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Best Hockey Classes in Southern California

Dreaming about playing some hockey on a frozen pond? That is not happening in California until the next Ice Age, but there are places around this great city where you can do just that – play some hockey. LA area is known to supply the U.S. with some of the greatest figure skaters and ice hockey players in the country all thanks to our state-of-the-art skating rinks. Here is a list of some great places to get on the ice and train for the next Olympics:

Toyota Sports Center (El Segundo)

This central facility houses 3 rinks under one roof – one Olympic size, one NHL-size, and one for general training. This center is home to Los Angeles Kings and the place to be for all ice-related sports and dreams. Local kids can participate in free Kids First program to get familiar with ice and decide if future ice sports are in the cards. Pre-registration is required for this program.

There are many programs, classes, leagues, and camps for kids and adults. Birthday celebrations are, of course, encouraged. Some other amenities include hockey shop, a nice café, and a bar with views to two rinks.

The Skating Edge (Harbor City)

This skating rink is between Harbor City and Torrance and is home to The Bay Harbor Red Wings youth hockey club. Beginners can take hockey classes there in addition to stick time, clinic, private lessons, scrimmage, and broomball. Parents can enjoy free Wi-Fi or browse in Vic’s Pro Shop. The so called café is just a counter with a coffee machine and a microwave, but your child can enjoy a cup of hot chocolate – the best treat after the ice.

Lakewood Ice – The Rinks (Lakewood)

The rink is more like a rink complex devoted to hockey. Kids and youth can join various classes based on their skating skills, from beginners to semi-professional. Anaheim Ducks are classes for beginners with Learn to Play Hockey program. Homeschooled kids have their own Hockey Initiation course to learn and to make connections. Hockey camps are available for all who dream about AAA teams or just want to spend some time on the ice. Lady Ducks are geared towards girls who prefer to train without boys.

Paramount Iceland (Paramount)

This rink is part of Paramount history and has been owned by Zamboni family for generations. Hockey here is not professional, but includes the beginners program as well as twice a week meets of a club for kids ages 14 and younger. Don’t miss the original Zamboni model in the corner, because, yes, it’s that Zamboni family’s rink.

Iceland Ice Skating Center (Van Nuys)

This facility is rather small and cozy, so you have to know where it is if you want to find it. And find it you should because your family can enjoy ice bumper cars on the weekends and who would want to miss that? Kids’ hockey clinics are quite affordable in this Iceland. Adults can sign up for stick time, pick-up hockey options, and even broomball.

Pickwick Ice (Burbank)

The facility belongs to Pickwick Gardens Complex and offers a great rink complete with top quality coaching. California Golden Bears Youth hockey club is at home here. Various classes range from basics to power play. Adults and youth have many options for leagues and classes, including scrimmage, private lessons, clinics, and pick-up time. On-site pro shop is stocked with necessities for figure skaters and hockey players. The café serves usual ice rink/bowling alley goods for waiting parents and resting kids.

LA Kings Valley Ice Center (Panorama City)

It used to be called Ice-o-plex and serves as another LA Kings training facility. There are two different rinks there and a great spirit in both. Kids can try their hand and leg in hockey with the Kids First program for $15 per session with all the equipment included. Youth hockey league has meets every week January to April for kids between 6-14 years of age. Summer hockey camps are also available. Adults can sign up for hockey leagues. There is a café on the premises, but it’s nothing more than a hole in the wall. Pro Shop is great for all hockey needs.

Pasadena Ice Skating Center (Pasadena)

This center is home to Pasadena Maple Leafs youth hockey club and offers classes for all levels. Beginners are welcome and so are highly skilled adults. Ice sports enthusiasts can also participate in pick-up hockey, stick time, summer clinics, and even broomball.

Iceoplex (Simi Valley)

California Dreamin’ Hockey School is located here and features two ice surfaces, one of them being Olympic size. You will also find hockey changing rooms with showers and a well-stocked pro shop. Coaches are former professionals, so both kids and adults can really benefit from their experience. Adult and kids leagues are offered in the rink and so are broomball and pick-up hockey.

