According to weather experts, Southern California is about to be enveloped in the sweaty embrace of the season's first heat wave, which means roughly seven days of cursing God for your apartment's lack of central air conditioning. Nighttime and mornings are bearable, but daytime and especially the afternoon hours can be brutal with nothing but an aging window unit and a few fans to keep you cool. Luckily, there are loads of places in L.A. where you can go to cool off. The movies (we recommend a cheap, second-run theater, such as Regency Academy 6 in Pasadena with $3 tickets), the library and the beach are staples, of course, but here are 10 additional ideas that won't break the bank.
1. That museum you’ve been meaning to visit
Los Angeles is chock-full of museums with wonderful programming and sweet, sweet central air conditioning. Some, like the Hammer (10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood) and the Getty (1200 Getty Center Drive, Brentwood), are always free (although the Getty charges $15 for parking), while others, like the Broad (221 S. Grand Ave., downtown) and the brand-new Marciano Art Foundation (4357 Wilshire Blvd., Windsor Square) are free when tickets or reservations are made in advance. But, OK, you can't exactly plan for a heat wave, so keep an eye on museums with weekly free days: LACMA (5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire) is free the second Tuesday of every month, Autry Museum of the American West (4700 Western Heritage Way, Griffith Park) is free on the first Tuesday of the month and the Museum of Latin American Art (628 Alamitos Ave., Long Beach) is free every Sunday. There's a lot more to explore.
2. The skating rink
The skating rink — be it roller or ice — has always been a perfect place to spend a few hours cooling off and getting some exercise in the summertime. L.A. has a handful of good options. Besides its popular adults-only party nights — like the forthcoming George Michael Memorial Skate on June 25 — Moonlight Rollerway (5110 San Fernando Road, Glendale) has a summertime skate session from 1:30 to 4 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, plus an afternoon skate from 3:30 to 5 p.m. on Friday and a morning skate for kids on Saturday. And although it might sound counterintuitive to cool off in the Valley, Pickwick Ice in Burbank (1001 W. Riverside Drive) has daily public skate sessions beginning at either 1, 2 or 3 p.m., and Iceland Ice Skating Center in Van Nuys (14318 Calvert St.) has both daytime and evening public sessions many days of the week.
3. Stores with shit to do
Sure, you could spend an hour or two wandering around Whole Foods eating samples and sniffing natural soaps, or go to the Smart & Final on Beverly in Historic Filipinotown and hang out in the refrigerated cheese room, but there are lots of stores to
loiter in browse that have way more fun stuff to do. Even if you're an adult, toy stores will keep you busy for a while, and we happen to have a whole list of suggestions that run the geographical gamut from Little Tokyo to Montrose. Musical instrument stores are fun, too, even chains like Guitar Center and Sam Ash, where futzing around with a bass guitar isn't frowned upon. And then there's ...
The ultimate "store with shit to do," Ikea requires an entry all its own. The Scandinavian furniture and home goods store — with locations in Burbank, Carson, Covina and Costa Mesa, locally — is a monument to commerce so massive, we're relatively sure you could spend a day or several "testing" various ready-to-assemble sofas and beds and soaking up AC and no one would be the wiser. You can even have lunch in the cafeteria. Hell, you can have "the Valley's hottest brunch" with friends, take a lunch meeting and then invite a date to your favorite new hangout for a dinner of Swedish meatballs and lingonberry jam.
5. Mount Wilson Observatory
To catch some cooler air, we have a tendency to head west toward the ocean, but there's also the option to travel upward into the San Gabriel Mountains. Located at an altitude of 5,700 feet above sea level, Mount Wilson Observatory, northeast of Altadena, invites visitors inside a dome to check out the Hooker 100-inch telescope, the very instrument that was used by Edwin Hubble to prove that the universe extends beyond the Milky Way and by Fritz Zwicky to find evidence of dark matter. There's a small museum as well as a little eatery called the Cosmic Cafe, and keep an eye out for classical music concerts under the dome on Sunday afternoons.
6. One of L.A.’s many public pools
A lot of people aren't in love with the idea of public swimming pools, but on a 98-degree day, it's pretty easy to overcome the heebie jeebies. (Also, they're loaded with chlorine, so c'mon.) L.A.'s Parks Department operates 39 seasonal pools and 16 year-round pools, so you can take your pick based on geographic convenience, but we're partial to Hansen Dam, which is humongous and has a pair of really fun water slides, and the more centrally located Hollywood Public Pool, which we named Best Pool in our 2016 Best of L.A. issue. Admission is only $3.50 for adults and $1 for kids.
7. The Downtown Flower Market
Between the smells of body odor and urine-drenched sidewalks baking in the sun, summer isn't known for being the most olfactorily pleasing season. The Los Angeles Flower Market (754 Wall St., downtown) is climate-controlled and literally smells like roses. Even if you're not looking for gladiolus for a centerpiece or a potted succulent for your irresponsible friend at work, it's a beautiful place to browse, take some Instagram photos and take an actual breather. Admission is only $2.
8. A Metro bus
Don't wrinkle your nose at me. In between rush hours, L.A.'s busses can be really cool, uncrowded places to do some reading or listen to a podcast while exploring the city or getting from here to there, wherever there may be. A one-way ride costs $1.75, but make sure to buy a Tap card.
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9. Hollywood Forever’s Mausoleum
Between Cinespia's summer movie screenings on the lawn and its periodic memorial celebrations for interred celebrities, Hollywood Forever is a totally legit, not-at-all morbid place to hang out. And damn if the tile floor in Cathetral Mausoleum isn't a cool place to peruse crypts on a summer day. And, hey, if you've been the the flower market, you can even pay your respects with a small gift to Rudolph Valentino.
10. The spa
Naked time on a hot day? Yes please. We recently determined that it's totally plausible to spend a day and night at one of L.A.'s 24-hour Korean spas, Wi Spa (2700 Wilshire Blvd., Westlake) in particular, which sounds like a pretty fantastic idea during a heat wave. Same as Ikea — except with massages and scrubs — the spa is a no-reason-to-leave sort of place that serves food and has places to nap. Finish the day with a trip to the sauna and remind yourself that fall will be here before you know it.