13 Summer Dessert Destinations You Ought to Try in L.A.

August 10, 2018 by Sheryl Craig

This summer Los Angeles chefs and dessert connoisseurs are having fun creating playful renditions of iconic desserts like the popsicle, ice cream sandwich, snow cones, froyo, s’mores, cakes and pies. At the same time, there’s plenty of flavor to seek out if you’re looking for something different–think kombucha, matcha, corn, saffron, black sesame, ube to name a few. Or maybe you fall into the category of eater who craves a little something sweet but typically avoid the extra calories or sugar.  No worries. L.A.’s got healthy(ish) options on the ready too.

So no matter where you live in L.A., if your tooth is sweet, and the season is summer, here’s the scoop on treats you ought to check out.

1. Frozen Fruit Co. (Santa Monica)

In the spirit of health and wellness, and yes, summer — a visit to Frozen Fruit Co. on Montana Ave. in Santa Monica is definitely worth it. There are so many checks in the pro column: diet-friendly, natural, plant-based, dairy-free, vegan and gluten-free. This shop serves refreshing all natural fruit soft serve offering a variety of fruit flavors including strawberry, and raspberry & orange (also made with apple, pear and peach for an extra pinch of sweetness), and chocolate (a natural concoction of coconut milk, cacao and dates). Try a side-by-side soft serve cup of chocolate and one of the fruit flavors, perfect for those who want the best of both worlds. –> More information

2. Panasia (Alhambra)

Just like the waffles you can get at traditional food hawkers in Asia, Panasia of Alhambra has a Hong Kong style bubble waffle on its dessert menu. A treat best shared with friends, the warm and crispy bubble waffle is filled with a sweet filling like organic purple yams, black sesame, mango and more. –> More information

3. Stickhouse (Santa Monica)

Santa Monica’s Stickhouse puts its Italian signature stamp on the classic popsicle. The fruit sorbettos and creamy gelato bars are made of fresh fruit, milks, creams and pure cane sugar ingredients sourced locally in Southern California and from Italy. There are many flavors to choose from like watermelon, strawberry and mango. Fruit sorbetto sticks can also be dipped in white, milk or dark chocolate. –> More information

4. Winston Pies (Brentwood)

Winston Pies in Brentwood gives Angelenos a sweet spot to slow down Southern-style. Chief piesmith and owner Brianna Abrams, who hails from Winston-Salem, North Carolina welcomes customers into her charming shop for some beautiful homemade pies. This summer she is baking peach-nectarine pies, prepared with the season’s best fruits which are locally grown.  –> More information

5. Gelateria Uli (Downtown Los Angeles & Beverly Grove)

Gelateria Uli makes small batch gelato and sorbets fresh daily in the Gelateria’s kitchen located in DTLA. For the summer, owner Uli Nasibova seeked out the juiciest and sweetest fruits of the season to create stone fruit sorbets. Gelateria Uli’s cases are stocked daily with flavors like California pistachio, saffron, poblano, coconut lemongrass sorbet, yogurt lavender, sea salt caramel, speculoos cookies and more. –> More information

6. Holy Roly (Koreatown & Arcadia)

You definitely do not need a degree in science to fully appreciate the uniquely made rolled ice cream at Holy Roly. Ice cream is created fresh to eat right before your eyes. Holy Roly uses an innovative freezing plate technique “enabling ice particles to get balanced with air” without adding any preservatives, stabilizers and artificial flavorings. All ice cream creations are neatly scraped and rolled right off the freeze plate and into a cup. Organic flavors include vanilla, dark chocolate, coffee, earl grey, vegan matcha, vegan mango and yogurt. –> More information

7. Locali (West Hollywood)

Locali, a WeHo health-conscious convenience store/deli is whipping up Kombucha Floats. This summer dessert elixir is a interesting take on the classic root beer float. Made with a coconut frozen yogurt base and kombucha (a mushroom which is used as a base for fermented black or green tea drinks), the frothy float is served up in a large glass. It’s delicious and supposedly healthy, the treat is also dairy-free, soy-free and gluten-free. –> More information

Simply the best 😋 our green tea Snow Cream topped with Mochi and Pebbles 👌

A post shared by Blockheads Shavery 🐧 (@blockheadsshavery) on

8. Blockheads Shavery (Sawtelle & Alhambra)

Located in Little Japan, Blockheads Shavery, is known for its Snow Cream, a light and fluffy Hawaiian shave ice made with house-made ice cream. Combinations like the Oreo Snow Cream, created with sweet milk ice cream, topped with condensed milk and topped with Oreo cookie crumbles is a crowd pleaser. If you like Matcha there is a Snow Cream version that’s sprinkled with blueberries, lychee, boba and mochi. You get your money’s worth at Blockheads as the regular serving size is impressively big. –> More information

9. Honeymee (Multiple Locations)

Honeymee a creamy milk ice cream paired with sweet golden honey in a variety of different combinations is made with real milk without any artificial flavorings. First-timers should order the “Honeymee” milk ice cream topped with honeycomb chips to get the dessert in its purist form. For those looking for something a little more, the milk combinations seem endless, with yuzu, coffee, matcha and even a fruit filled versions offered.  –> More information

10. Halo Top Scoop Shops (Topanga & Century City)

When Halo Top first debuted its L.A. scoop shops, Angelenos were thankful for a new low-cal dessert that satisfied taste and swimsuit season. For summer Halo Top is serving up a Peaches & Cream soft serve, a brand-new flavor swirling sweet peaches in a vanilla and cream base. It captures that sweet summer feeling in one bite! If peaches aren’t your thing there are plenty of other flavors in soft serve and ice cream form along with funky cones like a puffy waffle cone called the “Puffle”, tons of topping options and sundaes on the menu. –> More information

11. Gotta Have S’More (Mid-Wilshire)

Gotta Have S’More in Little Ethiopia on Fairfax invites indulgence. This new little cafe makes cupcake-sized treats in a swirl of flavors including its signature campfire classic combining all of the delicious elements of a traditional s’more. Baked with house-made graham-cracker and dipped in a thick chocolate base, each treat is topped with gooey marshmallow. These s’mores are available in milk and dark chocolate, salted caramel, peanut butter cup, cookies and cream and more. –> More information

crackin kitchen dessert

Photo by: Christina Champlin/ We Like L.A.

12. Crackin’ Kitchen (Pasadena)

It’s highly recommended to save room for dessert when dining at Pasadena’s Hawaiian-Cajun eatery Crackin’ Kitchen. Order  “The Two Person Dessert” it’s a sweet presentation you won’t soon forget. Your server will create an edible tropical work of art before your eyes with rainbows and palm trees on your table using an array of colorful syrups and sugars. Hawaiian Malasadas or deep-fried pastry balls coated in sugar accompany the edible art. You’ll be instructed to drag them through all the dips, syrups and fruit before taking a bite.  –> More information

13. CREAM (Multiple Locations)

CREAM standing for “Cookies Rule Everything Around Me” is best known for its handcrafted ice cream sandwiches. The ice cream shop just launched a brand-new summer ice cream flavor, Pink Beach Bellini, a fresh and sweet homage to the classic brunch cocktail. This fizzy, champagne-flavored (non-alcoholic) ice cream melds together bits of real peaches and peach nectar. Pair it with two freshly-baked Belgian waffles for one sensational ice cream dessert. –> More information

Volunteer Opportunities

14 Great Places to Volunteer in L.A. for Spring 2018

March 14, 2018 by Sheryl Craig
Spring time in Grand Park

Photo by Brian Champlin / We Like L.A.

2018 resolutions may have come and gone but a fresh new season (that would be spring) makes it the perfect time to reconsider, especially when it comes to giving back to the community.

There are many organizations that tirelessly provide and serve hot meals to homeless and low-income families and individuals on a daily basis, find safe and loving homes for animals, tutor and encourage young female students in STEM, and work the land to protect our natural habitats, native wildlife and environment. Now is a great time to help!

The need for volunteers is great and simply helping out to make a PB&J sandwich, donate diapers and baby gear, clean out your closet, plant seedlings, trees and edible gardens — all of this is vastly appreciated more than you could ever know. These charities make it easy to volunteer – visit their websites to fill out applications, or just sign up for a project. Check out a list of volunteer ideas below!

Spring 2018 Volunteer Ideas

1. Dress for Success is a gratifying way to volunteer locally. Women who are just getting back on their feet and entering the workplace are in need of work attire and suits. This one is an easy way to help. Do you have work clothes and shoes that don’t fit or you don’t wear anymore? Dress for Success could really use the donations for its boutique. This amazing org helps unemployed women pull together all of the pertinent elements needed to secure a job. Volunteers who have skills as a personal stylist, who can prepare clients for job interviews and coach on overall careers, makeup artists to train clients on makeup application, are welcome. -> More info

2. Girls, Inc. is such a feel good volunteering gig. Supporting at-risk students from South LA, Compton and Watts, Girls, Inc. volunteers have the opportunity to work with these girls via educational enrichment programs focusing on STEM education, literacy and math. The program participants come from diverse backgrounds ranging from family poverty, gang surroundings and homelessness. Sign up to become a mentor, an instructor, a guest presenter, a homework helper, and a positive role model. -> More info

3. Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy is in need of volunteers to help improve and protect 1,600 acres of preserved land areas, 60 different plant species and 23,000 seedlings in Rancho Palos Verdes, Rolling HIlls, Rolling Hills Estates and San Pedro. PVPLC works to improve the natural habitat to support wildlife and native species, maintain trails and signage, and educate students and the public. Sign up to volunteer on Saturdays at 9 a.m. and help to transport seedlings and prepare native plants to be planted in the designated areas. -> More info

4. The Big Sunday End of the Month Club is an on-going volunteer and help to fill food pantries, put food on the table and feed the homeless and undernourished folks of LA. Big Sunday has a lot of opportunities to volunteer throughout the year, but this particular project collects more than 700 food items each month. -> More info

5. To eat and be satisfied – this is the English translation of the Hebrew word “sova.” This is also the mission of SOVA food pantry, which takes care of over 9,000 individuals each month. These are people who cannot afford groceries, as well as homeless families, people with disabilities and senior citizens. Volunteers can participate in a few ways from stocking shelves or packing custom grocery orders, sort and box canned and packaged food donations. -> More info

6. Each year Baby2Baby provides basic necessities to more than 180,000 children (0-12 years) in LA. Whether it’s a supply of diapers, formula, onsies and pjs, clothes to grow into, bath time care, car seats and furniture, these items are super appreciated by a variety of homeless, low-income, foster care and hospitalized children. Volunteers are invited to help sort items and put together gift bags for the children. -> More info

7. Each week Food Forward rescues 300,000 pounds of leftover produce from LA Wholesale Produce Market, farmers markets and local farms to donate to hunger relief programs throughout Southern California. But after the devastating Thomas Fire in Ventura County, Food Forward found themselves in need of support. Many of the farms in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties that Food Forward relies on have been impacted. Today FF needs extra help to fulfill its goal. Join in its efforts by making donations, reaching out to vendors with excess produce and collect fresh produce. -> More info

8. While an average of 475 pets euthanized each day in our city of Angels, Ace of Hearts Dog Rescue works its tails off to help find these animals a second chance home. So, how can you help? Help out by driving Ace of Hearts Dog Rescue dogs to and fro weekly adoption events, to the vet and to doggie daycare. This charity also needs help transporting food and medicine to foster dog parents who many not have cars. And, how awesome is it that volunteers can also sign up to take pups on walks and hikes. -> More info

9. Under the Bridges and On the Streets is a program that literally provides and delivers food to homeless individuals and families who live under bridges, on the streets, in alleys and on the sides of local freeways. Under the Bridges accepts in-kind donations: mustard packets, tubs of butter, latex-free gloves,wrapping foil, packs of turkey meat, cheese blocks, and bottles of water. Additionally Under the Bridges’ monthly shopping list includes toothbrushes and toothpaste, soap, feminine hygiene products, new cotton tube socks, sweat pants and clean blankets, athletic shoes and reading glasses. Every last Saturday of the month at 9 a.m. -> More info

10. Hollywoof to the Rescue fights the pet overpopulation fight in LA. And, they need help to do this. Supported by volunteers (Hollywood artists, actors, musicians and celebrities), Hollywoof is known for its outreach and education via responsible pet ownership, spay and neuter, adoption, fostering and rescue. If you love animals, there are many ways to contribute. Email Hollywoof to volunteer:  [email protected]

11. St. Francis Center is a hub for providing and serving food to homeless and extremely low-income individuals and families. In need of help all week long, St. Francis Center encourages both students and adults to serve hot breakfast meals and make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before school or getting to the office. Relying on its strong network of volunteers, St. Francis Center welcomes anyone interested. Volunteers need to complete an application and speak with a volunteer coordinator before participating. Early birds are invited to serve breakfast Monday – Friday at 7:15 a.m. -> More info

12. LA Works is a unique way you can offer your time in a variety of ways. From preparing meals and emergency food for the city’s homeless and low-income community to working with disadvantaged kids through education activities to cleaning and restoring LA’s most precious natural environments, there are projects for every kind of volunteer. Check the website – there are more than 50 projects alone in the month of March to sign up for: beautify White Point Nature Preserve in San Pedro or Portuguese Bend Reserve in Rancho Palos Verdes and create edible gardens in schools throughout Los Angeles with Enrich LA. -> More info

13. As the earth’s atmosphere and climate continue to dramatically change, the mission behind TreePeople is more important than ever to the future of LA’s natural habitat. TreePeople engages Angelenos to take care of their environment by volunteering. Help by creating strong and resilient landscapes, by planting and caring for trees in urban areas and tending to overgrowth and watering native plants in the mountains. Volunteer events are open to all ages – just sign up online to participate in Urban or Mountain Forestry on the weekends from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. -> More info

14. The 29th annual Great LA River CleanUp will take places over three weekends (at three different river areas) during the month of April. Last year the CleanUp attracted some 10,000 volunteers who removed over 100 tons of trash from the LA River at more than a dozen sites. Individuals of all ages and backgrounds, along with any community service-based organizations, are invited to participate. -> More info

Additionally: We want to let you know that the folks at Greenbar Distillery (a We Like L.A. sponsor) are teaming up with the Burrito Project to donate 10,000 burritos to the hungry this spring in L.A. If you’d like to get involved, learn more here. And if you’d like to volunteer with The Burrito Project, find out dates and times for upcoming meet-ups here.


