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Happenings

Free Summer Dance Parties at the Music Center are Back Starting on June 21

May 22, 2019 by Brian Champlin
Bollywood” at Dance DTLA 2018. Photo courtesy of Javier Guillen for Grand Park/The Music Center

One of downtown’s best free events series is returning on June 21 for its 15th season of boogying down under the stars.

For the uninitiated, The Music Center’s Dance DTLA is a free night of dancing featuring live music and/or DJs paired with expert dance instructors providing beginner group dance lessons for attendees. Each night has a different dance theme, and all events are free and open to the public.

Dance DTLA events take place every Friday from June 21 through August 30, with hours from 7 to 11 p.m. for each night. The August 30 event will feature extended hours through midnight. Additionally, The Music Center will also provide voter registration booths at select events in partnership with the Los Angeles County Registrar’s Office.

The 2019 season of Dance DTLA features three new dances styles added this season, plus the events will be spread throughout three venues over the course of the season: at Grand Park, at Walt Disney Concert Hall and at the soon-to-be-reopened Music Center Plaza. Food and beverage will be available for sale at each event, and no outside alcohol is permitted.

You can check out the complete schedule of events / themes for 2019 below:

  • 6/21/19 – Bollywood at Grand Park/Performance Lawn
  • 6/28/19 – Bachata (New for 2019) at Grand Park/Event Lawn
  • 7/5/19 – Line Dance & Two Step at The Music Center’s Walt Disney Concert Hall/BP Hall
  • 7/12/19 – Hip-Hop (New for 2019) at Grand Park/Performance Lawn
  • 7/19/19 – Argentine Tango at Grand Park/Olive Court
  • 7/26/19 – Disco at Grand Park/Event Lawn
  • 8/2/19 – K-pop at Grand Park/Performance Lawn
  • 8/9/19 at Salsa at The Music Center Plaza “Sneak Peek”
  • 8/16/19 Motown/Funk (New for 2019) at The Music Center Plaza “Sneak Peek”
  • 8/30/19 Cumbia at The Music Center Plaza, part of the Plaza Grand Opening Weekend Celebration

For more information visit The Music Center’s official website.

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Free Museums, Happenings

Admission to MOCA Will Be Free Thanks to a $10 Million Donation

May 21, 2019 by Brian Champlin
Photograph courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
Photo by Elon Schoenholz

If you’re a free museum hound (like yours truly) then we’ve got some exciting news for you: Admission to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles is about to become free, at least for the foreseeable future.

This past Saturday MOCA held their annual benefit inside MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary location. The gathering doubled as a 40th birthday celebration for the museum, and it even came with a special birthday gift. It was during the gathering that MOCA board of trustees president Carolyn Clark Powers announced a pledge of $10 million to fund free museum admission.

“I’m committed to MOCA’s continued success being at the forefront of diversity, inclusiveness and openness of spirit,” Powers told attendees, according to the L.A. Times, “So it gives me great joy to announce my birthday gift to MOCA with a gift of $10 million. And with this gift I challenge the museum to open its doors to free general admission for all.”

The Museum told the Times that the $10 million should cover admission costs for the next five years, but the intent behind the move is to make admission permanently free. There is currently no timeline to institute the free admission policy.

Both the Grand Ave location and Little Tokyo location of MOCA charge $15 per adult visitor. Guests can get already get free admission at MOCA on Grand Ave. every Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m.

We’ll be sure to update the status of MOCA’s admission on our next free museum day round-up.

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Happenings

The Aquarium of the Pacific Opens a New Wing This Week and It’s a Stunner

May 20, 2019 by Brian Champlin
The new Pacific Visions wing at the Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, CA
© 2019 Tom Bonner

This Friday, May 24, the Aquarium of the Pacific opens Pacific Visions, a two-story, 29,000 square-foot expansion featuring a state-of-the-art immersive theater, an art gallery, interactive consoles, touchable wall screens, and new live animal exhibits. It’s a stunning new addition to what is already the fourth most attended aquarium in the nation.

“After more than a decade of planning and building, we are excited to open Pacific Visions to the public,” Dr. Jerry R. Schubel, Aquarium of the Pacific president and CEO, stated in a release. “Pacific Visions is unlike any other aquarium expansion project. We are taking a unique, unconventional approach in creating a space where the focus is on the one species that is affecting all others on Earth: humans. Pacific Visions is a place where scientists, policymakers, and the public can come together to explore solutions to create a better future for all.”

Pacific Visions art gallery at the Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, CA
© 2019 Tom Bonner

Guests enter Pacific Visions from the existing aquarium great hall into a 2,800-square-foot art gallery layered with video projections and soundscapes, a touchable coral sculpture wall, glass sculptures inspired by plankton, and a collection of mirrored exhibits called Infinity Coral.

From there visitors continue to a 2,600-square-foot orientation gallery highlighted by an 18-foot-wide virtual waterfall and a 26-foot-wide by 8-foot-tall LED screen. The screen plays a pre-show film that primes you for what comes next, and is the true jewel of the new expansion: The Honda Pacific Visions Theater.

Honda Pacific Visions Theater at the Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, CA
© 2019 Tom Bonner

The 300-seat theater features a 130-foot-wide by 32-foot-tall curved screen that wraps around a 36-foot-wide tilting floor projection disc. To see it in action is, no exaggeration, like witnessing something out of Star Trek. Among the technological innovations utilized in the theater are ‘Virtual touch’ devices that add to the experience for visitors who are deaf or blind. The devices control ultrasound waves to create tactile sensations in mid-air that mimic the flow of the film in real time, whether it’s ocean waves or bubbling air.

Initially the theater will offer an 8-minute experience called Designing Our Future, but there are plans in place to expand the experiential content offered by the theater and use the space as a live music venue in the future.

To finish up a tour of Pacific Visions, guests exit at the top of the theater to the culmination gallery, which helps contextualize the overall visitor experience.

Culmination Gallery inside Pacific Visions at the Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, CA
© 2019 Tom Bonner

The culmination gallery features a 50-foot wide motion sensitive media wall, several interactive game tables, and live animals on display including the delta smelt, an endangered species of fish native to the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta in California. The smelt have been critically affected by modifications to the local ecology, non-native species introductions, and water diversion programs. In some ways, the inclusion of the smelt echo highlight the true mission of Pacific Visions.

Although the overall tone of the exhibits and experiences offer notes of optimism about humanity’s future, there is an underlying theme of environmental urgency that binds together the visitor experience of the new wing.

“This is really serious. It isn’t just about feeling good,” Dr. Schubel told a gathering of press at a preview event on May 16. “This is about the ecosystems that make it possible for human beings to thrive on this earth,”

Indeed, with the effects climate change accelerating and the need for awareness and action at an all-time high, the opening of Pacific Visions couldn’t come at a more important moment in our species’ evolution. With the new wing expected to boost annual aquarium attendance by 200,000 visitors, this expansion presents a unique opportunity to not only entertain, but spread a vital educational message.

The planning and construction of Pacific Visions was supported through a $15 million matching grant by the City of Long Beach in addition to a $5 million matching grant from John, Michelle, Mario, and Therese Molina, and $5 million from American Honda Motor Co., Inc. The expansion was designed by Designed by the San Francisco-based architecture and design firm EHD, the same firm that built the original Aquarium of the Pacific structure.

The Pacific Visions wing opens to the public this Friday, May 24. Check the Aquarium of the Pacific’s official website for visitor and ticketing information.

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Food, Happenings

Get 73-Cent Burgers at Original Tommy’s This Wednesday for Their 73rd Anniversary

May 13, 2019 by Brian Champlin
Original Tommy's Burger
Original Tommy’s Hamburgers. Credit: Mr. Littlehand via flickr cc

Attention deal-seekers and chili burger-lovers: This Wednesday, May 15 locations of the Original Tommy’s will offer 73-cent hamburgers to celebrate the 73rd anniversary of the Southern California hamburger chain.

