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A mother swan swims with her babies while a mother and son ride a swan boat in the distance
(Patrick Hruby / Los Angeles Times)

27 very L.A. ways to spend time with Mom — or not — on Mother’s Day

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A few years ago, I compiled a list of things to do on Mother’s Day focused on the concept — and I’ll quote myself here — “that spending time with you [their children] is what most moms really want for Mother’s Day.”

Shortly after my well-intentioned roundup was published, I received some feedback from moms: Not everyone wants to spend time with their children on Mother’s Day, especially if they are younger than 3.

On a day dedicated to celebrating mothers, carving out a little “me time” can be a valuable opportunity for self-care and relaxation.

Planning your weekend?

Stay up to date on the best things to do, see and eat in L.A.

Fortunately, Los Angeles offers many activities to enjoy solo or with a companion. Perhaps your mother would relish the chance to peruse the chocolate room at the Ed Ruscha retrospective at LACMA, free from the worry of children trying to lick the walls. Or maybe she’d enjoy a sound bath, waterfall hike, forest bathing session at one of L.A.’s stunning botanic gardens or a post-bedtime comedy show.


Mother’s Day is emotionally complicated for many people, including mothers. To make the day more meaningful, why not ask your mom or mother figure what their ideal Sunday looks like? To help you get started, we’ve compiled some suggestions from our guides of things to do in L.A., below.

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A vendor wearing a hat stands behind her ceramic wares at In Todo Craft Fair.
(In Todo Craft Fair )

For the mom who loves crafts

Highland Park Holiday market
In Todo was founded by designers Kristen Gonzalez (Selva Negra), Shobha Philips (Proclaim), Adele Tetangco (et Tigre) and Aliya Wanek in an effort to bring visibility to BIPOC artists, designers and makers in Los Angeles. The latest market, a miniature version of In Todo’s annual holiday craft fair, will be held at Block Party bar in Highland Park in honor of Mother’s Day. Meet more than 30 makers selling ceramics, specialty food items, apparel, jewelry, apothecary goods and more.

When: May 12, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Admission: Tickets are free but must be reserved online.
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Two women with shopping bags at Unique Markets Los Angeles
(Daniel Brittain / Unique Markets)

For the mom who's a patron of L.A. makers

Downtown L.A. Holiday market
Clothing made from vintage terry cloth towels, uplifting graphic tees designed to empower creative spirit and jewelry made from vintage glass beads bring singular flair to the 15th annual Unique Markets Holiday Market, held at the California Market Center in downtown Los Angeles. More than 150 independent designers will be on hand at the event, which includes a family fun zone, a free DIY marbled coaster station, nonalcoholic drinks from Best Day Brewing, a printed canvas tote for attendees and portraits for Mother’s Day weekend. Additionally, some vendors will offer complimentary gift wrapping if you are shopping for Mom.

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 11 and 12.

Admission: $15; $19 for both days. Children 14 and younger, free. VIP admission, $40.
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An Ed Ruscha painting that consists of the single word Annie that looks poured from maple syrup
Ed Ruscha, “Annie, Poured From Maple Syrup,” 1966, oil on canvas
(Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles Times)

For the mom who loves wordplay

Mid-Wilshire Museum
My mom and I share a love of words and wordplay so, if my sainted mother wasn’t clear on the other side of the country on Mother’s Day, you’d find us spending a good part of it at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art taking in “Ed Ruscha / Now Then,” the artist’s first retrospective in more than 20 years.

That’s because the exhibition, which fills the second floor of the museum’s BCAM building, includes 76 paintings (and nearly three times as many photographs, drawings, books and prints), many of which display Ruscha’s artistic, playful use of words. These words thrust dynamically across the canvas like the 20th Century Fox logo on blast in “Large Trademark With Eight Spotlights” (1962), amble across hilltops like the Hollywood sign against the setting sun in “Hollywood” (1968) and double down on double meanings in the English-meets-Spanish coupling of “Sin / Without” (1968). They’re rendered in gunpowder, tobacco stain, Pepto Bismol, caviar and even his own blood. The artist’s word playfulness knowingly toys with expectations too; the name Annie, rendered in brown globules of delicious-looking maple syrup squirted across a mustard-yellow canvas, is actually an oil-on-canvas work with the cheeky title “Annie Poured From Maple Syrup” (1966).