15 Places in L.A. to Get an Amazing Holiday Cocktail (Winter 2017)

December 19, 2017 by Sheryl Craig

Christmas time is here, not that you’d know it from the weather outside. But that’s one of the challenges of living in Los Angeles, right? How to infuse your day-to-day with holiday cheer even when, at first blush, it just looks like every other day of the year. One idea: cocktails!

A bevy of local restaurants and bars are crafting seasonal drinks for happy hour, pre-dinner and late nights. Options are all over the place, from eggnogs to Old Fashioneds, tequila spritzers to bubbly. Some of L.A.’s best cocktail creators are stepping up their game to infuse a little winter spirit into 72 and sunny.

So gather with a couple of friends, sample a few of the libations below, and make a toast to the new year. Santa would definitely approve.

1. Westbound (Downtown Los Angeles)

DTLA’s Westbound hosts “Miracle on Santa Fe” all throughout December, A take on NYC’s original Miracle on 9th Street, Westbound’s pop-up holiday bar stands on its own with a month-long festive holiday cocktail menu, over-the-top holiday music, decor, lights, stockings, nutcrackers and a massive Christmas tree and two-foot tall menorah. But what about the drinks? Enjoy Christmas flavors and cocktails like Czech It Twice (Becherovka Herbal Liquour, cream of coconut, OJ, pineapple and bitters) Cotton Headed Niny Muggins (Elyx Vodka, Fino sherry, vanilla, falernum and lemon juice), Snowball Old Fashioned, How The Gimlet Stole Christmas and a Christmopolitan. -> More information

2. Good Housekeeping (Highland Park)

Good Housekeeping in Highland Park hosts a Wednesday night (December 20 & December 27) “Nightmare Before Christmas” pop-up cocktail menu. Bar Director Alex Barbatsis and Head Bartender Lauren Pool are serving some delightful cocktails worthy of Christmas Town. The Cranberries “Zombie” is Christmas in a glass, served with a bright red bow, and made with Old Tom Gin, Spiced Cranberry, fresh lemon juice, and tonic. For those craving eggnog, try the Pumpkin King Eggnog, made with Rittenhouse Rye, Smith & Cross Rum, eggs, sugar, cream, and pumpkin spice. Finally, for those wanting a little bubbly, sip on Carnival of Souls, made with blanco tequila, lemon, bubble gum syrup, sparkling Cava, and topped with cotton candy. -> More information 

Fireside Chat cocktail

The Fireside Chats is one of Big Bar’s featured winter cocktails. Image via Big Bar

3. Big Bar (Los Feliz)

Cari Hah, Big Bar’s bar manager and resident tiger mom, has dreamed up an impressive selection of seasonal delights. In fact there are three different menus: One for the winter at-large, one for the holidays, and one just for New Year’s Eve. A favorite on the winter menu is the Plums Away featuring plum tea, Smooth Ambler whiskey, and Monkey Shoulder scotch rounded out by ginger beer and foam. And the award for cutest cocktail in L.A. (winter 2017) has go to the Fireside Chats, a flavorful blend of brown butter washed Tequila Tapatío reposado, Highland Park Magnus scotch, Benedictine, Smith & Cross rum, Miracle Mile Toasted Pecan Bitters, and Angostura bitters, all served on a faux bearskin rug. The holiday cocktail menu features six drinks including the Nog a Log made with toasted coconut Jack Daniels You could also try the Gnome Alone, the Hot Cider House Rules, or Krampus cocoa. Finally, a special menu will be available on New Year’s Eve only, as Big Bar will throw a nautical-themed party to ring in 2018.  -> More information

4. The Raymond 1886 (Pasadena)

The Raymond 1886 honors the macabre with a tribunal Final Solstice Cocktail Menu. Sip on a Zombie Apocalypse, created by Jesus Gomez and Adam Vaughn, which is an elevated Tiki classic comprised of a blend of whiskeys (Deanston 12, Bowmore 15, Laphroaig 10) mixed with Orgeat, Falernum and house-made lemongrass syrup, pineapple and lime juices, and mint. Inspiring imbibers to get in touch with their brooding side, the drink is topped with a special zombie apocalypse garnish. The Final Solstice Cocktail menu will feature eleven different drinks on the menu. -> More information 

5. The Walker Inn (Koreatown)

The Walker Inn, a cozy speakeasy tucked inside The Hotel Normandie, has a pop-up Holiday Scoundrel menu now until NYE. This year’s holiday selection is both “naughty” and “nice” featuring a candy cane pina colada, a pumpkin-spiced Mai Tai, the Heat Miser, and the Grinch.  More information

6. ROKU + Sushi Roku (Multiple Locations)

Whether you are in WEHO or in SAMO, ROKU and Sushi Roku respectively, will make you feel merry over the holidays. Each bar is mixing new winter cocktails for guests to sip and mingle. At ROKU, bartenders offer Silent Smoke, a warm blend of El Silencio mezcal with Japanese yuzu (citrus fruit in the family Rutaceae) and fresh winter grapefruit. On the other side of town at Sushi Roku, they’ll be serving a Ginger Snap which fuses Wild Turkey honey whiskey, ginger, Peuchaud’s bitters, lemon and mint.

casa vega ginger paloma winter cocktail

Photo Credit: Casa Vega

7. Casa Vega (Sherman Oaks)

Casa Vega has a new pomegranate and ginger paloma specifically for the holiday season. Designed by Christy Vega, the restaurant’s second generation owner, this festive cocktail is made with 1800 Silver Tequila, ginger beer, grapefruit juice, lime and fresh pomegranates. Keeping up with Casa Vega’s 61-year tradition, you can get all of the Christmas feels at the bar, which is decked out with a ton of tinsel, lights and cheery decor.  -> More information

8. THE FLATS (Beverly Hills)

THE FLATS has a seasonal cocktail menu to warm up any Scrooge. Head barman Shaun Summers has collaborated with Template Consulting’s Marcos Tello to blend top shelf spirits with local ingredients. Notables include the Carrot White Russian crafted with vodka, espresso liqueur and carrot cream, and the Blood Orange Margarita made with Mescal, blood orange Curacao, fresh lime and blood orange juice. -> More information

9. Bar Tintotera (Silver Lake)

Mezcal is the special ingredient for Bar Tintotera’s holiday cocktails. The Silver Lake restaurant and xbar is making a Mezcal Verde using mezcal, ancho reyes, peppermint, an aperol appertif and fresh lime juice. The mezcal and ancho reyes together give the drink a slightly smoky piquancy, while the peppermint and fresh lime makes this beverage refreshing. Tintotera is known for its exclusive selection of agave distillates including raicilla from Southwestern Mexico, Bacanora of Sonora, Mexico and Sotol distilled in Northern Mexico. -> More information 

10. WP24 (Downtown Los Angeles)

Head Downtown to the Ritz-Carlton for seasonal drinks and a spectacular view of Los Angeles at WP24. Be nice with Brown Sugar, a specialty cocktail of Courvoisier V.S. Cognac, Busnel V.S.O.P., Calvados, Cointreau Orange Liqueur, Demerara and lemon, or get a little naughty by sipping Love Lust Lace, a citrus champagne cocktail made with Grand Marnier, Angostura, lemon bitters and brown sugar. WP24 is also offering Cozy Cabana service featuring privacy, plush throws, pillows and a cabana butler pouring a seasonal punch. An Asian-inspired caviar-tasting menu is offered as well. Cabanas must be reserved, and available for $300. -> More information 

11. THE Blvd (Beverly Hills)

THE Blvd at the Beverly Wilshire has a legendary atmosphere for holiday cheers. The illuminated onyx bar and where-to-see-and-be-seen patio provides the setting, while four distinct seasonal cocktails are available to quench your thirst. First is the Festive Ol’ Fashion created with a house-spiced Glenmorangie 10, Angostura bitters and charred cinnamon. Next is an elegant Sparkling Ford comprised of Moet & Chandon Brut Champagne, homemade cranberry syrup and fresh cranberries, Then… An Apple A Day…made with Hennessy VSOP Cognac, homemade apple cinnamon syrup, fresh lemon, and Gala apple. Finally there’s a warming Ginger Bee with Ron Zacapa 23yr rum, homemade ginger syrup and honey. The drink specials run now through Christmas from 6 to 8 p.m. Guests can also catch a snowfall and taste roasted chestnuts during this time. -> More information

12. The Proud Bird (Westchester)

The Proud Bird’s Mile High Club Bar and Lounge is an ideal layover destination for wintery cocktails. Whether you are arriving, outbound, or with holiday visitors in tow, two cocktails you’ll want to try at this bar are Great Balls of Fire Cider (hard cider, amaretto, Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey, apple, caramel and cinnamon rim) and a Pumpkin Spiked Latte (Starbucks PSL and Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey). The Mile High Club Bar is adjacent to LAX which makes it a perfect stopping point before or after flight. No passports needed here.  -> More information 

ep&lp winter cocktail

Photo Credit: E.P. L.P.

13. E.P. & L.P. (West Hollywood)

Share a beautiful California Christmas overlooking the Hollywood Hills and the Sunset Strip with your favorite people at E.P. & L.P.’s rooftop bar. E.P. & L.P. Beverage Director Dustin Shaw has a winter cocktail called Holy Smokes, featuring extreme festive vibes courtesy of baking spice notes and apple bitters. This hand-crafted cocktail is made with Ilegal Joven Mezcal, Velvet Falernum, St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram, Dashfire Spiced Apple bitters, honey, lime juice and garnished with grated cinnamon and a sprig of rosemary. -> More information 

14. Clifton’s Republic (Downtown Los Angeles)

Clifton’s Republic is the oldest surviving cafeteria-style eatery in Los Angeles. They’ll offer a signature eggnog for the holiday season crafted by Cocktail Ambassador Beau du Bois. The rich and creamy drink is made of Demerara Rum, cognac and traditional ingredients including vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, cream and egg.  -> More information 

15. Source Craft Cocktails

Lastly, for those entertaining at home, Sourced Craft Cocktails is a local company that delivers a custom cocktail experience. These guys offer an extensive menu of spirits. They bring you everything you need — the recipes, spirits, ingredients, knowledge, barware, proper ice cubes and even mixologists at request. Or, if you want to leave it all to an expert, Cocktail Academy services both private and public clients that include Victoria’s Secret and Netflix. They’ll come to you and make unique holiday cocktails everyone will enjoy. Think, Mezcal Eggnog with shaved smoked chocolate chip cookies. Cheers!

Things To Do

15 Kid-Friendly Things to Do for the Holidays in Los Angeles

November 22, 2017 by Sheryl Craig

Parties and other obligations fill calendars quickly at this time of year, leaving little time for fun with the kids. But you can make this a meaningful holiday season for yourself and the ones you love by planning exciting, interesting things to do in Los Angeles as the year draws to a close.

Avoid the shopping madness with the little ones (but don’t miss Gwen Stefani when she performs at The Grove). Instead gather for a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony with the Pacific Ocean in the background, put on ice skates and glide together hand in hand, sing favorite holiday songs at the top of your lungs, catch oldie-but-goodie holiday TV cartoons while sipping hot cocoa, and make snow angels together.

Indeed there are plenty of unique ways to enjoy the holidays in L.A. We hope this list helps you make it more joyful by gazing at fireworks, watching a boatful of Christmas parades, oohing and aahing at holiday lights, and, most importantly, being together with the friends and family.

[RELATED: Where are the Best Christmas Lights in Los Angeles?]

1. Free Gwen Stefani Concert

Tweens and teens (okay, and the rest of the family, too), gather around The Grove’s awesome Christmas tree on November 24 for a special live performance by Gwen Stefani. She’ll perform for free in The Park at 5 p.m. to celebrate her holiday album, You Make It Feel Like Christmas. Buy her album that day from Barnes & Noble and you’ll receive VIP treatment (wristband included for access) — you’ll meet and snap a photo with Gwen, receive a signed CD booklet, and enjoy holiday treats. –>Selfie with Gwen here.

2. Tree Lighting by the Ocean

Shopping malls have been lighting up Christmas trees since early November. Finally, a tree-lighting celebration that takes place in December! Terranea Resort will host the age-old tradition of lighting the tree on December 3 at 5 p.m. This resort on the bluffs of Rancho Palos Verdes brings the community together for a festive ceremony featuring live musical entertainment and holiday crafting stations. Attendance is free, as long as you bring an unwrapped gift donation for Toys for Tots. –> O Christmas Tree at Terranea.

