After more than a year of crafting, baking, Zoom-ing, and Netflix binge-watching, there are finally in-public options for what to do with your family. Amusement parks? You bet! Museums? Go for it! Outdoor gardens with acres of natural “distancing?” There’s plenty of that, too. So whether you want to ride some rides, mingle with butterflies or catch a polo match, here are the best things to do this month in LA.

Grand Re-Opening of Knott's Berry Farm

Has a year of lockdown got you itching for a good old fashioned ride on the Ghostrider? Buckle up—Knott's Berry Farm will reopen to Season Passholders May 6, with plans for a grand reopening to the general public on May 21 and a summer-long, Knott’s 100th Anniversary Celebration. Calling itself  "The Knott's Family Reunion," the park is hoping to  reunite family and friends in what it calls a "safe and fun environment after a year-long closure due to COVID-19."

Kids will love the park's new ride, Knott's Bear-y Tales: Return to the Fair, a 4-D interactive dark ride let's families shoot "jelly blasters" while they race to recover stolen boysenberry pies and compete for the highest score. There will also be new nightly entertainment as Knott's Summer Nights returns with live music, DJs, and one-of-a-kind food and drink specialties.  

The anniversary celebration runs through Sept. 6. Capacity will be limited and available to California residents only with reservations required for both single-day visits and Season Passholders.

Good to Know: All 2020 season passes and 2021 season passes purchased through May 5, 2021, will be valid through May 5, 2022. 

Knott's Berry Farm
8039 Beach Blvd.
Buena Park, CA

Online: knotts.com

Related: 36-Hours of Fun in Buena Park with Kids

Fun Kiddie Rides at Adventure City

If you're not quite ready to return to the big-ticket theme parks but you want to give your kids a  theme park experience, Adventure City—an amusement park designed for kids under 10—is now open on the weekends! The 2-acre park features 17 rides (all outdoors!) that won't intimidate little thrill-seekers, including a carousel, a small Ferris wheel, train ride, kid-powered carts, two small roller coasters (good for ages 5 & up), a petting zoo and more.

Good to Know: At this time, sales are limited only to California residents. Additional COVID restrictions include: Advanced reservations are required due to lower capacity guidelines, socially distanced markers throughout the park and temperature checks are required.

Hours: Fri. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat.-Sun 11 a.m.-8 p.m. 
Cost:
$21.95 ages 1-54; $17.95 for ages 55 & up.

Adventure City
1238 S Beach Blvd.
Anaheim

Online: adventurecity.com

photo: Melissa Heckscher

Experience the Butterflies at South Coast Botanic Garden

Brand new (as of this past Apr.), South Coast Botanic Garden's SOAR! exhibit let's visitors enter an enclosed pavilion that's so full of tropical butterflies that even taking a step will have you checking your footfalls. Sit still for a few moments (this might be hard for little ones) and you'll probably have a few of the winged creatures mistake you for a flower and land before fluttering back into the air. Insider Tip: Wear something colorful with a floral print to increase your chances of a visit!

The experience begins outside, with a butterfly garden featuring host and nectar plants. Kids (and you!) will love peeking into the "Emergence Chamber" to see dozens of butterfly chrysalises in various stages of development. Then into the pavilion, which houses hundreds of painted ladies, blue morpho, and giant swallowtail butterflies, with new shipments arriving regularly.

Afterwards, explore the South Coast Botanic Garden's 87 acres of more than 2500 different species of plants. Don't miss the idyllic children's garden, which has a fairy tale cottage and bridge to explore, and the  "Garden for the Senses" where kids can smell and touch sensory-loaded plants including mint leaves, chocolate daisies and more. 

Cost: $5 for members; For non-members: $22 for adults; $12 for kids 5-12; $7 for kids 2-4. Price includes admission to the garden. 
Hours: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

South Coast Botanic Garden
26300 Crenshaw Blvd.
Palos Verdes Estates 

Online: southcoastbotanicgarden.org

Catch a Polo Match at Will Rogers State Park

If you thought polo was a British sport—or a thing of the past—you're wrong on both counts. The 2,000-year-old sport is alive and well at Will Rogers State Park, where you can spread out a blanket watch the hoofs pound past you at the last remaining polo field in Los Angeles. Located on the former estate of actor/cowboy/humorist Will Rogers, who was an avid polo player himself, the Will Rogers Polo Club continues this ancient sport every weekend beginning now through Sept. Players often let kids on the field between matches to meet the horses. Afterward, stick around and frolic on the grass—or check out one of the park's many hiking trails. 

