How to Have the Best L.A. Summer Ever

How to Have the Best L.A. Summer Ever
Photo by Mary Bove

As of today, summer is officially here. That means long days to fill and so many ways to fill them that when fall rolls around you'll immediately start making plans for next year. To help make sure the next few months are well spent, we went back through the picks from our 2015 Best of L.A. issue to find suggestions for how to have the best summer ever, from the best beaches to the best places to drink to combinations of the two.  

How to Have the Best L.A. Summer Ever
Photo by Amy Nicholson

See a movie at New Beverly Cinema
Here's the best way to go to the New Beverly now that Quentin Tarantino has taken over: Just show up. Every night of the week you're guaranteed to see something great — and, more importantly, something that probably wouldn't have crossed your mind to see but boy, are you glad you stumbled across it. Tarantino's double bills are like a curated tour of his brain. These are the race car flicks, sexy spy movies, kooky creepers, brilliant dramas and foreign curiosities that shaped his own style. Many rep houses stay alive flogging tired but safe retreads such as The Breakfast Club or The Goonies. It's not their fault — it's economics. But the point of the theatrical experience is to see something, well, theatrical: a movie that will leave you spilling out of the theater excited to talk about the experience you've just shared. Tarantino can afford to take risks — and at $8 for two flicks, we can afford to join him. 7165 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax. (323) 938-4038, newbevcinema.com. —Amy Nicholson

How to Have the Best L.A. Summer Ever
Photo by Anne Fishbein

Dine al fresco at Redbird
Vibiana, the now-deconsecrated cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles and one of the city's oldest buildings, has long been used as an events space. Now chef Neal Fraser, his wife and business partner, Amy Knoll Fraser, and restaurateur Bill Chait have built Redbird in what was the rectory, the upstairs quarters of which used to house the cardinal. Get it? As much as the name nods to the building's history, the part of Redbird that best makes use of that history is the main dining room, which is actually a patio (which sometimes is covered with a newfangled retractable ceiling). It's a glorious space, designed by Robert Weimer, all white walls and potted trees and views of the cathedral next door. There's a sense of the past in the architecture and a sense of the future in the design details. It's one of the most dramatic and thrilling rooms to house a new L.A. restaurant since, well, République, which is also a Chait project. 114 E. Second St., downtown. (213) 788-1191, redbird.la. —Besha Rodell 

How to Have the Best L.A. Summer Ever
Courtesy Ricardo DIaz

Have a craft-beer michelada at Colonia Publica
The michelada, the original beer cocktail, is ubiquitous in Mexican restaurants and dive bars across L.A. Though a few shtick-y gastropubs have attempted to swap out the michelada's light Mexican lager for something more small-batch, it wasn't until Colonia Publica opened in Uptown Whittier that the full range of craft-beer michelada possibilities became evident. Chef Ricardo Diaz (Guisados, Colonia Taco Lounge, Bizarra Capital) is the man behind Colonia Publica, and his lineup of new-wave micheladas is made with everything from IPAs (the IPAlada pairs Epic's Escape IPA with grapefruit juice) to oatmeal stouts (La Morena is a take on a black-and-tan made with horchata and St. Ambroise oatmeal stout). Of course, traditionalists still have plenty of options. Using old favorite Modelo as the base, you can also get a michelada with Clamato, a jalapeño-aguachile michelada, a chamoy michelada and a tamarind michelada with agave wine and cayenne pepper. 6717 Greenleaf Ave., Whittier. (562) 693-2621. —Sarah Bennett 

How to Have the Best L.A. Summer Ever
Photo by Timothy Norris

Watch the boys of summer at The Greyhound
Maybe you can watch the Dodgers at home. Lucky you. But for a large portion of Angelenos, our only access to Dodger baseball at home is via crackly AM radio. So we downtrodden fans, trampled once more under the clumsy hooves of TV-provider intransigence, head out into the warm summer evening in search of the best place to catch our hardball fix. Enter the Greyhound, neighborhood pub par excellence, owners of some very fine televisions and a subscription to Time Warner Cable. The Greyhound shows every game on its many screens — including a giant HD projector — and offers an outstanding array of game-time specials, which it calls "Blue Hour." For just $8, you get an Olympia — the quintessential ballpark lager — and a burger or veggie wings. (For a dollar more, trade up to a pound of chicken wings.) It also has buckets of Olympia and pitchers of craft beer, and if you step outside after a Friday home game, you can look down Figueroa to see the postgame fireworks peeking over the hill. 5570 N. Figueroa, Highland Park. (216) 571-6301, the-greyhound.com. —Ben Mesirow