Speaking of sweet stuff, before we left, I’d make sure my mom and I spent a few minutes in “Chocolate Room,” Ruscha’s 1970 contribution to the Venice Biennale, which consists of an entire room covered floor to ceiling with rectangles of paper screenprinted with honest-to-goodness chocolate paste that looks and smells like the inside of a chocolate Easter bunny. I’d make sure my mom read the nearby museum label that explained how the installation was an extension of Ruscha’s “experimentation with organic and unconventional materials.” That, I’d tell her, is the kind of thing that happens when you let your kid play with his food. Then we’d both laugh and then I’d get serious and thank her for encouraging me to start playing with my words all those years ago.

When: “Ed Ruscha / Now Then” is on display through Oct. 6, 2024.

Price: LACMA tickets for L.A. County residents are $23 for adults, $19 for seniors and free for youth.
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A woman stands holding a potted plant.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

For the mom who's also a plant parent

Boyle Heights Plant Shop
Walk down East Cesar E. Chavez Avenue and you might accidentally find yourself in the middle of a garden.

Succulents, monsteras and snake plants spill onto the sidewalk outside Latinx With Plants. Inside, greenery hangs from the ceilings and potted plants are stacked on shelves, nearly covering the bright orange walls. The smell is a refreshing, aromatic cleanse.

The plant shop and community space was inspired by D’Real Graham’s Black With Plants, and bloomed out of a desire to celebrate people of color in the plant world. Before opening up its bricks-and-mortar shop, Latinx With Plants was a pop-up called Planta Parenthood. It all started with the need to raise money for a family member during COVID-19, but founder Andi Xoch recognized the power of healing through plants.

“We saw folks all around us (re)connect with their plants and nature,” Xoch says on her website.

On Mother’s Day, the shop is offering two “bootquet” workshops, where you and Mom will paint a boot vase and learn about flower arrangements for $60 per person. The workshops are noon to 2 p.m. and 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Call (323) 847-3978 or check for a link in the shop’s Instagram bio to RSVP.

Find even more plant shops or nurseries to take Mom — and get her a gift of her choosing — in our guides to the best shops for indoor and outdoor plants.
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A woman in a short red leopard-print dress and big glasses holds her hands over her heart.

For the mom who loves a good laugh

Comedy Show
Netflix, in association with Live Nation, will deliver another massive 11-day fest, Netflix Is a Joke, from May 2 to May 12. Dubbed the biggest comedy festival in North America, it features stand-up performances from the top names in comedy at clubs and major L.A. venues including the Hollywood Bowl, the Greek, the Dolby Theatre, the Forum, the Palladium, the Orpheum Theatre and the Wiltern. The laughter will extend to the city’s well-known comedy clubs, including the Hollywood Improv, Largo, Laugh Factory and the Comedy Store.

This year Netflix Is a Joke offers a new al fresco twist with Outside Joke, which will act as the hub of the fest where guests can enjoy a mix of late-night live stand-up, game shows and lawn games.

Major names on the festival lineup include Ali Wong, Bert Kreischer, Bill Burr, Chris Rock, David Letterman, Kevin Hart, Iliza Shlesinger, Ralph Barbosa, Sarah Silverman, Sebastian Maniscalco, Matt Rife, Taylor Tomlinson, Jerry Seinfeld, Tom Segura, Trevor Noah, Wanda Sykes and Hannah Gadsby. Wong will perform 12 shows over four nights at the Wiltern (the May 4 show will be recorded for a Netflix special), including Mother’s Day, May 12.
A woman pilot holds onto her goggles on the top of her head
(Daniel Reichert)

For the mom who loves theater (and Midcentury Modern design)

Live Theater Group
A Noise Within is the perfect destination if Mom’s interest lies in theater and Midcentury Modern architecture. Housed in the historic Stuart Pharmaceutical building, this architectural gem was designed by Edward Durell Stone, the Modernist mastermind behind Radio City Music Hall, New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

A visit to the East Pasadena theater always feels special thanks to the architecture, but it’s a safe bet that George Bernard Shaw’s comedy of manners “Misalliance” will offer a pleasant alternative to current events. (This absurdist look at love, marriage and class is set in the English countryside and features eight marriage proposals and a plane crash in one afternoon.)

Although the play’s official opening is May 18, previews begin May 12 at 2 p.m. Tickets start at $35.50.
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People in an outdoor yoga class in Elysian Park in November.
(From Steven Arcos)

For the mom who yearns for a good stretch

Echo Park Yoga
Steven Arcos has been leading community yoga classes in Echo Park, where he grew up and still lives today, for a decade. For most of that time he was at Echo Park Lake, but aggressive geese and the period when the park was fenced off (after unhoused people were removed from the area) prompted him to move his practice to Elysian Park.

