Summer doldrums around your house? Kids are bored with siblings and their toys and the August heat is on. It’s time to turn crankiness into. . . danciness? Families have plenty of opportunities around the city to dance their way into a happy place this weekend: The Groovy Lounge and the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum do their part on the West Side, while over in the Valley, kids can be-bop the night away in Magnolia Park or boogie down with Barney – yes, the purple dinosaur. Other cool events? We like the idea of twilight play at Kidspace or savoring books at one of two events: the Black Book Expo in downtown LA or a celebrity story time at Santa Monica’s beloved art gallery, Every Picture Tells a Story.

Los Angeles

Family Day at the Autry
The Autry gets families excited about old-fashioned toys like whirligigs and Jacob’s ladders with exhibits, curator chats, and crafts. Children can also take in Gold Rush activities, a story time, a hands-on history tour, and live music. Sun., 11:00 am to 3:00 pm. Free with museum admission. 3 & up. Event details.

Los Angeles Black Book Expo
The Los Angeles Black Book Expo offers a full day of author visits and readings, storytellers, spoken word and poetry performances, musicians, and exhibitors. Grown-ups with kids in tow should head to the Children’s Reading Corner, which features story times; the It’s Kool to be Smart Kids presentation; a presentation by author Marian L. Thomas titled “Never Too Young to Page Forward the Author Inside You”; and rap, dance, and other performances by talented youth. Sat., 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. Free.. 5 & up. Event details.


The Groovy Lounge
The Groovy Lounge features a bevy of lively activities for children, including a live DJ set from award-winning kids’  entertainer Groovy David, puppets play, face-painting, caricature artists, and musical fun with featured guest Birdie Mendoza of Birdie’s Playhouse. Sat., 10:00 am to 12:00 pm. $20/family. 2 & 8. Event details.

Max & Indie Celebrity Storytime and Author Visit
Teen celebrity Sterling Knight visits Every Picture Tells a Story to read the new children’s picture book Max & Indie Come Home, the tale of the authors’ real life, rescued twin cats. After the story, children are treated to a slide show presentation and Q&A with the authors showing the evolution of the art work that became the vivid illustrations.  Autographs and photos with Sterling and the authors  conclude the event. Sat., 12:30 pm to 2:30 pm. Free. 3-10. Event details.

Gwendolyn & the Goodtime Gang
Goodtimes, indeed, when Gwendolyn and her raucous gang get kids moving, grovin,’ and shakin’ to tunes like “Red Means Stop,” “Run Baby Run,” “Get Up & Dance,” and “Bicycle Ride” at Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum’s Family Fundays series.  Sun., 11:00 am to 12:00 pm. $9. 3-10. Event details.

Beach Cities

Redondo Beach Chalk Festival (pictured)
Never mind the chalky dust and colorful smudges all over kids’ hands, faces, and clothes – it’s all in good “clean” fun as they help transform the Redondo Pier into a beautiful concrete canvas over the water. Art demos, music, and fun activities for the entire family are planned.  Sat., 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm. Free. 2 & up. Event details.

Plum Festival and Dachshund Races
Plums and dachshunds? Families can enjoy this seemingly mismatched pair at the annual festival in Huntington Beach’s Old World Village. Activities include live music, carnival games, a bounce house, and plum treats galore. Visitors can also cheer on pint-sized-but-plucky dachshunds, who race one another to the finish line. Sun., 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Free. All ages. Event details.


Barney’s Birthday Bash
Everyone’s favorite, large, purple dinosaur is back in town, this time celebrating his 25th birthday at Universal CityWalk with four brand-new, interactive stage concerts. Kiddies can join in the upbeat sing-along tunes, including “Mr. Knickerbocker,” “Dino Dance,” “Baby Bop Hop,” and “Rock ‘n Roll Star.”  Sat., 1:00 pm and 4:30 pm; Sun., 10:30 am and 2:00 pm. $31-$66. 1-8. Event details.

Be-Boppin’ in the Park
High-octane fun is on tap for families in Burbank’s Magnolia Park. Hundreds of custom, vintage and pre-1975 classic cars are showcased, and live music lets visitors be-bop-a-lu-bop to their hearts’ content. Sat., 3:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Free. All ages. Event details.


Twilight Night: Sports & Games
Children can get their hearts pumping and bodies moving while playing silly sports and games after hours at Kidspace, which encourages hopping, skipping, throwing, catching, cheering, and high-fiving all evening long.  Guests should come dressed in athletic gear and sneakers for fun with balloon games, relay races, obstacle courses, and more. Sat., 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Members $4, Public $5. 2-8. Event details.

Worth The Drive

Mud Mania
Children absolutely get the green light to get mucked up during Mud Mania: A Celebration of Adobe. They can make real adobe bricks, plaster a wall with mud, construct a mini-adobe home, and  compete in mud relay races – all in order to learn about the region’s adobe soil and its many uses throughout history. Sun., 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm. Adults $6, Children $4. 2 & up. Event details.

– Sarah Hilbert