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Summer is a great time to check out many of the local entertainment venues in Southern California. The kids are now out of school and always looking for fun things to keep them busy over the summer. Thankfully many local tourist spots in Southern California are offering exclusive discounts to residents only. Better yet, some tickets are even free (a small service fee applies).
Goldstar.com highlights events in Los Angeles, Orange County, the Inland Empire and San Diego with everything from family-friendly theater to comedy shows to concerts and more.
So, here’s a roundup of the best free summer entertainment deals in Southern California for families! As always, if you find a great deal that you like, make sure to purchase it immediately. Once tickets are sold, they are gone forever!
Happy Field Tripping!
Southern California Entertainment Discount Tickets
Complimentary Tickets to The Queen Mary, Long Beach
Larger and faster than the Titanic — and with 1001 successful trans-Atlantic crossings to the Titanic‘s zero — the Queen Mary is rich with history, elegance and grandeur. Decommissioned in 1967 after 30 years ferrying movie stars, royalty and World War II-era soldiers between the United States and England, this floating hotel and Southern California icon is filled with stories to experience. The First-Class Passport is your ticket to all the best activities the Queen Mary has to offer, including access to the model ship gallery, museum, the brand new 4-D theater and two tours that showcase the ship’s glitzy and haunted history.
Board a historic battleship and see history come to life before your eyes. Named one of the best exhibits to see with your kids by CBS Local, the Battleship Iowa Museum is the West Coast’s only battleship open to the public. Walk the wooden decks and check out the guns, missile decks, bridge, mess areas and the world famous Captain’s Cabin — with the only bathtub installed on a battleship for a president. Known as “The Battleship of Presidents,” Iowa has hosted three presidents: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. New for 2017, you’ll get an up-close look at a Korean War-era Piasecki HUP-2 Retriever helicopter, fully restored and sitting on Iowa’s flight deck. You’ll also be able to have an augmented reality HUP Experience of flying an actual HUP helicopter, as well as take a simulated ride in a virtual reality Navy Flight Theater. The Battleship Iowa is located at the L.A. Waterfront, former home to the US Navy Battleship fleet prior to World War II and an area rich in maritime history
Complimentary Tickets to The Museum of Failure, Los Angeles
For every mega-success like the iPhone, VCR and Ford Mustang, there’s a couple of Apple Newtons, Betamaxes and Edsels that crashed and burned before them — and the pop-up exhibition known as The Museum of Failure celebrates these marketing missteps in all their glory. This primo collection of product blunders, curated by a Swedish innovation researcher, brings the best worst ideas together in an Instagram-friendly collection at DTLA’s A+D (Architecture and Design) Museum. You’ll see artifacts spanning from the 17th century right up to the present, including a Trump-based board game, Casio’s tiny color TV, New Coke and plenty more. No word on whether Ishtar is included in this Hollywood edition, however.
The beloved story of The Little Mermaid comes to life onstage in an interactive mini-musical adventure from Creating Arts Company. Specially designed for young audiences, this one-hour show will get everyone cheering the heroes and booing the villains as they follow the journey of Ariel, a mermaid who dreams of being human. When she makes a deal with the evil sea witch for a pair of legs, Ariel has three days to win the heart of the handsome prince, or become the witch’s prisoner. After the show, stick around L.A.’s Pico Playhouse to meet the cast and snap some selfies!
Complimentary Tickets to Descanso Gardens, La Canada Flintridge
On Wednesday nights throughout the summer, Descanso Gardens serves up blossoms and beats. For its Summer Songs series, The Flashdance DJs will hold court in the Rose Garden, spinning all-vinyl sets during this family-friendly event. Grab a bite to eat and follow the rhythms until you’ve reached the roses. There, you’ll find the perfect background sounds for snapping some of the most eye-popping, flower-studded selfies you’ve ever taken. Plus, you can enjoy special late hours at this La Canada Flintridge landmark.
Superhero & Princess Academy: A Summer Break Mini Musical is here at Pico Playhouse and the superheroes and princesses are gearing up for a summer break like no other! When impatience gets the better of them, the Superheroes and Princesses all decide to leave on their summer break field trip without their teachers, but they soon learn that patience is a virtue when the villains arrive to detour them from their plans and they have to figure out how to get a message to the teachers for help. With lots of singing, dancing and action, this Creating Arts Company interactive, original show will delight audiences from age 3 to 103. Stay after for a special meet-and-greet with the characters!
California is America’s largest and most diverse state, home to people, traditions, languages and ideas from every corner of the world. California’s dynamic population, culture and geography have made a notable impact on the state’s artistic output, which has long been defined by a spirit of freedom and experimentation. This spirit is always on display at the Pasadena Museum of California Art, which showcases works by California artists in exhibitions like In the Land of Sunshine: Imagining the California Coast Culture, which features paintings of California life from the past 150 years, and “a sky in the palm of a hand”, which pays tribute to local artists Lloyd Hamrol and Joan Perlman.
