For lots of people, Labor Day weekend means packing up, jumping in the car or boarding an airplane, and spending a weekend away from L.A., responsibilities and the imminent reality that summer is coming to a close.
Unfortunately, getting out of Dodge also means dealing with hoards of other tourists, on the roads and at the airport, and dropping some serious dough. For those looking for the ultimate way to send off summer without sacrificing your sanity, you might want to consider sticking around L.A. for the long weekend. There’s plenty to do right here in our own backyard.
Root root root for the home team.
What better way to celebrate a weekend in L.A. than cheering on our home team? The L.A. Dodgers will host the Arizona Diamondbacks for a 5:10 p.m. game at Dodger Stadium on Sept. 5; the perfect evening activity for families, friends or couples. Dodger dogs, beers, peanuts and cracker jacks are all fair game.
Dodger Stadium, 1000 Vin Scully Ave., Elysian Park; Mon., Sept. 5, 5:10 p.m. losangeles.dodgers.mlb.com.
Nail the picnic game.
One of the perks of living in L.A. is that it’s pretty much picnic season 24/7 — but early September, with its Indian summer feel and mild humidity — has to be one of the best times to dine (and lounge) al fresco. Grab some plastic wine cups, sandwiches, games and a blanket and head to L.A.’s top picnic spots; we love the large lawn at Will Rogers State Park and the picnic tables at Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area or around Echo Park Lake.
Hike Runyon Canyon.
After a hotly debated four-month closure for renovations, Runyon Canyon Park has reopened — just in time to get some hikes and views in by the end of summer. Bring your pup along to check out the new water fountains and paved trails, and take in sweeping vistas guaranteed to remind you why you chose to stick around L.A. for the weekend. Worried about crowds? Here are some other places to get some exercise in nature, from Devil's Gate Dam to Escondido Falls.
North Fuller Avenue, Hollywood Hills. lamountains.com.
Drink wine in Malibu.
Santa Ynez County, Temecula and Napa Valley may contribute the most to California’s reputation as a top wine destination, but Malibu definitely holds its own for a local crowd of amateur sommeliers. Malibu Wines, known for its large lawn and live music tucked in the hills above the beach, and Rosenthal Wine Bar & Patio, located on the PCH directly across from the beach, are both sure to draw a crowd looking to make the most of their holiday.
Head north to El Matador.
Just like any other day in L.A., there’s plenty of reasons to spend your Labor Day weekend lounging on the beach. Unfortunately, there’s a good chance that Santa Monica Beach and Venice Beach — along with many others, from Pacific Palisades to the South Bay — will be packed with tourists and locals trying to soak up the late-summer rays. Instead of braving the crowds, head 45 minutes north on PCH to El Matador State Beach’s sprawling stretch of sand, Pacific Ocean, sea caves and rock formations. It's a world away without actually being a world away.
32350 El Matador Beach Road, Malibu.
Channel your inner skipper.
No need to invest in a boat — or work up the athleticism necessary to stay afloat on a kayak — to spend your Labor Day out on the water. Hornblower’s limited-time Marina del Rey Harbor Tours and Sea Lion Adventure will be offered in three different cruises on Labor Day, each a 45-minute ride for just $12 per person. Hornblower also has a Labor Day Champagne brunch cruise for $68 per person, which includes two hours of sailing, food and drinks.
Entertain the whole family.
The L.A, County Fair opens Sept. 2 and will be ready to host visitors of all ages looking for some family-friendly fun over Labor Day weekend. Located in Pomona, the event’s concerts, competitions, rides, carnival treats (deep-fried everything) and games will simultaneously delight little ones and give adults a serious dose of childhood nostalgia. Just bring the Dramamine and plenty of cash.
1101 W. McKinley Ave., Pomona; Sept. 2-25. lacountyfair.com.
Get your groove on in Exposition Park.
Dance your way right into fall at the annual Labor Day Music Festival, held at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum’s Exposition Park. This year’s festival features Los Lonely Boys, Poncho Sanchez, Dennis Jones Band and headliner Snoop Dogg, plus a beer garden and a lowrider show; general admission tickets are only 20 bucks — or you could splurge for the $500 VIP experience.
3911 S. Figueroa St., Exposition Park; Mon., Sept. 5, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; $20. workingcalifornians.org/splash.
Hang by the pool.
No pool at home, no problem — plenty of hotels, community centers and schools offer pools ideal for taking a dip and laying out. Hotels including the Standard, the Ace Hotel and Mondrian Los Angeles open their pools up to those not staying at the property, while public pools including the Cheviot Hills Recreation Center, Stoner Park pool and the Hollywood pool are ideal for families or larger groups. Check their websites for Labor Day hours.
Bike along the beach.
Thanks to the Marvin Braude Bike Trail, any local can easily live out their O.C.-inspired dreams of cruising along the beach. The path runs from Torrance in the south to Pacific Palisades in the north, with plenty of spots for taking a dip in the water, grabbing lunch or just taking in the boardwalk entertainment along the way. For those who don’t have a bike to bring along, the path is lined with rental shops where you can get a cruiser on the cheap.