By: Valerie Dansereau Many people think that leading a sober life will mean a life…
Sober Summer: 10 Sober LA Activities This Summer
Pool parties, patio barbecues, picnics in the park and, if you are in sunny Los Angeles, afternoons on the beach!
As the days get warmer, we begin thinking of all the fun activities that make the summer season special. Unfortunately, for people who are trying to embrace a sober lifestyle, those summer activities represent environments that usually include a cooler full of beer, chilled wine or a pitcher of margaritas — huge triggers for relapse and not conducive to a sober summer.
A Sober Summer Is Possible in Los Angeles
If your idea of the perfect summer includes a cold beer or piña coladas and other tropical drinks with little umbrellas in them, contemplating a summer without alcohol may be depressing. The good news is, there are plenty of fun things to do in and around LA that don’t involve drinking or being around others who are drinking.
Here are 10 activities you can do in LA while embracing your hard-won sobriety.
- Join AA meetings on the beach. Need a new way to experience the beach now that you are sober? Consider grabbing your morning coffee to go and joining an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting right on the beach — shoes optional. This gives you a chance to venture beyond your usual 12-step meeting, breathe in the sea air and find new friends in recovery. One AA website of LA meetings lists beach meetups on Sunday mornings in the Los Angeles area’s beach cities of Venice, Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach.
- Enjoy yoga on the beach. Another way to enjoy the sand and a sober summer is to join a beach yoga class. Lifeguard station #29 on Santa Monica Beach is the locale of “Beach Yoga With Brad,” which is open to everyone for a suggested donation of $15. Bring a towel and bottle of water, and join a group of health-minded people of all yoga skill levels at Marine Street and the water’s edge every weekend morning from 10:30 to noon. Sunset beach yoga is available on Tuesdays. Other groups also offer outdoor yoga classes in natural settings around LA.
- Walk trails along the coastal cliffs. If being on the sand is too much of a trigger to drink alcohol, you can feel the healing power of the ocean from a higher vantage point — a trail along the bluffs in scenic Palos Verdes. The Palos Verdes peninsula is an easy day trip from most points in Los Angeles. While some PV trails are hilly and more appropriate for athletic hikers, others are fairly level and suitable for those who prefer an easy walk. Most coastal trails afford beautiful views of the waves and Catalina Island — and the opportunity to catch sight of a whale or school of dolphins.
- Stroll through botanical gardens. The Los Angeles area is home to several beautiful botanical gardens that provide opportunities to get away from the bustle of city life and commune with nature. The most famous, perhaps, is the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens near Pasadena, in San Marino. The gardens are open throughout the year, and can be a great place to enjoy a sober spring full of new blooms as well as a sober summer. Not too far away, in Arcadia, you will find the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden.
- Go stargazing, inside and out, at Griffith Observatory. A little-known fact about Griffith Observatory: This was the location of James Dean’s knife fight scene in the iconic 1950s film, “Rebel Without a Cause.” Even if you aren’t a movie fan, you’ll enjoy the giant telescopes on the grounds that allow you to view the city and sky, as well as the indoor show in the planetarium that gives you a guided visual tour of constellations in the night sky from the comfort of your seat. Admission is free.
- Embrace your inner ranchero while horseback riding. Also located in Griffith Park is Sunset Ranch, which offers guided horseback rides along trails with some of the best views of Los Angeles, including the Hollywood sign, the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys and downtown. One- and two-hour rides are available from about 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. every day of the week. (While evening rides are also available, you might want to steer clear of these because others in the group may bring drinks to the catered barbeque after the ride.)
- Explore sea life at the aquarium. From the sea otter habitat to giant tanks of sea jellies and the shark cove, walking through the Aquarium of the Pacific is like taking an underwater journey without getting wet. Outdoor touch tanks full of baby sharks and stingrays offer a tactile experience, while other interactive exhibits round out a rich, immersive learning adventure. The aquarium can get crowded on summer mornings, so if you’d like a more peaceful time, plan to visit after 3:00 p.m.
- Be a kid again at Disneyland. People trying to have a sober summer will be happy to know that Disneyland, the “happiest place on earth,” is still a 99% alcohol-free zone. However, alcohol is served at the park’s exclusive Club 33, the adjacent Disney California Adventure, and also at Downtown Disney and nearby Disney-themed hotels. As long as you skip the multi-park with hotel ticket packages and stick to the main Disneyland campus, you’ll be able to enjoy plenty of alcohol-free fun. Most of the other theme parks in Southern California do serve alcohol, so you’ll want to pass on Knott’s Berry Farm, Universal Studios, Six Flags Magic Mountain and SeaWorld.
- Visit a museum and absorb culture and art. Not a big fan of the outdoors? No worries, Los Angeles is home to several museums that provide plenty of entertainment and distraction. Grab a couple of your sober pals and head over to The Getty Center, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Natural History Museum, the California Science Center, The Broad contemporary art museum or the Petersen Automotive Museum. As long as you’re on “Museum Row” in LA’s Miracle Mile district along Wilshire Boulevard, go see the fossils and bones of Ice Age animals like the woolly mammoth at the La Brea Tar Pits.
- Take a class and learn something new. People in recovery are often advised that living a “purposeful” life supports sobriety. This sounds daunting, but it doesn’t need to be any more complicated than trying out different things to figure out what you enjoy, are good at, and find meaningful — and that equals finding your purpose. Taking a summer class is a great way to try new things, explore hidden talents and discover your bliss. From learning a new language to learning how to cook, paint, write a screenplay or play a musical instrument, LA has many schools offering summer courses. LA City College, Santa Monica College, UCLA, Michael’s Crafts and Sur La Table all offer fun classes for adults in summer and all year.
Even if you get to only a few of the activities on this list, you will soon find that a sober summer in LA can be a fun summer — one that celebrates the sober new you and gives you lots of happy (new) memories. So take a deep breath, do a little research to find activities and venues that don’t involve alcohol, remember the mantra “Live Sober, Live Happy” and dive in.
The Benefits of a Sober Summer and How to Achieve Them. Narcanon.
AA Website Meeting Directory, Los Angeles, CA. http://www.lacoaa.org/find_meeting.php
Outdoor Yoga Meetups in Los Angeles. https://www.meetup.com/topics/outdoor-yoga/us/ca/los_angeles/
Best Trails Near Rancho Palos Verdes, California.
Unforgettable Hikes in Scenic Palos Verdes.
The best botanical gardens and hidden oases in Los Angeles. https://www.timeout.com/los-angeles/things-to-do/the-best-botanical-gardens-and-hidden-oases-in-los-angeles
Best Places for Horseback Riding In Los Angeles. CBS Los Angeles. http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/top-lists/best-places-for-horseback-riding-in-los-angeles/
10 Free Museums in L.A. That Need to Be at the Top of Every Angeleno’s To-do List. We Like LA. http://www.welikela.com/best-free-museums-los-angeles/
10 of Our Favorite Cooking Classes in LA. LA Weekly. Erin Behan, July 2015.