Instead of shuttering their doors completely, these businesses kept up the fun by offering outdoor options
What an absolute ride this school year was! Congratulations to us all for pulling through. Now, with the arrival of summer, we could all use some relaxing family fun in our reopened city. I don’t know about your family, but my kids are ready to dive right in and make up for lost time. Ever the cautious parent, however, I began a search for fun activities that we could safely do as a family as we reemerge into society.
Check out a few of my favorites that we’ll be frequenting all summer, especially because they offer outdoor options. If L.A. is anything, it’s creative. From pop-up shops to pedestrian-friendly makeovers, our city has welcomed us back with open arms.
Family fun in Playa Vista
Playa Vista has long been a great community for families to enjoy the various parks, restaurants and shops. Recently, local officials have gone the extra mile to provide additional space for outdoor games and lounging.
The newly car-free center section of the shopping area Runway Playa Vista now serves as a pedestrian’s paradise. Restaurants have spilled onto the sidewalks, additional seating has been added and there are a few tables of games such as air hockey and ping pong to keep families entertained.
The game tables are right outside the Micro Kickboard Pop-Up Shop. In order to get the pieces to play the games, pop into the Micro Kickboard scooter store and give your ID in exchange for the pieces.
While you’re there, be sure to check out their scooters. They have something for everyone, ranging from tiny scooters for babies to adult sizes. And you can try out the scooters on their indoor test tracks for some added amusement. Getting my girls out of there was a struggle!
Shorty Yoga has mastered the art of what so many businesses have had to do as a result of the pandemic: pivot. The unique aspect of Shorty’s is that it’s a kids-only yoga studio. While the indoor studio was temporarily closed, the instructors found a way to make yoga for kids fun and safe by offering virtual classes, private classes and in-person, “shorty pods” at families’ homes. These pods consist of gathering two to four children in an outdoor space for some socially distanced stretching.
Founder Donna Delshad says, “We had to get our Shorties outside to have some fun, interact with their peers and feel good, all while staying safe from COVID.”
Drive-in at the park
My family has done just about all of the “Netflix and chill” we could handle. We were thrilledto find that L.A. County Parks’ “Drive In at the Park” included Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area as one of the new locations. I’m not ashamed to admit that our favorite part is probably the food trucks. We also love inviting our friends to meet up so the kids can play in an outdoor space while wearing their masks and observing social distancing.
The movie showings are Friday and Saturday nights and they start at dusk, but you can arrive as early as 6:45 p.m. to set up and “pregame.” Parents, trust me on this one: pick a day, book your tickets via ticketfairy.com and watch as your kids delight in this centrally located experience.
Village Well Books & Coffee
Bookstores are my family’s happy place. Village Well Books & Coffee is a gorgeous spot with bright vibrant colors everywhere from the books to the art to the furniture and fixtures around the store. One of my favorite aspects is the diversity of their titles. The children’s literature section represents a melting pot of cultures.
Owner Jennifer Caspar knew what she was doing by adding the café, which features coffees and teas, smoothies, pastries, breakfast burritos, sandwiches and more. You can dine outside on the bright colorful tables and chairs while enjoying the view of downtown Culver City.
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
Located in Playa Vista inside the new Free Market is Jeni’s Ice Cream. Jeni’s has locations throughout L.A. and in various cities around the country. The new Playa Vista location was our family’s first Jeni’s experience, and we are sold.
I especially loved that you have the option of getting a single scoop or two half scoops. The outdoor space at Jeni’s has plenty of tables and room for running around.
Speaking of yummy treats, you don’t have to travel to New Orleans to get a taste of beignets this summer. The Beignet Box has all your delectable desires right in their super cute café, located in the heart of Studio City.
There are traditional beignets, mini beignets and (my older daughter’s favorite) the beignet sundae. This beignet with ice cream, caramel, chocolate and whipped cream is a party in your mouth. We left covered in powdered sugar from all the damage we did. They also have ample outdoor space to socially distance and still maintain a great view of the goings-on of the ever-bustling Ventura Boulevard.
So, welcome back in a bigger way this summer, L.A. My family will continue to take precautions, and I have a feeling that being outdoors more for eating and entertainment will be a part of our future for a long time to come.
Jill Carter is an attorney, writer and mother of two in L.A.