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Fun and fulfilling: 4 places to release your inner child

My sister and I went to the Aquarium of the Pacific when we were younger. Entering an aquarium can feel like entering a new world. With the wondrous sea creatures and the unique habitats, there’s always more to explore. Photo by Lara Burnap.

Whether studying is getting more stressful, tests are near impossible or the world just feels a bit too overwhelming, sometimes we all need to go back to those simple years of sweet, sweet innocence. Luckily for you, I’ve compiled a list of four of my favorite places in Southern California — with activities ranging from calm and creative to exciting and energetic — to let your inner child run free.

Aquarium of the Pacific

Although any aquarium is fun, I am a big fan of Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific. With more than 100 exhibits, there are many creatures to see and learn about.

The aquarium not only contains sea life but also land animals. Its touch pools and the Lorikeet Forest allow visitors an up-close look at different wildlife, feeling the slimy skin of a ray or feeding a colorful lorikeet. When inside, the blue glow illuminating the tanks brings an almost otherworldly feel when looking at the dazzling sea creatures on display. Watching jellyfish bob around and otters play feels serene and magical.

Every animal’s habitat is special, with different components depending on each species’ needs. Every time I enter an exhibition, there’s always something new to discover. Something about watching a penguin waddle across its enclosure never quite gets old.

The Aquarium of the Pacific is open every day of the week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is located on 100 Aquarium Way in Long Beach.

Dreamscape Immersive

With only three locations across the globe, Dreamscape transports you into a new world through virtual reality. There are so many interactive adventures from which to choose, entering new worlds with each story.

With the freedom to walk around and grab things, it’s easy to become fully immersed in the adventures you enter. With engaging storylines, every experience feels like a childhood fantasy coming to life.

I especially love the adventure “Alien Zoo,” where you enter the Intergalactic Wildlife Federation’s Alien Zoo, which holds many wondrous and extraterrestrial creatures. You not only watch these aliens, but you can also touch them. When the experience ended, I forgot for a second that it wasn’t real and then immediately wanted to go back and play with the murais, or “frogcats.”

Located at Westfield Century City Mall on 10250 Santa Monica Blvd, Dreamscape is open every day of the week with varying hours: 11 a. m. to 9 p.m. on Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Fridays, 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays.

Moonlight Rollerway

A big disco ball hangs in the center, colored lights shine in every direction and roller skaters galore fill the room. Opening in February of 1956 as Harry’s Roller Rink, Moonlight Rollerway is a perfect fun night out.

Even if you have barely roller skated in your life (like myself), the rink’s lighting paired with a fun soundtrack makes for a dazzling experience. Holding hands and laughing with your friends as you skate around and sing along to 80s tunes makes for a memorable and carefree outing.

Equally as fun as the skating is watching the masters. The way many roller skaters spin and glide across the rink is mesmerizing, and one can’t help but long for their talents. However, as the night progresses, you will continue to get better and better. There is no feeling of success quite like when you finally have enough balance to no longer cling to the wall for dear life.

Moonlight Rollerway is located on 5110 San Fernando road in Glendale and typically is open from 8-11 p.m.; however, I would recommend checking their calendar to see if there are any events happening on the day of your visit.

Color Me Mine

If younger you was the artistic type, then I cannot recommend Color Me Mine enough. At this paint-your-own-pottery studio, visitors pick out an unpainted ceramic piece and decorate it however they would like. When a piece is finished, it is then placed in a kiln, transforming it into a vibrant, one-of-a-kind artwork to take home.

My best friend and I pose with our pieces, Terry and Berry, before they were put into the kiln. Color Me Mine has so many different pieces to decorate and is such a fun outlet to make something new and special. (Photo credit: Charlotte Burnap)

The paintable options are endless: mugs, bowls, figurines and so much more are at your disposal. Paired with unlimited paint colors and brushes of all different sizes, you can create anything you want.

While one might immediately enter a Color Me Mine filled with ambition and high expectations, I encourage you to be unafraid of mistakes and imperfections. It’s a tale as old as time for me to waltz into their studios convinced I will be the next Van Gogh only to instantly disappoint myself when I remember I have no painting skills. Yet messing up and making something a bit silly is part of the experience.

On my last trip, I thought I would make something simple and cute, but, instead, my best friend and I left the store with matching garden gnome plant pots named Terry and Berry. After all, messing up and being a kid is what we’re trying to achieve here, right?

Color Me Mine has many locations across the country, with the majority being in California, so I would encourage visiting whichever location is closest to you, and I’m sure you will have a positive experience. Hours of operation may differ depending on location, but many studios typically open around 11 a.m. and close around 8 p.m.

Although growing up is fun too, sometimes the thing we need most is just to laugh. I hope that one of the places on this list can allow you to have some fun and release your inner child.

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About the Contributor
Charlotte Burnap
Charlotte Burnap, Staff Reporter
Charlotte Burnap became a staff reporter in 2023. At Archer, she sings in choir and the Unaccompanied Minors, Archer's a cappella group. In her free time, you can find her listening to music, reading, or hanging out with her friends.

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