Westside Summer Guide


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Westside Summer Calendar 2014

June 1 (Sun.)
Bartels’ Harley-Davidson Chili Cook-Off  Bill Bartell and 15 challengers bring their best chili recipes for this 11th annual contest, with tastings and live music from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Bartels’ Harley-Davidson, 4141 Lincoln Blvd. Marina Del Rey, (310) 823-1112; bartelsharley.com

June 7 (Sat.)
Santa Monica Pier Paddleboard Race and Ocean Festival Paddleboard races are the highlight of this all-day event that features contests for kids, a lifeguard dory race and a surf history pop-up museum. Hula dancers flank the festivities that are followed by live music and awards for top finishers. Event sponsor Tommy Bahama hosts a rum lounge; Sierra Nevada a beer garden. Event proceeds benefit Heal the Bay. Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica. santamonicapier.org

June 7 and 8 (Sat., Sun.)
Relay for Life of Venice This 24-hour, 9 a.m. to 9 a.m. overnight relay event benefits the American Cancer Society. Participate as an individual or camp out with your team, taking turns walking and enjoying food, games and entertainment while you fundraise. Held at Venice High School, 13000 Venice Blvd., Venice. (310) 822-5425.

June 14 (Sat.) Santa Monica Festival
A free celebration of art, culture, local resources and sustainability from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Clover Park, 2600 Ocean Park Blvd., Santa Monica. (310) 458-8350; www.smgov.net/festival

June 14 (Sat.) Drink: Eat: Play :: Wine Festival
Sample hundreds of wines from 50 different wineries from 5 to 9 p.m. at this event sponsored by Total Wine. Admission is $50 to $60. Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica. (310) 902-6955; drinkeatplay.com/winefest

June 21 (Sat.)
Eat|See|Hear: “When Harry Met Sally” Don’t forget a picnic blanket at this film, food truck and live music event. The event starts at 5:30 p.m., with a band performing before the 8:30 p.m. screening of the romantic comedy starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. Tickets are $8 to $20. Santa Monica High School Memorial Greek Amphitheater, 601 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica. eatseehear.com

June 22 (Sun.)
Yas-A-Thon Spin to Beat Cancer, 1-4pm Challenge your spinning skills to raise funds for life-saving cancer research by ThinkCure!, participating as an individual or three-person team. The event is from 1 to 4 p.m. at YAS Venice, 1101 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice. go2yas.com

June 28 (Sat.) Ballona Dunes Restoration Party
Help restore wetlands by planting native flora and removing invasive plant species while learning about wetland ecology in the Ballona Wetlands. Events occur from 9:30 a.m. to noon on the last Saturday of each month throughout the summer. Meet at 303 Culver Blvd., Playa del Rey. (310) 306-5994

July 4 (Fri.) 14th annual Westchester 4th of July
Floats, marching bands and community groups parade from Westchester Park to the Loyola Marymount University back gates during this Independence Day celebration. The fun starts at 11 a.m. 7000 W. Manchester Blvd., Westchester. (310) 645-5151

July 4 (Fri.)
Marina del Rey Fireworks Celebration A 20-minute burst of extravagant and vibrant fireworks over the water wrap up Independence Day celebrations in the marina. The show starts at 9 p.m., and good viewing spots include Fisherman’s Village, Burton Chase Park and the Mother’s Beach. (310) 305-9545; beaches.lacounty.gov

July 4 (Fri.)
Mr. and Ms. Muscle Beach Competition Bodybuilding competition for men and women includes figure, bikini and physique competitions. Participants take the stage at 10 a.m., with finals starting at 1 p.m., at Venice Beach Recreation Center, 1800 Ocean Front Walk, Venice. Free admission for spectators. (310) 399-2775; musclebeachvenice.com

July 12 (Sat.) Freshwater Marsh Interpretive Tour
Friends of the Ballona Wetlands hosts a free guided tour about birds, plants and native ecology of the Ballona Wetlands. Tour begins on the southwest side corner of Jefferson and Lincoln boulevards (310) 306-5994; ballonafriends.org

July 19 (Sat.)
Montana Avenue Art and Music Festival Montana Avenue becomes Santa Monica’s longest art gallery from noon to 8 p.m., with live music and vendors. Between 6th and 17th streets, Santa Monica. montanaave.com