For the uninitiated, The Tommy Burger is a greasy, melty collection of condiments (including their signature chili) with a thin patty of meat casually slid into the middle. You may love it, you may hate it, but the iconic standing of Tommy’s is undeniable. If your thinking you want to get in on the anniversary special, then here are the details you need to know:

  • Burgers will be offered for $0.73 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (or until supplies run out) at all Tommy’s locations, per this post on Tommy’s Facebook page.
  • There’s a limit of 5 burgers per order if you walk up, or 5 per car on drive-thru.
  • Make sure to mention the social media post embedded below to take advantage of the deal.

If previous years offer any clue, the ultra-cheap burgers are sure to draw larger-than-usual lines. That said, in past years the celebration focused on the flagship location on the corner of Beverly and Rampart, including a full-on Mariachi performance and the USC Marching Band for the 70th anniversary back in 2016. Perhaps spreading the wealth to all of the locations will also spread the crowds, but we’ll see.

In any case, if you want to try your luck for the free burgers here’s a list of Original Tommy’s locations for your Wednesday burger fix. I’d recommend keeping an eye on their social media feeds before you head out just so you can get an idea on lines or if they unexpectedly run out at any specific location.

Best of luck bargain burger hunters!

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Happenings

Pop-up Outdoor Roller-Skating Rinks Come to Three L.A. Locations for Summer 2019

May 8, 2019 by Brian Champlin
Image via POP SK8 on Facebook

Looking for classic roller-skating with a new-school pop-up twist? POP SK8 bills itself as California’s first themed pop-up outdoor roller-skating rink, and they’re bringing their experience to three separate L.A.-area locations now through the first weekend in August.

The pop-up rink, which opened on May 4, will be at Westfield Valencia daily through Monday, May 27. POP SK8 will then move to the Westfield Woodland Hills from Saturday, June 1 through Sunday, June 30, and then close out the season at Westfield Culver City from Saturday, July 6 through Sunday, August 4.

Part of the POP SK8 experience will be themed-musical selections for each day of the week. For example, Wednesdays are 70’s themed, Thursdays are 80’s focused, and Sundays offer sing-along music from Broadway and movie musicals. In addition to themed music POP SK8’s website promises pop-up performances, contests, and games for guests to enjoy.

According to the L.A. Times, the temporary rinks are created using a tile floor laid across parking lots at each Westfield location (keeping the skating surface nice and level). With POP SK8 opening this past weekend, you can get a flavor of what the scene looks like via the below post from the event’s Instagram account.

Now for costs: All-day individual admission are $15 person, or $28 per couple (skate rental included). There are few other group packages available include a deal to purchase a 10-pack of tickets for $120.

Hours of operation are 2 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 2 p.m. to midnight on Fridays, noon to midnight on Saturdays, and noon to 10 p.m. on Sundays.

For more information, visit POP SK8’s official website.

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Happenings

The Queen Mary Has Free Summer Movie Nights from May Through August

May 3, 2019 by Brian Champlin
Image via The Queen Mary / The ACE Agency

One of Long Beach’s signature attractions is jumping into the outdoor movie game with a free monthly series kicking off this May. The Queen Mary’s Movie Night Summer Series opens with a screening of Mamma Mia! on May then continues on select Thursdays through August 22.

We know what you’re thinking: How is the Queen Mary going to get all these people on board to see an outdoor movie? Well, that’s not exactly how it’s going to work.

Screenings will take place on the Queen Mary Seawalk, a lawn adjacent to the ship. The historic vessel provides the backdrop, and each evening will feature food trucks themed to the night’s film plus a full bar with drinks for purchase for those ages 21+. Plus, free is a pretty good price for admission, although even that comes with a small caveat (see parking details below).

The complete summer 2019 schedule is as follows:

  • May 16, 2019, 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.: Mamma Mia!
  • June 20, 2019, 6 p.m. – 12 a.m.: Double Feature: Indiana Jones – Raiders of the Lost Ark & Indiana Jones – Temple of Doom
  • July 11, 2019, 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.: Grease
  • August 22, 2019, 6 p.m. – 12 a.m.: Double Feature: Beetlejuice & Edward Scissorhands

Each events open doors at 6 p.m., and screenings start at sundown. Lawn chairs and blankets are allowed. No outside food or beverages permitted, with the exception of unopened water bottles

While admission to screenings will be free, all vehicles entering the events park will be charged a $10 fee. We’d recommend carpooling or using available public transit options if you’re looking to lower costs.

For those willing to spend a bit more, Date Night Packages are available for purchase which include a reserved couch for two, one bottle of signature Queen Mary Champagne, and assorted snacks. The cost is $75 per couple.

The Queen Mary is located 1126 Queens Hwy, Long Beach, CA., 90802 For more information about the event, the the Queen Mary’s Movie Night Summer Series page on their official website.

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Sponsored, Travel

Exploring the Morongo Basin of San Bernardino County (Sand to Snow Monument, Big Morongo Canyon Preserve, Pioneertown, Yucca Valley, and Landers)

April 30, 2019 by Christina Champlin and Brian Champlin

The following is a sponsored collaboration between San Bernardino County and We Like L.A.

Mission Creek Preserve / Photo Credit: Christina Champlin

So far through our ongoing series of content produced in partnership with the County of San Bernardino we’ve had some terrific experiences. Back in February we played in the snow of the SBC mountains, and then to kick off the spring we spent a week in Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms researching things to do in the area.

For our third installment we’re back in the Morongo Basin exploring some of the not-quite-as-well known communities including Morongo Valley, Yucca Valley, Pioneertown, and Landers. Time and again what we’ve come to recognize is there are A LOT to do that you’ve probably never heard about, or probably driven right past and not even realized (this was true for us, at least).

With Joshua Tree National Park claiming much the attention from visitors to the local area, the communities listed above can make for great getaway destinations if you’re looking for an alternative desert road trip where crowds won’t have as big an impact on your experience. That’s especially the case for peak tourist seasons during the springtime and holidays (and it helps combat over-tourism too!)

That said, we think we’ve got more than a few gems that you’ll want to check out for yourself, so let’s dive in!

Morongo Valley / Photo Credit: Christina Champlin

Morongo Valley

Drive the 10 freeway out toward Palm Springs, exit the 62 north and in about 10 miles you’ve crossed the Riverside County line and entered Morongo Valley. If you’re just on your way out to J-Tree you’ll probably drive right through and not even notice there are a couple of excellent hiking spots along the route that deserve your attention.

Mission Creek Preserve: Part of the Wildlands Conservacy, the largest nonprofit nature preserve system in California, the Mission Creek Preserve is well maintained and has limited foot traffic. At times you might be the only ones around for miles (make sure you sign in at the trailhead!) You can enter MCP at the intersection of Mission Creek Road and Highway 62. You’ll drive on a dirt road until you reach a locked gate and parking area. You can walk through the gate and down the road about a mile to get to a second parking lot (Stone Creek Parking Area) where the trailhead is, or if you want to bypass the extra walking, get in touch with The Wildlands Conservancy ahead of time to get a code to open the lock so you can drive through. A short walk from the trailhead leads to Mission Creek, which depending on the time of year and annual rainfall may provide more or less of an obstacle (plan on getting your feet at least puddle-deep wet). Once you hop through the creek you can head up about 2 miles through a winding, unshaded trail to get a glimpse of the Pacific Crest Trail. There are plenty of flowers in bloom during the springtime, and lots of lizards and birds about. This is a great morning walk, but on a sweltering summer afternoon may not be as enjoyable for obvious reasons. Either way, make sure to bring your sunscreen, hat and water. → More information

Big Morongo Canyon Preserve / Photo Credit: Brian Champlin

Big Morongo Canyon Preserve: Part of the Sand to Snow Monument, BMCP offers a variety of hiking trails of various lengths. You could do as little as a 20 minute stroll on a boardwalk or go on a 9 mile up and back hike on Canyon Trail. Springtime brings wildflowers and if you slow down and look closely you might get a glimpse of wildlife in the marsh habitat or up in the trees (we saw a Gilbert’s Skink for the first time while on the boardwalk!) The BMCP is also internationally recognized as a bird-watching site where several rare species nest and stop by during migration seasons. So far BMCP has managed to record 254 species in the Morongo Valley alone. → More information

Cactus Mart / Photo Credit: Brian Champlin

Cactus Mart: Desert plant lovers need to stop by Cactus Mart a plant emporium housing a variety of cacti, succulents and other native plants. The main attraction is their “Dig Your Own” cactus for the modest price of 59 cents. → More information

Yucca Valley

Yucca Valley is the second largest (by population) community in the Morongo Basin. Here you’ll find a unique variety of shops, a couple of excellent cafes, and central access to the adjacent Morongo Basin communities. Town center is about 20 miles from the west entrance station of Joshua Tree National Park.

