September is back to school month for many kids, so it’s important to have some fun activities to go along with all that reading, writing, and arithmetic. From fairs to festivals, fireworks to family nights, we’ve rounded up some of the best places to take the kiddos this month. Many events are free with admission, and all are guaranteed to lead to nap time success.
Dinosaurs: Unextinct at the L.A. Zoo
Los Angeles Zoo
5333 Zoo Dr.
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Kids can be amused all month long as a ferocious pack of life-size, life-like animatronic dinosaurs awaits you at the L.A. Zoo. They’ll be ready to take you back to a time when they ruled the land. Stroll through the lush landscape that the dinosaurs once roamed through, and encounter an array of dinos, some reaching almost 22 feet in height and weighing over 6,700 pounds. Dinosaurs from locations all over the earth and eras spanning 65 – 200 million years ago will be on display, as will an interactive fossil dig, a controllable Stegosaurus, a climbable Pachyrhinosaurus, and a free downloadable augmented reality app to enhance your experience. An additional $5 ticket is required to enter the exhibit.
Attend The Los Angeles County Fair
Los Angeles County Fair Grounds
1011 W. McKinley Ave.
Pomona, CA 91768
The Los Angeles County Fair turns 94 this year, and it is bigger and better than ever. Kids of all ages are invited to enjoy old favorites like carnival rides, games, and animals, and a slew of new attractions. An all-new Jurassic Planet with 35 animatronic dinosaurs, a reimagined “Our Bodies” exhibit, and a summer ice-skating rink and sledding village are just a few of the fun new additions to this year’s fair. For more information on the best eats, attractions, and other helpful hints to creating the perfect fair day, check out our Guide to the LA County Fair.
Fireworks + ELO at the Hollywood Bowl
2301 Highland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90068
This 3-day event at the Hollywood Bowl combines two things almost every kid loves: fireworks and space. Jeff Lynne’s ELO will join the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra to close out the season with some of their most popular galactic-inspired songs. Take a supersonic flight through hits like “Mr. Blue Sky,” “Do Ya,” and “Evil Woman” under the stars. A grand finale fireworks display like only the Bowl can put on caps a night that’s out-of-this-world entertaining. The September 9 & 10 performances take place at 8:00pm, and the September 11 performance will be at 7:30pm.
Norton Simon Museum
411 W Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91105
Many people know the Norton Simon Museum for its association with the Rose Parade, but it’s also chock full of family activities year round. Friday night is Family Art Night at the museum, and Friday, September 9 has the whole family designing a tote together. After you check out a 12th century book cover from Tibet, and 17th-century portrait of a geographer with his book, you will share your favorite books, and why. Then you’ll combine the two activities and create an inspired tote using fabric pastels for that most cherished novel. Keep the creative juices flowing with “In the Mood” Family Day on Sunday, September 18. Just as artists convey their works through the materials and techniques they use, so will you as you explore how works by Van Gogh and Botticelli make you feel. You’ll create your own work of art choosing a material that best expresses your current mood. Last but not least, Sunday, September 11 & September 25, it’s Stories in the Afternoon, where the reading of a story about what happens when a monkey steals a hat blown away by the wind (That’s My Hat!), will lead to you and the family coloring your own paper hats. All events are free with admission, and only the Family Art Night requires a reservation.
We Are L.A. Family Festival
18400 Avalon Blvd.
Carson, CA 90746
Celebrating “Back to School” month has never been so much fun! The We Are L.A. Family Festival is promoting the importance of youth education with a day-long family friendly music festival at the StubHub Center on September 17th. This action packed event has entertainment for everyone in the family, including games, musical instrument lessons, ocean discoveries, singalongs, sports, dance parties, and so much more. There will also be musical entertainment with the likes of Lisa Loeb, Kevin Costner and Modern West, and Yo Gabba Gabba just to name a few. Proceeds from the event help support nonprofit organizations in L.A. that are dedicated to helping make a difference in the lives of children and families around the city.
Street Food Cinema
It’s always fun to have a night out at the movies. Pair that with live music, some of Los Angeles’ favorite food trucks, and free tickets for kids five and under, and you’ve got a recipe for the perfect movie night. Not every screening put on by Street Food Cinema is totally family friendly, but this month they have three great PG options. September 10th starts things with a screening of Gremlins that includes special guest Zach Galligan who plays Billy Peltzer in the film, at Victory Park in Pasadena. Next up is a trip to the Marriott Golf Course in Manhattan Beach for a special showing of childhood favorite E.T. on September 17, followed the next week by Who Framed Roger Rabbit on September 24 back at Victory Park in Pasadena. All events are dog-friendly, so feel free to bring any fur children who might like a night out.
