“We need to leave this house!” Words you can often hear me screaming, yelling saying on a daily basis. Like any mom with young kids, I get stir crazy (You, too?). In the name of keeping us all as close to fabulous as possible, I thought to share a few of my most favorite local hot spots for moms and toddlers these days….

Descanso Gardens. Talk about natural beauty. (And I’m not even a nature kind of gal.) I LOVE this place. Truly. It brings me peace and happiness even on the most challenging toddler days. There’s the rose garden maze (that we call “Alice in Wonderland’s maze”), the choo-choo train, the blooming cherry blossom trees and tulip field (depending what time of year you go), the swimming duckies and ‘magical’ Japanese garden house down the winding shady path… and that’s just the start of it! Get your fabulous family pictures here, folks. And please don’t forget about the pretzels (those are my girls’ favorite attraction… they’re just regular bags of pretzels available at the snack bar, but for some reason they taste better when wandering through flowers outdoors). Not to mention the kiddos get so tired out from walking, that you’re pretty much guaranteed a nap in the afternoon. Individual admission ranges from $4-9, with kids under 5 FREE. Family membership for a year is available for under $100. Since my girls and I seem to find ourselves there every few weeks, it’s worth it.

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Kidspace Children’s Museum. You can find all sorts of fun at this place… bugs, butterflies, spiders, pretend cars, ant farms, workshops, enrichment classes, an outdoor cafe that boasts a tasty pu pu platter (that my girls can’t say without wildly giggling, because they think it’s ‘poo poo’ platter). And when it gets hot outside, well, let’s just say the kiddos can cool off outside the cafe for FREE. (Not sure how sanitary it is for preschoolers to play in water that shoots up from under the ground, but it’s a hoot and a half to watch.) Oh! AND: There’s an awesome, hidden pirate ship playground on the same property (technically named Brookside Park). $11 admission fee.

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Americana at Brand. I’ve had a love affair with this place since I first became a mom. It’s a perfect place to stroll a newborn outdoors while window shopping (or really shopping) in some of the most fabulous stores that Southern California has to offer. The grass area is ideal for wiggly toddlers to run around like the adorable crazy people they are (with special Kids Club musical acts on Tuesdays from 11am-1pm). AND, There’s a TROLLEY that you can ride around on like you’re at Disneyland. (I’m not ashamed to admit how much fun I have on it.) The Pacific Theatres on site offers Mommy Mondays if you want to catch a movie with your tot and not worry about disturbing folks’ viewing pleasure (the lights aren’t as dark, the volume is turned down a bit and you’re welcome to nurse, feed, walk up and down and play with your kids amidst a moms-only crowd). But watching the outdoor musical dancing waters takes the cake… while you eat cake (or cheesecake, that is) on the family-friendly Cheesecake Factory’s patio.

Giggles N Hugs (inside the Glendale Galleria mall, across the street from the Americana). Ok, my kids are obsessed with this indoor playground — with the bright climbing structures, multiple slides, ball bin, zip line and bubble parties with kid-friendly deejays. Me? I’m just obsessed with the food (it’s amazing! try the apple & peanut salad), the wine (2 drink maximum) and the free WiFi that I need to finish blogposts like this one without being interrupted by adorable little people. Sometimes they even have popular characters visit to decorate cookies with the kiddos. Adults are free, with kids costing $11. A sibling will cost you an extra $8, while crawlers are $5 and non-movers are free (food and wine sold separately). Whee!

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Sky Zone. Jump! Jump! On a trampoline, baby. Although a park location has been announced for the Glendale area, it’s not quite ready yet. Which means: I currently drive to the Van Nuys location. Considering that Van Nuys is a full 30 minutes away from my near-Pasadena neighborhood (assuming there’s no traffic)… you KNOW that I’m serious about enjoying this place. Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am-12pm is Toddler Time (trust me, watching a bunch of mini-people springing and boinging all over the place with very little balance is a giggle-worthy sight for itself). The best part? I get to jump, too… and work off all that cheesecake I scarfed down at Americana the day before. $5 per child (per hour)… parents jump for free.

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