Those lazy, hot summer days seem to stretch out forever. How on earth will you fill them? Once you get a gander at these 50 fabulous family outings and activities, you’ll realize that summer just isn’t long enough to fit in all that LA has to offer.

harrypotterhamletphoto: Meghan Rose

  1. Accio yourself to the New Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Sure, there will be summer tourists, but there will also be frozen butterbeer (best way to have it!) and you can cool off by splashing over to the Minion water playground.
  1. Go swimming by the beach, not at the beach! Pick between a pool with history at the Annenberg Beach House or protected ocean water with slides at Seaside Lagoon.
  1. Take in a free show for kids at a local park. Culver City Public Theater is doing Frog Tales (starting July 16), and the Actor’s Gang presents their annual August Shakespeare for kids (think your fave Bard plays done by characters from Marvel, Harry Potter or Star Wars).

WestMatadorphoto: Erin Harris

  1. If you think summer is too hot for hiking, you clearly haven’t explored our favorite cool cave hikes.
  1. We’ve got playground suggestions suggestions for imaginative play where you can stay all day.
  1. The Ford reopens after a $66 million renovation project that gave the theatre updated sound and lighting systems and a new stage. But we’re mostly happy that the Big World Fun series for kids is back, Saturday beginning July 23. Go!
  1. Your kids will quack up when you take them to these ducky spots!
  1. Reach for the stars: you can see them from this favorite free spot.

Skyslidephoto: OUE

  1. Plan your visit to the new Skyspace LA; with fabulous views of the city and a Skyslide, it is the hottest opening (June 25) of the summer.
  1. Picnic on the grounds of the garden when the sun goes down and the music starts. Pick from World Music Tuesdays or Music on the Main Thursdays.
  1. Take your monkeys to meet another wild member of our family tree.
  1. Unless you’ve got an African safari planned this summer, this is your big chance to lie down with lions.
  1. Where can you ride a merry go round, fly on the Ferris wheel and watch the sun set over the ocean?

grand park tuva

photo credit: Sarah Bowles

  1. Who needs the pool, when the city is full of fountains fit for a splash?
  1. Be careful not to get sand in your popcorn when you catch a movie on the beach.
  1. If you want to play by the beach but not at the beach, this new park will “slide” into your heart.
  1. Keep learning as a family this summer, when you schedule a private tour at JPL. You’ll learn things about space travel that are cooler than anything in the Star Wars universe.
  1. With such beautiful weather, there’s nothing like packing up a meal to go and heading outdoors for a family picnic. Try a new spot from our list of outdoors eating spots with spectacular scenery.

vasquezturkey_0050photo: Meghan Rose

  1. Visit another world: Santa Clarita. No wait. That was supposed to read visit another world IN Santa Clarita.
  1. Toast marshmallows over a roaring campfire with the local rangers. Check the Santa Monica Mounains National Park Service website to see when a s’more roast is taking place at a park near you.
  1. Wild wolves will be eating out of your hand (and mouth, if you’re brave) at this amazing sanctuary.
  1. Is a Dodger game getting too pricey? We’ve got a bargain of a baseball adventure.
  1. This Hollywood landmark has concerts under the stars the kids will enjoy (Sing Along Sound of Music, 4th of July Fireworks, Harry Potter at the Bowl, to name a few), or if you’re worried about bedtime, take them to a SummerSounds morning show.

The Zoo Without Animalsphoto: RachelObscura via Creative Commons

  1. Shakespeare for you. Old zoo monkeying around for them. Picnics and playing for all. You’ve got to see a (free) production from the Independent Shakespeare Company LA this summer. (Richard III and The Tempest are on tap.)
  1. Nothing says summer like freshly picked, sun kissed berries. Are you in the mood for strawberries or blueberries today?
  1. Paddle around the lotus blossoms at this local lake that features a playground, gourmet goodies and green green grass.
  1. Take a family vacation where you can ride, fish, feed the chickens and get away from it all…
  1. Get your Rams gear and get your tickets: Football is officially back in LA as of August. The first pre-season game is scheduled for the Coliseum on August 13. Are you ready for some football?
  1. There’s a new way to get to the beach this summer: the Expo! Now you don’t have to fight traffic to get west, and the journey can be half the fun.

great-wolfphoto: Leah Singer

  1. Great Wolf Lodge opened this spring, and summer is the perfect time to visit this climate controlled water park, so you’ll never get too hot or sunburned!
  1. No sitter needed for a relaxing massage. Here’s a spa where you can bring the kids.
  1. Discover a new neighborhood! May we suggest a laid back beach town, an eastside happy spot, a sushi mecca, a retro pier, a boho corner, a unique esatside shopping center or a trip to the east (via the west)?
  1. Set sail for Catalina. Our guide will give you the most gorgeous and also adventurous vacation you can imagine, all just an hours sail away.

LAZoo-HippoEncounter2photo: Jamie Pham

  1. Hi, hippo! Do you know what a hippo feels like? Now you can find out. (Hint: kinda like a wet tire.)
  1. Visit the beautiful butterflies in Exposition Park (and catch an IMAX flick while you’re there – the new Humpback Whales in 3D opens on July 3).

Green Thumb Garden Classes in LAphoto: Little Saplings

  1. Even if your own little plot is too small, or your thumb is too black, there are spots in LA that will teach your family how to dig in the dirt and get things growing.
  1. Read the books aloud to the kids. Then visit the Little House on the Prairie location, and watch the shows! (Or check out another famous TV landmark…)
  1. If you’ve never seen a show by Occidental Children’s Theater, you gotta catch Little Red Frankenhood this summer.
  1. It’s too hot to cook! Food trucks are a fabulous way to dine outdoors, where everyone can pick their favorite foods. These are the fam-friendliest truck gatherings around.
  1. Pick a pavilion, any pavilion. LevittLA and Levitt Pasadena have great (free) shows for kids all summer long.
  1. See a show at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, where weekend days are Fundays with family shows in the morning.
  1. Take a hike in the moonlight with the Tree People.


photo credit: Meghan Rose

  1. Anyone for polo? You can take in a match at the Will Rodgers polo fields for free almost every weekend in the summer.
  1. Sailing, sailing, over the bounding main; you can head out on the ocean for a Pyrate Adventure, a Whale of a time or a simple sail all from this gorgeous spot.
  1. One of our favorite museums in town has free concerts on the grounds every Friday and Saturday night.  Bring a blanket, a picnic and a pillow for when the kids tire of running around the tar pits.

Golden Road Brewing2 via Facebookphoto: Golden Road Brewing via facebook

  1. Whew. Summer is exhausting. You’ve earned an icy brew —here are several spots where you can enjoy one and bring the kids along, too. Beer not your thing? How about a chilled margarita?
  1. If you’re thinking Palm Springs is too hot for a summer mini-cation, think again. With all the pools, indoor activities and off-season rates, it’s a perfect getaway that won’t break the bank. Just don’t forget the sunscreen!
  1. Schools out, but we still love our books. Revel in the air-conditioned, book-filled splendor of these fabulous local libraries.
  1. Take time for a mommy & me mani-pedi and show off those slick tootsies in your summer sandals.
  1. Take the kids to bounce off that energy (in the AC).

What is on your summer bucket list?

—Meghan Rose