Arts & Crafts

Arts & Crafts&Botanical Gardens&Museums&Outdoors&science&Uncategorized&zoo01 Jun 2008 12:00 pm

We all have membership to the summer club. This is a wonderful club to belong to and can really be a beautiful opportunity to make great memories, share time with family and learn new things. Or it can be riddled with stressful questions like: “What are we doing with the kids?” “How come all these activities are so expensive?” “Who has time off from work to travel?”

But summer is summer. The days are hot and the nights are cool and homemade orange juice popsicles hit the spot. Also, lots of hiking spots around LA are free. Then again, it can be mighty hot to be outside. So here’s a look at some places to consider buying membership to, particularly for the summer.

Kidspace in Pasadena is a combination children’s science museum and indoor activity center. It is small and expensive. Membership is $160/ year for a family of four, $250 for a family of six. That means that four members of a family would need to go five times in the year to cover the membership cost. Are you likely to drive up to Pasadena, near the Rose Bowl to visit Kidspace, and is it worth it?

While there are activities for children ages 1 to 10, I think the most appealing features of Kidspace are the ones for toddlers. The Early Childhood Learning Center is a dream for little sweeties. A certain 19 month old was able to climb a rope ladder and slide down a decent sized slide all by himself over and over, and he was quite overjoyed about it.

There is also squirting water in the courtyard that little kids enjoy standing over until they are soaked (so bring flip-flops and a change of clothes.) For older children there are small educational exhibits like a water table to experiment with erosion, displays of live bugs, and some fun climbing opportunities. Outside is a small race track for tricycle riding, as well as a garden to explore. Just keep in mind that it’s blazes hot in the summer. They do offer special workshops and programs throughout the year so please call or check their online calendar for more information. By the way, I timed it, and it took me 15 minutes to get from Kidspace to downtown LA.

The thing I tend to look for with a summer outing is air conditioning. Huntington Library, also up the 110 in the Pasadena area (San Marino), has lots of air conditioning for the buildings that house their amazing art collections, but then there is a little known outdoor attraction that’s nice for the summer as well. Behind a really neat conservatory and teaching greenhouse is the Children’s Garden, especially designed with kids in mind. That means water squirts and shpritzes and fills areas with thick fog—-all for children to play in. But Huntington Library is quite expensive (two adults and two children over age 5 on a Sunday = $52.) So membership ($100.), again, may be something to consider if this is a place you are likely to visit more than a few times a year. There is a lot to explore between the gardens and the art. On the other hand, The Huntington is free the first Thursday of every month with advanced reservations, so it doesn’t have to cost anything to check it out.

Of course, we have our free museums around LA—the LACMA (after 5pm or through their NextGen program), the Science Center, the Getty– but I do maintain a membership to the Natural History museum, which continues to be a great bargain at $70 a year for the family. Just to be able to pop into the butterfly pavilion on any summer day and sit amongst the butterflies is worth it.

Plus there’s the Los Angeles Zoo ($75), and while I do like to visit the zoo during the cooler months, I find it too hot most summer days. However, membership includes a 50% discount on tickets to many zoos around California and the country. Of particular interest is the very cute Santa Barbara Zoo which is situated near the ocean and would be lovely during the summer. So please get out there and embrace the summer and enjoy the long days and the soft evening breeze and remember that orange juice popsicles hit the spot—and maybe a few hotdogs on the grill, too.


Kidspace Children’s Museum, 480 N. Arroyo Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91103,, Open daily, 9:30am – 5pm, admission: $8/person over age 1.

The Huntington, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA 91108, (626) 405-2100,, open 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily (excluding Tuesdays), admission: Adults $15 – $20 (weekends) $20, (age 12-18, or with full-time student I.D.) $10, (age 5-11) $6 Children (under 5) free Free first Thursday of every month.

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, 900 Exposition Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90007 (213) 763-DINO open 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday and Holidays, admission: $9 adults, age 13 – 17 – $6.50 age 5 – 12 – $2 Children under 5 – FREE (recommend membership $70), Free first Tuesday of every month.

Los Angeles Zoo, 5333 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90027,, 323/644-4200, open 10 –5 every day, admission: age 13 and up $12, age 2 – 12 $7. (recommend membership: ($75)

Arts & Crafts&Outdoors01 Jul 2006 12:00 pm

As nice as it is to be outside for a hike, often times, in the summer, it’s just too hot to trudge up a dusty trail in the blazing sun, or venture into the desert. There are a lot of neat places in the desert, but they should be discussed in the cooler months, not now, when the prospect of getting out of an air conditioned car to walk around in 125 degree heat does not sound like a vacation at all. Winter is truly the best time to visit the old west towns and other curiosities of the desert, so please keep it in mind for later…

There does exist a small place, outdoors, in Orange County, that we enjoy visiting every summer. It is the Sawdust Art Festival in Laguna Beach. Just down the street from the ocean, and shaded by a hillside, trees, and awnings, the Sawdust Festival (as we call it) is an annual summer gathering of various local artists. On display are paintings, photographs, ceramics, jewelry, blown glass, and other handmade works of art. Why is it called the “Sawdust Art Festival?” The pathways are filled with sawdust. According to festival history, the sawdust was brought in to keep the ground dust to a minimum. Whatever the reason for using it, the sawdust does have an appealing and memorable scent and it adds to the ambiance year after year.

And we have been going for several years now; it truly is part of our summer tradition. Perhaps the reason it became a standard for us is because it is so close to Laguna Woods (Leisure World), where Grampa lives. We can drive down mid-morning on a Sunday, pick up Grampa, and continue on another ten minutes to the Sawdust Festival. Grampa isn’t much for walking around, but he enjoys looking around, mostly from the raised patio at the back of the festival area. He takes a seat on a bench on the patio and listens to the folk music or watches the balloon animal artist, or whatever is going on. We bring sandwiches and drinks for lunch and eat with Grampa. Then we all watch the glass blowing artists who have amazing demonstrations throughout the day. It’s not often that we get to see glass in a malleable state being blown and spun into colorful vases.

Each artist at the festival has a booth to display his or her works, with some artists reappearing year after year and some new ones to discover. We like to peruse all the booths and find one thing we like to bring home from the Sawdust that year. One time it was a handmade ceramic beehive honey pot that we used for Rosh Hashana. Another year it was a stoneware dish with a lid that was, and continues to be, well suited for cholent. Last year it was a little handblown pink and green vase that just appealed to us.

There are a few different booths for children to make their own crafts. Last year, Grampa got a kick out of watching our daughter use a potter’s wheel to shape her own clay bowl. Ultimately, the festival is just a nice atmosphere to be together and see some interesting things.

This year happens to be the 40th anniversary of the Sawdust Art Festival, and the summer show only goes from June 30th to September 3rd, so please take a day out to enjoy the arts and crafts, and spend time with family.


Sawdust Art Festival, June 30 – September 3, open every day 10am – 10pm. Admission: $7.00 Adult one-day $6.00 Senior one-day (65 yrs & up) $3.00 Child one-day (6-12 yrs) Free Age 5 yrs & younger. Address: 935 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA 92651, phone: Phone: 949 494-3030.