If you're not familiar with polo, it's kind of like field hockey, on horseback. (Of course, there's much more to it than that—learn all about it here.)  

Cost: Free but parking will cost you $12 per vehicle. Use the Passport Parking App to make paying for parking easier.
Hours: Sat. 2-5 p.m.; Sun. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. now through Sept. 26

Will Rogers State Park Polo Fields
1501 Will Rogers State Park Rd. 
Pacific Palisades

Online:
willrogerspolo.org

photo: Hamilton Pytluk/Universal Studios Hollywood

Try the New "Secret Life of Pets" Ride at Universal Studios

If hanging at Hogwarts and riding The Mummy isn't enough to tempt you into braving the socially-distanced crowds at Universal, there's also a new ride. The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash! (this replaced the old Walking Dead attraction) invites riders to become stray puppies searching for a "forever home." Hop aboard vehicles fashioned to look like cardboard boxes (you're stray pups, after all) and check out your canine image in a high tech mirror window at the start of the ride. From there, careen around the city on your way to the adoption event at The Pets Store (which is, not coincidentally, the name of the store you're dropped into at the ride's end). 

Good to Know: Reservations are required and COVID safety restrictions Include temperature checks, required hand sanitizer application before rides, face coverings and social distancing markers.

Cost: $99 & Up 
Hours: Vary

Universal Studios Hollywood
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City

Online:  universalstudioshollywood.com

RELATED: Where to Eat, Play & Shop in Studio City

"Art of the Brick" Exhibit

If your little LEGO-fanatics were disappointed when the Art of the Brick exhibit at the Science Center shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic last Feb., they'll be thrilled to know they've got another chance! The exhibit, which houses the world's largest display of LEGO art, features re-imagined versions of some of the world's most famous art masterpieces: See LEGO-stacked versions of Michelangelo’s David, Van Gogh's Starry Night and Da Vinci's Mona Lisa. In addition, you and your family can walk beneath a 20-foot Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton (comprised of over 80,000 LEGO bricks!) and come face-to-face with a giant LEGO skull.

Other new exhibits at the museum include the All in This Together, where guests can explore the facts about COVID-19 and the science behind our most powerful public health tools for fighting the pandemic; and don't miss Life! Beginnings, where you can experience the human journey from conception to birth inside an immersive ‘womb room’ and view real fetal specimens.

Good to Know: Advanced reservations are advised due to museum capacity limits. Timed-entry reservations are required for the Lego exhibit as well as for the IMAX Theater. Seating in the IMAX Theater is available at reduced capacity to allow for physical distancing.

Cost: Admission to the science center is by donation; The Art of the Brick exhibit is an extra $19.75 for adults; $12.75 for children; and $17.75 for students and seniors (member discounts available).
Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

California Science Center
700 Exposition Park Dr.
Los Angeles

Butterflies, Dinosaurs and Bugs at the Natural History Museum

If the perennial favorite dinosaur skeletons aren't enough to lure your little historians back the Natural History Museum, its latest special exhibits might do the trick. The Butterfly Pavilion lets you walk amid hundreds of butterflies from up to 30 different species—as well as search for caterpillars among the foliage. Spiky, Hairy, Shiny: Insects of LA lets you peek into the diverse world of bugs that exist all around us, including more than 10 years of images taken by people all over Los Angeles as part of the museum's BioSCAN project to help track LA's climate changes. 

And of course, all of the museum's other faithful exhibits are open, including the Dinosaur Hall, the Age of Mammals, the Diorama Halls, as well as the Nature Gardens.

Good to Know: New safety precautions at the museum include: Timed ticket entry with limited number of guests, social-distancing markers, hand sanitizer stations throughout the museum and more.

Cost: $15 adults; $12 seniors & students; $5 kids (Entrance to the Butterfly Pavilion is an additional $6 (free for members); parking is $12
Hours: Thurs.-Sun. 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; closed Mon., Tues. & Wed.