 

Best Ice Skating Rinks in California

California is not the first place that comes to mind when one thinks about ice and wintery conditions, but make no mistake, the state has quite a few state-of-the-art ice skating rinks. Some of them are seasonal and open only around holidays, while others are inviting professionals and amateurs year-round. Read on to find 10 best places to lace up your skates and test your skills:

  • Half Dome Village, Yosemite, CA

This wonderful skating rink is a beloved seasonal tradition all the way back from 1928. Rumor has it that it started as a flooded and then frozen parking lot, but has later developed into one of the best things to do in the national park in winter. Families here can enjoy getting s’mores after a session on the ice.

  • Aliso Viejo Ice Palace, Aliso Viejo, CA

This ice skating arena is located in Orange County and offers lessons, hockey leagues, public skating hours, and plenty more. Birthdays on the ice are very popular and so are other sports and fun events.

  • Adventist Health Ice Center of Bakersfield, Bakersfield, CA

This ice center is quite new and invites kids to learn ice skating with various events, lessons, and hockey leagues. There are time slots for public skating and ways to celebrate your birthday there.

  • Pickwick Ice, Burbank, CA

The skating rink here is an impressive NHL-size, but you don’t have to be professional to come and enjoy the pleasures of ice. There is a lounge for some rest of-ice and plenty of activities on-ice: skating lessons, birthday parties, hockey games and programs, music skate sessions, and much more. The place even has a clever seal device to help beginners stay on their feet.

  • Center Ice Arena, Ontario, CA

This arena has been known and popular since its opening in 2001. It is NHL-size and offers many various programs and activities. It is strategically located and easily accessible from all area’s highways. You can bring your own skates or rent them there and enjoy ice with kids and friends. Classes and leagues are also available.

  • Oakland Ice Center, Oakland, CA

This center has a huge variety of ice activities and programs for all ages and skill levels. Public skating time slots are available and you can even sign up for adult only skating with coffee and pastries. Events are often held in the rink. Kids can be signed up for hockey or figure skating classes.

  • Iceoplex, Simi Valley, CA

Families know this ice palace in the Conejo Valley for many years. The public skating passes are not expensive and that encourages teen groups and families to come and have some fun. Lessons are available for various ages and skating levels. Leagues and professional classes are also offered.

  • Tahoe Arena, South Lake Tahoe, CA

Tahoe Lake is a perfect place to have many seasonal outdoor ice skating rinks, but this is the only one that is indoors and open year-round. You can find great deals and specials for public skate lessons. During school year, locals are invited to free morning skating sessions. Just like all others, this rink offers various ice-related activities, events, classes, and leagues.

  • Iceland, Van Nuys, CA

This legendary rink is located in the very hot San Fernando Valley, but manages to stay cool amid all the heat and heat-related attractions. The rink has unmatched retro spirit and has been featured in various films. Iceland is an active part of community and holds various fundraisers, special events, offers classes, and supplies good times for generations – think bumper cars on ice birthday parties.

  • Yorba Linda Ice, Yorba Linda, CA

Yorba Linda location is one of the most popular ice skating rink in Orange County and invites local community for public skating and skating lessons. Kids and adults can join hockey and figure skating programs. The rink is a popular place for birthday celebrations.

Top Things to Do in Vancouver with Kids

Vancouver is place to be if you are interested in the great outdoors. The city is amazing to raise kids in and experience all that the beautiful Canada has to offer. That includes liberal views and breast-feeding tolerance.

Let’s take a look at 10 activities and things to do with kids in tow:

The Roundhouse

If you have a need for a cheap way to burn your children’s energy on a rainy day, stop at the Roundhouse in Yaletown for a couple of hours. There is a community center and train museum together. All days except for Fridays and Sundays, there are 2 hour windows for gym play for just $2. Kids love a bouncy castle and other fun equipment. All participants between 6 months and 7 years are welcome. Once the energy is burned you should check out plentiful coffee shops around the downtown.

If one gym is not enough, check out the nearby Coal Harbor Community Center with a huge gym, which is not as busy and is open every day, except Sunday.

Sea Wall

Coal Harbor has a nice Sea Wall, on which you can spend some time relaxing and watching sea planes taking off and landing. There isn’t another city that would have sea airport right in the downtown. Local families love to have a picnic and play in the green field while keeping an eye on the planes.

Vancouver Public Library

The library is located in downtown and is great draw for little ones. Rainy days are awesome here. The children’s section is huge and separate from the rest of library. Kids will always find crayons, play places, and daily story times. Chinese, French, English, and Spanish language stories are read every day. The librarians can give you great tips about what else is happening in the city if you need ideas. The library is totally free and kids love it, so what can be better?

