If there is a silver lining to quarantine, it’s that I learned how to create weekends in LA without the crowds.
The streets are mostly empty, thanks to Corona in California, and it’s hard to find things to do during COVID. It’s a silent city of angels in the last days of the COVID-19 quarantine lockdown. The coronavirus has achieved something I never thought could ever happen: there’s no LA traffic. Now that things are returning back to normal, I’m going to share how I still manage to have my weekend pleasures in Los Angeles without the LA crowds.
Summer Holiday Season
The holiday weekends, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day would be the span of the summer season. It would usually mean bumper to bumper travel. I like to take advantage of the days within these times, when sometimes you can find places more empty. When the locals leave to travel to see families, or hit the mountains, sometimes you can find empty beaches early in the day.
Venice Beach on Memorial Day
My daughter Katie and I had planned on arriving at Venice Beach for the sunrise to avoid people and be able to practice social distancing. I didn’t expect big crowds, but I didn’t expect it to be so…empty. The iconic Venice sign that you can’t get a uncrowded, uncluttered photo of was a snap (pun intended).
There wasn’t any traffic to get in our way. We sat at the red light for about 4 minutes, without a single car in sight. Katie merrily snapping away in the passenger side, smack in the middle in front of the landmark.
There were actually open parking spots right there in front of the famous Venice Beach “V”. Again, it felt like we were doing something traitorous just by parking the car.
We briefly wandered Abbott Kinney without a soul in sight. We window shopped along the closed storefronts. The whole situation was supposed to bring us a sense of normalcy but it all felt alien.
Healing Power of the Beach
The only thing my daughter Katie wanted for her June birthday was to put her feet on the sand and walk into the water. We executed the same plan as before, arrive early, and get out when the crowds started. In the early morning, the sun was already feeling warm. We were lucky that Carpinteria beach didn’t have the typical June Gloom that exists in Los Angeles. It was a huge stretch of empty, open white sand with deep blue waters. My girls ran towards it yelling and laughing and it was as if they were little kids again. This has to be healthy right? To laugh and play and feel pure joy? We were all feeling hopeless, depressed, frustrated-how could this be anything but good? Katie kept creeping deeper and deeper into the splashing waves, typing up the hem on her dress, a huge smile on her face.
We played like that for an hour, then stretched out on a blanket to dry our feet and legs. Katie’s dress dry out a little under the warm sun. We had the beach to ourselves, until fifteen minutes later. A group of teenage boys about 12 of them, came racing down the beach. Sand flew everywhere. kicking sand on us as they went. Three more families came in from the other side of the dunes. One family, the mom, the dad, two toddlers, and an infant, plopped down about 3 feet from us. They ignored the wide-open beach.
Time to Go
I realized it was time to go. Bursting our little bubble, no longer having an entire beach to ourselves cast a shadow on our California sunshine. We walked on the boardwalk over the dunes to the parking lot. We ended up retreating due to the ongoing crowd. It was like it was out of a movie, the swarm of people, was like out of a movie. They are shoulder to shoulder arriving at the beach, jostling, and spread across the entire walkway. We waited or them to pass. And more to pass. And more to pass. The joy was as trampled as the grass under their feet as some stepped off the overcrowded walkway.
Other Ways to Enjoy Los Angeles Without The Crowds
- Drive-In’s. Many county fairgrounds, malls, public centers are converting their empty parking lots into drive in movie theaters. Growing up in the Midwest, drive in movies evoke some great family memories for me.
- Drive-In’s- the food kind. Not fast food drive thru’s, but actual DRIVE IN’s, like old-fashioned carhop service. It’s a way to eat out with absolute social distancing. My family I just spent a Saturday afternoon driving through Beverly Hills looking at stars’ homes and finished up with dinner at famous Mel’s Drive In on Sunset Boulevard.
- Go for a drive. As simple as it sounds, going for a sunset drive or just going to explore a new road can really help to reset the mind. Go where the road ends.
- To get out of the house, I took advantage of a membership at the local botanical gardens just to get a change of scenery. Most gardens will offer “members only” hours for smaller crowds.
Need Human Connection?
Wander to the Edge with Zanne
Trying to keep as much human contact as possible. In April, I persuaded my good friend Adam Asher from The Edge of Adventure to go live with me on Instagram and had all of our friends comment and say hi. Unknown to us at the time, that launched Wander to the Edge. WTTE has become my passion project, mostly to get to talk to people outside my four walls. These are fascinating people with real stories. These are stories of funny stuff that happens to us everyday from people from around the globe as we all try to deal with the Corona virus. Stories from people on daring adventures, like interviewing five-time Emmy-nominated TV host Darley Newman.
Lessons Learned From Corona
So keep going, know that you are not alone, even if you are alone. Connect with your creative side. Connect with your interests and find a new passion. Call old friends and catch up. Go to a drive in. Take long walks. Drop me a comment and let me know how you’re doing.