Hansen Dam Aquatic Center

Hansen Dam Aquatic Center is an oasis in the San Fernando Valley.

hansen dam aquatic center water slide

While there is still a bit of summer left, I want to recommend the pool at Hansen Dam Aquatic Center. To get there we took the 101 to the 405 to the 118 to the 210 and exited on Foothill Blvd. That may seem like a long way to go for a swim, especially when we have Lindero Country Club right around the corner, but I took my kids to Discovery Cube Los Angeles for a day trip to check out the newest exhibits. It was a Tuesday when LAUSD was back in school and LVUSD wasn’t yet, so the center was not crowded and the kids blew through everything in 2 hours. Since we had time and I had packed our swim suits just in case, we went over to the pool.

hansen dam aquatic center pool

We haven’t explored the Hansen Dam Recreation Area at all, before or since having children, so our visit to the Hansen Dam Aquatic Center was a delightful surprise. The center is a giant – like enormous, endless – pool with 2 waterslides next to a big manmade lake. Admission for swimming is $1 per child and $3.50 for adults (which is actually kind of backwards in my opinion since I went in the water for all of 5 minutes and the kids spent an hour in it!).

hansen dam aquatic center child

There is a food truck on site for snacks and at that time there was also a nice lady with a little ice cream cart. There are plenty of restrooms, showers, and changing rooms, and you can even rent a shade tent to stay out of the sun. We got there at 4pm so I was able to set up my chair in the shade of a tree.

Swimming Lake

The pool is referred to as a “swimming lake” as opposed to the larger recreational lake behind it. It is surrounded by a sandy beach, and you walk into the pool just like into a lake, except the bottom is concrete like a pool. At one end are the two waterslides, which you access by walking through a giant curtain of water (I guess to rinse you off whether you like it or not). One waterslide is closed, and that’s the one I went on because the open one was not operational that day. The closed waterslide was rather terrifying for a second, since you can’t see which way you’re going. But the kids didn’t seem to mind and they went on it over and over again. You can’t wear a rash guard on the slide – the lifeguards made my boys take theirs off.

hansen dam aquatic center shade tents

Visit Soon!

The pool and waterslide are both open every day in the summer from 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Starting September 6, they are only open Saturday and Sunday through September 25, and then they close for the season. But there are lots of other things to do at the recreation area so we will report back when we explore it some more!

Summer Goal: Get a Library Card


I’ve had my library card, obtained at the Agoura Hills Library, since shortly after we moved here 6 years ago. I’ve been checking out books and movies for myself and the kids ever since. But this summer, my older son finally said the magic words: “How old do you have to be to get your own library card?”


Kyle, then in 2nd grade, interviewing the children’s librarian, Miss Grace.

Music to my ears. I’m a reader and a lifelong library lover. Hauling my kids to the Agoura and Westlake locations of the Los Angeles County Library system whether they wanted to go or not was self-serving, but I knew that it might rub off on them.

library books

Doing a project using library books instead of Google

The older boy naturally loves to read, and my younger son who is now 9 finally got the reading bug when I pulled him off video games and tablet use earlier this spring. He re-discovered Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series as a result. He would finish a volume, then request a trip to the library to get the next few titles. It’s the gateway book to reading for young boys. Hooray!


Naturally, once my son expressed curiosity about getting his own card, I was all for it. I had my husband take him in to apply. The answer to his question is that there is no minimum age. A child under 18 just has to have a parent or guardian sign his application.


The little brother went along for the ride and when they all returned, they both had library cards! In a way, it’s a little more complicated because now we have three accounts to keep track of, but I’m happy to deal with that in order to foster what I hope to be a lifelong love of libraries for them.


In fact, all three of us took out books and brought them on vacation, so when we returned we had $9.00 in fees among the three of us! But I don’t mind that a bit – I am happy to support this otherwise free public resource. Not only does the library offer books, movies, and even e-readers pre-loaded with over 100 book each, but it also holds free events for kids like Mad Science demonstrations and chess classes.


GET YOUR LIBRARY CARD: For more information, see the website of the LA County Library system: colapublib.org

It’s Time For Dodgers Baseball. Budget Wisely, and You’ll Have a Great Time!

Summertime is baseball time, and LA-area residents can get the ultimate baseball fan experience at Dodger Stadium this year.


From personal experience over two recent Dodgers games, I can tell you that you will need to budget your time and/or money just right for everyone involved to have a good time. For the first game we went as regular people, paying out of pocket and standing in line and almost getting killed in the parking lot. The second time, we were guests of the Dodgers to check out their promo plans and new food choices – for this we got really good tickets and parking, which obvs is the way to go and if I take my son back I will definitely be working an extra job to spring for the $$ tickets and parking or taking the shuttle to the stadium.

