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What is it you're looking for?

By Bea Krasner

Sure, a once-in-a-century virus crash-landed onto Earth — but never fear! We’ve got a list of pandemic-friendly activities for kids in Southern California.

San Diego Beaches

San Diego is one of the most scenic places in southern California, and the area beaches are picturesque. So why not plan a sun-and-sand weekend in “America’s Finest City”? If you’re searching for things to do with kids in San Diego, Mission Bay Beach and the neighboring Playa Pacifica Park are great spots for families. Plus, it’s a bucket list item for anyone interested in Americana, as Mission Bay is the largest man-made park in the country. Moonlight Beach, with its gigantic playground, is also a good time.

Want to wash the sand off your car before returning home? Hit up a drive-through car wash and pop on the Star Wars theme while going through. The kiddos will love it!

Leo Carrillo State Park

Going to the Leo Carrillo State Park in Santa Monica, which includes a beach, is a fun day out with the kids. Windsurfing, beachcombing, and fishing are all on tap. Plus, it has tide pools, sea caves, and reefs teeming with natural wonders.

Malibu Canyon

With its lurking paparazzo, Runyon Canyon is where celebrities, influencers, and aspiring fame-seekers head for a hike. But if you’re looking to explore with the wee ones, Malibu Canyon is the better choice. Part of Malibu Creek State Park, it’s got hikes for all levels and incredible views. Located about 25 miles from downtown Los Angeles, Malibu Canyon is part of the Agoura Hills in Calabasas.

Fans of vintage television shows may recognize the area since it was used in many a M.A.S.H. episode.

Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt

Staying outside is preferable during the pandemic — so why not do a neighborhood scavenger hunt?

Parents, we’re not going to sugarcoat it: this option will take a bit of prep on your end. But we think it’s worth it.

Step One: Stake out a neighborhood. Make a note of both exciting and commonplace things around the town, like benches, statues, murals, and store names.

Step Two: Make a scavenger hunt card. It can be a list or something resembling a bingo card. You can find examples here, here, and here.

Step Three: Slap on some sunscreen, make sure the camera phone is charged, and head out the door with materials in hand! Don’t forget to bring pens, pencils, or markers to tick off found items.

Step Four: Complete the hunt. As a bonus, take pictures of each found object and turn them into a craft or digital art project at home

This DIY activity is a great way to expose children to people from different walks of life. It can also serve as a teaching tool that introduces children to the realities of systemic inequities and environmental challenges. It’s never too early to bring awareness to the alarming rates of inequality, particularly child inequality, to your young ones. We’ve compiled a fantastic list of child inequality facts that you can share with your kids. 

Parents interested in solving institutional inequalities should check out the fair start family planning model and movement. 

Drive-In Movies

Maybe it’s the gigantic screens or the novelty of watching a film from the car, but for kids, there’s something magical about drive-in movie theaters — and Southern California has lots.

Options include:

  • Mission Tiki Drive-In Theater — Montclair
  • Paramount Drive-In Theater — Paramount
  • Vineland Drive-In Theater — City of Industry
  • The Roadium — Torrance
  • We Drive-Ins — Santa Monica
  • West Wind Drive-In Theater — Santa Barbara
  • Rubidoux Drive-In — Inland Empire

Long Beach Aquarium

Some people call it Long Beach Aquarium, but its official name is Aquarium of the Pacific — and it’s a super Southern California spot to spend a pandemic day with the kids. They have a whopping 11,000 aquatic animals under their care!

The aquarium is now fully open, but if you want to play it safe, stick to the outside, socially distanced exhibits.

If you live closer to Monterey, that city’s aquarium is also a treat.

Things may be a bit different for now, but they’re getting back to normal. In the meantime, play it safe and pick pandemic-friendly activities for a day out with the family.

Disclaimer: Neither myself nor fairstartmovement.org received compensation for this guest article.

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