July 26 and 27 (Sat., Sun.) Venice Beach Summer Fest
A weekend of family-friendly fun at Venice Beach includes a carnival, beer garden, vendor booths, live music and plenty of ocean breezes, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday. 1800 Ocean Front Walk, Venice. fx3events.com

July 27 (Sun.) Old Fashioned Day in the Park
Explore vintage yachts, cars and motorcycles, watch model shipbuilders do their thing and take a free ride aboard a steam engine yacht from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Burton Chace Park, 13650 Mindanao Way, Marina del Rey. Free admission. beaches.lacounty.gov/

Aug. 3 (Sun.) 38th annual Festival of the Chariots
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness throws a free public feast, festival and parade showcasing Indian culture. The event begins at 10 a.m. at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium and heads south on Main Street, with decorated four-story tall chariots leading a colorful parade to the Venice boardwalk, where it arrives at noon. festivalofchariots.com

Aug. 9 (Sat.) Open House at the Salt Marsh
Take a self-guided tour of the Ballona Wetlands salt marsh and dunes from 2 to 4 p.m., with docents at various stations to explain the sights. Start from the parking lot behind Gordon’s Market, 303 Culver Blvd, Playa del Rey. ballonafriends.org

Aug. 23 (Sat.) Venice Beach Music Fest
Free outdoor festival of music, dance, art and food trucks from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., with a lineup that includes Willie Chambers, Meet Me at the Pub, Looner, The Familyhood Nextperience (members of Fishbone), Jet West, belly dance, Samba da Mudanca, Champa 51, Stevie Starlight, more. Windward Plaza Park, 1 Windward Ave., Venice. venicebeachmusicfest.com

Explore the Outdoors by Land, Air and Sea

From biking Ballona Creek to parasailing over Santa Monica Bay, experience all the great outdoors has to offer in your own backyard

By Shanee Edwards

Put down the remote and back away from the TV.

Summer is about staying active and getting outdoors — especially on the Westside, where there’s plenty of affordable fun under the sun to suit anyone’s tastes.

Whether you crave a breathtaking view from up high, feel the call to set sail on open seas or prefer to move your feet along solid ground, look no further than your own backyard.

Hit the beach on two wheels along the Marvin Braude Bike Trail

Hit the beach on two wheels along the Marvin Braude Bike Trail

If you’re up for a great bike ride without the stress of sharing the road with Sunday drivers, head to the Ballona Creek Bike Path — a paved seven-mile trail from Culver City to Playa del Rey that connects to the beachside Marvin Braude Bike Trail that spans roughly 25 miles from Will Rogers State Beach to Torrance County Beach in the South Bay. Upgrades and cleanups by the non-profit Ballona Creek Renaissance promise a smooth and attractive ride, with views of egrets, herons, pelicans and ducks eating and wading in the waters along the way.

Long-distance biker Laurel Minter of Culver City was happy to find the Ballona Creek path after relocating from Seattle. In addition to enjoying a traffic-free ride that’s devoid of potholes and stoplights, “it’s the best way to get to Playa del Rey bars and restaurants,” she said. “It’s great fun to take a leisurely ride with friends to grab a glass of wine at the beach at sunset and feel safe riding home, even after dark. It’s also great to hit the trail fast and have an uninterrupted 25-mile ride down the coast.”

Learn about the 12 entrances to the Ballona Creek Bike Path at ballonacreek.org.

If you’re single and ready to mingle out on the water, check out the Single Mariners of Marina del Rey. The non-profit club offers sailing trips for those looking for love and friendship, including lively boat parties and some over-night outings to Catalina Island. Participants need neither sailing nor dating experience to take part. Sign up for weekend excursions during club meetings at 7 p.m. on the first and third Thursdays of the month at the Pacific Mariners Yacht Club on Panay Way. Visit singlemariners.com to find out more.

Glide over Santa Monica Pier with the Los Angeles Chapter of the Trapeze School of New York

Glide over Santa Monica Pier with the Los Angeles Chapter of the Trapeze School of New York

Indulge your inner circus performer by flying on a trapeze over the backdrop of the beautiful Santa Monica Bay. The Los Angeles chapter of the Trapeze School New York offers classes for beginning flyers in a safe, supportive environment (yes, there is a real safety net below you) right on Santa Monica Pier.