The Vancouver Aquarium

This fun is not free, but totally worth it. It is located right in the downtown and very family-friendly. Interactive exhibits are fun for kids and adults, so you can spend the entire day here.

Stanley Park

The park is right by the aquarium and offers some entertainment on its own. Definitely take a Miniature Train ride. It’s always so busy that you should consider reserving this fun in advance. It is especially spectacular during Christmas season.

Granville Island

Most people love this place for food, but locals don’t recommend it. The main reason to go there is so that you could get on the Aquabus. This is a network of small boats that will take you all over the falsecreak area. On the island kids have a huge area inside and outside dedicated to them. Children’s theater is there too, so you can take your rowdy 2 year old and let him have fun.

Don’t eat in local restaurants, but grab some amazing fish tacos from GoFish, known and loved by every local resident – fish is fresh catch and the place is open until everything is sold out. The best parts – your wait is likely to be no more than 20 minutes in the morning and you will have to pick a place to picnic as the shack does not have many tables.

Bakeries

If you are staying in the Yaletown area, you will have an abundance of great coffee places and bakeries to visit. Stop by Scieu Italian for wonderful treats and amazing staff. There are high chairs and kid-friendly snacks for the youngest visitors, which is hard to come by. Weekend brunches and coffee are spectacular.

The Yaletown Brewery

It might not sound so based on the name, but this is one of the most relaxed restaurants around. Service is great; they have high chairs, kids menu, play kits, and some tasty options for adults. There is even a magician that visits kids on the weekends, so stop by for a wonderful pint, but avoid hockey games, as the place becomes packed to the brim.

Science World

Not every museum is as inclusive as this one. They made sure to have something interactive for all ages. The Sea Wall is close by and so is the entire downtown, so you can easily incorporate this museum in your day. The establishment is very inviting even for the smallest visitors – they have music, mirrors, and crew members who actually play with kids. Baby area is very convenient for families with little kids.

Grouse Mountain

Last, but not least, you have Grouse Mountain fun to experience winter, summer, spring or fall. It is very famous for Grouse Grind – an up the mountain stair master. But besides that you can enjoy skiing and ice skating in the winter and hikes or zip lines in summer. It is very accessible via public transportation. There are food options on top, but picnicking is very much advised too. It gets pretty busy on the weekends, so go in the mornings in the middle of the week if you can.

Saving Money With Orbitz Coupons

Online travel agencies promise huge savings if you choose a vacation package, like booking a flight + hotel together. Expedia promises savings of $450, Orbitz – up to $465, while Travelocity raises the bar even higher and advertises $525 off separate purchases.

Many customers are weary of such deals because they have been burned before with red eye flights, multiple connections, or seedy hotels, and think that such trade-offs are part of the deal. What online travel agencies have to prove now is that such vacation packages exist, are great, and you actually want to take their offers.

Travelocity is luring customers in with redesigned package searches, better site navigation, and options to choose different flights if the bare bones flights don’t make you fully happy.

Orbitz started showing real-life savings that customers were able to get by choosing packages. You will find flight prices and a quick story about Alice, who saved $375 on a similar flight.

Expedia wants to deviate from packages all together and is looking for a different name for combination deal vacations. You can join the naming contest on Facebook and win $10,000 vacation if your offered name wins. Packages sound very non-flexible and might suggest that you have to live with whatever deals the company has to offer. People lack trust in such deals where the airline and the hotel can offer lower prices, but don’t have to show it.

The desire to change customer perception about packages comes at a time when many airlines are trying to find ways to encourage customers to buy directly from them. They offer lowest price guarantees and stop listing their prices on online travel agencies websites. American Airlines and South West are good examples as you won’t find them on Orbitz or Expedia. Airlines are also starting to offer their own packages, like JetBlue’s best price guarantee and extra frequent flier points on packages in 36 destinations.

As fall and winter holidays are approaching, we looked at packages from Travelocity, Orbitz, and Expedia. We looked for packages for two people for 3 different vacation destinations, leaving from New York with nonstop convenient flights:

  • A long weekend in Washington, D.C.
  • A week long getaway to Cancun resort
  • A week at upscale resort in Scottsdale, AZ

To compare the rates we shopped for hotels and flights on the suppliers’ own websites and then compared prices with the travel agencies’ offerings. No site consistently beat others, but some were better than others. This kind of comparison offered some great tips for vacation shopping online.