How to Have the Best L.A. Summer Ever
Photo by Gene Maddaus

Shop for surfing gear at Val Surf
For mysterious reasons, the landlocked San Fernando Valley is home to the best surf shop in Los Angeles. Val Surf has been around since 1962, serving the Valley's demand for surfboards, skateboards and snowboards. Pretty much anyone can afford the first two, making them a perfect fit for America's suburb, and both lines of business are still going strong. Snowboarding — a more expensive hobby — has taken a hit the last few winters due to the lack of snow on the mountains. Val Surf also carries a lot of apparel. According to the store's president, Mark Richards, the margins on clothing are what keep the store in business. The store offers surf shoes, flip-flops, board shorts, sun hats and more. The company prides itself on its credibility within the surfing, snowboarding and skateboarding communities. It boasts that there is always an expert in each of those pursuits on the floor to help customers make the right decision. 4810 Whitsett Ave., Valley Village. (818) 769-3060, valsurf.com. —Gene Maddaus

How to Have the Best L.A. Summer Ever

Pick up a used bike at Coco's Variety
What started as an all-purpose variety store has evolved into L.A.'s go-to spot for reasonably priced used bikes. Coco's Variety Store doesn't just flip bikes, it rebuilds them from scratch and sells them with a warranty. Owner Peter Vermeren has 25 years of experience as a garage-sale picker, which he uses to prowl the city and hand-select only the highest quality frames. He only rehabs those he can stand behind, so the shop's fleet of $200 to $500 used cycles, which includes many Treks and Specializeds, is rock solid all the way through. Coco's also is a certified dealer of new, and relatively cheap, Linus and Bianchi bikes. Coco's once was known for its Prada-logoed marquee, which was changed this year to a wild mash-up of dazzle ship camouflage and world championship cycling ribbon designs, painted by Jason Filipow. 2427 Riverside Dr., Elysian Valley. (323) 664-7400, cocosvariety.com. —Isaac Simpson

How to Have the Best L.A. Summer Ever
Photo by Mary Bove

Enjoy a beach-wine combo at Topanga State Beach and Rosenthal Vineyards Some of the first things that come to mind when outsiders imagine living in California are sunshine, beaches and wine. Pretty much all Californians while away our afternoons with our feet in the surf and rosé in our cups, right? We wish. But we can prove them right every so often with a quick trip to Topanga State Beach and Rosenthal Vineyards. For just a few bucks, you can skip the Malibu traffic and park at this lovely, generally uncrowded patch of shore. Take in a few rays, then duck below PCH by way of an underground passageway and grab a bottle at Rosenthal, where you can lounge on the lawn sipping wine as the sun goes down. Sure, it sounds like a California cliché, but you'll be too wrapped in contentment to care. 18741 Pacific Coast Hwy., Malibu. (310) 456-1392, rosenthalestatewines.com. —Ali Trachta

How to Have the Best L.A. Summer Ever
LA Weekly archive

Hit the pool at Annenberg Community Beach House
If you don’t have a rich friend with a beachfront estate and sparkling pool, the Annenberg Community Beach House is the next best thing. There’s not much but the marble-tiled pool left of the historic, five-acre compound built in the 1920s by William Randolph Hearst for actress Marion Davies, but a new beach house and sun deck have sprung up around it. You can further the illusion of your own private getaway (or at least get away from howling toddlers) at the adults-only sunset swim. And if you’re suffering from a case of off-season blues, fear not — from October to May, you can still swim on special pop-up pool days (follow ACBH on Facebook or Twitter to receive three-day advance notice of those). 415 Pacific Coast Highway, Santa Monica. (310) 458-4904, annenbergbeachhouse.com. —Mara Shalhoup

How to Have the Best L.A. Summer Ever
Photo by Kylie Krabbe

Go birdwatching at Sepulveda Dam and Wildlife Reserve
If you sometimes prefer the company of birds to humans, the Sepulveda Dam Wildlife Reserve is just the place to decompress. The rare evergreen diamond of wilderness smack in the middle of urban sprawl is known to attract more than 200 bird species, from Western scrub jays to great egrets, American coots to pied-billed grebes, song sparrows to spotted towhees, great horned owls to turkey vultures. There's no better pick-me-up than a delicate heron gliding above the ecologically protected terrain. While generally a place for bird watchers and admirers, the reserve also is a good spot to run or walk without being tripped every 10 paces by the ubiquitous L.A. canine corps. Yes, we love our dogs, but sometimes a park should be strictly for the birds. 6335 Woodley Ave., Sepulveda Basin. (818) 756-9710, sepulvedabasinwildlife.org. —Kylie Krabbe

How to Have the Best L.A. Summer Ever
Photo by Isaac Simpson

Go fishing at North Atwater Park
Renewed interest in a more natural L.A. River has led to a push to make it more fishable. In September 2015, Friends of the L.A. River (FoLAR) organized the second annual fly-fishing competition on a foliage-filled section of the river in North Atwater Park. While the steelhead trout have long been missing, several species of bass, tilapia and carp are thriving and very catchable, with the first-prize fisherman reeling in a four-pound carp and three small bass. The real winners, however, were the local residents who packed into the recently upgraded park to enjoy a river that's been neglected for half a century. Montana it is not, but with marshy bushes, 212 species of birds and a view of the lush humps of Griffith Park, you might just feel as if you're in a less concrete kind of wilderness. 3900 Chevy Chase Drive, Atwater Village. (323) 664-6611, laparks.org.

