Photograph courtesy Flickr/dawnendico
When his own yard consisted of a ten-square-foot deck, Chris Nichols, who throws parties for up to 200 people, got savvy about available outdoor spaces around town. “All my friends have been to my house anyway,” he says, “and location is as important to a party as food or entertainment. It’s 360 degrees of stimulus.”
Nichols celebrated one birthday on the American Pride, a 130-foot three-mast schooner with working cannons, below-deck bunks, and room for 100 jig-dancing pirates. For $690 an hour (two-hour minimum), the ship can be booked for a trip to Santa Catalina Island or a cruise around Rainbow Harbor in Long Beach. Nichols asked guests to cough up $10 each to cover costs, though not everyone did. “We had pirates chasing us down to the Queen Mary because we owed money,” he recalls.
Kick Some Sand
If you want sparks to fly, hold a summertime bonfire—Dockweiler State Beach is one of two places in Los Angeles County that allow them. If you’d rather hear the waves crash all night long, secure some “family camping” sites (each accommodates eight) at Leo Carrillo State Park. The beach here offers easy parking and features killer rock formations. “You’ll remember it from Beach Blanket Bingo,” says Nichols. Each site costs $111 per night.
Park with Car
Look for a public space with a lighthouse, such as Shoreline Park in Long Beach, or ruins, like the old zoo at Griffith Park. “You need to find a center of operations,” says Nichols. “Try to find something you can call your own.”