Image via Terranea Resort

3. Holiday Concert at Disney Hall

A sing-along is always good ol’-fashioned fun. Take in a lively afternoon on December 16 with the LA Phil at the grand Walt Disney Concert Hall and belt out favorite holiday tunes including “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Silent Night” and many more. Sing along with a choir, jazz combo and the Hall’s huge pipe organ. Actress Melissa Peterman (of TV hit Reba) emcees the event. Guests are invited to a “pre-concert” event, featuring complimentary hot chocolate, coffee and photos with Santa. –> Jingle all the way to Walt Disney Concert Hall.

4. Holly Jolly Day at JW Marriott

Perfect for every kid (and kid at heart), the annual Holly Jolly ice skating and holiday treats event at the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE on December 16 offers merry fun. From ice skating on the L.A. LIVE rink to sugar rushes on sweets and treats with Santa, and sipping hot chocolate (boozy hot chocolate for the adults), Holly Jolly offers quality time for the entire family. Be sure to check out the hotel’s enormous 1,300 pound gingerbread bar made of cookie dough and sugar, where Santa will be greeting the kids. Reservations are required. –> Holly Jolly tickets here.

Image via JW Marriott

5. The Science of Gingerbread at Discovery Cube

It’s on at The Discovery Cube this holiday season! Bring the family in to explore, design and compete in the world of gingerbread from November 24 to December 31. The exhibit is tasty in so many ways — visitors will learn how science, math and engineering impact the kitchen (Good Eats fans will love this), specifically when baking gingerbread, the classic holiday dessert. Interactive exhibits include building a car out of holiday candy to race in a Gingerbread Derby. Interested in designing a gingerbread creation to compete in the Science of Gingerbread competition? Enter soon — the deadline is December 3. –> Get doughy for gingerbread.

6. L.A. Zoo Lights

Oh, what fun it is to visit the L.A. Zoo at night. It’s that most wonderful time of year when the zoo opens its doors nightly through January 7 for its brilliant holiday light displays. L.A. Zoo Lights is a festive night out for the entire family (and easy on the strollers), dazzling with 3D visuals, and a water show while many of the zoo’s residents are asleep. Visitors will get a chance to see real reindeer before they take off on their journey with Santa. –> Lions and bears and reindeer here.

[RELATED: Here’s a Preview of What You Can Expect at Enchanted: Forest of Light at Descanso Gardens]

LA Zoo Lights 2017

LA Zoo Lights 2017

7. 86th Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade

Kick off your holiday season Hollywood style by getting in the mood at the 86th Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade with a special appearance by Santa. On November 26 at 5 p.m., parade goers will line up along Hollywood Blvd. to wave and catch a glimpse of celebrities including Dr. Oz, this year’s Grand Marshall. Equestrians, high school marching bands, celebrities (last year featured Olivia Newton-John, Cyndi Lauper, Kenny G, the Beach Boys and Erik Estrada) and gigantic balloons of Garfield the Cat, a toy soldier, Gumby, a gingerbread man and Rilakkuma will figure among the highlights. –> Here comes Santa Claus, right down Hollywood Blvd.

8. Holiday Boat Parade in Marina del Rey

Marina del Rey will tend to everyone’s holiday spirit at the 55th Annual Holiday Boat Parade on December 9. First will be a fireworks show at 5:55 p.m. Immediately afterwards, the marina’s yachts and boats will make a festive splash by parading its sensational lights and holiday decorations. Over the years, parade themes have varied from Rock ‘n’ Roll Christmas to Adventures on the Sea to An Animated Holiday. Boaters circle the main channel of the harbor at least twice, giving spectators a fun show. Participants submit boat displays as part of a competition. For best viewing, grab a spot at Burton Chace Park. –> Boat parade ahead.

Marina Del Rey Boat Parade 2014

Image via

9. Hanukkah Festival at Skirball Cultural Center

Celebrate Hanukkah at Skirball Cultural Center on December 10. This year’s lively program, inspired by the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative, gives festival goers an opportunity to delve into the traditions of Hanukkah via the Latin American communities of Los Angeles. So, what does this mean? Dancing to Latin Jewish Klezmer bands, creating a community art installation with Sandy Rodriguez, learning about Mexican chocolate and decorating chocolate gelt with private chef/educator Maite Gomez-Rejón, and listening to Mario Ibarra and Julia Garcia Combs, who will tell the story of Hanukkah in English and Spanish. –> Eight nights of light here.

10. ICE in Santa Monica

Ice skating just a few blocks from the beach is a thing. This year, the ICE at Santa Monica outdoor 8,000 square foot rink is the place for holiday vibing. Now through January 15, the arena is open to all levels of skaters. For a holiday gathering, ICE offers cabanas for $300/two-hour slots. If you or your little ones need a lesson or a brush-up on technique, lessons through Randy Gardner’s School of Skating are available. –> Must do.

11. The Nutcracker

Seeing The Nutcracker ballet is a very traditional way to celebrate the holidays. Luckily, the stunning Los Angeles Ballet company performs this beautiful production from December 9-31 at various venues around Los Angeles. Set to Tchaikovsky’s beloved music, The Nutcracker captivates all ages with life-size toy soldiers and dolls, a Mouse King and his soldiers, dancing snowflakes, and, of course, a princess (Clara) and a prince (the Nutcracker).

For sugar plum fairies, visit here.

12. Classic Holiday Cartoons & More at The Paley Center for Media

You might want to scratch the mall Santa this year — instead, plan a family outing to The Paley Center for Media. This year, the center is featuring It’s Holiday Time in PaleyLand, which includes a free visit with Santa Claus, daily screenings between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. of classic holiday TV programs including Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, A Charlie Brown Christmas, A Rugrats Kwanzaa, Frosty the Snowman, and more. Kids will also enjoy ornament-making and hot cocoa. –> Visit Paleyland.

13. Free Christmas Eve Concert at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

Musical artists, choirs, bands and dance companies will come together to perform a free holiday spectacular show at the 58th Annual L.A. County Holiday Celebration. This Christmas eve tradition welcomes the public to a three-hour show at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at The Music Center from 3 to 6 p.m. Th diverse line-up will include the Harmonic Bronze Handbell Ensemble, performing both Christmas and Hanukkah melodies, along with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Band, the MUSYCA Children’s Choir, the Jung Im Lee Korean Dance Company, Las Colibri, the City Ballet of Los Angeles, and many more. Seating is first-come, first-served, so get there early. Doors open at 2:30 p.m –> Free Christmas Eve show at The Music Center.

14. Snow Days at Kidspace Museum

Pull out the snow gear and head over to Kidspace Children’s Museum for the gift of a real winter wonderland.  Kidspace offers a snowy playground where kids can explore the science of snow, build snowmen, create snow angels and throw snowballs — all in the name of wintry fun. Head into the museum for cookie decorating, winter-themed arts and crafts and live holiday performances. –> Bring hats and mittens here.

Image via Kidspace Children’s Museum


15. Marvel at Christmas Lights at Candy Cane Lane

A neighborhood beautifully lit for the holidays is hosted solely by the residents of one Woodland Hills neighborhood at Oxnard and Lubao streets. Candy Cane Lane is sure to give the entire family all the holiday feels. Beginning December 2, spectators will enjoy quite the show, either by foot or by car. Since 1952, this neighborhood’s been going all out by transforming into a holiday destination with decorations, lights, animated displays, snowy rooftops, and Santa and his reindeer. Put the kids in pajamas, fill a thermos with hot chocolate, and play Christmas music in your car while cruising up and down the local streets. –> Eight blocks of holiday lights.

Cool Spots, sightseeing, Things To Do

10 Places You Should Visit at Least Once When It’s Fall in Los Angeles

October 18, 2017 by Sheryl Craig

No seasons in Los Angeles? Well, it’s complicated.

Sure, we don’t have miles of brown and red leafed treetops like you might see in in New Hamphire. But that doesn’t mean you can’t experience some of the beauty of autumn right here in the city of angels.

In L.A. you can discover gardens with a front row view of bright colored foliage. You can experience traditions like picking your own apples or pumpkins at the farm. You can even partake in cultural holidays and festivals that celebrate the harvest season.

In short, you’ve got options.

That said, here’s a promise about the list below– visiting these 10 places at least once will confirm that L.A. does indeed have Fall.

[RELATED21 Free Things To Do in L.A. Before 2017 is Over]

Luminous Lawn

A luminous lawn makes for a fun game of hop-scotch. Photo by Brian Champlin / We Like L.A.

1. Witness fall foliage season at Descanso Gardens.

From October through November, walk Descanso Gardens for its the beautiful botanical display (or train it on the Enchanted Railroad). Take in beauties such as the light pink Sasanqua camellias, bright red toyon berries, stunning yellow ginkgo trees and the expansive native California tree canopies illustrating the inviting and warm Fall colors of Los Angeles. Plus: Descanso’s Enchanted: Forest of Light is back this fall from November 19 – January 16. -> Plan your garden trip today.

2. Watch trees change color at the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden.

Going to the Arboretum this fall? Head straight over to the Grace Kallam Perennial Garden where you will get quite the show. The garden’s blooming perennials and fall foliage features beds and beds of spectacular color including the yellow-leafed gingko trees, and copper foliage of the Sweetgum tree. Keep an eye out for unique wildlife who reside and who migrate annually to the Garden. -> View nature’s show here.

L.A. County Arboretum

L.A. County Arboretum. Credit to Chris M. Morris via flickr cc

3. Pick Pumpkins at Underwood Farms

Ok, so Moorpark isn’t techinically in L.A. county. But it’s close! And Underwood Family Farms is the right place for picking your own favorite variety of pumpkins, from Magic Lanterns (perfect for carving) to Cinderellas to Luminas. The farm hosts its annual Fall Harvest Festival where you’ll catch a tractor ride, a chicken show, and lots of fun activities for the kids. The festival runs on weekends through Oct. 29. -> Pumpkin harvest-time at the farm.

4. Take the Corn Maze Challenge at Tapia Bros. Farmstand

This corn maze challenges all ages to navigate through it while answering trivia questions. The maze is closed on Mondays for watering, and open every weekend through the end of October. While at Tapia Bros. Farmstand don’t miss a taste of the roasted corn, which makes a tasty afternoon snack. -> Find your way here.

5. Roam the Many Gardens of The Huntington

The Huntington Gardens welcomes guests all year long to explore its hundreds of species and beautiful landscape. Ranging from the American Sweetgum tree’s red and auburn leaves to the yellow and golden blooms of the Chinese raintree, have your phone ready to capture all of that and more including the purple salvias shrubs and the burnt orange flower petals of the wild dagga. -> In living color.

Huntington Library

Japanese Garden at the Huntington Library. Photo by Brian Champlin / We Like L.A.

6. Take Instagram-worthy photos at Mr. Bones’ Pumpkin Patch

The highly-celebrated (and celebrity kid hot spot) pumpkin patch gives you all the Fall feels with its select pumpkin patch, the spider bouncy house, live music, a Master Carver who will turn your pumpkin into a jack o’ lantern masterpiece, and swanky LA food trucks including The Grilled Cheese and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. VIP tickets are available. -> Snap here.

7. See the Santa Monica Mountains on Horseback

Los Angeles Horseback Riding takes you and a group of friends or with your very special person on a picturesque trail ride in the Santa Monica mountains including part of the Backbone Trail. You’ll see LA’s native landscape including breathtaking geography, the sparkling Pacific Ocean, and wildlife such as hawks, deer or even, the rare Mexican Xoloitzcuintli. Sunset rides offer gorgeous Autumn colors like you’ve never seen before in LA. -> Fall on horseback.

8. Experience Dia de los Muertos at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Honoring the living and the dead, this Dia de los Muertos event highlights a traditional procession and altar-making, while hundreds of Aztec ritual dancers and other folklorico performers entertain the crowd. This year includes four stages of music and theatrical performers throughout the day/evening. Be sure to check out and enter to win in the best calaca (skeleton) costume and altar contests. -> Celebrate culture and spirit on Oct. 28.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Credit: Mooshu via flickr cc

9. Go Apple picking at Riley’s at Los Rios Rancho

Have an urge to go apple picking? Take a drive out to San Bernadino. Los Rios Rancho is SoCal’s largest apple farm, featuring heirloom fruit trees with well over 32 apple varieties including Granny Smith and Rome Beauty. Riley’s fresh-pressed apple cider tastes deliciously seasonal, which you can take home by the gallon or have a cup at the snack bar. -> U-pick here.

10. Oktoberfest at Alpine Village

Oktoberfest at Alpine Villageis the signature annual Oktobersfest event in the L.A.-area. Now through October 28, you’ll be able to partake in tasting Warsteiner German beers (Oktoberfest, Dunkel, Pilsner, Ace Cider and Konig Ludwig Hefeweisen), and feast on German specialties like Bavarian pretzels, sausages, schnitzel and strudel. German Oom Pah Pah bands inspire dancing and cheering. -> Prost (cheers).