Here are some considerations to keep in mind as you plan your attendance at a Dodgers game this summer.

Choice of Game

The Dodgers organization is pulling out all the stops to get people to come to the stadium. Many fans are riveted to the game itself, but if you are bringing little kids or people who aren’t into baseball, there are features for them to look forward to also. On Friday nights this summer there will be fireworks after the game. On select Saturdays, there will be movie screenings after games. And on July 4 there will be a big Independence Day celebration after the game, just for ticket holders.

dodgers bobblehead(Image from Dodgers Twitter feed)

There are also “promotional” games, when they give out a gift like a bobblehead doll or a branded collapsible laundry basket or spray bottle fan, among other things. While these may seem like cool things to get with the cost of your ticket, be warned: these tend to be the most crowded games. Our first visit was on Adrian Gonzalez bobblehead night. Big mistake. Tickets were expensive, the stadium was sold out, and even though we pre-paid for parking, it was a disaster. (See below.) We didn’t even get the bobbleheads, because they were out of them by the time we got to the gate. Our companions who arrived on time didn’t get them either. The promo items are only guaranteed to the first 40,000 ticket holders, and we saw people holding two and three bobbleheads. Not that we need another tchotchke in our house, but our kids were pretty disappointed.

To avoid the crowds, cost, and long lines (30 minutes or more!) at the concession stands, choose a weeknight game that is not offering a promotional item or special event. Easier to focus on the actual baseball that way anyway!

Get There Early

Leave early. If you think you’re leaving really early, leave earlier. Especially coming from Agoura Hills, this is a big one. Traffic can make your trip take over an hour, and once you get to the stadium, if you are arriving close to game time (or it’s a sold out game and you arrive an hour ahead of time) you will be stuck in parking lines, even though they sell “preferred” parking and advertise that this is meant to move lines along faster. I really hope they improve this plan, because it did not work on our first visit.

Even with pre-paid parking and arriving over an hour before game time, this is where I had to park, in a satellite lot up at the top of a mountain:


After the game I walked back up with my son and my father and we were nearly run over by a drunk driver – even staff with reflective vests on acknowledged that she was drunk, but didn’t seem moved to do anything about it – and there were no lights on the road. Don’t risk your life for the Dodgers. If you’re coming to a sold out game, you should park at Union Station and take the Dodger Express bus from there to the stadium – it’s free if you’ve purchased your game ticket in advance. Our friends chose that option and had a much easier time.

On our second trip we arrived 2 hours early. At that time most of the parking was empty, so that might be a good move if you’re just a regular person parking in general parking. As guests of the Dodgers we had preferred parking which was closer to the stadium and also allowed our exit to be quick and smooth right after the game was over.


This made our journey much easier and gave us lots of time to kill checking out the concessions and cool things in the stadium. Also if you get there early they let you watch batting practice.


Buy the Good Seats

For the promotional/special event games, tickets will be more expensive. So if you want good seats, depending on what that means to you, you’ll spend less if you go to less crowded games.

We sat in the Reserved level behind home plate during the first visit, and that was okay, but it was kind of annoying when people got up to use the bathroom or go to concessions because you’re packed in so tightly. Most of the fans around us were respectful and nice, but a few were smoking (which, um, is illegal in the stadium, WTF) or spilled beer or were just generally unfriendly. Not fun especially if you’ve got your kids with you.

During the blogger event we were on the club level and I don’t know how much those tickets cost (I’m betting a lot) but that is the way to go, man. Seat-side service, much less crowded, great view of the field. And it has its own concession stand, too.

Budget For Food

The food is different at stands all around the stadium, and this season the Dodgers are introducing lots of new items, which my son and I sampled at the blogger event.


Our favorite was the Pop Fly Extreme Dodger Dog, which you can get on the Field level (aisle 48). There are loaded nachos served in helmets, special ice cream sandwiches, a spicy michelada, pizza topped with giant pepperoni, and more. The new items are scattered all over the stadium so here’s a handy guide.

Enjoy the Game

The whole point is the baseball, though, right? My younger son is riveted by the action itself, so he doesn’t need a lot of snacks and he didn’t even want to leave his seat to go to the restroom. It’s worth the entire effort just to see his face as Yael Puig or Joc Pederson fires the ball over the fence.


One thing he is excited to check out is that after Sunday games played during the day, kids 14 and under are allowed to run the bases! Families can line up in center field after the game is over and get the experience of running on the Dodger infield.

The bottom line is that for us to attend a Dodger game without worrying about traffic safety, we need to budget a lot of time. To enjoy  the snacks and good seats, we need to budget a lot of money. It’s no easy matter – it’s almost like going to Disneyland now – but it’s fun to do if you can devote the money and the time to doing it right.