While Southern California is blessed with weather that feels like an endless summer, the actual season is still the most magical time of the year for outdoor fun. And with everything from outdoor movie screenings and foodie events to beer fests and county fairs, there’s so much fun to be had, anyone could use an expert guide — so let us show you the best ways to have a hot time.
Those who enjoy movies under the stars can find plenty of parks that host free screenings throughout the summer, but the folks behind Eat See Hear take the fun times to a whole other level by putting up the largest outdoor movie screens on the West Coast, along with hosting pre-screening concerts by the hottest up and coming bands in the Los Angeles area and an eclectic array of tasty food trucks.
This year, they return to Centennial Square in Pasadena to bring screenings of the Chris Farley comedy classic “Tommy Boy” (June 2), the all-star caper comedy “Oceans 11” (July 21) and Bill Murray’s greatest role in “Groundhog Day” (Aug. 4), with gates opening at 5:30 p.m. and closing at 11 p.m. each night. Visit eatseehear.com.
Foodie culture is all the rage these days, and the third annual Masters of Taste extravaganza will bring culinary heaven to the Rose Bowl on May 6. Find your favorite tastes from more than 50 Masters and restaurants (a full 10 more than last year’s edition), while over 25 Beverage Masters and an army of Sweet Masters will offer the best in cocktails, wines, craft beers, hand roasted coffees and pressed juices — all in the name of raising money for Union Station Homeless Services in Pasadena. Visit mastersoftastela.com.
While the Masters of Taste will serve up plenty of the best-tasting meats in the LA area, those looking to stick with vivacious vegetables will find their own slice of heaven at the Rose Bowl as well. Eat Drink Vegan will return on May 26 with unlimited pours of more than 250 drinks, food from more than 100 restaurants and over 100 marketplace vendors selling their highly evolved wares. Visit eatdrinkvegan.com.
It’s always more fun to enjoy a day at the races while hoisting a brew, and the California Gold Rush Beer & Sour Festival at Santa Anita Park on May 26 is the best time to do that all summer. There are two levels to the fun, with Gold Cup VIP packages offering four 3-ounce craft beer tastings, four 3-ounce sour tastings, a $5 betting voucher, clubhouse admission, a souvenir acrylic pint glass, racing program and tip sheet all for just $25 through May 11, and $38 afterwards. Those who choose to walk-up on the day of event will receive a tasting card and souvenir pint glass for $20, and can enjoy full craft beers for $6 and full sours for $8. Visit santaanita.com.
The big kahuna for SoCal culinary fans is the LA Food Fest, which hasn’t announced the dates for its ninth annual edition yet but is offering a monthly series of Sunday Funday events tying great food with great causes. The next one, on May 20, is themed “Clean Made” and will feature more than 50 exhibitors, panels, demos and workshops on health, wellness and sustainability. Visit lafoodfest.com for info and to check for updates on the main event.
Building upon last year’s epic 25th anniversary edition, the Pasadena Chalk Festival returns on June 16-17 to make our sidewalks sparkle with some of the most inventive art the planet has to offer each year. Perfectly timed to celebrate Father’s Day, the fest is family fun on a giant scale as more than 100,000 attendees turn out to admire the works of over 600 artists using more than 100,000 sticks of chalk at the Paseo Colorado event produced by the Light Bringer Project. Visit pasadenachalkfestival.com.
Booze hounds and craft beer connoisseurs will come together as one for the 10th Annual L.A. Beer Week, featuring dozens of events from June 16-24. Over 90 independent craft breweries will offer their tastiest libations while live music, great local food, games, a photo booth and more complete a feast for the senses, which kicks off at the Hollywood Center Studios on June 16. Visit labeerweek.org.
Asian culture is booming stronger than ever in SoCal these days, and the prime spot for exploring all it has to offer is the 626 Night Market, located on the grounds of Santa Anita Park’s Paddock Gardens. Featuring over 150 local restaurants, food vcndors, nonprofits, musicians and artists on the weekends of June 29-July1, July 20-22, Aug. 10-12 and Aug. 31-Sept. 2, it’s an event that goes into the wee hours without slowing down. Visit 626nightmarket.com.
Even city folks can use a good old-fashioned county fair, and Pasadena is pretty close to two of them each year. First up is the Orange County Fair from July 13 through Aug. 12 at the county fairgrounds in Costa Mesa, which will feature concerts by Willie Nelson & Family and Alison Krauss (Aug. 9), the Stray Cats (Aug. 27) and Steve Martin & Martin Short on July 20. Visit ocfair.com.
Finally, close out your summer memories with some fun nights at the LA County Fair from Aug. 31-Sept. 23 in Pomona. Enjoy delicious delights at its seemingly endless array of food stands along with wild carnival rides for all ages and concerts by favorite artists across the generations. Visit lacountyfair.com for updates on the no doubt impressive concert lineup they have in the works.