27 Things to Do with Kids in LA before the Summer Is Over

If you can believe it (gasp!) summer is almost over (insert crying emoji). But wait! Before you make those final, back-to-school plans and shopping trips, to get the most out of the remaining weeks, we’ve created this end-of-summer bucket list for all the things to do before the long, hazy days are over.

Catch the Last Summer Concerts

photo: iStock

1. Free Sunset Concerts are back at The Skirball! Sing and dance to a world-class lineup of local musicians whose work amplifies the Skirball’s values to pursue justice, build community, show kindness, and honor memory. On the schedule: Quetzal (Aug. 5), Run River North (Aug. 12), The Delirians (Aug. 19), Extra Ancestral (Aug. 26) at 8 p.m.

Good to Know: Parking is $20 upon arrival, $10 with advance purchase ($5 for members with advance purchase)

2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd. 
Los Angeles
Online: skirball.org/sunset-concerts

2. Catch KCRW Summer Nights! Free, all-ages, outdoor concerts being held across the city during the month of Aug. at various locations like CAAM, One Colorado and Descanso Gardens. 

When: Aug. 14, 21 & Sept. 3
Cost: Free

Online: kcrw.com

3. The Hollywood Bowl is back! The roster of events features plenty of fun for the kids, including a Singalong Sound of Music and a Tchaikovsky spectacular with post-show fireworks shows to make you feel like it's the Fourth of July all over again.

When: Aug. 6 & 7: Tchaikovsky Spectacular with Fireworks; Aug. 21: Sing-A-Long Sound of Music; and Aug. 22  is when the 32nd Annual MARIACHI USA® with fireworks takes place.  
Cost: $14-81 

2301 N Highland Ave.
Los Angeles
Online: hollywoodbowl.com

4. Levitt Pavilion Los Angeles (Levitt LA) returns! Celebrate the return of live music throughout the month of Aug. that will once again transform MacArthur Park into a sonically charged urban oasis from established and emerging artists for free. The electrifying 2021 lineup features international greats as well as LA’s own superstar talents who perform a wide variety of genres including cumbia, rock, soul, ska, mariachi, electronic dance music, folkloric music from Mexico & Central America, Tejano, reggae and many more.

When: Fri.-Sun., Jul. 30 through Aug. 22
Cost: Free

2230 W. 6th St.
Los Angeles
Online: levittlosangeles.org

One Last Quick Getaway

5. Head to Big Bear! It's like summer camp without the week-long commitment. Take advantage of the last remaining time before school starts and get your family-fill of biking, zip lining, tubing, hiking, not to mention all the water-based activities you can participate in on the lake like paddle boarding, kayaking, fishing and boating.

Check out our full list of what to do in Big Bear with kids including where to stay and eat

Explore the Summer Gardens

6. Escape to Descanso Gardens in La Canada Flintridge. Here kids can play hide and seek in the majestic Oak Forest with trees hundreds of years old, or relax by serene Japanese-style garden with its shaded paths and koi-filled stream. 

7. The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden in Arcadia. If you haven't been yet this summer, this should definitely be on your summer bucket list. With 127 acres of flowers, trees and plants to explore (plus peacocks roaming about and a waterfall!), it's a true oasis. 

Explore the Beaches & Tide Pools

8. Leo Carrillo State Park. Discover snails, sea anemones, starfish and more at the tide pools.

9. El Matador Beach. Another Malibu must? Explore the sea caves and tunnels at off-the-beaten path

10. See the Grunion Run. This is the last month you can catch the Grunion run. Click here for the full schedule of potential sightings.

Summer’s Last Carnivals & Fairs

11. The OC Fair: Whether you want to eat ridiculous amounts of fried food, see baby farm animals, or ride the carnival rides, the OC Fair is your spot. Along with the fair's iconic 164-foot tall Ferris wheel, there are more than 50 rides to choose from—with bonafide thrills for older kids and kiddie rides for the littles. As for food, this year's calorie-whopping winners include Pink's deep fried hot dog bites, a chocolate chip Nutella ice cream sandwich, and (you ready?) a "Hot Cheeto-n-Cheese Burger," which is described as "a burger sandwiched between a buttery bun dipped in melted cheddar cheese, rolled in ground-up hot Cheetos then topped with melted cheese and whole crunchy hot Cheetos."

Good to Know: To mitigate crowds, the fair is operating at a voluntary reduced capacity and will only sell a limited number of tickets every day. Tickets must be purchased in advance.

