It’s summer! Now what?(Plan B activities in Los Angeles)

We’ve just begun our summer break and I am already googling, “Things to do with Kids in Los Angeles.” This is a search I make anytime I’m with the kids for more than 24 hours. I told myself I wasn’t going to overschedule them. I told myself I don’t need a bunch of overpriced summer camps to entertain my kids; they can figure it out themselves. But after several full days of online gaming and wine thirty starting earlier and earlier, I realize I may have a problem on my hands. So I’ve got to have a Plan B.

Lucky for you, my problem is your gain! Take a look at some of the Plan B’s. This is a list of the not so obvious things you can do around Los Angeles. Some I have done, some my friends have done, and some need to be done by someone soon. Feel free to add your own suggestions or reviews in the comments!

  • The Skyspace and Sky Slide in DTLA. This just opened! It’s got killer views of the city and a glass slide that takes you from the 70th to the 69th floor on the outside of the building! 1000 feet in the air! You read that right. Tips: Splurge for the VIP Sky Slide combo ticket so you bypass lines! Check it out!
  • LACMA Friday jazz nights! It’s free! Grab a blanket, a cooler, and let the kids run free. The museum is free after 5 for Los Angeles residents on this nights. Here’s the lineup. Fridays from April to November.
  • Surf lessons! Yes you can go to the beach and not surf, but why not shake it up a bit and hang ten with some rad instructors. (That is surf lingo.)  Most recently we went with Go Surf. 2 instructors for 3 kids. Other friends have suggested LA Surf and Swim,  MalibuMakos, and Santa Monica Surf School.

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  • IFly! Ever wanted to skydive but that whole falling out of an airplane thing scared you off? IFly has you covered. Skydiving experience without the worry of falling to your death. It’s located in Universal City Walk which is an event all on it’s own.
  • Museum of Death. I don’t like museums. And truth be told I’m a big scaredy cat, so this might not be good for me, but finding things to entertain the older kids can be difficult. If you think they can handle it, why not go check out death up close and personal? Museum of Death.
  • The Museum of Jurassic Technology. Speaking of museums, this is not one. It is, but it isn’t. I was told that it was actually something for a movie, but then someone else said it was an art installation, but then someone else said ….you get the picture. It’s intriguing and there’s a Russian tea room. Something to think about….or is it? Museum of Jurassic Technology.
  • Grand Central Market food booths. In Downtown LA there is a national caliber eating experience. With booths like EggSlut, Sticky Rice, and Horse Thief BBQ there is something for everyone!  It’s an adventure in eating!Market
  • Chinatown Summer Nights. Every 3rd Sunday of the summer months, Chinatown opens up to bring you food trucks, food and cultural demonstrations, and hands on activities. Some have been known to leave with a turtle or two. Click here to get the 411.
  • Watts Towers. Take a tour of the artwork and get a bit of history and cultural in South Central. Definitely take the guided tour.
  • Santa Monica Trapeze School. Everyone goes to the pier for the amusement park and beach. Why not do something different? Fly through the air with the greatest of ease.  I took my 16 year old nephew and even he had blast. I honestly recommend this for the whole family. It’s a blast. Make reservations, the classes fill up! catch me
  • Horseback Riding. One day a few summers ago, I asked my kids what they would like to do for the day….for some reason, horseback riding was the answer.  I took them to Griffith Park. There are two options for you. For little kids there are pony rides. It’s an enclosed pen and the horses will walk or trot. My kids loved it when they were little. Pony Rides.  For older riders you can take a guided trail ride with Griffith Park Horse Rentals. INFO AND RESERVATIONS:(818) 840-8401 Another option for horseback riding is Sunset Ranch.
  • Movie nights at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. I didn’t realize that there were kid friendly movie options here, but it seems they do offer some. You can bring a picnic and beer/wine. A DJ spins music before and after the movie!  Check out the lineup here.
  • Greystone Mansion. This is a place to come and “stroll.” You can pretend it’s your lavish estate and you are walking the grounds, sitting on benches and admiring the gardens and fountains. Kids have lots of space to run off their summer energy. If the walls of the mansion could talk, you’d hear a tale of wealth and murder, but for now, you can only peek in the windows. The mansion itself is closed unless you are attending a special event. Here is the current calendar of eventsGuided tours are suspended for now, but are supposed to resume in December 2016.  Yay!
  • Escape Rooms! A great family bonding activity. You get locked in a room and have a limited amount of time to solve the clues, get the key and escape the room! A group of us did Trapped in a Room with a Zombie which was super fun, but not really best for kids. A few options for the younger crowd: 6 escape rooms for kids.

