(Anne Latini / Los Angeles Times)
16 supremely fun things to do in L.A. when it rains
So it’s been raining in L.A.
You’ve already posted footage of those drops falling from the sky on your Instagram Stories. You’ve crocheted/read a book/slurped warm soup by a window. You’ve impulse-ordered new rain boots and tested them out in your driveway. You’ve ended a call or email with “Stay dry out there.”
While we really needed this rain, the “relentless parade” of storms may have you feeling pretty cooped up and confused about how to spend your free time in a city known for its sunshine. But don’t fret, Angelenos — there are plenty of fun and entertaining things to do in L.A. under those things called ceilings.
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Here are some indoor activities to help get you started. Be sure to check the websites for possible closures and, above all, drive safely (if it’s raining heavily, it’s best to stay home).
Now enjoy the day. And stay dry out there.
Go roller skating at Moonlight Rollerway
All the interior details — the candy-colored lights, the geometric-print rug and the mirrored ball hovering over the rink — will take you back to that totally rad era. After a good skate, make a trip to the snack bar and order up a corn dog and nachos. Just try to avoid getting any of the cheese on those new satin shorts of yours.
Get scrubbed at a Korean spa
The spas in and near that neighborhood offer baths; saunas involving salt, clay, jade and ice; facials; manicures and pedicures; massages; and more. Body scrub? Sure. You’ll feel as clean and tender as a piece of lumber that’s just been planed and sanded. A 30-minute session usually costs about $50.
Every spa — including Crystal Spa, Olympic Spa and Aroma Spa & Sports — does things its own way, but nudity in gender-segregated areas is common. Wi Spa (marked on this map), a few blocks east of Koreatown on Wilshire Boulevard, welcomes families and has a gym, restaurant, computer area, kid zone, an area for sleeping on the floor and a rooftop terrace with shade and misters. It’s also open around the clock with a day rate of $30.
Look up at the (indoor) stars at Samuel Oschin Planetarium
The facility’s 290-seat Samuel Oschin Planetarium Theater offers shows ($10 per adult) every 60 to 90 minutes. The most frequently presented show is “Signs of Life,” which examines prospects of life elsewhere.
Browse the stacks at the Last Bookstore
You could spend an entire afternoon browsing the aisles, exploring the various book vaults, perusing the artisan galleries and trying to wrap your brain around the completely kooky and enchanting decor (don’t miss the planters converted out of old record players and the famed archway made entirely out of books). While you’re there, grab a Stephen King paperback in the horror annex upstairs, $1 vinyl from the store’s handpicked selection or a logo mug while waiting in the checkout aisle.
Want to hit up a few more indie bookstores on your rainy day adventure? The Times has a list of 65 of them.
Get your game on at Barcade
Barcade has a food menu with plenty of vegan options. There’s Wi-Fi and a TV screen at the bar, along with a small sidewalk patio for a pandemic-safe home base. Happy hour is every day until 7 p.m. and includes $1 off beer, well drinks and wine. (There’s also a special where you can get any $8 beer and a shot of Four Roses Bourbon for $10.) The first Sunday of every month is Family Day, when you can bring the kids around until evening.
Watch a show at Bob Baker Marionette Theater
Bob Baker founded the theater in 1963 with partner Alton Wood, created thousands of marionettes and ran the outfit for decades in a rustic cinderblock-walled space near the edge of downtown Los Angeles. Legions of pint-size Angelenos passed through, many of whom are now grandparents. Since Baker’s death in 2014 at age 90, the troupe has moved to a splendid (and very red) space on York Avenue at the border of Highland Park and Eagle Rock.
The venue holds fewer than 100 people, and most kids sit “criss-cross applesauce” style on the carpet in front. Weekend shows typically begin with jaunty organ intro music, followed by about an hourlong presentation that features 100 or more marionettes, which waltz madly, sing operatically, bat eyelashes and operate right at a kid’s eye level. “The Circus” debuts Jan. 14. One Saturday per month, there’s a Sabados Animados cartoon morning. At the end of the regular shows (don’t tell the kids), there’s surprise ice cream. Tickets $25 for adults and children 3 and up, advance reservations required.