Now you can find him there every Saturday and Sunday morning, guiding locals through a strength-building Vinyasa flow. I felt like I got a workout in the class without it moving too fast (a sweet spot for me). I could hear birds warbling in the jacaranda tree above me. It’s a peaceful spot, and you might even meet a few neighbors there.

Elysian Park is big, so check out Arcos’ Meetup page for detailed instructions on how to get there.

When: 10 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays

Cost: Pay what you can.
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A person swings a golf club during a game at Topgolf in El Segundo.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

For the mom who likes the idea of golfing

El Segundo Golf
Whether Mom is giving Tiger Woods at the country club or she’s never picked up a golf club in her life, Topgolf welcomes players of all levels, making it a unique Mother’s Day spot. In addition to swinging at golf balls, the El Segundo facility, five minutes south of LAX, offers a vast selection of games, including Angry Birds (which feels like a Wii game), Jewel Jam and Top Shot at varying levels. There’s a laid-back energy at Topgolf, similar to that of Dave n Buster’s, that encourages you to just have fun and enjoy the company you’re with.

To avoid long waits, make an online reservation in advance. But even if you aren’t able to snag a reservation, you can join the waiting list and check out Topgolf’s bar or food options, which include injectable doughnut holes, mouthwatering burgers and vegan flat breads. On Sundays the busiest times are 12-7 p.m., according to its online tracker, which also notes current wait times.

Price: $47 to $75 per hour with a $5 fee for first-time players
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A woman stands on an outdoor stage addressing people sitting on yoga mats
(Deborah Netburn / Los Angeles Times)

For the mom who wants to chill out with a view

Malibu Soundbath
Impress Mom with this most magical of sound baths that takes place on a grassy clearing high in the Santa Monica Mountains, with broad views of the glimmering blue Pacific below. A towering sculpture of a seated figure with a heart cut out of its torso looms over the space, and a harp player with flowers in her hair plucks at her instrument while attendees set up their mats, pillows, blankets and sleeping bags so they’ll be comfortable and warm amid the ocean breeze.

Sound bath practitioners often begin with a quiet talk about the healing frequencies of the instruments. Ana Netanel, who has 20 years of experience studying, teaching and guiding sound healing, takes a different approach. On the day I went, she stood on a low stage dwarfed by the open-hearted sculpture and shouted joyfully into a microphone for us to set powerful intentions on this new moon. “See it! Believe it! Receive it!” she cried. “Big blessings! Big miracles! Miracles upon miracles upon miracles!” The energy was somewhere between a new-age revival and a concert. It felt fun and refreshing.

Netanel, who leads sound baths in this space every Sunday (weather permitting), was supported by a team of sound healers she calls the High-Vibe Tribe and Michael Whitehorse, a Native American elder and member of the Tongva nation, who welcomed us to his ancestors’ land and played a wooden flute over our heads. It’s a quintessential L.A. experience with a crowd to match — but keep in mind that unless you buy VIP tickets, your back will have to endure lying on the ground for an hour and a half. Free parking is available on site and I advise loading up on sunscreen and bringing an eye mask to block out the sun. Tickets are available on Netanel’s Eventbrite page. The exact address will be sent to you after you book a spot. If you purchase a general admission ticket, you’re responsible for bringing your own yoga mat and pillow.

Price: $45 to $55, depending on how far in advance you book; $111 for VIP tickets that give you access to special decompression cushions with pillows and blankets, which also offer the best views of the ocean.

For other soundbaths to visit with Mom, check out this guide.
The bridges at the Venice Canals.
(Adam Markovitz)

For the mom who loves a stroll

Venice Walk
Only a few of Venice’s historic canals remain, crossed by a dozen tiny bridges that connect three rectangular “islands.” And though the bridges themselves might not be architectural wonders, as a group they make up one of my favorite walks in the entire city — a water-hopping maze that seems to reveal new nooks every time I wander through it.

Parking around the canals can be rough, especially on summer weekends. For street spots, your best bets are nearby Ocean Avenue or 28th Avenue. Among the paid lots nearby, the city-run beach parking area at the end of South Venice Boulevard is often cheaper than the lots further inland.

