Tips for Families and for Keeping Cool At CicLAvia #StreetsR4Families

Kids having fun in the middle of Wilshire Boulevard at the April 2014 CicLAvia. All photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
Kids having fun in the middle of Wilshire Boulevard at the April 2014 CicLAvia. All photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

CicLAvia has always been an all-ages event. It’s one of those rare festivals that families can enjoy together. There are lots of young kids riding bicycles much further than we parents expect. Take away the cars, and streets become safe, more like parks than anything else.

And, CicLAvia is back from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Sunday, October 5, with a 10-mile “Heart of Los Angeles” route that extends from East L.A. through Boyle Heights and Downtown L.A. to Echo Park. The weather forecast shows triple digits on Saturday, then down to the low 90s on CicLAvia Day.

Below is a list of recommendations for families on how to enjoy CicLAvia, then an overlapping list for everyone with suggestions for keeping cool on a hot CicLAvia day. All locations are listed from East to West.

TIPS FOR FAMILIES:

1. Just Enjoy Walking and Bicycling on Safe Streets: Most of this article points out specific sites that your family might want to get to. I recommend not trying to be too ambitious about getting to most or any of these. The main attraction is moving through Los Angeles’ streets. Your kids don’t get to ride their bike or walk in the middle of the street every day. They probably don’t get to see so many people or so many big buildings all the time. Be spontaneous. Don’t try to get to everything.

Daughter and dad dressed up at April's CicLAvia
Daughter and dad dressed up at April’s CicLAvia

2. Dress Up: It’s certainly not necessary, but CicLAvia is a bit more fun with a cape, sequins, tutus, etc. With Halloween right around the corner, it’s a fun time for costumes. It’s probably too hot for masks, though. Hint: it’s a good way to make your kids easier to spot in the crowds, too.

3. Take Metro: It’s not always easy to take kids on the bus or train every day, so CicLAvia presents a great opportunity to ride transit with your kids. The route is very very easy to access via the Metro Gold, Red and Purple Lines. It’s a couple blocks from the Blue and Expo Lines, and Union Station with connections to Metrolink (limited bike capacity) and Amtrak. You can take bikes on all of these trains, but go early, because lots of folks take their bikes that day, so you may have to wait for another if your train is full. And, if you’re walking or skating, the trains are easy – or take a Metro bus. (Each Metro buses do hold two bikes – but these fill up into and out of CicLAvia, so I hesitate to recommend bike-bus that day.)

4. Bring bike locks and use them. It’s not rampant, but some bike theft occurs at CicLAvia. There are lots of inexperienced cyclists who neglect to lock up, or lock up incorrectly. If you stop to play, eat, buy, etc., even for just a couple minutes, please take time to lock your bikes securely.

5. Dismount and walk down hills. The route is generally flat, but there are a couple minor hills. Kids may want to bomb down, but, unless they’re experienced riders, this is where falls and injuries can occur. 

6. Watch the time: The event ends at 4 p.m. Some families and otherwise inexperienced cyclists sometimes end up far from where they started, and can get a scary rude awakening when the streets open back up to mixed traffic.

7. Take Breaks at Parks Along the Route

Vista Hermosa Park is one of a handful of parks that make for great rest stops along the CicLAvia route. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
Vista Hermosa Park is one of a handful of parks that make for great rest stops along the CicLAvia route. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

There are lots of excellent parks that kids will love to explore. (More on water parks and pools below.)

  • Belvedere Park: This is a 30+acre county park, with lots of features: large grass areas, lake, tot-lots, skate park (free, all ages, skateboard only), library, pool (see below) and more. And then there’s the East L.A. Civic Center hub activities: face-painting, balloons, kids bike safety courses, farmers market, valet bike parking, and live music! [4837 E 3rd Street map]
  • Grand Park: Lots of seating, grassy areas, and kid-friendly fountains. Check out the Filipino Festival taking place there 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.! [200 N Grand Avenue map]
  • Vista Hermosa Park:  This excellent park is very popular with my family. It has a great mix of paths through wild-feeling native landscaping, small grassy fields, picnic areas, kids play areas (at top), all with a vista muy hermosa (very beautiful view) of Downtown Los Angeles. One block north of the CicLAvia route, near the First Street Bridge over Glendale/Second. [100 N Toluca Street map]
  • Echo Park: Folks may be most familiar with the historic lake area, but, also, just south across Bellevue Avenue, there’s a tot-lot play area for young kids. [1632 Bellevue Avenue map]

8. Try taking in a performance at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater [1345 1st Street map]

Baker’s marionette shows are nutty, anachronistic puppet spectacles that every Angeleno should see once. Per BBMT website, there’s a sold-out $15 Halloween Hoop-de-Doo show scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. I expect that there will be a line and some lucky families without reservations will probably get in. Good luck!

