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Family-friendly summer fun in Santa Clarita

Valley offers thrill rides, historic parks, Castaic Lake

Posted: June 6, 2008 2:02 a.m.
Updated: August 7, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 

Fast forward to July.

The kids are on summer vacation, the outside thermometer is flirting with the 100 degree mark, and you are ready to take a respite from work but can't afford to go anywhere far with the high gas prices.

Before you consider staying at home with the kids another weekend to watch the countless (and boring) reruns on television, remember that the Santa Clarita Valley and its neighboring cities are home to all sorts of attractions and family-friendly activities.

From historic parks to top-notch theme parks, spending the summer in the Santa Clarita Valley doesn't have to mean lounging on the couch.

Local favorites
The local valley is home to all sorts of attractions for kids and grown-ups to enjoy together.

Six Flags Magic Mountain and Hurricane Harbor are a few minutes away, maximizing the time families can spend at the Valencia theme parks and minimizing the time spent in the car.

The thrill seekers can take a ride on the newly opened X2 roller coaster, while the youngsters can spend their time in Thomas Town, the latest kid-friendly section.

Next door to Magic Mountain is Hurricane Harbor, where families can make a splash slipping down one of the sky-high slides or while making the rounds in the park via inner tubes.

Or for those who just want to take a break after dinner or get out of the house for a few hours, make a stop at the local bowling alley or head to the miniature golf course for a couple of rounds.

Embrace SCV's history
Let the Santa Clarita Valley be your classroom as you spend weekends learning about the local valley's rich history.

While touring the area, check out William S. Hart Ranch and Museum in Newhall, former home of the silent film cowboy star and director. The site also features a collection of Western art and various artifacts, giving youngsters a glimpse into the cowboy lifestyle.

In the same area is the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society and the Saugus Train Station Museum, creating an opportunity for families to learn more about the city's past.

For those who can't get enough of Santa Clarita's Western past, visit the Tesoro Adobe Historic Park in the Tesoro del Valle development. The home was built and owned by Harry Carey in the 1920s and features Western artifacts.

Nature enthusiasts can take a trip to the Placerita Canyon Natural Area and Nature Center and hike the trails to see the natural beauty of Placerita Canyon. The center also hosts programs for beginning birders and a weekly family nature walk. Plus, the center's animal presentations gives kids an up close local at native species.

A short drive from the city takes residents to Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park. Visitors to the Acton park can sit and gaze at the eye-catching jagged rocks or take a walk around the area and pinpoint where their favorite movies and shows were filmed.

A day at the lake
Take a break at Castaic Lake. Families can catch a view of the big body of water while enjoying a picnic at a grassy spot. Visitors can also spend the day fishing or boating on the open water while land lovers can circle the water on the many trails.

Those who want to make a trip out of their visit to Castaic Lake can camp overnight to enjoy the day time and night time beauty that Castaic Lake has to offer.

Less than an hour away is another favorite: Lake Piru. Off of Highway 126, the lake gives visitors a chance to experience the outdoors by fishing, boating, water skiing and swimming.

Families who aren't quite ready to come back to the SCV after their trip to Lake Piru can drive a little bit more on Highway 126 to the city of Fillmore. The small town includes a train station where visitors can ride alongside the miles of fields.

Educate yourself
Taking a class during the summer doesn't have to be a bore.

The city's Parks and Recreation summer programs create opportunities for students of all ages to learn that one skill they've always wanted to try. The courses, detailed in the Seasons catalog available at City Hall, offer the basics, such as swim lessons and sports classes, along with interesting courses like claymation animation, sushi making and cake sculpting.

Donate your time
One of the best ways to get out and meet people is through volunteering. Helping out is a good way for families to come together and accomplish a common goal while donating a few hours to a worthy cause.
There are many ongoing opportunities to volunteer in the Santa Clarita Valley, whether its for a local nonprofit organization or at an upcoming event. The city's Web site (www.santa-clarita.com) provides an idea of where families and youngsters of all ages can donate their time and hard work during the summer months.

Get lost in a book
Perhaps one of the easiest ways to escape the summer heat is to get lost in a book. Whether it's reading a favorite for the hundredth time or venturing into a new genre, reading a book is a good way for youngsters to spruce up their reading skills over the summer and for parents to take a break from the outside world.

With a selection of libraries in the Santa Clarita Valley, local families don't have to go too far to check out books. And for families looking to get out of town, the Los Angeles Public Library in Downtown L.A. is home to just about every type of book you could ever imagine.

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