Find your buzz at Artist Tree Koreatown
One of the very earliest to open was the Artist Tree. Even on a bustling stretch of Western Avenue, it’d be hard to overlook the Koreatown outpost of this art gallery-meets-pot shop concept thanks to artist Matty Mo’s eye-catching geometric mural that covers the entire façade. Inside, what appears to be a postage stamp-size shop is actually just the cash wrap with a couple of touchscreens for online ordering (and a security guard who may have a dog biscuit to treat your four-legged friend). Upstairs is a much larger, loft-like space with equal amounts of mind-bending art on the walls and mind-altering substances on the shelves. In addition to a wide range of flower (budtenders say CBX’s Cereal Milk is popular), edibles and vape cartridges, there’s a shelf full of live plants (from Clone Guy Industries) ready to put down roots in the forever home of aspiring green thumbs.
The Artist Tree also has a consumption lounge at 8625 Santa Monica Blvd., second and third floors, in West Hollywood. It’s the kind of place where both the seasoned social smoker and the novice cannathusiast will feel at ease. Best to make a reservation and bring cash or a debit card.
Play a game of chess at Chess Park Lounge
From the wall of fame of 50 grandmasters to the glassy chandelier dripping chess pieces to the chess beer taps, every inch of this space builds off the spirit of the former alleyway. “They honor what used to be here — down to the knobs from where we pour our drafts,” says Angelica Brenes, one of the managers.
Owner Aro Agakhanyan tells me that at first, the city of Glendale refused to let him name the lounge after the failed city park. But eventually, officials came around after seeing his blueprints. “I want to bring the chess culture back,” Agakhanyan says. “It has a lot of wisdom.”
On a typical afternoon, jazz music filters from the large outdoor patio to the moody horseshoe bar. Upon checking in, you can ask the host for a wooden chess board and play a game over a cocktail (all from-scratch juices and syrups) and a bite. There’s even a nod to Deep Blue, the first computer to win a match against a world chess champion — just peek at the seafood section.
Word has it that grandmaster Maurice Ashley dined there too. Celebrity spotters, take note.
Make perfume at the Institute of Art and Olfaction
Take a dance class at Pony Sweat
There’s no way you could feel awkward in this supportive environment, with dancers loosely following Richeson-Valiente’s grapevines, fist pumps, pivots and hip shakes.
Classes are held at 10 a.m. every Wednesday and at 12:15 p.m. Saturdays at Live Arts Los Angeles in Glassell Park. Register on the Pony Sweat website.
Volunteer at the Hollywood Food Coalition
See a comedy show at Dynasty Typewriter
Dynasty Typewriter is housed in the historic Hayworth theater but brings just the right amount of modernity: wheelchair accessibility, an extensive drink menu and the option to mix candy (or hot Cheetos) into your popcorn, all-gender bathrooms and seats that offer a gentle recline. Expect to see a mixed bag of up-and-comers, seasoned comedians from that hit show or big-budget film and everyone in between.
Explore the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures (or any L.A. museum)
The six-level museum occupies a former May Co. department store and includes a domed theater designed by Renzo Piano. Admission (by timed reservation) is $25 for adults. For an additional $15, you can hear your name announced onstage in the museum’s “Oscars Experience.”
If you’re making it a museum day, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is next door. A few steps farther east, you’ll find the goo and bones of the La Brea Tar Pits & Museum. Across the street from the Academy Museum (beneath that odd exterior of irregular metal bands) is the Petersen Automotive Museum. Two blocks east, still on Wilshire, there’s Craft Contemporary, a museum dedicated to “the potential of craft.”
Go treasure hunting at L.A.'s vintage stores
One shop worth a visit is Burbank’s Playclothes Vintage (shown on this map). The emporium is packed with clothing, accessories and housewares from the ’30s to the ’80s. Items such as purses, hats, gloves and bathing suits are grouped by era, with an emphasis on clothing from the ’40s through the ’60s. Home decor spans Victorian to shabby chic, including furniture, lamps, pottery and soft furnishings.
Get lost in the 'Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle' escape room
Based on the plot of the 1995 movie where two kids play a supernatural jungle-themed board game, the room takes you through three areas that are each filled with plenty of puzzles and cryptic markings. There’s an omniscient narrator who will watch your game via camera to ensure that you’re on the right track — a nice big brother-esque touch for those who need to feel a bit paranoid — but the narrator also will dole out hints over the speaker system if the whole group agrees that a hint is needed.
Note that the minimum number of people you can book for this room is four, so try to wrangle some friends.
Try one of the 101 Best Restaurants
If choosing from 101 restaurants feels slightly daunting, you might start with the Hall of Fame, restaurants that are so essential to SoCal that they’ve earned a place of honor for all time.
Do keep in mind that the winter downpour has affected many L.A. restaurants, and employees have been working hard to keep diners safe. Tip accordingly.
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