Those lazy, hot summer days seem to stretch out forever. How on earth will you fill them? Once you get a peek 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.

photo: Meghan Rose

  1. Summer is ice cream time. This summer’s hottest treat is rolled, not scooped.
  1. Get building at this outdoor adventure land that’s only open in the summer.
  1. Take in a free show for kids at a local park. Culver City Public Theater is doing To Oz & Back (starting July 15), 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).

photo: Erin Harris

  1. If you think summer is too hot for hiking, you clearly haven’t explored our favorite cool cave hikes.
  1. There’s a new, summer only beer patio in the middle of Griffith Park? And it servers fabulous kid food? Of course, you gotta go!
  1. If you think you your young scientists know their mammals, you need to check out this extreme exhibit.
  1. Can’t hit the farm this summer? Turns out, you can forage for your food right here in the city!
  1. There’s a new children’s museum that just opened this spring, and it’s in one of our favorite coastal cities that makes for a lovely day drive.

photo: Meghan Rose

  1. The Harry Potter phenomenon is 20 this year!  Universal Studios Hollywood is celebrating with an amazing new light show on Hogwarts castle, where the sorting hat addresses the crowd as music plays and the castle comes to life.
  1. Picnic on the grounds of the garden when the sun goes down and the music starts. Pick from World Music Tuesdays or Jazz Thursdays.
  1. New green patches are popping up from downtown to the beach, for when you don’t have time to drive to the forest, but need to break up your summer in the asphalt jungle.
  1. Unless you’ve got an African safari planned this summer, this is your big chance to lie down with lions.

photo: Meghan Rose

  1. Download these podcasts to listen to on one of your essential California roadtrips.
  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. Here are 5 new reasons to visit LEGOLAND this summer (and yes, they’re all awesome).
  1. Where can you ride a merry go round, fly on the Ferris wheel and watch the sun set over the ocean?
  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.
  1. Reach for the stars: you can see them from this favorite free spot.

photo: Jenifer Scott

  1. Rrrrribbit!  Hop over the the Aquarium of the Pacific for their new frog exhibit.  It’s toad-riffic!
  1. Meet some of the cutest critters around at the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro.
  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 morning (free!) rehearsal.
  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. (Measure for Measure  and Two Gentlemen of Verona 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.

photo: Melissa Heckscher

  1. Climb the walls, but not at your house; visit this giant new rock climbing warehouse by the airport, where your monkeys will come home ready to crash!
  1. Your kids will quack up when you take them to these ducky spots!
  1. Sure you always hit the beach, but this year travel there on the Expo! Forget fighting traffic to get west; now the journey is half the fun.
  1. Speaking of the beach: 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. 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)?

photo: FotoPop Kauai

  1. Even if your budget didn’t allow for a Hawaiian vacation, you can eat like you are on the big island when you chow here and indulge in the best shave ice on the mainland.
  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.
  1. Visit the beautiful butterflies in Exposition Park (and catch an IMAX flick while you’re there – the new The Human Body opens on July 1).

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 Dracula and the Beanstalk 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: 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.

photo: Brian Gonzalez via Creative Commons

  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