Things To Do, Volunteer Opportunities

15 Great Ways to Volunteer in L.A. For Fall 2017

October 6, 2017 by Sheryl Craig

With the holidays around the corner, now is an especially good time to spend some time helping out your fellow Angelenos, both children and adults, who are challenged by homelessness, disabilities, domestic abuse, poverty, joblessness, disease and injustice.

Multiple organizations are seeking volunteers to deliver meals, tutor homeless children, counsel those seeking employment, lend support to those trying to immigrate, serve Thanksgiving dinner, and create the best Christmas ever.

Options sorted below in no particular order, numbered only for reference. If you’re looking for more volunteer opportunities, be sure to check out some of our past ideas.

Vista Hermosa Park

Morning sun at Vista Hermosa Park. Photo by Brian Champlin / We Like L.A.

1. School on Wheels

School on Wheels is a direct way to make a positive impact on Los Angeles students. Founded almost 25 years ago by a retired schoolteacher, School on Wheels assists homeless children, from kindergarten through high school ages, with a consistent support system, at a time when they face instability and fear. You can help by volunteering to provide one-on-one tutoring, school supplies and important administrative tasks like locating lost records, registering and entering school, and supporting parents. -> Make a difference in a student’s life here.

2. Chrysalis

Supporting your peers can be especially rewarding when you help them successfully secure a meaningful job. Chrysalis is a volunteer-based program that helps more than 2,000 employment-seeking men and women each year. Volunteers participate in many ways, including leading job skills training, consulting on resume writing, and conducting interview practice. Here, the bottom line is sharing the importance of boosting self-confidence and self-sufficiency. You must be over the age of 18 to volunteer. > Help here.

3. The Princess Project

Every girl should get their chance to be Cinderella for a night. The Princess Project does just that by supplying free prom dresses and accessories to help high school teens who cannot afford the expenses of prom Princess Project volunteers are needed, as this group dresses more than 35,000 teens each year throughout California. This is a great opportunity for students to volunteer by hosting a dress drive or helping to prepare for the dress giveaway events, and helping girls pick out the best dress. Donations of prom dresses, formal gowns, party dresses, jewelry and shoes are welcome. -> Making prom dreams come true here.

4. Meals on Wheels

Deliver nutritious meals to L.A. residents who are unable to leave their homes. Volunteers at Meals on Wheels serve 45,000 meals each year to people who cannot shop and prepare meals for themselves — from the elderly to disabled individuals to those afflicted with illness. Not only are you helping to distribute meals, you are bringing a much-needed smile to someone when the front door is opened. Prepared by St. Vincent’s Nutrition Program (volunteers welcome), one hot and one cold meal is delivered daily. If you are interested in delivering meals, know that you’ll be using your own car. -> Deliver meals here.

5. Westside Thanksgiving

At a time when Angelenos are preparing for their own Thanksgiving feasts, it is also a time to consider volunteering with Westside Thanksgiving. The annual event serves a much-appreciated meal to an immense number of homeless men and women on the Westside. Numerous volunteers are sought for set-up, which begins the day before Thanksgiving, and multiple shifts throughout Thursday beginning at 6 a.m. Westside Thanksgiving provides a traditional sit-down turkey dinner, free haircuts (hairstylists are needed to volunteer), medical, dental and optical services, vaccinations and a children’s carnival. Roasted turkeys and baked pies are also needed. Recipes available on website. -> Serve up Thanksgiving turkeys.

6. Bet Tzedek Justice for All

Legal expenses are overwhelming, especially for the elderly community and low-income individuals and families. Bet Tzedek, which translates from Hebrew to “Justice For All,” collaborates with hundreds of pro bono attorneys in Los Angeles to provide free, comprehensive legal services. Attorneys who volunteer are needed to co-counsel on various legal problems including caregiver issues and elderly abuse, foreclosure matters, real estate fraud and consumer fraud, wage theft, LGBT discrimination, Holocaust reparations, and undocumented families.If you are not an attorney, your time as a volunteer is still needed to help with answering phone calls, research and more. -> For justice and all.

7. Catholic Charities of Los Angeles

From its beginnings as a haven for refugees during World War II, Catholic Charities continues to be a secure place for immigration services for people all over the world. Interested volunteers can donate their time to Catholic Charities of Los Angeles’ Esperanza Project. This program specifically offers services (job training, teaching English, assisting with legal issues, visa petitions) to help out newly-arrived immigrants, including children. These are complex issues and the Esperanza Project is in need of dedicated volunteers. -> Rebuild lives here.

8. LACBA Counsel For Justice

Pro bono lawyers are needed to “fight for the poor, the underserved and those in crisis” alongside the Los Angeles County Bar Association. By joining forces with LACBA, your time will be dedicated to veterans, immigrants and people affected by AIDS and domestic violence. Apply for a specific service project via LACBA’s website. -> Lawyers needed here.

9. KEEN: Kids Enjoy Exercise Now

For kids who suffer from physical and emotional disabilities, having a coach can make a significant difference in their lives. KEEN is a program designed to give these youth athletes the opportunity to have fun and develop on the field, on the court or in the pool. Volunteers get the opportunity to be coaches and have a positive impact on kids and young adults who deal with autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, epilepsy, spina bifida, learning disabilities and more. Coaches tailor activities to each child’s needs. Safety and welfare of the participants are top priority to KEEN, so volunteers will go through a background check and provide references. -> Volunteer to become a special needs kids coach here.

10. Downtown Women’s Center

Your helping hands will support women at LA County’s Downtown Women’s Center (DWC). These women face many issues including domestic abuse, mental illnesses, substance abuse, homelessness and more. DWC does everything possible to give women a safe haven. As a volunteer you can be a part of the kitchen team preparing meals, assembling hygiene kits for daily showers, or assisting visitors with education and employment. If you are unable to volunteer in person, another way to support DWC is to visit MADE by DWC , an online shop featuring artisan candles, jewelry and soaps, with 100% of the proceeds benefiting the center. -> Gentle hands needed.

11. LACC to benefit Pancreatic Cancer Halloween 5k/10k

Get ready to race in your favorite Halloween costume at the 20th annual L.A. Cancer Challenge 5K/10K/15K Walk/Run (LACC), which benefits pancreatic cancer research and supports patients and their families. This year’s race takes place on October 29 with a challenging course on the UCLA campus. Runners and walkers dress up in festive costumes to hit the course in honor of those afflicted with this devastating disease. After the run, plan on sticking around for a children’s Halloween parade, an adult costume contest, a kids fun run, celebs and good feels the entire day. -> Halloween racing for pancreatic cancer.

12. Turkey Trot 5k/10k

In light of the staggering problem of homelessness and poverty afflicting Los Angeles, the annual Turkey Trot brings people out to raise money and awareness for The Midnight Mission on Thanksgiving Day. The Midnight Mission helps the homeless community attain self-sufficiency through education and training with the goal of job placement. Participants get to trek through Downtown, passing City Hall, Disney Hall, Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, and along Spring Street. Bring the kiddos: there’s a Widdle Wobble run for their size. -> Lace up here.

13. UCLA PAC – People Animal Connection

The UCLA PAC program is probably one of the more special ways to volunteer in L.A. It’s you and your four-legged BFF who volunteer in the Animal-Assisted Therapy and Activity program. You and your pup provide unconditional companionship to children and adult patients (Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, heart disease and stroke) at UCLA. This program definitely puts a smile on everyone’s face throughout UCLA Medical Center, and is known to offer comfort, rehabilitation and therapy, and a sense of community for these patients, as well as the medical staff. If you are interested in volunteering with your dog, you’ll go through a lengthy period of screening and training to quality. -> Support the healing power of pups.

14. Heal the Bay’s Nothin’ But Sand Beach Cleanup

Time to show the beach some love. Summer may be officially over, but that isn’t stopping locals and visitors from spending a day at the beach. Trash is still a huge problem, and Heal the Bay volunteers are committed to keeping the shoreline clean. There are two Nothin’ But Sand cleanups this Fall (10/21 – Toes Beach Tower 41 and 11/18 – Hermosa Beach Pier). Sign up to comb for trash like plastic items, styrofoam debris and smoking-related items. -> Trash pick-up here.

15. The MEND Christmas Basket Program

Christmas time can be very lonely for families and individuals who live in poverty. MEND is an extraordinary organization that offers an emergency food bank, clothing center, medical, eye care and dental clinics and adult education. As the holiday season approaches, MEND volunteers pull together in-kind donations (food, clothing, household items, blankets and coats, new shoes, new toys and arts and craft supplies, tickets to children’s activities, and new fabric, trims and threads) to create a merry Christmas for the community. There are many ways to volunteer, including helping out at MEND’s Christmas ToyLand and Santa’s Toy and Food Workshops. -> Need a little Christmas here.

Things To Do

17 Fun Things to do with Kids in L.A. (That Adults Will Like Too!)

September 6, 2017 by Sheryl Craig

Finding shared activities that are as much fun for kids as they are for adults can be quite the challenge. Parents usually want to plan an activity with some educational value, while kids typically crave full-on playtime as an escape from the classroom.

Today’s busy Los Angeles families face competing personal interests, but that shouldn’t preclude spending quality time doing things everyone can enjoy. After all, L.A. provides a slew of playful adventures that cater to all ages.

So when you find some spare time during the week or the weekend that you can share with the kids, check out this fantastic list of 17 favorite L.A. places to visit when the kids get restless.

Griffith Observatory View

A view of DTLA from Griffith Observatory. Photo by Brian Champlin / We Like L.A.

1. Moonlight Rollerway

When your family wants an activity that keeps everyone moving, check into Moonlight Rollerway in Glendale on Sundays from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Family Skate Night invites families of every generation to participate. Once known as Harry’s, this roller rink opened in 1956. Today it’s a second home to skaters who enjoy a vintage experience rolling along the rink made of the original 2 ¼ -inch maple flooring.  -> Roller rink ahead

Harry Potter Rollerskating Disco

Harry Potter Night at Moonlight Rollerway. Photo: Brian Champlin / We Like L.A.

2. Underwood Family Farms

A day spent at the farm is priceless. Underwood Family Farms in Moorpark welcomes guests of all ages – a perfect arena for kids to explore and learn, while adults engage in farm-to-table shopping. When you arrive, grab a red wagon to collect farm pickings like freshly-grown cabbage, carrots, kale, leeks, strawberries and so much more. Underwood has some fun upcoming fall events, including antique tractor weekend, western weekend, fall harvest and Big Dave’s Christmas trees. -> Fresh produce here

3. Au Fudge

Located in West Hollywood, Au Fudge offers you some adult time while your kiddos play with the Au Fudge Au Pairs in the designated creative space. Brunch, lunch and dinner seatings and play times are available for up to 30 children. The creative space welcomes children of all ages, but keep in mind that kids under 2 must be accompanied by an adult, and the Au Pairs do not change diapers. Activities include cooking, gardening, and robot building. So, while the kids are playing, how about a glass of wine? -> Find playtime here

4. Sky High Sports

Sky High Sports is a unique experience encouraging kids and adults to play together. This indoor trampoline park in Woodland Hills is suitable for all ages, from tots to ageless grandparents. From bouncing and jumping along the trampoline lane into a pool of soft, foam squares to playing hoops on the bouncy basketball court, families can take advantage of special family-of-four prices which include jump-time, pizza and chilled water. -> Jump in here

5. Duff’s Cake Mix

Star of The Food Network’s Ace of Cakes, Duff Goldman is a household name among many families. Duff’s Cake Mix, his L.A. endeavor, welcomes both kid and adult designers who get a firsthand, lively experience in creating and designing cupcakes or a cake. It’s a messy but fun time — thankfully not in one’s own home kitchen. Reserve Duff’s Cake Mix table time after enjoying lunch in this chic Melrose Ave. neighborhood, perhaps at nearby Urth Cafe, which is kid-friendly.

Get a little messy here

6. California Science Center

A day roaming the California Science Center will give everyone the feels. Prepare to be wowed when you get an up-close look at space shuttle Endeavour, now housed at the Science Center. Connect with Body Worlds, an exhibit that examines the potential, challenges and awe of human anatomy and health. Be sure to reserve tickets to one (or two) IMAX movies at the on-site theater. Each theater features a seven-story screen that gives viewers an unprecedented movie-viewing experience. (The IMAX theaters will be closed from September 5 to October 10, 2017 to undergo a laser installation). -> All things science here

The California Science Center Aquarium. Credit: Brian Champlin.

The California Science Center aquarium. Photo by Brian Champlin / We Like L.A.

7. Royce’s Arcade Warehouse

Royce’s Arcade Warehouse is jam-packed with video game classics, fun for both kids and grownups. An inexpensive and super-fun activity in the Valley, Royce’s Arcade charges a nominal entrance fee of $3 per person to come and enjoy unlimited arcade play on Tuesdays and Fridays from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Chatsworth arcade’s highlights include Pac Man, Star Wars, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter II, Jurassic Park, Centipede, air hockey and good old-fashioned pinball machines (and many more!). -> Pull out the joystick

Royce's Arcade Warehouse

Royce’s Arcade Warehouse. Photo credit: Brian Champlin / We Like L.A.

