The changing seasons are sometimes difficult to discern in LA with that famous year-round sunshine, but true Angelenos can feel the subtle shift with the back-to-school hustle and bustle, those dark early mornings and, if we’re lucky, a little sweater weather. And while those splash pad days of summer are now behind us, we are still blessed with the ongoing opportunity to explore the great outdoors (and indoors) with our families all autumn long. Here are some favorite, affordable (or free!) kid-friendly activities to keep your little ones occupied and inspired this season!
LA pumpkin patches
There’s nothing more classic fall than visiting a pumpkin patch with the whole fam. It’s the perfect place for kids to explore the great outdoors, learn about the seasonal harvest and, of course, stage a beautiful autumnal photo shoot! There are a handful of patches around the city, each one with their own additional activities including pony rides, face painting and pumpkin carving demonstrations!
Morning Mommy Movies
When the weather gets a little chilly and gloomy, it might be time to settle in for a new release. Haven’t gotten to the movie theater since your little one was born? No problem! Pacific Theaters offers Monday Morning Mommy Movies at 11 a.m. each week at their various locations across the city. They keep the lights up in the theaters and anything goes in terms of crying, breastfeeding, and all things baby and kids.
Library story time (Free!)
There’s perhaps nothing cozier than curling up with a good book. And luckily, public libraries across the city offer up tons of great kid-friendly events throughout the week — just check out their full calendar of events! A real treat for babies and toddlers is story time — a mix of reading and music by local librarians. Each library branch follows its own schedule and all are excellent, but both the West Hollywood and Beverly Hills branches are extremely popular so make sure to show up a little early!
The Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns
Ring in the season and hype your little ones up for Halloween with the jaw-dropping spectacle of 5,000 hand-carved, illuminated pumpkins set along a winding walking path. Take a spooky stroll and watch talented artists work on their pumpkin masterpieces in person!
The RISE of the Jack O’Lanterns, LA Convention Center, October 13-16
Griffith Observatory (Free!)
With those hazy summer days making way for clearer autumn skies, now is a great time to take your kiddos big and small to check out the gorgeous views at the Griffith Observatory. Check out their calendar of events and consider joining the Sunset Walk and Talk on October 11, led by park rangers through the winding hiking paths of Griffith Park. Parking and admission to the grounds are always free, and the Samuel Oschin Planetarium is not to be missed!
Boo at the LA Zoo
The LA Zoo is a guaranteed blast at any time of year, but their special Halloween-themed events for the month of October are sure to keep even regular zoo visitors delighted. With caves, mazes, and up close and personal encounters with slithering creatures, it’ll give your little ones the creepy crawly feeling of the season. Add to that musical entertainment, daily animal feedings and strolling characters for photo ops, and you’ve got yourself the perfect weekend outing at the zoo!
Boo at the Zoo, October 1 – 31
The Grove Kids Club (Free!)
From now until the end of October, The Grove offers free weekly programming for kids with no age restriction. Each week offers up a new musical or entertainment performance. Bring a blanket, snacks and a thermos of hot cocoa and sit on the grassy area at the east end of The Grove to enjoy a couple of hours where your kids are actually encouraged to jump, scream and shout! And when you’re done with the scheduled program, hop on The Grove Trolley for a quick ride around the grounds or grab a snack at one of the many stalls at the world famous Farmer’s Market, which is hosting a fall festival of their own on October 15-16.
(The Grove, Every Thursday at 11 a.m. through October 30)
The warm weather may be lingering through fall here in LA, but that’s no reason not to pile in the car for a crisp weekend drive to an enchanting apple orchard for a little pick-your-own family fun! At Willowbrook Apple Farm, just under two-hours from LA, you can spend the day picking the perfect apples, sampling delicious seasonal delicacies, visiting farm animals, and enjoying the great outdoors.
Open for u-pick apples Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. starting October 1
Underwood Family Farms Fall Harvest Festival
Check out everything farm life has to offer at Underwood Family Farms. Just a quick jaunt northwest of the city, this working farm has everything from fruits and veggies, to barnyard animals, and even train rides! Their 19th annual Fall Harvest Festival takes place all month and includes games, activities, live entertainment and a giant pumpkin contest for good measure. Each weekend of October offers something new, so make sure to check the schedule before planning your visit.
Duck ponds (Free!)
Is there a kid (or parent!) alive that doesn’t get a kick out of a duck feeding frenzy? Give your kiddos a close encounter with nature at one of the many duck ponds around the city. Stroll by the water, feed the ducks, and watch them glide elegantly for each dropped breadcrumb.
Franklin Canyon Park (Beverly Hills)
Feed the ducks at Heavenly Pond and then wander the winding walking paths of Franklin Canyon. On your way out, visit Coldwater Canyon Park at the base of Franklin Canyon for a swing at the playground and a splash in the man-made stream.
Canal Park (Venice)
Make a day of it! Take a peaceful family stroll around the charming Venice Canals, stop off to say hello to the ducks at Linnie Canal, then wander over to the hip shops and restaurants on Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Echo Park Lake (Echo Park)
Take in views of downtown LA, bring snacks for the ducks, have a picnic, or rent pedal boats for a cruise around the lake!
Hailing from the vibrant (if wintery) city of Toronto, Ali Maldoff now lives in sunny LA where she explores everything beachy and beautiful with her husband and baby daughter. She is a freelance writer, social media manager, and founder of the minty fresh food/lifestyle/DIY blog, Mint Sprinkles.
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