D. Martinez / SFVS

Lifeguard Jovany Gonzalez at the San Fernando Aquatic Center.

The final days of summer are upon us; Labor Day weekend is just around the corner. 

Although kids are already back to school and the hustle of school and work schedules is in full swing, consider that you don’t have to give up the fun spirit of summer. Taking time routinely to have fun with your family and friends can become a healthy new habit to continue enjoying, a lifestyle that restores your mind and body and does much to recharge you for school and work during the week.

It can also augment what your child learns in the classroom during the week.  

In the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles, this summer was unbearable and dangerously hot, which  kept many families indoors to escape the heat.  But, as the weather (hopefully) begins to cool, summer fun can resume and doesn’t need to end.  

Unlike other parts of the country, we are fortunate to live in a climate that encourages us to venture out beyond the summer months to enjoy the outdoors and attend events throughout the year.  

Our climate should encourage us to continue the summer mindset, to be active and enjoy all there is to see and do in our community and surrounding areas.  

You’ll find that you can create new routines and make it a habit to plan activities. Take short excursions that you and your family can enjoy throughout the year.  

You don’t need to travel far. The biggest shift for many is to learn how to be more spontaneous and just get out of the house.

Many of us drive by our local parks every day but never stop. Adjust your routine to make it part of your lifestyle, to take a walk around your neighborhood and discover your neighborhood parks. Stay off of your phone and sit down under a tree, get some healthy Vitamin D from the afternoon sun and enjoy reading a book outdoors free from distraction. 

As our warm evening weather continues, you can watch an outdoor movie even if it’s in your backyard and you don’t have to have a special occasion to have a cookout with family and friends.

Go to your local library where there are often community events and classes that include yoga and community skills. Discover the community events and classes that are held at the valley’s community colleges and at California State University Northridge. CSUN has offered free gardening classes that are open to the public.  

Excursions can be free. Take a drive through the Angeles Forest, take a hike and watch the sunset, visit the Griffith Park Observatory. Take a short road trip over the hill into Los Angeles or in the opposite direction into Ventura County to visit local beaches.   

Be a tourist for a day. Visit the places that tourists have on their list when they come to town. Many of us never go to these places because we want to avoid the traffic and the crowds, but we might be missing out on what others spend thousands of dollars to come to see. Take a day to visit landmarks, amusement parks, museums and local attractions as tourists do. 

The following is a very brief list of locations where summer fun activity and during the year staycations can continue, but create your own list of places that you’d like to visit. 

Discovery Cube 

This kid’s museum has much to see and do throughout the year and is a go-to location to keep the youngest members of your family having fun while learning. 

Dinosaurs Around the World is currently on exhibit but ends on Sept.3. It is for Dino-lovers of all ages to experience a time before the existence of man and the continents during the 172-million year reign of the dinosaurs. This exhibit is as educational as it is fascinating, presenting a variety of dinosaurs from various regions. Kids will see dinosaurs come to life with advanced animatronics, learn about fossils  and see up close what the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex and the  Velociraptor of the Gobi Desert looked like. 

Discovery Cube is located at 11800 Foothill Blvd., at Lakeview Terrace in Los Angeles.

Hansen Dam Recreation Area

While the recreation area in Lakeview Terrace is known to most people who live in Northeast San Fernando Valley, not everyone has taken advantage of all it has to offer including golf, horseback riding, a 9-acre recreation lake and a 1.5 acre swimming lake. The recreation lake is available for fishing, pedal boat rentals, and public boating. This lake is open year-round (including holidays), but is subject to closure during severe weather.  Hansen Dam offers fishing, boating, picnicking, jogging/walking, bird watching and  small craft lessons. There is a Walk/Jog Path: a 1/3-mile walkway surrounds the recreation lake. 

Hansen Dam is located at the intersection of  I-210 Freeway and Foothills Blvd., 11770 Foothill Blvd., Lakeview Terrace.  

Lake Balboa and Lake Balboa Park in Van Nuys 

With a beautiful lake at its center, there are many picnic spots. There is a lakeside walkway throughout the park with plenty of room. This landscape is considered a gem in the Valley with plenty of areas to enjoy. There is a lot of wildlife that include ducks, geese, and rabbits, and you can enjoy a boat ride in the lake. The park is also next door to the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve and the Japanese Garden.

Lake Balboa Park, 6300 Balboa Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 818 756 9743.

Japanese Garden Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area, 6100 Woodley Ave, Van Nuys.

The Aquatic Center in the City of San Fernando

If you are a resident of San Fernando, you can enjoy swimming in the attractive Aquatic Center for free. The Aquatic Center has an Olympic-sized swimming pool with a water slide and splash pads. Lanes are set aside for people who are interested in low-impact exercising and various swim classes that include lap swim, aqua aerobics, or a full body exercise class with pool lifeguards.  

he Aquatic Center is located at 208 Park Ave. San Fernando CA 91340.   http://parks.lacounty.gov/wps/portal/dpr/Parks/San_Fernando_Regional_Pool

LA Exposition Park 

Outside of the valley, you can visit LA’s Exposition Park where there are always exceptional exhibits. On exhibit now at the California Science Center is the “King Tut: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh” — the largest King Tut exhibition ever toured. There are over 150 artifacts, with 60 of them that have never traveled outside of Egypt.

The Natural History Museum’s Butterfly Pavilion boasts 30 butterfly and moth species and an assortment of California plants. This exhibit closes on Sept. 3, so if you haven’t seen this fun exhibit that allows you to witness nature up close, don’t delay. You will see butterflies taking flight and may land on your arms or shoulders. The best time to visit this exhibit is 10-11 a.m. each morning. 

Exposition Park, 900 Exposition Blvd., Los Angeles. 

Griffith Park and the Griffith Park Observatory 

This is a favorite spot for residents and tourists. The park offers many attractions for the whole family and at the top of the list is the Observatory, considered one of LA’s top landmarks that on a clear day has views of Downtown LA and the Hollywood Sign. LA’s gleaming gem seen for miles. The Observatory is the spot to go to view the night sky, to visit the planetarium and astronomy museum. It is considered one of the top free best spots to go to in LA. However, if you have never visited the Observatory, the building itself is not to be missed and has been the backdrop for many films including the movie “Rebel Without a Cause.”

 The LA Zoo and the Autry Museum is also at Griffith Park.  Among the exhibits at the Autry Museum is the La Raza exhibit, which runs until February. This exhibit for the first time displays photographs from 1967-1977, from the bilingual newspaper La Raza that covered the Chicano Rights Movement of that time. This exhibit provides a look into the defining moments of the Chicano civil rights movement.  LA RAZA is presented in conjunction with the Autry’s “Harry Gamboa Jr.: Chicano Male Unbonded” photography exhibition.

The Griffith Observatory is located at 2800 E. Observatory Road, Los Angeles.

The Autry Museum of the American West is located at 4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles, CA 90027-1462. Phone: (323) 667-2000.