We live in a place where thousands come to vacation each year and where even more wish they could vacation.  With our amazing weather, beaches, Disneyland and so much else within easy driving distance, it’s easy to find fun things to do with your family this summer.


A few years ago, our family began to use summer as an opportunity to become a local tourist in our own backyard.  I’d like to share with you some of the places we’ve been and some new ones we plan to do this summer.


Let me know what places I’m missing!  I’d love to add them to my list for next summer.


-Grab a pizza and head to the beach for dinner to watch the sunset.  Bring along the beach blanket and enjoy!


-Enjoy an Angel’s game…or better yet, while the Angels are out of town, take one of the stadium tours.  They take you into the dug-outs, away locker room, press boxes, Gene Autrey Suite and more.


-Have little ones?  They’ll love Zoomar’s Petting Zoo.  You can most often find a Groupon for this one…sit and play with the guinea pigs, ride the little train and take a horse ride.  Take a walk to the train station afterwards or if yours want something a little more grown-up, the Los Rios Teahouse is a favorite of ours.


-Discovery Science Center is also a lot of fun.  Hands-on entertainment for the kids. They typically have one special exhibition going on as well, so check ahead.


-Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  Just because they are kids, doesn’t mean they won’t love to look at art.  Mine love these kinds of trips…we managed to time it for a Van Gogh tour the year we went.  It was fantastic!


-Go camping!  From beach camping to sites up in the mountains, there are tons of options!  Want to stay nearby? Our favorite nice and easy location is Casper’s Wilderness Park.  If you can get a spot at Crystal Cove campgrounds, they have THE best bathrooms and a gorgeous view.


-La Brea Tar Pits.  You can bring a picnic to this one too and eat your lunch in the park surrounding the Tar Pits.  My kids loved the movie, the wall of Wolf Skulls and getting to see some of the actual tar still oozing up nearby.


-Balboa Park.  Head on down to San Diego and enjoy some of the museums in Balboa Park.  We’ve done the Science museum as well as the Natural History one. Another great place to picnic too!  I would get there early though, as parking can be tough!


-The Getty Center.  Remember what I said about kids and art?  My kids loved this one too! They also thought the views were amazing and the tram to the museum was lots of fun.  Don’t forget to show them the gardens as well.


-California Science Center at Exposition Park.  The Space Shuttle is here…need I say more? My kids were in awe, and I confess I got a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes walking in and seeing it the first time.  Just unreal to see in person. This museum is also full of hands-on exhibits on each and every floor. One of my kids top picks!


-Boomer’s.  This one is super easy.  My recommendation? Get the season pass.  You can do mini-golf and ride all the rides for four hours any day for a year.  It’s pretty much the same cost as going for one day and totally worth it!


-Huntington Library.  This is in Pasadena and was a surprise hit for my kids.  We made reservations at the tea house and loved that! All the gardens there are beautiful, but my six year old still begs me to take him back to the Children’s garden.  It’s imaginative and pretty and utterly without a playground. Just beautiful. It gets hot there during the summer, so stick to the shade, but worth the drive, even with the littles.


-Train Ride to Old Town San Diego.  Not sure which my kids liked more, the train ride or the time in Old Town, but it was a fun day.  We took the train from the San Juan Capistrano station and it drops you right across the street from Old Town.  Have lunch, walk the shops and museums…we even made our own candles.


-Rent a Duffy Boat.  This was super relaxing.  We brought alongs some drinks and snacks and toured the Newport Harbor for 90 minutes.  Loved it!


-The OC Zoo.  Who knew we had an adorable local zoo in Orange County?  This one is in Irvine Regional Park and showcases all of our local Orange County animals.  There’s even a bald eagle on display.


-Natural History Museum in LA. Another great museum in Exposition Park.  See the dinosaur bones. We went while the Butterfly exhibit was open and walked around to see all the different kinds of butterflies.


-Safari Park.  It’s been absolutely ages since I’ve been to what used to be called the Wild Animal Park.  We loved it! The Kangaroo Exhibit just opened. The Cheetah Run was amazing. It’s a lot of walking but very shaded by all the beautiful trees.  It was a great day!


-Reagan Library.  This one is a bit of a drive, but fun history, always has some additional exhibit and they have an Air Force One to check out.


-Balboa Island.  Take the ferry and walk around, play some games, ride some rides…good old fashioned summer fun!


-Del Mar Racetrack.  The track is open once the Del Mar Fair closes and stays open until around Labor Day.  It’s super cheap to get in and just a lot of fun. Definitely wear a hat and sunscreen!


Have fun out there this summer, and let me know what places I may have overlooked!