Sky Village Market Place / Photo Credit: Christina Champlin

Sky Village Market Place: Open on weekends, the outdoor shopping space operates like a flea market with outdoor vendors selling used items that range from vintage hats to art and furniture on seven acres of land. Make sure to stop by brick and mortar shop Dakota Bob’s near the entrance, it’s the premier spot with a huge selection of “broken-in” western wear. → More information

Bob’s Crystal Cave / Photo Credit: Brian Champlin

Bob’s Crystal Cave: Located on the grounds of The Sky Village Market Place in Yucca Valley, the Crystal Cave a psychedelic meditative space created with spray foam and thousands of crystals, shells and porcelain each arranged by hand can be found near the Sky Village Cafe. You can’t go inside the cave but port holes surround the cave from the outside allowing visitors to to peer into the trippy creation. Bob’s Crystal Cave is open only on the weekends. → More information

The BLT at Frontier Cafe / Photo Credit: Christina Champlin

Frontier Café: Being back in Yucca Valley for the second time, and now having visited Frontier Café about a half dozen times, it’s safe to say this is one of the most popular spots in town. Everything we’ve had on the menu has been solid (salads, BLT, breakfast sandwich, and more) so you can’t go wrong there. If in need of somewhere to do a little work while you’re in town that has WiFi, this will be your go-to. Just be sure to get there early to snag a table. → More information

Cedar & Sage Wellness Studio / Photo Credit: Christina Champlin

Cedar & Sage Wellness Studio: Right across from Frontier Cafe, Cedar & Sage offers a variety of yoga classes, sound bath meditations as well as community hikes, wellness workshops and more. On our visit we enjoyed the Saturday Morning Power Hour yoga class and felt invigorated for the rest of the day. Classes are suitable for advanced and beginners, call ahead to see which class best suits your needs. → More information

Crispy Blackened Chicken Plate at La Copine / Photo Credit: Christina Champlin

La Copine: Located in Flamingo Heights (north part of Yucca Valley) the New-American restaurant is one of the most popular and hip places to eat in the area. On the menu is a mishmash of Italian to Southern, French and even South Asian inspired dishes. Personally we couldn’t get enough of the wild caught shrimp ceviche, Eggplant Al Forno and the Crispy Blackened Chicken with cheese grits. La Copine is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 2 to 7 p.m. we suggest coming early to secure a table or be prepared to wait. Luckily the friendly staff will happily serve you beer and wine while you hang out. Peek around the corner of the deck and you’ll find Teocali, a shop inside an Airstream promoting handmade, fair trade, sustainable textiles and accessories. → More information

Larry’s & Milt Western Cafe: This western cafe serves heaps of biscuits and gravy, hearty breakfast plates and omelets that will keep you full for the entire day. A great spot for breakfast lovers and folks who need to fuel up for a big hike. → More information

The End / Photo Credit: Christina Champlin

Additional Shopping in Yucca Valley: On the stretch of Twentynine Palms highway in Yucca Valley you’ll find your pick of cute stores. From hand selected vintage at Funky & Darn Near New and The End to trendy hipster desert wear at Hoof & the Horn.

Pioneertown

Following Pioneertown Rd. northwest from Yucca Valley for about 15 minutes and you’ll hit Pioneertown, an unincorporated community originally built in 1946 for film and television westerns. What was once a set for movies and TV is now a tourism draw where visitors can explore local shops operating in select buildings, and watch Old Western reenactments happen on Mane Street (yes, that’s how it’s spelled) during the weekend from April through October at 2:30 p.m.

Pappy + Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace: Operating since 1982, they are best known for their live music events and Santa Maria style mesquite bbq. Many famous faces have played there including Sir Paul McCartney. Bands play Thursday through Sunday evenings. Mondays are open mic nights. Keep in mind they are closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. → More information

Pioneertown Motel / Photo Credit: Christina Champlin

Pioneertown Motel: Located a short walk from Pappy’s is the Pioneertown Motel, which was our home away from home on our most recent visit. We found it to be a convenient and peaceful spot to rest your head as you explore the Morongo Basin and its surrounding area. Rooms have a rustic western chic appeal with extremely comfy beds. Amenities are limited but they have serviceable (though not lightning fast) WiFi and a main lodge with coffee, tea and water available 24/7. The motel’s backyard is the desert with towering Joshua Trees and other local plants. It’s the perfect place to relax on hammocks and do some stargazing, or even try your hand at a little astro photography (see our attempt below).  → More information

Stargazing at Pioneertown Motel / Photo Credit: Brian Champlin

Pioneertown Mountain Preserve: This 25,500 acre wilderness preserve offers some terrific moderate level hikes and walks, including a route to the ruins of the Olsen homestead, and an out-and-back 7 mile hike to Chapposa Peak, which will put you over 5,000 feet above sea level. The terrain is rocky you won’t find shade, so make sure to take your time, bring a hat, sunscreen, and plenty of water. -> More information

Landers

Head north on the 247 past Flamingo Heights and you’ll enter Landers, an unincorporated area with strong ties to the UFO culture that developed mid 20th century.

Gubler Orchid Farm / Photo Credit: Christina Champlin

Gubler Orchid Farm: The nursery cultivates a stunning variety of orchids as well as carnivorous plants. Open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. the farm offers tours of their nursery every 30 minutes. Closed toed shoes are required for the tour. Gubler Orchid Farm is a great place to pick up a few house plants as gifts and for yourself. The Orchid farm is just a stone’s throw from the Integratron, so if you’re lucky enough to make a reservation for the sound bath, definitely stop by the orchid farm on your way in or out. → More information

Integratron: The 38-ft tall domed structure designed by George Van Tassel has reputed powers of rejuvenation, anti-gravity and time travel (we’ll let you judge that for itself). The signature experience here would be a hour-long sound bath inside the dome. Public reservations fill up fast, so you’ll likely need to book some weeks in advance if you want to partake. It’s about a 40-minute drive from Twentynine Palms, or 20 minutes from Joshua Tree. → More information

Giant Rock: The seven-story high Giant Rock is purported (though unverified) to be the largest freestanding rock in the world. It was certainly enough to impress the aforementioned Van Tassel, who, after taking over the property in 1947 eventually dug out a structure underneath the rock and held UFO conventions in its shadow that helped fund the eventual construction of the Integratron. We weren’t able to make it up to see Giant Rock because locals recommended a 4-wheel drive vehicle to tackle the soft dirt road that leads up there. Definitely something to keep in mind if you plan to visit. → More information


Helpful Reminders

  • Common sense: Bring lots of water with you, wear sunscreen and a hat if need be.
  • You can request gate access to Mission Creek by gong to this page on The Wildlands Conservancy website.
  • Hours for sound baths at the Integratron vary seasonally. We recommend making reservations months in advance if possible.
  • Some restaurants in the area have limited hours during the week (may be closed on Mondays or Tuesdays or close early Monday through Thursday) so always check hours and make reservations on weekends when possible.

If you’d like to learn more about We Like L.A. sponsored posts and how we work with our partners, you can go here.

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Things To Do

10 Fun Things To Do TODAY in L.A. for April 8, 2019

April 8, 2019 by Brian Champlin
View of Downtown Los Angeles from City Hall Observation Deck
Spectacular view of DTLA from the top of City Hall. Credit: Brian Champlin

You know what’s handy? Waking up in the morning, firing up your phone/computer and being able to scan a super quick (but curated) rundown of the best of what lies ahead. So here it is, our list of fun things to do in Los Angeles for today, Monday, April 8, 2019.

May it lead you to adventure!

[IMPORTANT: Want our latest ‘things to do’ rundowns sent straight to your email inbox? Sign-up for our newsletter program]


Keep in mind for some of the ticketing options we utilize affiliate links and receive a commission if you purchase through our links (affiliates noted in parenthesis).

