Happy Holidays, folks! We're smack dab in the middle of a festivity frenzy, with Christmas and Kwanzaa coming on strong. (Those of us who are been-there, dreidel'd-that, done with Hanukkah can turn our attention to the Baby New Year's impending arrival. And Mary Poppins!)
This weekend offers the last chance to put the finishing touches on Christmas, before the big guy comes down the chimney late Monday night. Across Southern California, lights are twinkling, nuts are cracking, and reindeer are romping, as moms and dads scramble to buy last minute gifts (while finding time for a seasonal spectacle or two).
And then comes Christmas. No doubt many of you plan to spend Christmas Day at home with friends and family. For those of you looking for activities outside the home, good news: we're here to help. First up, we offer 25 Things To Do on Christmas Day. And if your kitchen closes on Christmas Day, we present a list of restaurants that are open. Christmas is the gift that keeps on giving, and after the presents are all exchanged we can still enjoy the gift of other people being gone. (Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and the freeways much more bearable.) For holiday cheer that continues on into next week, might we suggest some of LA's finest Christmas light displays, or some in Orange County (and, if you're willing to spend a little, some holiday light displays are worth the ticket price).
And this year we have a special surprise under our tree: Mommy Poppins has just launched sites in Washington, DC and Chicago! Thank you, Santa, it's exactly what we wanted!
Virtual Reality: it may sound like a phrase describing the half-awake state in which most parenting takes place, but in fact it's something way cooler. VR to our kids is putting on a pair of goggles and going somewhere entirely different, to experience things that aren't remotely happening. And that type of adventure is the trade of a seemingly uneventful little space in Glendale and Anaheim called The VOID, whose newest VR experience lets visitors enter the world of Ralph Breaks the Internet.
In recent years, Thanksgiving was all about cute mash-ups (remember Thanksgivvikuh?), Black Friday shopping, and outrage over Thursday-is-Not-Friday-But-the-Middle-of-a-Holiday sales. This year, Hanukkah holds off until early December, and many major retailers are promising to stay closed on Thursday. (You go, Lakeshore Learning, Home Depot, and Barnes & Noble! As for the rest of you, time out with no pumpkin pie.)
We've found a few family friendly venues open on Thanksgiving, where you can enjoy a little morning cardio, a visit with animal friends, and maybe a good meal. (Make sure you check the hours for the day; some places are closing early.) You can make your Friday about shopping, or you can gather the family for a flick, whether new or timeless. Once again, Saturday is the new Friday, and it's all about the local.
We here are thankful for much, and hope you feel the same way. We're grateful for the truly unique shows, spectacles, and experiences that come our way this time of year. We're thankful for our beautiful climate, which lets us sled on the sand as easily as on the snow. We're grateful for our brave first responders, who put themselves in harm's way to keep us and the land safe. We're grateful for the health and well-being of our loved ones, and we're grateful for you, our readers. Happy Thanksgiving, guys!
Keep reading for some of our best finds for fun this Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and, thankfully, Thanksgiving weekend...
As we approach Thanksgiving week, we are reminded of all we have to be grateful for, and perhaps much we have taken for granted in the past. Our wild, beautiful woodlands and coastline are the heart and soul of our city, but can also represent great vulnerability. Our hearts go out to all who have experienced loss in the last week.
According to the most recent reports, 98,362 acres have been burned by the Woolsey and fire, and 435 structures have been destroyed, with another 57,000 still listed as being in danger. Even in areas where the immediate risk of fire has passed there may still hazards due to debris, utility outages, and damaged infrastructure such as roadways and power lines.
Many venues were closed and whole communities evacuated during the fires, due to air quality, road accessibility, and continued fire risk. As our emergency responders get the flames under control, we can start to take stock of the damage that has been done.
Below we list the status of some popular locations in the affected area that may impact your family. We will update the list as we get more information.
Our calendar, just like a treat bag, is overflowing this weekend. With tons of carnivals and festivals and parades and celebrations, LA is aquiver with the pumpkin-mania that is Halloween. Find the fun at parks, parks, and parks; at zoos, zoos, and zoos; and at theme parks, theme parks, and theme parks... you get the picture. There's no way we can fit them all here, so this weekend more than ever I encourage you to check out our full listings.
As if the schedule wasn't full enough, there's another major holiday nipping at Halloween's heels. Many Día de los Muertos events are this weekend, and there's no better place than LA to rejoice in the memory of our departed loved ones. There are even a few events with no holiday affiliation this weekend, though it's not hard to see the synergism between Halloween and, say, Los Angeles Comic Con or the Spider Pavilion.
Whatever your plans, conserve your strength: Wednesday is coming. (Don't worry, you'll get yours; it is a perfectly acceptable parenting technique to keep any trick-or-treat candy you deem bad for your kids' teeth.)
Keep reading for our trickiest treats for this weekend...
It had to happen sooner or later. After many fits and false starts, folks trying to bring our season of fun to a ridiculously early close (props to Torrance and Hermosa for doing it right), and a whole lotta bellyaching about how it’s not fair (um, that would be me), the time has come to acknowledge: summer break is over. It’s Labor Day weekend, and, while it may mark the end of summer, it’s also known in some circles as the biggest weekend of them all. We’re going to fill every moment with fairs and festivals, (hello, Sailor!), cook-offs and concerts, and enjoy the last hurrah of some favorite summer series.
It's time to face the extinction of a favorite ride at Universal Studios, and the curtain falling on a favorite exhibit at the Skirball. But never fear: while your white-wearing days may be over, the fun is just beginning. Why, this weekend alone sees the return of a much loved festival in Santa Monica, massive movie marathons, and a struggle between Greeks and Hawaiians for dominance in Long Beach.
Keep reading for our most Laborious picks for the weekend...
Summer vacation ain't what it used to be. The majority of SoCal school districts now opt for an August start date, with only a few South Bay stragglers sticking with the old-school, post-Labor Day start. And beware assuming that school starts and finishes roughly when it did last year, because schedules seem to change all the time. This year Alhambra is first out of the gate, leading the back-to-school race with a pool-party-pooper start date of August 10; Torrance kids still get the most out of summer with their September 6 first day.
Wondering where your district fits in, and how much time you have left for these 50 Free Things To Do in Summer? Bookmark our list below with start and finish dates for the 2018-2019 school year all over LA County. And if what you read makes you wonder about what other school options are available to you, maybe our school guide can help.
How is a theme park like your kids? Because just when you think you know everything about them, they up and change on you. And just like with your kid, those changes are (mostly) good. Sure, we may have to say good-bye to a couple of old favorites, but look at all we get in their place. Sit back, buckle up, keep your arms inside the ride at all times, and see what our local theme parks have in store for you this summer.