southern California, and most feature a a 2–3 hour tour with several different lines.
The locations below are all day trips or weekend trips from LA. It is possible to zip a bit closer to home with some advance planning; Malibu's Shalom Institute has a zip line in the woods, available for use at any of its annual festivals (like the Family Hanukkah Festival), and Ventura Ranch Campground near Santa Paula has a fairly thrilling zip line available for camping guests.
Space exploration is a big topic these days, with the Rosetta Mission comet landing and Space X's International Space Station resupply missions. Many kids eat up these news stories, read books about astronomy and exploration, and dream of being an astronaut or working on rockets and satellites. Here in Southern California, we are especially lucky to have many options for the space-loving kid. Museums, businesses, observatories, and even a space camp all open their doors to our budding astrophysicists.