Is it just us or did the holidays hit the bank hard this year? If you’re wondering where to take the kids this month after you (and your wallet) have time to recover, we’ve got you covered with the top 25 free things to do in January! (Remember Kidsguiders: While admission is always free, some events may have minimal costs for food, games, parking etc.)
Free Family Night at Kidspace
January 2: Enjoy free evening admission to Kidspace Children’s Museum. Learn about and experience The Art of Pasadena. Enjoy a visit from the Norton Simon Museum and a local artist from the USC Pacific Asia Museum as they help you create your own works of art. At 6 p.m., join Kidspace in the Celebration Center for a performance by Lineage Dance Company. Tuesday, 4-8 p.m. Free admission.
Pageant of the Masters Casting Call
January 5-7: You could be a volunteer cast-member in the Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach. The world-famous Pageant of the Masters is looking for volunteers to participate in the 2018 summer presentation of “Under the Sun.” Volunteers of all ages needed. No theater experience necessary. In addition to needing volunteers to pose in the pageant, volunteers are needed for positions in the wardrobe, make up, and headdress departments, as well as cast area coordinators and refreshment servers, among other positions. Volunteering for the Pageant is a great way to spend your summer and it is common to have several generations of the same family volunteering for different aspects of the show. Also, students can earn credit towards community service requirements. Casting call held Friday and Saturday, 7-9 p.m.; Sunday, 2-5 p.m.; at Irvine Bowl Park. Free.
Creation Station at Rancho Los Cerritos
January 6: Kids can drop in for an afternoon of fun! Create unique seasonal crafts and participate in engaging rancho-themed activities. Today’s theme is Winter Wonders. Saturday, 1-4 p.m. Free.
Dia de los Reyes at Segerstrom Center for the Arts
January 6: Close out the holiday season on Three Kings Day! Celebrate this rich cultural tradition with lively music, a community procession, Rosca de Reyes (Kings’ Cake), and storytelling with local “abuelitas.” While you’re here, enjoy craft-making, snap a picture at the family photo booth, sample delicious food trucks, and enter a raffle to win prizes selected specially for the kids. Free. Saturday, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Julianne and George Argyros Plaza.
Lakeshore Learning’s Free Workshops
January 6: Kids (3+) make a Winter Wonderland Globe. Saturday, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. No reservations necessary. Carson, (310) 537-4778; Fountain Valley, (714) 963-8255; and Laguna Hills, (949) 462-9353.
Bank of America Patrons Receive Free Admission to Museums
January 6-7: Bank of America is helping its customers become “cultured” through their program “Museums on Us,” giving bank cardholders free admission to cultural venues in Southern California. Photo ID and a valid Bank of America/Merrill Lynch credit or debit card must be presented. One free general admission limited to cardholder at participating institutions. Not to be combined with other offers. Check museums for hours of operation.
Museums include Autry National Center, DiscoveryCube OC, LACMA, The Living Desert, Museum of Latin American Art, Orange County Museum of Art, The Living Desert, and Skirball Cultural Center.
So Cal Pet Expo in Pomona
January 6-7: Bring your pet to the So Cal Pet Expo! Low-cost vaccinations and microchips, free nail trims, entertainment and speakers, pet costume contests and giveaways! Plus, a mega-adoption event. Play, Shop, Learn, Adopt. Saturday, 10 a.m. -5 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. All pets must be on a fixed lead or in a carrier with proof of age-appropriate vaccinations. Free admission. Fairplex in Pomona.
Family Day in El Segundo
January 7: Be inspired by color, shape, and line to create a moveable garden using paper. Art making materials available for all ages and skill levels. Sunday, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Free admission. El Segundo Museum of Art.
Family Flicks Presents Alamar in LA
January 7: Join the Hammer Museum for Family Flicks. The pristine turquoise waters and undisturbed rugged beaches of Banco Chinchorro, the largest coral reef in Mexico, are the dazzling setting for a five-year-old boy’s once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Recommended for ages 3 and up; but all ages are welcome. Feel free to take a break with infants and toddlers in the theater lobby. Sunday, 11 a.m. Free. Parking, $6.
Oshogatsu Family Festival in LA
January 7: Celebrate the Year of the Dog with fun cultural activities and performances, special foods, fun crafts, and more. Start your new year off right with a free bowl of lucky zaru soba (cold buckwheat noodles) while supplies last. Sunday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Free.
Target Free Sunday at Children’s Museum at La Habra
January 7: Explore everything Science, Art and Engineering on this build-it, create-it, and watch- it-go day. A variety of tinker stations will encourage youngsters to put their minds in motion and see where it takes them. *A total of 500 people are admitted on Target Free Sundays. Sunday, session times are 1-2:45 p.m. and 3:15-5 p.m.
