For the first few days in July, summer in L.A. felt more like summer in San Francisco. Sometimes June gloom takes an unwavering hold over the city, continuing well into July. It’s all par for the course when you live near the great air conditioner unit, we call the Pacific Ocean. It can be a benefit and a curse.
Some more sensitive millennial pals of mine get a dose of seasonal affective disorder – in the summer. “This never happened to me in Iowa,” they say (the complainers are transplants, of course). It’s true. Even the coldest places in the country enjoy balmy and comfortable Junes and Julys.
Looking a little forlorn, Hank, my 4-year-old, glanced up at me and asked, “Why is it so cloudy here?” Oddly, this is a kid who usually prefers the cold and desperately wants it to snow in L.A.
“This is just the way it is this time of year,” I told him. “Just give it another month.”
Anyone who tells you L.A. has no seasons is either not very observant or a prisoner of the normative spring, summer, fall and winter quaternary. L.A.’s seasons are more like a post-Romantic symphony, and each movement has its peaks, valleys and nuances. While real summer might not kick off until late July, it sticks around through late October. Now that it’s August and hot, my sons are looking for some relief. Luckily, L.A. has no shortage of things to do to escape the late summer’s intractable heat.
MORE: Indoor Fun in Los Angeles
Hank and Leo, who’s 2, have suddenly become homebodies, much to the chagrin of my wife, Kate, and me. When it’s hot, they want to chill inside with the AC blasting and avoid the sun. We have to drag them out of the house. I try to explain that this is L.A., and the sun is why people live here, for crying out loud. I try to entice the boys to go outside with the garden hose. “Here, go nuts,” I say. This a bit of a hackneyed way for city boys to brave the summer heat, but it works. Plus, it’s fun for parents, especially when those parents like to practice their aim with a water cannon. It also beats sitting in beach traffic for hours.
If you are looking for something a little less basic then spraying your children with a garden hose, I suggest a train ride. Yes, that’s right, a train ride. Not only are our local trains air conditioned, they provide ample opportunities to view a bunch of sweaty pedestrians and bikers on the streets while you get to lay back and relax. On a recent sweltering day, we hopped on the Gold Line at Union Station, taking it all the way to Azusa. We took in the San Gabriel Valley, then turned around, heading back to the city. As dusk fell and the temperature cooled, we hopped off in downtown South Pasadena for the farmers market. This is the best evening farmer’s market in the area, and in the summer months, there’s no better way to escape on a Thursday night. Hank and Leo were reinvigorated. They ran around, sampling fruit and devouring ice cream. There’s a bit of small-town illusion and magic to the experience.
On especially hot Saturdays, families might be inclined to go to the movies. It’s a go-to flee-the-heat activity. But if you’re near Downtown L.A., why not explore the theaters in a different way? Tour the classic theaters and movie palaces on Broadway and experience stepping back into another era. There’s no better place to cool down than a cavernous old theater. Every Saturday, the Los Angeles Conservancy provides tours of the classic theater palaces of Broadway, and it’s well worth a visit if your family’s face is about to melt from the August heat. Some of the theaters have become staples of the Downtown revival over this last decade. The Orpheum and The Theatre at Ace Hotel are now mainstays for shows, premieres and other cultural events. Now these theaters are mainstays where Kate and I can have an ice-cold margarita – and if one of the theaters is showing a kid’s movie that afternoon, even better. ’Tis the season.
Isaac Parfrey is a writer, composer and L.A. native who enjoys roaming Southern California with his wife, Kate, and sons Hank and Leo. Follow him on Twitter @ IsaacParfrey.