1. [6:30 p.m.] Volunteer Orientation for Heal the Bay.

2. [7 p.m.] Jazz Night: USC Thornton Concert Jazz Orchestra

3. [8 p.m.] Rooftop Cinema Club screens Pulp Fiction at NeueHouse in Hollywood.

4. [8 p.m.] It’s Weirdo Night at Zebulon this Monday with performances by Dynasty Handbag, Cole Escola, video by Maria Bamford, Marawa The Amazing, Amanda Verwey and more.

5. [8 p.m.] Write Club Los Angeles at the Bootleg Theater.

6. [8:30 p.m.]  Melrose Rooftop Theatre at E.P. & L.P. in West Hollywood hosts a screening of Crazy Rich Asians.

7. [8:30 p.m.] Low Hum Monday Night Residency at The Echo.

8. [9:30 p.m.] The Mermaid Comedy Hour returns to the Hollywood Improv with a fierce lineup that includes Subhah Agarwal, Kiran Deol and more.

9. [various.] Unconventional Japanese robatayaki INKO NITO located in DTLA welcomes sister-concept, Zuma for a special menu of dishe including Wagyu Beef Sushi with black truffle and daikon; Toro and Caviar Maki Rolls; Santa Barbara Sea Urchin Miso Buns and more. The menu is available until April 11, 2019.

10. [various] Take a trip to visit the observation deck at Los Angeles City Hall. FREE

#SPONSORED DEAL: Get $23 tix to the Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl

Want more ideas for upcoming things to do in L.A.? Check out our Los Angeles events calendar

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Sponsored, Travel

Let’s Take a Trip to Joshua Tree and 29 Palms

April 5, 2019 by Christina Champlin and Brian Champlin

The following is a sponsored collaboration between San Bernardino County and We Like L.A.

Joshua Tree National Park / Photo Credit: Christina Champlin

As we make the leap into spring the beauty of Southern California is in full bloom, and there’s no better time than right now to take a road trip from Los Angeles to experience it for yourself. And we’ve got an idea for you:

A few weeks back we continued our collaboration with the county of San Bernardino by embarking on a week-long adventure to Twentynine Palms and Joshua Tree. Along the way we gazed at the stars, scoped out art installations, learned rock climbing, hung out at an old west town, and learned the history of the native peoples and the geologic background of a desert oasis.

Below is a rundown of some of our favorite experiences from the trip, along with additional fun to-do ideas, plus a few helpful reminders to wrap it up.

If you’re thinking that a desert road trip is in the cards this spring, this will be a great place to start.

Cholla Garden in Joshua Tree National Park / Photo Credit: Brian Champlin

Getting there from L.A.

A straight shot drive from central Los Angeles to Twentynine Palms (minus any traffic hiccups) is a shade under two and a half hours. If you plan to stay in or explore the city of Joshua Tree, you’ll hit that first on your way over, as it’s about 20 minutes west of Twentynine Palms.

Staying in Twentynine Palms

You have numerous options if you’re going to stay in one of the national park gateway communities (as opposed to camping). Lodging in the city is a smart move if you want to explore the park by day and unwind at a few restaurants and bars in the evening.

One advantage of driving the extra 20 minutes to Twentynine Palms is that the west entrance to the national park located in Joshua Tree can get extremely crowded (probably because it’s a bit closer to L.A.). Lines may back up for potentially hours (yes, hours!) when there’s a flood of people entering on the weekend. The north entrance accessible via Twentynine Palms tends to have fewer entrants (though it still may crowd), so something to keep in mind.

If you do stay in Twentynine Palms, there are a couple of really nice options you may want to consider.

One is Campbell House, a historic retreat on 25-acres that features a dozen unique suites and cottages. Your stay comes with breakfast in the formal dining room.

Breakfast at Campbell House / Photo Credit: Christina Champlin

Another option is 29 Palms Inn, where guests can stay in an authentic 1930’s adobe bungalow, wood frame cabins or large guests houses. The 70-acre property includes the 9,000 year old Oasis Mara, plus one of the best restaurants in town (more on that later).

Exploring Joshua Tree National Park

If you’re planning the trek from Los Angeles then it goes without saying you’re going to want to visit Joshua Tree National Park, and take in all the park has to offer.

Joshua Tree / Photo Credit: Christina Champlin

Of course, as with any National Park visit, you’ll want to make sure yours is a responsible one. After speaking to several local tourism officials and a park guide, two specific issues that come up time and again are tree vandalism and complications from pets in the park.

In the case of the trees, it’s pretty much common sense: Don’t climb on them, write on them, attach things to them, or use the branches for firewood. For pets, the NPS has specific guidelines if you’re planning to bring your four-legged friend along.

That said, we want to stress how important it is to follow Leave No Trace principles during your visit and remind you by being a good steward of the park your ensure the natural ecosystem maintains itself and other visitors will be able to enjoy it in the future.

Of course, if you can explore the park responsibly, there’s A LOT to do!

Photo Credit: Brian Champlin / We Like L.A.

Rock Climbing: Rock climbing tops bucket list items for many park visitors, and there are a number of rock climbing guide options based in Joshua Tree. What we can tell you is our experience with Cliffhanger Climbing Guides was absolutely first rate. Seth, our guide for the day, gave us clear, quality instruction and made us feel confident and relaxed in no time, despite being first-time climbers. The location he chose was secluded enough that it made us feel like we had the park all to ourself, and a picnic-style lunch was provided as part of the experience. We highly recommend for families, newbies, or even experienced climbers who want to fast-track their way to some unique climbing spots within the park. → More information

Catered snacks by Cliffhanger Climbing Guides / Photo Credit: Christina Champlin

Arch Rock in Joshua Tree National Park: The White Tank Campground is adjacent to some of the most unique rock formations in the park, foremost of which might be the Arch Rock. There is a very small day-use parking section (see map here) if you’re not camping in that area. That said, the Arch Rock trail has become a very popular destination, so if parking is an issue at the campground an alternative might be to park at Twin Tanks and then cross the highway and walk over to the campground from there (probably adds another 15 minutes each way). The Arch Rock loop itself is only around 0.4 miles, but there’s lots to see. Short hike, great photo ops, and lots of spots for bouldering. → More information

Arch Rock / Photo Credit: Brian Champlin

Cholla Cactus Garden: This 10-acre flat expanse is filled as far as the eye can see with teddybear cholla. Be alert when walking on the trail, and do not touch the cactus and try not to step on one or you’ll be in a world of hurt. The stem-joints of the teddybear will snap off easily and if they spike you, the barbs are exceptionally difficult to remove. Choose to see the garden during sunset or sunrise, the golden hour light sparkles off the sea of Cholla producing a magical moment. → More information

Cholla Cactus Garden / Photo Credit: Christina Champlin

Catch the Seasonal Wild Blooms: One of the marvels of Joshua Tree National Park is that it actually bridges two distinct desert eco-systems: The Mojave Desert on the north side and the Colorado in the eastern and southern portions. It’ll take you about an hour to drive straight through the park from north to south, but watching the landscape change before your eyes is a sight to behold And as the Joshua Trees become fewer and fewer, eventually (seasonally dependent!) you might even start to see some wildflowers. One spot in particular for that is at the Bajada All-Access Nature Trail, located on Cottonwood Springs Rd. just north of the south entrance to the park. The trail is a breezy 0.3 mile loop that pops with a rainbow of blooms during springtime. Poppies, lupine, brittle bush, daisies, desert dandelions are just a few of the fauna found there. Oh, and one important note here: Please stay on the trails and don’t trample the wildflowers! → More information

Bajada All-Access Nature Trail / Photo Credit: Brian Champlin

Keys Point: If your trip to J-Tree isn’t complete without an epic sunset or sunrise photo, this is the spot. Joshua Tree’s highest viewpoint offers a panoramic glimpse of the park. It’s about a 30-40 minute drive from the north or west entrances to the park. → More information

More hiking in Joshua Tree: The National Park Service has compiled a terrific list of their Top 10 Hikes in the park, ranging from breezy nature walks (similar to the kind we mention above) to longer, more engaging hikes of up to 6 or 7 miles. You can search for lost mines, scope out unique rock formations, or get up early to spot some wildlife at Barker Dam. Lots of options!

