Thankful for the beauty of Southern California? Here are ways to enjoy it safely

The sun rises over Point Fermin in San Pedro during a heat wave.
(Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times)

By Rachel Schnalzer
Design and illustrations by Jade Cuevas

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope you’re all having a restful holiday.

California has seen an alarming rise in coronavirus cases that has led to additional restrictions. It’s not time to let our guard down — and this, of course, extends to travel. Masks are imperative, and we should continue to avoid large groups of people.


Instead of booking a big weekend away, now’s the time to explore new corners of Los Angeles — while remaining distanced from others — or take a drive around Southern California. Here are a few ideas to jump-start your weekend plans:

🥾 Take a hike in Solstice Canyon

If you’re hoping to escape for an hour or two, a short hike in Solstice Canyon could do the trick. The hike has something for everyone — a longer, more strenuous loop for those hoping to break a sweat, and a relatively flat section that leads to historic ruins nestled in the canyon.

I visited the trail for the first time while reporting on attractions in Malibu and came across the crumbling Keller House, once a wood cabin that burned in 1903, and Tropical Terrace, the remains of the Roberts Ranch House, destroyed by fire nearly 80 years later.

Despite its grim past, Solstice Canyon is a fascinating place to get some fresh air and admire the splendor — and history — of L.A.'s canyons.

Lorina Haro and her children visit the Keller House on the Solstice Canyon hike.
Hikers visit the Keller House in Solstice Canyon in February.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

🐚 Explore coastal San Pedro

San Pedro offers plenty of places to explore on foot without encountering too many people. I recently saw this photo of Angels Gate Lighthouse at “blue hour,” which reminded me of the coastal community’s natural beauty.

The walk along West Paseo Del Mar to the Point Fermin Lighthouse is a good way to sample San Pedro’s striking ocean views and green spaces. The Korean Friendship Bell in Angels Gate Park, visible from the road, is worth a trek up the hill too. When you’re done exploring, pick up some beer from Brouwerij West to enjoy once you’re home.

A woman photographs the Korean Friendship Bell at Angels Gate Park.
The Korean Friendship Bell at Angels Gate Park in San Pedro.
(Josie Norris/Los Angeles Times)

🚗 Take a drive through Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead

In the mood for a longer drive, but nervous about traveling too far away? I got you. In the spring my fiancé and I drove from L.A. to Big Bear Lake, Lake Arrowhead and back in an afternoon just to satisfy our travel bug.

I had never considered making a trip to these mountain towns for just a few hours, but it ended up being an ideal escape. We enjoyed driving through the pines and kicking back at each lake — and made it home in time for dinner. There’s no need to stress over accommodations, and you can avoid other people if you pack a lunch.

The Village in Big Bear Lake
(Eddie Kirsch / Visit Big Bear; photo illustration by Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)

Enjoying this newsletter? Consider subscribing to the Los Angeles Times

Your support helps us deliver the news that matters most. Become a subscriber.

🎁 A new way to explore Los Angeles

We’ve officially entered holiday shopping season — good news to some, of course. But if you’re like me and hate going to the mall even in non-pandemic times, consider your gift-buying duties as opportunities to shop at a few new places.

Times design writer Lisa Boone put together a list of 13 holiday craft fairs you can visit in person or online this year. A few standouts:

As the holidays creep up, here are ways to shop local (in person and online).
As the holidays creep up, here are ways to shop local (in person and online).
(Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)

📰 What I’m reading

  • Jan Morris, renowned writer, traveler and transgender pioneer, died last week. Times travel writer Christopher Reynolds shares his memories of meeting her in Wales 24 years ago.
  • California’s widespread 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew doesn’t mean hotels are closing. Reynolds breaks down what the restriction means for guests.
  • Which Southern California airports have COVID-19 testing? LAX and Ontario, for now, writes Reynolds.
  • Most airlines will fill middle seats soon — but not Delta. Reynolds and assistant travel editor Mary Forgione says Delta says will keep middle seats empty through March 30.
  • Considering a micro-wedding during the pandemic? You can find good deals at these luxe destinations, says Times contributor Rosemary McClure.
  • Can Las Vegas’ Gateway Arches outshine the Welcome to Las Vegas sign? Forgione explains how Vegas’ newest landmark came to be.
  • Bad news for Mardi Gras-goers: There won’t be any parades in 2021, Reynolds reports.
Delta said it will keep middle seats empty through March 30.
(Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)

💻 Can’t adventure IRL? Here’s one way to expand your horizons

Most of us have seen L.A.’s beaches, freeways and famous landmarks such as Dodger Stadium in person. But seeing them from the air is different.

YouTuber Micah Muzio takes helicopter flyover videos across L.A., giving viewers a new perspective on the city. Muzio is a solid tour guide as well. In his flight over Malibu, he points out a “hobbit house” tucked in a residential neighborhood as well as landmarks such as Zuma Beach and Pepperdine University.

Hat tip to our designer, Jade Cuevas, for finding this virtual travel gem.

If you want a personal helicopter tour of L.A., Micah Muzio's Youtube channel can be your guide.
If you want a personal helicopter tour of L.A., Micah Muzio‘s Youtube channel can be your guide.
(Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)

📸 Travel photo

🎸 Road song

Some songs take you back to the summer after high school graduation, to your wedding day, to a favorite vacation spot.

Although it was released this year, “Care” by Beabadoobee takes me back to the angst-fueled teenage car rides with friends around our rural hometown (in a nostalgic, serotonin-inducing kind of way). If you could use a track that lets you blow off steam as you sit in traffic, “Care” is the song for you.

“Care” by Beabadoobee lets you blow off steam on your next traffic-clogged ride.
“Care” by Beabadoobee lets you blow off steam on your next traffic-clogged ride.
(Averie Woodard / Unsplash; photo illustration by Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)


1:20 p.m. Dec. 2, 2020: Craft Contemporary has canceled its holiday market. It will be offering holiday gifts through its online museum shop instead. The story has been updated to reflect this closure.