As a mom on a budget, or, as my friends like to call me, a total cheapskate, I am always looking for inexpensive outings to fill up my weekends.
A good one is next weekend's L.A. Times sponsored Festival of Books on the UCLA campus.
I attended last year without the kids, but as soon as I got there, I realized I should have brought them along, as at least one in ten booths had something they would have enjoyed.
Last year there were tons of readings, crafts, and games especially for kids, not to mention hundreds of children's books all sold at discounted prices. Oh, and don't forget the food. Many local and national vendors set up booths at the festival to sell hot dogs, tacos, ice cream and the like, so even kids who are more interested in SpongeBob than in books will enjoy walking around outdoors with an ice cream in one hand and a free balloon in the other- after all, at age 4, what more can life hold?
Make sure to bring cash, as I recall that only the largest vendors were equipped to take credit or debit cards.
Also, I would highly recommend taking the bus if at all possible. Parking at UCLA is stressful under the best of circumstances, so during an event like this it gets downright tragic. Plus, if your kids are anything like mine, they will find riding the bus itself more exciting than the rest of the day combined.
There is a huge spread in today's L.A. Times which includes a map, a list of speakers, a list of the bus lines serving UCLA, a list of events by times, and a list of panel discussions (in case you are lucky enough to be able to go without the kids).
Admission to the festival is free, so you can probably do the entire outing for less than $20- especially if you're cheap like me and prefer the library to purchasing kid's books.
If you're a sucker who actually believes that your child's fervent desire for a shiny, new Dora the Explorer musical book proves her to be a precocious, literary genius, well, then, I would bring $60 or so.
Have fun and see you there!