As we head into a season of festivities and Thanksgiving, Veterans Day is a great reminder of gratitude. Veterans Day falls on Saturday November 11, with Friday being a national holiday, so we have an extra day to contemplate and celebrate. Whether you attend a parade that honors our veterans or stand in awe of the beautiful land they help protect, there are lots of ways to celebrate our country, our history and the men and women who sacrifice so much on our behalf. Read on for our list of family friendly ways to celebrate the day.

photo: Pixabay

20th Annual Veterans Day Multi-Generational Event in Manhattan Beach
This is a celebration for the whole family that includes live musical entertainment, speeches from local officials and a Presentation of the Colors by the Manhattan Beach Police Department Color Guard. There will be light refreshments and live entertainment following the presentation. This is a great opportunity to bring the kids out to listen, learn, practice gratitude and maybe even shake a Veteran’s hand. Event details.

photo: National Park Service

Free Day at National Parks
Not that you needed an excuse to visit one of our beautiful national parks, but we’ll give you one anyway: they are all free on Veterans Day weekend (November 11-12). This amazing system of protecting our national lands turned 100 last year. This is a wonderful way to honor our land by learning about the system that helps protect it. Check the National Park website for a listing of our local (and not so-local) parks.

Veterans Day at the Ronald Reagan Library
The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library will be hosting its Veterans Day activities on Friday, November 10. The day will include live music, Civil War re-enactments, a display of military vehicles and a program honoring all branches of the military. The event is free, though for tours of the museum and Air Force One, regular museum admission applies. Event Details.

photo: Los Angeles District via Flickr

Long Beach Veterans Day Parade and Festival
Drive down to Long Beach for this annual event in its 21st year that began as a small gathering and has grown into a large family event. On Saturday, November 11 at 10 a.m. there will be marching bands, school dance teams and, of course, honored veterans marching in the street. The parade is followed by a festival with food, local vendors and other festivities. Event details.

Drum Barracks Civil War Museum
If you want to take the kids back in time, the Drum Barracks Civil War Museum is another way to learn about a crucial piece of American history. You may not know it, but there was a Union Outpost in Los Angeles during the Civil War. The outpost is now memorialized as the Drum Barracks Civil War Museum. Bring the kids and help them gain a bit of history and appreciation for this time. You can tour the museum (there are no self-guided tours) Tuesday-Thursday and on weekends. If you have a group of 6 or more, call to schedule your tour. Event details.

photo: USS Iowa

Battleship Iowa Veterans Day Festival
If you want to combine an ultimate interactive adventure with a history lesson the Battleship Iowa is the perfect spot. Your little sailors will flip over this real life battleship and museum. Plus, the Battleship Iowa and the Black Knight Patrol are hosting the 2nd Annual Veterans Day Festival on November 11 at 11 a.m. There will be a ceremony honoring veterans, live local bands, BBQ, vintage military vehicles, photo booth and carnival games. There will be free services for Veterans like tax assistance and health and wellness checks. The entire weekend (November 10-12) there will be free general tour admission for Veterans as well as active, retired and reserve military members. If you’re accompanying military members you can also get a special $11 admission. Regular admission is $10-$18 and kids under 6 are free. Event details.

The Veterans Listening Project
We know it can be hard to get little wrigglers to hold still, but if you catch them ready for story time, check out the Veterans Listening Project. This project was created in conjunction with StoryCorps’ National Day of Listening and helps document the lives and experiences of veterans and their loved ones by documenting a conversation between two people. There are specific stories that include veterans and their kids, which will probably leave a deep impression on your babes. Listen together as a family. Event details.

photo: Kenneth K. via Yelp

Go For Broke World War II Monument
If you want to honor the soldiers of the past, visiting a memorial can be a way to enter the conversation with your kids. The Go for Broke Museum in Little Tokyo honors Japanese-American soldiers who served in World War II and is definitely worth visiting. This monument lists the names of over 16,000 men and women who served during the war in an ultimate effort to prove their patriotism for their country and ensure a better future for their families. Have a quiet moment of gratitude with the family and then take a walk through the interpretive center and open it up to some questions from your little historians. Event details.

Vietnam War Memorial in Venice
Take a drive to the beach and visit the Vietnam War Memorial that was newly restored in May. The memorial includes the names of 2,237 soldiers counted as prisoners of war or missing in action in the conflict in Vietnam. The memorial includes a mural painted by artist Patrick Stewart. The memorial might bring up some tough questions, but if you think the family is ready to explore this piece of American history, it can be a beautiful conversation starter. The memorial is located on Pacific Ave near Sunset Court.

photo: LeTania Kirkland Smith

Victory Memorial Grove in Elysian Park
Elysian Park is home to beautiful trees, hiking trails, playground and Dodgers Stadium (yay!) It is also home to a World War I Memorial created in 1921 and restored just this year. Nearly 100 years ago, the Daughters of the Revolution dedicated a stone tablet that honors the women and men who served the effort. Take a walk through the park, let the kids play and make your way to the memorial. The setting might allow the kiddos to have a (fairly) quiet moment, ask questions and then soak in the environment in peace. Look here for more details and specific directions.

How will spend Veterans Day? We’d love to hear your plans in the comment section below!

—Meghan Rose