Memorial Day weekend in Los Angeles marks the unofficial beginning of summer, and summer is when L.A. comes alive. Spend the holiday remembering those who have served the country, taking in a cultural event or getting away from the crowds in a nearby state park or national forest.
UCLA Jazz Reggae Festival
University of California at Los Angeles is home to the annual Jazz Reggae Festival (jazzreggaefest.com), held every Memorial Day weekend, with 2011 marking its 25th anniversary. Organized entirely by students, the event showcases some of jazz and reggae's best talent. The festival is also committed to sustainability education by producing the concert while incorporating solar and natural gas energy and other "green" practices.
Los Angeles National Cemetery
Memorial Day honors America's fallen soldiers and is a fitting time to visit the National Cemetery. The cemetery is in West Los Angeles (cem.va.gov) was dedicated in 1889 and now encompasses 114 acres. On Memorial Day, a ceremony is held with a performance by the U.S. Marine Corps Band, and a flyover by the California Air National Guard and the March Air Reserve Base.
Angeles National Forest
For those who prefer to escape the crowds and get out into nature, the San Gabriel mountains offers a plethora of options for day hikes or backpack camping. Angeles National Forest (fs.usda.gov/angeles) is a short drive from almost anywhere in L.A., and there can be found wilderness, creeks and even waterfalls. Millard Falls is a two-mile hike, round trip, and is in the Arroyo Seco District in Altadena.
In Malibu Canyon, 25 miles from downtown Los Angeles, is Malibu Creek State Park (parks.ca.gov). Day hikers and picnickers spend the day in the state park, which is made up of more than 7,000 acres in the Santa Monica Mountains. The park lands were acquired in 1974. Before that, the owners were Bob Hope, Ronald Reagan and 20th Century Fox; the land often was the setting for movies and television shows.
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