On an average weekend in L.A., some of my favorite activities include patio drinking, beer garden drinking, before-noon drinking, bar hopping and beach drinking. But I also see the value in non-alcohol-fueled activities, if for no other reason than it’s good to change it up and give my vital organs a break once in a while. And shocking though it may seem, there are some things I actually prefer to do without a drink in hand. (I know some people can go to the gym drunk, but I will personally never be coordinated enough to mix booze with an elliptical machine.) So whether you don't drink at all or you just like to forgo cocktails every now and then, here are 10 L.A. weekend activities that are still fun when you’re sober.
1. 24-hour Korean spas
Scattered throughout Koreatown are magical places that have saunas and hot and cold baths running 24 hours a day. If you’re looking for a place to spend the night without getting drunk, go spend the evening soaking, getting scrubbed or even working out, if that's your relaxation style. (A lot of the 24-hour spas have terraces, fitness rooms and restaurants.) Wi Spa on Wilshire is an option, but the possibilities in Koreatown are honestly endless. Various locations.
2. The Queen Mary
I have an affinity for the Queen Mary because it stirs up fond memories of Arrested Development. (Tobias buys the Queen Mary club, not the boat, but I still feel drawn to the ship.) Anyway, make a day of it in Long Beach and explore the Queen Mary because, as I understand it, it offers everything. It has tours (including a nighttime paranormal tour), food, ice skating in winter and events for pretty much every holiday. It also presents the perfect opportunity for ironic “I’m on a boat” jokes, even though they’ll make everyone around you feel like they need a drink. 1126 Queens Hwy., Long Beach. queenmary.com.
3. Chinatown Summer Nights
Chinatown Summer Nights 2016 are happening on the third Saturdays of the month, which this summer are June 18, July 16 and Aug. 20. Chinatown’s best food comes out in full force, alongside L.A.’s best food trucks. A few blocks of Chinatown light up with culinary demonstrations and cultural activities you can participate in. It’s easily enjoyed sans alcohol. 943–951 N. Broadway, Chinatown. chinatownsummernights.com.
4. Murder Mystery Dinners
OK, I will admit that alcohol can be part of the fun here, but it doesn’t have to be. Instead of revolving around alcohol, these mystery parties tend to revolve around dinner. (And the show, of course.) And while there is often a cash bar, you just end up saving money if you’re not drinking. One of the most popular murder mystery dinners in L.A. is Keith and Margo’s at Matteo's in West L.A., where professional actors perform the “murder mystery experience,” and then the suspects join in with clues and all that jazz. Your dinner comes with a “murder mystery guide and solution kit,” so it sounds like the ideal night in my book. Various.
5. Universal CityWalk
For many of us, there is a long list of activities we might have done a long time ago if they weren’t so damn touristy. While Universal CityWalk is almost always cluttered with tourists, there’s something to be said for the sensory overload involved in having corporate neon signs bearing down on you from every direction. If you haven’t seen the not-so-hidden gem of the Valley yet, definitely go, and go sober so that you can escape quickly (and with your wits about you) if necessary. 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City. citywalkhollywood.com.
6. Night beaching
You can go the romantic route, and pack a picnic and watch the sunset on the beach. But seeing as open-container laws don’t seem to be going anywhere, this can (and probably should) be a sober activity. In place of wine, just bring more cheese. Or you can abandon the romance and go the pyromania route instead, and head to Dockweiler Beach, where you can make your own fire and roast your own meat if you so choose. Various.
7. Hollywood’s historic theaters
If you’re willing to brave Hollywood Boulevard, the Chinese Theatre, the El Capitan Theatre and the Egyptian Theatre have a surprising amount of cultural history to offer for the fact that they’re all dangerously close to Hollywood & Highland. Charles Toberman, a real estate developer in the '20s, opened the Egyptian Theatre first (in 1922), and then the El Capitan four years later. Finally, Toberman opened the Chinese Theatre in 1927. He worked with Sid Grauman, whose name is carried (or was) by the Chinese Theatre and the Egyptian Theatre. Take a walk and visit all three — then see a movie. Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood.
8. Malibu hikes (and a stop at Malibu Seafood)
I guess I’d be remiss if I didn’t add an active sober option, especially for the people who are giving up alcohol for the weekend as part of a cleanse. Because there are endless hiking options right in L.A., I’m often too lazy to trek to Malibu. But sitting in traffic for an hour is worth it, because the Malibu hikes offer some of the best views of the water and can be followed by Malibu Seafood, an experience that shouldn't be dulled by booze. If you’re looking for good Malibu hikes, try Point Dume Nature Preserve for lighter hiking fare, or the Zuma Canyon Trail off Bonsall Drive for amazing views of the Pacific. Malibu Seafood, 25653 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu. malibuseafood.com.
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9. 626 Night Market
Seeing as your sobriety allows you to drive to any destination, it might actually be worth it to slip out of the L.A. city limits to Arcadia, which is home to the largest Asian-themed night market in the United States. It’s open July 2-4, July 22-24, Aug. 5-7 and Sept. 2-4 (more information on the website). In addition to more than 200 food vendors, the event feature an art walk, local performers and DJs. 285 W. Huntington Drive, Arcadia. 626nightmarket.com.
10. Sky Zone
I wholeheartedly believe that bouncing on trampolines is a perfect activity for any occasion. Lazy Sunday activity to get you out of a rut? Yes. Date activity? Obviously, there is no better way to figure out whether your Tinder date is in it for the long haul or not. Sober day out with your girlfriends? You can make that a thing at Sky Zone. If you are sick of the adult world, sick of paying your bills, sick of taxes and sick of the 2016 presidential candidates, you might just need to go jump on oversized trampolines for a few hours. This absolutely needs to be a sober activity, because it’s not the safest pastime in the world, and you really don’t want vodka in your system while jumping in the vicinity of a child’s birthday party. Puking on a 6-year-old isn't cool. Various locations in the L.A. area. skyzone.com.