Whether you like them lightly toasted or burnt to a crisp, roasting marshmallows around a campfire is the ultimate summer activity for kids. Pair it with a warm Los Angeles evening and you’ve got yourself a real summer treat.  Here are 5 places where you can warm up your roasting arm (and some bonus hints for where to score s’more treats without getting toasty).

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photo credit: sand_and_sky via flickr

From the Santa Monica Mountains to the LA River, four local Los Angeles parks are sponsoring community campfires that are free and open to the public all summer long. Roasting equipment and marshmallows are provided, as is the all important roaring fire. All you have to bring is a light jacket and a blanket so you can get comfy on the park grounds.

While you’re scarfing down your marshmallows, you can sit back and enjoy a park ranger narrated nature program, which will teach little nature lovers all about local flora and fauna.  So if you’re wondering just what mountain lions like to eat or how to spot poison ivy, a park ranger would love to answer your questions while you get sugary and toasted. What does deer poop look like? Yep. She’ll answer that, too.

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photo credit: John Amis via flickr

Here’s where you can find these free, ooey-gooey,finger-licking-good, campfire events near you. Each one begins at 7 p.m. and lasts about an hour and a half.  The programs are currently running now through the first week of August.

Tuesday

King Gillette Ranch
26800 Mulholland Highway
Calabasas
Online: lamountains.com/parks.asp?parkid=670
Follow signs to outdoor amphitheater.

Wednesday

Vista Hermosa Park
100 N. Toluca St.
Los Angeles (Echo Park Adjacent)
Online: lamountains.com/parks.asp?parkid=672
Follow signs to the Grotto.

AND

Franklin Canyon
2600 Franklin Canyon Dr.
Beverly Hills
Online: lamountains.com/parks.asp?parkid=14
Follow signs to the amphitheater.

Thursday

Marsh Park
2999 Rosanna St.
Glassell Park
Online: lamountains.com/parks.asp?parkid=669
Follow signs from the parking lot entrance to the event.

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photo credit: National Parks via flickr

Seaside S’Mores
Dockweiler Beach is the only beach in Los Angeles where beach fires are allowed.  Get there early to snag a fire pit and build the best bonfire this side of Orange County (where there are more beaches in Huntington Beach and Newport Beach that allow fire pits), and you can roast your own marshmallows as you dry out from a day at the beach. Sticky fingers and sandy toes required.

The pits are open year round on a first come first serve basis and you must bring everything with you: wood, matches, fire starters, & s’mores supplies. Don’t forget the sticks, they’re not plentiful on the beach! Bring a bucket, too, because you’re in charge of extinguishing your own fire. A little sea water should do the trick. Keep flip flops on near the campfire due to arrant sparks and wood chips left from previous users.

Dockweiler State Beach
12000 Vista del Mar
Playa del Rey
Online: beaches.lacounty.gov

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photo credit: Nate via flickr

More S’More Making and Taking
If you think s’mores should only be made around your own camp fire, hit one of our favorite family camping spots and bring the graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate bars along.

If you’re dying for a gourmet DIY treat, we’ve got some tasty and unconventional recipes for making the perfect s’more at home.

And if you’re more of an order-in kind of family, these spots make our favorite restaurant s’mores treats in town! (In the name of good journalism we ate our way through dozens of contenders to pick the very best.) Try the Summer S’more Bars at M Street Kitchen, the Make Your Own S’mores at Luna Park, order a dozen of the S’more Cookies at Cookie Good to feed a crowd, or feed your emo soul when you wake up with a S’Morrissey Donut from Donut Friend.

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photo credit: M Street Kitchen

Parents, where are your favorite campfire locations for roasting marshmallows? Tell us in the comments below.

—Christina Fiedler