54 Ways to Make the Most of Summer in L.A.

You might think that, as an Angeleno, you have the right to be jaded about summer. The weather's so nice all year, what difference does summer really make? To that we say: Summer is as much a season as it is a state of mind, and it sounds like you need an attitude adjustment.

Summer is a time to clear your calendar and unplug your devices, to let go of a little responsibility and reacquaint yourself with spontaneity. So back away from the computer and slather on the sunscreen — here are 54 amazing things to do in L.A. this summer.

Golden Road Brewing's delightful, kid-friendly patio
Golden Road Brewing's delightful, kid-friendly patio
Colin Young-Wolff

PLUNK DOWN ON A RESTAURANT PATIO

1. Bask in the sunshine with the whole fam at Golden Road Brewing.
Parenting is hard work, so you moms and dads are entitled to the occasional cold one. Fortunately, the brewmasters at Golden Road in Atwater Village have created an environment in which drinkers and kindergarteners can happily co-exist.

2. Enjoy a lunchtime splurge at Nobu Malibu.
Every view is an ocean view — to the north, south and west — and every hour is the right hour for a visit. At lunch, the light blue sky rests on the brilliant blue sea.

3. Gaze upon industrial L.A. at the Elysian.
The Elysian has gone through a number of incarnations, but the glory of that patio has never changed. Given that the restaurant is located in a mostly industrial area next to the L.A. River, the charming enclosed outdoor area feels a bit like a hidden jewel.

4. Make like you're in Paris at Manuela.
Manuela's glowy, tucked-away feel evokes New Orleans or Paris or another city that is much better at street life and hidden nooks, and the wondrous place where those two things meet.

5. Sip on margaritas at Salazar.
Built on the grounds of a former auto body repair shop, the sprawling 100-plus-seat outdoor dining area is replete with trees, succulent landscaping and enough umbrellas to keep the sun-averse shaded.

6. Keep it simple at Everson Royce Bar.
It's not often that someone begs me to refrain from writing about a place because, as one friend put it, "I don't want everyone knowing about our bar." But more than one person has said something along those lines about ERB Bar, even as it barely steps out of its infancy. Friendship be damned; ERB deserves the hordes.

7. Bring your furry child along to Playa Provisions.
This beachy little complex in Playa del Rey has four eateries in one building, with two dog-friendly patios.

The "boozy snow cone" at Block Party.
The "boozy snow cone" at Block Party.
Chelsee Lowe

GET DAY DRUNK

8. Get a great Insta at Block Party.
Boozy snow cones, margarita slushies and micheladas topped with paletas are among the hits here.

9. Crack open a cold one at Angel City Brewery.
Even the most introverted beer drinkers have been lured to the premises on the strength of Angel City's beer list. Ease into your day drinking with the subtly tart honey grapefruit Angel City lager, but don’t miss the limited series Salted Caramel Gose.

10. Turn your brunch into a party at Big Bar at Alcove Cafe.
At Big Bar, the watering hole adjacent to Alcove Cafe and Bakery, the al fresco setup couldn't be better for getting your booze on.

11. Travel to Germany for the day at Red Lion Tavern.
While the weird mumble-crooning downstairs rules the evening, the beer garden rules the day.

12. Dive in at First Cabin Bar.
First Cabin Bar in Arcadia is the perfect dive bar.

Cannonball!EXPAND
Cannonball!
Courtesy the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

JUMP IN A POOL

13. Join the party at Night Swim at Tropicana Bar.
Located at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, it offers pool toys and a pleasant atmosphere, featuring scattered ottomans among fire pits and palm trees.

14. Sneak a swim at the Langham Huntington.
Pasadena's Langham Huntington boasts the old-school grandeur of a Ritz-Carlton (and it was one, once), and is tucked into an upscale residential neighborhood — putting it out of view and out of the way.

15. Avoid getting kicked out at a (still-swanky) public pool like 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.

16. Get a rooftop view of the city at Andaz West Hollywood.
Though it's usually accessible only to hotel guests, the hotel holds a series of events that are open to the public — especially in the summer — including the Sunset Sessions DJ series and the once-monthly “yoga with a view” fitness classes.

17. Act like a celebrity at SLS Hotel.
The pool deck takes indulgence to a whole new level — chef José Andrés, who runs the on-site restaurant, the Bazaar, serves up bites — and during spring and summer Altitude Pool hosts live DJs on weekend afternoons.

