I’ve seen quite a few summers in Los Angeles at this point, so this year I decided to try getting off the beaten path to check out some restaurants, bars and experiences that might be hidden gems for a lot of people, and offer a different perspective on a city that never ceases to surprise me.
So here are a few of the most interesting experiences I got to have this summer (and you can see a whole video about them below, too!)
- Shakespeare in the Park
I had no idea that Los Angeles had its own Shakespeare in the park production (as I’ve since learned, there’s more than one!) , so I was really excited to discover that the Independent Shakespeare Company puts on shows almost every night during the summer. This year’s plays were Pericles and Twelfth Night; we saw the latter, and it was delightful and funny and a great way to spend a Friday night. The plays are free (but be sure to get there early for the best seating and parking!), and you can bring your blanket, food and wine (discretely!) for a pretty magical night of Shakespeare under the stars.
- Dine LA
Dine LA happens twice a year across the city, during which participating restaurants offer a set menu (usually an appetizer, entree and dessert) for a fixed price at lunch and dinner. I got to do Dine LA twice this summer, and each time was reminded of how nice it is to splurge on a menu – and venue – that I wouldn’t normally. Viviane in Beverly Hills offered an all-vegetarian menu including corn fritters and mushroom risotto that was to die for, all served poolside.
Mrs. Fish in Downtown LA felt like dining underwater – the whole restaurant is basically designed around a giant aquarium – and the sushi tastes just as fresh. The whole menu is an array of unexpected flavors and pairings, including the cocktails: the Kiri is a whiskey-based cherry drink served under a glass dome of smoke (it’s really hard to explain so watch the video! Just know that it smells like a campfire and was delicious.)
- High Tide
High Tide has been on my list since it opened months ago, but I only just recently had the chance to attend for a college alumni mixer. It’s hot pink and highly-Instagrammable, but easily the coolest part is the glass-blowing that happens right out on the patio.
Speaking of Instagrammable, here are a few more of my favorite restaurants, bars and coffee shops that didn’t make the video:
- Barnsdall Art Park
Aside from Griffith Park, most public green spaces in LA tend to be hidden gems, and Barnsdall is the epitome of this. It’s tucked away up on a hill off Sunset Boulevard, and offers a laidback place to eat and drink with friends (or pack a book for a solo picnic) as well as an art gallery, the Hollyhock House – which also offers wine tastings on Friday nights during the summer – and a panoramic view of the Hollywood sign and city below.
- Echo Park Lotus Festival
This is my third (!) summer living in Echo Park, and I’ve made a bit of a tradition out of attending the annual Lotus Festival each July. It’s timed to celebrate the lotuses blooming on the lake, and this year attendees could make paper lanterns to float out on the water, too.
- Outdoor movies
This is more of a general recommendation, but it definitely doesn’t feel like the official start of summer in LA until I’ve been to an outdoor movie. There are a variety of companies that host these events throughout the city – Eat, See, Hear; Street Food Cinema, and of course the famed Cinespia in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
Check out the video below to see more of these places!