Five Ways to Chill Out in Los Angeles

by Ashlee Polarek

Although fall is rapidly approaching—as evidenced by pumpkin spice taking over the shelves at Trader Joe’s—Southern California is showing no signs of cooling down. Luckily, there’s no shortage of great places to catch a break from the sizzling temperatures in Los Angeles. Here are five of our favorite ways to beat the heat and celebrate our endless summers!

1) Chill like a local at a chic hotel pool

Did you know that a handful of LA’s chicest hotels allow the public to purchase day passes to hang by their pools?  Located across the street from the vast stretches of white sandy beach in Santa Monica, the Hotel Shangri-La offers locals and tourists the opportunity to rent a lounge chair for a mere $25 (plus a $25 dining minimum) on their Old Hollywood glam pool deck. The W Los Angeles - West Beverly Hills pool is also open to the public for those 21 and over. Here, rent a cabana or sip a cocktail under the palms on the WET deck. And, the W wifi is complementary, so Insta-post away! For those outside of LA proper, The Sportsmen’s Lodge is home to the largest pool in the San Fernando Valley. Grab a day pass here so you can enjoy the oversized pool or sip a cocktail in the jacuzzi, or both.

Poolside at the Hotel Shangri-La.

Poolside at the Hotel Shangri-La.

2) Get cultured at one of LA’s world-class museums:

Los Angeles is home to several world-class museums. From art and science to history and film, there is no end the possibilities. We do have our favorites though.  The first is The Broad, located in downtown LA next to the Walt Disney Concert Hall, houses the personal collection of Edythe and Eli Broad—with over 2,000 pieces of postwar and contemporary art—as well as rotating temporary exhibitions, like the Infinity Mirror Rooms by Yayoi Kusama. With free admission and innovative audience engagement, this wonderful space is truly a gift to the public. Further west in mid-city, LACMA is a staple in the LA Art scene. Home to the famous “Urban Lights” installation and adjacent to the La Brea Tar Pits, you truly can’t call yourself an Angeleno until you’ve been.  While enjoying the ample air conditioning check out 3D: Double Vision, which displays a range of artworks that give the illusion of 3-dimensions. For a truly unique escape, park the car an and take the tram to the top of a hill where you will find The Getty Center, a place where art, architecture and gardens collide to create an experience unlike any other in Los Angeles. And, the views are epic! Finally, enjoy a day with the family at the California Science Center, which isn’t just for the little ones, btw. Drop in for King Tut: Treasures of the Pharaoh, and Goosebumps: The Science of Fear. This interactive museum keeps you cool and ignites the curiosity that lives in us all.  

The Broad Museum

The Broad Museum

3) Spend the day at the beach

California has no shortage of AMAZING beaches. Grab your beach towel and head to the Montage Laguna Beach, where resort guest have access to pristine beaches and two outdoor pools. Grab a stand up paddle board and explore the gentle waves or snorkel in the azure waters. Check out Manhattan Beach, with a pier that’s been standing since the 1920s and its beautiful sandy shores. Spend the day wandering the strand and gazing at the multi-million dollar beachfront homes, or grab a group of friends for a game or two of beach volleyball on one of the many courts that dot the beach. If you’re looking for a refreshing dip, or want to do a bit of surfing, Zume Beach is quintessential “Surfing USA”. The water is a little colder here than other Los Angeles County beaches but it is super clean and the white sands are perfectly pillowy for sunbathing on the shore. Afterward, grab a bite at Paradise Cove up the road. It’s a bit touristy on the weekends but the dine-on-the-sand vibe is fun, and the food portions are huge.


4) Hike to a secret watering hole or waterfall

Angelenos LOVE to hike, even when it’s hot out. Spend the day on one of many, many beautiful trails found in and around Los Angeles. Malibu Creek State Park, a popular filming location for television—it served as the set of M.A.S.H—and movies, including the 1968 Planet of the Apes, and the 1919 Daddy Long Legs. Hike far enough and you’ll come across Rock Pool Swimming Hole in the middle of park where Angelenos jump off the cliffs, wade in the cool water and enjoy picnics with their families. For a picturesque waterfall experience hike to Escondido Falls. With TWO waterfalls, this 3.7 mile roundtrip trail is a venture. The upper falls are a 200- foot showstopper that requires a pretty difficult climb to get to. However, once you’re there, splash around in the natural pool or enjoy the mist created by the stunning cascade. Lastly, for a scenic hike with a whole lot of charm try Sturtevant Falls in the San Gabriel Mountains. A 3.25 mile route takes hikers past gorgeous colorful little cottages still inhabited by their rarely-seen owners. A little over half a mile of this hike is down a very steep asphalt path. It kicks your butt on the way back but it’s well worth it in the end.

Waterfall at Solstice Canyon

Waterfall at Solstice Canyon

5) Chill out over gourmet ice cream (or shaved ice)

Nothing screams cool-down quite like ice cream! For a fun weekend activity take an ice cream and sorbet making class at Carmella. The ice cream shop founders instruct the class on the basics of ice cream making. At the end of the class, you take home two pints of ice cream. The 2.5 hour classes cost $125 per person and you must call ahead to reserve your space. If you’d rather spend your time eating the ice cream, grab a scoop of the delicious and unique handmade ice cream flavors at Salt & Straw. Two of our faves are the Freckled Chocolate Zucchini Bread and the Black Olive Brittle and Goat Cheese flavors. If savory ice cream isn’t your preference, there are plenty of yummy, not-so-traditional sweet options as well.  For soft-serve, there is nowhere better than Magpies Soft Serve where everything, including the toppings, are handmade in house. Can we tempt you with some vanilla pudding ice cream and candied pecans on top? Yes please! Drop into Somi Somi for a Japanese-style ice cream. What is Japanese-style ice cream, you ask? Well, you take a stuff a goldfish-shaped waffle cone (popular in Japan) with one of four soft-serve flavor (matcha, ube, milk or black sesame) and a waffle cone filling (red bean, custard or Nutella), and top it with fun toppings like Oreo cookie crumbs, cereal or fresh fruit. If ever there was an Insta-worthy food!

If dairy doesn’t agree with you, there’s always shaved ice. For Hawaiian-style, head to Brian’s Shave Ice, where you can choose from 30 flavors to choose from, including Tigers Blood, it’s the which turns your tongue red. Or, for a decidedly pretty shaved ice experience, take your camera and tastebuds to Blockhead’s Shavery. Desserts here are made with fresh and natural ingredients and taste as good as they look. Our pick: the mango with mochi and condensed milk!

Photo courtesy of @archela

Photo courtesy of @archela

How ever you choose to cool down in Los Angeles, with so many options at your fingertips, you are destined to have fun doing it.


Ashlee Polarek is a freelance travel and lifestyle writer, focused on promoting exploration and stepping out of your comfort zone. She loves reading, eating good food, and exploring new places. Find her here on Instagram.

PS - We’d love to hear how you stay cool in So-Cal in the comments below!