How to Have the Best L.A. Summer Ever
Photo by Clarissa Wei

Take a night hike at Echo Mountain
Skip the crowded vistas at Griffith Park and opt for something a bit more secluded in Altadena. The hike up to Echo Mountain is a moderate, 5.8-mile round-trip climb with a 1,503-foot elevation gain. It's a brilliant trek at night because once you get on the actual trail, it's nearly impossible to get lost. The trail is composed of a series of switchbacks, illuminated by the city lights below. At the top you can sit on the steps of the ruined old Echo Mountain Resort and quietly watch the valley twinkle (with a faint silhouette of downtown Los Angeles off in the distance). Some folks have been known to bring up a bottle of wine. Just be careful on the dark hike back down. East Loma Alta Drive at North Lake Avenue, Altadena. —Clarissa Wei

How to Have the Best L.A. Summer Ever
Photo by Clarissa Wei

Scuba dive at Casino Point
Shore dives are a pain. You have to walk into the surf, battle the waves and crawl your way out. A better option is to head to Catalina. Diving the island's Casino Point is remarkably easy: A convenient set of stairs will lead you down to the kelp forest below, and a gear-rental kiosk is right next to the dive stairs. The park is a protected marine sanctuary, so there is never a deficit of fish to see. You'll certainly spot a smattering of garibaldis and a halibut or two. You might even stumble across the handful of shipwrecks abandoned on the ocean floor (keep an eye out for the Jacques Cousteau plaque down there). And if you're lucky, a pair of sea lions might swim over to play. Avalon, Catalina Island. —Clarissa Wei

How to Have the Best L.A. Summer Ever

Go bowling at Shatto 39 Lanes
It's a weeknight in Koreatown and Shatto Lanes is packed — no small feat in a neighborhood that's elbow-deep in bars. Shatto Lanes is an old-school oasis from the $14 craft-cocktail tyranny that's taken over Los Angeles' nightlife. For that price, you can bowl two sets with shoe rental — and the low-key bar is one the last places you can buy a $4 beer. With two rows of lanes flanking the entrance, you can grab a whiskey and park yourself on a stool alongside the long viewing window that flanks one of the lanes. (Be sure to applaud strangers' strikes.) The snack bar is so terrible it's almost part of the charm, but Shatto's real magic is its never-touched 1980s décor: pale mint-green walls and a sign urging you to "Bowl for Fun and Health." Or at least just for fun. 3255 W. Fourth St., Koreatown. (213) 385-9475, shatto39lanes.com. —Amy Nicholson

How to Have the Best L.A. Summer Ever
Courtesy NELA

Soak in the night air and art at NELA Second Saturday Gallery Night
NELA stands for North East L.A., is pronounced nee-lah and is demarcated by the 134 on the north, the 2 on the east, the 5 on the south and the 110 on the west. Founded almost a decade ago as part of NELAart's broader appreciation for the long history of Highland Park's creative community, this monthly Second Saturdays Gallery Night is really coming into its own. Maybe it's the art-friendly population of nearby downtown; maybe it's the bumper crop of new galleries and artist-run spaces (and the boutiques, bookstores and brasseries that come with them, particularly along York and Eagle Rock boulevards). Although truthfully — and this is the organizers' point — good indie shit is happening everywhere on the NELA map, the most recent edition of which listed 64 venues including Avenue 50 Studio, Slow Culture, Center for the Arts Eagle Rock, Monte Vista Projects, MorYork and the studios and gallery of the Keystone Art Space complex. 5668 York Blvd., Highland Park. (323) 387-9705, nelaart.org. —Shana Nys Dambrot

Soak in some AC at AMC Marina  Marketplace 6
Arthouses and repertory theaters can be forgiven a degree of shabby-chicness, but we should be able to see our mass-market fare in as nice a setting as possible. AMC Marina Marketplace 6 doesn't fill that role through any gimmick. It is, quite simply, a nice, exceedingly normal theater in a time when that has become something of a rarity. Luxury moviegoing is the wave of the future, and Marina Marketplace has the plush, assigned seating to stay on trend. Just as important, it also boasts a down-home neighborhood vibe that you wouldn't expect anywhere on the Westside. It combines the comfort of your childhood multiplex with the amenities of today, making it feel comfortable and even homey without resorting to artificiality. There are always enough people there for you to feel part of a communal experience, but rarely so many that you get lost in the crowd. Plus, where else can you park right outside the front door for free? 4335 Glencoe Ave., Marina del Rey. (310) 776-6374, amctheaters.com. —Michael Nordine


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