If you have lived in Los Angeles all your life, or just a very long time like me, it is easy to become complacent and fall into the same routines, even when it comes to our free time.
Traffic can be so chaotic it’s easy to stick to what is happening around where we live, but LA, like all large metropolis, is a bottomless pit of opportunities.
As Summer wraps up, I wanted to highlight a few firsts I experienced over the last three months, things I did on my own or with family and friends, and that I added to my “book of things to do in LA” I give to those who come to visit, looking for alternatives to Hollywood Boulevard or the Third Promenade in Santa Monica.
Polo Matches at Will Rogers. I know absolutely nothing about polo, nor was I ever interested in learning, but there is always something magical when horses are involved. And the setting is great. Will Rogers, a big movie star in the 1920s, was an avid polo player and had a field built on his estate that, at his death, was donated to the state and became the Will Rogers Park (his house still lives on and is now a gift store). The park is equipped with picnic tables (and some bbq pits) and it’s fun to go with some food, have lunch and watch a few matches courtside. Totally free. The park will charge for parking if you want to park inside the estate. Matches are on Saturdays and Sundays – check schedules here.
Street Food Cinema – The most popular outdoor projections are at the Hollywood Cemetery (yes, you sit amongst tombstones) but the site has become so popular that dealing with the crowds and parking is a project in itself. Street Food Cinema is itinerant and covers most areas in LA, so chances are a fun movie will be close by. You can bring a blanket and your own picnic but you can also avail yourself of the food trucks parked outside. Current programming runs until the end of October – check streetfoodcinema.com for dates and list of movies.
Guasti Villa in West Adams District. When you think you have seen all the historic homes LA has to offer, yet another pops up. I had never heard of this place until a friend mentioned it and dragged me there. The Guasti Villa is an Italianate house built at the turn of the last century by an Italian vintner, and is located within the architecturally rich West Adams District. For over 20 years the villa has been the home of a church called “Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness” who restored it to its original splendor. Free tours are available (not everyday, check the schedule) at around noon and you can see the front rooms with their intricate woodwork and period details while a docent recounts the story of the house. There is a beautiful garden in the back where you are welcome to sit, read or meditate and, if you are hungry, a buffet for the employees you are welcome to join. Simple, healthy food for $8.00 a person. The tour is free (but you will have to listen to the church’s mission and general spiel).
Smorgarsburg. The original idea for this market hails from, you might have guessed it, from Williamsburg in Brooklyn. It was so successful the powers that be opened a LA chapter.It is held every Sunday on the grounds of the Produce Market in downtown LA, close to the Arts’ District. Plenty of covered parking and lots of food and artisanal objects stands. For the hipster in you.
The Museum of Broken Relationships. There is such a thing and it opened a few months ago to great fanfare on the old site of Fredericks’ of Hollywood (a stripper-type lingerie store). John Quinn, on vacation in Croatia, came across this museum and thought the idea so intriguing, he decided to open one in LA. People were solicited to donate items that reminded them of an important (and defunct) relationship and the response has been so overwhelming, the space now rotates some of the exhibits. It’s frankly illuminating and, dare I say it?, fun to see what other people hold on to and what objects mean to them. Do not go if you are suffering from the stress of a post break-up.(broken ships.la).
Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum. The most fun theatre in town. It’s very well-known but you might not have tried it if you don’t live on the Westside. The Will Geer Company (still run by Will Geer’s descendents) puts up a repertory of three Shakespeare plays and one other classic that rotate all Summer long and are performed in this Topanga open air theatre set in a wood. You will impress your date. Promise.
I recently downloaded a free app called 5 Every Day. I believe it is so far limited to LA and, every day, you can check 5 different types of happenings that range from art to food to cinematography to comedy and everything in between. Most skew very indie and I imagine young crowds, but I found some gems in there too.