Price is not everything

Let’s take a look to see why price is not everything. When booking a trip to Washington, D.C., this is what came up:

  • Expedia offered the best price, $400 for round-trip flights and the Garden Inn in Laurel, Md., about 22 miles from Washington
  • Travelocity offered flights and the Travelodge Fredericksburg, which is about 50 miles from Washington for $414
  • Orbitz had the best option with stay at the Courtyard by Marriott Dunn Loring Fairfax in Vienna, Va., a 40-min Metro ride to Washington, D.C for $527.

None of these options were the desired upscale hotel in the city. To find that we did not filter by price, but instead relayed on default choices, called Expedia Picks on Expedia site. The options were more pricy, but more convenient.

  • Travelocity offered a stay at the luxurious Palomar Washington, a Kimpton hotel in the Dupont Circle neighborhood, with non-stop JetBlue flight at 7:30 am from NY and back at 9:50 am. The price was $711, but that is $380 savings form what it would be if booked separately.
  • Orbitz gave the same package, but with a JetBlue flight leaving NY in the evening and for $72 more
  • Expedia had the same flights, but a different hotel – Washington Plaza for $810. This is still lower than if booking the flight and the hotel separately.

Peak season

Even during holidays, the travel agencies hold prices that are pre-negotiated with airlines and hotels, so you will get better deals than buying everything separately on your own.

We searched hotels and airlines separately for all-inclusive resort in Cancun for week-long vacation. The best deal was a week before Easter – $5,297 ($3,102 for hotel and $2,195 for the flight). All three websites had a better price and savings of at least $1,000 if booked together. Travelocity came out a winner with $3,212 total for flight and hotel.

Despite the usual success with online travel agencies, you should still check the separate deals. For example, none of the agencies beat the $3,070 price for a week-long stay in Scottsdale, Arizona. The price includes a stay at Boulders, a Waldorf Astoria hotel a week before Easter. The closest was Orbitz with $3,232 for the same trip.

Conclusion

Travelocity had the best price twice and also offered the best search options with intuitive tabs for packages, where you can select one based on three options: cheapest package, closest match of flight times, and shortest flights. Another great feature is a “change flight” button. There were options to search by hotel amenities, like swimming pool and star rating. You could also select a particular hotel by name.

Expedia offered the cheapest option to Washington, D.C., but the hotel was too far from the city. They advertise 75,000 hotels and plenty of convenient options. The site is a bit outdated and not very appealing. There is an option to search hotels by amenities, but the button is easy to miss.

Orbitz displays the deals in an easy-to-read matrix, so you can get an idea really fast, but it does not show the total price right away. You have to multiply the price in your head if you have more than one traveler or click on the package to see the total. You can’t choose hotels by amenities.

Overall, our best advice would be to use Travelocity to look for packages and then see if buying from the sources directly can give you a better price.

Does Weight Watchers really work?

Weight Watchers is one of the most popular weight loss membership programs in the world. 600,000 people have joined millions of participants in 2017 alone. Even celebrities, like Oprah Winfrey have found this program beneficial for shedding some pounds. If you are curious about what makes this method work, read on to find out all the pros and cons.

Healthline Diet Score

Overall score: 4 out of 5

Fast weight loss: 3.5

Long-term weight loss: 4

Easy to follow: 4

Nutrition quality: 4.5

This is not your miraculously fast weight-loss, but it’s a reliable long-term nutrition and lifestyle change program. There is a large following and community, so it’s easy to get support and get help to stay on track.

How does it work?

The Weight Watchers was created by Jean Nidetch in 1963 in Queens, New York. It started as a weekly gathering of friends who wanted to lose weight. The success was like a wildfire and the program quickly became one of the most popular weight loss plans in the world.

At first, the foods were counted according to servings, kind of like diabetes exchange system. The value system was established in the 90s, where all foods had assigned values based on fiber, fat, and caloric numbers. This point-based system was overhauled a few times and now has SmartPoints evaluation since 2015.

The SmartPoints system

The points are assigned to each type of food based on its nutritional and caloric value. At the beginning of the program each participant is given a set amount of daily points allowed based on their age, height, and weight. To reach your goals you should stay below that daily amount.

Healthier foods get lower points. For example, a 230-calorie glazed donut will get 10 SmartPoints, while the same calorie yogurt with berries will only get 2.

