iD Tech Camps
910 E. Hamilton Ave., Campbell
iD Tech is an organization that hosts STEM-based camps at various college campuses across the country—from Stanford and UCLA to the University of Michigan and OSU, Princeton, MIT, Georgetown, UVA, UNC, and many more. The programs vary in length and are for kids as young as 6 and up to 18-years-old. Not only is this a great concept, but the camps are also extremely well-run. And they can be fabulous experiences not just for super-tech kids, but for anyone, boys or girls, regardless of experience, who are interested in computers and technology. In addition to their co-ed sleepaway camps, iD Tech also has day camps and an all-girls program called Alexa Café.
Cazadero Music Camp
5000 Austin Creek Rd., Cazadero
Cazadero is a music camp in Sonoma County with a fairly rigorous program. The camp skews slightly older (it's for 10 to 18-year-olds) than others, and the core of each camp day is split between specialized small and large group instruction: orchestra, jazz ensemble, or concert band. There is still a bit of time, though, for non-musical electives and activities, campfires, talent shows, and the like. And for budding musicians who also love nature, Cazadero is a double win: Campers sleep on tent decks under a starry sky among Sonoma's redwoods. Sessions range from one to two weeks.
Skylake Yosemite Camp
37976 Rd. 222, Wishon
For a traditional East Coast camp experience on the West Coast, there’s Skylake Yosemite, which is located on a lake in the Sierra National Forest, about 15 miles from Yosemite National Park in California. Also big on camper-choice, kids here can do everything from ballet to tennis to paddle to yoga (okay, so maybe it’s not entirely East Coast-traditional). And parents tend to like that the camp serves meals cooked from scratch with a lot of organic fruits and veggies, and with meat delivered fresh from a Fresno market. The camp runs a 2- and 4-week session for kids age 7 to 15.
8205 Glen Haven Rd., Soquel
A good West Coast option, Kennolyn is situated on 300 acres of privately owned redwood forest in the Santa Cruz Mountains, which is really convenient for Bay Area families. They take campers entering first through ninth grade, with a leadership training program for those entering tenth. Kennolyn has shorter camp sessions (one or two weeks), and they also get that going to camp for the first time can be intimidating, so they offer a three-day intro camp for their youngest campers (first to fourth grade). For locals, Kennolyn also takes kids for days-only.
The Great Escape Club
3525 Glenhurst Ave., Atwater Village
This genius business bills itself as a "playspace and retreat." It's outfitted with a full, modern, and blessedly clean kids playspace that's supervised during open hours. While kids are playing, parents can drink tea and coffee in a parents-only room, plug in and handle emails in a workspace, or, best of all, sign up for massage and reiki treatments. While the concept works best during the week, this is also an excellent place to host a weekend birthday party.
506 N. Larchmont Blvd., Hancock Park
Snooknuk offers a little of everything for the kids—and you. For the kids: dance, music, art, story time, and even improv classes. Plus camps, themed parties, and a no-shoes play area. You can purchase day passes for the play area, or a membership plan. For the adults, there's the Snooknuk Café, which serves coffee, pastries, paninis, and salads—and is made complete with complementary WiFi.
Quinnie & B
1632 Ocean Park Blvd., Santa Monica
This brand-new, self-named "tiny toy shoppe" from the owners of nearby Thyme Café and Local Kitchen + Wine Bar is an undeniably adorable addition to Ocean Park. While it's not large, the selection is spot-on, with good birthday options for kids of all ages.
130 S. Barrington Pl., Brentwood
This ages-old toy shop in Brentwood Village is literally packed to the gills with all the classics, from Lego, to Bruder trucks. It's family-owned, old-school, and they happily gift-wrap, making it the perfect stop before a birthday party. There are plenty of small grab and go toys, too, to keep little ones occupied.
2710 Main St., Santa Monica
This is one of those spots that will make you believe that having kids doesn't always require a cacophony of brightly-colored plastic toys: Airy, and sparely stocked, Caro Bambino offers everything you'd want for a clean-lined, modern nursery—and nothing more. There are well-designed cribs, a smattering of wooden toys, and neutral-hued onesies.
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
900 Exposition Blvd., South Central
Since the early 1900s, L.A.'s Natural History Museum has been playing host to millions of artefacts from the past five or so billion years—and the collection keeps growing. (In 2011, they opened Dinosaur Hall.)
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