When: Now through Aug. 15
Cost: Admission varies by day and starts at $12 for ages 13+; $7 for children and seniors; free for kids 5 and under (Note: Rides and food not included). Parking is $10. 

88 Fair Dr.
Costa Mesa
Online: ocfair.com/thefair

12. Summer Fair of LA: Ferris Wheel? Check! Carnival games? Check! Pig races and dog shows? Those, too! The LA County Fair is still a bit away, so if you're itching for some carnival fun right now, the new Summer Fair of LA at the Santa Anita Racetrack will fit the bill. There will be more than 50 rides (unlimited ride wristbands are available), live tribute bands, pig races, a dog "stunt show," and tons of food—including giant turkey legs, deep fried Oreos, and fried butter (because apparently that's a thing!).

When: Jul. 29 through Aug. 22
Rate: $12 adults; $7 kids ages 6-12; free for kids 5 & under

285 West Huntington Dr.
Online: santaanita.com

Summer Nights that Light Up

13. Snag your tickets to Light at Sensorio. This solar-powered walk-through installation by artist Bruce Munro is a field of light that spans 15 acres and features 60,000 illuminated glass orbs lit by fiber-optics. And his newest exhibit, Light Towers is composed of 6-foot-tall towers including 17,000 wine bottles to celebrate Paso Robles’ wine country. Colors morph to music, creating a breathtaking experience for all. Come after dark and stroll through the glowing landscape. Thursday is Family Night, and children’s tickets (12 & under) are half price.

When: Thurs. & Sun. 7 p.m.-10 p.m.; Fri. & Sat. 7 p.m.-11 p.m.
Rate: $20 & up

4380 Hwy. 46 East
Paso Robles
Online: sensoriopaso.com

RELATED: 9 Other Good Reasons to Visit Paso Robles

14. Participate in the Glow Ride. Ride by the beach... at night...decked out in glow gear! Decorate your wheels (scooters, bikes and wagons) and themselves for a colorful ride from the Hermosa Beach Pier to the Manhattan Beach Pier while supporting Claire's Place Foundation—an organization that supports children and families with Cystic Fibrosis. All registered riders will receive a Glow Ride t-shirt and a raffle ticket for a chance to win a beach cruiser from Hermosa Cyclery.

When: Aug. 21 (meet at 5:30 p.m, the ride begins at 7:30 p.m.)
Cost: $45 per person

1 Pier Ave.
Hermosa Beach 
Online: glow2021.funraise.org

15. Night Activities with kids? Yes! Take advantage of not having to wake up early for school (yet) and hit one of these night-based activities with the kids

Last Chance to See these Exhibits

16. Whats Her Story: Women in the Archives at The Autry—slated to close Aug. 28.

17. Pageant of the Masters at FOA—slated to close Sept. 3.

18. Assyria: Palace Art of Ancient Iraq at The Getty Villa—slated to close Sept. 6.

19. The Butterfly Pavilion at the NHM will be wrapping up its seasonal exhibit—slated to close Sept. 6.

20. Reconnecting: A Vision of Unity by Kengo Kito at Japan House—slated to close Sept. 6.


Summer at the Farm

photo: Shannan Rouss

21. Pick your produce: Skip the middle man and head straight to the source! Go pick your own delicious summer fruits at these amazing LA area farms.

22. Animals & More: If you'd rather see farm animals than produce, here are our favorite animal encounters near LA

Doughnuts, Ice Cream & Instagrammable Desserts

23. It's just not summer without ice cream. Here the scoop on where to find the best ice cream in LA.

24. LA is a donut town. Check out our favorite donut shops around LA

25. Do it for the 'gram. Impress all your friends back east with our only-in-LA desserts that are meant to be shared...socially.

Summer in the City

26. Kick off the weekend at ROW DTLA. Every Fri., kick off the weekend by heading to Summer Fridays at ROW DTLA for after-hours shopping, food trucks galore, live music, and a rose and oyster bar from Chesapeake Bay’s Rappahannock Oyster Bar.

27. Shop Unique Markets: A long-standing tradition in LA and a must-do with the family. Discover the best emerging brands and help small businesses survive by attending the 2-day outdoor marketplace featuring over 100 curated sellers, meticulously hand-picked to ensure an inspiring experience! 


Feature image: Scott via Pexels 

—Andie Huber


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