Things to do in Twentynine Palms

Sky’s The Limit Observatory & Nature Center:  This observatory sits on the border of Twentynine Palms and Joshua Tree National Park. The nonprofit group that manages Sky’s the Limit regularly hosts free public programs where visitors can marvel at wonders of the universe. Sky’s the Limit is also home to a true-to-scale orrery (model of the solar system) where planetary markers are moved regularly to mirror their real-life movement around the sun. The scale of the orrery is 20 billion to one. → More information

Sky’s The Limit Observatory & Nature Center / Photo Credit: Christina Champlin

The Glass Outhouse Art Gallery:  Located on Thunder Road off Highway 62 the art gallery holds many installations. Including a glass outhouse offering panoramic view of the desert. It is walled with one-way mirrored glass providing the viewer with complete privacy. → More information

29 Palms Inn Restaurant: Enjoy a meal and drinks at the 29 Plams Inn Restaurant over looking the crystal blue pool. It’s a seasonal menu featuring seafood, steaks, daily pasta specials inspired by their on-site organic garden. The restaurant is extremely popular and open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. Reservations recommended. → More information

29 Palms Inn Restaurant / Photo Credit: Christina Champlin

Oasis of Murals:  Dozens of beautiful outdoor murals can be found on building walls all over the area. They vividly illustrate the history of Twentynine Palms some highlight public figures and others showcase the flora and fauna of the desert. → More information

The Rib Co.: Grilling since 1997, this family owned establishment serves large plates of baby backs, St. Louis and beef ribs. Often you’ll see the chef grilling right out front. → More information

29 Palms Creative Center & Art Gallery: Stop in for art workshops on the fly. Great for children and creative adults, guests can enjoy pottery painting, canvas painting and more. No reservations are required. –> More information

29 Palms Creative Center & Art Gallery / Photo Credit: Christina Champlin

The Fine Line: Have a few cocktails at a railroad themed bar. After a day of exploring 29 Palms it’s a good idea to unwind at this hip dive spot. → More information

Art Cruise 29!: Happening on the first Saturday of each month, many local galleries and art studios will open their doors for a day of demonstrations, art classes, show openings, artists meet and greets and more. → More information

Mojave Moon Cafe: A mishmash of cuisines from Italian, South American, Southern to American each with a twist by chef and owner Hamilton Lewis. → More information

Things to do in Joshua Tree

Noah Purifoy’s Outdoor Desert Art Museum of Assemblage Art : Walk through 7.5 acres of large-scale sculptures made from burnt wood, used materials, old objects and even toilet bowls. The outdoor museum is open from sunrise to sundown and is free to attend with a suggested donation box at the entrance. → More information

Noah Purifoy’s Outdoor Desert Museum. Photo credit: Brian Champlin / We Like L.A.

Joshua Tree Art Walk: Held on the second Saturday of each month from 5 to 9 p.m. Local galleries will host their openings during this time. → More information

Institute of Mental Physics: Also known as the Joshua Tree Retreat Center is a spiritual center dedicated to the “science of the future.” Built by Frank Lloyd Wright and his son Lloyd Wright in 1946, the space features workshops decided to spiritual healing and awareness. → More information

World Famous Crochet Museum: Housed inside an old school California photo stand is the cutest little museum of crocheted objects. It’s free to enter the cozy space. It’s also on a lot where other art galleries and stores reside. → More information

World Famous Crochet Museum / Photo Credit: Christina Champlin

Art Queen: A funky store with spray painted clothing and quirky art located next to the World Famous Crochet Museum. → More information

Joshua Tree Coffee Company / Photo Credit: Christina Champlin

Joshua Tree Coffee Company: The desert’s best organic coffee roasters, Joshua Tree Coffee Company uses a Loring Smart Roaster on their Fair Trade and/or Rainforest Alliance certified sourced bean. They also have free wifi and lots of outdoor seating. → More information

Joshua Tree Saloon: Established in 1983 the saloon serves breakfast, lunch, cocktails and dinner. Located in Downtown Joshua Tree this is the perfect watering hole after a day of exploring. → More information

Natural Sisters Cafe: Reset your body with a fresh pressed juice, or smoothie at Natural Sisters. You’ll find organic, plant based and locally sourced food here as well. → More information

Beauty Bubble Salon and Museum: Get your hair done inside the most popular and lively salon in downtown Joshua Tree. This spot is also home to the largest collection of hair memorabilia. The owner Jeff is super nice and encourages everyone to look around freely even without a hair appointment. → More information

Beauty Bubble Salon & Museum / Photo Credit: Christina Champlin

Crossroads Cafe: A solid diner that’s big on breakfast and good for vegans. Consider it a bit more upscale than the usual greasy spoon. → More information

More Ideas for a Desert-Inspired Adventure

Pioneertown / Photo Credit: Christina Champlin

Pioneertown: Built in 1946 for film and television westerns, today tourists can check out local shops operating in select buildings and Old Western reenactments on Mane Street during weekends in April through October at 2:30 p.m. If you’re planning a trip to Pioneertown, then a meal at Pappy + Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace is a must. Operating since 1982, hungry diners can enjoy mesquite bbq, massive burgers and cocktails at this popular hang out. Also recognized as a legendary place for live music, many famous faces have played there including Sir Paul McCartney. Bands play Thursday through Sunday evenings.

Pappy + Harriet’s / Photo Credit: Christina Champlin

Yucca Valley: Visit Frontier Cafe where they serve local Joshua Tree beans, perfectly prepared espresso drinks and seriously delicious sandwiches like their on-special Green Dream made with artichoke cashew spread, loads of greens on wheat rye. After a quick bite, explore the shops along Twentynine Palms Highway that include hand selected vintage spots like Funky & Darn Near New and The End to trendy hipster desert ware at Hoof & the Horn.

Bob’s Crystal Cave: Head to The Sky Village Swap Meet in Yucca Valley to get a peek inside Crystal Cave a psychedelic meditative space created with spray foam and thousands of crystals, shells and porcelain each arranged by hand. → More information

Rimrock Ranch: This stunning 36-acre ranch outside of Joshua Tree (near Pioneertown) was once a retreat for western actors like Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. The ranch offers guests rustic cabins, airstream trailers, a two floor lodge and a modern suite called the Hatch House. → More information

Rimrock Ranch / Photo Credit: Christina Champlin

The Integratron: The 38-ft tall domed structure designed by George Van Tassel has reputed powers of rejuvenation, anti-gravity and time travel (we’ll let you judge that for itself). The signature experience here would be a hour-long sound bath inside the dome. Public reservations fill up fast, so you’ll likely need to book some weeks in advance if you want to partake. It’s about a 40-minute drive from Twentynine Palms, or 20 minutes from Joshua Tree. → More information

Hi-Desert Nature Museum: Located in the Yucca Valley Community Center Complex, the collection is focused on the cultural heritage and natural splendor of the area. → More information

Helpful Reminders

  • Local visitors centers are a great way to get informed and find experiences you can have in the area, or pick up trail maps (remember you won’t have cell service in the park!). Depending on where you’re staying, we’d recommend stopping in to the Twentynine Palms Visitors Center, Joshua Tree National Park Visitors Center, or The Oasis Visitors Center.
  • Common sense: Bring lots of water with you, wear sunscreen and a hat if need be.
  • Remember there are usage fees to enter the park, a full list can be found here. A 7-day pass for a single vehicle, cost us $30.
  • Some campgrounds are first-come, first-serve, others are reservation only. Visit the NPS campground page for all the info you’ll need if you’re planning a camping excursion to J-Tree.

If you’d like to learn more about We Like L.A. sponsored posts and how we work with our partners, you can go here.

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Happenings

Rooftop Cinema Club is Back for 2019 Starting This Month

March 8, 2019 by Brian Champlin
Image via Rooftop Cinema Club

Rooftop Cinema Club, now in its fifth season in Los Angeles, has become a staple of the local outdoor movie screening scene, and this year they’re back with a robust lineup of films and food options.

