California Reopening Phase 2: What's Open and What's Closed in Los Angeles Now
If Coronavirus quarantine has got you down, help is on the way. Governor Newsom and Mayor Garcetti have begun rolling out their reopening plans, offering gradual relief to families and businesses exhausted by months of Stay-at-Home orders. Going outside has never sounded so thrilling. After two months of lockdown, only seeing each other in car parades and 8pm howls, giving our kids quarantine haircuts and virtual birthday parties, we finally have the beginnings of a plan to get out and enjoy the beaches, hiking trails, and more of LA's natural beauty. If we do it responsibly, we should be able to enjoy some fresh air without putting people's lives at risk.
The plan to reopen California has four phases, and we are in the early stages of Phase 2. Read on to find out what that means for schools and businesses, as well as trails, beaches, farms, and more that we can now visit—as long as we adhere to social distancing protocol and cover up with face masks.
What’s open in LA in Phase 2?
This is big change for everyone who's been missing our beautiful mountains and trails: LA County hiking trails are now open again, with only some exceptions. Trail heads are open, too, which means that there are even places to park your car legally while hiking state and county park trails. Note that Mayor Garcetti did single out Runyon Canyon trail as remaining closed, but many trails in the Santa Monica Mountains, Griffith Park, and even many of our favorite local waterfall hikes are now open.
Guidelines laid out by the county for enjoying the great outdoors safely require wearing a face covering or mask while on the trails and in the parking lots, maintaining a distance of 6 feet from other hikers, and limiting groups to people in the same household. Mayor Garcetti pointed out that masks on the trail are required even if hiking alone, since someone else could turn a corner at any moment. As long as we get this right, we can keep the trails open!
There has been a lot in the news about access to beaches lately, from protests in Orange County to angelenos slipping out late at night for a glimpse of those rare bioluminescent waves everyone is talking about. Everyone wants the beach back, and we're getting it back—in a limited way.
Orange County beaches have already opened for "active" recreation, and as of Wednesday (5/13/20) LA County beaches are doing the same. This means SoCal beaches are open for walking, jogging, swimming, surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking—pretty much everything except lying around sunbathing. Just as well, because the required masks would make for some weird tan lines. Social distancing is still in place, so no volleyball or close contact sports. Family groups are limited in size to 10 or fewer people, and no coolers, chairs, or canopies are permitted.
Here is the trick, though: Beach parking lots are closed.
The current level of beach opening seems to be focused on local use, since the only way to reach the shore is on foot or bicycle. And if you choose bicycle, note that the beach bike paths are mostly closed. Santa Monica is keeping its Marvin Braude beach bike path closed, even though portions of the bike trail passing through some LA communities are reportedly open. Long Beach has an open beach path for bikes, but still no beach parking. And if you're considering Malibu, not only are beach parking lots closed, so is much of the parking along the Pacific Coast Highway.
This introductory phase of opening the beaches is slated for roughly six weeks before loosening up any further. That said, the success of the plan may well decide how soon we can move ahead to more beach time—so wear masks, keep your social distance, and let's see how soon we can return to long, lazy days in the sand!
Our closed beaches have been lighting up at night with a rare bioluminescent display!
The family favorite pick-your-own farm in the west Valley has been open for a few days already, allowing masked fruit and veggie pickers to pick a pepper at least 6 feet away from each other. The animal attractions and petting zoo are closed, but tractor rides out to the fields are running, and sterilized wagons are available for family use. Fields at both of Underwood's locations are open for picking, in both Moorpark and Somis. Weekdays are easier for social distancing; note that tickets are limited in number to keep contact at a minimum. If other farms follow suit, we'll let you know.
The reopening of the LA Flower Market downtown has caused a stir on social media. The prospect of wandering the delightfully scented halls is enticing, but note that the market isn't strictly speaking open to the public just yet. It is open for wholesale, and to anyone who is a member of the flower market's badge program, which is designed for wholesalers and other frequent buyers. The badge costs about $40/year, so if you're someone who loves flowers (or have a big event this year that would pay for itself with a wholesale badge), it could be worth $40. For some people, just smelling that many flowers after weeks cooped up inside will be worth the fee.
