hidden gems for fun times with kids

Knowing what to do with your little ones besides spending hours in the park can be a little bit of a head scratcher sometimes. I am a terrible mother and don't do the whole park thing very often. Isn't that why I have a back yard? So I tend to ferret out things that are a bit more stimulating and, truth be told, more fun for me

So first port of call would have to be Lakeshore Learning Center. It is located at the corner of Venice and National and is a huge wonderland full of fun educational toys, books, stickers, games, school supplies and much more. Technically, it is supposed to be for teachers but anyone is welcome. I get a lot of my kids workbooks, educational games, craft supplies and gifts for birthday parties here. It caters towards kids from infants to 6th grade and has a huge and exciting selection of material. Every Saturday they have "free crafts for kids," or, as I like to call it, "send Daddy off for a few hours with the kids and give mommy a break!" It's from 11 - 3 and goes all all year long and is super creative. The other aspect of Lakeshore that I love is the two mega laminating machines that are dirt cheap. I often do projects for our school and it is so much fun and wildly inexpensive. Best part, they let you run the laminating machine yourself. I know, simple pleasures. They also offer teachers workshops.

www.lakeshorelearning.com

Zooga Yoga For Kids was created by two local parents and is completely adorable. Located at the corner of Overland and Braddock, it has a big bright room with parkay floors, animal art paper mache lamps all over the ceiling. It is yoga for any age of child with none to lots of experience. They have a huge selection of classes: dancing doggies, happy family musicals, pre and post natal for moms, sing and sign, teen yoga, yogi bears.....the list goes on and on. Class prices range from $10 - $22. They also have a kids summer camp and every last saturday of the month they have a kids night out from 5 - 10 pm. It costs $35 and then $25 for an additional sibling. They do yoga, arts and crafts, pizza is included and they get to play with new kids at night time. Very grown up!  They do all sorts of other events like Clean Baby Truck - get your filthy car seat professionally cleaned while you relax in a yoga class! Also they have a 2 day infant massage workshop. And as if that ain't enough, you can rent the place for a kids birthday party. It really is a very special addition to Culver City. You will love it.

www.zoogayoga.com

 Star Eco Station is located on Jefferson Blvd. at College just south of the skatepark in Bill Botts Park. This place is cool. My husband loves taking our girls there for the day to explore this science and wildlife museum. It is incredibly interactive, stimulating and educational at the same time. They have endangered fish and wildlife and kids get to have a hands on experience with many of the animals. They are open 1 - 4 during the week and 10 - 3 on the weekends and the cost is $6 for kids, $7 for seniors and $8 for adults. Children get to hold snakes and other unmentionable creatures (yes, I have arachnophobia) and investigate all the elaborately set up rooms. They also offer many fascinating summer camps and a great venue for a birthday party. It is a great place to give your child a completely new experience and get them talking about new ideas.

www.ecostation.org

We have a swank new and edgy Culver City Skatepark located on Jefferson at Duquesne Ave. Its pretty big at nearly 1,300 square feet full of edges like Trog Bowl, Waterfall, Hubba Ledge, Ramp, Pier 7 Block, Wall Ride, 90 degree banked hip, and more. Ie, varying degrees of difficulty. Local skateboarders designed it after many planning and design meetings with the community and the city paid for it. You must always wear a helmet, knee and elbow pads and it is closed when it is raining. All ages attend the park and it is a great source to pick up new tricks. The kids are known to be really friendly to one another but I have heard that the scooter kids go a little fast. It is surrounded by park covered in trees so you can sit and watch your little one on the grass. And just up the hill, for the wee ones, is an awesome new kids playground with cutting edge climbing apparatus. If you are in need of new gear, I highly recommend going to The Vault Pro Scooters. It's just up the street on Sepulveda just south of Sawtelle has a superb selection and is open every day.

A stones throw from culver city is Stoner Park Pool just above Olympic and west of Barrington. It's only open during the summer and is a huge slowly sloping pool that eventually leads into a 5' lap pool. It has crazy waterfalls and monster water walls and a large twisty slide to the right. It's 1 kid to 1 adult ratio under the age of 7. Adults are $2.50, kids are free as are 65 and older. They have a lot of rules that have been in place forever but they are not that bad. You cannot wear white t-shirts or rash guards. I guess the lifeguards need to be able to see you. They are very efficient life guards, I must say. Adults have to be in a bathing suit if your kid is under 7.  It is surrounded by a big, beautiful tree lined park with baseball fields and picnic areas (no food is allowed inside the pool area) where you can have a leisurely lunch. There are showers on the premises. It's a really fun and inexpensive thing to do during the summer.