8. Neon Retro Arcade

Still got the game bug? Neon Retro Arcade is an Old Town Pasadena depot where you and your kids can indulge in old-school arcade games of the ’80s and ’90s. Connect with the kids over some friendly competition while playing Dig Dug, Donkey Kong, Frogger, Pac Man, Star Wars (the 1983 version), Ghosts & Goblins, Qix and Wrestlemania. Check Neon Retro’s social channels to find out new game announcements. -> ’80s vibes here

9. Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Take the amazing opportunity to explore Southern California’s natural oceanic habitat at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, located at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro. Examine beautiful and informative live exhibits such as the Susanne Lawrenz-Miller Exhibit Hall and the aquarium’s Exploration Center. Be sure to take a look at the historical building – it was designed by Frank Gehry in 1981. The aquarium, however, opened in 1935 and continues to serve numerous visitors of every age. -> Go deep sea here

10. Natural History Museum

Step back in time when you visit the Natural History Museum. All generations get a kick out of the Dinosaur Hall — seeing the three T. rex specimens up close never fails to entertain. The new creepy-crawly but safe Spider Pavilion (September 15 to November 26, 2017) should not be missed. Avoid L.A. traffic by riding the Expo Line to the museum — hop off the Expo Park/USC or Expo/Vermont stops. -> Dinosaur fans gather here

Natural History Museum

Dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum. Credit: Allie Caufield via flickr cc

11. Paley Center for Media

The Paley Center for Media is an esteemed organization in Beverly Hills known for its archive of nearly a century of television and radio history, including children’s programming. You can watch your favorite TV show on a movie-size screen. Free weekend screenings are a great activity for families. September events include a free My Little Pony family screening. -> Find TV favorites here

12. El Capitan Theatre

The El Capitan Theatre is the ultimate Los Angeles movie experience for kids and adults alike. Owned and run by Disney, this “movie palace” is a historic landmark that was built in 1926. You’ll get to see first-run special movie premieres from Walt Disney Studios, as well as favorites including Moana, Brave, A Goofy Movie and more. VIP tickets offer preferred seating, popcorn in a souvenir cup and a drink. Spend some time before or after the movie marveling at the restored Wurlitzer organ and enjoying its music. -> Discover the ultimate movie experience

13. The Autry Museum of the American West

Pan for gold like the 49ers did and imagine family life in the Old West when you visit The Autry Museum of the American West. This Griffith Park museum is a gallery of Native American art and artifacts, film memorabilia, family programming and music for kids and grown-ups. Participate in activities inspired by life in the American West, including hands-on gold panning, exploring toys and games of the past across various cultures, and singing along to music of the open range. -> Check out the Old West

Play at The Autry

“Play” at The Autry opens June 18, 2017. Photo by Brian Champlin

14. Bob Baker Marionette Theater

A true cultural landmark of L.A., the Bob Baker Marionette Theater has welcomed hundreds of thousands of children into its world of brilliant puppetry. Each show is magically led by master marionettes skillfully maneuvering stringed puppet characters donning bright, colorful costumes amid music and themed sets. Check website for show themes, schedules and tickets. -> Puppets come to life here

15. Skirball Cultural Center

The Skirball Cultural Center definitely unites Angelenos of all ages. One of the Center’s many draws is Noah’s Ark at the Skirball, an interactive exhibit that brings the story of Noah’s Ark to life (bonus: free first-come, first-served tickets to the exhibit are available on Thursdays). Be sure to check out The Skirball’s archaeological dig site, festivals and musical performances, family art and live concerts, too. -> Multi-generational fun here

Noah's Ark Skirball

Noah’s Ark at Skirball Cultural Center. Photo by Tracie Hall via flickr cc

16. The Blvd Kitchen

Getting close in the kitchen with your kids has a lot of relationship benefits. Blvd Cooking School in Sherman Oaks offers classes for kids and adults to share quality time without the stress of making a mess in your own kitchen. The multi-generational Family Fridays classes teach basic kitchen skills as you create a tasty meal like tacos and pizza. Chef Michal Harris runs the professional kitchen space. -> Cook up a storm here

17. Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory recently got a lot of action when the solar eclipse passed through Los Angeles. Open and free to the public, Griffith Observatory offers a free public telescope so that visitors can check out our evening skies. Take a tour through the Samuel Oschin Planetarium like Emma and Ryan did in La La Land to check out an amazing cosmic presentation. -> Stargazers welcome here

Cool Spots, Lifestyle

14 Totally Unique Places In L.A. To ‘Get Your Steps In’

July 26, 2017 by Sheryl Craig

Walking is an excellent form of exercise. Taking a walk gives you a way to be active and it offers quality catch-up with your partner, bestie (including your favorite four-legged pup), or kid. Walking often prompts time for personal reflection, listening to favorite tunes and just being present.

Today’s accessories like Fitbits, Apple watches, and step trackers contribute to the general philosophy that walking has many health benefits including lowering blood pressure, losing weight, and improving your mood.

The math is easy. According to The Walking Site, the average person takes 2,000 to 2,500 walking steps per mile. So, get your sneakers, put your “adventure hat” on and take a step out of your comfort zone. The landscape of Los Angeles is diverse and has much to incentivize for getting your steps in L.A.

Why not start with some of our suggestions below?

1. The Hollywood Bowl

The Hollywood Bowl (it’s also a public park during the day) gives visitors an educational and beautiful walk during the day. Take a self-guided walking tour throughout the public park outside of the amphitheater. There are 10 stations to visit where guests will acquire facts and tidbits about the history of the Bowl, Beetlemania and other great musical performances. You’ll have quiet moments to explore native habitat and wildlife, and a beautiful site for a picnic. -> Surround yourself with music and nature.

2. Lake Hollywood Trail

Lake Hollywood Trail will give you about 7,000 steps. It’s a 3.3 mile loop that takes walkers (and hikers, joggers, bikers and baby strollers) around the Hollywood Reservoir. The Reservoir aka Lake Hollywood was built in 1924 with the job of providing drinking water to the city in case of an emergency.  Explore the local sites — views of the Hollywood sign and 1920s L.A.  architecture. -> Find the trail here.

3. Echo Park Lake

Echo Park Lake offers steppers the opportunity to get in as many steps as they need. One loop around Echo Park lake is just under one mile or 2,000 steps. What makes Echo Park Lake super special is its beautiful lotus plants and blossoms during the spring months and the Lotus Festival event which takes place annually in mid-July. Cruise with your step counter around the lake where you’ll get to check out the 1930s sculpture by California local artist Ada Mae Sharpless, paddle boats amid the water and wildlife including ducks, turtles and geese. It’s minutes from Downtown. -> Walking the lake.

Echo Park Lake

Echo Park Lake morning. Photo by Brian Champlin / We Like L.A.

4. Exposition Park Rose Garden

Everything is coming up roses at Exposition Park Rose Garden. One loop around the garden will give you anywhere between 4,000 to 5,000 steps. This National Register of Historic Places was established in 1927 and today is home to over 200,000 rose bushes and over 200 varieties of roses. Perfect to walk anytime of the year, you may even witness a marriage proposal along the way. -> Stop and smell the roses here.

5. Encino Golf Loop

Encino Golf loop is a popular morning or late afternoon walk (almost 5 miles) that takes you around the Valley golf course. You can easily get in over 10,000 steps on this path. Much of the path is hard-packed dirt — avoid small pebbles by wearing sneakers. Also, with higher daytime temps hitting Encino, you are likely to be more comfortable in the mornings or early evenings when the sun is not in its prime. -> Walk the Valley.

6. Venice Beach

Venice Beach, known for Muscle Beach, its hippie-vibe beach culture, skateboard park, and its namesake public art graffiti walls, is one of the best beach-walking areas in Los Angeles. The loop begins and ends at Ocean Front Walk, just a minute walk down from the Venice Beach Boardwalk. You’ll gain about 4,000 steps on this paved and dog-friendly* “trail” (*don’t forget the leash). Download the AllTrails app and it will connect you to a map detailing the trail. -> Navigate the beach here.

Venice Boardwalk Afternoon

Afternoon on the Venice Beach Boardwalk. Credit: Brian Champlin / We Like L.A.

7. Veterans Parkway

Veterans Parkway in Manhattan Beach is one of those pretty long green beltways you don’t often get to see in Southern California. You’ll reach the 15,000 step goal by walking back and forth from Manhattan Beach to Hermosa Beach along this walkway. That’s about 7 miles. Don’t worry, there is a beautiful rest stop near Ninth Street called Mariposa Pathway. You can sit under any of the shady eucalyptus trees and check out the butterfly totems (public art installation) honoring the natural habitat of the Monarch butterfly. -> Walking 15,000 steps here.

8. The Music Box Steps

The Music Box Steps are named for the 1932 Academy Award winner for Live Action Short film: “The Music Box,” starring Laurel and Hardy. The staircase where the film was shot depicts the comedic team attempting to move a piano up a flight of stairs. Located in the heart of Silver Lake, the Music Box Steps won’t disappoint your step tracker. There are several staircases, but in total, if you do all the steps, plan on climbing 2.5 miles, or 705 stairs totaling 5,500 steps. This walk is strenuous. -> Leave your piano at home.


9. Descanso Gardens

Descanso Gardens is an outdoor garden museum with peaceful walking paths that lead visitors to several natural displays including a rose garden, oak forest, Japanese garden and camellia collection. Visitors can take in the natural beauty while counting steps. And after a walk through the park, guests take a respite at Maple, the gardens’ on-site restaurant (Patina Restaurant Group) serving brunch and lunch. Membership is available. Non-members’ admission is $9 for adults; $6 for seniors and students with a school I.D.; $4 for children 5 to 12, and free for ages 4 and younger. -> Garden walking here.

10. Ikea in Burbank

The Burbank Ikea is one of the new stomping grounds for getting those steps in – an estimated 2,000 steps. The Ikea stats: 456,000 square feet (the most square footage of any Ikea), 1,700 parking spaces, a 600-seat restaurant and 50 room settings. All you need are comfy shoes, your step tracker and an appetite. Morning walkers stop into the Ikea restaurant for breakfast and a coffee and afternoon/evening walkers have the option of a salmon filet plate ($5.99 and 520 calories), the store’s famous Swedish meatballs and so much more. -> Walk and shop here.

11. The Rose Bowl

Walking around the Rose Bowl is a landmark Pasadena tradition. It’s a beautiful destination bordered by shady trees where thousands of people come together to raise awareness for a cause (National Heart Association, National MS Society, Autism Speaks to name a few). It’s where treasure hunters visit its signature Flea Market (first Sunday of the month). The Rose Bowl, which was built in 1922, is home to UCLA football, the Rose Bowl, concerts (U2 recently performed), and is a number-one spot to exercise. The loop is about 6,500 steps and it will take you about 90 minutes to walk the trail. Crowds visit to get their daily exercise in; you’ll see a whole lot of runners, bikers and training clubs. -> Walking a tradition.

Rose Bowl Entrance

Entering a food fest at the Rose Bowl. Photo credit: Brian Champlin / We Like L.A.

12. UCLA Drake Stadium

Get your collegiate spirit on at UCLA Drake Stadium. A popular stomping ground on the UCLA campus for all athletic levels, the 9-lane track gives you the freedom to accomplish your step goals. Four times around is one mile, turning out 2,000 steps. Named for Elvin C. “Ducky” Drake, a Bruin who made a positive impact on the university as a student, track coach and trainer, Drake Stadium is a great place for working out. -> Get on track.

13. Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook

The view at the top of Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook is worth the hike up. Whether you climb up and down the 282 stairs straight to the top or you travel the snake-like trail up along the hillside, you’ll earn more than 2,400 steps, a cardio workout and the stunning opportunity to explore the native landscape and vista of the city of Los Angeles. -> Climb to a magnificent view.

14. Mandeville Canyon Trail

Mandeville Canyon Trail in West L.A. is another big walking commitment. The 7.2 mile hike in and out of Mandeville Canyon will clock in almost 16,000 steps. This trail is a fire road and groomed throughout the year. Sitting within the Santa Monica Mountains, the Mandeville Canyon trail loop gives you the much-anticipated gift when you reach the highest point of elevation – a beautiful view of Los Angeles from the city to the beach. This walk will give you steps and a workout. -> Climb the canyon here.

Things To Do, Volunteer Opportunities

14 Great Ways To Volunteer Your Time This Summer in L.A.

July 6, 2017 by Sheryl Craig

Summer time is just the right time to take on a community service project. Weekday schedules tend to be a little more flexible, while weekend time seems more giving. Volunteers continue to be the lifeblood of many organizations, whether you are donating time or money.

Community service benefits both givers and recipients. It’s said that when you volunteer, you gain personal satisfaction, make healthier life choices and find new social opportunities. So why not start now?

Many nonprofit groups are hosting myriad volunteer orientations throughout Los Angeles during July and August, and we’ve curated a few of those options in the list below. Check it out, and see if there might be a fit that’s right for you.

Exploring Griffith Park

Credit: Brian Champlin / We Like L.A.

