It may seem like the Land of Endless Summers, but there are seasons in Los Angeles. Admittedly, though, they’re marked more by the produce offerings at the farmers markets and events going on around town. Summer is defined not by better weather—that never leaves—but by awesome outdoor activations that bring out locals in droves. Whether you’re in the area on vacation or have made L.A. your home, here are the things that define summer for Angelenos.
Barnsdall Friday Evening Wine Tastings
On Friday evenings, Silverlake Wine puts on the ultimate outdoor happy hour at the Barnsdall Art Park, with the backdrop of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House as the setting. For $30 you’ll get four tastes of boutique, esoteric wines from around the globe, and for an additional $12 you can tour the historic home, which was the acclaimed architect’s first project in L.A. Bring your own picnic or enjoy eats from some of the city’s finest food trucks while watching the sun set over the palm-tree-dotted Hollywood Hills, and you’ll never want to leave.
Cinespia Cemetery Movie Screenings
Pack a picnic basket and blanket, and head out to one of the city’s most iconic summertime gatherings, a series of cult movie screenings that takes place in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, where the likes of Johnny Ramone, Cecil B. DeMille, Jayne Mansfield, and more lie. Potluck with friends as the sun sets, listen to music themed to the feature du jour, then catch films like “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” “Carrie,” or “Fight Club.” Arrive early, as prime seating goes fast, then relax under the silhouetted palm trees while the smell of sweet kettle corn and the occasional Cali “medicinal” wafts through the warm summer night’s air. BYO beer and wine, but spirits—aside from those that make the cemetery home—are verboten.
Free Music Everywhere
In the summer months, it’s hard to be too far away from live music. There are several free series in the city, and there’s bound to be something that strikes a chord. There’s the indie-inspired Twilight Concerts in Santa Monica on Thursdays, electronic dance-infused Sunday Sessions in Downtown L.A.’s Grand Park, Saturdays Off The 405 at The Getty museum, Friday evening jazz at LACMA, and more. Ears will be happy and wallets will be full.
Friday Night Fireworks at Dodger Games
Echo Park has become a gentrified hipster ‘hood, drawing in travelers in the know for seeking out great cocktail bars, quality indie shopping, and edgy restaurants. But for Angelenos, it’s not just about the scene; it’s about going to the game. On Friday nights during summer, every home game offers a fireworks show. And eaters in the know flock to the right field seats, where an all-you-can-eat deluge of Dodger dogs and nachos is included in the price of your ticket. You’ll really need that seventh inning stretch.
Outdoor Concerts at Hollywood Bowl
While you can see concerts outdoors year-round at the Greek, there’s something about picnicking at the Bowl that really signifies summer. Perhaps it’s the allowance of picnicking. DIY and bring your own basket, or head to one of the many venues done by Patina—including plant-based eats by the folks at Gracias Madre—crack open a bottle of wine, and listen to our sounds of summer at, say, the Playboy Jazz Festival or the LA Philharmonic under the stars. The only downside: stacked parking. Definitely order an Uber.
Wine tasting in Malibu
It’d be a shame not to take advantage of the coastline, especially in the dog days when things get really, really sticky. Best bet is to head up PCH for a round of wine tasting at Rosenthal Wine Bar, which boasts ocean views and local wines, then hit up some of our favorite beachside eats in the ‘Bu, followed by a final round of tasting in the hills at Malibu Family Wines. Don’t forget: sunscreen is just as important as a designated driver.
Krista Simmons is a culinary travel writer and native Angeleno; she covers the Southern California beat for Travel + Leisure. You can follow her adventures bite-by-bite on Instagram.