Sized up with Mary’s own magical measuring tape, this encore production of Mary Poppins would definitely be “Practically Perfect in Every Way.” Based on P.L. Travers’ stories and the classic Disney film, this high-flying musical extravaganza lands at Santa Monica’s Morgan-Wixson Theatre, complete with spoonfuls of imagination, heart and whimsy. You and your family will be swept away by such iconic tunes as “Step in Time,” “Chim Chim Cher-ee” and, of course, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” as young Jane and Michael learn valuable life lessons from their unconventional nanny and the lovable jack-of-all-trades Bert. Be sure not to miss the magic of Mary Poppins, who teaches us that “anything can happen if you let it.”
Experience the next crop of Major League Soccer stars at an LA Galaxy II game. Playing in the fan-friendly confines of StubHub Center Track & Field Stadium, LA Galaxy II matches offer an intimate setting for professional soccer in Southern California. Your ticket includes free on-site parking, plus there are discounted concessions options and a host of exciting promotional nights and giveaways. Galaxy II have been one of the most successful teams in the United Soccer League, having made the playoffs in each of their first three seasons.
Get carried away by the harrowing adventures of Quasimodo and Esmeralda when ENCORE presents The Hunchback of Notre Dame at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center. This epic Disney musical will whisk you back to the perilous streets of 15th-century Paris, where wicked men in power pull the strings and heroes appear where you’d least expect them. Based on the classic novel by Victor Hugo, with music from the animated feature’s Academy Award-nominated score, the production is enhanced with new songs by two acclaimed musical theater legends: Alan Menken and Steven Schwartz. Don’t miss this unforgettable musical about the heroes inside all of us.
Avast, ye scurvy dogs! Circus Vargas is back with an all new show that’s sure to spark joy in the hearts of landlubbers and swabbies alike. America’s favorite traveling big top circus adds a fantastical new level of swashbuckling spectacle to its music-filled extravaganza with Dreaming of Pirates at the Laguna Hills Mall. Jam-packed with aerial feats, acrobatics and clowning, not to mention a colorful cast of characters, world-class performers, singing, comedy and more, Dreaming of Pirates has plenty of treasures for the whole family to enjoy. Before the show, kids have the chance to step into the ring and learn circus skills. After the show, stick around to meet and take pictures with the cast.
Irvine’s Musical Theatre Village is thrilled to present Narnia The Musical — for the very first time. Based on C. S. Lewis’ best-known book, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, this show revolves around four siblings — Susan, Lucy, Peter and Edmund — who arrive at the Professor’s house to escape the war. There they stumble into a wardrobe and enter a magical world of ice and snow, meeting mythical creatures like Tumnus, a half-man/half-goat character, as well as Jadis, the White Witch. Your spirit will soar from the excitement of everything from the opening song, “Aslan’s on the Move,” to the joy of “You Can’t Imagine (How Beautiful It Was).”
Mark Twain’s timeless classic sweeps you down the mighty Mississippi as the irrepressible Huck Finn helps his friend Jim escape slavery in a series of adventures starting at the mouth of the Ohio River. Their journey is hilarious, suspenseful and heartwarming, bringing to life your favorite characters from the novel: the Widow Douglas and her stern sister, Miss Watson; the uproarious King, and Du. A Tony Award-winning musical that’s suitable for the whole family, Big River is filled with Roger Miller’s memorable bluegrass-country songs like “Muddy Water,” “River in the Rain” and “Waitin’ for the Light to Shine.” Come along for the ride at Mysterium Theater at the La Habra Depot Playhouse.
The biggest baking and pastry convention on the West Coast, The Sweets Show comes to the Anaheim Convention Center. Meet thousands of Californians who share your love for all things sweet, salty and savory in the world of baking and sweets. Special guests include Mauro Castano (Cake Boss) and Rachel Fong (Kawaii Sweet World).
Before its maiden voyage, the RMS Titanic was dubbed “The Unsinkable Ship,” a technological marvel that promised luxurious passage across the Atlantic … for those who could afford it. Titanic the musical at Mysterium Theater at The La Habra Depot Playhouse brings the harrowing, historic tale of one of the world’s most famous ill-fated voyages to life on stage. This acclaimed musical examines the lives of the passengers aboard the doomed luxury liner — taking you from first class to second class to steerage down below. This show is not based on the Hollywood film, but rather on the fascinating and alarming disaster itself.
See the talent and skill of elaborately dressed Mexican charros when horsemen and roping experts Fiesta Del Charro come to Costa Mesa’s Action Sports Arena. Drawing upon a Mexican cowboy tradition dating back almost 500 years, these fabulously gifted riders and ropers perform breathtaking stunts, including the famous floreo de reata, the art of lariat tricks. In this beautiful form, a masterful cowboy spins his lariat into a wide variety of shapes, from butterflies and merry-go-rounds to rings, umbrellas and more. They’ll rope you in with their amazing talent! Your ticket also includes admission to the OC fair, giving you the chance to enjoy an entire day of fun and entertainment both before and after the show.