If you are like me and want to extend summer play…the whole year through…look no further than these top picks for a day out with the kids that can actually improve your health, fitness and fun factor. Lessen the stress, expend some calories and make incredible memories. Let’s start with a hike…
Looking for a kid-friendly, relatively short, breath-taking hike? Trek up the 2.25 mile loop to Inspiration Point. The easy sweat rewards hikers with sweeping views from Santa Monica to downtown LA. Take a peek at the rare polo field and a lawn that begs to be picnicked upon, also on the Will Rogers State Historic Park Property. (Thanks to Abby S on Yelp for this photo).
2. Leo Carillo State Beach, Malibu
Ahhhh…what is LA without the beach for swimming, surfing, running, frisbee-ing, windsurfing, surf fishing and beachcombing. One can do all of that and more at Leo Carillo Beach which has been a popular location for photographers and movies. Movies filmed here include Gidget, Grease,The Karate Kid, The Craft, Point Break, The Usual Suspects for starters. Leo Carrillo State Park has 1.5 miles of beach that comes with kid-friendly tidepools, parent-guided coastal caves and reefs for exploring with gorgeous giant shady sycamores.
3. Farm Sanctuary Animal Acres, Los Angeles
Ever hugged a calf, played with goats or run-free with chickens? Visit North America’s largest and most effective farm animal sanctuary right here in our very own backyard and you CAN. Farm Sanctuary allows you & your kids an up close and personal experience with rescued calves like Safran, cows like William and Harry lambs like Bear, pigs, turkeys, hens and more while exploring the beautiful 26-acre grounds. In addition to providing shelter for more than 100 animals, Farm Sanctuary’s Animal Acres offers one-hour guided tours on Sundays and group tours are available by appointment. Set the date and enjoy quite a memorable experience.
4. Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens
The Botanical Gardens are an ever-changing exhibition of color and a constant delight. Covering 120 acres, more than a dozen specialized gardens are arranged within a park-like landscape of rolling lawns. Among the most remarkable are the Desert Garden, the Japanese Garden, the Rose Garden, and the Chinese garden. The camellia collection is one of the largest in the country. While the Huntington Library and Art Collections provide interesting exhibits, chances are your kids will prefer exploring the vast gardens. Play in houses made of plants, build with magnetic sand, or experience the vibrations in the sonic pool.
For those in the San Fernando Valley, Lake Balboa is an exploration of fun. Rent bikes and ride along the extensive bike path, bring strollers, skate or create a friendly game of tee-ball, flag football or Frisbee golf. The facility has barbecue pits and picnic sites and several children’s play areas.
Just across the street from Lake Balboa Park, you’ll find a 6.5 acre, must-see, authentic Japanese Garden, where you are invited to walk, to sit, and to contemplate your surroundings in their garden of absolute tranquility. Here you can enrich your spirit and make time to smell the flowers.
7. Tree People
Adopt a tree, take a tour or hike in the park at one of LA’s most beloved tree-hugging environmental nonprofits. Tree People unites the power of trees, people and nature-based solutions to grow a sustainable future for Los Angeles. Simply put, their work is about helping nature heal our city. Where to meet?
8. The Santa Monica Stairs
Wear your endless energetic kids out and get in a workout yourself. Head toward the intersection of 7th Street that leads to Entrada Drive to the infamous Santa Monica Stairs. A personal favorite of mine, this set of stairs consists of a mixture of wooden and concrete flights in a straight path, about 5.5 feet wide, separated by three horizontal landings with 170 steps. Bring plenty of water and a healthy picnic for afterward on the Bluff.
You can also use the stairs that begin near the intersection of 4th Street leads to Ocean Avenue Exit that consists solely of concrete and 189 steps.
From the Palisades Park Bluff, choose to descend more stairs from one of the following streets:
Montana Avenue has 168 steps rising about 105 feet above PCH.
Idaho Avenue has 48 steps rising about 30 feet above the California incline.
Arizona Avenue has 111 steps rising about 65 feet above PCH.
Broadway has about 30 steps rising about 50 feet above PCH.
Indulge in one of LA’s most historic, recently restored fountains. The William J. Mulholland Memorial Fountain, named after the “father of the LA water system,” is a majestic under appreciated jewel. Surrounded by a beautiful garden, anyone can enjoy jumping in puddles, hopscotching and playing amidst the colorful waters that shoot 50 feet in the air every few minutes. The parking is an added LA bonus. It is free and easy. Riverside Dr. and Los Feliz Blvd. across from Griffith Park Entrance.
Just east in Pasadena, Kidspace has an abundance of interactive exhibits that get kids excited about ideas like kinetic energy and ecology while providing some outdoor physical activity for everyone. Kids can zoom on the trike tracks with moms in tow, climb numerous towers, cool down with water play, skip through the garden and learn how to utilize some very cool imagination playground blocks. The sky is the limit.