Mother Nature’s fireworks

Like fireworks? An array of sites, both near and far, are exploding with opportunities for summer enjoyment, many of them inexpensive or even free and many suited to the entire family.

The COURIER has done some sleuthing to track down some of the season’s must-attend events. Peruse our list to find happenings that will make you want to save the date.


Entrance to the Japanese American National Museum is free on Saturday, July 13 for a Target Free Family Saturday. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is held in conjunction with the exhibit Visible & Invisible: A Hapa Japanese American History.

Throughout the day, workshops will allow participants to create a family memory book, make a family portrait collage and visit Ruthie’s Origami Corner.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., participants in a Kidding Around the Kitchen workshop will learn to make a family-friendly salad and salad dressing; at noon and at 2 p.m., instructor Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo will help you write your family stories; at 1 p.m., guests are invited tour the Visible & Invisible exhibit with curator Duncan Williams; at 1:30 p.m., there will be a “mixed reading” as Leslie Ryan and Heidi Cole read from their children’s books about their multi-cultural heritages, I Am Flippish and Am I a Color?

The event continues with a 2 p.m. screening of the documentary Searchlight Serenade, exploring the Big Bands formed by Japanese Americans while incarcerated in internment camps during World War II. At 2:30 p.m., We Tell Stories will perform multicultural tales in Proud to be Me! And at 3 p.m., Allen Say will read from his new book, The Favorite Daughter.

The Japanese American National Museum is located at 100 N. Central Ave. in Los Angeles. For information, call (213) 625-0414 or visit


During the summer, The Autry Museum in Griffith Park, dedicated to Western heritage, offers its Gold Rush! experience every Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event, which is free with museum admission, lets young participants learn about the myths and realities of the California gold rush and try their hand at panning for gold at an outdoor recreation of a miner’s panning station.

If you visit on a Wednesday, you’ll encounter another kid-friendly happening, West Days at the Autry. From 1 to 4 p.m., kids and their families can explore one of the Autry’s galleries with a museum teacher and learn more about the history of the West through hands-on activities, crafts and games.

On July 3, the theme is What’s Your Favorite Autry Object? Kids will be encouraged to draw a picture or write a story about a museum artifact that catches their fancy. On July 10, the theme is Toys and Games! Participants will step back in time to learn about the games children played in the 1800s, then make their own pioneer toy to bring home. On July 17, youngsters will explore Art of the West! On July 24, they will learn about the Rush for Gold! And on July 31, the topic is Shimmering Silver in the West.

Admission to the Autry, which is located at 4700 Western Heritage in Griffith Park in Los Angeles, is $10; $6 for students and seniors; $4 for children ages 3 to 12 and free for kids younger than 3. For information, call (323) 667-2000 or visit


Kidspace Children’s Museum is hosting a Free Family Night on Tuesday, July 2 and again on Tuesday, August 6 from 4 to 8 pm. On August 6, the Family Free Night will feature children’s artwork on display along with live music performed by children.

Popular features at Kidspace include the Robert & Mary Galvin Physics Forest; the Digging Deeper Exhibit Gallery, which includes the Climbing Tower, the Ant Hole and the Erosion Table; the Nature Exchange; and an outdoor play area complete with water play, climbing fun, trike tracks, Kidspace Gardens and more.

Guests should expect crowds inside the museum and lines at the entrance on Family Free Nights. Kidspace Children’s Museum is located at 480 N. Arroyo Blvd. in Pasadena. For information, call (626) 449-9144 or visit


Bonelli Park in San Dimas provides nearly 2000 acres of park facilities surrounding the lake with a variety of activities: family and group  picnicking, sight-seeing, hiking, horseback riding, jogging, nature walks, recreational vehicle (RV) and group camping, calf-roping, bird watching, spa facilities, golfing and bicycling. Swim beach is open weekends from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Bonelli Park is located at 120 Via Verde in San Dimas. For information, call 599-8411 or visit

Locally, families can enjoy a day excursion to Mt. Baldy. For a $5 parking pass, kids and their parents can look forward to an inexpensive, enriching day in our local hills. The Mt. Baldy Trout Pond, 6945 Mount Baldy Rd., offers pay-per-catch trout fishing. Prices range from $4.50 for a 10.5-inch fish to $18 for an 18-inch fish. Pole rental is $2, the fee is $1 to bring your own. Summer hours are Friday through Monday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For information, call 982-4246.


The Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden has a full schedule of activities for families, including the Butterfly Garden on view 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. through July 28 and several week-long camps. RSABG offers 86 acres to run, roam and get out in nature.

RSABG is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Entry is free for RSABG members, $8 for adults, $6 for seniors (65 or older) and students, and $4 for children age 3 through 12 (under 3 free). For more information, call 625-8767 or visit


The Griffith Observatory is hosting a Public Star Party on Saturday, July 13 and again on August 17 from 2 to 9:45 p.m. Admission to the Observatory is always free, and there is no charge for Star Party attendance.

Throughout Observatory sidewalks and terraces, guests can look at the sun, moon, visible planets and other objects and try out a variety of telescopes. Amateur astronomers from the Los Angeles Astronomical Society, Los Angeles Sidewalk Astronomers and the Planetary Society will be on hand to answer questions about the sky and their equipment.

Located on the southern slope of Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park, the Observatory offers a stunning view of the lights of Los Angeles as well as of celestial objects. Guests can take in shows such as the tour-of-the-night-sky “Centered in the Universe,” screened in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium. Tickets are $7; $5 for seniors 60 and older and for students with ID; $3 for children ages 5-12 and free for small children under 5. Kids under 5 are only welcome at the 12:45 p.m. screening on Tuesday through Friday and at the 10:45 a.m. screening on Saturday and Sunday.

Families can also opt to take in the 25-minute Let’s Make a Comet demonstration, which takes place at 2 and 4 p.m. on weekdays and at 2 and 3 pm. on weekends. Guests will see how common household ingredients can be mixed with dry ice to make a small comet that’s just like the real thing. Other visitor spots include the Hall of the Eye, Hall of the Sky, Depths of Space and the Hall of the Sky, with its famous mythological ceiling and enormous pendulum.

The Griffith Observatory is located at 2800 E. Observatory Road in Los Angeles. It is open from noon to 10 p.m. on Tuesdays through Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends. While parking, like admission, is free, the observatory gets quite crowded during the warm nights of summer and during special events. If you arrive too late, you may have to park some distance from the facility and walk in.

For information, call  (213) 473-0800 or visit


Submit a Comment

Share This