Once you’re walking on the canals, beach traffic fades into a tranquil, park-like atmosphere, where pedestrians rule and the local ducks have their own private playground (the aptly named Venice Canals Duck Park, on Linnie Canal at Dell Avenue). The architecture here is like a microcosm of L.A. itself, with colonial cottages and Italian villas lined up next to glass-walled modern designs. Gardens along the sidewalks are lushly landscaped with succulents and fruit trees, and each wood-and-steel arch bridge seems to make for a better photo op than the last. In all my years visiting, I’ve never once seen a local using one of the many pretty rowboats tied along the canals.

On a recent walk, I clocked 1.2 miles in a curlicue path, although it would take even longer to explore every inch of the interconnected islands. For a treat at the end (or the beginning), grab a coffee or sandwich in the peaceful, bougainvillea-lined courtyard of the Canal Market (600 Mildred Ave.). Or plan your visit for a Friday morning, when the Venice Farmers Market pops up just across South Venice Boulevard.

Starting point: The Canal Market
Hours: 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday

Find even more strolls to take with Mom in our guide to walks along the water that don’t involve the beach.
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Waterfall at Eaton Canyon Falls.
(Matt Pawlik )

For the mom who loves to hike

Pasadena Mountain Trail
4.0-mile out-and-back
Pasadena’s Eaton Canyon is one of the most popular hiking destinations in Los Angeles County — and rightfully so. The scenery is idyllic, the trek is gentle and easy to follow, and the trailhead is incredibly accessible. What’s more, the picturesque 40-foot waterfalls flow year-round (in the summer, swimming hole!), but they’re best viewed after a good rain.

Park at the nature center lot, check out the interpretive exhibits (and native plant garden), and find the trailhead at the north end of the lot. The path follows a sandy, rocky wash alongside Eaton Creek (look for wildflowers in spring) as it heads deeper into the canyon. Ignore any side trails, such as those to Henninger Flats or Mt. Wilson, and continue north, following signs for the waterfall. At nearly the 1.5-mile mark, pass under a bridge and connect with a shortcut route that starts at Pinecrest Drive as the trail narrows and becomes enclosed by towering canyon walls.

Over the next half-mile, you will be doing plenty of stream crossings, so be prepared for a fun log-balancing and rock-hopping adventure. You may get wet! Come early for a more serene experience and the first pick of a boulder to perch on while you enjoy the mesmerizing cascade.

Find even more hikes to do with Mom in our guides to San Diego and Orange County hikes.
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A worker hoses off swan boats at Echo Park Lake.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

For the mom who loves a day at the lake

Echo Park Experience
On warm days, it’s hard to beat a ride on the swan boats at Echo Park. They’re powered by foot paddles, and the pedaling is easy because you’re in no hurry. Maybe you’ll want to do a circuit of the lake (really a man-made reservoir). Maybe you’ll sidle up to the towers of whitewater rising from the mid-lake fountain. Maybe you’ll wait until after dark (because the swans light up).

The boats are managed by Wheel Fun Rentals. Hours are 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily through Sept. 2. Rentals are $12 hourly per adult, $7 for those under age 18. Reservations required. The small boats can seat two adults and two children under age 10.

The large boats can seat up to five people. Hand-crank pedal boats also are available. Alas, the Boathouse Bistro, which had a city concession to sell food and drinks right next to the swan operation, shut down in late 2023. The city is seeking a new tenant for the space.

BTW: Although there’s a public lot at 1149 Echo Park Ave., it often fills and you may end up seeking street parking. Try Laguna Avenue, just east of Echo Park Avenue. As in many areas of the city, you may see tents belonging to unhoused people, but not nearly as many as surrounded the lake in 2020-21. In March 2021, city officials temporarily closed the park, removed the homeless encampment and arrested more than 180 protesters.
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An oval window hangs above a mirrored tabletop
(Barbara Bishop / Langham Hotel)

For the mom who loves a fancy spa

Pasadena Day Spa
Sneak away to Chuan Spa at the Langham for a day, and enter a glamorous bear cave that is surprisingly accessible. This elegant, tucked-away day spa is perfect for anybody who is weary and in need of a sumptuous retreat full of soft things and good snacks. With a day pass, or any service other than waxing, visitors have full use of the spa, as well as the gym, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

This is a pricier option to soak and steam, but worth it if you enjoy beautifully appointed environs and attention to every detail. The robes are heavy and luxe, sandals are given to match your shoe size, and each shower comes with a private changing alcove and set with chilled lavender-scented washcloths for instant revival. Everything is considered and attended to, including you.

