Summer in Los Angeles: top 8 things to do for ultimate fun

Sunshine, surfing, and Champagne — this summer guide fills you in on Los Angeles’ 8 best summer activities.

Southern California's reputation for warm weather and clear skies barely scratches the surface of what summer in Los Angeles has to offer. With LA’s endless number of summer activities to choose from, you can spend summer your way, whether you want to surf the waves at Venice Beach or paddle a swan boat on Echo Park Lake.

LA’s summer vibe is less about ticking off tourist spots and more about soaking in SoCal’s laid-back lifestyle. This guide to the top 8 summer activities in Los Angeles is your insider roadmap to experiencing LA’s sun-soaked summer days like a local.

Best outdoor activities in Los Angeles for summer

Experience your own Old West movie moment while riding horseback through LA's cinematic landscapes.

1. Go horseback riding through the Santa Monica Mountains

Nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains, Griffith Park spans a large area in the hills overlooking Hollywood. Experience the area in style on a horseback ride paired with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the Los Angeles skyline side by side.

Highlights:

Horseback riding through the Santa Monica Mountains lets you escape the city's hustle and bustle without straying too far from its heart. It also gives you a taste of the Old West feeling from the movies.

Climb to the summit of Saddle Peak to fully enjoy rugged beauty of the Santa Monica Mountains.

2. Experience rock climbing at Saddle Peak

If you’ve ever wanted to try rock climbing, summer is the perfect time to give it a go. Head to Saddle Peak, deep within the Santa Monica Mountains, for an outdoor climbing experience like no other.

Highlights:

Once you reach the top of the peak, you're rewarded with a panoramic view of this beautiful region of Southern California.

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Driving the Pacific Coast Highway unfolds a journey through California, from the beaches of Santa Barbara to artsy shops of Carmel-by-the-Sea.

3. Explore the iconic Pacific Coast Highway

As one of the most famous scenic drives in the world, the Pacific Coast Highway is a quintessential summer adventure that weaves through the heart of California's landscapes. Reach areas like the sun-kissed beaches of Santa Barbara, the Danish-inspired streets of Solvang, and the artistic haven of Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Highlights:

Make it a 2- or 3-day trip and travel further to spots like San Francisco, Yosemite National Park, and Big Sur.

Explore the Pacific Coast Highway

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Spot the city's famous landmarks from a helicopter for expansive views during summer's long, clear days.

4. See LA from above on a helicopter ride

Escape the heat while getting a different perspective of Los Angeles from high in the skies. Helicopter rides in Los Angeles will fly you over some of the city’s most famous attractions and nature-rich areas, from the mansions of Beverly Hills to a close-up view of the Hollywood Sign.

Highlights:

Soaring above LA in the summer means the clearest skies and longest days, providing the best chances for vivid, unobstructed views.

Explore LA from above

Best water activities in Los Angeles for summer

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Dedicate a day to hopping between LA's prettiest beaches, such as Venice Beach, Santa Monica Beach, and Manhattan Beach.

5. Hop between the beaches of Los Angeles' coastal area

No summer guide to the City of Angels would be complete without mentioning the golden-sand beaches along Los Angeles' coastline. From the Ferris wheel at Santa Monica Pier to the upscale sands of Malibu, you’ll find a slice of Southern California beach culture wherever you go.

Highlights:

Chase the sunset, join a beach volleyball game, mingle with sea lions, have a picnic, or try a water sport like wakeboarding — summer is the unrivaled season to soak in LA’s best beaches.

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A cruise in Marina del Rey combines leisure and luxury, offering a view of the marina's beauty from the water.

6. Sip on wine while cruising in Marina del Rey

Marina del Rey is known for being one of the best places to enjoy summer in Los Angeles. This waterfront community comes alive in the warmer months as cruises and water sports become a favorite pastime for both locals and visitors. On a cruise, you’ll get a special view of the marina that you don't see from the shore.

Highlights:

Cruises through the marina promise a relaxing atmosphere, usually paired with Champagne, wine, and charcuterie. Go at sunset for a romantic evening.

Explore the Marina del Rey

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Taking a surfing lesson at Venice Beach is your key to the heart of SoCal's surf culture, with the bustling boardwalk and welcoming waves for all skill levels.

7. Take a surfing lesson at Venice Beach

Southern California is known worldwide for its surfing culture, and Venice Beach is a beloved surfing hub with surf shops and waves that cater to both beginner and experienced surfers. Even if you've never surfed before, learning from a professional instructor will have you riding the waves in no time.

Highlights:

Surfing under the LA summer sun is an essential experience if you want to get an authentic taste of the SoCal lifestyle.

Exlore the Venice Beach

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Find a peaceful retreat in LA and a charming date activity with a swan boat ride on Echo Park Lake.

8. Relax on a swan boat ride on Echo Park Lake

Echo Park is one of LA's most popular urban parks, serving as a habitat for local geese and swans and a recreational hub for community events. Riding one of the lake’s signature swan boats is an easygoing, fun way to experience the park. You’ll be surrounded by the city but feel miles away.

Highlights:

If you’re looking for a unique date option away from the city's more crowded spots, pedaling a swan boat ride on Echo Park Lake is hard to beat.

Address:

Echo Park Lake, Los Angeles, CA, 90026.

FAQs

Where can I go swimming or relax by the water in Los Angeles?

The LA coastline is full of great beaches. Some of the best include Venice Beach, Santa Monica Beach, El Matador State Beach, and Malibu Surfrider Beach. Locals often head to lesser-known spots like Point Dume and Paradise Cove.

Are there any great summer festivals in Los Angeles?

Hard Summer and BeachLife are popular music festivals that take place in San Bernardino and Redondo, respectively. For more family-friendly events, there's the Orange County Fair and the Festival of Arts Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach.

What are the must-visit outdoor attractions in Los Angeles?

LA features urban parks alongside rugged mountains, meaning you’ll find many places to enjoy the outdoors, whether you want to hike, bike, rock climb, or sunbathe on the beach. Explore Griffith Park and Echo Park Lake within the city, or head to the coast to visit Venice Beach and Santa Monica. There are also walking and horse-riding trails throughout the Santa Monica Mountains.

What are some great day trips to take from Los Angeles in the summer?

One of the best ways to explore outside of Los Angeles is with a tour or multi-day trip of the Pacific Coast Highway. Popular coastal towns to check out include Santa Barbara, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Malibu, and Newport Beach. San Francisco is another great day trip destination, though you’ll want to start early due to the longer drive from LA.

What are some fun activities with kids in Los Angeles in summer?

Kids can spend the entire day enjoying LA’s best theme parks, like Disneyland and Universal Studios. There is also a range of family-friendly activities such as bike riding, paddle boat rides, and film screenings. Exploring one of the many Los Angeles museums is another fun option.