18. Be the master of cool at the Standard DTLA.
There’s a lot to love about this hotel, but the rooftop deck, which features a pool, bar and beer garden, tops the list.

19. Show your out-of-town friends what it really means to live in L.A. at the Mondrian Hotel.
The pool itself features underwater music, while the deck offers panoramic views of the city, daybeds, a lush outdoor living room and the adjacent Skybar.

Manhattan Beach
Manhattan Beach
Mary Bove

WORK ON YOUR TAN

20. Solve the perfect equation of sunshine + wine at Topanga State Beach.
What makes this beach so inviting is that it's located across the PCH from Rosenthal Winery.

21. Play in the tide pools at Abalone Cove Beach.
Along the five-mile stretch of rocky bluffs, you will find Abalone Cove, which is perfect for spotting an array of sea creatures.

22. Let your puppy go wild at Huntington Dog Beach.
There are no size restrictions and dogs are free to run without a leash — a rarity in this state even for places considered dog-friendly.

23. Escape the Santa Monica tourism trap and head to Manhattan Beach.
Not as horrifically over-commercialized as the Santa Monica Pier or as no-frills as the one in Venice, this pier is particularly good for people-watching thanks to the surplus of comely local surfers.

Salt & Straw's fermentation series
Salt & Straw's fermentation series
Photo: Jean Trinh

GORGE ON ICE CREAM

24. Cool off at one of L.A.'s 10 best ice cream shops.
With summer around the corner — and likely a very hot one at that — you'd better map out your ice cream game plan as early as possible.

25. Try some Mexican kosher ice cream.
Some of the most unusual ice cream flavors in L.A. can be found at a small, strip-mall shop located behind a Reseda 7-Eleven.

26. Taste some funky flavors at Ihwamun Ice Cream Shop.
Michael Kim, owner of Ihwamun Ice Cream, makes and rotates about three dozen flavors through his shop in the Little Tokyo Galleria.

54 Ways to Make the Most of Summer in L.A. (5)
Courtesy Shutterstock

PICK UP A PICNIC

27. Figure out what the hype is about at Clementine.
At lunchtime, there may be no happier place in Los Angeles than Annie Miler's cheerful takeout cafe, located across from the Westfield Century City shopping mall.

28. Snag a four-course meal at Gjusta.
As you walk down the expanse of the case, you're first attracted to the cakes and pies and pastries, and then jars of deep pink pâté catch your eye, and then you get absorbed by the glistening hunks of smoked fish.

29. Shop at a not-so-traditional convenience store at The Oaks Gourmet.
The Oaks is a gourmet's convenience store, where you can pick up a four-pack of Chimay, a duck confit and caramelized onion pizza, Cake Monkey's version of a Hostess cupcake and a Cuban cigar.

30. Feast like a Frenchman thanks to Nicole's Market & Cafe.
The sandwich menu is a sort of French-Italian hybrid, with a croque-monsieur and a Caprese, a pâté and a prosciutto di Parma, and many of them come with Continental flourishes such as European butter or fleur-de-sel.

31. Find any excuse to get supplies from Maison Giraud.
Walk to the back of Maison Giraud to pick from its selection of outstanding pastries, from buttery croissants and rich, buttery pain au chocolat to sweet and buttery oatmeal raisin cookies.

32. Pick up some Filipino barbecue at The Park’s Finest.
The little emerald refuge hidden behind Bob Baker Marionette Theatre is one of the most beautiful public places anywhere near downtown, and it features an unparalleled view of the L.A. skyline.

Anacapa Island, Channel Islands National Park
Anacapa Island, Channel Islands National Park
Courtesy U.S. National Park Service

TAKE A ROAD TRIP

33. Go to Channel Islands National Park and get stranded on a deserted island.
Encompassing five small but notably different destinations — Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel and Santa Barbara islands — the park boasts dramatic ocean views, pristine beaches and intimate camping.

34. Travel to a chiller dimension in the seaside Baja town of Popotla.
The small but bustling town is perched like a barnacle alongside Baja Studios, a 51-acre oceanside movie lot where the mega-blockbuster Titanic was shot in 1996.

35. Get wine-drunk at Paso Robles.
Today the region, halfway between L.A. and San Francisco, boasts more than 200 of wineries — and many are producing wines that give Napa, Sonoma and Santa Ynez a run for their money.

36. Soak up the ocean breeze at Jalama Beach.
Jalama Beach County Park is isolated but still has lots of creature comforts and conveniences.

