• Pamela Froman

Summer Activities

We are all waiting for the self-quarantine from Coronavirus to end. And not to worry, the end is in sight – soon enough the restrictions will be lifted, albeit in small steps. So what activities are going on this summer? There will be food, whether through takeout or in a restaurant, outdoor activities like hiking, entertainment gatherings where you can enjoy music, as well as drive-in theaters, virtual escape rooms and awesome virtual highlights.

California restaurants and shopping malls may soon reopen in counties that meet the state standards for testing and which are successful at reducing cases of the coronavirus. However, businesses will have to abide by state guidelines for physical distancing as well as cleaning regimens. Car washes and pet groomers are also scheduled to reopen with safeguards in place.

Regional Chinese cooking is easy to find all across the San Fernando Valley. Check out Northridge's Szechuan Place. The eatery features American Chinese classics as well as traditional Sichuan fare.

Brent's Deli is an LA institution. Located in Northridge and Westlake Village, you must try the Reuben black pastrami.

Cilantro Mexican Grill in North Hollywood features the best meat burrito around. Tons of lunchtime diners frequent this hole in the wall restaurant, where you can enjoy the creations of chef Adolfo Perez, a Le Cordon Bleu graduate.

Krimsey's is a Cajun vegan restaurant that offers po' boys, king cakes, and spicy jambalaya. Stop in for a yummy meatless meal in North Hollywood.

For a supreme burger, check out Bill Elwell's restaurant Bill's Burgers in Van Nuys. They turn out the best American meals out there.

Some great activities to enjoy this summer include surfing at the beach, hiking, going to amusement parks virtually, or playing miniature golf. You can also go camping and make s' mores, or shop at your local farmer's market. As well, enjoy a cocktail at your favorite drinking establishment, or host a barbecue, have a picnic in the park or your backyard. Enjoy the heavens as you go stargazing, or get your music on at an outdoor concert. To enjoy the scenery you can rent a bike to wheel around the neighborhood, go kayaking at the beach, or root for your local teams at a game.

Entertainment is a great way to enjoy yourself this summer. Here are some upcoming events:

Riverdance is powerful and stirring and is a beloved favorite celebrated all over the world. The Grammy award-winning score, energy, and passion are not to be missed. Explore this Irish dance on May 26 and 27 at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza.

The 27th Annual Casa Pacifica Angels Wine, Food and Brew Festival features over 150 food and drink vendors, live entertainment, and a silent auction. It takes place on June 7 at CSU Channel Islands in Camarillo.

If you want to break out your golf skills, attend the charity tournament that benefits Interface Children and Family Services and RAIN Communities. It also raises awareness for Ventura County's non-profit programs. Break out your putter on June 12 at Los Robles Greens in Thousand Oaks.

The Big Brothers Big Sisters Of Ventura County is hosting its 50th Anniversary Gala. Join them for a glamorous evening, speakeasy-style. The event takes place on June 13 at 880 S Westlake Blvd. in Westlake Village.

The 5th Annual Health and Healing Expo let you learn from holistic-focused experts, attend workshops and meditation classes, sample natural products, and improve your mind, body, and spirit. There is free admission to the exhibit hall. Enjoy a mystical experience on June 14 at Hyatt Regency Westlake, 880 S Westlake Blvd, in Westlake Village.

Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Ventura County hosts Bags, Bling, and Bubbly, Ventura County's most sparkling happening. There will be glitz, glamour, and – of course – bubbles! Enjoy champagne as you check out vintage and designer handbags and sparkling jewelry.

Pier 360 Ocean Sports Beach Festival will take place at the Santa Monica Pier this summer at 200 Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica. There will be paddle-board and SUP races, ocean swims, run-swim-run, lifeguard dory races, Tommy Bahama paddle-cross, and free beach-themed youth activities.

The Valley Cultural Foundation sponsors free concerts such as Concerts on the Green, NoHo Summer Nights, and other events including the Fourth of July Extravaganza, Shakespeare on the Green, Children's Performances, and more.