Visit the dream room, where you can nap on a heated waterbed or read from the library of newspapers and magazines offered on the spa’s app. Another lounge has a soothing water feature, dim lights, juice and light snacks. As a day visitor, you have access to fitness classes and the posh hotel grounds. The only restrictions are an extra $20 charge for semiprivate Pilates classes, and no use of the hotel pool. Guests must valet park, which costs spa guests $15. This spa is not kid-friendly, and is best for solo retreats.

Price: A day pass is $100. Treatments start at $135, and reservations can often be made day of, online or by phone.

Find even more spas with day passes in this guide.
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For the mom who wants a mud bath

Corona Experience
This one’s not in L.A. but it’s worth the day trip. Glen Ivy has 19 pools on 12 acres, including some of the same mineral pools that were the star attraction here in the late 1800s. There’s no hotel. But it has a Grotto (when skin hydration happens) and it has Club Mud, where you may be slathered with red clay. You could alternate between the hot and cold plunge pools, grab a bite at the Kitchen or try a 50-minute quartz massage (dry heat from warm quartz sand) for $165.

The cost of admission with a Grotto visit is $120 per head; admission plus a HydroMassage, $125. Basic admission (access to the pools and club Mud) is $94, reservations required. Open to guests age 18 and over.

Looking for more places for Mom to relax? Check out our guide to SoCal hot springs.
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Two people in shorts walk in a spa.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

For the mom open to getting naked in the pool

MacArthur Park Spa
At Wi Spa you run into people of all ages, ethnicities and body types (yes, you have to be in the nude in the pool area).

For just $30, you can spend nearly an entire day here, whether you’re working out a sweat in a fitness center or in a steam sauna. My favorite room is a large, darkened rest area where you can stretch your legs on massage chairs ($1, cash only, gets you three minutes of rumbling and rolling on your back and shoulders). You can also indulge in various services, including a Korean body scrub for $60.

The co-ed area, which has five rooms ranging from the 210-degree bulgama to the 53-degree ice sauna, is also worth spending time in. There’s even a little computer area where kids can play Roblox and a cafeteria that serves all kinds of Korean food. Go for a cup of sikhye, or sweet rice punch, and hard-boiled eggs straight out of a rice cooker. You won’t regret it.
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A child tries to get a Morpho Blue butterfly to land on his finger
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

For the butterfly-loving mom

Exposition Park Museum
The Butterfly Pavilion at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is a yearly celebration of the fluttering winged creatures that make us point and smile. There are currently 15 species flying around the light-filled enclosure, just outside the museum. One to look out for: the tropical Blue Morpho, which looks like it is lighted from within. If you book your tickets for 9:30 a.m. or 2 p.m., you’ll see the day’s new butterfly releases. For better chances of a butterfly landing on you, wear colorful clothing, suggests Leslie Gordon, senior manager of Living Collections at the museum.

The butterflies will be on view until Aug. 25. After that, the space transforms into the Spider Pavilion. Inside the museum, Bugtopia and the ongoing Nature Lab offer live animal demonstrations.

Tickets to the Butterfly Pavillion are $8, in addition to museum admission. Members are free.
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A woman looks at merchandise for sale at a flea market
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

For the mom who loves flea markets

Fairfax Flea Market
This flea-market-meets-people-watching spectacular occupies the Fairfax High School parking lot at the corner of Melrose and Fairfax avenues every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., rain or shine. In addition to a curated selection of old and new apparel, accessories, arts and crafts and furnishings that skews heavily toward the Y2K-meets-L.A.-streetwear aesthetic, there’s a fleet of food trucks and a live-music stage that gives the whole affair a festive feel. With acres of cheap sunglasses, racks of hand-crocheted vests, tie-dyed workwear jackets and reissued vintage concert T-shirts and table after table of bath salts, middle-finger candles and oddly shaped area rugs (including — but not limited to — a crushed can of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, a carton of oat milk or Ryan Gosling’s head), there’s something to surprise and delight almost everyone.

Some favorites from a recent visit include JM Film Resins, where you can find repurposed old film prints, and Marz Jr.’s art stand, where you can nab a print or a blanket with illustrations of L.A. landmarks including Canter’s, the Hollywood Bowl or the huge minion that peers over the 101. Since there’s frequently a line at the main entrance on Melrose, head for the one on Fairfax, which is often less congested. Tickets are $6 (with $2 booking fee if purchased online). Valet parking is free for 3 hours, after which it costs $20.
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The Rose Bowl Flea Market is a vast marketplace of vintage goods, antiques and work by local artisans.
(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

For the mom hunting for vintage furniture

Pasadena Flea Market
When you’re on a budget, shopping “for fun” can be hard. But the Rose Bowl Flea Market makes it easier.