37. Camp at the largest natural sand deposit in the Mojave Natural Preserve at Kelso Dunes.
If you’re cool with pit toilets, have a four-wheel-drive vehicle and have the foresight to bring lots of water, camping at Kelso Dunes is a great way to feel as if you’re sleeping on another planet.

38. Bask in the romance of Santa Barbara.
The air feels fresher and the ocean more serene in Santa Barbara, which offers great hiking and mountain views amid historic 1930s architecture and terracotta paved streets.

Just one more mile ...
Just one more mile ...
The Strand Santa Monica Path

TIGHTEN UP YOUR SUMMER BOD

39. Attempt to run on the beach at the Strand Santa Monica Path.
Nothing kills the momentum of a run like a traffic light every other block. Escape the delays and the car exhaust with a refreshing waterside run.

40. Get your walking shoes ready for the Big Parade Stair Walk.
The Big Parade is a full weekend of urban hiking, covering 35 miles and 80 public stairways in two days.

41. Hike somewhere other than Griffith Park at Beacon Hill Trail.
Make your way up to a summit with water for humans and horses and picnic tables perfect for a breather or a bottle of wine. You may run into a hiker or two, but you will mostly have it to yourself.

The Hollywood Bowl is synonymous with summer.
The Hollywood Bowl is synonymous with summer.
Courtesy of the L.A. Philharmonic

GET ENTERTAINED, AL FRESCO

42. Sing along at L.A.’s best outdoor summer music venues.
Time to get out of the clubs and catch some fabulous music in the city’s finest outdoor venues. Whether you need somewhere to take a date or the kids, or just hang with friends, these are L.A.'s best places to enjoy our incredible weather and take in an afternoon or evening of live music.

43. Protect your wallet at tons of free summer concerts.
This summer, there's a lot of fun that comes free — maybe enough to remind you why you still live here, despite your bank account's suffering.

44. Watch one of the dozens of movie screenings under the stars.
There are few things better than watching a movie al fresco in Los Angeles. OK, maybe an all-you-can-eat taco bar under the stars is better, but barely.

When you can't stand the heat, get into a this swimming hole.
When you can't stand the heat, get into a this swimming hole.
Photo: Isaac Simpson

GET ADVENTUROUS    

45. Jump off a cliff at Malibu Creek State Park
A mile’s hike into Malibu Creek State Park is an old-fashioned water hole called Rock Pool. A ring of cliffs ranging from 20 to 50 feet high surrounds the deep, green water.

46. Master the open seas and sail for free at the L.A. Maritime Institute.
Have you ever watched Pirates of the Caribbean or Master & Commander and thought, "I want to sail like that"? If so, head down the 110 to San Pedro and learn how to sail a tall ship with the L.A. Maritime Institute.

47. Reel in dinner at 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.

48. Pretend you're a mermaid and scuba dive at Casino Point.
If you want to go scuba diving, head to Catalina, where diving the island's Casino Point is remarkably easy.

There's a secret lake at Ernest E. Debs Regional Park.
There's a secret lake at Ernest E. Debs Regional Park.
Jessie Schiewe

COMMUNE WITH NATURE    

49. Make some s'mores at Dockweiler Beach.
As the sun prepares to slink beyond the horizon, hordes of Angelenos descend upon Dockweiler's cement fire pits, building bonfires, cooking s'mores or grilling dinner, depending on how prepared they came.

50. Savor the sunset at Point Fermin Park.
Seriously dramatic cliffside views extend from Palos Verdes to Santa Monica and aptly named Pacific Palisades, but Point Fermin Park in San Pedro is in an especially enchanting location.

51. Discover a secret lake at Ernest E. Debs Regional Park.
Trek up the hill and you'll find the small but stunning hidden lake, which has clear waters, ducks and turtles as well as strategically placed benches around its perimeter.

Your kids might be too cool for rollerskating, but you're not.
Your kids might be too cool for rollerskating, but you're not.
Courtesy Northridge Skateland

DRAG YOUR KIDS ALONG

52. See if you've still got it at Skateland.
Fabulous lighting, lots of video games and a laser maze give you everything you'd want from a roller rink experience.

53. Play astronaut at the Glendale Planetarium Show.
Thanks to Glendale Community College and its free series of planetarium shows, Angelenos can get a peek at the cosmos.

54. Get tipsy while watching the kids play at Barnsdall Art Park.
There are free juice boxes for kids, who are welcome to run around while their parents contemplate how the DJ spinning is the closest they'll ever get to a dance club again.

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