Natural History Museum
900 Exposition Blvd. 
Los Angeles

Online: nhm.org

photo: Artur Rutkowski via Unsplash

Go Strawberry Picking at These Local Farms

Strawberry season is in full-force, which means you'll have one more reason to get your kids out into fresh air and open space with a visit to one of LA's U-Pick fields. Luckily for SoCal, there are several spots to choose from when it comes to fresh fruit farms. Want to pair your picking with a petting zoo? Check out Underwood Family Farms. Want a wagon ride around the farm and a drive-through produce stand? Try Tanaka Farms. If you want to make it a day trip (and maybe squeeze in Legoland while you're at it), Carlsbad Strawberry Company is rumored to have the sweetest berries around. 

For all the juicy details, we've got the scoop on the best places where to pick strawberries in SoCal including nearby farm stands that are worth dropping by any day of the week.

Animal Encounters at Gilchrist Farm

Your little farmer can milk a goat, ride a pony, tour the farm by wagon or barrel train, or try her hand at archery and axe-throwing at this family farm tucked into the hills of Santa Clarita. The menagerie of friendly critters inlcudes goats, ducks, chickens, peacocks, geese, pigs, sheep, cows, bunnies and an African tortoise—and all of them are available for visits. 

Good to Know: Reservations are recommended for all activities since capacity will be limited due to Covid safety restrictions.

Cost: $5 and includes meet-and-greets with the farm's menagerie of animals (including the petting zoo). All other activities must be booked separately, and prices vary. Archery and axe throwing are $15 each;  Wagon & train rides are $5 each; Pony and horse rides are $5-25.
Hours: Farm visits are available Sat. & Sun. from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.; Goat milking takes place approximately at 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m. & 4 p.m. daily from mid-Apr. to mid-Nov.

Gilchrist Farm
30116 Bougquet Canyon Rd.
Santa Clarita 

Online: gilchristfarm.com

RELATED: Private Zoo Tours & Animal Encounters Open in LA

An Extra Sweet Day Mother's Day

As if you needed another reason to go to LA's most Instagrammed restaurant, The Sugar Factory is now offering a sweets basket for Mother's Day that sugar mamas will no doubt have to hide from their kids. The gift basket includes vanilla cupcakes with pink frosting, cotton candy jelly beans, pink chocolate covered strawberries with silver glitter and pink crystal sugar and freshly cut lavender roses (available May 9 only).

If you're not familiar with this Century City sweet spot, it's best known for huge portions of American eats (think chicken and waffles) and over-the-top desserts that you won't be able to NOT photograph ((because when you're served a sundae bigger than basketball THAT'S ALSO ON FIRE, it's hard not to memorialize it with at least a picture). The restaurant is now open indoors as well as on its expansive patio.

We recommend the towering rainbow stack of pancakes or any of these candy-covered milkshakes that look almost too pretty to eat. Mom: Be sure to try the steaming cocktails, served in mega-goblets. Make reservations on opentable.com.

The Sugar Factory
10250 Santa Monica Blvd #2020
Los Angeles

Online: sugarfactory.com

RELATED: The Best Mother's Day Gifts She's Guaranteed to Love 

Mother's Day Brunch at Malibu Cafe

Nestled amid the idyllic Malibu mountains, the Malibu Cafe at Calamigos Ranch is one of those places where you feel like you're on vacation, even when you're just there for lunch. The all-outdoors restaurant will be offering some special treats for Mother's Day, including a petting zoo, a photo booth, face-painters for kids, and a Mother's Day card-making station. That, along with its usual offerings, which include giant chess board, paddleboats, a grassy field for frolicking, and yummy food and drinks. 

Hours: Thurs.-Sun. 11 a.m-9 p.m.; Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

Malibu Cafe at Calimigos Ranch
327 Latigo Canyon Rd.
Malibu

Online: themalibucafe.com

RELATED: Your Family Guide to Malibu

Smell the Roses at Descanso Gardens

Spring is still blooming at Descanso Gardens, and we are convinced that it's impossible to be surrounded by lush acres of fragrant flowers and not feel amazing. Let the kids run wild while wandering the 150-acre grounds filled with thousands of flowering plants and trees. Look for special areas marked with the "Signs of Spring" logo, where you'll see educational or artistic displays pointing out seasonal birds, nests and blooms.

