Los Angeles, the City of Angels, is inhabited by nearly 4 million people spread over roughly 270+ neighborhoods – naturally, there are countless things to do in the city, even if you’re staying sober. From Acton to Woodland Hills, there is no shortage of fun activities and events in town at any given moment.
However, before you can start exploring the city for new things to do without alcohol, you must get an idea of what you want to do. Alcoholism consumes life – not only does it take lives, but it can take away the fun of doing anything other than drinking.
People tend to forget what it means to have hobbies and enjoy other people’s company without “social lubrication” – and part of enjoying a happy, sober life means knowing what you like to do best with your free time. Take some time to figure out what that means. Explore old hobbies, and try all the things you used to express interest in but never really pursued. Aside from trying things on your own, here are 10 ways to enjoy LA day in and day out without a single drop of alcohol.
1. Enjoy Nature
Sitting smack dab in Southern California on the eastside coast of the United States, Los Angeles’ scenery, parks, and beaches are beautiful. Take a hike through the Santa Monica Mountains, explore LA’s national parks, or spend the day on the open water. Connecting with nature isn’t just a way to pass the time – it has massive benefits for fighting addiction, specifically because being outdoors has a marked mental effect on us and generally makes us both happier and healthier.
2. Watch a Performance
LA is full of talented people, which means that no matter what day or night it is, there’s bound to be an artist out here having a show this very minute. Comedians, singers, musicians, and actors fill the clubs and cellars of LA’s nightlife. You don’t have to drink to enjoy a play, laugh at a standup routine or enjoy the sounds of interesting and foreign instruments like the Chinese erhu and the West African n’goni.
3. Go Play
Bowling, pool, sports, the local arcade – there are many ways to enjoy a night out without a drink and with plenty of fun. Sports, games, and even video games can be a good way to spend time with other people, meet new people, or just bond with old friends. Life can be a big ball of stress, and alcohol is far from the only (or best) way to work through that stress.
4. Go on a Bike Ride
Los Angeles is full of biking clubs, both for bicycles and motorcycles, and you will find your fair share of weekly biking events dedicated to taking a few hours out of people’s weeks to go on a long ride through the city, either as exercise or to get to a locale and hang out for a few hours.
Be sure to tell the group in advance that you’re working on staying sober if the week’s plan involves hitting a bar or going onto any other alcohol-related activity – there are plenty of opportunities to go out on a bike ride and have fun without a single sip of booze.
5. Meet People Online
The Internet is a great place to meet new people, so put it to good use. Social networks like Reddit and Facebook, meetup websites like meetup.com, and local forums are all great places to find people based on your hobbies and sobriety. Having sober friends to support and be supported by can help bolster your drive to stay committed to your recovery.
6. Hit a Spa
Few things are as relaxing as a quality spa experience – and considerable health benefits to it. While spa dates are typically between yourself and a friend or two, there’s nothing wrong with indulging in a little me-time by going to a spa alone.
If you don’t want to spend on a full spa experience, then getting a regular massage is another great way to relax (and bond with someone by bringing them along).
7. Find Festivals and Events
Through Facebook, Twitter, or any local alerts website, you can keep track of all ongoing events in LA or upcoming in the next few days. From a festival in Chinatown to a new convention in Anaheim, there’s never a shortage of events to choose from.
8. Explore Your Hobby
Do you enjoy reading? Do you love playing football? Are you a martial arts enthusiast? Whether your idea of fun is attending a book club meeting or hitting the nearest MMA gym, finding and exploring your hobbies is a great way to have fun, meet people and stay sober.
Engaging in an activity you’re truly passionate about also helps reignite that feeling of intense pleasure you get from getting better at something, whether it’s achieving a monthly reading goal or mastering a new dance move. This is important in addiction recovery, as it helps you remove the connection between pleasure and your worst vices.
9. Attend a Class
Eager to learn something new? There are plenty of workshops, seminars, and classes to attend all over LA on any given weekend. Even if you have zero experience in a topic, you might be surprised just how much you can learn over a few short hours.
10. Enjoy a Murder Mystery Dinner
It is a slightly unorthodox suggestion but a wonderful way to engage the brain and have an amazing time. Murder mystery dinners are typically organized by a team of writers and professional actors, with a fee for guests to attend a nice dinner and a short-but-sweet little detective game.
The idea behind an event typically is to observe a whodunit and deduct who the culprit was – and in some cases, you’ll be offered an actual dinner, as well. Part of the enjoyment in the process is meeting new people as you solve the crime together, and it can be a fantastic way to bond with new friends from other meetups.
There is so much more to do in Los Angeles while sober. There are a million ways, in general, to have fun while being sober. Part of beating an old habit is making new ones, and if you have the problem that most alcoholics have – their lack of hobbies not involving alcohol – then finding out what you enjoy the most and exploring it is a terrific way to get started.
- Shoemaker N. Alcohol: A Social Lubricant But at What Cost? Big Think. Published May 19, 2015. Accessed October 12, 2022. https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/alcohol-makes-you-friendlier-but-only-to-certain-groups/
- Casano T. How To Be Happy And Healthy By Spending More Time In Nature. HuffPost. Published October 26, 2016. Accessed October 12, 2022. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/how-spending-time-in-moth_b_12661748
Last medically reviewed October 12, 2022