RCC first started in London’s Shoreditch back in 2011. Founder Gerry Cottle Jr. brought the series (then called Rooftop Film Club) to L.A. in 2015, and it has evolved into one of the signature outdoor events series in the city, expanding to multiple venues and increasing the number of total screenings.

Rather than use an outdoor speaker system, guests relax in lawn chairs, watching films via a state-of-the-art projector while enjoying the movie’s audio via provided headphones. The rooftop setting and lounge appeal is accompanied by (either) food trucks or venue-specific menu options.

The series has two L.A. locations for 2019: NeueHouse in Hollywood and LEVEL in Downtown Los Angeles. This year’s season kicks off on March 20 with a showing of La La Land at NeueHouse, and the schedule from there features a mixture of classics and newly released films.

If you’re looking for something interactive for this spring, both rooftop locations will host sing-a-longs screenings of Bohemian Rhapsody and Grease. Also of note, some of the screenings will feature special events, including a themed-night for Bridesmaids and a special post-screening Q&A for the 65th anniversary screening of Creature From The Black Lagoon.

Tickets for RCC start at $17 (plus booking fee) for general lounge seating. It’s $20 for the seat plus unlimited popcorn, and special ‘Rooftop Love Seats’ are $24 per person. All attendees must be 18+.

Check out the complete listings of upcoming films below (through April). If you wish to purchase tickets to any of the screenings, visit rooftopcinemaclub.com.

** Note that we’ll update this post as the screenings for the rest of 2019 are announced **

LEVEL DTLA Schedule

  • March 21- The Greatest Showman
  • March 22– Bohemian Rhapsody: Sing-along
  • March 23- A Star Is Born
  • March 26- La La Land
  • March 27- Purple Rain
  • March 28- Love, Simon
  • March 29- Grease: Sing-along
  • March 30- Dirty Dancing
  • April 2- Crazy Rich Asians
  • April 3- E.T. The Extra Terrestrial
  • April 4- Interview with the Vampire
  • April 5- Pretty Woman
  • April 6-10 Things I Hate About You
  • April 9- She’s All That
  • April 10- Fight Club
  • April 11- Get Out
  • April 12- Top Gun
  • April 13- Bohemian Rhapsody: Sing-along
  • April 16- Pretty in Pink
  • April 17- Bridesmaids (Themed night)
  • April 18- Magic Mike
  • April 19- The Greatest Showman
  • April 20- The Big Lebowski
  • April 23- The Bodyguard
  • April 24- Mean Girls
  • April 25- Leon The Professional
  • April 26- A Star is Born
  • April 27- Love & Basketball
  • April 30- Dirty Dancing

NeueHouse Schedule

  • March 20- La La Land 
  • March 21- Bohemian Rhapsody: Sing-along
  • March 22- A Star Is Born
  • March 23- Creature From The Black Lagoon (Special event)
  • March 24- Moulin Rouge
  • March 25- Grease: Sing-along  
  • March 26- Enchanted
  • March 27- Dirty Dancing
  • March 28- The Hate U Give  (Special event)
  • March 29- Singin’ In The Rain
  • March 30- The Greatest Showman
  • March 31-The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
  • April 1- Get Out
  • April 2- Rebel Without a Cause
  • April 3- The Notebook
  • April 4- 10 Things I Hate About You
  • April 5- A Star Is Born
  • April 6- Bohemian Rhapsody: Sing-along
  • April 7- Pretty Woman
  • April 8- Pulp Fiction
  • April 9- Clueless
  • April 10- The Crow
  • April 11- In The Mood For Love
  • April 12- Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
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Food, Happenings

You Can Get Free Coffee Bean This Weekend as Part of Wescom’s Annual Daylight Savings Promo

March 8, 2019 by Brian Champlin
Coffee Bean Mexican Hot Chocolate
Credit: Brian Champlin / We Like L.A.

Daylight savings time kicks off this Sunday, meaning you’re going to lose a precious hour of sleep as we step into spring time. On the plus side, there’s a caffeinated promo you can take advantage of if you’re looking for a free morning pick-me-up.

As in years past, Wescom Credit Union will mark the time transition by picking up the tab at 23 SoCal locations of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf® starting on the morning of Sunday, March 10.

Wescom will pay beverage tabs, up to $15 per transaction, beginning the moment the doors open (location hours may vary) until $2,000 worth of bills are paid at each of the 23 stores listed below.

No special promo code or offer mention is necessary. Based on personal experience (I can’t say no to free coffee) Coffee Bean employees will inform every customer who steps through the doors about the offer, so I’d expect the tab to run out pretty quick, especially as the regularly Sunday morning coffee crowds show up.

In any case, enjoy the freebies!

2019 #WescomKindness Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf® locations

Brea
Imperial & Randolph — 1080 E Imperial Hwy.

Baldwin Park
Garvey & Francisquito — 13916 Garvey Ave.

Costa Mesa
Newport & Harbor — 1835 Newport Blvd.

Culver City
Washington & Overland — 10705 Washington Blvd.

Encino 
Ventura & Woodley — 16101 Ventura Blvd.

Irvine
Irvine Spectrum Center — 628 Spectrum Center

Long Beach
Circle Center — 1996 Ximeno Ave.

Manhattan Beach
Rosecrans & Redondo — 1590 Rosecrans Ave.

Mission Viejo
Avery & Marguerite — 26281 Avery Pkwy.

Oxnard 
Rose & Lockwood — 2180 N. Rose Ave.

Palmdale 
10th St. & Rancho Vista — 39605 10th Street West

Pasadena 
Lake & Del Mar — 415 S Lake Ave.

Rancho Cucamonga 
Haven & Foothill — 8140 Haven Ave.

Redlands 
Orange Street Plaza — 528 Orange St.

Riverside 
Central & Riverside — Riverside Plaza — 3545 Central Ave.

Santa Ana 
Main & Memory — 2783 N. Main St.

Santa Ana 
17th Street & Tustin — 2264 17th St.

Simi Valley 
Tapo Canyon & Alamo — 2944-G Tapo Canyon Rd.

Torrance 
Hawthorne & Del Amo — 20301 Hawthorne Blvd.

Valencia
Westfield Valencia Center — 24201 Valencia Blvd.

Westwood 
Westwood & Weyburn — 950 Westwood Blvd.

Yorba Linda
Yorba Linda & Lakeview — 18503 Yorba Linda Blvd.

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Sponsored, Travel

Awesome Things to do in the Mountains of San Bernardino County (Big Bear, Lake Arrowhead and Wrightwood)

February 25, 2019 by Christina Champlin and Brian Champlin

The following is a sponsored collaboration between San Bernardino County and We Like L.A.

Alpine Pedal Path Big Bear Lake California
Photo Credit: Christina Champlin

As Southern Californians we sometimes hear phrases like ‘from the sand to the snow’ meant to suggest extraordinary days spent surfing in the morning and skiing in the afternoon. But who among us has actually lived that experience? How many take advantage of the marvelous geographic diversity that surrounds us? Who even just gets in their car and takes a drive to the mountains?

One of us (Brian) can probably count the number of times he’s been in snow on one hand. The other (Christina) has been on a skiing/snowboarding trip exactly once in her life. But when we were offered the opportunity a few weeks back to work with San Bernardino County to create content guides that specifically touched on the mountainous regions of the area, we jumped at the chance.

Our experience both informed and inspired us. Really it was just a lot of fun. We took a skiing lesson, rode horses, learned the history of two massive man-made lakes, walked a natural arboretum, and even hiked to a sacred site of the native Serrano people. And of course there was lots of time in between to find some delicious places to eat!

We visited three destinations in all: Lake Arrowhead, Big Bear, and Wrightwood. Belowe we’ve created a detailed rundown of our itinerary as a list of things to do, and then supplemented that list with some additional ideas that you may want to add to your own trip.

The notion is that you’ll take a look at the myriad activities, see a few that really speak to you, and then decide to plan your own trip. Or maybe you’re already in the stages of planning, and this just gives you an added layer of insight into what you might like to do.

With this year’s snow fall packing the mountains more than any time in recent memory, now is the time to plan an awesome adventure just a short drive away.

