Travel

15 Actually Cool Things to Do in LA During Quarantine

Enjoy the best of the City of Angels while keeping your distance.

LA is a pretty incredible place to live thanks to our deal-with-the-devil weather, endless options for outdoor activities, world-class museums, and some of the nation's best restaurants. We cannot wait to be able to get out there again and take advantage of every single thing this city has to offer when it’s finally safe to do it. But in the meantime, there’s still plenty to take advantage of this spring from virtual fun, to traffic-free drives, to indulging in a dinner cooked up by some of the city’s top chefs from your couch with Billions on in the background. Here are plenty of ideas to get you through to the other side. 

Catch the coolest thing we’ve seen during quarantine (so far) 

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Thanks to a certain species of plankton that only comes around one every few years, the SoCal coastline is currently experiencing a phenomenon called bioluminescence – a wild neon blue glow that’s been lighting up the Pacific for weeks now. It’s agitated by movement, which means, boats, waves, and even dolphins (!) can create this killer light display after dark. Remember, LA beaches are officially closed right now and reopening for “active use only” soon, though OC beaches are open with social distancing guidelines in place. If you can get somewhere to catch a view of the water at night (the darker the better), it’s a wow-worthy show that is so worth seeing. As for how long it will last, no one’s really sure. Sounds kinda familiar...

See the sunset over Venice Beach

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Home
If you’ve ever been to the rooftop of the beachfront Hotel Erwin, you know about the killer ocean views. While we’d gladly throw our Apple TV and sourdough starter in front of an Amazon delivery truck just for a chance to go up there and gaze at the ocean over a $17 Aperol Spritz, that isn’t possible right now. But we can catch the usually-gorgeous sunset virtually thanks to Discover Los Angeles’s webcam that streams live from the hotel’s rooftop over Venice Beach every evening starting at 6:45pm. 

Stop and smell the roses 

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Altadena
The LA County Arboretum & Botanic Garden is up and running and the perfect place to wander while checking out waterfalls, turtle ponds, rose gardens, and dedicated areas meant to mimic the flora of Africa and Australia. And don’t forget the Arboretum’s most famous residents: a bunch of colorful peacocks ... who have absolutely no idea what COVID-19 is. Order tix online, and if you want to explore the gardens at dusk, become a member and get access to Spring Evenings from 5pm-7pm right now. Just make sure to wear a mask and keep your distance from others.

Take in the (extra-clear) view from the top of Mt. Wilson

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Home 
Smog? What smog? Much less traffic is equating to crystal clear views these days and a perfect place to take it all in is from the Mount Wilson Observatory with an elevation of 5,700 feet. You can get a live look from the Towercam atop the 150-Foot Solar Tower 24 hours a day. 

Get a taste of LA’s finest farmers markets 

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If you can dream it (and it’s in season) you’ll find it at the farmers market -- from fleeting spring ramps to hard-to-procure heirloom beans. While many of the markets – including Downtown Santa Monica’s majorly massive one – are still taking place, farmers market-shopping involves a lot more effort and military precision than it used to (also RIP samples) so, in the interest of sheltering in place, you can still support local farmers and get your hands on lots of fab fruits and veggies via farm boxes. Specialty produce farmer County Line Harvest is offering CSA boxes packed with a rotating mix of fresh, seasonal veggies you can order ahead of time and pick up at spots like Felix and Lady & Larder on the Westside or Echo Park’s Eightfold Coffee. All Time in Los Feliz has been putting together its own produce box with items sourced from a variety of different farmers that you can order for pickup or delivery, and Kismet is selling a box heavy on greens and vegetables from Thao Family Farm in Fresno you can order through its website. Plus, you can get just about everything else you need to fill your pantry and fridge delivered from local grocers and markets

Make your way to the top of a mountain

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Malibu
Fantastic hikes abound throughout LA, but Sandstone Peak -- the tallest peak in the Santa Monica Mountains at 3,114 feet -- is a slightly more far-flung favorite. The 6-mile loop trail will reward you with both a solid workout and fantastic views at the top, and the ocean-hugging ride up the Pacific Coast Highway through Malibu is a thing of beauty. Now that LA hiking trails have reopened, you’ve got your pick, but for the sake of social distancing, stay away from any that seem crowded (the parking lot is a clear giveaway) or try a trek on a lesser-known trail.

Laugh it up at a comedy show from the comfort of home 

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Home
LA has more comedians per capita than any other city. OK, that’s not actually a real fact but there are a lot, so we’ve got everything from real-deal comedy clubs with two-drink minimums and comics with their own sitcoms doing sold-out shows to open mic nights in the back of a dive bars to improv troupes impressing audiences on the fly. Until any and all of the above comes back online, you can still get your local laughs virtually. The Laugh Factory is streaming live shows Monday through Friday at 2pm and you can also revisit the sets of dozens of comics including Leslie Jones and Kumail Nanjiani on the club’s YouTube channel. Check out the replay of the recent Comedy Store Benefit (which you can still donate to, with proceeds going to the club’s staff members) featuring comics including Whitney Cummings, Chris D’Elia and Bobby Lee yucking it up via Zoom. And if you want to get in on an open mic, The Hollywood Comedy on Melrose does them daily on Instagram Live.