Drive-in theaters are emerging as an oldie but goodie option to enjoy the big screen. Because of coronavirus, typical movie theaters remain shuttered. Drive-in movies, however, are exploring a new renaissance, and are perfectly suited to conquer this time of uncertainty. Pack a picnic, stock up at the snack bar, and enjoy a flick at one of these classic drive-in theater locations:

The Mission Tiki Drive-In Theatre is located in Montclair. This drive-in theater shows double features nightly on four screens, with a mix of current releases and classics. You may not park your vehicle within 10 feet of another vehicle, and you must watch the movie from within your car. As well, you must practice social distancing at all times. Tickets are available in-person.

If you're looking for a classic drive-in movie theater experience, Paramount Drive-In is perfect. It opened back in 1947 and was a drive-in theater until 1992 when it converted into a swap meet. But the area has returned to its roots, with two new 75-foot screens, Barco Digital projection, and Dolby Digital radio sound. There's a snack bar, but you can also carry in food and drink. Some people watch from inside their cars, others bring chairs and watch from the bed of their trucks. It's always a good time.

Virtual Escape Rooms can keep everyone entertained. Similar to going on virtual Disneyland ride tours, you can experience the thrill of solving puzzles right from your living room. Here are a few standouts:

The Grimm Escape is one of the most popular virtual escape rooms. This online game was created by the escape room company Puzzle Break. The challenge is located in an enchanted forest that is accessible via Zoom, where you can solve puzzles and escape a witch's curse. $25 per person.

Simple yet satisfying to solve, the Bank Heist virtual escape room was designed by owners of Expedition Escape for puzzle lovers. You'll be a part of a crime syndicate on a mission to unlock a safe. Quickly solve the problems in about 20 minutes!

The best part of an escape room is a fun theme. The Hogwarts Digital Escape Room is perfect for Potterheads. References are 100 percent on-point. You may complete the game as a group, an individual, or even as a competition against friends.

Another free digital escape room is Minecraft Escape Room. It involves videos and math problems – you won't be able to stop playing.

In Mystery Escape Room you have two adventures available – one inspired by Nancy Drew and another that has a superhero theme. The “rooms” are bookable for an hour, come with a live guide, and are accessible through your video conferencing app. The fee is $85 for the Nancy Drew room or $75 for the superhero room.

Oscar's Stolen Oscar is a free fishy mystery adventure. Help Oscar find his award statuette while learning about sea creatures.

Brain Chase is an educational K-12 platform that offers virtual escape rooms weekly. You can also participate in monthly virtual escape room competitions where the main prize is $100. Brain Chase requires a monthly subscription of $19.99.

Here are some of the best ways to experience SoCal virtually:

We can snuggle our “fur babies” at home, but the drama and intrigue of wild and exotic animals that you can normally visit at a zoo, sanctuary, wildlife preserve, or ranch is not to be replaced. A webcam allows you to be a “fly on the wall” while you view bald eagles in Big Bear Lake.

Live cams are running from San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park. They include live webcams that feature baboons, apes, penguins, koalas, and giraffes.

The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles offers digital tours of The Vault. Free hour-long online tours give you virtual access to race cars, movie cars, and other important pieces of automotive history.

You can enjoy spring virtually through the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve's PoppyCam Live Stream. It moves between angles of the state park and the surrounding hillsides.

Garden lovers can also take a virtual tour of Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge via its “Descanso at Home” program.

Sleep in and then check out the Spreckels Organ Society's online concert webcasts, which are live from the organ pavilion in Balboa Park. On Fridays, tune in to the “Director Selects” series which is hosted by The Soraya at CSUN.

LA Opera is also opening up and providing online content as part of its #LAOAtHOME campaign. It includes “Living Room Recitals” and other visual content.

Every weekday at 10 a.m., a family activity debuts as part of the California Science Center's “Stuck at Home Science.” There is everything from “straw rockets,” a “pancake lab,” “ice cream science” and a “pom-pom launcher.” And every Wednesday and Saturday morning you can experience a new installment of Bob Baker Marionette Theatre.

If you miss theme parks like Legoland, the attraction has launched #LLCBuildingChallenge – a weekly how-to video with a Master Builder. Little architects learn how to build various things by Lego, submit creations, and make suggestions for upcoming videos. There is also weekly trivia, word searches, silly stories, and more. As well, you can try fun recipes from Knott's Berry Farm with the whole family.

It's time to enjoy yourself this summer!

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