 

I have spent a lot of time at Under The Sea Indoor Playground. It's located on Washington Blvd. at Grandview in the western region of Culver City. Its great for kids 2 to 8 and is full of intricate slides, climbing apparatus, mini kitchens and busses. There are about 20 kids cars and bikes to zoom around on. The entire place is padded and it also has a basketball hoop and a big bouncer in the corner. When you first walk in, you place your shoes in a cubby and must wear socks, so don't forget a pair each. After you pay ($11 for kids, adults are free) you can set up on one of the many picnic tables or a counter with stools overlooking the whole area. Kids can run and scream and climb to their hearts content. There are also benches throughout the large room for adults to sit on. You can bring food and drinks or the lady at the front desk can order pizzas for you. They also have a monthly unlimited fee of $65 for those kids that need a lot of activity. And I have been to many birthday parties there on the weekends. 

www.undertheseaindoorplayground.com

Another small but free play area just was installed at the wonderfully updated Westfield Culver City Mall. It is right in front of the fabulous JC Penney store and is a wonderland of foamy animals and shapes for kids to climb and jump off of onto squishy padded floors. There are benches surrounded the play area as well as a sit up bar on the outside if you wanted to get a snack from the many eateries nearby. I have seen kids there of all ages and its a nice place to chill for a bit after the exhaustion of shopping.

Museum of Jurassic technology

Allied Trains

Play place on Venice or Washington



Jag gym



Baseball central batting cages

 

Posted on July 18, 2013 .

Parks, parks and more parks...

 Vets Park @ Overland & Culver

Vets Park @ Overland & Culver

As with most of LA, we have gorgeous parks. But ours are also surrounded by lovely neighborhoods that look as if time has stood still. As if, at any moment, Andy Griffith and Ron Howard will whistle down the path beside you.  I wish! Okay, so I watched a lot of old TV shows growing up. But I have always looked for that. The relaxed feeling of a park surrounded by gorgeous trees, neighbors with their dogs or strollers or both sauntering by and a sense of endless summer. Picnics on immaculate grass where you and your children can feel safe in the middle of one of the largest cities in the world.

 Carlson Park @ Braddock & Motor

Carlson Park @ Braddock & Motor

I love the mini parks ie Carlson Park and Coombs park. Just an area half a block long with no playground but full of trees and always full of people throwing a frisbee, practicing tai chi or little mommy groups enjoying our near perfect weather. Just being outside. It breaks up the pattern of the neighborhood and gives people a special and hidden meeting spot.

Many of our playgrounds have recently received super cool updates. Local organizations banded together and raised the money to modernize our parks.

Two of the best results are to Vets park. Located behind the Veterans Building at the corner of Culver & Overland Blvds., the huge lush area is in constant use.

 Vets Park Playground

Vets Park Playground

There are public tennis, handball and basketball courts. Two baseball fields. And a great kids playground. This is also the park where Fiesta La Ballona is held every August. The carnival comes to town and it is an amazing affair. Rides, cotton candy, ferris wheel, local groups perform...you get the idea. On any given weekend, you will always see a fun gathering for a birthday party or group event.

 Entrance to "the plunge" public pool

Entrance to "the plunge" public pool

On the same grounds there is "the plunge."  This is an outdoor swimming pool that offers lap swimming, classes and swimming groups all year long. The daily 9am water fitness class is a blast. It is a great way to meet the older residents of Culver City, who are a truly fun group and in fantastically good shape. Hey, there's hope for the future, right?

The other park to receive a fabulous update is Bill Botts Park. It is located at the corner of Dusquesne and Jefferson.

 Bill Botts Playground @ Jefferson

Bill Botts Playground @ Jefferson

The whole park is laid out on a hill starting with a large tree filled grassy area and close to Jefferson is a fenced in skate park. It's really fun to go and watch all the kids doing wicked on their skateboards. Just next to that is a beautiful new playground with all sorts of interesting things to climb. And beyond that is a large gathering area filled with picnic tables and shade.

 Skate Park @ Bill Botts

Skate Park @ Bill Botts

Keep in mind, that above the playground is "The Boneyard" dog run for big and little dogs and also a long hike follows up the hill to a large baseball field. You can come down the hill via a long wood covered walkway the zig zags down past a great rock climbing area to the parking lot. This is seriously one stop shopping with something for everyone of your family.

 Lindberg Park Playground

Lindberg Park Playground

Lindberg Park is nestled in a lovely neighborhood between Overland and Jefferson and the La Ballona Creek Bike Path, which goes all the way to Marina Del Rey and is a must do for the whole family and avid cyclists. Kinston, Cota and Virginia Streets all run into Lindberg Park. At one end is a large covered picnic area next to a baseball field.

 Lindberg Park

Lindberg Park

There is a beautifully walled in    co-op preschool called La Playa Nursery School. There is a huge kids playground - my favorite - with lots of things to climb - a train, a boat,  tire swings, etc. The baseball diamond has stadium seating and there are two tennis and basketball courts and two huge soccer fields.

 

On the far east of Culver City is Syd Kronenfeld Park, right next to Echo Horizon Private school. It is not as big as others and doesn't have as many trees but its fun and has two playing fields. Its sits beside Ballona Creek bike path and National Blvd. It has a small sandy playground and a lovely covered patio table area for events.

At the very far west of Culver City is a wonderful park called Glen Alla Park with large grassy fields for dogs to run in while your kids are right beside you in a fenced in playground that is really swank. It's one of the most creavtive playgrounds I've been too. THere are also basketball and tennis courts and lots of easy parking. It is a stones throw away from Marina Del Rey and is located at the corner of Glencoe Ave. and Alla road.

 

Posted on June 6, 2013 .