On the second Sunday of every month, as many as 2,500 vendors set up shop in the Pasadena stadium. You’ll find the expected vintage T-shirts and antique home goods, along with eye-popping oddities: Ronald McDonald action figures, life-size Santa Claus statues, bejeweled animal skulls. Food stands offer everything from breakfast burritos to shaved ice.

Admission begins at $12 per person and there is limited free parking available a walk away. Bring a tote bag (or a wagon) to collect all of your goodies, a hat to shield yourself from the sun and your bargaining skills. Even if you don’t find anything that tickles your fancy (which is nearly impossible), you can always spend your time observing the eclectic crowd. The next flea market takes place on July 10.
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A peacock adjusts its feathers as pedestrians pass by at the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Gardens
(Gabriella Angotti-Jones / Los Angeles Times)

For the mom who wants a peek at peacocks

Arcadia Public garden
Maybe it’s the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden’s early history as an Indigenous Tongva settlement named Aleupkigna on Baldwin Lake and then as the Mexican land grant Rancho Santa Anita, where cattle, grains, vineyards and fruit trees were nurtured, that gives this sprawling 127-acre botanic garden a kind of proletariat feel. There are plenty of beautiful places to wander here, such as the aquatic gardens that include the Meyberg Waterfall, the Meadowbrook Garden (filled with deciduous trees, whose colorful blooms and leaves change every season, as well as evergreens), the tropical greenhouse with thousands of orchids and the plantings grouped by geography — South American, Mediterranean, South African, Australian and Asiatic-North American. But the Arboretum also has extraordinary demonstration gardens such as the Crescent Farm, a onetime compacted lawn transformed into a lush, drought-resistant garden of California native plants and low-water fruits, vegetables, ground covers and shrubs by using lasagna mulching and hugelkultur beds to rebuild the soil.

Peacocks nonchalantly roam throughout the gardens — they’re descendants of the three birds imported by Rancho Santa Anita’s last owner, Elias Jackson “Lucky” Baldwin. There are historic buildings as well, such as the relocated Santa Anita Depot and the Queen Anne Cottage built by Baldwin. Little-known fact: This L.A. County-owned garden is also a great place for botanic research, thanks to its extensive library that you can search online and to Frank McDonough, a full-time botanical information consultant whose job is to answer the public’s questions about plants. (Call McDonough at (626) 821-3236.) The garden also has regular wellness classes such as forest bathing and yoga.

On May 12, the Arboretum is offering a special night hike for adults from 7:30 to 9 p.m. On the hike you’ll learn about symbols and meanings attached to various flowers through floriography.

Admission: $15, $11 seniors and students, $5 ages 5-12, members and children 4 and younger free. Must purchase tickets online.

Hours: Open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, except Dec. 25

Food: Peacock Café open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Grill is closed on Mondays.

No pets permitted except trained service dogs.
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California Botanic Garden
(Jeanette Marantos / Los Angeles Times)

For the mom obsessed with native plants

Claremont Nonprofit private garden
California Botanic Garden considers itself an 86-acre living museum, the state’s largest collection of native plants. The easy-to-roam area is divided into multiple regions such as a fan palm oasis and clumps of serrated agaves, a wildflower meadow, redwood groves, waves of Matilija poppies (whose fried-egg-looking blooms are the size of a hand) and a dizzying collection of manzanita and wildflower blooms in the spring. Be sure to visit the massive 250-year-old majestic oak, the largest and oldest in the garden’s oak woodlands. There are many sturdy benches that invite reflection and maybe a snack, but food is permitted only in the parking area.

This is a lovely garden to learn how native plants look when they’re mature. The garden’s website lists what’s currently in bloom. And it’s a great place to appreciate the heady fragrances of many California native plants. A slight stroke of a branch can fill the air with scent. Just be gentle when you walk by.

Admission: $10, $6 seniors and students, $4 ages 3-12, and free entry for members and children under 3.

Hours: Open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday.

Food is not permitted in the gardens. No pets permitted except trained service dogs.
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A pink Jump for Joy rose at the Huntington Library Rose Gardens.
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

For the mom who wants to smell the roses

San Marino Public garden
The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens is the grand dame of Southern California botanic gardens. (It’s as large and formidable as its name.)

