Outdoor Experiences in Los Angeles

Summer's not over yet

The Huntington Gardens at Night
The Huntington Gardens at Night. Courtesy of Facebook

After months stuck at home, you're probably itching to do something. Fortunately, there are some safe, socially-distanced ways to get out of the house right now. Several local institutions, from L.A. Arboretum to Aquarium of the Pacific, have partially reopened for visitors in ways that keep with County health guidelines. Drive-in movie theaters provide an option for seeing movies that doesn't involve sitting on your couch and scrolling through Netflix and one historic architectural group has free guides available for tours that won't require you to leave your car.

Descanso Gardens Coast Live Oaks
Descanso Gardens Live Oak Forest. Courtesy of Instagram @Descansogardens, Photo by @john_prisk

Listen to "The Sky Beneath Our Feet" at Descanso Gardens

Two years ago, composer Pete M. Wyer began work on a new piece, "The Sky Beneath Our Feet," for Descanso Gardens. It's premiere coincides with the botanic garden's reopening this summer and runs through September 3. It's experiential music inspired by the coast live oaks, with elements played through 72 speakers so that listeners will not hear the exact same thing and the music is further impacted by the ambient sounds of the garden. Descanso Gardens is operating at 30% of its normal capacity, so guests will need to by timed tickets before visiting.

LA Arboretum Desert Garden
LA Arboretum Desert Garden. Courtesy of Instagram @laarboretum

Take a Class or Grab a Happy Hour Drink at Los Angeles County Arboretum

Docent-led tours are off calendar for the time being, but visitors to Los Angeles County Arboretum can take self-guided tours that run from one to three hours. Most of the sites here remain open and the Peacock Cafe is available for grab-and-go options. Plus, the Arboretum has brought back some of its ongoing events, like Forest Bathing and yoga classes. The Peacock Bar is serving happy hour drinks on the weekends from 4 to 7 p.m., with cocktails like the Plumeria Passion and Sapphire Peacock. Planning to visit? You will need to make advance reservations. Additionally, anyone who plans on attending one of the outdoor classes will need to make arrangements beforehand.

Paramount Drive In Screen
Courtesy of paramountdrivein.com

Hit the Drive-In

Catch a Classic Movie at Paramount Drive-In

With a mix of new and classic flicks, Paramount Drive-In is getting Angelenos back to the movies in a socially distanced (and budget-friendly) way. General Admission tickets are $10, with $3.50 tickets for kids between the ages of 5 and 8. The little ones, under 5 years old, are free. Keep in mind, though, that the drive-in is operating at 50% capacity and they are only sold first-come, first-serve at the entrance. Check their website for all social distancing guidelines before you head out to the drive-in.

Watch the Latest Film Releases at Vineland Drive-In

If binging on television shows at home is getting old, Vineland Drive-In is open every night with multiple screens featuring new release films. Tickets are $10, with $4 for kids between 5 and 8 and free for those under five and are only available at the entrance. Credit card payments are recommended, cash payments should be made with exact change, for both entry fee and concession stand purchases. The drive-in currently does not have portable radios available for purchase, so make sure that you have one if you, if your car radio isn't working.

South Coast Botanic Garden Dog Hours
Courtesy of Instagram @scbgarden

Take Your Dog on a Walk at South Coast Botanic Garden

One of the South Bay's hidden gems, South Coast Botanic Garden is the site of a former sanitary landfill that was transformed into a lush and eclectic garden back in 1961. It is currently open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. On select dates during the summer, including August 12 and August 26, South Coast Botanic Garden offers dog walking hours from 5 to 8 p.m. Visitors must purchase tickets in advance for both general admission and the dog walking nights.

The Huntington Gardens at Night
The Huntington Gardens at Night. Courtesy of Facebook

Go on an Evening Stroll at The Huntington

While The Huntington's galleries are currently closed, most of its famed botanical gardens are currently open to the public. (The Children's Garden and Rose Hills Conservatory for Botanical Science are closed.) In August, The Huntington will be open seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with evening strolls taking place on most days from 5:30 to 8 pm. In order to visit, you must reserve online tickets, even if you're already a member of the museum. For evening strolls, guests may only purchase tickets for one evening per week.

