CicLAvia- Check this off your Biking Bucket List!

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Imagine – LA’s major thoroughfares wide open and car-free. Bikers glide through greenlit intersections while parents stroll their babies along the streets with little worry; toddlers pedal their trikes furiously on the pavement instead of the sidewalks. It may seem like only a dream, but this dream comes true several times per year in Los Angeles.

We recently experienced the last CicLAvia of 2017, a trip down iconic Wilshire Boulevard. This 8-mile route extends from between Western in Koreatown and Fourth Street downtown, with MacArthur Park marking the mid-way point.  With 6- and 7-year-olds, we easily made it from Western to MacArthur Park where we stopped for a snack and took advantage of the play structures.

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All of the cross streets are blocked off so no need for bikers to stop at any lights or stop signs. However, there are a few main intersections that open intermittently for cars to pass. At these lights, police officers are there to halt bike traffic and make sure cars are stopped before opening up the bike route again.

Non-motorized traffic flows in both directions, so bikers of all levels will find plenty of space to ride. There is no race involved, and pedestrians are welcome, too!

CicLAvia takes place on Sunday, but many stores and cafes along the route that would normally be closed open up to take advantage of all the business. Additionally, food trucks hang out along the route, particularly at the mid-way point.

Metro sponsors the event and offers pop-up bike rental tents at each end of the route, in case you need to rent a bike.IMG_5396.jpgIf you bring your own bikes, consider taking a Metro train to the stop nearest on of the ends of the route. It’s important to plan the parking/ getting there part of your trip well, particularly if you have kids in tow, because with many streets blocked off, parking can be difficult. If you do drive to the route and plan to go the entire distance, consider taking two cars, parking one at each end of the route. Or there’s the option of driving to the route and taking the metro back to your car.

With younger kids, it probably won’t be  about going the distance but instead about experiencing the rare beauty of LA with no traffic, no fumes and no honks!

The details:

Time: 9am – 3pm, several Sundays throughout the year

Good for: Kids 4+

Watch out for: Traffic on the side streets (on your way to or from the main bike route); Streets reopen promptly at 4 pm

Get there: Varies, depending on location

Bring: Bike locks, helmet, tire pump, bike tools, water, snacks, cash/card, Metro card

For info and upcoming events, visit: 

http://www.ciclavia.org

Monster Tour @ Descanso Gardens

October is almost here, and that means a whole month for little ones to get their fill of spooks, pumpkins and Halloween cheer. Raise your hand if you love Shakespeare, botanical gardens, wearing costumes and looking for monsters? If you said yes to at least half of that sentence (and your kids for the other half), the Monster Tour at beautiful Descanso Gardens is a perfect fall event for the entire family.

The Ensemble Shakespeare Theatre puts on a not-so-scary production that starts on the stage and takes a short tour through the woods in search of goofy spooks. Along the way, kids learn a bit  about botany and conservation.

Admission to the show is free with admission to the gardens, and kids and grownups are encouraged to come in costume. After the show, you can tour the gardens, ride the train and have lunch at the garden cafe.

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The details:

Best time to go:  Late October; Oct. 21 & 22; 28 & 29

Time: 11 am

Good for: Kids 3+

Wear: Halloween costume; good walking shoes

Bring: Water, snacks, layers

Nearby eats: Cafe Descanso

Address: 1418 Descanso Dr, La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011

https://www.descansogardens.org/event/monster-tour/

Seize September: Go Apple Picking!

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Growing up in Georgia, when I wanted to pick apples on a fall day, I simply walked down the street to my aunt’s backyard. In SoCal, while backyards tend to be filled with oranges, lemons, guavas and avocados ripening almost year-round, apples right off the tree are harder to come by. So, if the change of seasons has you yearning to pluck some fresh fruit off the branches, consider heading up to Oak Glen for blue skies, fresh air, and some down-home family apple-picking fun.

While Oak Glen is home to many ranches and fruit farms, Riley’s is often the first to come to mind. There are, in fact, three Riley’s locations in Oak Glen. Riley’s Farm at 12261 Oak Glen Road is open Monday through Saturday and offers living history exhibits that give children a look at what Colonial American life was like. Kids can participate in archery, candle making and cider pressing, and if you want to stay overnight there is Colonial-style glamping available on the farm. IMG_3710.jpg

You can also pick your own apples at Rileys, but keep in mind that they sometimes get “picked-out” by early afternoon. If that’s the case, there are plenty of other farms down the road where you can fill your baskets, including Los Rios.

When it’s time to eat, Apple Annie’s Restaurant and Bakery serves home-cooked meals and a famous 5 lb. mile-high homemade apple pie. It’s located within a shopping village that includes fun activities for kids such as a train ride, bouncy slide and petting zoo.  There are also several parks where you can picnic or just relax and take in some clean mountain air before heading back to the city.

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Make sure to stop by Mom’s country store on your way out for fresh cider if you didn’t press your own!

The details:

Best time to go: Labor Day – Thanksgiving (visit website or call for types of apples ready)

Good for: All ages!

Watch out for: Traffic, pedestrians on Oak Glen road

Get there: Interstate 10 East to Oak Glen road

Wear: Pants, layers, boots

Bring: Water, snacks, bags to carry apples, picnic blanket

Nearby eats: Apple Annie’s; Hawk’s Head Tavern

http://www.oakglen.net

Biking Ojai

IMG_4446.jpgThe distance from LA to Ojai used to be described as “one CD away.” These days, I’m not sure what that would be in iTunes language, but usually you can bet on an hour and fifteen minutes to get to there. The town of Ojai is enchanting, with mission-style buildings draped with bougainvillea and the scent of sage floating in the air.

Even better, there’s a shaded bike trail that you can take to explore the entire downtown area. The Ojai Valley bike trail runs 9 miles from Ventura to the heart of Ojai, but for families with young children, a ride through downtown Ojai is an experience in itself. You can access the trail in a number of places, but the easiest access is probably from the park. The trail runs behind Libbey Park and parallel to Ojai Avenue, the main thoroughfare.

And speaking of Libbey Park… the recently renovated playground would easily earn 5 stars from most kids.

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You’ll likely be hungry after a bike ride and the playground. Head to Ojai Avenue and start with a honey tasting at the Heavenly Honey Company to tide you over while you choose from one of the many restaurants in the area.

Happy Trails!

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The details:

Best time to go: Winter, Spring, Fall

Good for: Kids 5+

Watch out for: streets that cross the bike path

Get there: 101 Freeway to Venture to HWY 126 W to Ojai

Wear: helmet, sunscreen, layers

Bring: bikes, helmets, water, picnic, snacks, first aid kit, camera

Bike Rental/ Repair:  The Mob Shop 110 W Ojai Ave, Ojai, CA 93023