The Beach Boys had it right nearly 60 years ago when they spread the word to the world of Southern California’s endless summer magic. But the actual season of sun is an especially great time to soak in some rays along with some suds and have a great time at the ample array of festivals throughout the region. Here are a few suggestions to help make this summer your best ever.
The summer movie season means blockbuster after blockbuster at the area’s many multiplexes, but the fine folks at Eat See Hear offer Angelenos another way to enjoy great films through their annual outdoor summer screening series. Featuring the largest outdoor movie screens on the West Coast, along with pre-film concerts by bands on the rise and a tasty array of the region’s hottest food trucks, this is one series worth seeing.
While they show movies throughout all of Southern California, in Pasadena the fun comes to Centennial Square at Pasadena City Hall, located at 100 N. Garfield Ave. The local screenings kick off with “The Princess Bride” (June 8), followed by “Home Alone” (July 27), “Say Anything” (Sept. 7) and “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” (Sept. 14). Visit eatseehear.com.
Health-conscious foodies have become a force over the past decade, and their growing strength can be seen most prominently in the Eat Drink Vegan (EDV) fest on June 22 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Regarded nationwide as the “Vegan Coachella,” EDV features highly curated restaurants and food vendors, over 250 vegan beverages, and a plant-based marketplace that showcases everything from clothing and candles to packaged foods and skin care.
Now hosting more than 10,000 attendees annually, EDV offers two levels of admission. General admission includes unlimited pours of craft beer, kombucha, wine, soda, tea and cider in a four-ounce glass and access to food vendors for $50, while VIP offers the same drinks in an eight-ounce glass and early access to the food vendors for $115. Visit eatdrinkvegan.com.
Santa Anita Park racetrack has long been beloved for offering the excitement of horse racing amid a gorgeous mountain backdrop, but it’s also a fun place to enjoy an eclectic array of fun events in summer. This year, the fun starts early on May 4 when the Kentucky Derby Trackside Beer Festival gives equine aficionados the chance to celebrate the most famous race in America without heading to the Bluegrass State.
Featuring local craft breweries and top food trucks at the trackside bash, the day includes racing from a seat on the homestretch and a souvenir pennant commemorating Justify’s historic 2018 Triple Crown victory. The $35 General Trackside Package includes eight three-ounce beer tastings, a $5 betting voucher, the commemorative pennant, club house admission, racing program and wagering tip sheet and access to trackside and grandstand seating areas. Visit santaanita.com.
A more family-friendly kind of fun can be had at the Pasadena Chalk Festival from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 15 and 16 at the Paseo, 300 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. The free event is the largest street-art festival on the planet, featuring hundreds of artists crafting elaborate artworks on the sidewalks of the Paseo mall and surrounding areas in the heart of the city before appreciative audiences of more than 100,000 people.
The free fun is paired with the 18th Annual Pasadena Police Classic Car Show, which features dozens of the coolest cars in Southern California on display from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. along Green Street. Add in food booths, raffle prizes and a police helicopter ride auction and you’ve got fun for everyone.
Beer lovers abound everywhere amid summer heat, and that’s why summer is the perfect time for the 11th Annual L.A. Beer Week, which has its Kickoff Festival on June 15 at the Los Angeles Center Studio, 1201 W. Fifth St. in Los Angeles. Featuring more than 250 beers from over 90 independent craft breweries, live music and great local food, this is the place to wet your whistle this summer.
Early bird admission prices are in force through May 15, including $45 general admission, $65 for VIPs and $25 for designated drivers. Visit labeerweek.org.
Patriotism will be on full display starting at 2 p.m. July 4th at Americafest at the Rose Bowl, 1001 Rose Bowl Drive, Pasadena.. The event promises fun for all ages and includes one of Southern California’s biggest fireworks displays. General admission is $15. Children 5 years and under are free. Reserved seating is $30. For more information, call (626) 577-3100 or visit visitpasadena.com/events/americafest/.
One of the most hugely popular and distinctive summer attractions in the San Gabriel Valley is the 626 Night Market, which builds off the Asian cultural phenomenon of late-night street markets with countless food vendors by playing host to thousands of local aficionados at Santa Anita Park, 285 Huntington Drive, Arcadia. Founded in 2012, this year’s edition will be open July 5-7, July 12-14, Aug. 9-11 and Aug. 30-Sept. 1.
The iconic Southern Californian event at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia features more than 300 food, merchandise, craft, art, game, music, and entertainment attractions in an epic event that appeals to all ages with up to 100,000 attendees per three-day weekend. 626 Night Market aims to unite and empower the community by serving as a platform for showcasing local talent including chefs, entrepreneurs and artists. Visit 626nightmarket.com.
Last but definitely not least, summer fairs are fantastic ways to have tons of fun and food at relatively affordable prices. This year’s Orange County Fair runs from July 12 through Aug. 11 and as always, features an eclectic array of concerts including Chicago (July 26), B-52s and Dead Man’s Party (Aug. 1), Michael McDonald and this year’s beloved Rose Parade Grand Marshal Chaka Khan (Aug. 2) and “Weird Al” Yankovic (Aug. 8). Visit ocfair.com.
Not to be outdone, the LA County Fair returns to Pomona from Aug. 30-Sept. 22 and will feature another impressive string of performances that have yet to be announced. Visit lacountyfair.com.