The squash-savvy staff at Shawn's Pumpkin Patch flaunts a cornucopia of variously sized pumpkins to adorn fall festivities. Against a rustic backdrop of straw bales and cornstalks, pyramids of gigantic, medium, small, and mini pumpkins ($1–$80) sit ready to be taken home and carved to mimic the visage of a zombie or a beloved imaginary friend. Although not included in today's Groupon, Shawn's Pumpkin Patch also hosts pony rides, mini-train trips, and a petting zoo ($3–$6/person).
Toyota Sports Center entices skaters of all ages with a trio of glassy rinks smooth enough to be commandeered for official practices by the L.A. Kings. When the pros aren't reigning over the ice, guests can practice axel jumps during skating lessons or show up for public skating sessions to lap the flattened glacier in search of preserved saber-toothed zambonis. Toyota Sports Center also educates aspiring Great Ones with beginners hockey classes, hosts youth and adult leagues, and encourages visitors to bulk up off the ice at the fitness center, which is outfitted with free weights and treadmills for those slowly reconnecting with exercise on solid ground.
When animals are rescued from dangerous living situations or seized from the hands of smugglers, STAR Eco Station provides second chances at peaceful lives. The facility offers a haven for more than 200 rescued animals and educates the public as an environmental science museum. During public tours, guides lead guests through exhibits of rescued exotic animals, such as parrots, pythons, and wildcats, while explaining the habits, history, and New Year's resolutions of each creature.
The recipient of multiple awards from media and government agencies, STAR Eco Station also provides educational outreach programs to more than 40 California school districts and works in concert with conservation organizations such as the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Paw Project, and Heal the Bay.
With a client list that includes BMW, Apple, Disney, and ESPN—as well as work in films such as Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Ocean’s Thirteen—Living Art Aquatic Design produces vibrantly colorful aquariums that are custom built for individual spaces by skilled technicians. Much like sculptors working with clay, Living Art’s technicians mold glass and rock to create original aquariums. Though several units have been installed atop the traditional wooden base, other aquariums have been fitted in unorthodox settings, including the wall of a bowling alley and hanging in a chandelier above a staircase. It's these kind of innovations and imagination that entices commercial and residential customers alike to tap a Living Art technician for their own aquatic project.
AdventurePlex has developed an easy recipe for lifelong healthy habits: an early start, plenty of space, and plenty of fun things to do. They've also discovered that this recipe works just as well on parents as on children.
Outside AdventurePlex's 16,000-square-foot facility, a 35-foot-high rock-climbing wall stretches across 1,630 square feet of climbing area so that families of grapplers can train to scale mountain summits or tickle the Statue of Liberty's chin. A ropes course similarly fosters teambuilding and confidence 20 feet above the ground, while a flourishing garden of herbs and vegetables helps kids understand the origins of what goes into their bellies. The Courtside Café completes the food's life cycle with a menu of leafy greens, wraps, juices, and American staples. Indoors, a five-level AdventureRoom play structure preps wee ones for a future of healthy living and boardroom obstacle courses with its network of mazes, tunnels, slides, and ball pits. In 2013, the play structure won a Best of the Beach award from Easy Reader for Best Indoor Play Facility.
The AdventurePlex crew curates a variety of activities, including birthday parties, fitness classes, and summer adventure camps that keep muscles and minds engaged in a fun, safe environment. Parents, meanwhile, can surf the Web on AdventurePlex's WiFi—but adult-only yoga and body-sculpting classes let them find some "me time" without taking clones out for a romantic night on the town.
On November 6, 1913, Californians strolled from downtown Los Angeles to the newly minted Exposition Park in a ceremonial procession celebrating a new cultural milestone for the city: the opening of the Museum of History, Science, and Art. A century later, the museum, now known as the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, celebrates its 100 years as a scientific resource while also showcasing a suite of technologically advanced exhibits developed over an eight-year transformation. Proud past and dynamic future meet most prominently in the museum’s original Beaux-Arts-style edifice, now called the 1913 Building. With its handsome rotunda and a façade of neoclassical columns, the building has earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places—but its considerable historical legacy may become overshadowed by a more recent addition: the Dinosaur Hall, a 14,000-square-foot interactive exhibit featuring more than 300 fossils and 20 full-body mounts. The mounts include the world’s only Tyrannosaurus rex growth series, with side-by-side reconstructions of the youngest-known baby skeleton, a rare juvenile skeleton, and the young-adult skeleton of Thomas the T.rex, among the world’s top 10 most complete T.rex skeletons. Designed to let patrons get as near as possible to its specimens, the exhibit gives visitors the experience of walking beneath a dinosaur’s neck or staring straight up at a T.rex’s skull. Next to each mount, murals and graphic displays project how scientists believe the creatures would have looked before time stripped away their reptilian scales and dinosaur friendship bracelets. The museum’s centennial year also includes the midsummer opening of Nature Gardens, a 3.5-acre outdoor habitat teeming with hummingbirds, gardening exhibits, and displays chronicling how the city’s flora has evolved over time. Nature Gardens will eventually frame the museum’s new main entrance, Otis Booth Pavilion, whose glass structure will provide a lasting sanctuary for one of the museum’s oldest displays: a 63-foot, 7,000-pound fin whale specimen. The lush flowers of the outdoor grounds also serve as a habitat for the roaming winged creatures of the seasonal Butterfly Pavilion. The Natural History Museum’s centennial transformation will also include the addition of a permanent exhibit called Becoming L.A., opening in July, 2013. The 14,000-square-foot exhibit will showcase a collection of rare artifacts from the area’s Native American, Spanish Colonial, and Early American eras, as well as objects that reflect more contemporary L.A., such as the animation stand Walt Disney used to film Steamboat Willie, the first cartoon to feature Mickey Mouse.
Under the Sea fosters children’s learning and growth in an underwater-themed yet water-free indoor play stronghold. Throughout the socks-only facility, kids of all ages bounce, climb, slide, and negotiate raises from their child bosses under the watchful eyes of the painted mermaids and sea life that fill floor-to-ceiling murals. The Moon Bouncer combines the mystique of the subaquatic realm with the gravity-snubbing freedom of outer space, letting kids jump and stretch for starry heights, and the Turbo Slide facilitates rapid reacquaintance with terrestrial surfaces. Filling much of the vast playspace, brightly hued climbing structures and a sea castle invite children to refine their clambering and crawling skills, useful for future careers as brachiating gibbon impersonators.