Dozens of things to do for you and your whole family.


Technology. It's the proverbial blessing-slash-curse. At best, it enhances our daily routines, makes life easier, and facilitates communication. Then it rears its ugly head. Suddenly everyone's zoned out on a different device, checking Facebook and online sports scores, texting, checking work emails, playing X-Box, and watching TV.

It's enough to make you want to scream, "unplug already!"

So, hey...why not?

Summer is the perfect time to untether your family from the ubiquitous draw of electronics. Cool mornings and long evenings make going outside a pleasure, and if you can do it without the constant bleeping, binging, and pinging, even better. It won't be long before you remember that the best kind of tweet comes from an actual bird.

Choose your moment to unplug. Don't ditch your electronics when dad's favorite team plays an essential series against a rival team. Don't unplug when work is crazy; you'll be stressed about leaving your phone behind. Start small. Pick one day a week to go tech-free. Maybe it's Sunday, a traditional day of rest. Or, if it's more practical, unplug for a chunk of time during the week (say, from 6 PM until bedtime.) Once you've chosen your time, stick to your guns. Keep the TV off, the iPad hidden, and the phones charging or in a basket by the back door. It may be challenging, but it will be worth it.

Kick-off your unplugged summer by hosting a tech-free party. Facebook and X-box Live are great for connecting with friends, but it's so much better to hang out with them in person! Invite a few families over, with the stipulation that all devices will be left at the door. Throw some burgers on the BBQ and play some old-fashioned family games. Pull out your board games, play them on the patio, or try your hand at one of these clever outdoor versions of classics like JengaTwistercheckerboard, and more.

Start a family book club. Grab some parents and kids to join you and make it a party! Many local libraries have summer reading clubs with prizes and fun activities that your whole book club can attend together. Plan book club meetings once every two weeks. Then, spend your unplugged time reading. Spread out a blanket in the backyard, or head to the air-conditioned library. Choose a popular book to dig into, or start off with a series like Little House on the Prairie to see just how unplugged our world used to be! Cheese-making session, anyone?

Make dinnertime family time. Don't even answer the landline! Have the kids set the table in different themes, or let them choose the location – picnic in the living room, perhaps? Work together on a menu and let the kids help with preparations. Have a restaurant night with kids as the waiters. Let them make menus and set prices. Then, talk talk talk. Be silly, tell jokes. Talk about current events (without Googling them!) Find out who's doing what on the playground. You can find more great ideas, conversation starters, and recipes at The Family Dinner Book website. Even better, go old school and by the book! Then, pay a visit to the Family Meals Challenge for meal planning ideas, grocery lists, and a chance to win some pretty cool prizes. All you have to do is commit to sitting down with your family for dinner three nights a week for four weeks. Easy peasy!

If you find it hard to be around your devices without actually turning them on, leave them behind and leave the house. Visit one of our fabulous botanical gardens or museums in the San Gabriel Valley. Spend the time you would typically be stumbling around answering emails or texting tomorrow's playdate talking with your kids about the design, plants, or artwork you see.

Get out and play together! Go to one of our great local golf courses in the morning or evening when it's cool, buy a bucket of balls and see who can hit them the farthest. Or, play a round of miniature golf. The mini-golf course at Arroyo Seco Golf Course in South Pasadena is perfect for a quick game after dinner. Then, in the heat of the day, cool down like it's December at the Pasadena Ice Skating Rink or the LA Kings Ice at Pickwick Gardens in Burbank. Or, hit the air-conditioned bowling alley right next door! AMF Bowlero in Pasadena offers Sunday Funday bowling and arcade discounts after 6 PM.

Take a tech-free picnic dinner to a local park. Head into the Angeles National Forest or to Griffith Park for a beautiful backdrop. Spread your blanket on the sand at one of our local beaches and watch the sunset over the water. Then, add some decidedly un-digital music to your meal at an outdoor concert. Monrovia, Altadena, Temple City, and several other cities also host park concerts that go perfectly with dinner al fresco. Check out our 2021 Music (and movies) in the Park guide on our Facebook page.

Be a tourist in your own city. Eat at a new restaurant, poke into shops, people watch. But don't depend on GPS to get you where you need to be. Instead, let the day take you.

And enjoy the feeling of pulling that plug. You'll be glad you did!

