A. Garcia / SFVS

Nethercutt Museum and Collection in Sylmar

It’s time to store the books and pencils, and take out the swimsuits and sandals.

In other words, go have some fun.

With summertime comes plenty of free time to explore the Valley, which offers a lot of options when it comes to enjoying these longer days whether you want to be outdoors or indoors.


When the heat’s on, it’s time to jump in the pool. If you don’t have one, don’t worry — there’s sure to be a public pool close to your house.

This summer the regional pool at the Aquatic Center in the City of San Fernando — which is operated by Los Angeles county — offers free recreational swimming to all from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays, and 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. Those persons wanting or needing to take swimming lessons can do so at a cost of $20 for two weeks.

The pool is located at 300 Park Avenue in San Fernando. 

There are several LA city pools throughout the Valley. They include splash zones and water parks, where kids can have a lot of fun. There’s a $3.50 fee for adults and $1 for minors to enter the pools. Los Angeles city also offers a Youth Summer Pass for $10 that gives minors unlimited access to city pools throughout the summer.

For a list of city pools, visit http//lacitypools.com.

If your kids need swimming lessons but you can’t afford the cost, Kaiser Permanente has partnered with Los Angeles city to offer Operation Splash, which provides free swim lessons for low-income youth and adults and free junior lifeguard training as a way to promote water safety and encourage exercise.

“Swimming is a survival skill that everyone should be equipped with. The city’s various aquatic facilities provide plenty of accessible options for increasing one’s confidence in the water, ranging from learning how to swim to competitive engagement through water sports and team building,” said Mike Shull, general manager of LA’s Department of Recreation and Parks.

“The option to beat the heat by making a splash should be at the top of every family’s list and swim lesson enrollment is the first step to a fun and safe summer.”

Visit the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks website at www.laparks.org, or call (323) 906-7953 for more information.

The city pools are always in a public park, and most parks offer summer camps with activities to keep your son or daughter busy and engaged throughout the summer.

LA city parks also offer a free Summer Lunch program for all kids and teens ages 1 to 18. For information on participating locations and program rules, visit https://laparks.org/foodprogram.

On the northeast side of the Valley there’s a lake and beach…sort of.

The Hansen Dam Aquatic Center, located at 11798 Foothill Boulevard in Lake View Terrace, has a giant swim lake with a beach around it. There’s also a fishing lake, volleyball courts and water slide.

The aquatic center is part of an enormous recreation area with green space, horse and bike trails, a library and picnic areas, perfect to spend a day under the sun.

On Saturday, June 23, Pat Bates of the San Fernando Valley Audubon Society (https://www.sfvaudubon.org) leads a free birdwatching tour at Hansen Dam, starting at 8 a.m.

According to the Society, more than 280 species of birds have been seen at Hansen Dam, which holds the record for most species seen in a day in the San Fernando Valley at 120. Walks are held on the fourth Saturday of every month and they’re open to anyone. Just take some water, a hat to shade from the sun and sunscreen. If you have binoculars, also take them.

To contact Bates, call (818) 425-0962.

Also on June 23 there will be a birdwatching walk at O’Melveny Park, starting at 9 am. The park is located at 17300 Sesnon Blvd., in Granada Hills. For more information, call (818) 368-5019.

The Los Angeles Unified School District in the Valley offers a free lunch for students on 356 of its campuses, including San Fernando Elementary, Middle and High schools.

Starting and ending dates vary. For a complete list of schools, as well as times that meals are served, visit the LAUSD link at https://achieve.lausd.net/cms/lib/CA01000043/Centricity/Domain/126/SFSP%20Site%20List%206.8.18.pdf.


If you get tired of the sun, or simply want some cool shade, a great place to visit is your local library. Most offer free high-speed Wi-Fi Internet, air conditioning and thousands of books, magazines and videos.

For young readers, it’s also time for the Summer Reading Challenge.

Kids can take part in the challenge by registering at a library. They are rewarded for reading, completing fun activities, writing book reviews, attending library events and exploring Los Angeles museums and other venues — many of them at no charge.

Those who earn at least 1,000 points are entered into a drawing to attend the Grand Prize Party in the Sky at OUE Skyspace in downtown Los Angeles, where there will be food, fun and a ride on the amazing Skyslide 1,000 feet above the city.

For more information about the Reading Challenge, visit https://lapl.beanstack.org/reader365.

The library in the City of San Fernando is offering a variety of activities for children, teens and the entire family this summer, including Annie Banannie’s Big Balloon Adventure! on June 27, from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. With balloon costumes and props, Annie Banannie uses her Balloon Theater to transport the audience to amazing places that they choose. The finale: a giant 6-foot balloon.

The library will also continue to offer a free lunch through Aug. 3, for kids and teens to age 18 on a first come, first served basis. Such is served Monday through Friday from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m., while supplies last.

The San Fernando library is located at 217 N. Maclay Avenue. For more information, call (818) 365-6928.

The LA Public Library in Sylmar also has upcoming activities, including an interactive presentation on volcanoes by Richard Wade on June 28, from 4 p.m. to 4:45 p.m., and stories and songs of science, math, and other K-8 curriculum-related material, performed by Tim Griffin on July 5 at 4 p.m.

The Sylmar Library is located at 14561 Polk Street. Regular hours vary on Monday through Friday.

The Pacoima Branch Library offers a free summer lunch for kids and teens, ages 2-18, on weekdays from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Upcoming events include Storytelling and Reading with Miss Eva on Wednesday, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., and again with Miss Robin at 5 p.m. There is also a Walk In Device Tutoring with Michael computer class for teens, adults and Spanish speakers on Fridays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The Panorama City Branch Library will be closed through July 17 for repairs.

All libraries will be closed July 4. No lunches will be served that day. 

For more information regarding public libraries and the calendar of events, visit www.lapl.org.

If your kids are interested in dinosaurs, the Discovery Cube at Hansen Dam offers a unique exhibit this summer.

Those who arrive at the museum are instantly transported 65 million years ago as two life-size, life-like animatronic dinosaurs welcome them. There’s also a fossil dig, full-size skeletons and many more to keep children, ages 2-7, engaged for hours.

Dino-lovers of all ages will experience a time before the continents existed, bringing to life the 172 million year reign of the dinosaurs. Visitors are presented a multi-layered narrative about the variety of dinosaurs from various regions, such as the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex of North America or the swift Velociraptor of the Gobi Desert. Tickets may be ordered online at https://la.discoverycube.org.

For fans of vintage cars, the Nethercutt Museum, located at 15151 Bledsoe Street in Sylmar, features over 120 antique automobiles restored to their former glory.

The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and showcases Fords, Packards, Rolls Royces, Oldsmobiles and lesser known automobile brands like such as Hudson and Northern. Some of the cars date back nearly 100 years.

The cars were part of the private collection of the museum’s founder J.B. Nethercutt, and his wife Dorothy, of the Merle Norman Cosmetics company.  Entrance is free but making a reservation is recommended  www.nethercuttcollection.org.

For those who enjoy history, visit the Mission San Fernando Rey de España, which was founded by missionaries on Sept. 8, 1797, and offers a view into early California and native life. The restored structures include the church, monastery and some quarters around the quadrangle. The church is also active.

The Mission is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and is located at 15151 San Fernando Mission Boulevard, in Mission Hills.

For more information on tours and fees call (818) 361-0186.