If you go, plan a day devoted to just wandering the Huntington’s 130-acre gardens, a sprawling collection of extraordinary roses, authentic Chinese and Japanese gardens, and areas dedicated to Australian plants, Shakespearean plants, herbs, desert plants, jungle and subtropical plants (you can almost hear Tarzan bellowing somewhere in those towering, vine-dripping trees) and, of course, a whimsical garden to enchant children. The food options are varied and very good. The Jade Court Cafe in the Chinese Garden offers a range of cuisine, plus beer and wine. There’s also the 1919 Cafe near the entrance and the Red Car coffee shop for grab-and-go coffees, ice cream cones and sandwiches — and outdoor seating options. The Rose Garden Tea Room reopened in 2023, but best to get reservations in advance.

Hours: Open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except Tuesdays. Reservations required Friday–Sunday. Closed July 4, Thanksgiving, Dec. 24-25 and Jan. 1.

Admission: Prices start at $25 weekdays and $29 on weekends; slightly lower fees for seniors, students and children. Members and children under 4 enter free.

No pets permitted except trained service dogs.
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Gamble House is seen from the street on a driving tour of Pasadena Architecture.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

For the mom who loves Craftsman living

Pasadena Historic Home
If Mom’s a fan of “Back to the Future” — or just historic Los Angeles architecture — take her on a tour of the Gamble House, famously Doc Brown’s house in the 1985 classic film.

Inside the 1908 Arts and Crafts building, you’ll see intricate woodwork and stained glass galore. You’ll learn about the Gamble family (of Procter & Gamble fame) as well as the painstaking work that architects Charles and Henry Greene put into this stunning home.

Some bright spots of the tour include gawking at the 6-foot-4 front door with its impressive stained glass tree and drippy lead edging, spotting the carved bats in the living room, admiring the custom wood furnishings and noticing a purposeful hint of “wabi-sabi,” or imperfection, in this highly designed home with Japanese influences.

Tickets: $15 for adults; $12.50 for students, children 13-18 and seniors; children under 12 are free. The Gamble House is open for various docent-led tours, indoors and out, on Tuesday and Thursday through Sunday. Advance registration is recommended.
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Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House
(Lisa Boone / Los Angeles Times)

For the mom who's a Frank Lloyd Wright fan

East Hollywood Historic landmark
You know it is no ordinary house from the moment you step into the low-ceilinged entrance to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Maya-inspired Hollyhock House — the only UNESCO World Heritage site in Los Angeles.

That is by design. The house was commissioned in 1918 by oil heiress Aline Barnsdall, who wanted a theatrical home that would serve as a residence and a performing arts complex.

Known as the Hollyhock House for its floral motif — Barnsdall’s favorite — the project was Wright’s first major California project and is a mix of Maya, Spanish Revival and Japanese architectural styles.

With its sunken living room and monumental fireplace, art glass, unexpected water features and custom furnishings — including a fabulous pendant by Rudolph Schindler in the dining room — the house is endlessly fascinating, even if you are not a fan of Wright. (In 2009, New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff acknowledged Wright’s legacy with some critics: “But to many he is still the vain, megalomaniacal architect, someone who trampled over his clients’ wishes, drained their bank accounts and left them with leaky roofs.”)

Not all of the rooms are open to the public. For instance, the home’s clean-lined kitchen with solid mahogany countertops and custom appliances is viewed from behind a velvet rope. (The kitchen was remodeled in 1946 by Frank Lloyd Wright’s son, Lloyd Wright.) If you’d like to see more, check out the narrated virtual tour of the house online.

The house is in East Hollywood’s Barnsdall Art Park, home to the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, the Barnsdall Gallery Theater and the Barnsdall Art Center. The park also has ample picnic space and great views of Griffith Park and the Hollywood sign.

Tickets: Advance tickets are recommended and can be booked online; adults are $7; seniors and students are $3; children under 12 are free. Self-guided tours are available from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

To find out more about Wright’s work in L.A., watch KCET’s “Artbound” episode “That Far Corner: Frank Lloyd Wright in Los Angeles” by former L.A. Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne.
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A person rides a bike past an orange boxcar.
(Jennelle Fong / For The Times)

For the mom who wants a bike ride and a snack

Elysian Valley American Restaurant
To bike the L.A. River Path is to witness an epic struggle between nature and concrete. Yes, concrete has been mostly winning these last 80 years, but to pause at the Spoke, which opened in 2015, is a simple pleasure. Its laid-back patio includes bike rentals ($15 an hour), bike repair and a cafe space serving breakfasts, salads, sandwiches and bowls. (Sandwiches and burgers are $16 to $20.) There are occasional live events, including a monthly comedy night known as “The Frogtown Show.” The cafe also serves as a beer garden with a rotating list of draft beers from L.A.-based breweries, hard cider and hard kombucha on tap.
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A yawning dog riding in a backpack among a crowd of people, with pop-up canopies and a building in the background
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For the foodie mom

Downtown L.A. Food Market
Row DTLA is home to the weekly outdoor food fest Smorgasburg. On Sundays, food trucks and stands representing experimental culinary ventures from across the city come together on the 5-acre site of the Alameda Produce Market at this retail and restaurant complex. Smorgasburg director Zach Brooks orchestrates the congregation, which also serves as an incubator for vendors that might launch businesses beyond the market.

