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Mishe Mokwa Trail | © Courtesy of Mitch Barrie
Mishe Mokwa Trail | © Courtesy of Mitch Barrie

10 Things You Need To Do This Summer In Los Angeles

Picture of Monique Elliott-Smith
Updated: 9 February 2017
While there are ample opportunities for quintessential summer activities like rollerblading or going to the beach, Los Angeles also celebrates summer with outdoor festivals, farmers markets, and gourmet interpretations of classic summer treats. Whether you’re a native Angeleno or a first-time visitor, there is something on our bucket list to help you get the most out of the Southland.

Picnic at Santa Monica Beach

Take advantage of the famous Santa Monica Farmers Market (held on Wednesdays and Saturdays) and the beautiful Santa Monica beach, located only a block away. For a fresh take on a typical beach day, stop by the market on your way and pick up a selection of organic fruits, juices, and other snacks to enjoy throughout the day. The market offers a great selection of certified organic produce and fruit vendors, as well as prepared food vendors. The area North of the Santa Monica pier is often less crowded, perfect for a leisurely picnic under the sun.

Visit Catalina Island

If you’re looking to escape the city and fully embrace the summer season, hop on a ferry and head over to Santa Catalina Island. While only an hour away by boat from San Pedro and Long Beach, many Angelenos have yet to discover this island. Avalon, the main town on the island, feels like a Spanish beach town with notable elements of the California coast. The city has seen a revival in recent years with the addition of upscale restaurants and beach clubs, but it still maintains a quirky, summery charm. Catalina offers numerous opportunities for outdoor adventures, including parasailing, spearfishing, and zip lining.

Eat an Ice Cream Cone

There is something about a melting ice cream cone that immediately evokes the idea of summer. Angelenos are not afraid of experimenting with their ice cream – whether it’s been churned by a bicycle or contains edible flowers, we love it all. In Los Angeles, you are never far from an artisanal ice cream shop that is sure to meet all of your ice cream cravings and leave you wanting more. Check out the innovative Salt & Straw, with locations on Larchmont and Abbot Kinney, or the more traditional (and equally delicious) Sweet Rose Creamery.

Ice Cream Cone | © Courtesy of Salt & Straw

Ice Cream Cone | © Courtesy of Salt & Straw

Rollerblade or Bike at Venice Beach

It’s no surprise that our list privileges the Venice Beach area. It’s almost impossible to watch a movie that takes place in LA without seeing a montage of colorful characters rollerblading or running along Venice Beach, and for good reason. Venice is one of the many beachside cities in Los Angeles, but it is loved for its quirky and laid-back feeling. Rent a few beach cruiser bikes or bring your rollerblades and check out the beach path. As you weave through the palm trees and breathe in the sea air, you’ll feel like you’re on vacation. Be sure to explore the area and check out their impressive food scene.

Catch a Flick with Cinespia at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

If you haven’t noticed the trend already, Angelenos spend as much time outside as possible during the summer months. This includes viewing some of Hollywood’s hit films outdoors. Cinespia hosts movie screenings throughout the summer at Hollywood Forever Cemetery that are the perfect reason to get outdoors on the weekend. In addition to the screenings, there are DJs and themed photo booths. Be sure to bring a blanket, snacks, and some great company. Check out their website for the schedule of movies they will offer this summer, including Goodfellas and Grease.

Roll Around First Fridays in Venice

Although this foodie haven takes place weekly throughout the year, the summer is the perfect time to experience it if you’re new to the LA food truck scene. On the first Friday of every month, the masses descend upon Abbot Kinney to get their hands on some of the best food truck eats. First Fridays is a great chance to explore the trendy Abbot Kinney area while enjoying the refreshing summer nights. Check out the always popular Kogi truck for Roy Choi’s delicious Mexican-Korean fusion cuisine or the infamous Grilled Cheese Truck. Stop by Coolhaus for a gourmet ice cream sandwich for dessert.

Take a Surf Lesson

If you’re looking to be active this summer, take a surf lesson from one of the many surf schools along the coast of Los Angeles. It’s never too late to join the many Angelenos who head to the beach in the early morning to catch some waves. From Malibu to Orange County, there are countless surf schools for beginners, or for those looking to brush up on their skills.

Have a Bonfire at Dockweiler State Beach

Dockweiler Beach in Playa Del Rey is one of the only beaches that allows bonfires, making it the perfect place for an evening of roasting marshmallows and watching the sunset. Be sure to get there early to reserve a fire pit, as they are in high demand on summer nights. LAX is nearby, and planes are often seen taking off overhead. The beach is nearly four miles long and offers meandering beach paths for biking or walking.

Hike Sandstone Peak in Malibu

If the scenic drive along Pacific Coast Highway isn’t reason enough to visit Malibu, escape the city proper for the hiking trails and striking views of the Santa Monica mountains. Sandstone Peak is the highest point in the mountain range, offering several trails with ocean views. Explore Mishe Mokwa trail, which starts at a high elevation and descends into a valley where you can see split rock and stop at a shaded area for a picnic. Be sure to check out Inspiration Point lookout near the top of the peak and sign the visitor logbook once you reach the top.

Dance at Twilight Concerts in Santa Monica

What’s better than outdoor concerts on summer nights? The KCRW summer concerts at Santa Monica Pier cannot be missed – and they’re free. From July until September, head to the Pier on Thursday evenings for live music. Check out one of the great restaurants nearby, or pack a picnic to share with friends. Be sure to bring a blanket and a light jacket so that you can enjoy the night long after the sun goes down.