7 Fun Summer Activities for Southern California Families

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School’s out! Textbooks and tests have given way to sun-soaked adventures for children across Southern California. That means it’s time to plan a summer filled with fun, engaging, and healthy activities for your family.

If not properly motivated and engaged, kids in the summer can end up feeling bored or start developing unhealthy habits. There’s growing evidence that shows children are more likely to become sedentary in the summer, which can impact both mental and physical health.

Creating an active and safe summer for your family takes effort, but it’s so worth it. To spark your imagination, we’ve picked seven affordable, healthy, and fun summer activity ideas for the whole family to enjoy. 

Get Some Vitamin D (and Sea!)

With sparkling blue water, warm sand, and stunning, expansive horizons, what’s not to love about Southern California’s beaches? What’s more, summertime is the perfect time to take advantage of them. 

There are plenty of family-friendly beaches to choose from. Crystal Cove State Park and Torrey Pines are great for families looking to enjoy nature and get some extra steps in. For an activity-filled day, Santa Monica Pier offers exciting attractions like a Ferris wheel, carnival games, and a roller coaster. 

Spending time at the beach isn’t just fun – it can be healthy as well. Beach activities like swimming, volleyball, and boogie boarding offer beneficial exercise opportunities for kids in the summer.

Additionally, soaking up some sun is the best way to get more vitamin D into your system, leading to better moods and increased health. Vitamin D deficiency is more common than you’d think – nearly 1 in 4 Americans have it. Just remember to always apply sunscreen!

Hit the Trail

Southern California offers incredible natural landscapes, where families can embark on hikes that offer breathtaking views, wildlife, and a chance to connect with nature.

One such gem is Griffith Park in Los Angeles. Families can choose from a variety of paths suitable for all ages and fitness levels. The park’s iconic Hollywood Sign hike promises panoramic vistas of the city below. 

Further south, the Santa Monica Mountains offer fantastic options like Solstice Canyon, where kids can explore a historic ruins site and encounter cascading waterfalls along the way.

Hiking promotes physical fitness, strengthening muscles and the cardiovascular system. Furthermore, spending time in nature has proven psychological benefits like reducing stress and boosting mood. Lace up those hiking boots, put on some long pants, grab a water bottle, and always remember to bring plenty of bug spray. 

Plan an Outdoor Movie

Shake up your routine and enjoy the fresh air with an outdoor movie night. It transforms a traditionally “unhealthy” activity, like watching TV, into something much more memorable and exciting. 

Setting up a backyard movie screen is easier than it seems. All you need is a projector, a white sheet or a portable projector screen, and a sound system. 

When it comes to selecting a film, opt for classics, beloved animations, or even a theme night based on everyone’s favorite genre. Add an extra layer of excitement (and make movie night a tradition) by allowing each family member to take turns choosing the movie.

As for snacks, enjoy freshly popped popcorn, sliced fruits like watermelon, or your favorite trail mix. If you want to indulge a bit, consider candies or homemade baked treats.

Visit a Local Museum or Science Center

SoCal is home to many museums and science centers, which are surprisingly good options to entertain your kids in the summer months.

From the California Space Center with its intriguing space exhibits to the interactive Pasadena Kidspace Children’s Museum, kids can immerse themselves in the magic of learning. The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles and Griffith Observatory are also noteworthy destinations that make learning fun.

Although this isn’t your typical “exciting” summer activity, it can be very beneficial for children’s minds. Summer break doesn’t have to mean a pause in education. These exploratory visits promote curiosity and critical thinking and prevent the “summer slide,” which is a decline in academic skills that often happens in the summer months.

Beat the Heat at a Waterpark

Let’s be honest: waterparks are the stuff of childhood summer dreams. With thrilling slides, wave pools, and interactive water activities, these parks provide a refreshing escape from the summer heat. 

Some of the top water parks in Southern California include Knott’s Soak City, Raging Waters Los Angeles, and Aquatica San Diego. Legoland’s Water Park is also a hit with younger crowds.

Safety is essential when visiting water parks. Water shoes can prevent slips and protect feet from hot surfaces. Hydration is crucial, so be sure that your kids drink plenty of water and take regular breaks from the sun. Lastly, always remember to apply and reapply sunscreen to protect against UV rays. 

Plan a Picnic

Eating outdoors does wonders for our health. There’s mounting evidence that it can keep our hearts healthy, decrease the stress hormone cortisol, and ease relentless muscle tension. It can also lead to more mindful eating habits, allowing for a slower, more thoughtful approach to meals.

Family picnics can be a delightful experience with a bit of planning. Start by choosing a location that offers some shade, along with enough open space. Be sure to pack a variety of foods that are easy to eat, such as sandwiches, fresh fruits, and snacks. Don’t forget drinks to stay hydrated. 

Think about comfort and convenience. Pack enough napkins, wet wipes for clean-up, and a trash bag to leave your spot as clean as you found it. Remember, the main goal is to relax, enjoy the food, and most importantly, enjoy each other’s company. 

Roadtrip to a National Park

If you’re looking for an affordable long-weekend trip, SoCal has access to several great national parks such as Joshua Tree and Channel Islands. You can also visit Sequoia, King’s Canyon, or Death Valley National Parks for a fun road trip.

Planning a family trip to these parks requires some forethought. Check park websites for trail difficulty levels and attractions suited to your children’s ages. Bring essentials like sunscreen, hats, snacks, and plenty of water. It’s also important to teach children to respect nature by leaving no trace.

Exposure to new environments broadens children’s perspectives, fosters curiosity, and enhances cognitive development. The excitement of new experiences stimulates their sense of adventure and wonder while learning about ecosystems promotes environmental stewardship.

Bonus Tip: Schedule Your Next Checkup!

Planning summer activities can provide numerous benefits for kids in the summer. However, one of the best ways to promote a fun summer is to make sure children are healthy and safe.

Regular checkups for physical exams, vision and hearing screenings, and mental health checkups are important year-round, not just during the school year. Keeping your kids up-to-date on their health will ensure they have a happy, healthy, and active summer.

Healthy Campus’s mission is to provide accessible, low-cost, and top-notch healthcare for children in Southern California. Kickstart your summer and learn more about our services today.

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