Although there is a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel for US residents, it is still a precarious time for folks to gather inside, and even outdoors. And it may be some time before such gatherings are deemed safe, particularly for those with certain health conditions and caregivers. However, even the most introverted of writers still needs time and space outside their own four walls, particularly when trying to craft and create.
So we put together a few places in Los Angeles (where UCLA Extension is based) that might provide a safe outdoor space to write currently, as well as when restrictions ease but perhaps individuals may not wish to inhabit crowded and/or indoor spaces. While locales are specific to the LA area, many of these types of outdoor locations can be found nationwide (and even worldwide). However, please remember to follow your local health & government guidelines – especially in regards to protecting yourself and others from infection.
Open Air Parks
Whether looking at large, expansive spaces like Griffith Park and Topanga Canyon areas, or smaller spaces like Echo Park Lake and the Van Nuys/Sherman Oaks Recreation Area, and even casual neighborhood parks, anywhere you can grab a seat on a blanket with space enough to think (and maintain healthy social distance) is a nice change of pace from your window view. Writing on paper and not looking at a screen for a bit are also benefits to being outside and not near an outlet.
Bonus: most parks are free, have their own parking lots, and are safe during daylight hours.
While some spots may require times reservations and/or admission, Los Angeles is home to several bountiful botanical gardens that make you feel you’ve left the city behind for a bit. Descanso, The Huntington, and even the LA Zoo provide spaces with plenty of room for inspiring exploration.
Mullholland Drive remains one of the best places in Los Angeles to host spectacular views of the city, but any place along the canyon ridges that has a scenic turnout area can be an inspiration place to park your car for a few minutes and capture the grand view in words (and perhaps even a safe, well-timed selfie).
Library Parking Lots/Grounds
Perhaps not as scenic as previous suggestions, but if you have a car, need an escape from home, AND a wifi connection for a few minutes of writing or research, bring along a homemade beverage and hang out for a bit in a library parking lot. It doesn’t have the same vibe as a coffee shop, but that’s what imagination is for. And even though the LAPL system has eliminated fines, maybe you could return a couple of those books you took out in February of last year… (we’re not judging!)
Some folks write and work better while moving, and also enjoy a stroll through a residential area over a large park (or only have half an hour between Zoom meetings). For these times, grab your phone, your mask, and dictate some writing ideas while you take in the urban or suburban sights of your little corner of the city. Concerned about being able to understand those notes later? You can also practice diction and breath control while speaking through your mask – two skills that will serve you well the next time you have to pitch a story or do a reading of your work.