Summer 2016, We Are Ready for You… and You Can Be Ready, Too!

Soon we will say goodbye to 2nd Grade (now how did that happen so fast?!) and hello, howdy, hola, and how you doin’ to Summer 2016!

Yup, the official 2016 summer season will be here for our household as of TOMORROW 1 p.m… AKA, just a little more than 24 hours from now. Am I freaking out? Mind-boggled? Stressed? Perhaps, but thatโ€™s got nothing to do with it being summer. No way. In fact, I am pleased as punch to say I feel ready for summer. More ready than Iโ€™ve ever been. Excited and ecstatic, in fact. In other words, BRING ON SUMMER! And truth be told, I think our entire summer is already (or about 88 percent) pre-planned.

As for the other 12 percent? No worries, I have ideas. Many ideas. Please allow me to share some of those, right here, right now. And readers, please feel free to bookmark this page immediately to click, read, and click again.

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  1. The Beach. Of course, you’ve gotta make time for the beach. It’s summer after all! Some of our favorite areas not too far away from Long Beach are a day down on Balboa Island and Peninsula (including the museum at Newport Harbor, ExplorOcean) or on Santa Monica Pier. When in San Diego we love to rock hunt at South Carlsbad (North Ponto), look out at the views from up on top of Point Loma, or take a stroll and feed birds down at La Jolla Cove. Closer to home is an outing to Balboa Island’s sister island of Naples and then a short car or bus ride (or Aqualink!) down to The Pike. Our favorite local easy day-trip, chill out beach to either sit, sand, or SUP is by far the Peninsula on Belmont Shore (Alamitos Bay side).
  2. Local (Day-Trip) Favorites. There are some things that T and I will almost always go and do each summer regardless of our other plans. First, Adventure Playground in Huntington Beach is a mainstay in our summer schedule and is always more fun with friends. So if you’re reading this, friends, let’s get that traditional summer play date set up ASAP and get ready to get down and dirty Lord-of-the-Flies style. (P.S. – A NEW Adventure Playground also opened down in Irvine this past year, and I am itching to check that out also!). Another adventurous place T and I like to go is a local bare-bones amusement park called Adventure City. Located in Stanton, CA (near Buena Park and Anaheim), think of this place as a mash-up between the more popular, larger, and neighboring branded parks (without the high price point) and your school’s pop-up carnival that’s made just for kids between ages 4-to-10 (PS – they can ride most if not all of the rides solo, so even the little kids are big kids, too!). Other places we’ve visited over the last several summers together and still love to return to from time to time are Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Huntington Beach, Atlantis Play Center in Garden Grove, Heritage Park in Cerritos (CA), Columbia Memorial Space Center in Downey (CA), The Reptile Zoo in Fountain Valley (CA), Southwest Museum of the American Indian on Mt. Washington in Los Angeles, Bella Terra Kids Club in Huntington Beach, California ScienCenter and Natural History Museum at Expo Park in Los Angeles, Page Museum and LACMA on Museum Row in Los Angeles, Griffith Park (including Ferndell and the Observatory), Irvine Regional Park (including the OC Zoo), Splash Pad in Westminster, kidspace Museum in Pasadena, The Huntington for their Children’s Garden, Descanso Gardens for their outdoor paths, Hollywood Bowl for a family picnic and concert, and (now that T finally reached the height minimums for maximum fun last summer) Splash La Mirada. Our local aquariums here in Long Beach and in neighboring San Pedro (along with the White Point Tide Pools just up the coast) are fail-safes also.
  3. Reading Programs and other Indoor Entertainment. Whether you’re nursing a sunburn (or something more severe perhaps?!) or you’re just are flat-out tired of the hot-hot-heat of summer, sometimes you just need some planned time inside. Luckily I have some links for you down that lazy path as well! First, everyone of all ages can take time out with a book and record your efforts at your local library through their summer reading program. Long Beach Public Library kicks off soon, and OC Public Library (which includes Seal Beach, CA) and County of Los Angeles Public Library (which includes Lakewood, CA) registrations are open now. You local library may even offer a free summer entertainment program with wildlife, music, drama, nature, or other themes (more info to come on Long Beach’s soon once the flier is out, promise!). Even Scholastic has an online Summer Reading Challenge that encourages kids nationwide to join together to help set a new world record for hundreds of millions of minutes read from now through September 9, 2016! And don’t forget about Barnes and Noble’s Summer Reading Kit also. For Long Beach locals, there’s also Riley’s Red Wagon Book Swap for a drive-by reading. Then of course there are movies… LOTS of movies. And I am not talking about the new releases here, I am talking about affordable family cinematic fun through Regal’s Summer Movie Express and Cinemark’s Summer Movie Clubhouse. The movies may not be new to the screen, but the kids won’t care and the price can’t be beat: Dollar movies, y’all! If even motivating to get to the movie theater is just too much, check out this comprehensive list of 50 Movies that all kids should see before age 12 (starting at four-years-old), reviews and where to buy and/or stream each film online also included. And why not let the kids dig into a craft box while movie marathon-ing one afternoon also? Of course, for when you must get out of the house but you just can’t muster the strength for a long car ride anywhere or a full-on beach outing (and you soooooooo know what I mean when I say that!), there are also several indoor playground options to choose from, along with a free kids’ bowling program that allows kids two free games a day all summer long (program available nationwide at participating centers). Oh, and, duh… don’t forget about all those toys and board games the littles have, like their Lego. This is premium Lego-building time, RMT’ers.
  4. Look here if you still need more ideas. Don’t worry, I get it. Sometimes even the couple dozen ideas listed above aren’t even close to enough to help you make it through one week with a house full of active children (or house full of just one active child as is my case)! So when the summer gets tough, if you’re in Long Beach (CA) then you should rely on a daily update from the 100 Days of Summer website that offers, yes, a list of events each day every single day of the summer (also searchable for future dates)! Another website called planadayout.com offers something similar by allowing you to dial-down your search for events and excursions by day, distance away from home, business hours, age-appropriateness, and pricing for the Orange County (CA) area. Also, don’t forget about your local Farmers Markets to both entertain and feed the brood AND fulfill the household grocery lists simultaneously (our favorite by far is Marine Stadium on Wednesday afternoons-evenings). Picnic and party on at one of several concerts in the park around town or head out to one of the many Alfredo Beach Club’s summer movies on the beach or weekend festivals, including the Kids’ Fishing Rodeo at Belmont Pier. If you’re rail fans, then you’ll love my list of train-tastic ideas here. For ideas for road-tripping all over the great state of California, my post devoted to all things Huell Howser may be just what you need to read. Headed to Hawaii’s Big Island, Palm Springs, Dublin, or London this summer? Then check out my Travel Tips page here. And don’t forget to look at a few of my past summer blog posts here, here, here, here, and here just in case I forgot to mention something worthwhile or helpful.
  5. When all else fails, put them in camp. Sometimes we parents (and the child him or herself) can’t be the end-all, be-all source of entertainment, and that’s OK (and HOORAY for that kid-free time!). I think you already know about T’s favorite camps, both our more year in-year out summer selections as well as the programs we just discovered last summer (it’s his last year of Pee Wee, y’all – how did THAT happen?!). And of course, with that, I’ll end this post with a(nother) shameless plug and 75 or so ideas for Summer Day Camps in the Long Beach (CA) area.

Have a wonderful, safe, fun, lazy, and crazy summer, RMT’ers!