Aquarium of the Pacific Shark
Courtesy of Instagram @aquariumpacific
Aquarium of the Pacific Outdoor exhibit
Courtesy of Instagram @aquariumpacific

Visit the Shark Lagoon at Aquarium of the Pacific

Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach has reopened its outdoor exhibits. For a $12 general admission, guests can wander through the Shark Lagoon and Lorikeet Forest and visit with penguins, seals, sea lions and other residents of the aquarium. The Moon Jelly Touch Lab also remains open and guests can touch creatures in the Shark Lagoon and Ray Touch pool. Aquarium of the Pacific is also offering its Harbor Tour and Blue Whale and Sea Life Cruise packages. To visit, you will need to make reservations or purchase a timed ticket to visit Aquarium of the Pacific. Groups are capped at six people and temperatures will be checked at the entrance. Masks are required for guests over the age of 2 and groups must maintain at least 6 feet distance between staff and other guests.

Image from image pair
Los Angeles River | Instagram de @peepsc

Fish or Bird-Watch at Los Angeles River Recreation Zones

Los Angeles River Recreation Zones in Elysian Valley and Sepulveda Basin reopened on Memorial Day Weekend for their summer season. The catch: There's no kayaking this year. While you can't enjoy the river by boat, you can still fish at the site. Walking and bird-watching are also permitted. The season runs through September 30.

Metro Bike Share Grand Park
Grand Park | Photo: Metro Bike Share, Facebook

Go For a Bike Ride with Metro

Whether you want to get out for a quick jaunt through your neighborhood, or ride across the city, Metro Bike Share is available. Through August, Metro is offering reduced rates for bike passes, which can be purchased via the Metro Bike Share app. Metro has been upped the cleaning of bikes and stations, but recommends that you still wash or sanitize your hands before and after you ride and make sure to avoid touching your face while you're on the bike. Don't forget to bring your own helmet as well.

Neutra Reunion House Exterior
Neutra's Reunion House Exterior. Courtesy of Instagram @_sarah_jane

Use FORT L.A. Guides to See Historic Homes

Friends of Residential Treasures: Los Angeles releases monthly trails leading explorers to historic homes across the city. These routes are best traveled by car, as they're organized by theme rather than location, and the guides, which you can access online for free, are filled with historic details and auxiliary media to deepen your understanding of homes that you can view without getting out of the car. Trails include "1920s Nights," featuring famed homes like the Adamson and Schindler Houses, "Postwar Japanese American Architects," and "Small Neutra Houses."

Nature Gardens at the Natural History Museum
Nature Gardens | Photo: Natural History Museum
NHMLA Gardens Listening
Courtesy of Instagram @NHMLA

Explore Nature in Your Yard with Natural History Museum

You don't have to leave your neighborhood, or even your yard, to connect with nature. NHMLA has been encouraging locals to engage with the nature that surrounds us through their Community Science program and the annual City Nature Challenge and the pandemic hasn't stopped them from continuing with the message. Get started with a Nature Hunt check list available on NHMLA's website, use your phone to photograph or record the flora and fauna you see and share your findings through the iNaturalist app, or by emailing nature@nhm.or or using the hashtag #NatureinLA on social media.

Ricardo Montalban Theater LA
Courtesy of Instagram @the_montalban

Head to The Montalbán for dinner and a movie

The Montalbán is re-opening its rooftop in August for a three week series of film screenings. Events will take place on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between August 14 and August 30 and will include such films as Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Dirty Dancing and Fight Club. Screens start 15 minutes after the sun sets, but show up early to grab dinner from Hollywood Burger. (The venue uses a pick-up system for dinners and orders must be placed online by 3 p.m. for the 7 p.m. delivery.) Tickets are $30. Check The Montalbán's website for tickets and safety measures.