The Best Indoor Activities In Los Angeles
Los Angeles is a paradise where no one blinks when it hits 75 degrees in January and you can avail yourself of the great outdoors nearly year-round with little more than a sweatshirt. But there are days (even rainy ones, occasionally!) when you just want to chill out inside, get crafty, get in shape or play a game. Bookmark this list for those days and, as always, add your own suggestions in the comments.
The bookshelves of board games at Game Haus Cafe (Photo via Facebook)
Whether it's Risk, Monopoly, Settlers of Catan, or just simply a good match of Battleship or Scrabble, these games bring us back to simpler times. Glendale's Game Haus Cafe is one of the best and casual spots in L.A. to relive your childhood. They mean serious business: their bookshelves are chock-full of games—a library with over 900 titles. They charge a $5 cover for unlimited play of as many games as you want and for as long as they're open. And don't worry if you get hungry, they're a cafe, too, so you can purchase coffee, sandwiches and pastries from them. Another hotspot in Glendale is the recently-opened bar, The Moose Den, a casual pub that makes you feel like you're in your friend's cool basement somewhere in the Midwest. The spot has comfy booths and tables, serves craft beer on tap and delicious food (their Moose Wings and mac 'n' cheese are some of our favorites), and carry games from Battleship to Jenga and Clue, as well as more physically active games like shuffleboard, darts and Foosball that you can play all for free. The Spare Room is like a grandfather's parlor tucked inside The Roosevelt. It has a number of board games that can be played with decreasing accuracy as you imbibe craft cocktails. Though the space does have a very small, two-lane bowling alley, we recommend joining your friends for an intimate game of Chess or Othello. On Sunday nights, they have Bingo hosted by comedians with specials on brats and beer. —Jean Trinh and Juliet Bennett Rylah
From an upcoming macrame class with Portland-based artist Emily Katz at Communal LA (Photo courtesy of Communal LA)
GET INTO THE DIY SPIRIT
There are heaps of opportunities to get creative in our city, even if you've yet to earn your title of Crafting Queen. Tap into your your inner Tim Gunn withfree sewing classes at Mood, or spend the afternoon trying your hand at leather working at Tandy Leather. If design is of interest, sign up for one of the floral workshops at Fleurish or one of the creative gatherings at Communal LA, where you can get that much closer to your inner Martha. If food is more your style, check out some of the cooking classes in town, like the internationally inspired sessions at Eatz or the more professional series at at New School of Cooking. The possibilities are endless. —Krista Simmons
Sadly, we couldn't find any prancercise classes in Los Angeles (YouTube)
Sure, a lot of today's fitness crazes will one day go the way of Tae Bo and Bowflex and whatever Suzanne Somers used to sell. But who cares? Sometimes you want to shake up your sad gym routine with something ridiculous and fun or it's just too muddy to hike Runyon. Retro group classes are supposed to make a comeback this year: for a vintage craze that's still kicking, you can check out Richard Simmons' Slimmons Studio in Beverly Hills and take a class for only $12. For an updated more dance-centric class in Silver Lake, check out Ryan Heffington's Sweaty Sundays at noon at the Sweat Spot for $14. If hot yoga and barre classes had a baby, it would look like the Yoga Barre class offered at Hot 8 in Santa Monica and Beverly Hills for $25. You do barre work, yoga and low-impact moves in a room heated to 104-109 degrees. Fulfill your dream of running away and joining the circus at Cirque School in Hollywood where you can learn the trapeze, aerial silks, aerial hoops and contortions starting at $25 per class. You can't surf indoors, but you can do a workout that involves doing a lot of rigorous calisthenics on a surfboard in a sandbox at Sandbox Fitness in Sherman Oaks for $18. And we've checked out the trampoline chain SkyZone before (with locations in Glendale, Covina, Torrance and Van Nuys) and it's mostly for kids, but some of the locations do offer aerobics classes if you would like a workout that allows you to literally bounce off walls.
The zombie's chain gets longer every five minutes (Photo via 'Trapped...')