We can never get enough of the peacocks. Photo by Mommy Poppins
Not many people have noticed this, but the Los Angeles Arboretum never closed! Arcadia's bucolic destination offers acres upon acres of rolling greenery, flowering plants, waterfalls, and breathtaking views. The public garden has been able to remain open throughout the Coronavirus crisis mostly because admission isn't free, and tickets must be purchased in advance online—meaning crowd size can be easily controlled. Human crowd size, that is; the peacocks don't seem to understand social distancing at all! But of course being crowded by peacocks is one of our favorite things about the Arboretum. Between those gorgeous residents and 127 acres of blooming trails, this park is a welcome reprieve.
Like the LA Arboretum, the South Coast Botanic Garden offers a beautiful outdoor environment that is guaranteed not to overcrowd. This botanic garden also sells tickets in advance online. Although South Coast isn't quite as large and doesn't have the peacocks, it does have cherry blossoms, and it's a lot closer for folks living near the coast.
One more paid admission urban retreat opens up hiking opportunities on May 16, for the first time since March: Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge offers a variety of gardens as well as woods, trails, and delightfully fresh air. Ticket sales are limited to preserve safe distancing; non-members must buy tickets online in advance. Tickets are released weekly at 10am on Tuesday. Face coverings are required. Note that May 16 tickets are already sold out.
Although movie houses in LA County have not yet been given the green light, there are a few drive-in movie theaters just outside the county limits that are open and worth the drive for a family night out.
Related: Coronavirus Guide for Parents
Backside of the Griffith Observatory from surrounding hiking trail. Photo by Lindsay Halladay
There are still plenty of local parks open for families, and if there is a spacious one close enough to enjoy without getting in the car, that's the best choice. If not, enormous Griffith Park has plenty of space to explore. The zoo, Observatory, and Travel Town are still closed, but there are trails to explore with views of all of these, and enough open space to avoid rubbing elbows with anyone else.
You may be visiting your local farmers market already, which is a great way to support local farmers and stock up on fresh food. But now the Original Farmers Market on Fairfax is back in the game as well, which makes for a fun outing, fresh food, and even a meal from the food hall to bring home.
What businesses are open for delivery and curbside pick-up?
As of this week, more businesses have been approved to open their doors, for curbside pick-up only: florists, toy stores, bookstores, music stores, clothing stores, sporting goods stores, shoe stores, car dealerships, and golf courses have all been given a cautious green light.
Restaurants remain closed to dine-in guests, but hopefully we're all continuing to treat ourselves to curbside takeout and delivery as often as we can afford. Many LA restaurants have come up with contactless curbside pick-up plans, that allow us to stay in our cars, pay electronically, and have the bag placed in our trunk if we prefer. Ordering directly from the restaurant allows the local business you want to support to keep the profits, without giving a percentage to a delivery app.
When will schools reopen in LA?
This week is just the beginning of Phase 2, but at some point Phase 2 is also supposed to move on to include the reopening of schools and day care centers.
We're obviously not there yet.
The school calendars for the new school year are all available at this point:
But of course these calendars only tells part of the story. So far no district has adopted Governor Newsom's suggestion that we start back up early, and as summer school sign-ups get underway it seems unlikely that this will change.
That means that LA and OC schools have the summer to figure out answers to the big questions: Will we be remote again in the fall? Will we be sending our kids to school in shifts, to keep numbers down? How can we schools provide for social distancing in classrooms? Various options are being considered, including split sessions and block schedules to allow fewer kids in the classroom together. As soon as info becomes available, you can count on Mommy Poppins to spread the word.
For now, we are all still schooling at home and waiting for news of the return of daycare, of school, and of a little time to ourselves. Until then, at least we have the beach.
Find more ways to keep kids happy and busy in challenging times on our new site for at-home classes, concerts, and other programs: Poppins@Home!