1. Children’s Hospital LA

Children’s Hospital LA is the largest pediatric hospital in Southern California focusing solely on the healthcare needs of children. What began in 1901 in a small house in Chinatown now serves more than 350 pediatric specialty programs. What makes this nonprofit thrive is the compassionate humanitarians, caregivers and volunteers supporting the amazing children who visit CHLA. How can you help? The CHLA volunteer program gives you a chance to work directly with patients, including playing with them in waiting rooms, escorting them to hospital appointments, reading and assisting in hospital playrooms and/or at the bedside. Orientation, interview, training and health clearance are required for volunteers 18 years old and up. There is also a junior volunteer program just right for 15- to 17-year-old teens. -> More info here

2. L.A. Kitchen

The essential ingredients are straightforward at L.A. Kitchen. Take local farm-donated fruits and produce, add some volunteers, then blend well to create nutritious meals for disadvantaged communities. L.A. Kitchen relies on its core philosophy: “Neither food nor people should ever go to waste.” The other important mission of L.A. Kitchen is training unemployed men and women. Volunteering with L.A. Kitchen welcomes you into its Kitchen Prep sessions, which are 3-hour shifts. You’ll assist with basic prep skills like washing, chopping, peeling and slicing produce, Monday through Friday (9 a.m. to 12 p.m. & 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.), and on Saturdays (9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) Meals are served to shelters, transitional homes and after-school programs in L.A. -> Sign up here

3. 826LA

You don’t need to have a teaching degree to make an impact on a student’s life. 826LA is committed to helping students from 6 to 18 years old with writing skills through after-school tutoring and workshops that transcend what’s taught in traditional classroom. Volunteers have the opportunity to inspire students with their technique in creative and expository writing assignments and projects. Register to volunteer, take the 826LA Volunteering 101 orientation and begin your work with the students. Orientation is offered July 8, 15 and 29 and August 12. -> Start here

4. Project Angel Food

Each year, thousands of people receive “home-cooked” meals provided by Project Angel Food. Too debilitated to care for themselves, children, women and men who face both poverty and life-threatening illnesses ranging from diabetes and cancer to congestive heart failure to HIV/AIDS rely on the volunteers of Project Angel Food. Preparing meals in the kitchen gives volunteers plenty to do every day. Chopping, stirring, mixing, baking and packaging up meals are valuable ways to help out. Meals are delivered free of charge to patients’ homes. New volunteers are required to attend an orientation which is offered throughout July and August. Volunteer shifts are offered Monday through Friday (8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. & 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.) and on Sunday (8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) -> Make a difference here.

5. The Trevor Project

The Trevor Project helps to save lives of young people (ages 13-24) who many be struggling with issues around suicide, depression and LGBTQ identity. The organization was founded by Randy Stone, Peggy Rajski and James Lecesne, who together made the Academy Award®-winning short film Trevor. The group designed a much-needed program providing crisis intervention and suicide-prevention services. Volunteer TrevorChat/TrevorText volunteers are trained to answer instant messages or texts online (knowledge of online chat and access to a computer are required) and Trevor Lifeline volunteers are trained to answer calls in the L.A. call center. Both offer a safe and non-judgemental atmosphere to talk. Volunteers must complete an orientation, interview, background check and training. -> Be supportive here.

6. Los Angeles Mission

Los Angeles Mission hosts an annual End of Summer Arts and Education Fair street event on August 27. The Mission, which provides spiritual programs and physical tools to support emergency, transitional and permanent housing for individuals and families on Skid Row, also helps hundreds of families gear up for going back to school at the Fair. When it’s impossible to make ends meet, the Los Angeles Mission shows up with school supplies, including backpacks, for very grateful children. The Fair also offers a fun day with inflatable play areas, slides, face painting, games, crafts and a dunk tank and, hopefully a less worrisome day. -> Volunteers needed here.

7. LA Animal Services

If four-legged furry friends are your bae, it’s probably a good idea to join LA Animal Services (LAAS) Volunteer Family and make a difference in the lives of abandoned and orphaned animals at one of the six shelters in L.A. The Department of LA Animal Services has strategies in place and is making progress toward a no-kill city shelter system. Volunteers are definitely needed to help out in their shelters in San Pedro, Van Nuys and Chatsworth and at the LAAS adoption events. Orientations are offered throughout the summer; check the LAAS Facebook page for dates. -> Info here.

8. Los Angeles Department of Recreation & Parks

Volunteering through the Los Angeles Department of Recreation & Parks is the perfect way to give back to your community. It’s super neighborly and there are a lot of different ways to donate your time. Once you go through the process of designating your ideal volunteer location, you’ll meet the Director and get fingerprinted. Then you’ll be ready to receive your assignment at one of the community and neighborhood parks in the city. Featured volunteer jobs include assisting in hands-on clean-up efforts (tree planting, pulling weeds), coaching, being a museum docent, participating in the neighborhood oversight committee, joining the Park Advisory Board, and helping with senior programs and special events. -> Channel your inner Leslie Knope here.

9. Friends of Griffith Park

Nurture the landscape of L.A.’s beautiful Griffith Park. Friends of Griffith Park is an organization whose sole purpose is preserving Griffith Park’s 4,310 acres of land. Volunteers are empowered to work the land at one of the largest urban parks through clean-ups, tree planting and other volunteer projects such as the Raptor Nest Monitoring Project. The park is home to  several nesting raptors, aka birds of prey, like hawks, owls and falcons). The Nest Monitoring Project is just one example of the wide variety of volunteer opportunities available. Friends of Griffith Park does everything it can to retain SoCal’s native ecosystems. -> Preserve here.

10. Santa Monica Mountains Fund

Rich in land and historical culture, home to a wide inventory of flora and fauna, and a scenic space for humans and wildlife alike to explore and live, the Santa Monica Mountains make up our city’s most scenic coastal mountain range. Highly deserving of preservation and protection, you can give back to the land by assisting the Santa Monica Mountains Fund through various volunteer projects such as restoring native plant life, protecting wildlife habitat, building hiking trails, and providing educational programs for mountain visitors. ->  All ages and abilities welcome here.

11. Reading to Kids

Reading to Kids is a grassroots organization dedicated to encouraging hundreds of elementary-school children to become better readers, with the hope of ultimately inspiring them to discover a love of reading. Adult reader volunteers are needed Saturdays at one of the weekly reading clubs, which are located at elementary schools throughout Los Angeles. Children get to enjoy a read-aloud session and an arts and craft activity relating back to the book, and volunteers lead these clubs. First-time volunteers should go the website to complete an online application and RSVP to read at a specific school. Volunteer training and reading strategies are provided by teachers. -> Read this.

12. Food on Foot

If time isn’t your friend, Food on Foot gives volunteers one given time to distribute Sunday meals and clothing to homeless families and individuals. Register online, make a $20 donation (used to purchase food and food gift cards that are distributed during the serving) and show your face on Sundays from 3:15 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Food on Foot Hollywood location (1625 N. Schrader Blvd.) to distribute food and clothing. You’ll interface with up to 200 underprivileged and homeless folks, from toddlers to senior citizens. Food on Foot welcomes all ages to participate, and children must be accompanied by an adult. -> Serve meals here.

13. Swan Center Outreach

Known for connecting people with horses in various therapeutic programs, Swan Center Outreach welcomes volunteers of different backgrounds and ages (9 years and up) to assist with its farm and horses. Previous horse experience isn’t required; you just need a kind heart and a gentle hand. General volunteers assist with ranch chores and do not handle the horses. You may fill and carry feed buckets, clean water containers and clean stalls and horse areas. If you want to volunteer while handling the horses, you must enroll in Swan Center’s training class. As a Horse Handler volunteer, your duties include catching and haltering these gentle creatures, grooming, picking hooves, leading, feeding and training. -> Volunteer here.

14. The Music Center

The Music Center offers an incredible volunteer program that gives you the worthwhile opportunity to be surrounded by some of the great culture and art of L.A. Volunteers are welcome to work in a variety of positions by assisting at Center events, raising funds, educating, and helping out with technology and social media as “Activators” (introduce yourself by emailing [email protected]). “Symphonians” volunteer their time as Music Center docents by conducting both public and private tours of the complex (email symphon[email protected] to inquire how to volunteer). -> Enlist here.

Lifestyle, Things To Do, Volunteer Opportunities

14 Great Ways To Volunteer Your Time This Spring in L.A.

March 31, 2017 by Sheryl Craig

At a time when the world feels topsy turvy to many, a great way to turn a negative into a positive is by volunteering and giving back to the community, with efforts big or small.

Tune into your passion to find out how you can help make someone’s life a little better. Whether you want to get down and dirty, have the patience of a saint, or possess deep pockets, you may be wondering, “where do I fit in and how can I do my part?” The truth is volunteers are invaluable, and the foundation of most charity organizations.

That said, there are many places in Los Angeles where you can roll up your sleeves, dig your heels in and volunteer this spring. From cleaning up the shoreline and L.A.’s waterways to walking and raising awareness for a cause near and dear to your heart, opportunities abound for all ages and families.

Below are a few great chances to get involved this spring in the city of angels. Hope you find it useful!

1. Plant trees with TreePeople (April 1, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.)

TreePeople is L.A.’s org dedicated to promoting tree life, caring for and planting trees in this megacity. Bottom line: its goal is to promote climate-resilient plant life and tree canopies, while reducing water waste, pollution and debris in major parks and urban neighborhoods, covering about 4,000 square miles. The TreePeople gang fully relies on volunteers (nearly 4,500) to help plant trees. These particular new plantings help bring shade, transfer rainwater into the ground, and help lower the temperature. It’s recommended that you register on the website. Wear comfy clothes, sunscreen and a hat. The April 1 Tree planting will take place at TreePeople’s facility in Laurel Canyon. -> More information

2. Big Sunday (April 3, 9 and 10)

Sometimes it’s the little things and small outreaches that truly make a difference in someone’s day. This is how Big Sunday and its teams of volunteers make an impact. There are numerous ways to pitch in — everything from delivering meals via Meals on Wheels and assembling hygiene kits for homeless individuals to collecting non-perishable food items for a local food pantry. The next service projects include making Easter goody bags for Boys and Girls Club of Watts/Willowbrook (4/3), spending an evening with America’s veterans at Big Sunday Vets’ Night & Dinner – you can participate by writing letters to active duty military personnel and donating comic books for Operation Gratitude care packages (4/9), and creating animal blankets for Amanda Foundation (4/10). There is always something to do with the Big Sunday crew. -> More information

3. The Great LA River CleanUp (April 15, 22, 29)

Join Friends of the Los Angeles River (FoLAR) in The Great LA River CleanUp. Last year 9,000 volunteers picked up and took out 70 tons of trash. This year, the organized river cleanup will take place over three Saturdays in April, offering plenty of locations to work. Protecting and restoring the natural heritage of the Los Angeles River (yes, this city does have one) is what FoLAR is all about. It’s a dirty job, but this is where passion shows up. Cleaning up trash and debris will create a swimmable, fishable and boatable river for people, birds, fish and other native wildlife. -> Registration and more information

4. Walk MS: Greater Los Angeles (April 23)

Multiple sclerosis just doesn’t affect the individual afflicted with the disease: it impacts families, friends and caregivers, too. Help put an end to this life-changing affliction by organizing a team of your best friends and family (perfect for catching up on life) and walk (or run) the beautiful grounds of the Pasadena Rose Bowl. You’ll see some of the participants using walkers and wheelchairs, which in itself is inspiring. Last year, $799,212 was raised to benefit research and resources. If walking isn’t your thing, check out the Walk MS website to join the volunteer team to cheer on walkers — all ages are welcome.

More information

5. Lollipop Superhero Walk (April 30)

Put on your cape and be a superhero at The Grove to benefit Lollipop Theater Network. Officially called the Lollipop Superhero Walk, the event is organized to spread the word and fundraise. Lollipop Theater Network is group of volunteers, movie studios and favorite stars — like Seth Rogen, Anne Hathaway, Leslie Mann and Ed Helms, just to name-drop a bit — that truly rolls out the red carpet to provide in-hospital movie screenings coast to coast for young patients with life-threatening illnesses. Sign-up to walk, or to make a donation. An awesome after-walk-party is open to participants. -> More information

6. Art Shopping at Venice Family Clinic Art Walk (May 21)

In an unsteady and tumultuous time for health care, supporting places like Venice Family Clinic is essential. The clinic ensures quality comprehensive healthcare to the low-income or uninsured, and those who may be experiencing homelessness, regardless of their immigration status or ability to pay. Think pediatric and prenatal care, primary care for teens and adults, dental, vision, mental health, women’s health including breast and cervical cancer screenings, domestic violence intervention, HIV/AIDS prevention and health education, and Children First Early Head Start services. With all that being said, how can you help? Walk the Venice Family Clinic’s Art Walk & Auctions along Main St. The day-long art walk is generously supported by over 200 artists who have donated amazing works of art. Live music, food stations, a barking lot for dogs and an imagination station for kids rounds out the day, and no tickets are necessary. And there are other ways to help out, too. Medical professionals, as well as individuals not in the medical field, are encouraged to volunteer throughout the year.

