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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!

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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Free Museums, Happenings

This Year’s SoCal Museum Free-For-All is in February

January 11, 2019 by Brian Champlin

Urban Light at LACMA

Urban Light at LACMA. Photo Credit: Brian Champlin / We Like L.A.

Free museum day hunters in Los Angeles are thoroughly familiar with the annual Museum Free-For-All Day put on by by SoCal Museums. Now in its 14th year, the event bands together dozens of Southern California cultural institutions to offer free admission over the course of one weekend. In years past the event has taken place over the final weekend of January, but for 2019 it’s getting pushed back a week, until first Saturday and Sunday of February.

Over 40 institutions will take part in this year’s event. Some, like the Getty, Hammer Museum, and The Broad, are already free year-round. Others, like Natural History Museum, Kidspace Museum, or the La Brea Tar Pits Museum, offer only monthly free admission, meaning the upcoming February weekend is a bonus for visitors.

Based on reader feedback from previous years, you can expect major crowds if you choose to go to the more famous of the museums on the list, so I’d definitely recommend going earlier in the day and doing a little planning if you plan to check out more than one location. On the plus side, this is one of the the rare dates on the calendar when you can hit up multiple top notch attractions for little to no cost (other than time!).

Check below for the rundown of participating museums, plus which days (Saturday, Sunday or both days) they will be offering free admission.

Both Saturday (February 2) and Sunday (February 3)

  • Armory Center for the Arts
  • Automobile Driving Museum
  • The Broad (Free advance general admission tickets strongly recommended to avoid waiting in the standby line. Visitwww.thebroad.org to make a reservation.)
  • California African American Museum
  • California Science Center (General admission only. A timed reservation with a convenience fee is required for Space Shuttle Endeavour.)
    Craft and Folk Art Museum
  • Forest Lawn Museum
  • Fowler Museum at UCLA
  • Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art
  • The Getty Center
  • The Getty Villa (Timed tickets are required for the Getty Villa. Visit www.getty.eduto make a reservation.)
  • Hammer Museum
  • Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
  • Laguna Art Museum
  • La Plaza de Cultura y Artes
  • Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions
  • Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust
  • Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Orange County Museum of Art
  • Pomona College Museum Art Museum
  • Sunnylands Center & Gardens
  • USC Pacific Asia Museum

Saturday (February 2) Only

  • Academy Museum of Motion Pictures (opening late 2019; Free-for-All pop-up accessible via Los Angeles County Museum of Art)
  • Autry Museum of the American West
  • Columbia Memorial Space Center
  • Descanso Gardens (Free tickets available at descansogardens.org/tickets.)
  • Japanese American National Museum (Free tickets available at janm.org/freeforall.)
  • Kidspace Museum
  • La Brea Tar Pits and Museum (General admission only; free tickets available at tarpits.org/freeforall.)
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art
  • Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden
  • Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and Sea Center
  • Santa Barbara Museum of Art
  • USC Fisher Museum of Art
  • Wende Museum of the Cold War

Sunday (February 3) Only

  • Bowers Museum
  • Muckenthaler Cultural Center
  • Museum of Latin American Art
  • Museum of Tolerance
  • Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (General admission only; free tickets available at nhm.org/freeforall.)
  • Palm Springs Art Museum
  • Skirball Cultural Center (Noah’s Ark timed-entry, one-hour tickets are limited and distributed first-come, first-served.)
  • Valley Relics Museum
  • Zimmer Children’s Museum by Sharewell

For more information, visit socalmuseums.org.

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The Best Way to Find Fun Things To Do in Los Angeles 365 Days a Year

January 10, 2019 by Brian Champlin

Finding fun things to do in Los Angeles should be easy, right? Of course!

That’s why every week we try to write the most straightforward, well-informed and useful newsletter in the entire city.

And we’d love for you to be a part of it!

Sign Up For Our Email List And You Receive…

– Two emails a week, Monday AM and Thursday AM.

– Monday: The best of the week ahead. 30+ ideas.

– Thursday: What to do this weekend. 30+ ideas.

– Occasional emails with special offers and messages from promotional parters.

