Ultimate Outdoors Summer Weekend: Fun in the SoCal Sun

Michael Gardner; Courtesy of Helene Henderson
Henderson (inset) hosts Malibu Farm dinners like this one in May at an actual Malibu farm.

Hit the open road, the hiking trail and the Los Angeles River Rapids on this rugged tour of the city's sweatiest, splashiest hot weather to-dos.

This story first appeared in the July 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.


Put the top down and motor to the beach for a moonlight swim and an overnight under the stars: Active Tours, a new adventure-guide company, offers a camping concierge service that will set up a tent for you at Leo Carrillo State Beach or Malibu Creek, complete with s’mores supplies and a ready-to-light campfire ($399 a night for two, activetours.com). 

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Cruise east on Sunset for a hike in the Trebek Open Space (donated by, yep, Alex Trebek!) parallel to Runyon Canyon — the Bantam and Castair trails are a moderate 2.5 miles combined — or try Brentwood’s Westridge Trail (trailhead at the end of Westridge Road off Mandeville Canyon Road), which leads to an abandoned Cold War missile site. The round trip is 7.4 miles with a 900-foot elevation gain. Once you brush off the dust, hit Robert De Niro’s Nobu Malibu (22706 Pacific Coast Highway). The new location, opened last summer, has a breezy, beach-chic patio over the sand. After you savor a king crab salad, join the locals peering across the parking lot at the soon-to-be Nikita, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison’s buzzed-about Mediterranean restaurant (likely named for his girlfriend, Ukrainian stunner Nikita Kahn), set to open in July. David Geffen may not want you hanging out in front of his Carbon Beach house, but with environmental writer Jenny Price’s new app Our Malibu Beaches (released by Escape Apps), you can navigate past warning signs and fake driveways for an afternoon on the sand. Price’s favorite beach find is Lechuza, on the west end of Broad Beach Road. Download and explore! DreamWorks CEO Stacey Snider’s chef, Helene Henderson, never goes to the beach unless it’s to walk her goats, Casey and Quincy, but the former Ford model’s roving Malibu Farm dinners (malibufarm.com) take ample advantage of the area’s bounty. Dishes make use of local olive oil, honey and produce, all served in the open air to guests who have included Rick Rubin and Beck. Tickets are on sale for the next feast ($150 a person) at The Darjeeling Limited producer Alice Bamford’s One Gun Ranch on July 13.

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Wake up early for breakfast at the saloon-style Old Place Restaurant (29983 Mulholland Highway). The winding drive will test your road skills, especially when you make a screeching right — watch out for peacocks! — off Mulholland into the revived town of Cornell. This half-century old eatery once was frequented by Steve McQueen and Sam Peckinpah, who surely would appreciate the “Manmosa,” a mimosa served in a pint glass. Hitchcock director Sacha Gervasi is a fan of the joint’s nighttime offerings: “Old-school steaks, clams and fascinating people,” he says. “It’s hard not to love a place where a one-toothed woman will play Neil Young for you on her acoustic for a Corona with lime.” If you’ve never done a downward dog, this might not be the day to try Stand Up Paddle yoga, but even novice yogis enjoy the challenge of this fusion water workout. YogAqua, whose founder was one of the first instructors to teach SUP yoga in the U.S., offers classes in Marina del Rey and Newport Beach (class and rental, $39; yogaqua.com). Once you dry off, dive into one of the already legendary buttermilk biscuits — delicious under a smoked trout Benedict or smeared with burnt orange honey butter — on the large shaded patio at chef Govind Armstrong’s new Venice outpost, Willie Jane (1031 Abbot Kinney Blvd.). Indulge alfresco. Finish the day with something you never thought you’d do on the L.A. River: kayaking. A 2.5-mile stretch dubbed the Glendale Narrows, which runs from Fletcher Drive to San Fernando Road, is open to boaters and even has occasional Class II rapids. Bring your own kayak or sign up with L.A. River Expeditions ($60 for a guided trip, lariverexpeditions.com), whose advocacy was crucial in the effort to develop a recreational river.

See more perfect summer weekends below:

Shopping With Jewelry Designer Jennifer Meyer

Music With Breakout Star Skylar Grey

Art With Director Phil Lord

Food: From Seafood Craze to Farmer's Market Bounty

Pampering: Spa, Aaah

Romance: Date Nights (and Days)

Classic L.A.: Historic Hot Spots

The 1 Percent: Live in Luxury

Kids: Modern Family Adventures