Free Class Week at Kick It Up
January 8-14: Join them for a free week of classes at Kick It Up. They offer a wide variety of dance classes, starting at age 3 through adult, plus numerous adult fitness and dance classes that coincide with kids classes so that parents can work out too. Every class on the schedule is free.
Lakeshore Learning’s Free Workshops
January 13: Kids (3+) make a Design & Play STEAM Plane. Saturday, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. No reservations necessary. Carson, (310) 537-4778; Fountain Valley, (714) 963-8255; and Laguna Hills, (949) 462-9353.
Aladdin at The Wallis
January 14: From the pages of The Arabian Nights comes the timeless story of Aladdin, brought to life with the help of hand-crafted marionettes. A true “rags to riches” story, follow Aladdin from the streets to the royal palace and beyond. Free. Sunday, 2:30 p.m. Promenade Terrace.
Free National Park Entrance
January 15: All 401 national parks across the country will waive entrance fees in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Monday. Visit their website for park locations and more free-entrance days for the rest of the year.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration at CAAM
January 15: Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day by surrounding yourself with art, culture, and community. Enjoy an array of vibrant programs and activities for all ages. Bring the kids for art-making activities, food trucks and music on the patio, exhibitions, a marathon reading of Dr. King’s lesser-known speeches and sermons, and much more. Monday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Free. California African American Museum.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade
Janaury 15: In recognition and celebartion of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., join (or watch) the parade. Monday, noon – 5 p.m. Free. Parade starts at Western and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.; continues on MLK to Crenshaw Blvd. to Vernon Ave. and ends on Western and Vernon avenues. The parade will also be televised on a local channel, visit their website for details.
Lakeshore Learning’s Free Workshops
January 20: Kids (3+) make a Melting Snowman. Saturday, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. No reservations necessary. Carson, (310) 537-4778; Fountain Valley, (714) 963-8255; and Laguna Hills, (949) 462-9353.
Underwater Parks Day in San Pedro
January 20: Join Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in learning about the Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Southern California. These areas, like parks on land, protect underwater marine resources for future generations to enjoy. Speakers, presentations, interactive activities and handouts will be available so visitors can learn more. Similar activities are being held the same day at partner marine science centers: Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach; Ocean Institute, Dana Point; Birch Aquarium/Museum at Scripps, La Jolla; SeaLife Aquarium, Carlsbad; Santa Monica Pier Aquarium; Ty-Warner Sea Center in Santa Barbara; and Centers for Ocean Science Education Excellence – West. Saturday, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Free. Cabrillo Marine Aquarium.
Up Up and Away Kids Consignment Sale
January 25-28: Families can save money and make money at the same time. Consignors earn top dollar for their items while buyers save a ton of money purchasing name brand, new and nearly new items (clothing, toys, strollers, highchairs, etc.) at less than half the cost of department stores. They are not a store open year round, instead they hold huge four-day events. You do not need to be a consignor to attend and purchase items. Thursday, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Free to attend, visit their website for more information about consigning, shopping or volunteering.
Dodger FanFest at Dodger Stadium
January 27: Dodgers FanFest is free and open to the public. Enjoy player autographs (must purchase voucher, visit website for details), interactive games and activities including running the bases, interviews, photo opportunities inside the Dodger dugout and with the World Series trophy, Dodgers Foundation yard Sale including jerseys, T-shirts and more, mystery bags and VIP experiences (must purchase voucher, visit website for details). Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Free.
Lakeshore Learning’s Free Workshops
January 27: Kids (3+) make a Crafty Bobsled. Saturday, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. No reservations necessary. Carson, (310) 537-4778; Fountain Valley, (714) 963-8255; and Laguna Hills, (949) 462-9353.
Star Party at Griffith Observatory
January 27: Look through a large variety of professional and home-built telescopes to view the sun, planets, the moon and deep sky objects like double-stars, star clusters, and nebulae. The observatory’s Zeiss 12-inch refractor and computer controlled 11-inch lawn telescopes are set up throughout the event. Saturday, 2-9:45 p.m. Free.
Private School Fair in Irvine
January 28: Visit the Orange County Private Schools Association’s 8th Annual Preschool 12th Grade Fair to preview 60+ renowned preschools, elementary/middle schools, and high schools. From year to year, this fair has provided OC families an opportunity to learn about the various private school options by talking directly to representatives from each school. Sunday, 1-4 p.m. Free; preregistration required online. Attendees park at the Student Center Parking Structure, which is located directly across from the Student Center. Permits are required 24/7. A permit can be purchased for $10 a day at the Student Center Parking Structure entrance located on Pereira Drive.
Whale Fiesta in San Pedro
January 28: The annual festival celebrates and explores the migration of the gray whale, featuring a life-size gray whale sand sculpture, games, arts and crafts, puppet shows, marine awareness organizations, expert guest lecturers and festive music. Sunday, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Free. Cabrillo Marine Aquarium.