On hiatus

Thanks to those who have visited this blog. It gives me a lot of pleasure to help people have bond with their loved ones, have a little fun, and all on a budget. However, due to other obligations, I’ve been struggling to post lately. Those other obligations aren’t going anywhere, so it’s only fair to you to tell you that I will not be posting for an indefinite period.

However, there are plenty of great links, suggestions and leads available on this site. Feel free to search its posts for inspiration.

YUCK! Warnings on several local beaches.

Most local beaches have really cleaned up over the years, but I just read an article in the L.A. Weekly, about seven that have been demonstrated to have unacceptable levels of pollutants and bacterial overgrowth. I’ve been to two of them in the last year (although we didn’t swim at one of them, just played in the sand a little)!

This just serves as a reminder to check any beach before your visit on the Beach Report Card from Heal the Bay.

The funny thing about some of these beaches is that they are often close to healthier alternatives. Instead of going to Malibu Pier, go to Leo Carillo, for example (which is prettier anyway). Instead of going to Cabrillo Beach after your visit to the aquarium located there, drive 15 minutes to quieter and cleaner places in Palos Verdes.

Free chance to stargaze

Sidewalk astronomers is an international organization that bring telescopes out to the public for viewing. Check out the website of the local chapter here. The local chapter hosts viewings about once a month, and they are all free. Sidewalk astronomers’ next event comes up on Sept 24 Monday 7:30-9:30 PM. All events are held on the Chandler Blvd. Bike Path at Lima Street in Burbank.

Great way to find things to do in L.A.

Jen Levinson, who started the useful “Jen’s List” for parents, has a new calendar of events for families. You can find it here. While not all the activities are free or cheap, some are, and it’s worth checking this out.

Looking for a quick family getaway at a cheap price?

Summer’s only just over, but if you’re looking for a quick getaway with the kids during October, try hitting San Diego for their “Kidvasion.” The zoo, several museums, and even restaurants will be offering free admission for kids throughout the month. Here’s a link for more details.

Still looking for a free yoga opportunity?

Check this lead out–

9:30 on Sunday mornings at lululemon in Beverly Hills.

Travel back in time at the Banning Museum

The Banning Mansion

A few weeks back, my family visited the Banning Museum, not far from the docks at San Pedro. The museum is comprised mostly of the mansion of Phineas Banning, who was instrumental in delivering people and goods by stagecoach all across the Southland in California’s early days. Parking is free, and so is access to the grounds (including a picturesque rose and wisteria garden), but there is a small fee for tours of the house and a new exhibit on travel to and the settlement of L.A. County. Our tour guide was knowledgeable and friendly, handling my children (ages 5 and up) expertly. Kids will enjoy playing at the adjacent playground before or after their visit to the mansion.

The museum website is not very helpful (one of the docents informed me it will soon be updated), except that it suggests to phone (310) 548-7777 for more info, so I highly recommend phoning before scheduling your visit. The wonderful volunteers will fill you in on tour times and prices.

Labor Day weekend isn’t over yet!

Looking for something fabulous, fun, and free to do on Labor Day Monday?

  • Try the free and exciting LOS ANGELES CITY BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION from 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Share this 231st Anniversary of the founding of Los Angeles with Los Pobladores historic re-enactments, artisan demonstrations, exhibits, food, entertainment and plenty of birthday cake! Check the Pueblo’s website for details.
  • Or why not enjoy the last day of Fiesta Hermosa? If you bike there, you’ll avoid the nasty beach traffic and get to enjoy the groovy free valet bike parking.
  • Or you can enjoy the Free Target Monday at LACMA.

STAY AT HOME PARENTS (and other folks with flexible schedules): After you drop your kids at school on Tuesday, head over to the free day at the Natural History Museum or the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits.

Great fun at the OC Great Park!

We took a group to the Orange County Great Park in Irvine yesterday and had a fabulous time. There’s the free hot air balloon ride (get there as early as you can and check in at the visitor center if you want to avoid missing out), free carousel rides, a fun “rock” playground with misters to cool everyone off, a little museum about the history of the site (first a farm and then El Toro military base before its transformation into a park), and the amazing Farm + Food Lab (and they even offer classes for home gardeners!). On weekends, there’s an art gallery open, and there are special events likes concerts there, as well. And did I mention that if you forgot to bring a football to toss around with the kids, you can just borrow one? What’s not to love?
Well, there are a few things you should be aware of:

  • If you take the 405, the exit you’ll need to take (Sand Canyon) is currently under construction. That means taking a detour and hopping briefly on the 5 to bypass the earthmovers and workers.
  • There are unusual hours of operation at the park, and they differ by type (the balloon has different hours than the museum, for example). Check before you go so you won’t be disappointed.
  • The website mentions that the Hot Air Balloon is open Thursday through Sunday. What it forgets to mention is that on Thursday, it’s supposed to be open for groups. You can make your own group reservation in advance and you only need 12 people to do it. However, the staff was aware of the oversight, and they graciously and cheerfully fit us in with a minimum of fuss.

With all that said, I still highly recommend the OC Great Park as a family destination. It was even worth the drive from L.A.

Ready to have a grand time at the Grand Park?

The first phase of a new 12-acre park, stretching from Grand Avenue at the Music Center to Spring Street at City Hall, is opening this weekend. The L.A. Grand Park is a joint City and County venture and will feature lawns for performances and events, as well as a newly restored  Arthur J. Will Memorial fountain. On Saturday, July 28th, and Sunday, July 29th, there will be opening festivities. The events on Saturday coincide with National Dance Day, the ones on Sunday will be musical.