Pioneertown

Just down the road from Joshua Tree, in Yucca Valley, there’s a peculiar attraction known as Pioneertown. Is this a historic Old West town? Well, not exactly. But by Hollywood standards it’s the real deal – it was built in the 1940s to be an Old West movie set. Nonetheless, kids will love that you can go inside the stores and even pretend to be in jail; sit on a wagon, or simply run around and kick up some dust. It’s usually not crowded, perhaps because anyone visiting Pioneertown is at Pappy + Harriet’s, a popular restaurant and live music venue featuring all-ages shows. You MUST make a reservation well in advance to get into this restaurant on weekends and holidays because it seems everyone wants to eat here, both locals and tourists. Could have something to do with there’s not much around these parts in the way of food. If you don’t have a reservation and can’t survive a 3-hour wait, an excellent alternative is Crossroads, located near the Joshua Tree park entrance.

Pioneertown is located at 5040 Curtis Road, Pioneertown, CA, 92268

http://www.pappyandharriets.com

 

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Chinese New Year Parade

LA’s Chinatown is a great place to visit with kids anytime, but it’s even better when giant dancing dragons and martial arts performers take to the streets in the annual Golden Dragon Parade.

The fun starts with getting there. Hop on the subway and take it to Union Station. From here you can either walk to Chinatown, or you can transfer to the Gold Line. Either way it gives you an excellent opportunity to check out Union Station and it’s gorgeous art
deco and mission revival architecture that you’ve likely seen in movies. If you opt for the Gold Line, or happen to be arriving on the Gold Line, get off at the Chinatown Station, and from there it’s short walk latern-lined walk to the Grand Plaza.

Secure a spot along Hill Street or North Broadway. Typically it’s less crowded on Hill Street as you get closer to the beginning of the parade. Note that if you have little ones with noise sensitivity, bring ear plugs and warn them there will be loud noises. There will be lots of startling poppers going off in addition to police officers on motorcycles at the beginning of the parade. The parade tends to be long with many dancing dragons, performers from all over the city, civic leaders and an overall incredible display of colorful costumes.

Before or after the parade, make sure to visit the Grand Plaza shops for trinkets and the Phoenix Bakery for almond cookies and other Chinese sweets.

Now to the best part… where to eat. On the day of the parade you’ll want to be strategic with your timing when it comes to lunch. Chances are if you go before or during the parade, you may be able to get a table at Yang Chow. If you need a quicker option, head to Philippe, an LA landmark which serves sandwiches in a no frills environment.

 

 

Brick Fest Live (a.k.a Lego Heaven)

Technically not an LA-specific attraction, Brick Fest Live visits the area for one weekend in August each year at the Pasadena Convention Center. If you’ve got a Lego lover on your hands, you’ll not want to miss this. Dads are sure to geek out here, too, so make it a family event.

Brick Fest features live shows all day, interactive Lego exhibits, contests, shops and areas for free building. With tens of thousands, if not millions, of Lego pieces just waiting to be stacked, kids will be occupied for hours. Come prepared with water and snacks because there’s no food in the exhibit hall, and it will be difficult to convince the little ones to leave this Lego heaven for a restaurant.

Follow the golden rule on this one: go early, be prepared, and have fun!

IMG_3684For more information, visit http://events.brickfestlive.com.

 

Paradise Falls @ Wildwood Park

Yes, that’s water. Real water. And not just water, but a waterFALL?!  Add this: it’s not far from Los Angeles. One of a handful of waterfall hikes in Los Angeles, Paradise Falls hike in Wildwood Park is an easy-to-moderate 20-minute hike suitable for kids. Some adventurous parents of young kids might even be able to do the hike with strollers, but there are some fairly steep sets of steps.  In all, there are 14 hiking trails in Wildwood Park.

An easy flowing stream tumbles gently over boulder after boulder before it reaches a picturesque 40-foot drop known as Paradise Falls.  The falls can be reached from several directions, but for little legs the Teepee Trail might be the easiest and quickest. if you’ve got time, there are plenty of areas to explore in Wildwood Park, including a natural cave called Indian Cave.  The scenery is spectacular with mountains rising up on all sides, and the trails are lined with native coastal live oaks and the scent of 3 types of sage.

Wildwood Park is about 30 miles from Los Angles off the 101 Freeway in the city of Thousand Oaks. There are several picnic tables along the trails and water fountains. And another perk, there’s a great playground only minutes away from the park. Because nature is awesome, but to kids there’s nothing better than a playground.

The details:

Best time to go: Fall, Spring, Winter

Hours: 7am – sunset

Good for: Kids 4+

Watch out for: wildlife; mountain bikers.

Get there: 101 Freeway from central LA or the Valley; CA 23 from Santa Clarita and Simi Valley

Wear: hiking boots, sunscreen, hat

Bring: water, picnic, snacks, hiking stick, sling or carrier for younger children, first aid kit

928 W. Avenida de los Arboles
Thousand Oaks, CA  91360