How to Explore Los Angeles in 2021


Lucas Lee '21

Downtown Los Angeles at night is full of activities to experience

Mimi Landes and Lucas Lee

A New Era of Going Out

There is no way to sugarcoat the effects of the pandemic on Los Angeles, the second-most populous city in America. The very meaning of  “going  out” has changed. What has not changed is the fact that the City of Angels is the entertainment capital of the world, offering a plethora of attractions.If you are tired of the monotony of socially distanced picnics and lukewarm Postmates meals, here are our suggestions for your time out  in Los Angeles.

1. Celebrate Lunar New Year in Chinatown

We welcome the Year of the Ox with Chinese Lunar New Year Feb. 12. In Chinese legends, the ox is considered the second of the 12 animals in the zodiac because it was the second to meet the Jade Emperor in heaven. According to folklore, the Jade Emperor arranged a meeting with all of the animals on Earth at the creation of humanity. Looking into 2021, we can aspire to embody the ox’s collaborative, helpful and friendly nature.

To celebrate the Year of the Ox, Chinatown is the place to go. Outdoor dining, shops and bakeries are ready for your Lunar New Year celebrations, but be prepared to hunt for a meter or pay $5 for flat-rate parking.

A well-established landmark in Chinatown, the Phoenix Bakery sells Chinese pastries that pay homage to the Chan family’s generation-old recipes. The signature sugar butterflies, strawberry cake and almond cookies are staples. Freshmen, beware! The butterflies and almond cookies are not “braces friendly.”

2. Remembering Black History in Los Angeles

This year marks the 30-year memorial of the Rodney King beating and Latasha Harlins shooting in March of 1991, catalysts of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots.

Numero Uno Market sits on hallowed ground, previously the location of Empire Liquor Market and Deli. The unsuspecting teal and pink store was home to the events that shaped the city of Los Angeles as we know it today. At the store, Korean American shop owner Soon Ja Du accused Latasha Harlins, a 15-year-old Black girl, of stealing a bottle of orange juice. During the conflict, Du fatally shot Harlins. The case went to trial, and the court ruled that Du would serve five years of probation, complete 400 hours of community service and pay a $500 fine. This controversial ruling is a lesser-known yet critical part of Los Angeles’s history.

3. Experience the Future of “Fast Food”

Ghost kitchens, takeout- or delivery- only restaurants without dining spaces, appear to be the newest trend in the food industry. These pop-up kitchens allow restaurants to meet the needs of their customers in a more cost-efficient way than opening new locations from scratch. Many of these cookeries are housed in conglomerates of multiple ghost kitchens and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some only do orders in advance, while others allow in-person orders.

If you want to experience the future of “fast food” dining, we recommend Kitchen United Mix’s Pasadena location. This establishment is home to more than 20 different sub-restaurants. Some are well known, like Wendy’s and Canter’s Deli, while some, like Mama Musubi, are emerging restaurants. The ordering stations are “tech’d out,” with touch screens to order and are COVID-19-friendly with lots of hand sanitizing stations. The magic of this dining experience is that you can order food from multiple restaurants at once. For example, you can pair Pad Thai with a Wendy’s Baconator. With roughly 10- to 20-minute wait times, this seems to be the new direction of fast food in 2021.

4. Explore Long Beach

With decreased traffic due to COVID-19, the 405 Freeway is less of a nightmare, and the trek to Long Beach much easier. Even for those who have already visited the Aquarium of the Pacific or Queen Mary, there is more to do in the area.

Closer to Downtown Long Beach are the Rainbow Lagoon Swan Boats. In the evening, these light-up pedal boats glisten in the water with the Long Beach skyline in the background, perfect for a one-on-one “hangout” with a special someone. Two sizes of boats are offered for night rides: larger five-seaters and smaller two-seaters. Both can be rented for $11 per hour, and reservations must be made in advance. At this time of year, you do not have to worry about the mosquitoes, but be sure to bundle up; the pedaling makes for a light workout, but not enough to keep you warm.

5. Mountain High Madness

While Aspen and Deer Valley are the most popular ski spots among  families at the school, those hoping to make a quick trip to the mountains with friends should check out Mountain High for night skiing. It is the closest snow experience to Los Angeles, and the resort offers night skiing Wednesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Lift tickets cost around $50. This opportunity is particularly great for second semester seniors with lots of time on their hands. Make sure to bring snow chains and to commute in an all-wheel-drive car. And if you leave when school ends at 3:25 p.m., you can get there just in time for the start of night skiing.

6. Fast Foodie Drive Thru at the Rose Bowl

This food is not for the faint of heart. From Krispy Kreme cheeseburgers to Hawaiian Teriyaki Chicken pineapple bowls, the food fair offers a mix of contemporary and traditional cuisines. The 12-stop dining experience replicates a normal day at a carnival, which we have not seen since last year. Due to the drive-through format, the long wait offers an opportunity to work up an appetite. We therefore recommend going around opening time, and be sure to go with a group of people who will make the two-hour-plus wait feel like nothing. The entrées are more standard, ranging from barbecue ribs to burgers, while the desserts are off the charts. Funnel cakes, deep-fried Oreos and gallons of cotton candy are what the event is really all about. The limited-time pop-up is located in Rose Bowl Parking Lot K throughout February.

7. See Live Peacocks in the “Wild”

The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanical Garden  in Arcadia is the home to several hundred wild peacocks . According to a myth, the founder of Arcadia,  Elias “Lucky” Baldwin, brought the birds back from India,  and they have lived there since. While the garden, with an admissions fee of $15, is not as enchanting as the Huntington Botanical Gardens, the birds make up for it. We would not recommend chasing them like pigeons,  as they are fiercely territorial;  instead, observe from a respectful distance. Also, make sure to drive slowly in Arcadia because the curious animals roam the streets.