LOS ANGELES ADJACENT 😉

Here are a few options within 45-60 minutes outside of LA.

  • Royce’s Arcade Warehouse. You guys, they have free game day on Saturdays 10-3. This place rents and repairs old school video games and pinball machines. PacMan, Frogger, Donkey Kong! If it’s working and on the floor, it’s free! You do have to drive to Chatsworth, but who cares!? Check it out! 
  • Adventure Playground! This is in Huntington Beach, but man is it cool! Forget swing sets and slides, this place has do it yourself treehouses, wooden rafts, and a mudslide. A real outdoor play area for kids. Bring a change of clothes and shoes because your kids will get muddy! $3 entry fee for kids 16 and younger. adventure

 

  • Malibu Wine Safari. Yes a safari with wine! I want to do this with my girlfriends, but since we are talking about kid stuff, they have a Family Tour during the week that still involves wine but serves lemonade to the kids. Wine pairings and wild animals! what could go wrong! Here’s the info!
  • Paradise Cove Beach Cafe. This is a fun place to go have lunch in Malibu and then hang by the beach. They rent beach chairs, umbrellas etc and have tasty cocktails! If you really want to do it up, you can rent a beach terrace for the day! Paradise Cove.

WANT MORE IDEAS?

Check out these websites for current events and activities around Los Angeles.

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Riding the break!

 

That’s not a typo. I’m not talking about car brakes. I’m talking about a break from parenthood. A break from responsibility. A break from that 24/7 unpaid job we all agreed to do. A break that every mom deserves. Yes, you do. Don’t argue with me, I said you do!

Hey, if momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

No laundry. No carpool. No lunches to make.  Just me myself and I…and a few friends. Sleeping in. Movies. Room Service. Dinners out. A photo shoot. Champagne blow outs. lol Did I throw you with that? Hey if you are going to make the time to take a break…you need to make it count!

Here are a few tips when taking a break.

1.Take enough time.

mommy-timeout

SO many times, I try to plan a weekend getaway but I want to make sure that the kids are fed, and the laundry is done and the meals are pre-planned, and loveys are folded neatly on the beds…FORGET IT! By the time you get everything ready to go, you’ve given up half a day or more! To make sure we had enough time on our trip to NYC, we took a red eye flight. Granted we did not sleep well but we also had the great idea of going straight to the spa when we arrived. Pampering began immediately and that red eye was a distant memory.  If you only have a weekend or even a night, stay some what local or within a 2-3 hour radius and GET AWAY EARLY AND SPEND THE NIGHT! A glorious night of uninterrupted sleep is worth more than any pampering session!

2. Send in reinforcements.

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I always try to have my inlaws come in to stay if I am going away for more than a few days without my husband. My mother in law loves to take care of her baby (my husband) as well as the grandkids. If you don’t have that option, use other family members or friends to farm out your kids or run carpool for you. If you have the cash, hire a babysitter to help out your spouse. You want it to be an enjoyable experience for him too so he is open to another girls’ getaway. 😉

3. Be flexible.

flexible

I’m gonna kick my heels up regardless!

We had all kinds of plans when we hit New York, but the weather and a bout of food poisoning had us scrapping lots of ideas and regrouping. Aside from our friend who was ill most of the day, it wasn’t bad hanging out in the room watching movies and talking. It’s good to have a plan but be ready to just go with the flow.

4. Pamper yourself!

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We planned this trip far in advance so I made sure there was money in the budget to do some really fun things. But pampering can be something as inexpensive as a $20 foot massage or $30 blow dry with free champagne!

5. Do something different!

For this trip, we booked an awesome new company called Flytographer.  You get your very own photographer in the city you are visiting. You can have professional photographs taken of you and your friends having fun in the city! They have photographers all over the world!They can be candid or more posed. It’s lots of fun and you have great mementos of the trip!

http://www.flytographer.com

   PicMonkey Collage nyc

So let’s recap:

A break. You need it. Take it. Fun and flexible….like Olivia Newton John.