Guided by professionals, you’ll feel your adrenaline rise as you swing out of your comfort zone on their apparatus. After a few tries, one of the instructors on the ground will tell you when to let go of the bar to be caught by the hands of a muscular, upside-down instructor, just like you’ve seen the pros do. Search online for Groupons and LivingSocial deals or visit losangeles.trapezeschool.com.

Kayak Marina del Rey harbor with the UCLA Marina Aquatic Center

Kayak Marina del Rey harbor with the UCLA Marina Aquatic Center

If sunsets and moonlight really float your boat, try kayaking in the Sunset/Full Moon Paddle with the UCLA Marina Aquatic Center in Marina del Rey. Outings are held from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on certain Saturdays in May and June, and it certainly sounds like a romantic evening. No kayaking experience is necessary. The Marina Aquatic Center also offers classes in surfing, sailing and stand-up paddle boarding. Go to marinaaquaticcenter.org to find out more.

A fantastic way to see unparalleled views of the Pacific Ocean and the L.A. shoreline is by parasailing. Marina del Rey Parasailing offers floats at 500 and 800 feet with breathtaking views of Venice Beach and the Santa Monica Pier. Two or even three people can parasail together at one time, so if you happen to find a successful love match at the Single Mariners club, what better way to pop the question than on a private parasail trip? Surprises, in fact, are a Marina del Rey Parasailing specialty: the company can even arrange a wedding in the sky. Parasailors have the option of landing in the water or on the boat, depending on weather conditions.

Recent first-time parasailor Jeniffer Hererla of Monterey Park admits she was scared to try the sport but is very glad she did.

“I was panicking, but once you get up there you love it,” she said.

Go to marinadelreyparasailing.com to make reservations.

For scenic views without leaving the ground, consider a trek to the Culver City Stairs, which ascend 375 feet to the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook. If that sounds a bit strenuous, there are also easy dirt paths that wind to the top, where an interactive nature and visitor center awaits (open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays). Wildlife on the overlook and along the way includes birds, striped snails, wild rabbits, lizards and — in the hottest months — snakes. The trailhead is at the intersection of Jefferson Boulevard and Hetzler Road, with restrooms and water fountains available at the top next to the visitor center.

Playa del Rey beach volleyball club builds friendships one match at a time

Playa del Rey beach volleyball club builds friendships one match at a time

Back at sea level, dust off those old roller skates and get your boogie on next to the Venice Skatepark, where on most Sundays a DJ magically appears to spin some old-school grooves while skaters and roller-bladers get down. Located just off the Venice Beach boardwalk near Market Street, the skate park draws skaters who range from novice to super fly and can garner quite a crowd of spectators. Whether you’re dancing or watching, it’s a really funky way to feel the ocean breeze on your face. There is no set schedule or organizer — this is just one of those authentic Venice traditions that seems to have started decades ago.

“They played disco, some 80s music, Michael Jackson and the like — mostly fun, danceable tunes,” said Jennie Evenson, a Santa Monica resident who recently discovered her first skate party.

Summer also offers plenty of free live outdoor music to enjoy.

The Twilight Concert Series at Santa Monica Pier kicks off July 10 and continues with nine more free concerts, all from 7 to 10 p.m. Thursdays. An announcement of the series lineup is pending at santamonicapier.org.

Playa Vista’s summer concert series includes six free Sunday shows in June, July and August at Concert Park (13020 Pacific Promenade), each starting at 5 p.m. The Soulville California Band performs chart topping dance hits on June 29, and the Surf City All Starts — featuring two original members of the Beach Boys and Dean Torrence of Jan & Dean — perform July 13. See playavista.com for a complete listing.

The Marina del Rey Summer Concerts series in July and August at Burton Chace Park features splits the bill between four “Symphonic Thursdays” shows and four Saturday pop concerts. Saturday headliners include Roberta Flack and Blue Oyster Cult (More cowbell!), and Broadway songstress Bernadette Peters appears with her own 10-piece orchestra on Aug. 21. Shows start at 7 p.m. For information on all eight shows, visit marinadelrey.lacounty.gov.