More information

7. Tour de Pier (May 21)

On the bike or off the bike, the 5th annual Tour de Pier brings together a community dedicated to doing away with cancer. The gist of this fundraiser is 1,500 cyclists riding on 350 stationary cycling bikes for five 50-minute spin sessions. Did we mention yet that bikers spin while overlooking the beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean in Manhattan Beach? This event raises money for The Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer, The Uncle Kory Foundation and Cancer Support Community. Expect the best L.A. spin instructors, fun music, celebrity spin riders, a worthwhile Health & Fitness Expo (with free giveaways), and a Cardio Kids Fun Zone. Last year, the gorgeous Rams Cheerleaders made a special appearance. Last year TDP raised more than $1.1 million. Volunteers of all ages are encouraged to assist (students can earn credit for community service hours), and riders are invited to reserve a bike. -> More information

8. Pedal on the Pier (June 4)

Pedal on the Pier gives spin fanatics another chance to put on spin shoes and ride to the rhythm. The hottest spin instructors and DJS will lead cyclists on a stationary ride on the Santa Monica Pier to raise money for The Harold Robinson Foundation (the goal is $1 million). The Foundation helps send kids from 25 Los Angeles inner-city schools on a three-day camp retreat. The retreat promotes self-esteem, independence and leadership skills — essentials for all students. So what do you need to do to make that a reality? Sign up as one of 400 riders (or on a team of five) to one of the five allotted hours. You don’t have to be a spin maven, and all fitness levels are welcome. Just come prepared to ride, and hang out on the Pier. Each bike commitment is $2,500. -> More information

9. Los Angeles Food Bank’s Alternative Spring Break

More than 300,000 low-income women, infants and families, people with disabilities and seniors on a fixed income rely on Los Angeles Food Bank donations each month. Food sorting is one of the easiest volunteer jobs that is open to teens 14 years and older, as well as adults. Items such as canned fruit and vegetables, rice, and cereal that get donated to the Food Bank need sorting, cleaning and repackaging. The food bank welcomes volunteers Monday through Saturday (check website for times and location). According to the non-profit group, every $1 that is donated provides enough food for 4 meals. -> More information

10. Wags and Walks

Calling all dog lovers with some spare time: Wags and Walks is always looking for volunteers to help the rescue dogs onsite at its Wags Club in West L.A.. This non-profit organization rescues dogs, with no size, age or breed prejudices, and helps them find a proper home where they can thrive. Wags Club serves as a temporary home to up to five dogs until foster homes are found. This is a perfect opportunity for volunteers (in shifts) to come and walk the dogs, feed, clean and groom and, of course, play with them. Wags and Walks is surely appreciative of any amount of time you can give. It’s called puppy love. -> More information

11. Nothin’ But Sand Beach Cleanup with Heal the Bay (Third Saturday of every month, except December)

Beach cleanups with Heal the Bay are offered monthly. This vital work entails Heal the Bay and its volunteers picking up trash in the sand and at the shoreline. The ongoing program gives helpers the opportunity to volunteer as much or as little time as they prefer. The cleanups take place at various L.A. County beach locations, which change monthly. Volunteers trek the beaches, picking up plastic items, styrofoam trash and smoking-related items, which are then removed by Heal the Bay. The cleanups take place rain or shine, and it’s required that you RSVP online. -> More information

12. Teach an Adult to Read

There is still a huge adult literacy crisis in this country, and the Los Angeles Public Library offers their Adult Literacy Program (ALP), which provides free one-on-one adult tutoring. The program can be accessed at the central library in the Singleton Literacy Center, as well as at other branches all over L.A., including Cahuenga, Baldwin Hills, Pico Union, Koreatown, Venice, Watts and many others. After training, volunteer tutors help adults improve reading and literacy skills by meeting up twice a week for 1 to 1 ½ hours for a minimum of six months. -> More information

13. Serve Meals to Veterans

The Salvation Army carries out its tireless efforts and sharing of provisions at The Salvation Army’s Haven, an emergency shelter located on the Veteran Affairs Campus in West L.A. and the Bell Shelter in Bell. Every day, volunteers are needed to serve three scheduled hot daily meals to veteran residents. How can you help? Assist with meal prep and serve either breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Since 1887, the Salvation Army has had a huge presence in Southern California feeding and housing countless men, women and children. Check out the corner of Temple and Broadway in DTLA – visitors will see a plaque in the sidewalk paying tribute to a time when the organization met on that very street. -> More information

14. Embrace Culture and the Arts at Barnsdall Park

Getting involved with the Barnsdall Art Park is an awesome experience. The site of Frank Lloyd Wright’s first L.A. project, the Hollyhock House welcomes visitors all year long. Built between 1919 and 1921, this Lloyd Wright architecture celebrates the climate of L.A. by combining the indoors and outdoors. The house features rooftop terraces, a garden court and many glass doors to appreciate the outdoors. The Hollyhock House is seeking volunteers to be tour docents, and/or get involved with the Barnsdall Art Park Foundation, which hosts various events including wine tastings and movie nights in the spring and summer, along with gallery openings. -> More information

Cool Spots, Lifestyle

The Best Outdoor Spots To Exercise in Los Angeles

March 29, 2017 by Sheryl Craig

You can pretty much count on lots of sunshine, comfortable temperatures, and a great view — yep, Los Angeles is the ideal place for torching calories all year long. We have ample outdoor spots for beginners and advanced alike. Say goodbye to the StairMaster, treadmill, and spin bike, and give a warm hello to the beautiful landscape and geography of Los Angeles.

You’ve got the mountains and the beach available for walkers, hikers, and runners, park sweat sessions for the new year’s resolutions community, groups for running together, access to some of the nicest Olympic-size swimming pools in town, and only-in-L.A. scenery to enjoy while practicing yoga.

In an effort to create more healthy environments accessible to all Angelenos, Los Angeles Parks and Recreation is devoted to offering workout equipment at various parks with fitness zones. The department offers a varied workout which includes strength training, along with jogging, to increase cardiovascular strength.

Whatever your fitness vibe is, exercising outdoors helps to decrease stress and increase your energy level. The options are endless, and below we’ve provided an extensive list giving you plenty of choices of where to take your workout. Enjoy!

Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook

Your legs and heart are going to thank you after this steep climb. The best part about the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook is the summit, where you’ll be rewarded with an extraordinary panoramic view of Los Angeles (cameras required). You’ll see everything from Downtown to the Pacific Ocean. But first you’ll be challenged to hike straight up the staircase (exactly 282 recycled concrete steps) or take the zigzag trail. This hike requires stamina, but you can go at your own pace. Up and down it’s about 1.5 miles. Once used to drill oil, the 58 acres of land is now an official California State Park. -> More information

Beach Yoga with Brad

Only in L.A. or on an exotic vacation can you do yoga on the sand looking out over the ocean. Brad Keimach, the lead instructor, emphasizes breathwork while moving through the poses vinyasa style, all while making guests chuckle and appreciate the environment. Beach Yoga with Brad is offered year-round at $15 per person. Bring a mat or towel (whatever you don’t mind getting sandy). Sunset classes can get chilly, and wearing layers is suggested. Weekend mid-morning classes are available, and Brad always has sunscreen on hand.

More information

Santa Monica Stairs

For the love of the burn, several trips up and down the Santa Monica Stairs will torch calories and help to sculpt quads, hamstrings, and calves (is it ski season yet?). Two sets of steps are set amid this posh Santa Monica residential area: the concrete staircase is narrow, with 199 steps,  while the wider wooden staircase’s 170 steps allow for easy passing and two-way traffic. Here you’ll work out with some serious L.A. hardbodies, NOMO moms (North of Montana, yes) and if you’re lucky enough, you may catch a glimpse of the Santa Monica Fire Department running the stairs. Park on 4th St., and be sure to check the parking signs. -> More information

Runyon Canyon

In popularity, location, and terrain, Runyon Canyon in Hollywood is one of the best places for a hike in L.A. You’ll get a hard-core workout, amazing views of the city and by association, an L.A. attitude. One of the reasons Runyon Canyon is a favorite is that dog owners are welcome to bring their pups on the trail. A few off-leash areas help make it even more fun for you and your dog. After securing a parking spot off of Vista Street or Fuller Street, you’ll enter the park, and basically the world is your oyster. -> Hours and information

Runyon Canyon View

The view from Runyon Canyon. Credit: Jeff Gunn via flickr

Upper Beachwood Canyon

Once upon a time, Hollywood was named Hollywoodland. Today, the area is home to a landmark — you know it — the historic Hollywood sign that millions of tourists (and locals) photograph each year. Athletic or not, doing a couple flights of the Beachwood Canyon stairs (965 steps) will kick your tush. The climb begins near Beachwood Market (on Belden Drive) and leads you along several staircases. Climbers get a vigorous workout while checking out Hollywoodland’s historic neighborhood. Be sure to walk through Upper Beachwood Canyon to the Hollywoodland historic stairs. 85 years old, the staircases were built to offer locals easy access from neighborhood to neighborhood. -> Directions and information here

Morning Crunch Bootcamp

When you’re in need of some extra motivation and you’re ready to ditch the gym, the trained instructors at Morning Crunch Bootcamp are ready for you. Operating throughout Los Angeles with ten locations, this strength and cardiovascular training company is all about successful fitness experiences in many of the city’s outdoor parks. All fitness levels are encouraged to join the Morning Crunch Bootcamp community in the morning or evening. What makes this bootcamp especially appealing is the fact that you only sign up for a five-week session at a time. Come on, you can do anything for five weeks…right?!? -> More information

BootCamp LA

The BootCamp LA program challenges its recruits (yep, you read that correctly) to do their very best. Participants will complete a myriad of strength exercises with dumbbells and medicine balls, run drills, do push-ups and sit-ups, lunges and stretch exercises over a four-week period. Certified personal trainers throw fun surprises into the workout program so they’re always challenging the recruits. BootCamp LA is geared toward the exercise nut and the newbie alike. AM and PM classes are available at George C. Page Park, and are a fun way to make new friends. Nutritional counseling and individual sessions are also offered. -> More information

Downtown LA Running Group

When you slept through the alarm and missed your morning run (insert sad face emoji), Downtown LA Running Group is your answer to collect those miles after work. The free group offers those who live or work in DTLA a running community to go out with every Tuesday and Thursday evening (check schedule for time and meet-up details) and on Saturday mornings. You’ll run throughout Downtown along different routes, taking in the sights. It doesn’t matter if you are the turtle or the hare, different paced runs are available. Just register to sign up and you’ll have access to join the different runs. Check the schedule to see how many runners have signed up.

DTLA Running Group

Los Angeles, CA
3,383 Runners

Welcome to the Downtown LA Running Group! This is a running group people who live, work and play in Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA). We’ll meet most every Tuesday, Thursday and Sa…

Check out this Meetup Group →

Rose Bowl Aquatics Center

You are never too old to splash around in a pool, an the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center is a great place to explore water fitness. Swimmers will find two warm-water Olympic-size pools that cater to adult lap swimming. A daily pass is $10, and monthly and yearly passes are also offered. Depending on what classes are taking place, the number of lanes will vary. The swim program offers a safe environment for people to get their fitness on, and helps to build confidence for all levels. Adult swim lessons are available, at $84 to $112 per session, along with triathlon swim training classes for beginners or advanced at $112 per session. -> More information

November Project™ Los Angeles

November Project originated in Boston as a free way to stay in shape during the cold winter months and it’s now offered in other U.S. cities, including Los Angeles. The goal is to motivate people to join the fitness movement, and give participants a way to be accountable for actually getting off the couch. Once you sign up (it’s beyond easy — just click and register through your Facebook account), you’ll be asked to select your home tribe (Los Angeles). Your invitation to the next November Project workout will appear, along with time, destination, and a map. You never know who will show up. Members include professional and collegiate athletes, Olympic medalists, and everyday fitness rookies. -> More information

Griffith Park

One of the largest urban parks in the U.S., Griffith Park’s 4,300 acres offer connecting trails, paths, and fire roads covering 53 miles. Favorite hikes include the Mount Lee trail to the iconic Hollywood sign (6.5 miles) and the West Griffith Observatory trail (an easy-to-moderate two miles that take you up to Griffith Observatory). Depending on your fitness level, either could give you a good workout. Prepare to see wildlife, including foxes, coyotes, deer, and even rattlesnakes. It’s suggested that all trails be approached with caution. Check the park website for info on trail closures and restrictions. -> More information

 Drake Stadium

Drake Stadium, known to Angelenos as Bruin territory, is set on the UCLA campus. Open and free to the public, Drake Stadium is an ideal venue for any kind of track exercising. Running or walking laps (four times around is one mile), running the stadium stairs, doing pull-ups on the bars,using the rings — you will see it all here. As early as 6:00 a.m., fitness buffs are out and about doing their thing. If you are a night owl, it is definitely recommended to come and go in a group. Metered parking is expensive, and if you find a spot in the residential area next to the stadium, just read the signs for restrictions. Just be sure to check the schedule below, as some evening hours are restricted to student use only. -> More information

Yoga reTreat in DTLA Grand Park

In need of a quick recharge? Check out the 45-minute yoga sessions in Downtown L.A.’s Grand Park. There’s no fee and no sign-up. You just show up to the Performance Lawn, located between Grand Avenue and Hill Street. Yoga reTreat gives the local office community a great mid-day opportunity to move your body, and Grand Park is a great place to eat your lunch afterwards. -> More information

Lunchtime Yoga at Grand Park. Credit: Brian Champlin / We Like L.A.