In 2017 the SmartPoint system was updated one more time and is now called WW Freestyle. It includes over 200 zero points rated foods and is more user-friendly.

Zero-point foods are good for you and don’t have to be weighted, measured or recorded. Such foods include eggs, skinless chicken, beans, fish, tofu, non-fat plain yogurt, and many other high-protein and low-calorie dietary staples.

This system encourages dieters to make conscious healthier decisions instead of just counting points of allowance.

Member benefits

All people in the program are called members. Members can choose various levels of support. The basic program includes 24/7 online chat support, app, and other tools. You can pay more and join in-person group meetings or even personal one-on-one support from a coach. Members can enjoy thousands of recipes and food tips. Tracking app for SmartPoints is included.

Physical activity is encouraged with FitPoints that are awarded for exercise. Users can log on each activity until they reach weekly fitness goal. All movement counts: walking, dancing or house cleaning. The website offers lots of fitness videos and workout routines for inspiration.

Weight Watchers also offers frozen packaged foods, like meals, oatmeal, chocolates, and low-calorie ice cream and pizzas.

Weight Loss

The program uses science-based way to weight loss. Portion control, nutrients, and exercise are the holy grails of consistent weight loss. The expected steady weight loss will be about 0.5 to 2 pounds per week. No fad diets here.

Members are encouraged to change their lifestyle and make better eating decisions with SmartPoint system. There is an entire section on the WW website dedicated to scientific research. It has been found that obese members lose twice as much weight on Weight Watchers than those that are counseled by a primary care doctor only. It has been proven that the program participation yields more results than self-dieting. Most importantly, most members were able to keep the weight off for long periods of time after the initial loss.

Other benefits

Dieting with Weight Watchers is flexible and it allows you to still enjoy all your favorite foods. Members live normal lives and don’t have to worry about attending parties and dinners. Vegans and people with allergies can also participate.

The main emphasis is put on portion control and physical activity, which are the cornerstones of weight loss. Having fellow members also helps to stay on track and receive much-needed support.

Cons

Some people find it tedious and time consuming to keep track of SmartPoints. The cost is another issue that turns some people off. Just like all other weight loss programs, WW comes at a cost. There are a few tiers, but even the smallest fee can be too much for dieters on a budget.

One other potential problem is that people who struggle with self-control might find this program not strict enough. There is a way to eat high sugar and calorie foods and still meet your allowance.

Foods to eat

Healthy choices are encouraged and whole foods like vegetables, fruit, and lean proteins are congratulated, so members have a lot of freedom when choosing their diet.

Healthy foods get zero points to attract more people. These are some of the examples of guilt-free diet staples:

  • Lean proteins – skinless chicken, eggs, tofu, fish, shellfish, and non-fat yogurt
  • Non-starchy vegetables – broccoli, asparagus, greens, cauliflower, peppers
  • Fresh, frozen, and unsweetened canned fruit
  • Healthy carbohydrates – sweet potatoes, brown rice, oatmeal, beans, and whole grains

Foods to stay away from

While you can eat anything you want, there are some discouraged foods:

  • High sugar and saturated fats – sugary drinks, potato chips, processed meats, candy, cookies, and cakes

Everything is allowed in moderation, so a small dessert can be loved from time to time.

Customers can find over 4,000 healthy recipes online, so there is never any boredom in the kitchen and no shortage of new dish ideas. While most meals are made from fresh, whole foods, some dessert recipes can also be found.

Shopping list

All members are encouraged to have fresh and wholesome ingredients on hand for healthy recipes or snacks. This is all about minimizing the temptation to grab something unhealthy as soon as hunger strikes.

Participants are encouraged to include as many healthy foods as possible when shopping:

  • lean proteins, raw meats, fish
  • vegetables, fruits, herbs
  • low-fat dairy products
  • whole grains, breads, pastas from whole wheat, quinoa, brown rice
  • hummus, salsa, canned beans
  • olive oil, avocados, peanut butter, nuts, seeds
  • dried spices, vinegar, hot sauce
  • Sugar-free and fat-free snacks.

Conclusion

This program attracts hundreds of thousands of new members each year for a reason. Flexible dietary guidance is easy to participate in and the results are great.

It’s safe to say that Weight Watchers is an evidence-based program that encourages healthy lifestyle with an occasional indulgence. If this is something you are looking for, it might just be a perfect fit to reach your personal healthy lifestyle goals.