Pirates never go out of style. They know how to dress (black is always flattering), they have cool pets (a parrot on a shoulder is a fabulous accessory), and they love cruises (sailing the 7 seas and over-indulging in rum sounds like a Caribbean vacation!)  Oh, and they have some of the best vernacular: “Ahoy, me hearties!”, “Shiver me timbers!” and the simple yet classic: “Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!” If your mini Smee loves pirate play and has been begging for more, then make like the Dread Pirate Roberts (AKA Wesley from The Princess Bride) and yell, “As You Wish!” Or, you could just smile and take your tyke on one of these fantastic buccaneer outings…


Pirate’s Dinner Adventure
This swash-buckling show will have your kiddos engaged, entranced, and in love with all things pirate. It’s a dinner theater, but on a boat…well, a stage that looks exactly like a boat, with real water surrounding it. You’ll sit in a certain color section and cheer for that same-color pirate. A cheerful and devoted waitress will serve you food (it’s simple grub – you didn’t come here for the haute cuisine), and refill your mug so you can swill while singing along with the crowd. The aerial acrobatics will amaze you and the sword fighting will impress you. Plus, there’s a point in the show when the kids are given soldier jackets and pretend muskets and actually get to fire at the pirate ship. Cleverly timed explosions have the kiddies believing they really did some damage, and in the end the good guys win. It’s a spectacular show, and just watching your happy, wide-eyed little seadogs is worth more than any pirate’s treasure.

Where: 7600 Beach Blvd., Buena Park
When: Evening shows throughout the week, matinees on Sundays
Online: piratesdinneradventure.com


Pirate Park
Shiver me timbers! An entire park devoted to the pirate theme? That’s worth more than a chest full of gold. With a soft ocean-blue floor, cannons, a pirate treasure hunt and even a pint-sized plank to walk, your kids’ pirate playtime just jumped up a level. Plus, it’s wheelchair and stroller accessible, and there’s even a water feature to help cool kids off. It’s located in Brookside Park, behind the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center. Pack lunches and enjoy some Pirate’s Booty under the trees with your little scallywags. Do bring lots of water, since pirating is thirsty work (and this park gets H-O-T). If you’re still hankering for more adventure, check out Kidspace Museum just down the road.

Where: Reese’s Retreat, 360 N Arroyo Blvd., Pasadena
When: Open daily 8:00 am to 9:00 pm
Online: facebook.com/reesesretreat


Big Bear Pirate Ship
If you’re planning on taking a family trip to Big Bear this summer, be sure to check out a real pirate ship while you’re there. Step aboard and be treated to live entertainment and convincing pirates while you enjoy a tour of Big Bear Lake. The ship is a 1/3rd scale replica of a Spanish Galleon, so even the most discerning little mateys will be impressed. Plus, the ship’s name is Time Bandit – what could be cooler than that?

Where: Holloway’s Marina, 398 Edgemoor Rd., Big Bear Lake
When: Tours run daily, check website for times.
Online: grandromance.com/pirates


Tall Ships Festival
If your baby buccaneer is bonkers for boats, then this is the place to be. Real, live working ships, and plenty of ‘em! Plus, tons of pirate activities. Kids can even sign up for “Cap’n Jack’s School for Scallywags”, where they’ll learn to talk like a pirate, walk like a pirate and even sing like a pirate. They’ll be chanting “Yo Ho! It’s a pirate’s life for me!” and you’ll probably be considering an eye patch as a fashionable accessory by the day’s end.

Where: Ocean Institute, 34100 Selva Road, Dana Point
When: September 6 – 8, 2013 from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Online: tallshipsfestival.com


Buccaneer Bay
Adventurous little ones can really get their toes wet at this pirate themed water park. From thrilling water slides to lazy rivers, this place has something for everyone. Your kiddos will love the marooned ship, dramatic skull rock and wharf plank benches, all while splashing around to their heart’s content.

Where: 13806 La Mirada Blvd., La Mirada
When: Daily 10:30 am – 5:30 pm in the summer (Family Fridays keep it open until 8:00 pm Fridays through August 23rd)
Online: splashlamirada.com/buccaneer-bay


If you’ve been bitten by the swash-buckling bug, you can also take your kids on a treasure hunt of their own.  We have ideas for both a fabulous backyard hunt or a geocaching treasure adventure. Whatever you do, we hope you and your tiny treasures enjoy all your pirate adventures!

– Elena Wurlitzer

Photo credits by: Elena Wurlitzer, Meghan Rose, Chris Morgan via Creative Commons, , Ken via Creative Commons , Reese’s Retreat Facebook Page, and Mike Baird via Creative Commons

Do you have any other ideas for swash-buckling fun?  Where do you take your little mateys?