From the nondescript drives around the city, to the weekly do’s of the locals, here’s 21 things (some are even free!) to do in L.A. as the summer approaches
1. Take a Hike in L.A.’s Best Park – The Musch Trail in Topanga Canyon State Park climbs to panoramic ocean vistas that could not be more stunning.
2. Hear Legendary Authors Read Their Work – Get your favourite readings read by their authors at Hammer Readings. Some drool-worthy authors that have done their readings include Michael Chabon, Denis Johnson, A.M. Homes, Jonathan Lethem, Norman Rush, Junot Diaz and Karen Russell. For more info: hammer.ucla.edu.
3. Visit Jazz Legends – Cry over our lost greats at the Inglewood Park Cemetery, where you can see the final resting places of Ray Charles, Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, Chet Baker and Big Mama Thornton, among others at 720 E. Florence Ave., Inglewood, 90301.
4. Take a Day Trip Back in Time-Take back highways through orange groves, a sandstone canyon and historic Santa Paula to Ojai, whose circa 1917 Spanish Colonial downtown thrives amidst a ban on chain stores. For more info: ojaivisitors.com.
5. See Downtown From L.A.’s Best Stair Walk – Follow the architectural curves of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s iconic home, Walt Disney Concert Hall, via an exterior aerial pathway. Once you reach the top, you get a pigeon’s eye view of Grand Avenue, City Hall and the soon-to-be Broad Museum. Open most days, the public stairs and garden welcomes walkers, tourists and architecture fans.
6. Get some chill time on Catalina Island– It’s in Los Angeles County, but it looks like it should be on the Mediterranean. The real charm of the island lies in its unpretentious, laid-back ambiance, it almost feels like you’re in a different country!
7. Cruise along Sunset Boulevard – It’s probably one of the commonest places to go in LA but it’s definitely a must. Sunset Boulevard runs from downtown Los Angeles to the Pacific Ocean. Go during the day as the area will be quieter then and you can take up as much sun as you’d like and leave right after the sun sets if you’re not planning to get stuck in a sea of party-goers at night.
8. Go to L.A’s best Indie movie theatre – There’s always something good playing at the Sundance Sunset Cinema. You can bring a glass of beer or wine into the theater, rest it on the side table next to your reclining seat and enjoy your choice of flick from among five well-curated screens. What’s best about it? Tickets only cost $5 if you go on a Tuesday!
9. Party at L.A.’s best all-ages club – Pehrspace is a creative, non-profit community space showcasing art exhibitions, plus local & touring musicians. Definitely not the kind of club we’re used to, but it does sound like a good change of scene for sure.
10. Do a Stair Workout on a Movie Landmark – Climb the daunting 133 Music Box Steps, named after Laurel & Hardy’s 1932 short film, in which a raucous piano crashes onto Vendome Street. The Stairway is in between Descanso Drive and Vendome Street at Del Monte Drive, Silver Lake.
11. Drool Over Famous Costumes – The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising’s free exhibits bring actual costumes from your favourite films and TV shows off the screen and within reach (although you can’t touch). For more info: fidmmuseum.org.
12. Hear the Blues in Burbank – There’s no cover charge at Pete Anderson’s Club [email protected] Moose Lodge Mondays . Reviews say that the blues played there are “luxurious, and original”. For more info: burbankmoose.com.
13. Drive along the Malibu coast– As the Santa Monica Bay curves on its northern edge, the beaches run east and west, creating a beautiful setting and making for some great surfing on good days. Since the days of beach-blanket movies and Beach Boys songs, this place has exemplified Southern California beach culture.
14. Go to a matinee at the Highland Theatre – Don’t expect to catch any art-house films at this triplex, and its theatres are rarely in pristine condition, but it’s hard to complain about seeing a first-run feature film on any day of the week for $5 before 6 p.m. or $7 after.
15. Farmers Market and The Grove – This one’s for all market lovers! However, over the decades it has come to be more than just a market. Today, it’s a lively, fun place to eat and drink. Next door, The Grove shopping area adds more places to shop, go to the movies, eat in a sit-down restaurant or watch the dancing fountains.
16. Drink L.A.’s best $5 milkshake – When you order a shake at the all-time favourite Pasadena sandwich shop, Cornell’s, don’t expect frills, or a secret ingredient recipe. But do expect a perfectly proportioned blend of ice-cream and milk, served in a Styrofoam cup.
17. Remember the Music Scene isn’t just The Strip – The Echo/Echoplex in Echo Park is an amazing indie venue that pulls an impressive roster of emerging artists and is known for its one-of-a-kind events like Monday Residencies and Funky Sole parties. Who knows? You might just be witnessing the next Grammy winner on stage!
18. Take a hike into Weird History – Climb deep into a bizarre relic of LA history along 512, into the ruins of a secret 1930’s Nazi compound known as Murphy Ranch at Sullivan Ridge Fire Road.
19. Leimert Park Village – Located in the heart of the Crenshaw district, Leimert Park Village lures tourists with the distinct African American culture of its shops, art galleries, coffee shops, restaurants, and jazz clubs.
20. Hang out at Amoeba Records for Free Live Shows – Amoeba Records is a Sunset Blvd music store that hosts boatloads for free concerts, DJ performances, and artist signings. It’s a unique space that’s worth checking out at least once. You can check their website for upcoming shows that fit in your schedule.
21. Take a day trip off-LA – If you want to experience L.A. like someone who lives there, pick a spot, whether it’s Yosemite, Santa Barbara, Vegas, San Diego, or Death Valley, and go on a drive to experience how the terrain and the environment can change within the timeframe of a couple of hours.