I Can’t Rage Against the Machine

As I sit here on day 5 of a 7 day school break, I start to ask myself certain questions. Like- Is it wrong to drink before noon if you’ve been cooped up with kids for 5 days? Am I a bad mom if I stop fighting the electronic obsession that all 3 of my kids have? How many days can the kids go without bathing before it is considered neglect? So many questions. But let’s get back to the electronics one. Seriously. Obsession does not even come close to the right word. Addiction.

drugs of choice

My kid starts jonesing as soon as his eyes open. I can find him under his sheets pretty much every morning mesmerized by the creative world he has built in Minecraft.

haydenbed

All three of my kids are Animal Jam junkies, but it’s National Geographic so it’s ok, right? Remember when the kids were babies and you would put them in front of Baby Einstein videos and think- this is good because it’s educational. Then you’d read all the backlash of how it causes ADD or some shit like that? I just wanted to take a shower and now I’ve given my kid ADD. Cue the mom guilt.

syd watching einstein edit

But seriously- was it that bad? Are there redeeming qualities to playing these games? My kids are interacting with each other (“Meet me at Mount Shiver…Hey check out my den.”) It’s more than parallel play. They are creating things. Minecraft is a game about survival. You have to make shelter, find food, kill zombies (of course.) They talk about it constantly. Strategizing and sharing.

kidselectronics

“The War Room”

I can remember being obsessed with Super Mario Bros on Nintendo. The old school shit, yo. I’d skip my last class (study hall~ that explains a few things) to run home and play Zelda too.

supermariobrosedit

In 4th-7th grade I’d spend my weekends at the skating rink and work for the high score on Frogger AND Donkey Kong AND Ms. Pacman. (Am I dating myself here? Damn.) PS- I lived in a small town in Mississippi- the skating rink and neighboring video/hamburger joint was the social scene. Don’t judge me.

hiscore-pacnpaledit

My kids get plenty of exercise. They have outside interests. They are social. I’m sure there is a ton of research on all of this, but let’s be honest; I’m not going to go look for it. Ain’t nobody got time for research unless it is posted on Facebook. I did find this though.

littlegamer

“research”

I try to limit my kids’ electronics. Lord knows it is my go to disciplinary action. And on long Thanksgiving breaks when little people are under foot 24/7…it is a nice way to get some peace and quiet. Until of course they are screaming at each other “You stole my food! You killed me on purpose. Nobody is coming to my den!” Then it’s time to shut it down and kick them outside- even if it’s raining.

Until then though, I’ll believe that all this addiction to technology and electronics can have some positive impact. I’ll enjoy this time and text some people, update my Facebook, and send out some tweets. 😉

Suddenly….this summer!

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Camp enthusiasts

I sent my three California kids (along with their cousin) to the Hill Country of Texas for two weeks.( My husband said I was shipping them to Camp Hell for 10 days because of the heat and humidity.) But let’s face it, kids are resilient. Heat doesn’t bother them. “Pain don’t hurt.” ~to quote from the amazing movie Roadhouse.(yes I said it was amazing.)

I’m a Texas native and wanted to give my kids a meaningful connection to my home state. They had never been to sleep away camp and they were excited.  I too was excited. I had 2 full weeks without kids, without dogs, without any responsibility except to see old friends and eat and drink myself silly. I mean, I had to be in Austin in case there was “an emergency” at camp. That’s just good parenting. 😉 My husband was kind enough to pretend to believe that reasoning.

On the 2 hour drive from Austin to camp, my kids and their cousin, discussed the exciting things they would be experiencing. (Canoeing, Horseback riding, Archery, Campouts, the Guadalupe River, and of course…NO PARENTS!)  I gave them a thumbs up code so I could get a sense of how they were doing in camp pictures. (2 thumbs up~ awesome time, 1 thumb up~ ok, no thumbs….miserable)

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Needless to say every day I’d go to the camp websites and scroll through the pictures. Not one kid adhered to my thumbs up code. And only one of 3 wrote consistently to let us know they were a- having a great time, b- were a little homesick, and c- needed money, sunglasses, and Minecraft books.  But I could see from the huge grins on their faces (and the charges made at the Canteen)…they were having a blast.  In a world where kids can’t play in their own front yards much less be free to roam their neighborhoods, sleep away camp gives them the freedom that we all took for granted.

And let’s not forget my freedom! Freedom to sleep in until 9am! Freedom to eat chips and salsa for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Freedom to have marathon couch viewings of Netflix series. Ahhh I love sleep away camp!

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Lord knows we moms need a break from our rewarding yet challenging 24 hour 7 days a week full time mom gig.  I was instantly reminded of that when we got home and I opened my daughter’s suitcase to find a broken bottle of BBQ sauce drenching every article of clothing. And again the next morning when I was driving to the pediatrician’s office after being up all night with my son as he coughed and wheezed.

As I complete my millionth load of laundry, dole out meds, and answer the constant question, “what are we doing today, Mommy?”, I make a mental note to do the early bird sign up for next summer’s sleep away camp…and look into the 4 week session option. You know, for the kids.

“It happened one summer
It happened one time
It happened forever
For a short time…” ~The Motels (Suddenly Last Summer)