Sure, there are miles of great beaches in SoCal, but sometimes you need a break from the sand, and you want water that's a little less, well, wavy. It can be worth going a little farther to find a swimming pool that’s open to the public for recreational swimming and offers something special: Think slides, water play features, extended shallow areas for the little ones to splash in, or a beautiful, peaceful setting. Here’s our list of cool destination swimming pools worth a drive in LA and OC. Most range in price from $1 to $12 per person, and several of these pools offer discounted season passes (check websites for details).
Latest posts by Kathie Bozanich
The beach is made for kids—the sand, the sun, the surf. That last thing can be a worry, though, when it comes to toddlers and smaller children. Parents are forced to play defense all day to prevent their little ones from being tossed, turned, and dragged by turbulent waves. Knowing some beach safety rules is a good start; but there are a few beach areas in Los Angeles and Orange counties that offer the best of all worlds: the sand and sun plus shallow, gentle expanses of water perfect for wading.
Animals, real and imaginary, headline this first full week of fall. The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is celebrating Sea Otter Awareness Week to raise the profile of the adorable and endangered species. After learning about these furry, back-floating creatures and exploring all the facility has to offer, families can check out the tidepools at Cabrillo Beach Coastal Park. The aquarium is open every day but Monday. For more animal fun, Paw Patrol Live! Race to the Rescue—the first-ever live tour featuring the popular rescue dogs from Nickelodeon—comes to Thousand Oaks for two days. Before heading out, take a look at our 25 Things To Do Around Thousand Oaks with Kids for other activities to do while in the area.
Check out some highlights for the week ahead below, and then head over to the Mommy Poppins Event Calendar for more.
We don't scare easily, until we look up from our busy lives and realize Halloween is just around the corner! All the signs are there, including a few annual events that kick off this week—like Mickey's Halloween Party at Disneyland. Disney's special event evenings, when kids can trick-or-treat throughout the park, continue through Halloween, but tickets are very limited (so the park does not get overcrowded). Our insider tip: Hit up the treat stations early in the evening, then rent a locker to stow goodies, so you aren't hauling them around the park and onto attractions. We learned this lesson while climbing Tarzan's Treehouse with a treasure trove of treats in our backpacks!
Irvine Park Railroad Pumpkin Patch is also up and running for the season. The annual Halloween event features plenty of family-friendly fun, including the Pumpkin Train, haunted house, a hay ride and hay maze, panning for gold, and carnival games. The creepy crawlies are back downtown, too, with the return of the the Natural History Museum's Spider Pavilion. Visitors walk among orb weavers and their intricate webs, which might freak out some folks out, but rest assured the spiders aren't dangerous and prefer to keep to themselves. To know what to expect, read our review.
All that, plus Tuesday is Talk Like a Pirate Day—and Santa Monica Aquarium knows how to celebrate, putting parrots on landlubbers shoulders as they learn how to make rope and get those little ships in little bottles.
This is not just any week, folks; it's Grandparents Week! Noah's Ark gives the whole family a chance to celebrate National Grandparents Day all week long at Skirball Cultural Center, with up to two grandparents (or great-aunts or great-uncles) getting in free when purchasing child ticket. The older set can watch or join in as kids enjoy the floor-to-ceiling wooden ark filled with animals two by two.
Grand Park in Downtown LA hosts a free daylong party for families to launch the art installation Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA. Led by the Getty, the event is a series of thematically linked exhibitions by art institutions throughout Southern California, exploring Latin American in relation to the LA area. Families can learn more about the exhibits through a pop-up installation and social space, an immersive workshop, and live entertainment.
And since the week begins with September 11, we're highlighting two kid-friendly events to mark the day. In particular, Pepperdine's annual 9/11 Flag Memorial, with thousands of flags flapping in the sea breeze, is always worth a drive up PCH.
If your kids are fascinated by big battleships and vessels that sail the seven seas, they'll love this holiday week, which has a nautical bent from beginning to end. It starts with LA Fleet Week 2017 at the LA Waterfront in San Pedro. This popular free event gives visitors the opportunity to tour US military ships recently deployed on overseas assignments. Labor Day highlights include Concerts Under the Guns, with a performance by the Babys, and Conquer the Bridge, a race across Vincent Thomas Bridge (welcoming both walkers and runners), followed by a victory breakfast in the parking lot by the Battleship Iowa. The week closes with the Ocean Institute's Tall Ships Festival parade of ships sailing into Dana Point harbor at sunset Friday. Families can tour real, working tall ships and enjoy historical reenactments with cannon battles, pirate adventures, and even mermaid encounters.
Other highlights of the week include Singing in the Rain accompanied by live orchestra, Bob Baker Marionettes, and a Festival of Children. Check out all of our picks for the week below. Be sure to check out our Event Calendar and the new September GoList for more activities.
Our daughter feels like Vegas is her second home, and it’s no wonder: we've been visiting Sin City a couple of times a year since she was a baby. We fit in lots of family outings during our visits, like riding the High Roller Las Vegas Ferris wheel, watching the Bellagio fountains, and checking out the flamingoes at the Wildlife Habitat at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino. My husband and I usually do the rotation thing when it comes to gambling (one of us goes and one of us stays with our daughter), but every now and then it's nice to splurge on childcare and enjoy Las Vegas as a couple.
What most folks consider the last week of summer is upon us, as we head for Labor Day weekend. Outdoor movie screenings like the Brentwood Country Mart Movie Night and the CSUN Summer Movie Fest have their last hurrahs this week, as do Laguna's daily Pageant of the Masters and Festival of Arts—and September fairs roll in to take their place. Families can get a taste of the world at the Orange International Street Fair; the fair's Children's Street, devoted to kids, features crafts, games, and live entertainment. This week also brings the annual Malibu Kiwanis Chili Cook-Off, Carnival & Fair, which runs into the weekend, with its live entertainment and carnival rides. Oh, and did we mention? Opening day of the Los Angeles County Fair is this week. The epic annual gathering in Pomona features animals, carnival rides, fair food (of the fried and non-fried variety), parades, and lots of entertainment.
Check out our favorites for the week below, or peruse all of the week's options on the Mommy Poppins Event Calendar.