– Optional emails for daily to-dos, travel tips, food recommendations, and deals.

Basically, just think of us as your friend making some fun suggestions for what you might like to check out this day or week or month in L.A.

Sign-up in the form below to join over 69,000 Angelenos who already subscribe!

Subscribe to the We Like L.A. Email List

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NOTE: If you already receive our weekly newsletter and want to update which additional emails you receive, simply click ‘update subscription preferences’ in any email we’ve sent you to change your subscription settings.

Remember, per our privacy policy, we respect the fact that you’re trusting us with your personal info and will never share your email information.

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Things To Do

10 Fun Things To Do TODAY in L.A. for November 28, 2018

November 28, 2018 by 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, Wednesday, November 28, 2018.

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]

Los Angeles at dawn

Credit: Kārlis Dambrāns via flickr cc


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. [10 a.m.] It’s that time of the year to celebrate the holiday season, which is the main purpose of Fa La Land, a pop up museum at Row DTLA. Guests will enjoy a wide variety of installations like a Jingle Bell Toy Factory and a fluorescent “Fa La Forest.” Fa La Land runs Nov. 18 through Jan. 6, 2019. Happening Tuesdays through Sundays.

2. [4 p.m.] Join the Burrito Project L.A. for a night of preparing making burritos and passing out much-needed supplies for the folks living on the streets of Los Angeles.

3. [5 p.m.The Holiday Light Festival Train Ride at Griffith Park is a festive one mile ride on the tracks with tens of thousands of lights to get you in the Holiday spirit. Running daily Nov 23 through Dec. 23 and then again from December 26 to December 30.

4. [6 p.m.] One of L.A.’s most magical holiday traditions, L.A. Zoo Lights returns November 16, 2018 through January 6, 2019 with thousands upon thousands of LED lights illuminating the zoo. This seasonal event runs daily. Check for discounted tickets before making your purchase. DISCOUNTED (via Goldstar)

5. [6 p.m.] Sherman Oaks resident Mike Ziemkowski’s elaborate Christmas themed animatronic characters will return once again with Lights on Display a dazzling light show with a playlist of holiday tunes. Free to the public, the 13-minute show runs nightly 6 to 10 p.m. from November 23 through January 1, 2018. FREE

6. [7:45 p.m.IFC Films presents The House That Jack Built, Director’s Cut at the Theatre at Ace Hotel.

7. [8 p.m.] It’s trivia night at Grand Central Market this Wednesday on the Broadway side of the food hall.

8. [9 p.m.Dub Club presents Skatalites/Charlie Organaire/Steady 45s at Echoplex.

9. [various L.A.’s pop-up museum catalogue is growing larger this fall with The Pizza Experience – a multi-sensory pizza themed walkthrough. Explore giant installations, an oversized cheese pool, a pizza hall of fame, pizza theme-flavored snacks throughout, actual pizza slices and more. The Pizza Experience runs through January. Check for discounted tickets before making your purchase. DISCOUNTED (via Goldstar)

10. [various] Beautycon is offering a pop up experience titled Beautycon POP from Nov. 16 through Dec. 16 daily featuring immersive galleries, makeup brands, vendors, a salon and other beauty related activities.

DEAL OF THE DAY: $25 tix to Enchanted: Forest of Light at Descanso Gardens

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

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Things To Do

10 Fun Things To Do TODAY in L.A. for June 14, 2018

June 14, 2018 by 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, Thursday, June 14, 2018.

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]

Shakespeare By the Sea Mid Summer Night's Dream

Shakespeare by the Sea in Point Fermin Park. Photo by Brian Champlin


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. [5 p.m.Mike Shinoda at Amoeba Hollywood (you have to pre-purchase “Post Traumatic” CD in-store for guaranteed admission).

2. [6 p.m.Downtown Art Walk brings art enthusiasts and locals together every second Thursday of each month to take part in gallery tours, shop the art mart and sample nearby food trucks, and experience the overall flavor of the downtown Los Angeles Historic Core.

