What’s a pinniped?


 Pinnipeds are aquatic mammals such as sea lions, seals, otters, and walruses. At the Marine Mammal Care Center, volunteers care for injured pinnipeds. If you visit, you can see these animals and learn about them and their environment. Kids will develop empathy, as well. The site is located in San Pedro, which makes it convenient to pair up with the Pt. Fermin Lighthouse, the Cabrillo Aquarium, or the like.

Wanna hug a tree without paying a fee?

The L.A. County Arboretum is free the third Tuesday each month. That means this coming Tuesday, July 17, 2012 is your opportunity to go hug some trees! If you’d rather keep your hands to yourself, there are plenty of sights of the non-tree variety all over the arboretum’s 127 campus. Highlights include the Queen Anne Cottage and gardens famous from the opening credits of “Fantasy Island,” the Mayberg Waterfall, and the Garden for All Seasons.

Want to cha-cha, but don’t know how?

The Music Center downtown offers free dance lessons on Friday nights twice a month through the summer. You can be a novice or an expert, a kid or a kid-at-heart. Come without a partner, they’ll find you one. Each lesson highlights a different genre of dance/music. Parking is $9 at the Music Center lot, but you could also save some dough by taking Metro (Red line stop at Civic Center Station).  For more info, follow this link.

Want to take the kids to LACMA, but unsure where to begin?

As mentioned in previous posts, LACMA is free for kids under 17, and when they sign up for NexGen, they can each get an adult admitted free, too. As the West Building is still under construction, the only kids’ exhibit at LACMA daily is Korean Brush Painting and sometimes storytimes. What do you do when you bring the kids to turn them on to art?

With the help of my eldest child, I created a tour of LACMA for kids. Feel free to print and take with you, and share freely–just attribute it to this blog.


Kid-friendly works on display at LACMA


Japanese Pavilion: Remind your kids to walk the ramps. DON’T RUN!

Many of the paintings in the Japanese Pavilion are very sensitive to light. Also, they were created to be seen inside a home where the sunlight inside entered through rice paper. Therefore, the whole building has light that mimics that effect. Several of the paintings show animals and plants native to Japan—children usually like these very much.

When you reach the top of the ramp, pass through the doors and you’ll see a gallery of colorful prints. Most show life in Japan 300-100 years ago. Next, you’ll find a gallery with sculptures. One of them is an elephant. Don’t tell the kids what it is, see if they can guess. The artist had never seen an elephant himself (ask the kids where elephants live—continental Asian countries like India, Cambodia, Thailand, and also Africa).  At the far side of this gallery is really cool samurai armor and swords.

Some children very much enjoy the netsuke gallery. The items contain very tiny figurines of people and animals and many are intentionally funny.

Below the Japanese Pavilion, you’ll find a little garden and then the entrance to one of the sculpture gardens (the one that doesn’t have naked people!).

Hammer Building:

This is where you’ll find the Boone Gallery. It will be free, but if the museum is crowded, they sometimes do staggered ticketing to avoid having too many kids in there at once.

Art of the Americas Building:

Take the elevator up to the 3rd Floor to see American Art. There’s a wonderful David Hockney called “Mulholland Drive” that the kids can identify with both because of the colors and the subject matter. Deeper inside, there’s a painting of “Daniel and the Lion’s Den.” Be sure to read the sign. The context of the artist brings a whole new level of meaning to the work. There’s also some amazing furniture and handicrafts from the Arts & Crafts movement that are really cool, and some nifty clothes, as well.

On the 4th Floor, you’ll find Latin American art, included Diego Rivera’s “Flower Day” and at least one piece by Frida Kahlo.

Ahmanson Building:

Main floor you enter from Central Court (up one flight from the West Entrance)—the famous ceramic “La Gerbe” by Matisse, as well as “The Treachery of Images” by Magritte (aka “This is not a pipe.”). That’s in Room 224. With the painting by Magritte, ask the children the difference between a real-life object and the pictoral/photographic representation of one.

