by Dr. JoBea Holt, Author of Baby's Day Out in Southern California—Fun Places to Go with Babies and Toddlers—a travel guide to helping you find more adventures for your baby.
There’s always that super hot, unexpected week in fall. What do you do now? Put on your sunglasses and enjoy the water. Here are a few cool ideas.
Beaches with Extras
Forget the beach on the weekend, but weekdays are delightful. You can usually park close and take over a fairly large portion of the sand. Try a beach that has some extras – kites, aquariums on the pier, or merry-go-rounds to spice up your day. A simple sturdy kite that lives in the trunk of your car will always add to a day at the beach! Always check the water pollution report on the Heal the Bay website before choosing a beach (http://www.healthebay.org/baymap). “Mothers’ Beaches” tend to be in quiet areas where there is little water circulation and can often be polluted.
You don’t have to go to the ocean to go to the beach. Local reservoirs usually have a section roped off for swimming. A favorite is Puddingstone Reservoir that not only has a nice shallow beach, but also often has more lifeguards than kids - and lots of birds. Santa Fe Dam has a special Children’s Water Park that is like a playground structure sitting in a very shallow swimming pool with water jets shooting out in all directions. And Lower Castaic Lake has a delightful beach area. If your child likes big rigs - you can combine your lake trip with a visit to the Castaic truck stop.
As you enjoy these special places in Southern California, it is never too early to start teaching your child to have good conservation habits. Of course you will need to bring water, but bring it in a reusable bottle. Disposable bottles not only pollute our landfills, but, more importantly, they take energy to make and deliver - far too much energy than should be needed to give you and your baby a drink of water!
Buy a few good quality sand toys rather than cheap ones that break the first time. Or better yet, look in the kitchen for some old cups and large spoons. Too much energy and water are used to make children’s toys that last only days.
And when you leave, find ten little pieces of trash to pick up and throw away. Small children are especially good at finding and picking up little colorful pieces of plastic. You could even start a plastic collection! These little pieces of trash look like food to birds and are often picked up and fed to nesting babies.
So find your sunglasses and reusable water bottle, grab your sunbonnet and old measuring cups, and have a cool summer.
Manhattan Beach www.ci.manhattan-beach.ca.us/
Manhattan Beach Roundhouse Marine Studies Lab www.roundhouseaquarium.org/
Huntington Beaches www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=643
Kite Connection on Huntington Beach Pier www.kiteconnection.com
Santa Monica State Beach www.smgov.net/portals/beach/
Santa Monica Carousel santamonicapier.org/fun/
Santa Monica Pier Aquarium www.healthebay.org/smpa/
Puddingstone Reservoir Beach http://www.bonellipark.org/
Water Play Area-Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area
Lower Castaic Lake http://www.castaiclake.com/lowerlake.html
Castaic Truck Stop You will drive right by the big rigs as you get off the freeway and head for Lower Castaic Lake.