Skirball Playdate: Attitude of Gratitude
Skirball Cultural Center
2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90049
There are lots of ways to say thank you, and on September 18 the Skirball is helping kids and their caregivers find the most creative ways to do it with their Skirball Playdate: Attitude of Gratitude. A morning workshop begins at 10:30am, and brings together simple yet mindful techniques for participants to show their gratitude. Through body movement, tasty snacks, and thank you cards, there are lots of ways to celebrate giving thanks. The event ends at noon, so don’t be late. Also don’t miss an all new Story Time starting September 7 at Noah’s Ark. Every Wednesday at 2:30pm, flood stories from cultures around the world will be told. It’s a great chance to be a part of the timeless tradition of oral storytelling, and is included with admission to Noah’s Ark at the Skirball.
480 N Arroyo Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91103
As a museum for kids, Kidspace Museum is a great place to visit every day of the year, but this September they’ve got three fun events you won’t want to miss. On Sunday, September 11th, the museum is holding an all-day Pirate Adventure in honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day. Bring the whole family decked out in pirate attire, and enjoy a day of treasure map making, pirate cork boat making, pirate band performances, and a treasure hunt to find the Kidspace pirate captain, who will be waiting with a chest full of natural treasures to explore. On September 18, a special performance by The Hollow Trees will take place to celebrate the last few days of summer with some bluegrass jams at 1pm. Lastly, Kidspace Museum will help close out not only the month, but summer itself on September 25 with the Autumn Equinox Celebration. As another all-day event, this celebration marks the beginning of autumn at the museum with lots of fun activities. Make a leaf crown, build a sun catcher, and enjoy a fall-inspired tea at the Harvest Corner. Special autumn story times will happen throughout the day in the Kidspace Gardens as well.
10899 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90024
The Family Flick Film Series Presentation of Matilda on September 11 is definitely good to note for a fun and free way to spend the morning, but it’s the Family Day: Reimagine Your World event on September 24 that you definitely won’t want to miss. The four-hour afternoon event is aimed at helping families discover how art can spark conversation about important social issues, foster community engagement, and inspire the next generation to build a more just world. Ongoing artist workshops will be set up with fun activities like building a wind catcher, creating a sculpture, taking part in a video production, and so much more. Three interactive, performance-based workshops will also run throughout the day, aimed at helping you connect with those close to you, and the world at large. This event is also free to the public.
Natural History Museum
900 Exposition Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90007
The Natural History Museum is calling all future paleontologists, dino geeks, and Jurassic enthusiasts for two days of all things dinosaur at its first annual Dino Fest. The event is a rare chance to see behind-the-scenes of fossil discoveries, check out specimens from the museum’s collections, meet paleontology experts, and engage in all sorts of hands on activities. Festival highlights include a trip to the Dino Lab to see real fossils being dug up, a chance to try your hand at using paleo tools to help clean fossils, a talk about how Jurassic Park was made and props from the film, step-by-step instructions for how to draw a cartoon dinosaur, and of course all the other great things the museum always has on display. It’s a guaranteed roaring good time.
Baja Splash Cultural Festival
Aquarium of the Pacific
100 Aquarium Way
Long Beach, CA 90802
September is National Hispanic Heritage Month, and the Aquarium of the Pacific is celebrating both the month, and Mexican Independence Day, with their 15th annual Baja Splash Cultural Festival on September 24 & 25. The weekend long event includes lots of great live entertainment, crafts, educational programs, and tasty ethnic cuisine to commemorate the month, all included with admission. Mariachi music, Mexican folkloric, and Aztec dance troupes will show the beauty and diversity of Hispanic cultures through song and dance, while cultural displays, an interactive mural painting, and other special programs will let guests get up close and personal with Baja, Mexico. Parents won’t want to miss Sunday’s special fundraising event, Margaritas for Vaquitas, with proceeds going toward helping vaquitas (a rare species of porpoise almost extinct near Mexico) conservation. Also don’t miss Shark Lagoon Nights, held every Friday night from 6pm – 9pm. Guests can get up close with the ocean’s ultimate predators while enjoying music and snacks for purchase.