The real-life room escape game trend has been growing rapidly in the U.S., and it's already wildly popular in Eastern Europe and Japan. This immersive game is played like this: you and your teammates are locked inside a room. Inside, you will encounter numerous puzzles, riddles, clues and other problems that—when all solved correctly—will enable you to escape. There are rooms for horror lovers: The Basement in Sylmar, which sets you and your team up as victims of a sadistic serial killer who won't eat you if you can solve all his riddles; and Trapped in a Room with a Zombie in downtown Los Angeles, where a scientist-turned-zombie is only not eating you because she's attached to a chain that grows longer every five minutes. If you're looking for a more high-tech experience, there's Maze Room in Mid-Wilshire, where clever gadgets skillfully simulate the video game experience that inspired these real-life games. And where Maze Room's gadgets are fun, Exit Game in Monterey Park was designed by a team of engineers and one of their rooms requires you to duck under lasers like a spy. Some rooms can be played with only a few people, and some allow teams up to 12. It's perfect for creative dates, your brainy friends and oddly enough, for meeting new people. Every one we tried—and we tried seven—ended with us excitedly discussing the event with former strangers after we'd either escaped or, in one case, been cannibalized by a maniac. Since we published our review of local escape games, a new one has sprung up. Room Escape Live has locations in other countries, but their two rooms on Sunset Blvd. in WeHo are the company's first game in the U.S. Check out the rooms we tried here. —Juliet Bennett Rylah
Bookstores are great on rainy days ("The Big Sleep"/YouTube)
Let's give a shout-out here to Los Angeles' remaining bookstores where it's fun to spend a rainy day, even if you're not as charming as Bogey. Some of the best independent stores with a regular roster of cool readings include Skylight in Los Feliz, Book Soup in West Hollywood and Vroman's in Pasadena. If you're looking for a mix of old and new, try The Last Bookstore in downtown (whose spiraling stacks double as a great Tinder picture location that indicates a proclivity toward the literary), Stories in Echo Park and Diesel Bookstore in Brentwood. Libros Schmibros in Boyle Heights blurs the line between a library, a bookstore and community center. For sheer volume of used books, hit up North Hollywood's The Iliad Bookshop. Other notable used stores include Read Books in Eagle Rock and Alias which has locations in Atwater and Sawtelle. Eso Won Books in Leimert Park is holding it down as maybe the only independent black-owned bookstore in town. Counterpoint in Franklin Village is the place to gain hipster cred points for vintage books and vinyl. And if you need a bookstore to duck into on the Venice Boardwalk, Small World Books is the place. So now you have no excuse but to "Read A Fucking Book."
Eighty Two (Photo by Jean Trinh/LAist)
VIDEO GAME ARCADES
Arcades where you can level up on favorites like Pac-Man, Missile Commander and pinball games are making a comeback. The Art District's EightyTwo is one of the best spots in the city, a bar that opened last year with a sweet collection of games: both old like NBA Jam and new like the Walking Dead pinball machine. They also have DJs spinning, food trucks out back, and a fun list of craft cocktails on deck with names like Princess Peach and Power Up. Sherman Oaks is also home to a new arcade bar, The One Up, that mixes together craft cocktails, creative small bites (like Cap'n Crunch chicken wings), and retro arcade machines. But there's a twist—all their customers get to play their games for free, so you can save your quarters for laundry. We're also fans of the divey Blipsy Bar in Koreatown that's more reminiscent of old-school dark and moody arcade bars (like Portland's Ground Control) with fun music and cheap drink specials. And there's a new spot in Pasadena, Neon Retro Arcade, that will be opening its doors to the public sometime in January. They aren't a bar, they'll be running their shop under a different model: charging guests by hourly or daily fees for unlimited play. They also have comfy couches surrounding TVs in the back, where you can hook up old and new consoles—like Nintendo, SNES, Wii and PS4—so you can battle and trash-talk. For more options to get your game on, check out our guide here. —Jean Trinh