9. Share your family’s experience using the hashtag #streetsr4families

HOW TO KEEP COOL AT CICLAVIA:

1. Arrive Early and Take Breaks

It’s of course cooler earlier in the day. CicLAvia starts at 9 a.m., and the streets are basically all car-free by about 8:40 a.m. Get there early, then take your lunch break during the mid-day heat. Easier said than done with kids… but still worth a try.

Grand Park's splash pad is awesome!
Grand Park’s splash pad is awesome!

2. Visit Water Parks, Lakes, and Pools

Nothing like water to help keep cool. Bring swimsuits to use pools! Take a break from the route and visit:

  • Belvedere Park Lake: No swimming, but sit on the grass and enjoy the cool breeze off the lake at the East L.A. Civic Center hub. [4837 E 3rd Street map]
  • Belvedere Park Aquatic Center: Open 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Free. To get to the pool from East L.A. Civic Center hub, take the pedestrian bridge over the 60 Freeway [5035 E. First Street map]
  • Grand Park: One of the very best splash-pad-type water features in Los Angeles. Great for toddlers to about 8-year-olds. Splash area is one block west of the CicLAvia route. [200 N Grand Avenue map]
  • The Plunge (Echo Park Deep Swimming Pool): Open 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Adults $3.50, kids $1. Excellent olympic-size indoor pool with recreation and lap-swim areas, located a half-block east of the route. [1419 Colton Street map]
  • Echo Park Lake: No swimming. Get out on the lake by renting a paddle boat, or just sit on the grass and enjoy the shade and cool breezes. [1632 Bellevue Avenue map]

3. Seek out the Shade in the Second Street Tunnel [2nd Street from Figueroa Street to Hill Street map]

Where is the most shade on the CicLAvia route? That would be the three-block-long Second Street Tunnel under Bunker Hill in Downtown Los Angeles. It can be a little grimy, but with no motor vehicles, the air should be exhaust-free! If it’s crazy hot on Sunday, I am expecting that the tunnel might well be the gathering spot that the 4th Street Bridge has been during past CicLAvias.

Other potentially nice shady spots (mostly under those ubiquitous freeways):

  • Metro stations and on air-conditioned Metro trains and buses [many see CicLAvia maps and Metro trip planner]
  • Under the 71o Freeway ramps [Cesar Chavez Avenue between Ford and Humphreys map]
  • Under the 5 Freeway [First Street between State and Cummings map]
  • Under the 110 Freeway [Second Street between Beaudry and Figueroa map]
  • Under the First Street Bridge over Glendale/2nd Street [100 N Toluca Street map]
  • Under the 101 Freeway [Glendale Blvd between Bellevue and Temple map]

4. Eat Plenty of Cold and Sweet Desserts

There are lots of places to find raspados (basically Mexican shaved ice snow cones) mostly along the eastern leg of the route, including the top four establishments listed below. There’s plenty of other cold sweet stuff on the eastside: diablitos, bionicos, aguas frescas, y mas. Plus more cold treats all over, including all of these places on the CicLAvia route:

  • Raspados Zacatecas – East L.A. [422 Ford Blvd map]
  • Two Scoops of Fudge Neveria – East L.A. [4308 Cesar Chavez Avenue map]
  • El Rincon De Ross Ice Cream Shop – Boyle Heights  [2242 Cesar Chavez map]
  • J&F Ice Cream Shop – Boyle Heights [1703 Mariachi Plaza map]
  • Mikawaya Mochi Ice Cream – where the now-ubiquitous Mochi ice cream was invented – Little Tokyo [Japanese Village Plaza Ped Mall map]
  • Yamazaki Bakery – Little Tokyo [Japanese Village Plaza Ped Mall map]
  • Little Tokyo Ice Cream and Yogurt – Little Tokyo [Japanese Village Plaza Ped Mall map]
  • Pinkberry – Little Tokyo [332 2nd Street map]
  • McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream – at Grand Central Market on Broadway Downtown L.A. [317 S. Broadway map]

5. Visit Air-Conditioned Public Libraries

Take a break and experience the world in a book. Most city and county branch libraries are closed Sundays, but these two will be open and profusely cooled:

  • East L.A.: Not only is the county’s East L.A. Civic Center Library is open 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., but they’re even hosting a book fair! Buy new and used books there this Sunday. [4837 E 3rd Street map]
  • Downtown L.A. Central Library: Located just 3 blocks west of the route, this beautiful historic library is open Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. [630 W 5th Street map]
Three generations: Caron Reid, Sadio Woods, and Sadio's son.
Three generations enjoying CicLAvia in 2013: Caron Reid, Sadio Woods, and Sadio’s son. Photo: Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

SEE ALSO

More useful information at these earlier Streetsblog CicLAvia articles:

Or watch one of a half-dozen excellent CicLAvia Streetfilms!

 

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