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Cool Options for Dog Days

Ignore the heat. The Valley offers plenty of amusements from drive-in movies to fiddle parlors to just feeding the ducks.

August 22, 1996|Robin Rauzi

It's August, in the Valley. Friends on the other side of the hill are making it clear that they feel sorry for us. OK, it's HOT. We'll give you that.

But living in Encino and elsewhere in the Valley is just fine, thank you. Save your pity for people who don't have a smorgasbord of entertainment options. And we're talking about things you can do practically free on a weekend other than float motionless in your pool.

The Valley Weekend staff recently sat down in an air-conditioned room and brainstormed the things they like to do on days when Venice Beach seems just too far to go. Options, think of these as options. Options without Westside price tags, we might add.


7:30 p.m. Friday--Most nights at 9, the Hot House is the place to be for free (that's right, no cover) eclectic music, from jazz to funky pop. But before the tunes start and the crowd gathers, this North Hollywood coffeehouse is a wonderful place to relax. Chill out with something iced off the summer drink menu. Read one of the scores of paperback books that line the walls. Pull a board game off the back table and play with a friend. Or, if you come alone, make a new friend. Hip, but low on attitude, the only place more comfortable is your own living room.

The Hot House, 12123 Riverside Drive, North Hollywood. Call (818) 506-7058.


9 a.m. Saturday--One of the few places in Los Angeles you can see a waterfall that isn't in a restaurant connected to a hose is Placerita Canyon State Park.

If you leave from the Nature Center, take the Canyon Trail to the Waterfall Trail--about three miles. For those who like hiking more in theory than practice, drive 2.5 miles farther east on Placerita Canyon Road to the campground. From there, it's only half a mile--just over two laps of the Fashion Square--to the waterfall. Dry in the summer, the rocks are great for climbing. Come back after the winter rains for the real show.

The park opens at 9 a.m. Don't put off going too long because at least this time of year, it gets hot.

Placerita Canyon State Park, 19152 Placerita Canyon Road, Newhall. Parking at the Nature Center costs $3. Call (805) 259-7721.


Midnight Saturday--J.P.'s Lounge is perhaps the best in classic lounge culture that the Valley has to offer. You can come earlier if you want the kind of classic American cuisine that made cholesterol part of our national vocabulary.

But by midnight the room is relaxed and filled with swinging music at that perfect volume level--the one where you can hear the music and your companion at the same time.

The performer's names aren't huge, but the tunes are solid--and if you're lucky some regulars will bring their instruments for an impromptu jam session. Most important, the atmosphere isn't ruined by an overload of lounge-chic attitude. No posers here.

J.P.'s Lounge, 1333 N. Hollywood Way, Burbank. Call (818) 845-1800.


8:30 a.m. Sunday--OK, it's not exactly rural Ohio, but the Encino Farmer's Market is a victory over the Ralphs-Vons-Hughes triumvirate. On the north side of the Sepulveda Dam Recreation Area, a few dozen farmers gather with trucks and tents every Sunday morning to offer fruits and vegetables and--this is suburbia after all--cappuccino, used books, baked goods and knit garments.

Most important, there are umbrella-covered tables so you can sit down while you eat your organic fruit and tri-berry muffin and slurp down an espresso. It's best to be properly fortified before you shop. Bring a basket or a cart if you're stocking up for the week. Prices are reasonable, but the real difference is in taste. Pears to die for.

The Encino Farmer's Market, Sundays from 8 a.m.-noon, 17400 Victory Blvd., between White Oak Avenue and Balboa Boulevard. Call (818) 708-6611.


Sunday noon--What better way to pass the brutally hot midday hours than browsing for some summer reading?

Brand Books is a rare-and-used book store and an air-conditioned haven for book lovers. It's an absorbing 3 1/2-room maze of floor-to-ceiling shelves where you can find everything from used sci-fi paperbacks at half the cover price to more expensive first editions.

The staff will steer you down the street to Crown Books for current bestsellers not on their shelves. The fiction they have is carefully distributed: Tom Clancy is not under literature and Regis Philbun's biography is kept far from Ezra Pound's. There is a whole section of "Books on Books."

This is a place for people who are serious about their literary pursuits, where people drift back out into the Glendale heat and sigh, "Ah, so many books, so little time."

Brand Books, 231 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale. Open 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Call (818) 507-5943.

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