Cost: $15 adults; $11 students; $5 for kids
Hours: Mon.–Fri. 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sat.–Sun. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Descanso Gardens
1418 Descanso Dr.
La Canada Flintridge

Online: descansogardens.org

RELATED: Here's all the reasons why we think Descanso Gardens is a slice of paradise. 

photo: iStock

Catch a Drive-In Movie

The drive-In Movie craze hasn't fizzled yet! So pack the car and bring your fam to see a flick in the open air. Here's what's playing:

Sister Act
When: Apr. 23
Where: The Roadium, 2500 W. Redondo Beach Blvd. in Torrance
Tickets: eventbrite.com

Clueless/ Mean Girls (double feature)
When: Apr. 30
Where: The Andaz Hotel, 8401 Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood,
Tickets: loop1tickets.com

Frozen 2
When: May 1
Where:
Kenneth Hahn Disc Golf Course, 4100 S La Cienega Blvd., in Culver City
Tickets: ticketfairy.com/tour/drive-in-at-the-park-spring-summer-movie-series-culver-city

Sonic the Hedgehog
When: May 7
Where:
Kenneth Hahn Disc Golf Course, 4100 S La Cienega Blvd., in Culver City
Tickets: ticketfairy.com/tour/drive-in-at-the-park-spring-summer-movie-series-culver-city

CARS
When:
May 7
Where:
The Roadium, 2500 W. Redondo Beach Blvd. in Torrance
Tickets: roadium.com

Despicable Me
When: May 14
Where:The Roadium, 2500 W. Redondo Beach Blvd. in Torrance
Tickets: roadium.com

Jurassic Park 
When: May 15
Where: King Gillette Ranch, 26800 West, Mulholland Hwy. in Calabasas
Tickets: streetfoodcinema.com

Enchanted
When: May 21
Where:The Roadium, 2500 W. Redondo Beach Blvd. in Torrance
Tickets: roadium.com

E.T. The ExtraTerrestrial
When: May 22
Where: Santa Anita Park,285 W. Huntington Dr. in Arcadia
Tickets: streetfoodcinema.com

Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker
When: May 28
Where:
Kenneth Hahn Disc Golf Course, 4100 S La Cienega Blvd., in Culver City
Tickets: ticketfairy.com/tour/drive-in-at-the-park-spring-summer-movie-series-culver-city

More Ways to Play This Month

Here are some other spots in LA, opening up to visitors:

LACMA
Make sure to check out the Yoshitomo Nara exhibit—the most beloved Japanese artists of his generation. His widely recognizable portraits of menacing figures reflect the artist’s raw encounters with his inner self. To comply with mandatory capacity restrictions, tickets are released in blocks of one week. Member tickets for the week ahead are available on Wed., and public tickets on Thurs., both starting at 10 a.m. PDT. Sign up here to receive alerts about the release of tickets.

Cost: $20 for adults with resident ID; Kids are free

6067 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles

Online: lacma.org

Disneyland 
Missing the Mouse? Disneyland and California Adventure are open with added safety measures and limited capacity. Each member in your party is required to have both valid ticket and park reservation for the same park on the same date. At this time, only California residents may visit the parks per current state guidelines. Get all the details on admission and COVID safety changes here.

Cost: $114 & up (varies by date)

1313 Disneyland Dr.
Anaheim
 

Online: disneyland.disney.go.com

Six Flags
Thrill-seeking kids will be happy to know they can once again get their adrenaline fix at Six Flags. To keep guests safe, the park has a host of "new normal" precautions, including thermal imaging to take all guests' temperatures, touchless bag searches, increased cleaning of high touch areas (including ride seat restraints), and handwashing stations/sanitizing at all ride entrances. All guests must wear masks at all times (even on roller coasters), although there will be some designated areas where people can take off their masks to get a break. Reservations are required and park capacity will be limited.

Hours: Daily 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Cost: Single-day tickets start at $45; Season passes start at $60

26101 Magic Mountain Pkwy
Valencia

Online: sixflags.com/magicmountain

feature image via Disneyland Resort

—Melissa Heckscher

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