So let’s get planning!

On the water of Lake Arrowhead
Photo Credit: Christina Champlin

Getting to Lake Arrowhead

It’s about a 90-minute drive to Lake Arrowhead from Los Angeles proper, with the most direct route being a straight shot on the 210 to highway 18. If you’re like us, you’re going to lose phone service at some points along the 18, so either printing directions or saving them to your phone is always a good idea.

Upon arriving in Lake Arrowhead we checked into Arrowhead Pine Rose Cabins, a charming resort known for their festive themed-cabins. There are 20 cabins to choose from each with their own unique decor and names. Large parties can consider the lodge option which fits up to 21 people. All cabins have a kitchen, bbq, fireplace and private outdoor space. There’s even a little creek located on the property where you might just catch a glimpse of some early morning deer.

We had about a day and a half to explore after checking in, so there was no time to waste!

Things to do in Lake Arrowhead

Belgian Waffle Works: Breakfast is always a good place to start, and Belgian Waffle Works (open since 1982) located in Lake Arrowhead Village is a wonderful option. They have 17 specialty waffles that range from savory like the Benedict Belgian to sweet like the popular Strawberry-Banana Royal. -> More information

SkyPark at Santa’s Village
Photo Credit: Brian Champlin

SkyPark at Santa’s Village: If you’re traveling with kids, this is a must. The whimsical Santa’s Village first opened in 1955, just 45 days head of Disneyland. Today it has been updated as an adventure park featuring year round fun including a bike park, simulated ice climbing, zip-line, archery, bungee jumping and more. The park is suitable for all fun loving adults and kids. Of course at the heart of the park is a love for all things Christmas. Food-wise, your day might include sipping coffee at Kringle’s coffee shop, enjoying homemade cookies at The Gingerbread House (housed inside an actual gingerbread house) and enjoying handcrafted burgers over at St. Nick’s Patio and Grille. –> More information

Heaps Peak Arboretum: Just minutes away from SkyPark at Santa’s Village is Heaps Peak Arboretum. Open from dawn to dusk 365 days a year, the roughly 1-mile Sequoia trail is an easy loop that takes 30 to 45 minutes to complete. You’ll see six types of pine trees, local birds, forrest animals, oak trees, towering sequoias and wildflowers (when in season around the month of May.) Please note that while it is free to explore, the U.S Forest Service requires all parked cars to have an Adventure Pass while at the Arboretum. Passes can be purchased Tuesday through Sunday at the information booth and at a number of local stores nearby. -> More information

LouEddie’s Pizza
Photo Credit: Christina Champlin

LouEddie’s Pizza: LouEddie’s hand tossed fire-roasted pizzas are some of the most sought after pies in SoCal. There are over a dozen pizza combinations and ingredients are all locally sourced. When available, order the hand braided garlic knots. Watch out for long lines and wait times during peak hours like the weekends. To avoid lines, we suggest going on a weekday during off times, or maybe opt for lunch instead of dinner, otherwise be prepared to wait (we think it’s worth it!). If the weather permits, opt to enjoy your pizza at Willow Woods Park just steps away from LouEddie’s. The pizza shop has expanded with a microbrew program as well, and there is a bar located right under the restaurant. -> More information

Lake Arrowhead Village: This is pretty much the town center, so if you’re in Lake Arrowhead, you’re bound to end up at the village at some point. Get your shopping done, enjoy a meal with a view and feed the happy ducks that reside on the private lake. Children will also get a kick out of Lollipop Park located on the peninsula. -> More information

Lake Arrowhead Village
Photo Credit: Christina Champlin

Lake Arrowhead Queen Boat Tour: Maybe the best way to see the sights and learn about Lake Arrowheads storied past is to climb aboard the Lake Arrowhead Queen for a one-hour narrated boat tour. You’ll hear some history about the area, get a glimpse of the lakefront homes of the rich and famous and if you’re lucky you might spot the elusive bald eagle resting on a secluded island. The Queen sets sail daily on the hour year-round. It is also the only way the public can get on the lake since it is deemed private. -> More information

The Lakefront Tap Room Bar & Kitchen: A boat adventure will work up an appetite, head back into Lake Arrowhead Village for dinner at The Lakefront Tap Room Bar & Kitchen. Pastrami Reuben with champagne sauerkraut, stacked burgers and lots of fried delights like pickle fries and elote street corn tots are just a few things on the menu. Pair your meal with a wide selection of over 20 beers on tap and even more brews rotating, bottled and canned. -> More information

Additional Lake Arrowhead Ideas

Strawberry Peak Fire Lookout Tower: Get a spectacular view of the San Bernardino National Forest while standing on a historic fire lookout. -> More information

Heart Rock Trail: A short and moderate hike with plenty to see before spotting the natural wonder that is a heart carved into a solid rock cliff. –> More information

Wildhaven Ranch: A wildlife sanctuary for endangered and indigenous wild animals. You have to make reservations to visit. –> More information

Tour The Tudor House: A building with a sordid history of underground gambling, brothel and moonshine, The Tudor House host live music, plays, yoga and a Sunday Champagne Brunch. -> More information

Rosalva’s Skyforest: Enjoy Mexican cuisine at Rosalva’s and save room for dessert because they have something called “ice cream nachos” and some killer sopapillas- a fried dough dessert drizzled in honey. -> More information

Cedar Glen Malt Shop: An old fashioned joint with over the top burgers and delicious milkshakes. -> More information

View of the drive from Lake Arrowhead to Big Bear
Photo Credit: Christina Champlin

Getting to Big Bear

If you’re driving to Big Bear from Lake Arrowhead (this was us) you can continue on Highway 18 through Running Springs and past the Snow Valley Resort. It’s a beautiful, scenic drive with plenty of turnout opportunities if you’d like to take a picture or two. If you’re coming from L.A. directly, it’s going to be a minimum of a two and half hour drive, and you’ll either end up taking the 15 to the 18 around the north side of the mountains, or approach from the south via I-10 and Highway 38.

***NOTE: Due to the heavy rains over the past few weeks some routes are closed and under repairs. The current access points to Big Bear Lake are highway 18 through Lucerne and via highway 38. Before you always check current road conditions before you depart!***

Our home away from home in Big Bear was the Big Bear Chateau, a great choice for those who want to maximize their time while up on the mountain (it’s literally just down the street from Snow Summit Resort). Complimentary breakfast with waffles, bacon, omelets and a strong wifi is a definite plus.

Overall, we spent about two and a half days and two nights in Big Bear. As you’ll see, we did a lot!

Things to do in Big Bear

The Village: At the heart of Big Bear Lake is The Village, a destination for shopping, dining and entertainment. Grab some Big Bear souvenirs, have a meal and be sure to stop by the visitors center. Open daily the visitors center is a helpful place where you can grab brochures, maps of hiking trails and get your questions answered. -> More information

The Village Big Bear Lake
Photo Credit: Christina Champlin

Peppercorn Grille: Located in The Village, Peppercorn Grille is a popular restaurant serving American faire, thick crust pizzas, steak, seafood and more. -> More information

Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain: Nearby The Village, Alpine Slide is the perfect place to let loose snow tubing, tobogganing and taking a ride on The Soaring Eagle. Great place for children and adults. -> More information

Baldwin Lakes Stables
Photo Credit: Christina Champlin

Baldwin Lakes Stables: Head to the east end of Big Bear Valley and visit Baldwin Lakes Stables. The only place in the area that you can take a tour of the surrounding National Forest on horseback. Beginners are welcome and the guides are extremely helpful (and friendly!). Rides come in one or two hour options. Be sure to bring a little cash to tip the guides for their hard work. -> More information

Gaby’s Latin Flavors: Delicious Bolivian food in Big Bear Lake can be found at Gaby’s Latin Flavors. Popular items include the avocado salad, housemade chips and cheese dip plus a unique Picante baked chicken with a peanut sauce pasta. Order one of the many soups available daily to warm up on a cold day. -> More information

An Ran Ju Gelato & Teahouse: Hot chocolate is the ultimate partner for chilly weather. An Ran Ju makes theirs with lots marshmallows and whipped cream. -> More information