Crowds beeline to Chimmelier’s Korean fried chicken sandwiches. But also try Goat Mafia’s birria tacos in the “L.A. style,” with a cheesy crust; Love Hour smashburgers; pork belly breakfast tacos at Macheen; and Kinrose’s Middle Eastern ice cream in flavors such as brown sugar and spiced walnut, topped with crumbled baklava. The Armenian skewers grilled over almond wood at III Mas Barbecue are spectacular, marinated with Chaldean curry, tamarind and tarragon, and served with aish baladi pita.

The new year always brings a new lineup of vendors. And every quarter, the Smorgasburg L.A. Art Fair, curated by the neighborhood’s Art Share L.A., features artisan vendors and live performances for a day of music, art and food.
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Sunset from the Dolby Family Terrace at the Academy of Motion Pictures Museum.
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For the mom who loves movie trivia

Mid-Wilshire Museum $
The section of Wilshire Boulevard known as Museum Row is finally living up to its name, thanks not just to the ongoing expansions at LACMA and the La Brea Tar Pits but the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which opened in fall 2021. Situated on the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax, what was once May Company and now is known as the Saban Building has been restored with limestone and gold-leaf tiles that form a gleaming corner cylinder. Illustrated murals of Hollywood scenes decorate former store display windows, and if you head around the corner to the entrance, you’ll see Fanny’s Restaurant and Cafe, named after vaudeville star Fanny Brice, with a glittering bar area, red-carpet-hued accents, Wednesday jazz nights and cinematic themed dinners.

The Academy Museum’s first-floor lobby is where the three-level “Stories of Cinema” exhibition begins with a free-to-the-public multichannel media installation that charts film history by pulling content from more than 700 movies. If you want to see more, purchase admission and head to the second and third floors to continue the “Stories of Cinema” exhibition, with galleries dedicated to animation, special effects, costumes, classic films like “Casablanca” and “Boyz N the Hood” and international filmmakers like Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar and documentarian Lourdes Portillo. The fourth level features temporary exhibits, with past shows including a retrospective on Black cinema; on view through August is “Pope of Trash,” an exhibit centered around John Waters’ film career. Head to the fifth-floor terrace to catch one of the best views of the neighborhood, including the Hollywood sign in the distance. Don’t leave without a visit to the museum gift store, with limited retail collaborations for films like “The Godfather” that fans are sure to appreciate.
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The Central Garden at the Getty Center
(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

For the mom who wants a gorgeous view, a garden stroll and art galore

Brentwood Art Museum $
Museums like LACMA, the Norton Simon, the Broad and the Hammer are all worth a visit. But the Getty Center offers something quintessentially L.A. that you can’t find in any other city: the views and the grounds.

You’ll park on-site, then take the Getty Center Tram — a hovertrain, specifically — up a short way to the Getty Center. The permanent collections house European art and artifacts from the Middle Ages to modernity, including paintings, illuminated manuscripts, sculptures and furniture. There are also galleries with rotating exhibitions.

Between galleries, relax and grab a bite in the central courtyard. Take in the views and the outdoor sculptures on display, and enjoy the ducks frolicking in the fountains.

After you stroll through the museum, head out to the Central Garden. The otherworldly landscape is considered a living outdoor part of the museum’s collection.

The Getty Center shares a namesake with the Getty Villa, but they house different types of art and have different overall vibes. Like the Villa, tickets are free but require advance reservations.

The Getty Center is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. the rest of the week; closed Monday. It’s open year-round except for New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. There is an on-site paid parking structure; because of the museum’s location, this is really your only option for parking.

If you plan to visit the Getty Villa and the Getty Center on the same day, there is a “pay once, park twice” deal on parking. More information is available on the Getty Center’s parking information page. The Getty Center and Villa are about 30 to 45 minutes’ driving distance apart, depending on traffic. If it’s rush hour on a Friday afternoon, they are two hours apart.
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