Summertime, and the living is easy. But it's not always cheap.
With the kids clamoring for junkets to pricey theme parks and water parks, your summer expenses climb almost as fast as the mercury. Even a trip to the beach can leave a big ding, what with the price of parking, snacks and such.
It doesn't have to be thus. From nature hikes to concerts to theater, there are scads of free or low-cost ways to keep the clan entertained right through the dog days. (If you're feeling flush, there are also some worthy options that will run you a few nickels.)
To get you going on summer fun, we've put together a sampler of June events. Now, scat. And get a great start on summer, kids.
* "Major Art/Minor Artists" features hundreds of multimedia works by grade school students in Santa Ana Unified School District's Special Studio Program and the Orange County Museum of Art's Partners program. The exhibit continues through June 13. OCMA South Coast Plaza Gallery, 3333 Bristol St., Costa Mesa. Free. (949) 759-1122.
* "Generation Why?," a new play by JoAnna Downey, is based on thoughts, experiences and conflicts of today's teens, the so-called Generation Y. The work was created by Downey with input from South Coast Repertory's Teen Players and show director Laurie Woolery, who present the play Saturday and Sunday on SCR's Second Stage. SCR, 655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. Saturday at 4 and 7 p.m.; Sunday at 2 and 5 p.m. $5. (714) 708-5555.
* Broadway on Tour children's theater in Orange opens a musical version of "The Jungle Book." Performances continue Saturdays only through July 10 (dark July 3). BOT, 2190 N. Canal St., Orange. Saturdays at 11 a.m. $6; reservations suggested. (714) 282-8148.
* Bowers Kidseum invites kids to pan for "gold" and listen to tales from the Gold Rush era. The free program is held in conjunction with the Bowers' "Art of the Gold Rush" exhibit, which closes Sunday. Bowers Kidseum, 2002 N. Main St., Santa Ana. 1 to 3 p.m. Free with admission, $4-$8. (714) 480-1520.
* Christopher Robin is being sent off to the dreaded "Education," and his stuffed-with-fluff pals are in a dither. So it goes in "The House at Pooh Corner," a children's show by the CTP/Laguna Niguel Playhouse Youth Theatre. Recommended for ages 4 and up. CTP/Laguna Niguel Playhouse, 23811 Aliso Creek Road, Suite 150. Performances at 1, 2:30 and 6 p.m. $7 (949) 425-1771.
* AIDS Walk Orange County steps off from UC Irvine's Mesa Field at 9:30 a.m. Targeted to raise $650,000 for education and support programs, the event features the 10K walk, food and the Music for the Cause concert at 10:30 a.m., featuring the Jumpin Jimes swing band and ska band, Senza Motiva. Walk registration begins at 7:30 a.m. AIDS Walk Orange County at UCI's Mesa Field, Campus and University drives. (949) 955-1400.
* Want to cozy up to a crab? You can at the first annual Ocean Discovery Day at the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve. The free event includes catch-and-release fishing for sharks and rays--participants get to name their catch before sending it on its way--a Crab Lab, a baby grunion release, plus information booths, arts and crafts and other marine-themed activities. There's also a sneak peak at the new Bay Discovery Center being built on-site and a Queen of the Bay contest. Upper Newport Bay, 600 Shellmaker Island, Newport Beach. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free parking and admission. (949) 640-6746.
* Craig 'n' Co performs the first of several mini-concerts for kids by noted recording artists being held this month countywide at Zany Brainy toy stores. The show is at 3:30 p.m. at the Zany Brainy in Mission Viejo, 27741 Crown Valley
Parkway. (949) 348-0420.
* Summer at the Block at Orange retail and entertainment complex offers loads of free entertainment. From 1 to 4 p.m., kids can make hand-painted ties for Dad's Day. Throughout the day, look for free juggling and magic shows, as well as Dixieland and barbershop music. Performances and workshops continue weekends and some weekdays through Aug. 29. Watch for a big Legoland exhibit June 19. The Block at Orange, 20 City Blvd. West. Free. (714) 769-4000.
* A stitch in time nets family time at the Irvine Fine Arts Center. Held in conjunction with its new exhibit, "Stitched Stories: Art of the Quilt," the Family Day event features hands-on workshops in simple quilting techniques such as "yo-yo" and stamping, plus folk music, refreshments and other activities. The "Stitched Stories" exhibit runs June 11 through Aug. 22 and features approximately 30 unique handmade quilts. Irvine Fine Arts Center, 14321 Yale Ave. Family Art Day activities are from 2 to 4 p.m. Gallery is open daily. (949) 724-6880.