Get the most out of this summer for the least amount of cost at these family-friendly places and events.
For a couple of heavenly months, there will be no need to rouse the kids for school, no evening arguments about homework. Ensure that summer is a richer time for the whole family with these summer entertainment spots in the county at little to no cost if you know where to look.
More than a book center: Many libraries have child-centered activities going on in summer. In addition to regular story times, libraries provide summer opportunities for everything from crafts to magic shows; some activities are in the early evenings or weekends when working parents can make it, too.
The Newport Beach’s central library will hold morning crafts parties at 10 a.m. Tuesdays through most of the summer that are themed to regions around the world. The Laguna Beach branch of the county library will do crafts at 9 a.m. on Saturdays. The Dana Point branch’s calendar is loaded with family-friendly activities including a magic show, a barnyard animal presentation, Lego club and family game nights. Just about every library in the county has something fun planned.
All the park’s a stage: Shakespeare by the Sea is a repertory acting troupe that has been staging free performances of the great playwright’s works for 20 years at cities around Southern California. Families bring blankets to place on the grass, along with picnics, and chow down on immortal words as well their dinners. This summer the group will be producing “The Merry Wives of Windsor” and “A Winter’s Tale.” The troupe will perform in Aliso Viejo, Laguna Niguel, Mission Viejo, Santa Ana and Seal Beach this summer. Though no admission is charged, bring along some bills to toss into the donation pail at the end. Check out the details at www.shakespearebythesea.org/wp/calendar
Musical evenings: How about introducing your children to popular classical music this summer? Pacific Symphony’s “Symphony in the Cities” will be holding two concerts. Bring your picnic blankets or lawn chairs and a picnic dinner. Both concerts are held at 7 p.m. with special kid events beforehand. On Sat., July 28, the concert will be held at the Norman P. Murray Community and Senior Center in Mission Viejo. Arrive at 4 p.m. to take part in the Prelude in the Park and then the Musical Playground, which begins at 5:30. The playground includes instrument making, a drum circle, an instrument petting zoo and a chance to meet the musicians. They also learn how to conduct an orchestra. The next night, July 29, the concert will be held at Mike Ward Community Park at 20 Lake Road in the Woodbridge area of Irvine. The Musical Playground starts at 5:30 p.m.
The artistic summer: The annual Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach isn’t exactly an inexpensive show and tickets can be hard to find. Sign up for the email list and you’ll get notice of specials, including half-price tickets as the summer turns toward August and not all the tickets are sold. Seats have been available for as little as $15, and though those are in the nosebleed section, the show is still completely enjoyable from there. Bring binoculars, a sweater and light lap blankets; it gets chilly in the outdoor theater. There’s nothing else like this quirky show with the live orchestra. People pose as the characters in pieces of art, and you’d swear that the paintings were indeed flat or the people were indeed gold statues or Dresden figurines. Admission to the Festival of Arts, a fine-art show, is included with tickets to the Pageant.
Across the street is the Sawdust Festival, a more laid-back arts-and-crafts festival with charming booths, tree-shaded grounds and lots of free entertainment. Tickets range from $4 to $9; or check the promotions schedule for more discounts and free days at sawdustartfestival.org/promotions. Children who color in one of the pictures on the promotions site can bring it to the festival for free admission. Kids can make a bowl or other piece of pottery on a real potter’s wheel as well as join other art activities, free or at minimal cost. Tip: Parking in town can be expensive. Park at one of the peripheral lots, such as the Act V lot in Laguna Canyon, pay a few dollars for the whole day and evening, take the trolley to and from town, and create lasting family memories.