Back to school means back to heavy backpacks and loads of homework, even for little guys. But instead of studying on the dining room table or bedroom desk, make it more fun by changing the scene to someplace more inspiring. Think scenic city lakes, sprawling green grass and museum-like libraries that all have tables and places to spread out (and fun incentives to finish up fast!). Check out our top picks for places to break out the books in LA.

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 8.29.53 AMphoto: Christina A. via Yelp

Echo Park Lake
Echo Park Lake can make you forget you’re in the middle of a bustling city. Bring a picnic blanket and camp out for the afternoon while your kids get tons of homework done all while listening to the sounds of the water and magnificent fountain in the distance. There are also park benches and picnic tables. Once you’re done, head over the lakeshore and watch the ducks and turtles swim in the late afternoon sun. If they finish with enough time, they can even take a paddle around the lake on the boats.

If you need to fuel up with an after school snack, check out the treats at the Boat House. They serve up awesome grilled cheese sandwiches and chocolate dipped bananas for kids and Blue Bottle coffee for parents.

Good to know: Echo Park Lake has free wifi, no password required.

751 Echo Park Ave.
Echo Park

annenberg pool1photo: Annenberg Beach House

Annenberg Community Beach House
Summer might be over, but it doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to the beach just yet. We live in Los Angeles, after all, where the weather is basically perfect 24/7. The pool might be closed, but that won’t stop you from grabbing a beach towel and staking claim under an umbrella or up on the observation deck for homework al fresco. If hunger strikes, try grabbing an early dinner at the beach cafe, one of the few places you can eat with your toes still in the sand.

Good to know: The splash pad here is turned on year round, so if your little ones need some serious incentive to crack those spines, let them know that if they finish with enough time before dinner, they can splash around and play on the sand playground before heading home for bath time.

415 Pacific Coast Hwy
Santa Monica

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 10.48.40 AMphoto: ZZ via Yelp

Grand Park
There’s a reason Grand Park LA is dubbed “The Park for Everyone.” From grassy lawns and picnic tables to brand new play sets and a wondrous splash pad, there is in fact something for everyone. Located between the Music Center and City Hall, this park is perfect for a quick study session or get a jump on those reading assignments while you bask in the perfect Los Angeles sun. Hungry? There’s always a couple of food trucks parked and ready for customers. Or Starbucks for sleepy parents who need to be fully caffeinated to figure out the new math!

Good to know: You can even bring Fido to the park. As long as he is on a leash, he’s welcomed at this pet friendly location.

200 N Grand Ave.


ophoto: Nicole C. via Yelp

Griffith Park Trails Café
Nestled in the Fern Dell area of Griffith Park is one of the quaintest spots for coffee and snacks in the city. Grab a Stumptown iced coffee for you and a fresh squeezed orange juice for your kiddo. And if you’re hungry there’s tons of brain food available: pb&js, egg sandwiches, homemade scones and more. A canopy of oak trees shades the tables and there’s always a nice breeze, even on hot days. This makes it the ideal place for spending some quality homework time with the kids. Take a post homework stroll on the nature path where you’ll likely encounter tadpoles and crayfish in the nearby creek. It’s also a great spot for aspiring bird watchers.

2333 Fern Dell Dr
Griffith Park

cerritos library yelpphoto: Kristine T. via Yelp

Cerritos Library
How boring.  We’re recommending a library?  Yes, because the children’s section at this library is part aquarium, part Natural History Museum, not to mention the lighthouse, spaceship and outdoor sculpture garden, which are all inspiring and give kids great things to look at and think about as they study.  Plus, for the traditionalists, there are plenty of tables and you’re surrounded by books!  It’s like a reference museum you can study in.

Good to know: To borrow books or access their wifi, you must have a Cerritos library card.  If you live in Cerritos, this is easy peasy and free, but if you don’t live or work in the city, it will cost you $100/year.  So non-residents may want to save internet research for when you get home!

18025 Bloomfield Ave.

The Americana at Brand
Sure you’ve been to the Americana to shop, but what about to do some serious homework? A change in scene might be just what the teacher ordered. Set out a blanket on the green grassy lawn in the center of the complex and get to studying. Parents will love the walk up coffee bar that’s adjacent the grass lawn, which makes it perfect for an afternoon caffeine break. If the kids are hungry you can stop into any of the family friendly restaurants for an early dinner.  And the tram makes a fun “it’s done” adventure, while the nearby Barnes and Noble bookstore is perfect for research or buying books to bring home that pertain to topics that the kids are studying.

Good to know: Le Pain Quoitidien has an excellent make-your-own-sandwich kids meal featuring turkey, cheese, baguette, hummus and veggies for post-school fuel or an early dinner.

889 Americana Way

Do you have any favorite away-from-home, homework spots?  We’d love to hear about your family’s study habits in the comment section!

—Christina Fiedler