Drive by a bunch of fabled film locations 

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Nakatomi Plaza from “Die Hard,” Nancy’s house from “Nightmare on Elm Street”: Now is the time to cruise by some iconic spots from movies old and new while traffic is gloriously light. Mix and match with help from Discover Los Angeles’s Virtual Jet Setting guide

Make sushi, pizza, and pasta at home with help from your fave restaurants

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Sure, there are tons of takeout options right now – including fancy-schmancy multi-course menus from not-usually-in-the-takeout game big dogs like Vespertine, Bavel, and n/naka. But if you want to both take down a restaurant meal at home and take credit for making it, opt for a make-your-own meal-kit from an LA eatery. While slicing sushi takes serious skill, DIY-ing your own hand rolls when everything has been portioned out for you is something you can totally pull off with the hand roll pack from Sushi Roku that comes with five kinds of fish, matching sauces, multiple veggies, and cooked sushi rice along with nori and soy paper. Over at Venice pasta palace Felix, Evan Funke’s acclaimed hand-rolled pasta is fresh and ready for you, paired with one his sauces with duos like rigatoni and sugo di pomodoro or pappardelle with ragu bolognese. You just boil the pasta and heat up the sauce at home. And pizza fiends who were going to pop those pies in the oven when you got home anyway can start from semi-scratch with pizza kits from Roberta’s, Jon & Vinny’s, and Lupa Cotta.

Relax to beautiful music via Disney Concert Hall 

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Home
Every Sunday at 7pm, the impressive voices behind the LA Master Chorale will release a full audio recording of one of their performances that took place during better days live at Disney Concert Hall and will remain posted all week so you can take it in at your leisure. Look for Verdi’s Requiem and Mozart and Kirchner in the coming weeks.

Stock up on weed 

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Since marijuana was legalized here a few years back, we’ve been blessed to live in a place where we can stroll into a shop and peruse cases of flower and shelves of pre-rolls, edibles, and THC-laced everything. Thanks to dispensaries falling squarely in the “essential business” category it’s still easy to stock up via curbside pickup or delivery. Check out MedMen’s endless offerings online (it’s currently doing 30% off its [statemade] line and donating a portion of the proceeds to Sean Penn’s humanitarian nonprofit CORE to help get testing into marginalized communities.) You can also get a burger or bread pudding with your blunt via pre-order or drive-through at WeHo’s Original Cannabis Cafe, and be sure to check out our guide to the best dispensaries doing delivery right now. 

Go inside one of LA's Frank Lloyd Wright-designed homes 

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The famous architect designed the 5,000-square-foot Mayan Revival-style Hollyhock House for an oil heiress nearly a century ago. After a complete restoration a few years back, the hilltop property -- most famous for its seamless indoor-outdoor flow, massive hearth, and hollyhock flower details throughout – used to be open to the public for both self-guided visits and docent tours. Until those get going again, Hollyhock is now offering virtual tours online, complete with 360-degree views outside and in and info and details about the house, its history and funky features. Why no one is currently quarantining in such a sick spread, we don’t know. 

Load up on booze at a drive-thru liquor store 

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If there was ever a time to not feel like a total lazy sloth for not getting out of your car while buying beer, it’s now. And while tons of places are selling booze for curbside pickup and delivery, there’s something special about the experience of doing it drive-through style. You can get in on the old-school experience at Joe’s Ice in Pasadena, Jersey Gold Dairy in Cerritos, and Sunflower Spirit & Tobacco in Simi Valley.

Tour some of the city’s top museums

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Home
Yes, the doors are locked but you can still browse art, see traveling and permanent exhibits, get virtual tours, and even hear from the artists themselves at many of LA’s most impressive museums including The Broad, LACMA, The Getty, The Institute of Contemporary Art, the California African American Museum, and Natural History Museums of LA, among others. If you’re not smarter and more cultured by the time this is over, you have no one to blame but yourself.

See the house where Greg and Marcia Brady slept

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North Hollywood
We dare you to find an American human who isn’t wowed by a drive by the iconic ”Brady Bunch” house. While it doesn’t look quite the same as it did in its ‘70s heyday, you’ll recognize that groovy stonework and angular roofline, and someone in your car will inevitably wonder aloud whatever happened to cousin Oliver. The house gained some bizarre media coverage last year when it went up for sale and Lance Bass took to social media to lament losing out to another buyer. In the end, HGTV is the new owner and plans to bring the house back to its ‘70s groovy glory with the help of the Brady “kids” (some of whom are in their 60s) documented on a show called, ”A Very Brady Renovation.” But not to worry, it still looks totally recognizable and totally won’t crush your childhood memories.

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Lizbeth Scordo is a food and lifestyle writer. Follow her on Instagram @modlizbeth and Twitter @lalizbeth.