by Kelly Wardle - 21 Reviews - 17 List
Memorial Day officially commemorates the men and women of the armed forces, and unofficially kicks off the summer season. Many people head out of town for the three-day weekend, but there's plenty to keep you busy if you're sticking around Los Angeles over the holiday, from festivals to pool parties to beachside fun. See where to play in L.A. this Memorial Day.
Updated: May 28, 2010
Art from local artists, classic rock tribute bands, a food court selling fest favorites like fish tacos, roasted corn and funnel cakes, a wine and beer garden, and a kiddie carnival all come to downtown Hermosa Beach on the streets surrounding the pier for the Fiesta Hermosa street fair. Bring your favorite pup along to compete in the Dog Costume Contest, where dogs model their best canine couture. Fest hours are 10am-6pm, May 29-31; <a href="http://www.fiestahermosa.com/">www.fiestahermosa.com</a>.
Opa! The Valley Greek Festival, held on the grounds of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Northridge, is an annual celebration of all things Greek. The family-friendly fest features live music, dancing, food stands, cooking demos, children's activities and a Greek market. The fest is open from 1pm to 9pm, May 29-31; <a href="http://www.valleygreekfestival.com">www.valleygreekfestival.com</a>.
JazzReggae Festival 2010 features two days of jammin' music held at UCLA's Intramural Field over Memorial Day weekend. Sunday is Jam Day with artists including Q-Tip and Raphael Saadiq, while Monday is Reggae Day with acts like Nas & Damian Marley. Single-day tickets are $26 and two-day passes are $45 in advance; advance deluxe tickets are $55 per day and provide access to a tented VIP area with seating, plasma TVs, and free food and drinks. May 30-31, 12pm-7pm; <a href="http://jazzreggaefest.com">www.jazzreggaefest.com</a>.
Monday's City of Angeles Wine Fest, held at the Music Center Plaza in Downtown L.A., features fancy appetizers and wine tastings, with wines from some 30 California wineries, food from Patina Restaurant Group's downtown restaurants including Nick + Stef's Steakhouse, Cafe Pinot, Kendall's Brasserie and Zucca Ristorante, and a silent auction. The event benefits the Volunteers of America Los Angeles downtown homeless service center. Tickets are $65 in advance and $75 at the door (price includes nine wine tickets and two food tickets); extra wine and food tickets are available for purchase. May 31, 12pm-5pm; <a href="http://www.cityofangelswinefest.com/">www.cityofangelswinefest.com</a>.
Sneak out early from work and get the long holiday weekend started with the Shangri-La's "Ditch Day Fridays" celebration--from 1pm to 7pm, party poolside with music, $5 well cocktails, beer and wine, and $5 menu items like lettuce wraps and burgers. Can't make it this Friday? "Ditch Day Fridays" runs all summer long. Then on Sunday, May 30, head back to the Shangri-La for the Hotel's summer 2010 kick-off event, Summer Pool Fest. The party begins at noon and will feature at DJs, food and drink specials, a beach couture fashion show and giveaways. Admission is free (must RSVP to <a href="http://www.pacqproductions.com">www.pacqproductions.com</a>).
The W kicks off the summer season with its Memorial Day pool party and The Backyard BBQ on Monday with a DJ, plenty of people-watching, and The Backyard's menu items like BBQ tri tip, pulled pork sandwiches, smoked brisket tacos and grilled corn on the cob. Drink specials include $7 Svedka drinks, $5 Miller Lite aluminum bottles and $1 jello shots. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org (required) or call (323) 656-5545 to reserve a cabana. May 31, 11am to 5pm.
Take advantage of lots of people being out of town over the weekend by visiting this iconic L.A. park. There is no shortage of activities to keep you busy in the park's 4,000-plus acres--pack a picnic basket and lounge in the sunshine, visit the Los Angeles Zoo, explore the Bronson Caves, hike the Fern Dell trail to the Griffith Park Observatory, take a ride on a scale-model train or rent a bike and cruise the paths.
The Venice Beach boardwalk is an adventure on almost any weekend of the year; on Memorial Day weekend, the crowds come out in full force to celebrate the beginning of beach season. Rent a beach cruiser and ride up the path towards Santa Monica, or cruise the boardwalk on foot for some up-close-and-personal people-watching, including the always-entertaining street performers.
Located just a short drive (when traffic isn't terrible, at least) up the PCH in Malibu, Zuma is one of SoCal's prettiest beaches, with wide, stretches of white sand and clean water. Parking is tricky on busy weekends, so head there early to snag a space in a lot (there's also free parking on the PCH); there are beachside food stands if you forget to bring a picnic, or stop at one of the seafood shacks on the drive home, like Malibu Seafood, to fill up on fish tacos and fried shrimp with an ocean view.