Julie Ward


Norton Simon Museum Art Kits

For kids ages 4 and up, the Norton Simon Museum Art Kits is inspired by the museum's collection and allows your kids to explore its art from home. Registration for kits opens on July 12 and continues while supplies last. Kits can be picked up from the Lamanda Park or Santa Catalina Branch libraries. 



STEM CAMP for Kids (ages 9-12)

few spots remain for this fun camp where your kid can learn lab experiments using everyday household items. There are eight sessions in total, and they start on July 7, at 2:00 PM. See the site for details and supplies needed for each session.



StoryWalk® "Family Reunion"

This wonderful, all-ages experience brings your whole family to the Altadena library to take a relaxing stroll while reading Family Reunion by Chad & Dad Richardson. The tale is about a boy who is reluctant to go to his family reunion but finds himself enjoying it nonetheless. This event is available through July 31. See the site for more details.



How to Draw Cartoons Virtual Tutorial

Monrovia Library invites your artistic kids to register for fun, creative, and interactive cartoon drawing classes. Each 45-minute video will remain online and available for 30 days after its original posting. Each tutorial requires individual registration, and links are provided by email. Here's the schedule:

  • July 8: Captain Underpants

Registration closes on July 9 at 5:00 PM.

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Summer Reading Programs

Every year the libraries in our cities host summer reading programs. These are great opportunities to learn and explore with families outside of your immediate neighborhood and school. Here are some of the programs in the Greater Pasadena area:


Pasadena Public Library

Altadena Public Library

Monrovia Public Library

LA County Library

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Take & Make: DIY Magic Wand

For kids ages seven and up (it's fun for teens and adults, too), the Pasadena Library wants to help them make their own magic wandRegistration for supply kits opened on July 1 and will continue while supplies last. After that, you can pick up a kit from the branch library of your choice. The kit includes supplies to start your wand and instructions on how to complete it with items from around you (making it - and the subsequent magic - truly your own). 



Take & Make: Embroidery Kits

Suitable for beginners and best for those 9 years old and up, the folks at the Hastings Branch library will teach you how to create your hand-embroidered rainbow. Everything you need is in the supply kit. Registration for the kits opens on July 6 and continues while supplies last. See the site for more details.



Read Around the World: India

For kids ages 5-12, the Pasadena Library takes them on a virtual trip to India by way of Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani. Your kid will learn about India and how to make sand Rangoli art. A limited number of copies of the book are available. Registration for this zoom event is required.



Make Fingerprint Comic Books

For kids ages 4 and up, the Lamanda Park Branch library staff will teach your kids how to make easy-to-draw fingerprint people and animals. They will also show examples of comics using fingerprint characters to get your little Stan Lee's imagination going! Registered kids can pick up an art kit while supplies last. Spots are limited so register soon.



Bob Baker Marionette Theatre Puppet Performance

This all-ages zoom presentation will delight everyone's imagination through the magic of puppetry. The fun happens on July 15, from 3:30 PM till 4:30 PM. Registration required.



Curiosity Connection Park Pop-Up

The whole family is invited to check out the Altadena Library's new bookmobile for a pop-up library experience at Farnsworth Park on Thursday, July 8, from 3:00 PM till 5:00 PM. There will be lawn games, bubble play, some dancing, books to check out, and more. No reservation is required. Just show up!



Family Book Club

This in-person event is directed by Altadena Library's Youth and Family Services Librarian and is geared toward families of K-2nd graders. Books will be provided (one per household). The meeting is on Saturday, July 10, from 3:00 till 3:30 PM. Please register by July 9 to make sure you get the book in time for the meeting. See the event listing for titles.

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NOTE: Story times are subject to change. Please check the sites. Recorded story times are generally available on library YouTube channels.

Teen Inspiration

Check out Altadena Library's Teen Instagram account for BTWN TiTLES, their biweekly posts of book reviews, creativity experiments, and more.

Pasadena Public Library regular storytimes:

Social Media Storytime: Preschool on Mondays at 10:30 - 10:50 AM on Facebook Live and Thursday at 3:00 - 3:20 PM on Instagram Live


Social Media Storytime: Toddler on Tuesdays at 10:30 - 10:50 AM on Instagram Live


Chinese Mandarin Storytime on Wednesdays at 3:00 PM on Instagram Live


Social Media Storytime: Hora de Cuento en Español on Wednesdays at 4:00 - 4:20 PM on Facebook Live


Social Media Storytime: ASL (American Sign Language) on Friday at 4:00 - 4:20 PM on Instagram Live

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