At last, we’re putting 2020 behind us. But with California’s COVID-19 infections rampant, tourists grounded (by governor’s order) and restaurant dining rooms and patios closed, choosing a New Year’s Day activity is trickier than usual. Pasadena, in particular, will be strangely quiet without the its traditional parade and football game.
Here are some Southern California ideas. Wherever you go, wear a mask, keep your distance and avoid mingling of households. As local, state and federal officials have been stressing for months, lives are at stake.
Greet the sunrise
It’s due at 6:59 a.m. and you’ll want to be facing east. In other words, forget the beach (unless you have a favorite pier to stand on) and think about a scenic hilltop. Maybe Mt. Hollywood or nearby high ground in Griffith Park. Maybe Friendship Park in San Pedro (hike to the top). Maybe Charmlee Wilderness Park in Malibu. Or you could stand on the western edge of the Hollywood or Silver Lake reservoirs, the lakes in Echo Park or MacArthur Park or perhaps Huntington Harbor in Orange County. Or stand in front of your home, face east and try to catch the reflected sun on the surface of your cup of coffee. That’s got to be a good omen.
Forget about the Rose Parade
The parade, perhaps Pasadena’s most popular tradition, was canceled in October because of COVID-19. A television special is planned in its place. As for the Rose Bowl, a.k.a. a College Football Playoff Semifinal, that game, this year pitting Alabama against Notre Dame, has been moved to Arlington, Texas, with a 1 p.m. Pacific start time, to be shown on ESPN.
Saddle up, tee off or…
Sunset Ranch Hollywood, which offers horseback tours of the upper reaches of Griffith Park near the Hollywood sign, will be open on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Prices for one-hour and two-hour riding tours, typically six riders per guide, are $50-$95 per person.
Or maybe you celebrate the new year with a round of golf. The city of L.A.’s seven 18-hole golf courses, including Wilson course in Griffith Park, are open Jan. 1. The Wilson course costs $17 to $28 per person, depending on what time you go (mornings are more expensive). Also in Griffith Park, the 9-hole Roosevelt Golf Course is open, charging $13 to $20.50 per person. Make a reservation at golf.lacity.org.
In sports options, L.A. city pickleball, tennis, paddle tennis and other sports sites will be open as well. Check laparks.org for rules, permits and reservations.
Think about visiting the historic Langham Huntington in Pasadena. The grounds are beautiful, and the hotel’s restored wooden bridge, with facsimiles of the original oil paintings, has told the story of California’s early days for 90 years.
The hotel calls it a “living storybook.” The 1933-era original artwork was removed for restoration in 2013 and replaced with copies that can better withstand the weather. The bridge is free and open to the public.
L.A. County rules permit these places (mostly outdoors) to be open: beaches, most piers, skate parks, playgrounds, community gardens, drive-in theaters, golf courses, places of worship, batting cages, go-karts, miniature golf courses, tennis, bocce and pickleball courts, outdoor pools, shooting and archery ranges.
Under L.A. County and state restrictions, these options (indoors and outdoors) are off the table: restaurant dining rooms and patios (takeout is OK); arcades; bowling alleys; overnight stays in campgrounds, RV parks and cabin rentals; movie theaters; bars and distilleries (except for retail sales); nightclubs; live performance theaters and concert venues; museum, gallery and aquarium interiors; stadiums and arenas; theme/amusement/water parks; and basketball and volleyball courts.
The Venice Beach and Cabrillo piers remain closed. The Venice Beach Boardwalk and Ocean Front Walk are open only to workers and people who are picking up takeout food or making curbside pickups.
Face coverings and distancing in public are mandatory; public health officials urge all to wash their hands often.
Parks, trails and playgrounds
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•Angeles National Forest, except for areas burned in the Bobcat fire. California 2, Angeles Crest Highway, is closed at Red Box/Mt. Wilson Road until further notice.
•San Bernardino National Forest, except for the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area, because of wildfires.
•Federal and state parklands in the Santa Monica Mountains, though some picnic tables and water fountains may not be available.
•Griffith Park. Miles of hiking trails and acres of grass. Some Griffith Park features remain closed, including Griffith Observatory and Travel Town. But the park pony ride is open, available for children ages 1 to 14.
•Elysian Park in L.A. (Most L.A. area parks remain open.)
•Franklin Canyon Park in Beverly Hills. (But picnic tables and drinking fountains are not available.)
•Hollywood’s popular Runyon Canyon Park is open sunrise to sunset, with limits. Visitors may complete a one-way loop on the West Trail; the East Trail is closed.
Botanic gardens and zoo
•Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge is open Jan. 1, with advance reservations required for nonmembers. (Reservations for January, including Jan. 1, are now open. Tickets cost $15. Info: Descanso Gardens
•The Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden in Arcadia is open Jan. 1. Reservations are required; tickets cost $15 each. Members show their card and get in free. Info: The Arboretum
•South Coast Botanic Garden on the Palos Verdes Peninsula is open Jan. 1. Reservations are required; tickets cost $15 each. Members show their card and get in free. Info: South Coast Botanic Garden
•The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanic Gardens in San Marino is closed Jan. 1. If you want to visit at other times, you must make a reservation (even members). Tickets cost $25 to $29 for adults; open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Info: The Huntington
•The Sherman Library & Gardens in Corona del Mar are closed Jan. 1. Reservations are required if you want to visit on other days from 10:30 to 5 p.m.; tickets cost $5. Info: Sherman Library & Gardens
•The California Botanic Garden in Claremont is closed New Year’s Day. Otherwise, garden hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays through Sundays; tickets/reservations cost $10. Info: California Botanic Garden
•The Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens in Griffith Park is closed until further notice as part of the governor’s Regional Stay Home Order. Info: L.A. Zoo
Most shopping enters are open, including these:
•The Americana at Brand in Glendale
•Beverly Center, Los Angeles
•Citadel Outlets, Commerce
•Del Amo Fashion Center, Torrance
•Fashion Island, Newport Beach
•The Grove in L.A.
•Santa Monica Place, Santa Monica
•Westfield Century City, West L.A.
Skiing and snowboarding
You can’t spend the night (leisure stays are banned under a governor’s order) but several nearby ski resorts are open for day-trippers who have reserved lift tickets. Note: You can’t just show up; advance reservations are mandatory.
Among the nearby resorts:
•Mountain High, Wrightwood.
•Snow Valley, Running Springs.
•Mt. Baldy Resort
•Bear Mountain and Snow Summit, Big Bear Lake.
Other outdoor options
•Forest Lawn Glendale, a cemetery that dates to 1906 and includes graves of many entertainment figures, will have its grounds open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
•Though the Santa Monica Pier is open, its Pacific Park amusement rides, Ferris wheel and merry-go-round remain closed.
•Pop-up ice rinks are canceled this year. The Holiday Ice Rink at Pershing Square in downtown L.A., Ice in Santa Monica and other rinks aren’t open. Open
Many reservation casino resorts, exercising tribal sovereignty, are open throughout California with a variety of pandemic health measures in place. Among them:
•Agua Caliente Casinos in Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage and Cathedral City, Riverside County.
•Pechanga, Riverside County
•Morongo, San Bernardino County
•San Manuel, San Bernardino County. (San Manuel’s Bear Springs Hotel is now open only to critical infrastructure workers.)
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