Level 3—European paintings by artists such as Monet, Picasso, Cezanne, Gauguin, Pissaro, and the like. Sketches by Whistler.

Level 4—Islamic art contains amazing weapons and a huge chess set.

Broad Contemporary Art Museum (BCAM)—On the first floor, Richard Serra’s “Band” and Chris Burden’s “Metropolis II.”

Outdoors: “Levitated Mass” and “Urban Light” are wonderful installations for the kids to enjoy. Many of the tar pits outside of LACMA are free. You can sometimes even catch a glimpse of paleontologists working in them. They are to the NW of LACMA.

BS”D R. Klempner, 2012

Stairway to Heaven

Our family went recently to the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, on Jefferson at Hetzler. You can take the hiking trails, but most people come for the stairs. There are 300 of them, and they go straight up the side of this hill. The hill starts feeling like a mountain half-way up. After you reach the top, you are rewarded with an amazing view of the L.A. area that reaches from Downtown all the way out to the Pacific. Gorgeous! The view is so beautiful, that people take wedding photos up there.

Another perk of reaching the top is the nifty little museum about regional ecology, with a very helpful and friendly park ranger. Don’t worry, there are restrooms up there, too.

View from the top of the stairs at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook in Culver City, CA. Photo by Lisa Newton on Flickr.

The only downside to this place is that you have to park on the street, unless you want to pay to park at the top of the hill and go down first. On the busy day when we visited, we had to park about 4 blocks away.


I already knew about the KidsBowlFree deal for kids to get 2 free games daily if they sign up, but the closest location that I could find was in the Valley.  A girlfriend told me yesterday about this alternative: AMF Summer Unplugged. Families who participate get the same perks as in the other program, but there are locations closer to the Mid-city and the Westside. 

Kids love board games, but you’d rather they play outdoors?

The Skirball currently has an awesome exhibit outdoors with oversized gameboards for the kids to play Connect Four, checkers, Chinese checkers, and more. The activity is meant to dovetail with the Mah Jongg exhibition for the grownups.

The Skirball is free on Thursdays (you should reserve timed tix to Noah’s Ark in advance, though), so you might want to plan this outing with your kids on that day of the week. In addition, the museum has extended its hours during the summer.

Wanna see some really cool origami?

The Japanese American Museum in L.A. has a fabulous exhibit running currently, Folding Paper, wherein artists really push the possibilities of paper folding to its limits.

Normally, admission to the museum is $9 for adults, $5 for seniors and kids over 5. But wait! There’s free general admission every Thursday from 5 to 8 PM and every third Thursday of the month! And even if you visit the rest of the week, you’ll get a $2 discount if  you ride Metro to get to the museum.

Kids bored? Give them something fun to do at the library!

Sign your kid (or teen) up for a book club at the library! L.A., Long Beach, Beverly Hills, and the Slavin Jewish Library all have Summer Reading Programs. Kids keep track of how many books they’ve read–and even may review them with the librarians themselves! There are prizes and art projects for the little ones and other incentives for the teens.

Many L.A. libraries have great kids activities outside the covers of books, too. The closest library to me, Robertson, has a number of fun summer puppet shows, magic shows, music, and the like planned. All kid activities occur on Wednesdays at 4 p.m., while the teen activities are scheduled separately.

More fun afternoon activities, this time on Tuesdays at 3:30 p.m. at the Beverly Hills Library. Click here for flyer.

Why pay to see butterflies? Here’s a free option!

A lot of us enjoy the Butterfly Pavillion in Exposition Park (see previous post). However, visiting costs money, and if you are traveling with the entire family or a group, the price can add up.

In Orange County, there’s another place to see butterflies and much more: the Environmental Nature Center of Newport Beach. The hours are a bit inconvenient (closes kinda early, closed on Sunday) so I’d recommend checking out the website in the hypertext above. You’ll find a Butterfly House and several fun and educational programs for the whole family–and it’s free!