3. [6:30 p.m.]  Who What Wear brings back Street Style Cinema, their series of free outdoor movie screenings, to The Grove every Thursday evening in June. This week they’ll screen Moulin RougeFREE

4. [7 p.m.]  French-based music label Kitsuné is collaborating with the NoMad Hotel for Kitsuné Afterwork, musical evenings taking place on the rooftop of the elegant, recently opened hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. Pat Lok, Allen French and Yacine will kick off the summer session. FREE

5. [8 p.m.] Experience the theatrical version of Douglas Adams’ cult classic novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy when it comes to the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts June 14-17. Check for discounted tickets before making your purchase. DISCOUNTED (via Goldstar)

6. [8 p.m.Shakespeare By The Sea will once again offer a ten-week program of admission-free performances with two featured productions: The Merry Wives of Windsor and The Winter’s Tale at a variety of venues across the Los Angeles. Kicking off the series is The Merry Wives of Windsor at Point Fermin Park in San Pedro at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. FREE

7. [8:30 p.m.] There is an opening night event for the Cat Art Show at Think Tank Gallery in DTLA.

8. [various] June is California Avocado Month and Grand Central Market in DTLA is the place to be for all things avocado. A select group of chefs have rolled out avocado inspired offerings on their menu just for the month.

9. [various.] Grand Park will host Big L.A. Portrait Gallery from June 7 to July 4, transforming itself into a nighttime art gallery featuring photos by Los Angeles-based artists.  Photography will be projected onto the 100 square-foot wall of the historic L.A. County Hall of Records right in front of Grand Park. Art will be on display nightly from sundown to midnight and is free to the public. FREE

10. [various] Venues such as 2nd Stage, Hudson Theatres, The Broadwater and the Underground Annex Theater will host comedy, ensemble theatre, dance and many more performances during the annual Hollywood Fringe Festival from June 7-24.

DEAL OF THE DAY: Get $2.50 tix to Long Beach Crawfish Festival  (via Goldstar)

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

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June 13, 2018 by Brian Champlin

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Things To Do

10 Fun Things To Do TODAY in L.A. for May 13, 2018

May 13, 2018 by 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, Sunday, May 13, 2018.

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]

View from Kenneth Hahn Recreation Area

View of DTLA from Kenneth Hahn Recreation Area. Credit: Brian Champlin / We LIke L.A.


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. [10 a.m.RuPaul’s DragCon is three days of art, pop culture and all things drag. Hosted at the Los Angeles Convention Center, visitors can check out vendors, panel discussions, screenings, photo ops with drag stars, lip sync contests, make-up and styling workshops for both men and women.

2. [10 a.m.Echo Park Craft Fair’s Spring Edition at Mack Sennett Studios (May 11-13) features over 120 artists with various ceramic, jewelry, clothing, woodworking and textile design booths.

3. [10 a.m.Speak Easy Yoga at Hotel Indigo in DTLA takes place on Sundays through the end of May where guests will flow through yoga with music from the 1920s.

4. [10 a.m.] The Unique LA Spring Market 2018 returns to the California Market Center on May 12-13 for two afternoons of shopping with over 250 independent designers, artists, and emerging brands.

5. [noon] Take free dance lessons with Debbie Allen, the famed actress/dancer/choreographer, the second Sunday of every month at at The Wallis in Beverly Hills. FREE

6. [noon]  A Tutta Pizza!, a festival dedicated to pizza will feature pizza makers, workshops, cooking demos, “deep dish” conversations, and a lively panel discussion

7. [noon] Mother’s Day Family Fest at Boomtown Brewery.

8. [7 p.m.] The Autry will host Latin Dance Sunday with music from Cal State LA’s award-winning Afro Latin Ensemble. There will be a bar and light refreshments served, select galleries will also remain open for the event.

9. [various]  Free admission dayMuseum of Latin American ArtUSC Pacific Asian Museum (11 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and Craft and Folk Art Museum (pay what you can)

10. [various17 Great Spots for Mother’s Day Brunch in Los Angeles.

DEAL OF THE DAY: $32.50 tix to see Paul Simon at the Hollywood Bowl (via Goldstar)

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

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