Muscle Beach at Venice Beach

A landmark for famous bodybuilders, including Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno, Muscle Beach’s outdoor gym is located on the Venice Beach Boardwalk. Using this weight lifting equipment, which is maintained by the City of L.A. Recreation and Parks, is perfect for those who want to build lean muscle by “pumping iron.” If you want to change up your workout routine, Muscle Beach offers a $10 day pass, a $50 week membership, and a very affordable annual pass of $170. -> More information

Marvin Braude Bike Trail

Get pedaling while breathing in fresh ocean air along the Marvin Braude Bike Trail. This 22-mile trail, mostly beachside, stretches from Will Rogers State Beach on Pacific Coast Highway to Via Riviera and Paseo de la Playa in Torrance. Bikers will certainly get a coastal tour of L.A. along this bike path. From the Santa Monica Pier and Muscle Beach in Venice Beach (see below for another great outdoor workout option) to yacht viewing in Marina del Rey, riders may choose to stop along the way for a selfie or two. Once you make it onto the Ballona Creek Bike Path, you’ll be heading into Playa del Rey. (Is it time for a snack? Lots of options in Playa). Manhattan Beach volleyballers will catch your eye from the trail, and once you pass Hermosa Beach, you’ll ride Harbor Drive into Torrance Beach to the Palos Verdes cliffs. Then the challenge becomes, will you ride the 22 miles back? -> More information

North Hollywood Recreation Center

Park of the LA Parks Fitness Zones, the North Hollywood Recreation Center is just one of many parks citywide encouraging fitness. Each park offers lots of awesome outdoor options for good old-fashioned sweating. These newer outdoor fitness zones include durable resistance equipment that challenges strength cardiovascular and flexibility. Most of the designated fitness zone parks are spacious and family-friendly. The challenge here is that it’s up to you to create your own exercise routine. -> More information

Cool Spots, Food

17 Spots for the Best Cocktail Happy Hours in L.A.

January 11, 2017 by Sheryl Craig

Happy hour cocktailing is the perfect opportunity to meet up with work colleagues, catch up with friends, let loose after a tough week, or just say yes to your latest Bumble catch.

Wherever in Los Angeles you are at 5 p.m. the good news is that you are likely nearby a happening bar or restaurant with happy hour offerings you won’t easily be able to pass up. From DTLA to the beach, whether you’re an imbiber of the classics or someone willing to take a chance on the bartender’s latest artisanal cocktail concoction, you won’t be disappointed in this happy hour list (presented below in no particular order, numbered only for reference).

Cheers to the end of another work day!

[RELATED: The Ultimate List of Oyster Happy Hours in Los Angeles]

It's the first Friday of 2017 #timeforadrink

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1. Paley

It’s libation time at the Paley, which offers a glam Hollywood happy hour Monday through Friday, 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. This Hollywood deal is one you can’t walk away from — get 50% off draft beer, wines by the glass, and craft cocktails. For the new year, the Paley bar program offers “Hang Loose,” with tequila, passionfruit, Aperol, lime, habanero, and a chili rim, and “Kanpai” (“cheers” in Japanese) created with prosecco, Yamayuzu sake, chamomile, clementine, and grape. Half-off bar bites include oyster shooters and steak frites — a bargain on price but not on taste.

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2. Le Petit Paris

Happy hour guests are invited during the workweek, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., to catch up with friends or co-workers at Le Petit Paris, downtown L.A.’s stunning French brasserie. Sipping, savoring, and shopping (check out La Boutique for French specialty items) will be the highlight of anyone’s week. Cannes-based restauranteurs David and Fanny Rolland and Executive Chefs Baptiste Grellier and Jeremie Cazes, deliver a time-honored happy hour menu of well drinks ($9) including the house Petit Paris cocktail (Bombay, champagne, citrus), house wine ($7) and beer ($5) and French small bites such as mini hamburgers, oysters, tuna tartare, and truffle French fries.

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[RELATED: 22 Superb Spots for the Best Happy Hour in Los Angeles]

3. Avec Nous

Wet your whistle at Avec Nous (its English translation is “with us”) at Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills. The intimate French bistro’s new cocktail hour happens daily from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Guests will find a wealth of items all priced at $10 and under including the French favorite Boulevardier (similar to a Negroni), a Moscow Mule, and a refreshing Paloma ($8 each), as well as featured sparkling, red, or white wines ($10 per glass). Happy hour fare honors the bistro’s French roots with $2 oyster martinis, $8 foie gras crostini, $8 truffle fries, and $10 grilled lamb chops.

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4. Viviane

The Viviane happy hour experience is tres chic, due to its French ambiance and classic cocktailing. Located at the Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills, the outdoor poolside seating offers the perfect setting to relax with an $8 cocktail like a Sidecar (various legends claim its origins in London or Paris, just after World War II or during the 1920s, a gin gimlet, or perhaps a rye Old Fashioned. Imbibers are also invited to sip on French sparkling, rose, red, and white wines ($7-$8 per glass), or a Steigl Pils ($7). The happy hour menu, recently updated by Executive Chef Michael Hung, now offers Kumamoto oysters, a la carte cheese and charcuterie options, and the ultimate French fries. Happy hour at Viviane is daily from 2:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., featuring complimentary valet parking.

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 5. elysian

Put elysian on your radar in January 2017 — the Cali-fare Elysian Valley restaurant (only a 15-minute drive from Hollywood and 10 minutes from DTLA), launches its new Anti#sad! Hour (aka happy hour). A perfect date spot, eylsian welcomes Angelenos to this unique weekend happy hour, Fridays and Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The outdoor lush forest feel on the patio complements nature with cocktails ($8 to $10) like Lost Orchard (vodka, apple juice, lemon, honey and ginger), Indian Summer (rye, pear liquor and amaro), Winter in Oaxaca (mezcal, campari, lime and kumquat) and Sobral Santos (Cacoa rum, ancho reyes chile liquor, pluot, mint, and honey). Delicious bar snacks at $4 to $8 per plate include olives/almonds, Koji radish and cuke sprinkled with dulse, and chicken liver pate.

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6. Herringbone

“Pre-game” revelers looking for wallet-friendly drinks and bites are invited to indulge in Herringbone’s Oyster Hour Monday through Friday, 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.. As much as the $1 freshly shucked oysters take the spotlight at this Ocean Ave. happy hour, the restaurant/bar’s cocktail specialties are both imaginative and refreshing. Two absolute favorite drinks are Grow A Pear ($7), which is a cucumber-infused gin cocktail rounded out with cilantro, jalapeno, St. Germain and lemon, and the palette-zinging Jaleberry ($7), strawberry jalapeño infused tequila, lime, and agave to sweeten the deal. Wines by the glass and draft beer are also available.

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[RELATEDThe 30 Tastiest Eats You Can Get in L.A. For Only $1.00 (or Less!)]

faith & flower rupicola negroni week

Photo Credit: Faith & Flower

7. Faith & Flower

Always ready to satisfy, Ryan Wainwright, Director of Bar Programs for Bombet Hospitality Group and lead bartender Darwin Pornel embrace Los Angeles with seasonal and colorful cocktail collections at Faith & Flower. This downtown roaring ’20s hotspot offers Social Hour from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Sunday through Thursday. Pornel’s signature drink concoction is English Milk Punch, created with about everything under the sun including rum, bourbon, brandy, absinthe, and sweet spices like cinnamon, cloves, and coriander. A glass of milk punch is pretty much all you need to chill out, while giving you all the feels. Mmm…good. The Holland Razorblade with Genever, lemon and cayenne, and Southside Rickey with London dry gin, lime, mint and soda are also palate-worthy (each are $7).

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8. Everson Royce Bar

Known for delicious mixed drinks and hipster Arts District attitude, Everson Royce Bar gives guests the opportunity to explore its happy hour menu time and time again. Head over there Monday through Friday, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., for drink and bar bite menu deals – both cocktails and wine by the glass are $7. Pitchers of beer and boilermakers (beer and a shot) are on the menu too, just check with your server whether specials offered. You can get a cocktail of your choice, or one from ERB’s menu (Yo LA Tenga, Mateo Street Margarita, Santee Alley, The Homie Swirley, Oaxacan Kid Negroni) or bartender’s choice. Seriously, all are excellent choices.

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Today, America deserves a toast. #RepealDay #prohibition

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9. Eveleigh

Eveleigh is a neighborhood restaurant and rustic bar that serves happy hour all day, and what’s wrong with that? Nothing! Located in West Hollywood on the infamous Sunset Blvd., Eveleigh’s $8 cocktails are inspired by fresh market and garden ingredients using small-batch spirits. The bar creates its own infusions and syrups that are mixed into various cocktails. Gin drinkers are enticed by the housemade gin and tonic, while bourbon fans should try the Rocking Chair Money, which mixes bourbon with an Earl Grey-infused sherry, aperol, and is brightened with grapefruit, lemon and honey. Wine and beer specials such as a bar-made michelada ($6) and beer and a shot ($7) round out happy hour.

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10. Citizen

Modern and low-key, Citizen is Beverly Hills’ newest hangout. Take a seat at the relaxed bar for happy hour offerings from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. Here, Citizen serves its happy hour cocktails on tap ($8 each) — choose a Denizen three-year rum Mai Tai accompanied by a creole shrub, a Wisconsin Old Fashioned made with Kirschwasser brandy, a Singapore Sling or Western Sour. Beer, wine, and rose are available too. Don’t miss the 7 for 7 ‘til 7 food deal: lamb meatballs, mussels, burrata with La Quercia Ham, marinated olives, soba noodles, and little gem salad.

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11. Franklin & Co Tavern

Franklin & Co. Tavern in charming Franklin Village is the local pub for catching the game (TVs at the bar), eating a quick dinner (fried chicken sandwich) or grabbing a snack (German pretzel, please) and drink. Charming and personal, Franklin is that local place where you’ll get to know the bartenders and servers by name. Happy hour goes from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.; it’s easy on the pocket and a treat for drinkers. While the bar serves rotating seasonal cocktails ($6), well drinks ($5), select drafts ($4), and wine specials ($5), what patrons like best from Franklin is its Bloody Mary.

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12. Redbird

For a fun and energetic happy hour, Redbird is the place to be. This restaurant from Chef Neal Fraser offers an outstanding food and drink service with a daily happy hour (literally speaking) hosted in its bar and lounge 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Designed by one of L.A.’s mover and shaker bartenders, Julian Cox, the cocktail menu has an abundance of standouts including the Brown Derby ($7), a lemon, pamplemousse, and honey-bourbon mix, Chi Chi vodka ($7) with coconut cream and pineapple, and a yuzu cocktail, among others. If you are in the mood for a snack, shishito peppers and crispy quinoa ($9) and Redbird’s Reuben tartine are perfect for sharing.

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13. Tiki No

Tiki No gives patrons a virtual vacation right smack in L.A. Within its tropical setting, Tiki No has a daily happy hour leaning towards rum cocktails. One sip of a Navy Grog, the Zombie, a Mai Tai, the Toasted Marshmallow, the Lychee Luau or Coconut Mojito and you’ll be quickly transported to island life in mind and spirit. Note that the Scorpion Bowl is made to share. Wine, beer, and champagne are served here as well. Happy hour is from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., with Sunday Karaoke from 9 p.m. ‘til closing.

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14. Simbal

Little Tokyo’s Simbal is a refreshing spot for happy hour, with a menu influenced by the flavors and ingredients of Southeast Asia. Hit the bar from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. for happy hour craft cocktails for $8: Jade of Hearts (vodka-based with hints of lemongrass, Thai basil, and cocchi rosa apertif) and Spring Awakening (jasmine tea-infused gin, orange blossom honey, lemon and orange bitters, and Shrub cocktails ($6). If you aren’t sticking around for dinner, which is a must, you have to at least sample one of Simbal’s fine cuisine offerings on the HH menu: marinated chili wings ($8 for 6), steak tartare seasoned with authentic Thai larb ($9) and everyone’s favorite edamame hummus.

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*Cue dramatic music. 🎶😍🎶 #OldFashioned

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15. Idle Hour

Be sure to tag #IdleHour when taking your HH selfie at Idle Hour Bar in North Hollywood. Locals like it here for the people, the carefree atmosphere, and inexpensive cocktails during happy hour. You’ll find classic cocktails for $7 – Old Fashioned, Collins, Mule, and Paloma, and a list of well drinks for $5. Idle Hour also serves house white and red wine by the glass for $5 and beer that is discounted by $2. The historic building was erected in the 1940s in the shape of a barrel and was originally utilized as a tap room. Today, after multiple owners and restorations, the building still stands, serving locals drinks and food.

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16. The Sherman

Locals are discovering the inviting ambience of The Sherman, located in Sherman Oaks. Mixologist and partner to owner Theo Mavro, Phil Felton, along with Executive Chef Jason Francisco have pulled together a unique hangout that is easy to get to right on Ventura Blvd. Check with the bar for happy hour specials – the menu includes a cocktail of the day and The Sherman takes $2 off all happy hour food for guests. The Sherman is playful, naming drinks after L.A. iconic freeways and roads– the 405 created with Voli “light” vodka; the Coldwater, a lovely Belvedere vodka, coconut milk and Kahlua; and the Sepulveda, Grey Goose La Poire Vodka spritzer with muddled cucumbers, orange, raspberries, and soda.

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17. La Cuevita

You have come to the right place for smokey margaritas and palomas — La Cuevita. This little Mexican cave is dark, spicy, and brilliant at hosting an unforgettable happy hour. Everyday, La Cuevita provides a slew of agave-based cocktails for $5 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., as well as other spirits and liquors. Set in Highland Park, La Cuevita is a fun night out. The bar hosts a wealth of special events and activities, including live jazz, hipster DJs, dancing, free tacos on Tuesdays from 10 p.m. until Midnight, and free movie nights. Follow their Twitter for up-to-the-minute bar happenings.

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