Snow Summit
Photo Credit: Christina Champlin

Snow Summit Ski Resort: Snow Summit Ski Resort boasts 240 acres of snowy terrain and 27 trails to suit all levels of skiing and snowboarding. If you’re a newbie to snow sports consider taking lessons, it will save you some frustration and possible injury. Snow Summit also has everything you need in the rentals department which is a total plus. The best advice is to arrive early. Less people will be there meaning shorter lines, better parking and fresh snow. -> More information

Nottinghams Tavern: Part of the Robinhood Resort located conveniently in Big Bear Village, Nottinghams Tavern offers casual American faire. On the menu you’ll find steaks, burgers, pasta, sandwiches and a full bar. Take a peek around the different dining rooms and you’ll spot lots of lively Robinhood references. -> More information

Gems of the West: Right across the street from Nottinghams, and just a few steps outside of The Village, is Gems of the West a wonderland for geology enthusiasts. The employees are full of knowledge and they’re happy to share some of the most unique items from the store. We touched a meteor explored different types of crystals and even held petrified dinosaur poop. -> More information

The Eye of God Big Bear
Photo Credit: Christina Champlin

The Eye of God: After striking up a conversation with a couple employees at Gems of the West, we got a tip to visit a hillside dome made up of milky quartz. The site, called ‘The Eye of God’, is a sacred tribal landmark for the Serrano people who use to live in the region. The Serrano believed the site was the literal eye of their creator Kruktat watching over them. The rocky quartz megalith was once a complete dome, but in the 1940’s gold prospectors dynamited the structure (sadly) hoping to strike it rich. Today the public can access the trailhead on Burns Canyon Road. You can hike up to (1.8 mile round trip) or if you have a capable off-road vehicle with four-wheel drive you can skip the hike and make it to a spot within about 300 yards of the site. We opted to go off trail with a Chevrolet Silverado Trail Boss, and it worked out well! -> More information

Alpine Pedal Path: At the end of a full day, unwind with a sunset walk down Alpine Pedal Path along the north shore of Big Bear Lake. It’s a beautiful place to take photos and often you’ll catch a colorful sky moment right before the sun finishes setting. -> More information

Alpine Pedal Path
Photo Credit: Christina Champlin

Captain’s Anchorage: Celebrate a perfect day of exploring with prime rib, steaks and fine wine. Captain’s Anchorage is Big Bear’s historic dinner house that dates back to 1946. Known for delicious prime rib the restaurant also has a resident ghost named George. Don’t worry though, he’s friendly and usually upstairs doing his own thing. -> More information

Additional Big Bear To-Dos

Springtime activities: kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding on Big Bear Lake. -> More information

Summer activities: wakeboarding (lessons are available), parasailing and jet-ski on Big Bear Lake. -> More information

Big Bear Pirate Ship: A lake cruise aboard a funky pirate ship with live entertainment and pirates. -> More information

Big Bear Coffee Roasting Company: The local coffee shop is a great place for some cold brew and fun lattes like the Almond Joy. -> More information

Big Bear Solar Observatory: Free public tours inside a cozy observatory located right on the lake. Only open on the second Thursday of the month during fall and winter and additionally on the fourth Thursday during summers. Reservations are required. -> More information

Mountain Witch Tea Company: If you’re looking for thoughtful gifts, check out Mountain Witch Tea Company. The county store carries locally made items like handcrafted tea, fruit butters, old fashioned candy, knick knacks and other handmade goods. They also bake pies and cobblers for those looking for a sweet treat. -> More information

Castle Rock Hike: A two-mile round trip hike surrounded by granite stones that you can climb up to for a view of the vista. The hike is steep and an Adventure Pass is required. -> More information

Big Bear Lake Brewing Company: Enjoy dozens of craft beer plus an all day menu from breakfast, snacks to dinner. The Original “Avocado Bomb” is their signature dish. It’s a honey ale battered avocado stuffed with spicy ahi and crab shrimp cake. -> More information

Big Bear Alpine Zoo: A rehabilitation center for injured, orphaned and in-need animals. 90% of the animals are successfully rehabilitated and released back into their environment. In the zoo it is possible to get a glimpse of an Arctic Fox, American Badger, Black Bear, Flying Squirrels, Screech Owl and much more. -> More information

Lumber Jack Cafe: Grab some sourdough pancakes or waffles plus large breakfast plates over at Lumber Jack Cafe located in Big Bear City. They also have family style breakfast and biscuits & gravy, perfect for large parties. -> -> More information

We found a snowman friend in Wrightwood
Photo Credit: Christina Champlin

Getting to Wrightwood

Wrightwood ended up being a separate trip for us, in part because it resides in a different part of San Bernardino County. The town is located on the western edge of the county line, nestled in the San Gabriel Mountains. The quickest route is a drive along the 15 to the Cajon Pass where you can hook up with Highway 138. It takes about 70 minutes or so if you’re not fighting traffic.

If you want something more scenic, you could also drive Highway 2 through the Angeles National Forest, but that’ll add time to your drive, and could be a bit more treacherous depending on the weather conditions (more on that in our notes below). We have heard this is an absolutely stunning drive during the spring.

Because of the close proximity, Wrightwood and the neighboring Mountain High Resort make for a perfect day trip, which is exactly how we planned it!

View of Mountain High
Photo Credit: Brian Champlin

Things to do in Wrightwood

Coffee at The Village Grind: If you arrive in Wrightwood in the morning grab a quick brew at The Village Grind. They serve espresso, coffee, hot chocolate, smoothies and a casual food menu. They also have a wine bar that host tastings and serve microbrews should you find yourself stopping by later in the day. -> More information

Ziplines at Pacific Crest: Now that you’re caffeinated, get ready for an adrenaline rush through the San Gabriel Mountains. Ziplines at Pacific Crest will have you soaring heights of up to 300 feet above the forest from tree to tree. -> More information

Mountain High Ski Resort
Photo Credit: Christina Champlin

Mountain High Ski Resort: Considered to be SoCal’s most visited and closest winter resort Mountain High has deep roots in California skiing history. Known as one of the oldest ski resorts in the country today, they have three locations each offering different winter activities. Take your pick of snowboarding, skiing, snow tubing, snow play, disc golf, night skiing and if you are serious about acing the slopes you can even attend ski school. -> More information

Grizzly Cafe: By the end of the day you’ve probably built up an appetite. Head over to the Grizzly Cafe for traditional American grub. You’ll find several burgers, salads and hot sandwiches on the menu. We enjoyed The Grizzly Bear burger topped with applewood smoked bacon and the straightforward Beef Dip sandwich. -> More information

Additional Wrightwood To-Dos

Applewood Court: An old school sweets shop offering candy, fudge, ice cream and small gifts. -> More information

Wrightwood Vintage Antiques & Oddities: A barn style antique store where you can spend the day searching for unique keepsakes of the past. -> More information

Cinnamons Bakery: A casual spot where you can grab baked goods, sandwiches and breakfast. -> More information

Helpful Reminders

  • Be extra vigilant about checking the weather before you depart, so you’re aware of warnings or alerts. A quick Google search for the National Weather Service forecast for San Bernardino will pay big dividends.
  • Bring tire chains or cables for your vehicle. Caltrans has a detailed post about requirements for chains and associated driving conditions. If you’ve never driven in the mountains, it’s worth a read. Whenever you’re driving in unfamiliar or possibly dangerous conditions, just remember to take it slow.
  • For your drive… keep your phone fully charged, bring bottled water, snacks and blankets in case you get stuck in traffic or due to weather conditions.
  • If you’re doing a weekend trip into Big Bear (maybe an Airbnb with friends or something) during peak snow season, we suggest loading up on any supplies before you get to town. After speaking to a few locals, it sounds like grocery stores tend to run pretty bare after the first wave of visitors hits to kickoff a busy weekend, so stock up before you arrive!
  • The snowy season tends to wrap up by the end of March, so if you’re thinking you still want to make it for that this year, plan accordingly.
  • Speaking of crowds, remember that the influx of tourists for snow play or weekends can also affect things like wait times at restaurants, so either plan ahead by making reservations, or prep your group for a little longer wait.
  • Take your time, have fun!

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